We were woken at around 6am and I realised how cold the air was around my head but how warm it was in the bed. One of those situations that you know you’re going to regret getting out of bed the moment you do and then regretting not sleeping with your clothes inside the bed with you! The air outside the tent was actually warmer than the air inside the tent. It did make me get dressed quickly and head to the lodge for some coffee before we departed on our morning game drive.
We added some more birds and again saw Eland and all the other standard animal sightings. There are a lot of nyala in the area – seems more than the impala actually. That is one of the noticeable things about the region. Bongani stopped the vehicle and said he had some bad news, we had a flat tyre. Sure enough the front left had lost pressure and so he sprung into action to make the change. We all just watched while he did everything. In about 15 minutes the tyre was changed and we headed off again.
We had driven to an area of riverine forest up against the Limpopo river in the hope of being able to see some of the bird specials and while we did add a few for the trip (and again some lifers for others but not me) we hadn’t seen any of the specials until a Crowned Eagle took off from a tree in front of us and flew low right over the vehicle. A very impressive sight and a definite lifer for all of us including me.
Bongani wanted to have morning drinks overlooking a pan but as we got closer the road had been washed away. There was a way around but it was over a very sandy patch. We suggested that we all get out and he take it at high speed and then we could get back in again once he was through it. He got stuck a few meters short of the end of the patch but after engaging 4×4 and the diff lock (which had to be done manually – the vehicle is that old), he was able to get it out and we all jumped in and we made to the pan for morning coffee.
Unfortunately we had to head back the same way. Bongani said it would be fine for all of us to stay on the vehicle this time but that turned out to be an error. The vehicle got stuck and even with the diff lock on the tyres were spinning and just digging us deeper in. He eventually suggested a ‘lady’ drive so H took up the challenge and drove well all the men pushed but no success. After trying numerous things including rocks under the wheels, digging out the sand etc, he gave up and radioed and asked for another vehicle to come out and pull us out. That took about 45 minutes to arrive (as the guy went to the wrong side of the pan to start with) and even with the tow rope the car wouldn’t come out. So H got back into the drivers and all the men pushed and immediately we could feel it start to come out and so H drove it out. She now considers herself an expert 4×4 driver and even bought herself a ReturnAfrica shirt!
By this stage it was pretty late and so we drove rapidly back to camp and got back after midday to have breakfast! J was about to expire because of hunger. Nothing could have prevented him for going straight to breakfast and they certainly couldn’t bring the food quickly enough. Fortunately there was about an hour after we finished breakfast so he could be properly replenished.
We decided to have a shorter evening drive and asked Bongani to not to go too far from the camp. H was ready not to go at all but I persuaded her to come as it would be our last game drive. We stopped for our evening drinks alongside a pan with a lot of birds and enjoyed the sunset and drinks there and then headed back into camp again. S spotted a Giant Eagle Owl on the way back in. We have seen them before but it was a lifer for B & K and we haven’t seen one for a few years so it was really nice to see it again. We did another another lifer later when we saw a Barn Owl that was roosting in a knot in a tree. We could just see it peaking out.
It was our last dinner all together and as we had gotten back a little earlier it was a little more relaxed and again an very enjoyable evening.
P, H, S (he gets his reinstatement for spotting the owl), K, C, J & B