Thursday, October 16, 2014

On Safari With Karen From 14 October 2014

14 October 2014

Today we started viewing the animals before we even got to the Kruger Park! As we left Nelspruit, somewhere halfway down the road to Numbi Gate, a small troop of baboons was hanging out on the side of the road and some even quickly crossed. However as it is a public highway, there was no time to stop and take pictures, as this would endanger other traffic.

At Nkambeni Lodge we stopped to check-in and have some lunch. While waiting for our food to arrive at the table we looked around and saw three buffalo. A bit later these were replaced by an adult elephant and a youngster. Around the lodge we got a glimpse of the hippos in the dam yawning away, bronze mannikins around the pool, barn swallows and common house sparrows hanging around in the bar and a flock of guineafowls in the parking lot. In the afternoon kudus also visited the bush around Nkambeni.

And now we haven't even been on a game drive yet! The Nkambeni Guide Pierre took the guests on a sundowner drive and as it was very cloudy this morning, we were happy to see the sun and mostly blue sky.

However, when sunset drew nearer it had gotten cloudier. It was a nice sundowner, but the actual sunset was behind the clouds and on the other side of the hill. Nonetheless they enjoyed their complementary sundowner drink! And one of the guests even saw a baboon sneaking past a guard while they were enjoying their drinks. It wasn't the only animal on this safari, as also giraffes, impalas, a buffalo and part of an elephant was spotted. Some movement in the bush could have been a leopard, but none of them was sure, so it is on the list for trying to find it on the rest of the tour!

15 October 2014

This morning we set off after some nice breakfast for our first morning drive. We spotted great sightings of big bull buffalos, a couple of groups of zebras, reedbucks, kudus and a great white rhino sighting that came closer and closer and eventually crossed the road.

Down Napi we went, seeing our first impalas before stopping at four female giraffes eating the green leaves all around us. Some of them crossed the road, for what was obvious reasons to us: the right hand aide had much more trees with fresh green leaves. However, one giraffe was oblivious and kept walking on the left hand side.

Before we got onto the Napi Boulders we saw a steenbok and on the Boulders two bull elephants quite far in the distance. However we studied them with binoculars and thus noticing that one of them had lost/broken off both his tusks. His companion had two great ones as if he was carrying them for the both of them.

Back on Napi we saw two endangered ground hornbills foraging for food and got some nice photos of cape glossy starlings as well as yellow-billed and red-billed hornbills. At Klipspringer koppies we noticed the klipspringer the koppies were named after, before turning around.

Before we took on the return journey it was out with the old and in with the new. As we did drive the same road, but the sightings were different! Shortly after turning 4 elephants came walking out of the bush and crossed the road in front of us. One older female with a baby and two youngsters of different ages was probably following her herd at a distance as she kept on calling them. Meanwhile they did stop to eat from a tree and following the lead of the older female they all munched on the same small one. By the time they decided to move on the little tree was much worse for wear!

This time around we also spotted a waterbuck and a sable bull before having a giggle at some dwarf mongoose being brave and come out to look at us while a tree squirrel hang around in the tree above them. One alarm call though and all three of them vanished out of sight within seconds. A slender mongoose crossed the road at a run and therefor was missed by some and a red crested korhaan on the side of the road showed us why we need earplugs to watch them up close. Or rather made us hear it.

Just before we got to Pretoriuskop for a quick, but well-needed pitstop, we saw some vervet monkeys foraging together with a warthog. Unfortunately we had to kill the Disney idylle of Pumba and Timon as in real life, amongst many differences, they don't have the same habitat. After the break back to Numbi it was as we picked up three new guests. We then saw buffalos in the distance, zebras up close and three rhinos, one of them a baby, put a roadblock in front of us.

In the afternoon we set off for a short drive. Unfortunately it had started raining so we had the ponchos at the ready. At first it seemed all the animals had shied away from the rain and out of sight. Then we saw a large herd of buffalos in the background on Numbi tar. We took a loop around Pretoriuskop area as there were rumors about a leopard, but no such luck.

Then we drove down Fayi Loop. Here we saw some more buffalos, kudus, waterbuck and a duiker before spotting a herd of elephants. Two females had very young babies with them. One baby being tired tried to lie down to rest a couple of times, but the aunties kept it up and walking to cross the road. We were still watching these elephants when the sound of hooves gallopping down the stretch was heard. Soon a small group of zebras came in sight and their sprint scared the herd of elephants into a frenzy. The whole herd turned around and starting sprinting back to us! Seeing this herd of elephant coming at the car at quite some speed got our attention! Some were shocked to see the road blocked in their tracks but luckily the matriarch of the herd let the elephants safely across the road behind the vehicle. A couple of deep breaths later we set off again as both the zebras as well as the elephants had disappeared from view (but not after two mad aunties of the little ones had charged the zebras as punishment for upsetting them, and two zebras kicking each other) and whatever caused the zebras to gallop like they were chased was nowhere to be seen either.

As you fall off a horse you have to climb back on to get over your fears, so the guests were challenged as our next few sightings were all elephants. We saw a great show of a large bull doing everything in its power to reach some of the higher branches to eat, but failed. And a younger bull coming quite close to investigate the car and then cross behind us with no stress.

We enjoyed more sightings of impala, kudu, zebra and a big old bull giraffe and saw an impala with a broken leg, enjoying that sighting a little less. We had some nice encounters with buffalos on the side of the road of Numbi tar on the way back. Even on the last road we were not done, as on camp road we saw even more buffalos, kudus, impalas and a harem of zebras with a little one, before reaching camp gate just before closing time.

Meanwhile, the new arrivals went on a sundowner drive. Due to the cloud cover they had no sunset, but nonetheless they enjoyed the drive. Animals seen along the way included rhinos in the distance, buffalos, kudus, zebra and giraffe and an animal that came out of the bush next to the car but then walked away from them into the dark which might have been a lion or a leopard or a hyena...

More coming soon!

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