Tuesday 30th September.
Today will be our last full day in the park and this instalment will bring our adventure to a close.
SO is up and dressed well before the alarm this morning…… I feel there will be a mid morning snooze on the cards then!!! So we have a cup of coffee at 4.30am and by 5.10am we are making our way down to the pick up point, hardly seems like we have been away!!! We bid Obi a ’Good Morning’ and boarded the vehicle, we waited patiently for some late stragglers who appeared in the form of mother and 2 children. The mother sat with her daughter and popped her son in next to Dave, who promptly bursts into tears and we have to rearrange the vehicle so that she can have a row of seats to accommodate her and the 2 children. This was not a problem for any of us and we were soon underway.
It was a beautiful sunrise………
Unfortunately this view was a reminder that we were destined for the outside world tomorrow!! It was our first peek at civilisation since we had entered the park and I tried not to let the sadness creep in before we hit the gate.
We huddled in the blankets on the jeep as it was decidedly nippy and the air was both crisp, clear yet with a kind of charred edge to it due to the burnt veldt that was around us in areas. As the sun rose you could feel in it the promise of another lovely hot day without a cloud in the sky, how I was going to miss this place!
We saw the usual impala, giraffe and some kudu cows, the lions had moved on from last night and just after the Matjula bridge we saw a lone lion male who was grooming himself.
He was a fine specimen and was totally impervious to our cameras clicks concentrating firmly on getting something out of his paw, maybe he had picked up a thorn.
We pushed on again and went by the sorry remains of the giraffe, the vultures were still cleaning up!
I have to say that as we went past the giraffe there was a ‘putrid’ smell in the air and I hoped that the vultures would finish their job soon as it would only increase in the heat of the day serving as a reminder of his horrible demise.
We went in search once again of the mother and baby elephant from the night before. The herd had moved slightly further up the same road and we spotted the baby from the road with its mother, they were dong fine. We pulled up to take some photos and the herd moved all around us, some rolling the sticks around in their mouths, they almost seemed pleased to see us!! It was a bit of a strange experience, they came right up to the back of the vehicle, looking in and I didn’t once feel nervous, this in itself was strange, as I would normally be feeling a bit apprehensive at them getting so close to us, especially as they had such a young one in their ranks.
We photographed these from the back of the vehicle coming towards us.
We sat there a long time taking in the ‘morning glory’ with them, watching them delicately remove the bark from the branches whilst rolling them in their mouths and then discard them. Others pulled up roots, shook off the earth and then eat them. We were feeling totally at one with the world whilst watching them enjoying their breakfast, one of those surreal experiences that you don’t really want to end but of course it has to and we moved on again, leaving them in peace.
A buffalo herd was grazing further up the road on the right and then over on the left we saw a white rhino bull, cow and calf, they got one whiff of us and were off, leaving us with a parting photo of the rear ends again!!!
The best photos we could get in the circumstances!!
So we had seen 4 out of the big 5 this morning, just the leopard that was elusive!! We hadn’t seen any of the black rhino that are said to be in the Berg en dal area, they are apparently difficult to spot, smaller than the white rhino, with a higher head carriage since they are browsers rather than grazers. Black rhino are said to be more aggressive and unpredictable.
Mind you we all know that it is not all about seeing the big 5.
I wonder how many spiders are housed in here?
After the rhino we took to the hills for a bit .... we just took in all the lovely scenery enjoying the new day.
I knew that this was our last booked game drive and I really didn’t want to miss a moment of it, all too soon we headed home and were soon going back through the gates of the Camp.
We headed to the cafeteria for some breakfast, we have to pack up today so intend having an easy afternoon, staying around the bungalow watching the perimeter fence.
It was a nice view!
We have booked dinner in the restaurant for later and we are going to have our long awaited photo show before we turn in.
When we got back to the bungalow it was agreed that some ‘unwind’ time was needed, this transpired to be a mid morning snooze for SO and rather than staying inside and being serenaded by the soft dulcet tones of his snoring, I decided I would brave the heat and dragged a couple of chairs into the shade for both Jean and myself to catch up with our journals and read our books. We had been there a short while when out of the corner of my eye I saw small toad come leaping across the tiles towards me with a lizard in hot pursuit!! I grabbed my hot coffee cup as it is heading straight for it thus avoiding a scalded toad!! The toad hit the glass of the patio door and the lizard stopped dead when it saw me, beating a hasty retreat in the opposite direction!! the toad must have had one hell of a headache but avoided being dinner for today at least,
there were lizards all over the area and I suppose it was probably only a matter of time until its luck ran out!!!
The perimeter fence didn’t produce much in the way of activity during the afternoon and we were all soon showered and ready for the restaurant, which in it’s own way was also nothing out of the ordinary.
We returned to the bungalow a little bit down in spirits, but we were soon to appreciate all that we had experienced as we relived it through our ‘film show’, how lucky and privileged we had been!!! Our ‘newbie’s’ were no longer ‘newbie’s', they had soon settled into the feeling of ‘being’ in the park and I was relieved to realise that like us they were looking forward to returning, you know when someone has appreciated the ‘whole’ experience when the first thing they think about when it is time to leave, is when they can return!!! I know that feeling well! We turned in for our last nights sleep and I laid awake really straining my ears for the sound of a hyena, an all too common sound on previous visits to the park but on this one they had been silent and elusive. No whoop whooping for us, maybe we they will return to us next time.
Wednesday 1st October.
We are awake early, breakfast before we leave via Malelane, as we said goodbye to Berg en Dal it was only a short drive to the gate. We had not got a good photo of a rhino all the time we had been there, they were all parting ‘backside’ shots but this rhino said goodbye to us 'in style' just before we reached the gate.
I like to think that he ‘made the effort’ especially!!! Who knows!!
Until next time……….