As we are staying at Pretoriouskop for the rest of the time, we planned to do an early morning drive and evening drive only and to spend the rest of the day relaxing in the camp. We left at 6:15am for the morning drive but again (unfortunately) it was overcast which means it isn’t great for birding. That makes 4 out of 5 mornings. There are numerous circular roads around the camp and we took one of those. The bushveld is very thick and lush at the moment which makes it very difficult to see in very far and makes game spotting quite difficult. We have now set our expectations quite low as we really haven’t seen much on this trip.
We saw a single male buffalo and then nothing else until suddenly out into the road trotted a hyena. For some reason hyena seem to be the animal for the trip for us. Shortly afterward another hyena appeared and they ran down the road a bit and then into the bush. A few seconds later I saw a leopard climbing up a tree right in front of us. Clearly the two hyena had caused it to scale the tree. While we were watching the one in the tree, suddenly another leopard also scales the tree further back as well so we had two leopards in trees and two hyena sniffing around at the base of the trees. The one hyena went trotting off down the road and the nearest leopard came down the tree only to be chased up another tree a few meters away. Eventually the hyena both trotted off and the cautious leopards descended and vanished into the thick bush.
We were reminded again that it is entirely about timing because after that you could not see the leopard at all. It was a fantastic sighting and we got some really good photos of the leopard in the tree (and descending as well). We drove off thinking that regardless of what else we might see on this trip, the trip was probably made worthwhile just from that single sighting. Someone was just saying exactly that when not more than 300 meters down the road (not kidding) we saw a cheetah in the middle of the road sniffing around as well. Two hyena, two leopards and a cheetah within 300 meters of each other. Quite incredible especially for a trip that has yielded so little.
The rest of the day we just spent relaxing in the camp and then headed out again at 3:30pm for an evening drive. We were just discussing the fact that since Michael was driving we were likely to see elephant when we came across an elephant in the middle of the road and of course it was aggressive and started to make its way toward us. Fortunately Michael is a little more experienced in reversing these days. The elephant eventually turned and went the other way down the road but there was no chance of us passing it. It passed through another herd of elephant (including some baby elephant) and continued down the road. It eventually stopped on the side of the road at a large tree, leaned up and broke off a branch with a load crack. Ate a bit of those leaves and then repeated the procedure and broke off an even bigger branch. No way were we driving past it and so we turned around and headed back the way we came. All this consumed 45 minutes and it didn’t seem that the elephant was going anywhere in a hurry.
A very eventful day which we ended with a traditional braai (whole meal done on the braai including the vegetables). If you want to see more photos of the day including the full moon from last night – have a look at our Instagram photos (@templetravels).
P, H, S, M & C
PS: Happy birthday to one of our favourite blog readers and commentators.