Orpen to Talamiti
September 29, 2014

chloe in bedIt cooled off considerably overnight as it became cloudy and started raining the early morning. It was an interrupted night of sleep not only because of the rain but because the honey badger came back and try to raid the cupboards and did raid the dirtbin. It has about 2am when I heard crunching and figured it had somehow managed to get some of the chicken bones from our meal last night.

We got up for a morning game drive and it was still drizzling. In the end everyone but Michael and I chickened out of the drive. I had read up the previous afternoon that one of bird specials you could see at Orpen was Senegal Lapwings and they were often found at one of the crossroads. When we went past this morning sure enough there were a couple of them right on the crossroad. They are pretty rare to see but we have seen them before and in fact I had seen another one earlier in the trip as well but still nice to see them again.

Given it was only Michael and I, if I wasn’t a law abiding citizen I might have been tempted to let him drive. Of course, if I did we would no doubt encounter an elephant near the road. Always a little more tricky when driving a manual car versus an automatic but no doubt he would have been able to handle it. We didn’t see anything unusual but did stop to look at one of the earliest entrances into the Kruger Park – the hut is still standing and is now a monument. I also managed to add a few more birds to the list for the trip which now stands at 87 including adding two more Eagles today – Wahlberg’s and Lesser Spotted (right at the Talamiti Camp).

We had a late breakfast and then stayed in the camp doing nothing until check out time at 10am as Talamati (the bush camp we were heading for is only about 30 kms away from Orpen). We decided to take a long way to get there as check in time is only 2pm and so we headed East back to Satara. It turned out to be an excellent decision as only about 5 kms from Orpen we came across two Wild Dog running up the road. Wild Dog are incredibly rare (about 250 in the whole Kruger Park which is the size of Netherlands) and so to see them is really something special. We decided to follow them. They were sniffing around and we figured they must be trying to locate their pack. We probably followed them for about 20 minutes as they ran down the road stopping to occasionally sniff and then finally the one urinated on the side of the road and then they ran into the bush and were gone. Our font of knowledge on the trip (Michael) then read up and discovered that an Alpha pair dominate the pack and mark out their territory so we had probably witnessed them doing that. Given there is a photographic competition just started on Wild Dog, I managed to get off at least 100 photos and hopefully one of them will be a winning one! Michael also go some with Helen’s camera as there is a separate competition for under 18s.

The rest of the drive was pretty uneventful except for the occasional bit of rain. We stopped at a picnic spot for some lunch and then back onto the incredibly poor and rutted dirt road to the camp. By the time we arrived my hands felt like they had been shaken to pieces and my right hand in particular was quite sore from the vibrations.

We are staying at Talamiti which is a bush camp.   It has only 15 units but is really nicely laid out. There are two bird hides and one of them is floodlit. Michael and I went down to the floodlit one tonight but no action there at all tonight unfortunately.

Helen, Michael and I went for a late afternoon drive and of course if Michael had been driving then we could be guaranteed to meet a herd of elephant just as we approached a sharp bend and a narrow bridge.   Besides the elephant we did add another very special sighting of Sable Antelope. They are even more rare in the Kruger Park than Wild Dog so it was clearly a day to see rare species.

Back to the camp for the evening braai and then to write up the blog. You won’t get to read this until tomorrow though as there is no cellphone signal here except if you go and sit in the bird hide and then even this evening it was a very weak signal. I will try and send it tomorrow when I get cellphone signal again.

Until tomorrow …. P, M (because he has come on every morning drive with me), H, C and the in laws

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