Monday, July 6, 2015

On Safari With Karen 2-5 July 2015

2 July 2015

We left Pretoriuskop this morning en route to Satara. The guineafowls ran like crazy chickens across the camp but we managed to get out eventually! 

Our first highlight we saw when we came across a leopard walking along the road! We were caught pretty much by surprise. But the leopard seriously didn't care about seeing us as it didn't even look back! It just kept on walking and at one moment sat down to look into the bush. Then got up, walked some more along the road and then did turn into the bush and walked to a nice bushy bit. Unfortunately that was the spot where she went and laid down, as it was quite obscured. But we still managed to see her while she washed her paws. Until she lay flat that is!

Our second highlight was a sighting of a hyena. Well, actually, we didn't see the hyena very well. It was having a snooze in between some grass, and we could see some paws move and some ears. But then on the other side of the road, three big bull elephants show up at the scene! They walk slowly and munch along, but the obviously smell a predator is near. They crossed the road and the hyena is no longer snoozing, but quickly scampering away from these three bulldozers! The elephants actually calmly continued munching once the hyena had sleeked off and we had a great elephant sighting to boot!

A special mention for a sighting of a large group of kudus. We had seen plenty before, but the male had a magnificent set of horns. And he was scouting out the females. Or as they do in animal world, smelling their butts to see if they were in heat. He was quite keen on one female, but she was not that interested. So to get away from him she crossed the road. Ha, but he could do that too! Looking at the on looking cars he decided to take it on the run... And with an amazing jump he jumped over the entire length of the road to the other side. Of course we were in awe, so much so that none of us got the picture shot...

Other interesting sightings: loads of elephants, zebras, warthogs, steenboks, blue wildebeests, klipspringers, multiple lion sightings of males and females, giraffes, vervet monkeys, a herd of rare sables, impalas, hippos, white rhinos, waterbucks, and during dinner we heard a jackal calling (but didn't see it in the darkness). 

And we started to watch the birds too: crested barbet, arrow marked babblers, southern white crowned shrikes, magpie shrimes, lilac breasted rollers, hooded and white-backed vultures, bateleurs, blue waxbills, and a magnificient martial eagle which then also took flight so we could admire its wingspan!

3 July 2015

Today was another long day as we moved from Satara to Berg en Dal. But still at the end of this day we have had our favorite sightings in the morning. First we revisited a lion sighting we had yesterday. The lion were still there, but now they weren't the only ones around the buffalo carcass. Plenty of vultures had moved in and when the lions weren't looking they dove on the carcass, making it a big wobble of feathers and beaks. Squabbles broke out and wings were spread to impress the others and we even heard some squawking! And then a lion would have had enough and charge them all away while growling. A true show!! And we weren't the only spectators as hyenas and black-backed jackals were lying in wait close by for their turn! And to illustrate how full those lions were (astmatic as one of my guests put it): the jackals were lying not more than three meters from the lions, and the lions didn't even get up. 

Our second highlight we found soon after as a herd of elephant was munching on trees, grass and bushes further down the road. They had two babies in the herd. In age about a month apart, and 4-5 months old. These youngsters were too young to eat the dry vegetation so they amused us by playing like only elephants can. Trunk wrestling (really difficult if you are still learning how to use it!!), tag you're it and a try at hopping over one another to name a few. The mums watched but let it go on. Until one was too tired and ran back to mum to lean against her legs. The other started demonstrating how to use a trunk by trying to pluck leaves (or the whole branch, we weren't sure). When he managed to get a leaf he just swung it around as if to say "look, I did it!" 

Other interesting sightings: many blue wildebeests, steenboks, baboons, waterbucks, warthogs, zebras, a journey of 24 giraffes and some loose ones, a leopard, white rhino mum and calf, bushbucks, impalas, kudus, dwarf mongooses, vervet monkeys, hippos, zebras, herd of buffalos and just before bedtime we hear the territorial call of a hyena. 

Birds: endangered ground hornbills (twice!), chinspot batisses, crested barbet, lilac breasted rollers, Cape glossy starlings, Burchells starlings, grey heron, blacksmith lapwings and a rare saddle-billed stork. 

4 July 2015

On our last drive today we set of from Berg en Dal camp to Nkambeni. We started the day with a great white rhino sighting where two of them were slowly walking towards the road while expertly grazing. They did cross and even started walking towards us until the first rhino turned around. They were proper lawn mowers the way they were cropping the dry grass. It was nice to watch them peacefully and in no hurry. 

Or second highlight was spotting a giraffe with her baby. The baby was about a week old and still had its umbilical cord stompie. Its mum was licking it all over but the baby already was getting an attitude and shaking of mum as it wanted to look at us. She was so tiny compared to her mum! And four long legs thin as match sticks, but standing her ground. 

Other interesting sightings: elephant bulls, buffalo bulls, more white rhinos, impalas, zebras, a hamerkop, kudus and a common grey duiker. 

In the afternoon I picked up one of Mark's guests from the Skukuza airport. We had a leisurely drive back to camp and managed to see nyalas, bushbuck, vervet monkeys, nice kudu bulls, impalas, lions, two cheetah brothers looking for their third brother, elephants, white rhinos, buffalos, steenbok and giraffes. 

5 July 2015

On our last morning the guests went on a bushwalk. They had a great encounter with an elephant herd that was feeding spread out through the bush. From the viewpoint they had a great time watching all the elephants foraging. They also saw three warthogs and learned a lot about the tracks and signs (like poo!) of the bush. It was a great experience. 

Then it was time to drive to Nelspruit and say goodbye to Rikke and Tony, who will continue their travels lounging on the beach in Mocambique. It was great having you on safari, and enjoy the rest of your honeymoon!

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