Tuesday, April 12, 2016

On Safari With Gert From 8 April 2016

8 April 2016

Today we started a private Safari with Glen and Rosie from Australia. We entered the park around noon and after a short lunch break continued to our camp for the next 3 nights. We stopped at a large waterhole along the way and found a large crocodile on the far bank, looking to soak up whatever sunshine it could through the cloud cover. Here we also found our first of 3 Giraffe, a large, old bull feeding close to the road. He was quite battle-scarred and moved off quickly, not very happy with the attention! We did find an adult female quite relaxed and feeding next to the road, as well as a youngster which crossed the road in front of us. One of the highlights of the afternoon was finding a small Elephant breeding herd, digging in the dry bed of a small river to find fresh drinking water. It was amazing to watch how the adult females would identify the spots by smell, dig a hole for the water to seep through and then let the younger individuals in to drink too. Some of the youngsters also got quite playful around the holes, even trying to get in and have their mud baths in the small holes. This type of behavior comes in handy for all other animals in the dry season by providing them with fresh drinking water!

Then came the true highlight of the day and something that is not seen very often; upon rounding a bend in the road we saw a couple of vehicles parked, with a large Black Rhino bull standing in the road. He was busy crossing the road, but decided to take a moment to have a good look around in the process. He crossed, then turned and came back towards the road, before heading off in the original direction and eventually disappearing in the thicket... A brilliant sighting and a great way to end the first afternoon on Safari!

9 April 2016

We set off early this morning, heading to a nearby camp for breakfast. The majority of the morning was spent driving along the river and early on, as well as at regular intervals throughout the drive, we found some Hippos grazing along the banks and in the reedbeds. We also found a hippo carcass with a variety of vultures and a large crocodile feeding on it!

It turned out to be a very good morning for the predators, as we found quite a few more very large Crocodiles basking in the morning sun along the riverbanks as well as a Spotted Hyena running down the road towards us, but then heading off into the bush...

Shortly before our breakfast stop, upon rounding a bend, we suddenly found a Lion pride of about ten, consisting of females and Cubs of approximately 6 months old, in the road in front of us! The lionesses were leading the way across the road with the youngsters following close behind. We watched them make their way into the riverbed until where they found a comfortable spot between some reeds, constantly sniffing the breeze and looking upstream to where an old Buffalo bull was grazing.

We lost sight of them in the reeds and decided to move on for breakfast!

The highlight of the morning came along a small dirt road, where we found a young male leopard lying under a small Acacia Tree right next to the road! It stared back at us motionlessly for a few moments before deciding that it can't handle the attention, then got up, crossed the road behind us and headed off into the bush! A quick, but quality sighting just long enough for the guests to get some very decent pics!

After a couple of hours siesta time back at camp we went out again for a relaxing late afternoon drive during which we encountered a very active troop of Baboons with one large male aggressively chasing around some of the younger ones; evidently it is mating season as we had baboons mating in the road twice today!

10 April 2016

Leaving early this morning, we headed south towards a different camp for breakfast.

The morning started off very well, when we got 2 Spotted Hyena running along the road towards us! They ran straight past us and we followed them down the road until they took a pathway that led them into the bush.

We headed back in the intended direction and a few kilometers further on found a pride of Lion, 3 females and 2 males, basking in the morning sun in a clearing. We had a brilliant sighting as they were lying quite close to the road and completely in the open! As more vehicles eventually arrived, one of the males got up and walked over to the females, 2 of whom also got up and they started moving into the bush, looking for some shade. The remaining female walked over to the other male and with some stretching and grooming convinced him to get up and they followed the rest. It appeared as though this female was going into estrus as the male regularly tested her with flehmen behavior. However, they moved out of sight and we moved on.

Shortly before our breakfast stop, we had a couple of White Rhino sightings, one large bull crossing the road ahead of us and grazing next to the vehicle, as well as 2 younger bulls grazing not far from the road.

After breakfast it was the Elephants' turn as we encountered a large breeding herd all over the road and on both sides. Some were having mud baths in the pools next to the road and there was a few adult males with the herd as well. On approach we clearly got the distinctive scent of bulls in musth and one very large bull, in full musth crossed the road in front of us. A younger bull, also in musth tried to stand up to the older one but quickly turned and ran as the large bull walked straight towards it, shook his head and started charging! This led to a fair amount of trumpeting and the sound of branches breaking as the older male chased off the younger one with elephants scattering in all directions! We decided to move on and head back to camp for some relaxing afternoon time.

In the late afternoon we went out to a nearby hide where we saw a variety of birds including African Fish-Eagle, Pied Kingfisher and mating African Jacana. The highlight though, was a Crocodile catching a Terrapin in the water!

11 April 2016

Today we moved on to a new camp for the next 3 nights. After loading our luggage early on, we left on our morning drive accompanied by a wonderful African sunrise!

It was a good morning for Elephants as we found a large male in musth feeding close to the road and sat watching him for a while. He might have been on the trail of some females as we found a large breeding herd with many adult females and youngsters of various ages not much further on. They were feeding, but also moving quite quickly and crossed the road in front of us.

A bit further on we found a lone male Lion on a distant granite outcrop, fast asleep!

After our breakfast stop we visited a waterhole on route to our new camp. Here we found a large White Rhino cooling down in the mud on the edge of the water, herds of Waterbuck and Zebra coming down for a drink and a very large crocodile halfway out of the water, basking in the midday sun!

After checking in at the new camp and a couple of hours relaxing time, we went out on a short afternoon drive, going around a few notorious Leopard hiding spots... We found plenty of fresh leopard tracks, but the animals themselves were avoiding us!

We did find a few more large Elephant bulls and the drive was topped off by a spectacular African sunset!

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