The gates open at 4:30am at the moment. That seemed a little early for Helen and I and so we agreed to set an alarm for 5am. I was awake before the alarm went off and we left for our first morning drive before 5:30am. There is a dam near the camp (called Sunset Dam) – it is only about 1 km away. It was definitely worth visiting for bird sightings. There were some many birds we didn’t really know where to look at some stages. Add to it that the crocodile in the water were splashing around and the disturbing the fish (intentionally). We had a crocodile and Saddle Billed Stork right next to the car (couldn’t have been more than 5 meters away but fortunately still in the water – at least in respect of the crocodile). We must have seen at least 20 different species of bird just at the dam.
We then did a loop around the camp toward a viewing/picnic site over the Mlondozidam. On the way there we saw hyena in the road and then crisscrossing the road. We had our coffee and rusks at the picnic site while adding a few more birds to the trip list and then headed back south toward the camp. It was a very slow leisurely drive stopping numerous times to do some birding. We had some great sightings of birds including seeing numerous Amur Falcons (we saw so many we didn’t even stop for them eventually). It was probably the best birding I have ever done on a morning game drive. We got back to camp about 8:30am. At that point we had seen 56 unique birds.
The rest of the day was spent in the camp just relaxing. Helen went back to sleep for another 2 hours when we got back. We had an iced coffee and coke float for lunch at the Mugg & Bean (overlooks the Sabie River), wandered around the camp and back to the hut we are staying in. It was pretty warm at this stage (around 35 degrees). It is OK when you’re in the shade but the moment you step into the sun you can feel the sun burning you.
We went out again at 4pm for another loop around the camp. There is a bird hide (Ntandanyathi) which overlooks a part of the river. While we didn’t see too many new birds for the trip (we added one at the hide), we did see an elephant come to the hide to drink. There is a second dam on the road (Duke) and we wanted to go there but we (and a few other cars) encountered an elephant you didn’t want us to go there. We were fortunately at the back of the queue of cars and so could make a U-turn the easiest. It seems whenever we come to the park we encounter an elephant that doesn’t want to let us down a particular road. We headed back to the camp and got in just before closing time (which is currently 6:30pm).
We added Crocodile, Steenbuck, Bushbuck, Waterbuck & Hyena to our animal list. I forgot to say that yesterday we did also see Giraffe, Wildebeest & Zebra. No predators today but we did see two of the big five again – elephant & buffalo (they are just permanently parked off in the river in front of the camp so not hard to miss them).
H & P (especially for you Bryan … Helen said I had to switch it around because I kept calling Saddle Billed Stork, Marabou Stork!)
PS: sorry about lack of photos … will try better tomorrow!