Hi there - apologies for the delay (boorgatspook
)work and pc problems are my excuse!!
Spent a very hot and humid night accompanied by a howling berg wind (for those not familiar with the term .. warm/hot yukky air!) which we later learned was the edge of a cyclone bashing Mozambique. Morning drive left at 4:45 so it was an early start for us and NO
coffee as the hot plate kept tripping.
Morning drive started out in balmy conditions but 15 minutes into the drive the rain came down in buckets! Let me set the scene ....we were in a 20 seater truck with a canvas canopy designed to keep the sun and not the rain off ... needless to say it was not long before we were all soaked! The rain was coming in the sides, cascading through the canvas stitching above the roll bars (one of which was above me!) and everytime we went around a corner the water which had collected on the canvas tipped over the edge onto the poor souls who had the misfortune of sitting on the outside! Still, despite all the weather could throw at us we were very excited about the drive. I was more worried about my poor (new Canon 400D) camera! Luckily I had taken a waterproof fleece and this spent it's time covering the camera - as a result I was rather chilly but priorities, priorities! (I havent melted yet ...
'Sunrise' on the H1-5 (I think our route was H8, H1-5, S89, S90, H1-4 back to Olifants)
As the sun came up-ish (actually a glimmer through the clouds) we were rewarded by our first Lion sighting. Three males in the rain soaked grass. Unfortunately, the bumping and grinding of the big truck's gears and brakes disturbed their rest and they soon slunk off into the bush .. but I was happy as my last 'lion' sighting had been from a long way off and at night.
I did manage to get one decent shot ...
Saw toitoise, hyena, elephant, zebra, impala, waterbuck and kudu so all in all it was well worth getting wet! Still, it is all part of the adventure and makes for a much more interesting memory!!
We returned to the camp at 7:45 in time for a much needed hot shower, change of clothes and breakfast. We also popped into the office to tell them about the hot plate and a problem we had noticed with our loo. By the time we had finished having our breakfast the staff were already working on our chalet - great service!! I must say that the staff were all really friendly and helpful. Our chalet cleaner did such a good job you would have thought we had not moved in yet! How she managed to do this when our galloping SA disease had taken hold I will never know - but all credit to her! (to enlighten you, 'galloping SA disease' is when your luggage overflows onto every available surface and seems to reproduce regardless of how tidy you try to be! I have a severe case of this disease and try as I might I can't seem to cure it!! It is also very contagious as SO seems to have caught it too - even though he is a Pommie and it is still in it's early stages I have no doubt that the longer he is in contact with a Saffie bird the worse his symptoms will become!). I was amused by the fact that the fly/mozzi screens were rusty but the brass window latches next to them were positively sparkling! - How wonderful! The cleaner, unfortunately I never did catch her name, was also very keen to warn us about the "monkees" opening the fridge. Reading the forum had already warned us of the thieving baboons so we had made sure that the fridge was turned towards the wall. The staff take so much pride in their work and it is so great to see. They are a real credit to the Parks.
After we had had a little relax we were ready to hit the park again - you couldn't have stopped me .... poor SO... I think I ran him ragged!! Time seems to be made of elastic while you are in the park and we were on the go from the crack of dawn to late at night!
We drove from Olifants to Letaba via the S93 and S44. It was very very hot and we did not expect to see a great deal but were happy to enjoy the sights and smells of the park. On the S93 we came across an old lion, I think, kill (giraffe) in a dried up stream right next to the road. Unfortunately, it was too old for the lions etc but there were about 20 vultures on the carcas and as vultures were on our wish list we were ecstatic!! We stayed with the carcas for quite a while - taking pics and video, luckily the pong was not too bad!!
We also saw terapins in a pool alongside the road - about the only creatures moving and only because they had their own jacuzzi!!
At a very hot Letaba we were approached by a member of staff who asked us about our yellow ribbonr. This was the second time we had been asked, the previous occasion was by the petrol attendant at Skukuza. Both times we were asked if it was for a wedding - ironic?
At Letaba we explained about the ribbon and ended up having a very long discussion about the website which culminated in us recommending the forums to SAP staff members! How odd was that???
But very worthwhile I feel as the more awareness about this wonderful forum and website the better!! After our discussion, we treated ourselves to a lovely cold (melty) ice-cream and watched a family of Southern Yellowbilled Hornbills on the grass. We then made our way up the H1-6 but as all the game were being very sensible and staying out of the open, (what was that about mad dogs and englishmen?...) at the H15 turning we turned around and drove back to Olifants. We then rewarded ourselves with a lazy afternoon of shandies and sitting on the veranda watching the elies come down to the water to play.
SO made a rather strange rice 'thingy for dinner' (one of those 'chuck it all in a pot' kind of thingy's as it was too windy to braai) and then we we off on our night drive.
8pm - 10pm : Night drive was very, very windy and muggy. Saw african wild cat (sitting blinking in the grass - just like a house cat would) greysbok, our first springhaasies (how cute!!), giraffe, hippo, croc, a white backed night heron (which I believe would have had the twitchers in delight!), a +-2m python slowing edging it's way across the open grass and a dead mozambique spitting cobra on the road. (I will confess to being a 'the best snake is a dead snake' kind of person but it is still not great to see this kind of road kill.) If I remember correctly, the night drive route was H8, H1-5, S91, S90, S89 and back via H1-5, H8. On the first leg of the H1-5, from very close by, we were startled by a loud elephant trumpet.
It was so close that a few of the angels in the truck screamed (hee hee), I was quite proud of the fact that didn't although I will own up ... I did get a fright!!
Anyway, where was I ?..... a 'demented' (for 'demented' read stressed, unhappy, PMT ...) elephant charged over the road in front of our vehicle and disappeared into the bush. It was quite a smallish elie and I think had gotten separated from the herd as it was definitely on a mission ..... (possible that it was being stalked or something but no way to substantiate this as it was very dark out there ...). We arrived back at camp at 10pm and quickly made our way back to our chalet as we had a walk booked the next day!!!
(Next time I will use my brain when booking all these activities!! I am not sorry now that we crammed so much into our trip but boy by the end of it I was glad to be with the folks and doing nothing!!)
So, for now .... That all Folks! (for now ... Part 3 to follow ....)