Up at 0500 and over to the lounge for a quick cup of coffee. It’s a good thing I learned to moderate my coffee intake while on the Camino. I get a bit more than there each day, but not my usual pot full. We all climbed into the range rover which is our chariot through the bush. We’ve come to have usual spots we each sit in for every safari.
Leonard drove us away from the lodge and soon Hector had him stop so he could hop down to check on tracks. He said a lion had recently passed that way so off we went in search. The first thing we came to was a very alert group of impalas, obviously sensing something. Leonard said it signaled that they were aware of lions in the vicinity. So off we drove, circling back around from whence we had come. And sure enough, there we saw three female lions, all walking slowly along in a dutiful line. We found out that the younger ones have spots on their belly coats. One had some sort of puncture wound near her tail. We periodically inched along so we could follow them. At one point the lead lion decided to lead us, as she stepped into the road we were on and started walking. We trailed her for some time. It was amazing to spend time just watching their slow progression, as they at times walked in line, other times spread out a bit, once in awhile one would sit and rest. Several of them came upon a tree limb which they used like a scratching post. And then they came to a bush that they sniffed with seeming significance, then proceeded to open their jaws wide while standing there, but did not roar. As we followed all of them came to a dead stop, poised as if to attack, ears pricked and obviously hearing something. Then Leonard heard what he said was an alarm call by some kudus. The lions were going to be out of luck.
We finally decided we’d leave them to their business and proceeded along. We soon saw a huge giraffe off in the distance munching on the tops of trees.
Again we drove on, with Leonard mentioning that he’d heard other guides say they had seen a herd of elephants. As we never tire of seeing any of the animals, we were thrilled to come upon a sizeable group, with many young ones. Leonard told us that they are a matriarchal animal, with the oldest female leading the herd to food and water. Over years she trains her lead daughter, so when she dies, the daughter takes the lead. If she dies before all the ways have been learned, he said the entire herd would have a “big problem” – they would all die within 3 months due to just traveling in circles. Oh, my.
By then it was time for our morning coffee, so we pulled over into a clearing. Hector pulled everything out, French pressed coffee and filled our cups. Brian found the perfect log for us to take turns testing out for our coffee break.
As we we’re heading back to the lodge we had one last surprise – a white rhino back in amongst the bushes. Such prehistoric looking animals and this one had a particularly large horn.
We arrived back at the lodge and were greeted by Knox and Christian, ready to take our breakfast orders. There’s no shortage of meals at Ezulwini. We ate then mosied over to the little bit of a gift shop they have to purchase some African momentos. I took a chance to just sit and relax on my private deck and enjoy the scenery.
After a shower and a change of clothes, as the weather has warmed back up significantly, I chose to walk around the property. I climbed the viewing tower then sat out on a comphy sofa out on a veranda reached by an elevated walkway. As I sat, a group of guinea fowl made all kinds of racket while they alternately stood in the shade under a tree, walked down to a rather algae covered pond for a drink or flapped themselves up into a tree perch.
And then “safari TV” began. There I was sitting by myself on the raised veranda when I heard some crashing – it was a large bull elephant! He headed straight to the muddy water hole right by the veranda and proceeded to start syphoning up muddy water and splashing it all over himself. This continued for a bit, then he decided to get a bite to eat so he crashed into a bush as he pulled on branches, then backed into the bush behind him, smashing it down. Soon more bulls came until there were six of them. All sucking up the muck and spraying it over themselves, then actually climbing into the muck and sitting and lying down in it. They were also showing off their maleness, as their big dicks appeared! Talk about swinging dicks! Ha! They then moved over to the edge of the berms, sat back and rubbed themselves. Incredible to witness.
At that point Knox came out to tell me that some warthogs were up by the lodge. They had been so hard to photograph so I scooted up there and got a few quick pics. Then back to the elephant show as we heard more crashing. Just as we got there one of them broke a tree that he’d been eating right in half. Guess he didn’t want to have to reach up.
By then it was time for lunch (see, I mentioned that there’s always lots of food, even for a vegetation). Once eaten, we prepared for our last evening safari. We climbed into our usual spots in the range rover, having asked Leonard to try to find us hippos to view. He agreed, so off we went. Right away we saw a giraffe and a herd of impalas.
But the real show along the way to the river was when we met up with another herd of elephants. There was a pair standing right next to the road where we had paused watching them chew on the bark of a tree. Before long the juvenile of the pair meandered over toward us and right up to Hector, our tracker, who sits at the very front of the vehicle. Looked like he was an elephant whisperer. And, then the other elephant decided it as the perfect time to use the outhouse – down came his dick and like a friggen firehose, he let loose, quickly followed by some large poop deposits. Oh, my. Not a pleasant odor. Leonard quickly started moving the vehicle while we were all still laughing.
We continued on our way to the Olifant River, rocking and rolling, up and down steep hills until we finally saw the tops of green trees. As we neared the river when we could already see the tops of hippos, a small snag presented itself – a juvenile elephant was right at the water’s edge. As this was the first time we were going to be allowed out of the vehicle for other than coffee or wine, that elephant was an issue. Leonard and Hector got out and walked down the hillside to see if they could encourage it to move along. Instead, we moved further along the river, coming upon two giraffes noshing on trees right along the narrow road. Another small snag. Slowly moving the vehicle encouraged them to sidle off. We soon parked, climbed out and scuttled down the hill to the river’s edge. And there they were! A number of very menacing looking hippos floating in the river, sometimes submerging, then coming back up like a bad nightmare. Several of them did the big open mouth aggressive move and some bellowed with a dreadful sound. We asked Leonard about any danger.
Leonard: “big problem if you get between them and the river, otherwise o.k.”
Me: “when do they come out of the river?”
Leonard: “Only at night to eat grass ”
Hmmmm…. The sun was setting just then.
Most of us: “should we head back to the vehicle?”
Which we soon did. Then we bounced all the way back to the lodge, only seeing a few rabbits and two jackles. We were met with an evening sip, then prepared for our final evening. We were met by Christian, who led us down to a surprising wine cellar where we tried an interesting Pinotage wine and he told us a lot of history of the area. Afterwards, we were taken to a magical like spot where we had an open fire, a barbeque underway and then the entire staff surprised us by coming in singing and dancing. Magical. The entire evening was nothing short of entrancing.