January 27, 2019

We had three nights at Shingwedzi and after the first evening drive of seeing the 4 cheetah we remembered why we like it so much.  There is significant game around the camp and the drives along the river always seem to yield a variety that you just don’t see elsewhere.  There are also very few people so you are often by yourself at sightings.

The last 2 mornings we have driven on the road heading north to Punda Maria also along the river. Both mornings did not disappoint. The drive was filled with game and birds. On the first morning we saw hyena (only predator) but we did see tssebee and nyala both of which are quite rare in the park. There are only roughly 300 nyala in the KNP (and only 120 cheetah by the way) so they are generally pretty hard to see. There was also an interesting sighting of numerous white-backed vultures (even a Sanparks research team had stopped to watch those). On the 2nd morning we saw Eland (there are only 460 of those in the KNP and generally only found in the north).

Helen moans at me if I don’t pull into every pull off that runs along the river as she says she might miss something if I don’t so I have been dutifully doing that for each drive we do. As I did that yesterday on one occasion, Helen and both simultaneously saw a lion in the riverbed. It turned out to be 4 lions (one young male with 3 females). We watched them for about 30 minutes and no other cars joined us. They were active in that they went up the river bank, lay up there for a while and then came down again, lay on top of each other, got up walked a bit further, checked us out intently etc. Eventually they got up and walked into, under and behind a large tree and you could no longer see them at all. If you were driving past then you would not know that there were 4 lions there. It made us wonder how often we drive past lion, leopard etc.

Last year when we stayed at Shingwedzi, a honey badger came visiting at night and the same thing happened again the first 2 evenings. They are pretty aggressive and feisty and have been known to attack lion even. They are pretty much unkillable as they even have an immune system that can handle almost all snake venom. It came right onto our patio and I was able to take a photo of it though it was growling at me. It then did run away when it realised I was not going to feed it (or become food for it!). We have also had a squirrel visit us and a red-billed hornbill keeps coming and pecking at its reflection in the microwave glass!

It wasn’t a great day for birding yesterday but we did see Great White Pelicans (which I don’t remember seeing in the KNP before) so that was a pretty unique sighting. We are now up to 128 birds for the trip.

In between our game drives we have maybe to do a lot of relaxing. Helen has managed to get in some runs (she ran yesterday morning after we got back and it was 30 degrees then). We, like most people, have braaied most nights but we have kept it quite simple and eaten pretty healthily (steak salad twice so far and yesterdays steak salad was probably the best steak I have eaten in years).

Until tomorrow (or later today depending on my energy levels to blog!)

P & H

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