I couldn't resist writing about the wonderful time I spent with Joe, Penny and her family last week. Thank you Penny for inviting me, I had such a wonderful time with you all! Considering I was only going to stay the night I think we all got more than what we bargained for!
After a leisurely drive along the Orpen road, drinking in the sight of young giraffe learning to spar and a zebra stallion pushing his luck with a mare, I caught sight of the silver bus that would become our game viewer for the next week!
Winding our way down to Talamati we didn't see much in the heat of the day, but the afternoon drive brought a huge herd of buffalo who seemed quite relieved the temperatures of the day had finally turned. Sadly we couldn't stick around for long as camp curfew was imminent and in any case we needed to get the fire ready for the braai (Bbq)!
|Young males learning who to fight!|
|Judging by her ears being flat,|
I was so surprised the stallion wasn't kicked
Now you all know by now how much I love food and I must applaud Penny's husband, Bobby for his talents. The meal was delicious and set the tone for the week and nothing makes an African meal more appealing than hearing lion roaring in the distance as you sit around dancing flames of the bush TV with great company. Pure magic!
|View down stream, note the tree and a lot of greenery!|
|View over Kruger, keep in mind how much green you can see!|
I think the highlights for me were the families of elephant who were enjoying the refreshing water while the youngsters played in mud by one of the picnic sites
and later on a huge bull elephant who I thought for a second was contemplating causing mischief, but instead peacefully came within a couple of meters from where me and Joe were sitting in my little sedan before ambling across the road.
|The big bull elephant coming to say hello!|
|Yellow-throated long claw, a lifer for me!|
|The view of the leopard as was seen by Penny's son!|
|At this stage the impala was directly opposite the leopard!|
Our leopard remained still as she watched a few impala venture across the road aiming for the small patch of water, but something spooked them. No alarm was given so I doubt her cover was blown, but they were weary and chose to remain on the other side of the road to where the leopard was observing them. By the look of her she was young, but the way she started to weave around the vegetation as she went into stalk mode, her actions portrayed her to be more mature than we originally thought!
Some vehicles moved on when we lost sight of her, she was clearly waiting for the right opportunity to cross the road undetected. The wind was swirling a bit, but mainly blew from the impala towards the water, so if she kept the road side of the antelope she would be in with a chance.
The tension was mounting when out of the bush popped a giraffe, then another and another, eventually 6 giants stood staring towards the spot we last saw our feline. I thought one of them was going to give her away, but after an extremely long pause, they continued towards the water which was now a few meters behind us. Oddly enough they broke the tension somewhat, when suddenly Penny saw our leopard cross as fast as lighting strikes a good few meters up the road from where we were. The impala remained oblivious of the imminent danger that was lurking ever closer.
|The journey of giraffe. |
The middle one is looking in the direction of the leopard!
A few elephant and buffalo later we found ourselves on the cusp of a rain storm scouring the bushes for a glimpse of 2 cheetah who were seen by other vehicles. Just as we thought they might have been spinning us a yarn, the heavens opened and would you believe up popped a cheetah head from where it had been concealed by a small bush! No sooner had one appeared then so did the other!
Cameras immediately sprung into action. While everyone was trying to get pictures of the elusive cats, Bobby and I were madly trying to click the side window that had popped out, back in place, (a long story but very surreal and funny at the same time!) Anyway finally the window was set right, the rain stopped pouring in and we could enjoy the cheetah! A short while of snapping away and watching, Gareth piped up and exclaimed there's 3 of them! Of course we all thought he was smoking his socks, we were just seeing 2. Even on the pictures I took I could only see 2! It was only when he showed us a picture he had taken did we see the third! Yep it is safe to say we were eating humble pie for the rest of the day!
you will see the third cheetah in the middle of the other 2
|Cheetah on the move!|
A ram was sighted and the hunt was on, the boys gave chase, but none of them seemed to be going flat out. It was a struggle to keep a visual on 1 let alone all 3 as they ran this way and that. The ram was joined by other impala and each time they came into view, the herd had swelled with more members, banding together for safety.
The boys regrouped as the next heavy down pour arrived, transforming the road into a net work of rivers and mud islands. The prey waited for their adversary's next move, poised to flee at any moment.
Taking their positions again, the boys started to fan out as the impala sprang into action. Just as herd had run passed us, one of the cheetah almost jumped out of skin. Everyone instantaneously stopped dead, as his brother's attention was immediately drawn to him, curios as to what had happened.
Nervously the startled feline glanced over his shoulder, as he did so; his body visibly tensed. Abandoning the hunt he turned on his heel and fled towards us, the other 2 followed his lead, while still confused and trying to spot what had cause the change of heart.
|The lioness who disrupted the hunt.|
The cheetah of slighter build would be in danger if she attacked, or if there were more of her pride around, but she was lactating, possibly had cubs hidden near by and was more than likely by herself. Under the circumstances I think she too was taking advantage of the rain to hunt the impala but her distant cousins had scuppered her chances! They watched from a safe distance as she lost interested in them and turned heading towards the river...
leaving the smaller cats to breath a sigh of relieve as they too turned tail and sauntered off in the direction of the impala to renew their attacks, but the rain had ended for now, so they contented themselves with checking the road posts for any new information as they patiently waited for the opportune time!
As they melted into the bush I think it safe to say none of us expected we would have been witness to anything like that. It really does show anything can happen and spending that little extra time can pay off in dividends!
Another big herd of buffalo and a couple of lazy rhino later lazing in the sun. It was hard to believe it was the same day.
|The last of the big 5 that day!|
Plans to leave changed again and I was so pleased I could stay for the duration with everyone and try Joe's recommendation of chicken cooked by sitting it on a can of beer over coals!
|Black bellied bustard|
|Cooking brunch! Well trying!|
|Bushveld rain frogs mating.|
The male is so small he sticks himself to the female.
|Red footed falcon, another lifer!|
A couple of the younger pack members looked agitated and fidgeted so much they unsettled some of the sleeping pups, who eventually woke up and scampered around the vehicles almost like they were children trying to amuse themselves.
|Notice all the attention is focused on the central wild dog.|
|Finding the adult had nothing to share.|
Every so often a small handful would dart off following a lead, returning a few minutes later to rejoin the pack.
It seemed spirits were high as the rain fell again, with pups frolicking and chasing as the column of dogs continued at a steady pace. Some of the juveniles missed the change in mood as more of the line stopped to look at the same point in the bush. Someone had a positive trail. Filling into the same spot as the leaders had taken, the dogs that were ahead turned back and took the same path in. In seconds the whole pack had vanished.
Rain was falling heavier, the dogs were hidden, it was time to leave the park.
|Baboons not enjoying the down pour!|
|White rhino taking it easy a few days before the storm hit!|
|Female Giant Kingfisher taking advantage of the high water.|
|Remember the views earlier? The tree on the right?|
|There was very little water here before!|
So instead the day was spent relaxing by the lake, enjoying the sun and watching the mini fishing competition between a lightie (young lad) and Gareth!
|First time I have had my toe nails painted |
and have gone fishing!
|Joe, Gareth, Penny, Bobby and me!|
The last thing I would like to let you know before I sign off is the last of the sports equipment has finally been dropped off at the Hananani primary school in Dixie. After 2 months of missing the chance to do it, I was able to drop off the portable goal posts which took a little while to search for and a set of 4 badminton rackets as something a bit different. Everything is being well used I am told, sadly I haven't been able to see the children play in their netball kit but it is great to know it has been worth while doing! Thank you!
|Young vervet monkey|