January 23, 2022

Gates open at 4:30am at the moment but the sun only rises at 5:23am so we really didn’t see the point of heading out earlier than that. We woke at 5am and we headed out at about 5:30am. We aimed to do our favorite route – head east toward Mozambique and the Nwanetsi picnic site. The gravel road takes you along the river – you have the river on your right and the open savannah grasslands on your left. You then turn south for a few kms to the picnic site. After a quick stop there we go to the Sweni Bird Hide and then head back west along the tar road back to the camp.

The road was as rewarding as we generally experience it. Elephant, waterbuck, impala, kudu and baboons. Lots of birds despite the wind blowing quite strongly again. Unfortunately no lifers but the trip list currently stands at 84 species after 1.5 days.

Just after we turned south heading to the picnic spot we saw impala and zebra running for their lives. This wasn’t a casual ‘lets stretch our legs’ type of run – it was let’s get out of here as quickly as possible. It was clear a predator was after them and the only question we had was which one and where was it. Suddenly onto the road trotted a pack of wild dogs. We haven’t seen wild dog for at least 2 years. Unfortunately they didn’t actually seem to be hunting. We were the only car to see them before they eventually trotted back off into the bush.

About 3-4 kms further down the road we saw another pack of wild dog. This one was bigger and so we reckon that they probably belong to the same pack but just got separated. There are only around 300 wild dog in the park. In 2000 they surveyed and found only 177 in 25 packs which means an average of just over 7 per pack. The one group we saw were 5 and the other was around 7-8 so it could in fact be two separate packs that we saw. Either way, I don’t recall being in the park and seeing wild dog twice in my entire lifetime let alone seeing them twice on the same game drive!

We got back to camp just before 10am and had the whole day ahead of us to do nothing. H caught up on some sleep, I managed to do some work that needed catching up and we did an hour bird walk around the camp and added about 10 birds to our trip list. It wasn’t overly hot again today (around 28 C) so even the walk was relatively pleasant. We headed out again late afternoon for a short drive to two dams. The game seemed to have gone into hiding as we hardly saw any game – some waterbuck, impala and elephant. We did have a few nice sightings of birds.

Braai again for dinner – barbecue chicken with gem squash and sweet potato all done in the braai and then off to bed. H is already asleep as I type this and I reckon I won’t be far behind her!

P & H

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