Thursday, February 9, 2012

A week to remember!

HI everyone!
I can't believe what a week it has been. I feel like a human pinball but it has been fun for sure! I arrived at the Black Leopard Camp on the 1st Feb after quite an eventful drive from the sands. I met Patrick Gumede on the road at Hluvukani. He is looking well and is enjoying life at the Manyeleti! For those of you who haven't met him, he was a guide on WildEarth when I started! After a quick catch up I hit the road again, saying goodbye to other friends along the way and filling them in on developments! As I headed towards the Blyde River area,  parts of the road were undergoing repairs after the flood and it is clear to see how serious it had had been. 
The tar road completely fell away.
The dirt is the only way through!
The road to the luxury tented camp is about an hour of spectacular scenery and vegetation that I remember from my Waterberg days. Trees who are like old friends made me feel like I was returning home! What made it even more poignant was driving past the spot I remember congregating at before walking up to see the leopard Lucky, who was caught last time I came to visit Inqwe Leopard research! A cat in his prime, one of the largest leopards I have seen! He would give the sands boys a run for their money any day of the week! The camp it self is nestled in the picturesque mountains surrounding Lydenburg, at height of around 1,500m high. (I really have to adjust to the altitude again and the free exercise!)

View from the main deck!
Mike and Karen, the managers, have been so welcoming, showing me round their peaceful oasis and helping me to find my feet! Although this is not going to be my last stop, my life is still in boxes, but I hope to put my mum’s mind at rest with the pictures of the tent I am calling home for the time being, so I hope you enjoy them as well! 

One of the tents at the black leopard camp
They are spacious and cozy! (The beds are dangerous though! They are so comfortable you can fall asleep and not want to leave it in the morning! ) 

Inside the tent looking towards the on-suite! 
There is even an on-suite bath room and outside private bush bath! Now this is an experience you have to try once in your life! Believe me you can get lost under the gaze of the African night sky listening to the enchanting bush vespers!

The bush bath and shower!
No sooner had I arrived, it was time to leave again. Heading back to the Kruger for Vona and Ron’s wedding! I ended up over nighting in the sands and was able to join the morning drive. For the first hour and half I think everyone was a bit bleak from the constant showers, but as we entered Djuma to catch up with giraffe, which the guests were dying to see, it started to clear. 

A cup of tea and a rusk had everyone warmed through and eager to get on the road again just in time to join a wild dog sighting! 

They were found at Sydney’s dam but our view was a pair of ears and a white tail disappearing into the bush. If hearts sank it was for only a moment as the dogs came bounding back out towards the road where we were!

They stopped to test the ground for anything interesting, milling around the vehicles for a few minutes before trotting off towards sandy patch! We had to leave them at this stage but the sighting was brilliant and at least for me the day’s excitement wasn’t over yet!

Once again Penny and Bobby were wonderful hosts as soon as I arrived at Satara in Kruger. I was even allowed to meet the rest of the family, so at least my cooking didn’t have a long lasting impact from last time! (Although I wasn't allowed near the sausages when they wee being cooked!) I arrived in the thick of it, but managed to have a quick chat with Claire and Vona, the bride, before getting ready for the ceremony as well!

Claire, Penny and the bride Vona!
I am so glad to have made it. It was such a great day, the showers had cleared up, the sun was shining and even the temperature was great as we drove to the chosen venue which over looked the park. It was clear from the couple’s faces this was the perfect place for them and I feel so privileged to have been a part of it. 

Ron and Vona
Thank you so much for the invite and many Congratulations Ron and Vona!

Kudu cow on Thaba Tholo
Apart from the quick sighting of cheetah on the way back to camp after the ceremony, which   brought huge smiles to the wedding party, we also saw a few elephant, drenched lion and some lucky fishes in the big silver bus got to see a female leopard climb a tree before melting into her sanctuary! I was busy conversing with my new little friend Gabby to see, but I did catch a glimpse of the 6-8 month old cub who also disappeared into the undergrowth as soon as we saw it, although it was a few meters further up the road from where mum had been seen. We were hoping if we sat quietly, it would be brave enough to return to her, but there was soon a number of cars that joined us so the cub remained hidden or it sneaked away undetected! Either is a good bet!

Where the volunteer camp is based!
Back at the black leopard camp, I have to check the 3 camera traps we have put out with the last guests, I hope to do that over the next couple of days. One is by a gemsbok carcass, which I hope will show up a lot of activity! I have also been down to visit what will be my new home. The foundation for the tents have been laid and things seem to be moving on well! I am getting very excited at the prospect of moving there. I will share pictures of the camp once it has been finished but you can at least see where it is situated!

Foundations for the volunteer tents
If anyone is interested in becoming a volunteer here is the web site you will need to look at. It answers all the questions you might have about it and the costs involved.

View from the volunteer tents,
which will have a small pan to the left of the shot!
The Ingwe leopard research site, will provide you with information about the research that will be done and who it is collected. There is a link to the volunteer scheme from this site as well.

Kitchen and behind it will be the lounge/office tent.
The braai pit is where the poles are
and my tent will be further back!
I will keep you posted as much as possible as the camp and research progresses and of course if I see any leopards or other interesting wildlife! 

I have also heard Karula was seen with both of her children on the quarantine open area a couple of days ago. They were busy eating their evening meal of impala in the light of the full moon! 

Until next time, have fun!


  1. Hi Tara thanks for the updates it's a pity you did not get chance to view our family of Karula a bit more, hoping for some more updates on her and her family, take care out there you will be on foot more, watch out for the bad lions. x

  2. Fabulous stuff! You are leading a dream life, and we are so priveledged to get to be a part of it. Lots of thanks, MichelleT

  3. Tara Bless you for your wonderful updates. I am glad everything is going so well for you. Looks like you are going to have such a wonderful time! It will be great hearing all about it.

  4. Looks spectacular! Thank you so much for keeping us up-t0-date with your adventures, and, of course, our beloved animals and friends. Vancy

  5. WOW!!! what an awesome life you are living. It must be like a dream. Thank you for your wonderful blogs, so nice to be updated on your exciting life.(((((HUGS)))))

  6. Our beautiful and cheerful Tara--so good to hear from you! Enjoy yourself and have some great adventures!

  7. Tara-sounds wonderful. What a beautiful place. Looks like heaven. Can't wait to hear the next piece of news from camp. Good luck. Miss you...

  8. Oh How I wish I could live my life over again,and have the same experiences you are having. All the best and enjoy every minute. Alan

  9. Thank you so much Tara for the updates, love hearing about what you are doing, it sounds very exciting. Enjoy and keep sending the info and pictures. We miss you lots!

  10. Wow, what a wonderful adventure. Thank you for taking us all on your journey. I know it takes time to do all you do but you have a most grateful audience. How exciting and all my best to you. I'm giddy with joy for you. Miss you and thanks for the update on Patrick. Diane

  11. hi Tara, redtail aka Joe Rudolph. the new camp is looking good when will it be finished ? to bad there isnt a pool table there i may be tempted to join you roflol Sara called me to tell me the news about her going to join you for a month she is so excited to work with you and meet you. Didnt you say there was some pictures you wanted me to send to you i dont remember which ones i will be having my knee replaced on 17th of april if ok with drhad to change the date email and let me know what pictures you want your buddy Joe

  12. Tara, what an amazing life for a truly amazing woman.. You make all of us women proud you are one of us. I look forward to reading about your adventures in the BLP and of course getting to know the leopards in your area. I read about the Safari being offered by BLP and it sounds just awesome. Maybe I can talk hubby into this one! But would still like to visit Djuma for a day or two.
    Sending you (((HUGS)))and much appreciation for letting us share this peice of your life.. MJB