Monday, November 24, 2014

On Safari With Curtis from 17 November 2014

17 November 2014

Unfortunately today was the last day for two of our guests and after some breakfast we loaded luggage into the truck and set off on their last drive. This morning the roads were very busy with lots of general game such as impala, kudu, Waterbuck, zebra and Warthog. We had quite a few different sightings of buffalo as well this morning. We also had two rhino sighting but both were hampered by a lot of trees. There were also many very good sighting of elephants ranging from solitary males to small bachelor groups up to family herds including two males who were not interested in us as they were busy pushing and shoving each other. We also had a lovely collective sighting of animals with giraffe, impala, warthog and wildebeest all grazing or browsing in the same area. The wildebeest was our first sighting of that particular species on this tour, which pleased everyone. We, however, had one more new species ticked off today and probably the one that nearly all the guests want to see above all else. Yep you have guessed it LIONS!! We had been given a tip off and we were lucky enough to find them still lying around. Three lionesses and an even nicer surprise in the shape of a small cub, just a few months old. They had made a kill overnight and the girls were watching over it while the youngsters was probably experiencing one of its first ever carcasses. Then it was time to say goodbye to Jana and Meredith. Thanks for your company on this tour and glad we managed to get those lions finally for you. Travel safe and hopefully see you back on Safari soon.

This afternoon we braved the clouds which were getting ever darker and went out on a short drive around this area. Well that short drive turned out to be a much longer and an incredibly rewarding drive, more than anyone was expecting. It started with a tip off about a possible sighting just a couple of kilometers on voortrekker so we made our way there. Along the way we passed common duiker, impala, kudu, zebra, buffalo, rhino and elephant but we stopped only shortly at a couple of them. The sighting we were aiming for took priority and we got there to find lions. Two to be exact, a male and a female, a honeymooning couple. It didn't take long before the female gave the tell tale signs of being ready and the male got up and mounted her. Mating lions don't take to long and soon the male was dismounting. Then he started to advertise his prowess by roaring right next to our car. Easily one of the most eerily and wonderful sounds of the African bush. If that wasn't good enough a very kind member of the public gave us some information about another sighting just down the road. Having seen what we had and knowing courting lions don't exactly move great distances we took our chance and drove to the other sighting. 8 kilometers later and there were sat with three cheetah. They were about 30 meters away but in the open grass so we had a great view. After about five minutes one sat straight up and alert, something had got its attention and the cheetah had got the attention of some zebra and impala and a herd of elephants, all in the distance. The first cheetah started to jog faster and as we watched the other two we lost sight of the first one. So much so that thirty seconds later it had run about 100  meters away. We then watched the other as they stood up and started to run. Just to keep up with them we had to go about thirty kilometers per hour for a short distance. We then watched as they zig zagged along before moving deeper into the sickle bush. Meanwhile the zebra and impala had disappeared and the ellies had moved on. We got the privilege of spending about fifteen minutes with these three before they left. We then headed back to the lions who surprisingly hadn't moved an inch. We parked up and just sat waiting and watching. As we waited we noticed a herd of elephants which had crossed the road in front of us and we're now heading straight towards the pair of lions. They got within around forty meters of the lions when the lioness decided that was close enough and got up to move off. Unfortunately the male misread this intention and proceeded to mate with her and then started to roar afterwards. This in turn surprised and scared the elephants who then gathered their young ones into the middle and crossed back over the road and disappeared from view with a lot of trumpeting and vocalization. All of this elephant commotion being watched by the two lions who had resumed their lying down position. As the elephants disappeared we resumed our viewing of the lions who had moved within ten feet of us and gave us one last performance right next to the vehicle before we had to leave due to time running out. We had been lucky enough to spend over two full hours at this incredible sighting. As one guest said afterwards " I'm speechless". On the way home we didn't have time to stop but still had glimpses of more elephants and buffalo before reaching the lodge ending yet another wonderful drive.

18 November 2014

After yesterdays great day today was all about trying to improve on some of the sightings of some of the animals we had already seen. This plan started well as straight away on camp road we found bull elephants, two in the bush but one right next to the road. We parked up and watched as he enjoyed a morning snack of fresh grass, sickle bush and silver leaf cluster. We also found a few buffalo hanging around. The tar road along Numbi was quiet with only kudu around but then it picked up with plenty of ellies and buffalo with a tower of giraffe along with zebra and impala and Waterbuck being seen. We also had a lovely rhino sighting, we found the territorial male just by the road and after making sure he had enough space watched as he crossed in front of the car just five meters away. Once he had crossed he started to scent mark his territory by spraying up some bushes before moving out of site. The rest of the way turned out to be very quiet so we took a turn down watergat where we found a lone bull giraffe, impala by the hundreds, kudu, baboons and vervets. We then heard from another guide about lions down near lake panic and so headed down that way. We found them lying just a few meters from the road, six to be exact including three large males. Compared to yesterday's lions these ones were in no mood to entertain and with the exception of a few heads popping up now and again and the occasional stretch and yawn not much action. But then that is what lions do best!!! We left the sighting and popped into lake panic bird hide for five minutes. Five minutes turned into thirty minutes as the hide is such a stunningly beautiful setting with hippos calling and endless amounts of birdlife around that every guest who goes always spends a lot more time than expected. Leaving the hide we found two new mammals for the day, the nyala and the bushbuck. We took a turn around the river crossing low level and sand river finding hippo and buffalo. Then we passed marula loop entrance and shortly after found something along the road in the distance. Initially I thought a monkey with its long tail but then I noticed the distinctive white patch on the tail and knew it was a leopard. As we approached it got a little bit spooked and moved off into the bush but we had a good look before hand. Around the river we spotted more of the usual suspects including elephant herds, solitary buffalo, endless impala and kudu and about twenty five hippos at high level bridge with about ten of them out of the water.

Maybe due to the fact that the sun decided to reappear after a weeks hiatus the afternoon was a lot quieter. Still we managed to see buffalo, rhino, giraffe, kudu, impala, Waterbuck, warthog and elephants In fact plenty of elephants. Two sightings in particular were very special, the first at transport dam where we noticed at first one elephant in the water and then as we turned the corner another three bulls playing in the water. We watched these for about twenty minutes as they played and tried to dominate each other. Then suddenly another elephant appeared at the far edge of the dam, then another and another and another. More and more appeared until we had counted twenty three in total all lined up in a straight line having a drink. We watched as they then moved away around the edge of the dam, disturbing the sleeping hippo family, and moved away from sight with one of the bulls quickly following. The second sighting was also at a dam. This one was shithave dam and here we already had about thirty five elephants down by the water and more were coming. We noticed more elephants passing by in the distance and at one stage we could see between sixty to eighty elephants from where we were sitting. As the family herd drinking moved big bulls came down again to fight and play in the water. At one stage one of the ellies walking around the edge stumbled upon a medium sized Croc sunbathing and gave out a large trumpet while another made its way over to the buffalo which had come to see what all the noise was about. Overall another forty minutes had vanished as we just sat and watched all this fun.

19 November 2014

Today was the last day of this tour and after a few early starts already we decided to have a more relaxing day starting much later than we normally would. When we did leave the roads were fairly quiet as we took a drive around Shabeni, Pk koppies, Albasini and part of Doispane. We did however find along the way sightings of elephant, buffalo, kudu, Waterbuck, impala, zebra, baboons, vervets, common duiker and one final new species of mammal in the shape of klipspringers. Not a bad haul for a couple of hours. The highlight was finding a small chameleon rocking backwards and forwards as he attempted to cross the road without getting seen. Unfortunately it was then time to say goodbye to my final two guests who are off for a bit of sun in Mauritius, lucky them!!! It has been a pleasure having you on the tour, thanks for all your enthusiasm and enjoyment you have shown over the last few days and hopefully we will see you back on Safari one day.

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