Up at 5:15am (our routine now) and off at 5:30am when the gates opened. We tried a new road heading south. Game drive turned into Bird drive … very little game to be seen. New experiences don’t always turn out for the best it seems! Best part of the drive was stopping for coffee overlooking ‘Red Rocks’ which is a river pool where they used to pan for gold in the early 1900s before the KNP existed. We did see bushbuck for the first time on this trip though on the drive – so at least it wasn’t a totally fruitless drive. Also added some more birds to the trip list – we are now touching 90 for the trip (with 1 lifer). Just to put that into perspective – we saw 111 on the recent road trip over 10 days and we have seen 90 in 5 days in the Kruger (without really looking too hard). Last year over 2 weeks we saw 150 birds so I am hopeful that we will surpass that on this trip.
We got back before 9am this morning and spent the majority of the day in the camp. A trip to restaurant for a milkshake (for H) and coke float & waffle for me but basically the rest of the time in the comfort of the air-conditioned chalet. It is not as hot as yesterday. At one point on the evening drive the temperature was 40 degrees (compared to 43 yesterday) but it really didn’t feel as hot today as yesterday (maybe we are getting used to the heat).
We went out at 4:30pm for our evening drive along the river toward the Kanniedood dam (for those none Afrikaans speakers that means ‘Cannot die dam’). It is our traditional evening game drive road from Shingwedzi. The game was immediately obvious and plentiful – impala, waterbuck, elephant, buffalo, tssebee (yes our 2nd sighting of this rare buck and this time 5 of them), kudu, giraffe. My optimistic self kicked in and I was positive we would see some predators again. We did see a crocodile that had cleared eaten a whole buck of some sort – mouth open, buck mainly down but not fully down – first time I have seen that in all the years of coming to Kruger.
When we got to the Kanniedood Dam, sure enough, a pride of lions. At initial count we got to 8 but that steadily increased as we identified more. We drove around to the other side to see if we could get a better view and by the time we got there some zebra and waterbuck were headed down to drink and had piqued the lionesses interest. They drank quickly and carefully and headed back up. At that point it was clear there were 12 lionesses. We drove back around again thinking the view would be better on the other side actually and after watching for awhile a obstinacy (yes that is the correct collective noun … now you’re googling again … that would also be a good collective noun for my family) of buffalo came down to drink and that got even more interest from the lionesses.
At that point some of the lionesses got up and started to make their way toward the buffalo and the buffalo started to head out as quickly as possible. As we watched we counted lions and including the 3 that suddenly appeared out of the grass and another 2 that came out of the trees, we counted 20 lionesses in total! A massive pride – probably the biggest I have ever seen. We watched the pride give up interest in the buffalo and head back into the river area and then eventually we realised we needed to head back to camp as we would otherwise be late for the gate closing. A great evening drive that made up for the poor morning drive.
Dinner tonight was a braai – boerewors & pork rashers with gem squash (done in braai) and ratatouille.
Until tomorrow …
P & H