Monday, January 4, 2016

On Safari With Gert From 29 December 2015

29 December 2015

This afternoon we entered the park at about 16:00, making our way to our camp for the night.

Shortly after entering we saw a few vehicles stopped, but apparently we arrived a few seconds too late and had just missed a Leopard walking into the bush. We continued and saw some good general game, including many Impala, Zebra and Kudu.

About an hour into our drive I noticed something looking slightly out of place on one of the lower branches of a Marula tree.

To our delight, it was an adult female leopard sleeping in the tree. We watched her for a while and she eventually woke up, lifting her head to survey her surroundings, before getting up and out of the tree. We lost sight of her and continued towards camp.

We also saw a large breeding herd of elephants as well as many bulls, solitary or in small groups.

Towards the end of our drive we also saw 2 very large male White Rhinos, both fairly good sightings as they seemed very relaxed and were quite close to the road and in the open. A fairly short, but sweet introductory safari setting the tone for the days to follow!

30 December 2015

Setting out bright and early on a fairly cool morning, our first sighting was of a small breeding herd of elephant not far out of camp. They were very relaxed even though they were on both sides of the road and with cars constantly passing through, dissecting the herd. Their deep rumbling noises fascinating the guests as they checked up on each other, making sure there were no undue disturbances from passing vehicles.

A nearby waterhole yielded some general game in the form of a large hers of Impala drinking as well as a family of Warthogs with small piglets grazing nearby.

Not long after we passed an old Rhino carcass which was still being fed on by a large number of vultures, predominantly White-backed and also a few Hooded Vultures, together with 7 Spotted Hyena. The sounds of the squabbling Vultures and the loud crunching of bone as the hyenas tucked in to the leftovers really adding to the authenticity of the experience. They were not the only ones enjoying breakfast, as shortly after we came across 2 male and 2 female lions feasting on a buffalo that must have been killed early last night. There was not much meat left on the old bull, but it still seemed quite fresh and I suspect that there were more lions around, probably just taking a break to digest.

On arrival at the scene the 2 males moved off to a nearby shady spot, leaving the 2 females at the scene. They got up, first one, shortly to be joined by her companion and we watched them feeding on the buffalo carcass for a few minutes before settling in the shade about 3 meters from the carcass and from the road, affording us a great view of the entire process.

It was also a good morning for birding as we got to see Martial Eagle, Brown Snake-Eagle and a Bateleur perched on trees quite close to the road in the early morning, offering good photographic opportunities.

31 December 2015

We set out at dawn this morning and it paid off again as the first animal we saw, about 10 minutes into our drive, was a young male leopard in the road as we rounded a bend. He was a bit skittish and went into a thicket on the side of the road.

We slowly drove past the spot, turned the vehicle around and waited. Less than a minute later it came back out and carried on walking down the road. We followed it, not too closely as it was still quite skittish and broke into a trot every now and then.

After following him for a while, he took a pathway leading into the bush, eventually moving out of sight, but not before pausing in a gap to stare back at us and give the guests a good picture opportunity!

Next up we got a very relaxed breeding herd of elephant foraging on both sides of the road moving past us, with barely a glance in our direction. It is always a special experience observing these unique creatures when they are in such a peaceful mood! We also saw many Bulls of various ages feeding at regular intervals along the way, including a few in musth on the trail of the females.

A little later, we noticed a large traffic jam ahead, the kind that usually indicates only one thing: leopard! What luck we had, as on approach, while trying to figure out where to look, said leopard, a magnificent male, came walking out of the grass, crossed the road in front of us and continued down a drainage line and out of sight!

Towards the end of the day we found 2 Sable Antelope bulls grazing nearby and getting comfortable for the night, settling in the tall grass at the foot of a large granite outcrop.

A great Safari to see out 2015!

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