Monday, March 30, 2015

On Safari With Karen From 26 - 28 March 2015

26 March 2015

A new safari started today with a sundowner. This sundowner safari was a rather quiet one, as the guests saw just zebras in the distance, kudus, hippos in the water and a scrub hare. However, the sunset was lovely, especially with the Amarula. And since we had arrived at the park with a rain storm, it was even better that the sky had cleared up and they got to see a sunset after all.

27 March 2015

Today was a day with lots of animals. But soon after we started we had our first highlight of this tour. We drove down Napi road when we saw a buffalo in the distance. From another car at the sighting we learned that just before we arrived some lions had crossed and they were still there in between the bushes close to where the buffalo was. Now we looked again with binoculars and we spotted three lions walking in front of the buffalo. They were between the bushes so they walked in and out of sight. However they were walking towards the nearby dam so we decided to go there and wait for them to arrive.

At Shithave Dam we sat and waited. And waited. And waited some more. Then we saw the buffalo arrive but no lions. But we reasoned, the buffalo might have taken a short cut even though it was following the lions. So we waited some more. And then suddenly we saw this one lioness on the opposite site of the dam, half hidden behind a bush, staring at something on our side. At one moment she even hid completely as not to be seen and sometimes she would crouch as if she wanted to pounce!

Then suddenly we see three lionesses crossing the road from behind us towards the dam. So they walked out of sight of everything to be on the opposite sight of whatever it was the lioness already had noticed, is looking at. Now they were poised to build an ambush, and possibly the one still sitting on the opposite side might be the chaser. In the meantime we had spotted the target as some waterbuck were standing on the waters edge below us. One big male waterbuck as well as a baby were in our line of sight and it seemed the lionesses had their eyes on them.

However, while setting up the ambush one of the lionesses got out of the cover of the grass and was spotted by the big male waterbuck who sounded the alarm. She hid back in the grass and crouched slowly towards the waterbucks again but not slow enough. With the waterbucks now on edge she was at a disadvantage and she took the leap too early. Her eagerness made the big male bolt long before she got close. The baby however took a run straight towards the area where we last had seen the other two females and the one taking the spring got her almost cornered between herself and some rocks on the waters edge, when the little waterbuck took a last desperate turn around half through the water and a sprint in the opposite direction. This took the lioness by surprise. As she was not as quick in the turn the baby waterbuck got more and more distance and the lioness gave up. Slowly the other two came out of the high grass too and they had a sip of water.

Then slowly one lioness had joined its sister on the opposite side and the walked in between the bushes trying to be unobtrusive and get close to some other waterbucks. The lionesses on this side didn't join in or might have played decoy, but it had no success. The waterbucks had seen the hunt before and even though they didn't see the lions coming they were so on edge they moved away from the water in a close knitted group.

That was the last straw and the girls gave up. One by one they walked to a bunch of rocks and took a rest. It was our cue to leave the sighting and finally go for a loo break.

After coffee we got back on the road and followed a tip from a fellow guide that had seen a snake attack a chameleon. The snake had retreated when they arrived but the chameleon might still present an easy meal so we should keep our eyes open. We found the chameleon down the road and it was obvious he wasn't in the best of state. While looking at him the snake came back and moved slowly towards the chameleon again. He surely attacked and bit but got scared off by the arrival of another car. As this morning had already tested our patience we stayed put and waited....

And once again the snake returned and attacked the chameleon. Fervently trying to survive now the chameleon actually hissed and snapped at the snake and yet again the snake retreated. This repeated a couple of times when finally the snake had a final move and grabbed the chameleon in a stronghold and didn't let go. The chameleon became a well-deserved meal for the snake, who took his prize into the high grass. It took a while to swallow and as it was difficult to see we continued our journey and let the snake eat in peace.

Other interesting sightings: sadle-billed stork, dwarf mongooses, common grey duiker, elephants, white rhino, warthogs, kudus, woolly necked stork, European roller, impala, buffalos, lilac-breasted roller, giraffe, hippos in and out of the water, yellow-billed kite that just caught a mouse, vervet monkeys, a tree squirrel, helmeted guineafowls, multiple bateleurs flying over, two lappet-faced vultures, zebras, klipspringers, leopard tortoise, another chameleon, baboons, blacksmith lapwings divebombing vervet monkeys and a lone wildebeest.

28 March 2015

On our last day of our safari the skies were crying that the guests had to leave already. It had been raining all night long and while we had breakfast the clouds were still not empty. However, it cleared up a little bit when we were ready to leave and except for a couple of drops at least we stayed dry.

Our first sighting was a group of 6 wild dogs. As it is the rarest carnivore of the Kruger, it is always a treat to see some. They were on the move in front of us when they veered of course into the high grass. Suddenly a spooked duiker came bolting out of the grass, followed by a wild dog who showed some great athletic skills by leaping over the road entirely. But the duiker was quicker or good in hiding as the dog came back out on the road shortly after. We followed them for about two kilometers when all of them decided to take a shortcut through the high grass and we lost visual.

To complete the highlights we were very happy to see a leopard, especially since we had just missed a sighting of three of them by mere seconds this morning. This lady had most likely crossed the road behind us out of sight, while we were watching a giraffe walk away. As we then turned around as we were running out of time, we stumbled upon a stationary car and suddenly there she was. Out of the high grass she got a view of her surroundings standing high on a fallen tree. She jumped down and we followed her down the road where she was in and out of sight. Then she took one good look at the vehicles which by now all had arrived at the sighting and decided it was enough. She flicked her tail, turned and disappeared in the vegetation. Brief but nice as one of my guests was really eager to see a leopard.

Other interesting sightings: an elephant bull up close, a family of dwarf mongoose foraging, warthogs, giraffe, guineafowls, purple crested turaco and a long crested eagle.

Thanks to Elad and Sonia for joining us on safari, it was great having you as guests these couple of days!

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