This morning we were awakened by a gentle tap on the door at 0500. I got up and threw on my safari clothes, including a few extra layers than last night as it was quite chilly this morning. I met the others for a quick sip of coffee before we climbed in behind Eddie and Tim for the morning’s safari drive. It was somewhat cold with the wind from the open vehicle but gorgeous as we watched the sunrise over the treetops.
Before long we came across a female elephant with a young one, about five years old, munching away on tree roots. We were able to stop right next to them without it seeming to faze them in the slightest. It was fascinating to watch how they would basically paw at the ground until a root was revealed then they would pull on it with their foot until it was loose enough to wrap their trunk around it. At times the female had several branches in play – one in her mouth, one in her trunk and a third stick between her trunk and tusk. Her young one kept trying to dig and root as well but also tried to snatch whatever he could from his momma. Some things are the same no matter the species.
And then it was white rhinos! Two of them, casually munching on grass. They are so huge and with those gigantic tusks, are really imposing.
After watching for quite some time we drove on spotting a number of birds, including a yellow billed hornbill munching away on the top of a termite hill. I thought the termite mounds we saw outside of Johannesburg were something, but nothing compared with the ones out here. Some are more than twice a man’s height with several feet underground as well. Other birds seen were vultures, Swanson’s spurfowl, the dark chanting goshawk, a lilac breasted roller, a red-crested Korhaan, ox pickers on the backs of the rhinos, and a Magpie shrike.
We were also lucky enough to see Steenbok, a herd of impala, kudu, the largest of the antelope and other smaller varieties. Eventually we stopped and alit for coffee and shortbread, the perfect morning snack. As I was carefully doing a squat behind some bushes (sorry if that’s TMI, but it’s reality) I noticed some pretty rocks. Tim said it was a type of quartz.
We soon climbed back in and meandered back to the lodge where we were met by Glory, who took our breakfast order, which we ate outside under umbrellas on a lower deck, with antelope munching away off to the side of our deck.
Our routine here is to get up at 0500 and be out looking for animals by 0530, as we did this morning. Then we have the mid part of the day to ourselves. I spent a good deal of time drafting the blog and uploading the pics to it – a time consuming thing, so I hope you’re enjoying it. It got pretty darn hot today, up around 94 degrees. So I sat at the edge of the pool ( yes, there’s a pool!) Dangling my feet in the water as I wrote. Some of the others napped. Lunch was served at 1430 outside down on another veranda, with one of the staff members sitting nearby with a sling shot to ward off any intruding monkeys. By 1600 we climbed back in the vehicle and headed out once again with Eddie and Tim.
It was still hot and the animals seemed to be making a smart decision to stay hidden in the shade. We drove quite a bit seeing just birds and a few antelope. We did finally pass a few warthogs, which were fun to see….I still think of them just from the old Disney animated movies. We passed a water buck, a kingfisher, a Steenbok and a gray go-away bird. They’re ones we hear all the time with a really peculiar call that sounds like a whine.
And then, quite unexpectedly, we came over a rise and round a bit of a bend and there were three zebras! They frankly do not look real. They kept moving further into the bush so we saw more of their behinds than anything else. Tim suggested we do a photo book called the “Butts of Africa”. Ha! Not a bad idea considering how many times that’s our angle.
While we were gawking at the zebras, Tim’s fellow guides, who all converse by radio to give each other scoop on animal sightings, let him know that some cape buffalo were on they move. Woohoo! That would be big game #4 out of 5. Off we took, taking this path and that, backtracking and turning off by the calls we got and the tracks Eddie was watching. Amazingly enough we came to a point where we could see the herd up on a ridge. Tim maneuvered us around to a spot where he knew the lead female (it’s the oldest female who leads the heard along) would bring the herd to the nearest watering hole. And sure enough, here they came, one after another right past us! He then moved us to the far side of the watering hole so we could watch them as they crowded in to drink. I didn’t blame them for being pushy to get in there, as we were all thirsty today. What an amazing sight it was from the first one passing us until we pulled away. We were all in awe.
Then we went in the hunt for the elusive leopard, #5 of the big 5. While they saw tracks and we followed along, we did not spot one. It became tougher as the sun went down after our evening wine and snacks. We continued looking, with the help of Eddie’s flood light, but alas, we only spotted a few animals, including a few more zebras (but it was too dusky for a good pic) a spotted genet, which apparently goes in the trees to get roosting birds. We also had a rabbit that popped out onto the road and wouldn’t get off it. It continued to run in front of the vehicle no matter what the two guys did. Finally, it veered off to safety.
Back to the lodge just after 1900 where we were met by Glory with shots of another little drink and hot wash cloths to wipe away the dust. Dinner was served less than a half hour later, again under the stars in a beautiful, warm evening. Totally delightful.