Only 3 people decided to head out for the morning game drive – H & B decided that a sleep in was necessary but S, K and I headed out. I’m pleased we did because we saw another lifer (Monotonous Lark) which took my lifers for the trip to 4 and my total lifer list to 479. S is not far behind me on 469 having closed the gap over the last 7 days by seeing a number of birds I have seen but he hadn’t yet. We didn’t see any other major game on the drive but did add a few birds to the trip list as well.
It rained on and off during the day and remained relatively cool (around 26 degrees) for most of the day. We headed out for an evening drive at about 4pm and after seeing very little game on the route around the camp we decided to head south a bit on the main road and see what we could see. About 5 kms from the camp H shouts “stop, go back, leopard in a tree”. Sure enough – there is a leopard sleeping in a tree. It was a great spot. See if you can see it in the picture below. This was about 15 meters from the road (photo taken on my iPhone).
We waited for awhile and it didn’t seem interested in moving and so we headed further south, did a loop and came back. Still in the same place so we decided to wait. It would take us about 10 minutes to get back to the camp so we had until 6:20pm before we had to leave. At 6:15pm it sat up and then started to climb down the tree and then headed off away from us into the bush with all the animals nearby (including impala) alarm calling. We had to head back at that point but it seemed unlikely that that was going to kill anything nearby as it wasn’t concerned about concealing itself at all as it walked.
It was our 5th leopard sighting and all of them have been very good – though one of them was pretty fleeting. We were also the ones to spot all of the leopard sightings which also is much more fulfilling than someone else seeing it first.
Our meal was a braai (how could it not be). Overnight it rained heavily – so hard at times that I wondered whether we would have a flash flood! It rained most of the night and it was very wet outside. Packing the car without stepping in puddles was basically impossible. We had 120 km drive inside the park to Phalaborwa gate and then 70 kms to Hoedspruit airport. It rained the majority of the way and game viewing was nearly impossible due to heavy rain. We did see black backed jackal on the road and also some of the standard game – impala, kudu, elephant. Birding was non-existent except for some swallows and a few raptors. My trip list ended on 152 birds. Better than last year but I was hoping for more. We didn’t see so many ‘standard’ birds – I am sure the weather affected our birding significantly.
We got to the airport with about 1 hour and 30 minutes to spare before our flight. The flight left on time and landed slightly early into Cape Town. Safely home by 4pm.
We throughly enjoyed the time. I could have stayed for longer actually. We are already looking forward to our next trip – which hopefully will be possible despite Covid – to celebrate my 50th!
Until next time …
P & H, S & K, M & O, B