Monday, September 21, 2015

On Safari With Karen From 17 September 2015

17 September 2015

We started another safari and before we got to camp we already were viewing some iconic animals: impalas, kudus, waterbuck and even buffalos were seen on camp road. 

Like most safaris we then started with a sundowner safari. This was especially convenient since the weather was perfect for a lovely sunset and overcast weather was predicted for the upcoming days. Indeed they had an amazing sunset with amarula and a view, so it was a great start of their safari. They also saw zebras, impalas, kudus, waterbucks, buffalos and, most special, a pack of wild dogs and their pups. 

18 September 2015

It started as a windy evening upon return from their sundowner and it continued during the night: a change of weather. Therefor we woke up to a much colder and overcast morning. Wrapped in winter outfits we set off anyway to add some more game to our checklist.

Our first highlights were sightings of elephant bulls. The first was our first elephant seen and this guy was a bit cocky. At first he was feeding quietly on the side of the road, but a car speeding by put him in a grumpy mood. After a headshake at the cars in general he proceeded to feed of a bush with fresh green leaves, but he had enough of the attention. So he decided to cross the road and when in front of us he turned to check us out. However after some stern words he continued on his way and started munching on a bush nearby, all calmed down again. 

Another bull at a later sighting gave as a great show about how to dismantle a marula tree when you are 6 tons. He wrapped his trunk around some of the high big branches and then hang on it with his full weight. Understandably the tree gave way and the branch would break. Then bit by bit it got devoured by the bull. 

Our second highlight was also a bull sighting but this time it was a buffalo.

Unfortunately for this guy he was itchy. And apparently not just a little bit as at first he used a silver cluster leaf tree to scratch his mouth. Then the rest of his face. Other side needed to be done too, if course. Then the neck (and a dust cloud came out of that!). We thought he was now done as he proceeded to cross the road, but there with another tree he started scratching all around the boss of the horn area. By now we had discovered three other bulls and apparently the itch was contagious as two others started using trees as scratch poles too. As not to get itchy from watching them scratch we decided to leave. 

Other animals seen: two separate families of common reedbuck, many steenboks, common grey duikers, twice a herd of buffalos, sable antelope, giraffes, hippos, wild dogs, white rhinos, kudus, waterbucks, warthogs, a herd of elephants as well as some more bulls, impalas, zebras, a klipspringer and vervet monkeys. 

Birds included grey-headed bushshrike, twice a family of ground hornbills, green woodhoopoes, forktailed drongos, Cape glossy starlings, grey herons, great white egret, Egyptian geese, helmeted guineafowls, magpie shrikes, yellow-billed hornbills, lilac breasted rollers, white-backed vultures, bateleurs, a juvenile martial eagle, an African fish eagle, a pair of tawny eagles, multiple African harrier hawks, yellow-billed kite, dark chanting goshawk, blacksmith lapwing, African jacana, Burchell's starlings and, my personal favorite (as we hardly ever see one), a trumpeter hornbill. 

19 September 2015

Another cold and drizzly day, but it didn't stop us. Yesterday we had great encounters with many different species, today was a day of less species but great sightings. This morning we stumbled upon our first cat sighting of this safari, when we found three leopards. They were playing with each other like cats do, chasing each other's tails and try to stalk and catch one another. One of the youngsters actually climbed a tree and laid down for a photoshoot for a little bit, so we managed to get some excellent pictures. But mostly it was just fun to watch these cats play. 

Our second highlight was a sighting of wild dogs. These guests have been spoiled with the amount of wild dog sightings, but this one was so action packed it was truly a once in a lifetime. When we arrived at the sighting we just saw a couple of wild dogs lying down, when a stranger turned up: a hyena. Wild dogs are daily hunters and this lone hyena more of a scavenger than a hunter so he was trying his luck to follow the wild dogs and look for scraps if they would make a kill. At first he therefor stayed at a distance but he walked closer and closer. Then suddenly, as if he crossed an invisible line, the dogs got up and watched him. Undeterred he kept on roaming around. Just as sudden the dogs had enough of his company and started chasing him away. Seven against one isn't a fair fight and surrounded by the dogs the hyena chose to get a little more distance between them, but not before he had been given a couple of bite mark on his rear end. 

The dogs kept up a chase on and off for about 10 minutes, twice completely surrounding the hyena. After they had given the message loud and clear, they moved off. They started playing amongst themselves and eventually lay down to rest for a while. However the hyena never waivered away completely, abiding his time to maybe have an easy meal. Then the bites would all be worth it. 

Other animals seen: impalas, a herd of buffalos as well as some lone bulls, four separate sightings of common reedbuck (which is actually not common to see), a steenbok couple, kudus, common grey duikers, waterbucks, giraffes including a tiny baby trying to drink from mum, another hyena sighting, a cheetah, zebras, a herd of sable antelopes crossing the road, elephant bulls, a small herd of blue wildebeests and the same leopards a second time. And some new birds like a crested barbet and a brown snake eagle were checked off the birds checklist. 

20 September 2015

Another miserable day when it comes to the weather. Compared to the last few days this was the wettest and coldest one, but we didn't let it stop us as this was our last game drive! This morning was a buffalo morning as we saw plenty of buffalos all around. Twice we saw a herd of buffalos and many times just a few scattered old males hanging around.

Our highlight however was seeing a white rhino again. On our first morning drive we had seen so many that we got complacent and took them for granted.

Immediately put back down on earth the next day as we did not see a single rhino! So today we could put it in perspective as we had two separate white rhino sightings. One was a large male, quite close to the road where he stood relaxing, another of a mother and calf just walking away while grazing.

Other animals seen: common reedbucks (yeah, they stopped believing it is a rare sight to see them), common grey duiker, a lone bull elephant with just one tusk, waterbucks, giraffes, zebras, a hyena, a martial eagle, and plenty of kudus and impalas.

Then it was time to say goodbye to Angelo, Benita, Sharon and Anita, who would end their short holiday with a day in Johannesburg before returning home to Australia. Thanks for joining us and it was a pleasure having you on my truck!!

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