MBPT 4-7 August
The group comprised 5 young gents from Jo berg and a couple from Pretoria. We headed out on the hour and a half drive to the drop of point along the Boubop drainage line, on route passing at least 10 different breeding herds of elephant all along the Shingwedzi river. With the bush drying up the elephants in particular are feeding closer to permanent water.
The first afternoon we headed in a easterly direction towards the Phondo hills windmill. In that area there are large open sodic sites and plenty of general game, impala, wildebeest, warthog, giraffe. We set up camp a little way of from the windmill, and went about collecting firewood, hand fresh water, there is still some surface water at that point in the drainage, but we chose to put in a little effort and dig a small well to collect the drinking water. While sitting around the fire preparing “ delicious” dehydrated food the lions made their presence known. During the night those that were not snoring ( not many!!) heard leopards, hyenas, and in the early morning giant eagle owls and fire necked night jar and ground hornbills.
We packed up daypacks and enough water to last the whole day out, and set of towards the Phondo hills. We scrambled up the first koppie and enjoyed a relaxed breakfast ad awesome view of the area. We made the treacherous decent and on route to the next koppie we were alerted to by the red billed oxpecker and sighted two buffalo bulls in the scrub, they quickly picked us up as we tried to approach closer, the undergrowth and rocky terrain made a quite approach tricky. They blundered of through the bush. We lunched under 4 regal nyala trees on the banks of the bouboup . when we reached camp and headed down to the drainage to collect water we found “ our drinking spot already occupied” by a breeding herd of elephant. We snatched what we could and headed back up to camp. After a little wait and a good look around, I took one “ volunteer” to carry the two buckets and we snuck back into the drainage and quickly collected another 20l just to get us through the night. The dehydrated food packs loosing their appeal, and the breeding herd in the area lead to an early night.
On the last full morning we packed up camp and headed upstream moving along the northern bank of the drainage, which is much thicker and dense when compared to the southern bank. The day was hot and windy ( typical August weather) and there was the lovely smell of smoke in the air, nothing smells like a bush fire. We were afforded a fantastic opportunity to view a young elephant bull, and he appeared latter again at the reservoir, were with a little more cover he was a little more confident and gave the group a little of a display. After the bull had lost interested in us we headed to the reservoir, we after a little bit of coaxing the 5 gents ventured into the pea green waters of the reservoir for a cool dip, while the other couple selected the less strenuous climb into the water troughs. The water level of the reservoir is getting quite low indicating that the area is being heavily utilized by game as a water point, this is also made more evident by the wagon wheel effect of game paths coming into the troughs. After the swim we headed out to a large open area were we set up camp for the last night. The last morning was cold and windy, making game and bird spotting difficult however the bush is never quite, we found a lovely stand of impala lilies flowering.