Some people decided to skip the morning game drive. We took 2 cars (me, S, K & J in one and B & R in the other). We left at 6am as we wanted to ensure we got back by 9am as we had to check out by 10am. We headed south and as it was still dark S was the tracker with the torch out of the side window looking for eyes. We then turned west along the Sweni River. I have driven that road before and seen quite a bit and I just ‘felt’ that it was a the right decision.
Not long after the turn we saw a hyena which walked right past the cars and then headed down the road. B&R decided to follow it but our car went on. Not more than 1km further down the road and we saw what we thought originally were three black backed jackal but actually turned out to be two jackal and an African Wild Cat in a bit of a stand off. Unfortunately B&R missed it because they were still tracking the hyena in the other direction. They all dispersed and we drove on and about 2km further along a car was stopped and the driver told me they had seen a leopard cross the road in front of them but had lost it. We reversed and then they called us parallel with them and we got to see the leopard as it was heading off into the bush. We drove on and about 5km further both K&J shouted stop and I reversed and we found a honey badger eating a tortoise. Unfortunately just before B&R arrived the badger got a fright and dropped the tortoise and disappeared into the bush. Definitely the most successful morning drive we have had so far.
We had breakfast and then packed up and left for Olifants camp. As it wasn’t a long drive we decided to take the dirt road rather than the tar road north and about half way up we came across a lot of parked cars. The one guy told us it was a cheetah but he had struggled to see it. We drove up and reversed a number of times and then finally while I was looking though the binoculars I realised that what I though was a tree stump was actually a cheetah sitting up. Our whole car managed to see it and I was happy especially for J (as he was very keen to see one). The cheetah then decided to stretch and got up and walked off further into the distance. Unfortunately the other cars never saw it.
We got to Olifants at lunch time and decided to have lunch in the restaurant. It was a good call because that night our President announced that restaurants would need to shut due to the 3rd wave of Covid and take away only allowed for next 2 weeks. The alcohol ban also created a problem or two for us as I had been given 4 bottles of really nice wine for my birthday present during the trip. Those now will need to be drunk before we exit the park as you can’t even transport alcohol for next 14 days.
We spent the afternoon just in the camp as our accommodation overlooked the river. You really can just sit there and enjoy the view. I also set up my birding scope I got from H for my 50th. It has magnification of up to 60x so you can literally see a lizard on a rock in the river! We saw things with it that you couldn’t otherwise have seen even with binoculars.
As we had braaied for 3 nights running we decided to have pasta for dinner and then the evening finished somewhat depressingly get updates on the new Covid restrictions and trying to figure out the implications for the balance of our travels. Fortunately it seems we can continue to do what we had hoped to do.
I have still been struggling with cellphone signal and so hopefully this one goes through. If it does I will try to post another one later today as well.
P, H, S, K, J, R, J, B, S, B, C