(no, not bodies)
Turns out we could have used a minivan full of Mexicans.
If you like Brandi Carlile’s The Story but you think the song is just a little bit too big for her, try Minniva Børresen.
I installed Windows 3.0 for the first time today* From seven 720 kilobyte stiffy** disks. And it worked first time.
* Windows 3.1, I’ve installed countless times. Windows 3.0, never.
** Yea that’s what we call them here.
Found a stowaway in our mosquito net.
Went out early, drove up to Afsaal to check (again) if the hyena had not come back. No joy.
But we did spot the morning drive vehicle parked in one spot for too long. So we went to investigate.
One, maybe two lions, quite far off in the bushes. We were not there long before they left, direction Afsaal.
Saw a large herd of buffalo on our way back to camp, this one had a nasty gash on the back.
Packed up the camp, found two scorpions under Philip’s tent. Big pinchers mean (relatively) harmless, right?
Looks like we had famous people in camp.
We drove out on the S114 and found the leopard in the tree that Tanya’s been looking for.
Some people get very excited…
(I won’t bore you with the rest of the 5 gazillion photographs)
These guys were just fooling around a bit.
We headed back to camp late the afternoon, as you can see the shadows are getting long.
Philip and I are both geeks, and we were discussing Venn diagrams on the walkie-talkies when Tanya goes “There’s a FSCKING LEOPARD NEXT TO THE ROAD!”
And so there was.
We ended up being ten minutes late at Berg-en-Dal gate, but the gate was still open and nobody gave us grief. If I’d known that we would have spent more time with the leopard.
Jessica wanted to go to the book store in Sabie, I had a slow leak in the new tyre and wanted to get it fixed in Hazyview, and I felt like some Sabie beer. So we headed off early, H3 and H2-2 Voortrekker Road to Pretoriuskop, get out of Kruger after 9 when everything’s asleep, get back around 4, drive back to Berg-en-Dal while looking out for leopards and lion.
Sounds like a plan.
What have they got?
Who then proceeded to flush a pumba which ran straight at our car, veered at the last moment, and stuck his backside in a culvert under the road.
This is a pic I got later, when he ventured out and got chased back in again.
Nobody messes with a pumba with his back in a culvert and his sharp end facing you. The dogs were so frustrated they were biting the ground and pulling sticks around.
Not coming out the other side either.
Too close. A little too close.
Beer (and lunch) at the Sabie Brewing Company (got the slow leak sorted. It was a puncture in my brand new tyre).
There’s always some horse’s arse who spoils your shot.
Found a hyena with cubs in the culvers just before Afsaal. Thought it might be a den but we went back a number of times and didn’t see them again.
The night drive didn’t yield much, we saw a few owls and a mongoose of some type, as well as rhino, buffalo and impala. I can however report that the radio in the vehicle is an Icom IC-F5063 (I’m presuming VHF based on the antenna size).
When it’s time to move camp, some people pack up their caravans and leave.
stupid a sub-optimal use of time and resources.
We get up at the normal 04:00, go out looking for animals, come back in around 09:00, pack up and leave (you have to be out by 10:00). Well, that’s what we normally do.
Remember, your most productive times are gate-open to 09:00, and 17:00 to gate-close. Or at least that’s what works for us, in summer. YMMV.
Took the H1-2 and the S30 Salitje Road towards Lower Sabie. This road has been good to us with lions before, but not this time — didn’t see much, until we got the intersection and decided to take the S29. Just around the corner, found three large rhino quietly browsing.
Light’s bad, but this gives some idea of how big they are.
Then the elephant came, and this five-legged version blocked the road for a bit.
Just after we hit the tar of the H10 south, a girl with stunning eyes stopped us and said something like “there are two lionesses off to the left about 2.7km down the road”. So we drove, checking the bush, didn’t see squat. Got to around 3km and I decided to turn around, have another look.
Fortunately the lioness then decided to look up, and we saw her. When they’re lying down you have no chance, see the one on the left?
Hard life, being a lion.
Went to Lower Sabie for a quick body break, as we came out a fellow stopped us and told us there were lions with cubs at a buffalo kill 12km up the S29 (remember that plan about being packed and out of Skukuza by 10? Wasn’t going to happen).
They were quite close to the road but in very dense bush.
We eventually got back to Skukuza at 10, packed up, headed south to Berg-en-Dal, got a nice campsite at the top, set up camp, and went out for an evening drive.
We saw this little family again, on the night drive. I’m still of the opinion that night drives are a waste of time and money, although the fellow I sat chatting to reports seeing all kinds of things on night drives. But then, it sounded like he goes on them all the time.
Took the H1-1 to Numbi gate to pick up Jessica who would be joining us for the rest of the trip. At the De Laporte bridge we spotted a rhino snoozing. Waited for about half an hour but the only thing that moved was his ears.
Klipspringer at the H1-1 / H3 T junction.
Dwarf Mongoose just outside Pretoriuskop.
Picked Jessica up, went around the S3 / S7 loop, saw a lion but couldn’t get good pictures (he was close to the road but hidden in the grass).
Met Nkulu under the Sign of the Martial Eagle. They were on their way home.
Siesta at Skukuza, went out again towards five. First checked to see if the wild doggies were still in the same area, they were not. Came back via H1-2, found a troop of baboons having a bath next to the low bridge to Skukuza.
There was plenty of sunlight left so we drove past the tree with the impala in it (with a whole lot of people waiting for the leopard to come back) and on towards Paul Kruger Gate when… we spotted cars. Plenty cars.
Yup, that close.
‘e’s just a puddy tat!
Of course by now it was a complete clusterfsck.
Something scared him…
… I think it was those two guys on the back of the bakkie (that’s exactly where he was looking). They looked like rangers, which presumably exempts them from the rules?
But I jockey for position like a mofo, so we managed to get some more photos, albeit further away.
(The other 500 photographs are available on request :-)
This little bugger woke us up at some insane time of the morning. And bear in mind that my alarm was set for 04:00, this was well before that. Out of focus because the autofocus did not cope and manual focus is a bit difficult to someone who is used to a split prism viewfinder.
Heading out we encountered the resident tribe of banded mongoose out foraging for breakfast.
First stop was Lake Panic, I’d never been there and wanted to see what it’s like. Saw two Fish Eagles and a Dwarf Kingfisher.
“I want my two dollars!”
Found this fellow on the S7 close to Pretoriuskop.
Went back to Skukuza for a siesta. We found that it’s best to be out the gate shortly after it opens (no need to be in thequeue, but try to get out as early as possible) and then to drive around until nine or ten. After that, not much moves. Then go out again at around four, stay out until the gates close.
We did just that, drove out on the H4-1 towards Lower Sabie.
There were some cars stopped on the right-hand side of the road, we investigated, they were watching what looked to be about six or seven sleeping African Wild Dogs — these two under a tree, and four or five in the river bed. Not much was happening, so we drove on to Nkuhlu, where we saw some baboons and a bushbuck.
On the way back to Skukuza the car in front of us stopped — a leopard had crossed the road just in front of them and disappeared into the bush. They thought it was gone and left, but we persevered and found it about 20m into the bush and hardly visible.
Checked out the (GPS waypointed) spot where we saw the wild dogs and there was nobody there. But the dogs were still sleeping, so we decided to watch them until they woke up.
After a while they started stirring and more and more dogs emerged from various spots — there were about 20 of them in total.
African Wild Dogs are extremely weird creatures. Alien, even. A pack of dogs is an entity, they exist as a unit. Fascinating to watch.
They crossed the road behind us and went off into the bushes to hunt.