Eventually the time came for the Jaco V and Reinette clan to also do a night drive in KNP.
Up to now we sat out as our youngest was under the minimum age to take part in a drive.
That changed in August and we booked a drive at Satara this past weekend. We got space on the Monday nights drive.
The kids were ecstatic. They have been asking for years to do this, but where told they had to be patient.
Monday night arrived. We met our fellow night drive passangers in front of the Satara reception. We handed in our indemnity forms at our guide.
We were a truly diverse group. Germans, Americans, English accents, Saffies. All there to see what the African bush can show us at night. I found our guide looking at the sightings map more than once. Why was he tracing the S100?
We had to assemble at 19:45. By 20:00 when we were due to leave camp, the truck was still nowhere to be seen. The sunset drive was obviously having a ball! Eventually they returned to camp and we could get onboard the truck. Here we were spilt. Reinette and Bernei got 2 seats two rows from the back, while Jandré and I had to take the last 2 remaining seats in the back of the truck.
The guide (my slippery mind has lost his name!
) explained the do’s and donts.
Then he announced we would be driving down the S100. What?
Are you mad man? The S100?! There is nothing but trees and dust down there!
Ok. Let me stop here. I know there are people who swear by the S100. In fact I think some refuse to drive any other road, apart from the ones that takes them to the S100.
Me? I have not had much luck on the S100. Seen stuff you see on most other roads in KNP. Heck! We drove the S100 on Saturday afternoon, and all we saw where some lost elephants, kudu and impala.
Now I am going to jinx a night drive for 20 other people on that road to?! Sigh…. A well… sorry people….. better luck next time.
And so we leave camp at 20:20. Off course I was right. We rumble down the S100 and see..... nothing. Well not nothing. A lot of trees show up in the spot lights. Lots of trees.
Then someone shouts stop and the fortunate ones in the back-row of seats are covered in dust. Then the truck reverses. More dust. At least the S100 is living up to the way I know it.
Low and behold, there in the spotlight we have a Steenbok! Great! Of we rumble……
Suddenly the trucks motor cuts out and it rolls to a halt. Again we are coated in dust. Everybody in front rushes to the left of the truck. What now? Then guide’s voice is heard “African Civet” and there, left of us is a Civet next to the truck! Obviously migrating! Look it even lies down to rest! (Apology for the quality of the pictures. My camera does not like night photography to much)
Numerous pictures are taken. Well off course! There will be nothing else to see! Eventually we pull off again.
Another shout to stop. There on the right, largespotted-genet. It must be lost and looking for a way home……. Again lots of flash photography and off we go.
Then there is shouting and noise from the right. Suddenly a white rhino cow and calf breaks cover and dashes into the road. Unfortunately the calf decides to pass around the back of the truck, while mommy wants to pass in front! Suddenly mommy veers left…. Straight towards the truck. Now not to even a park-truck argues with mommy rhino when she is protecting her calf. Some clever driving from our driver and junior decides to go to mom. They both rush past the truck and trot in front of us for a bit. Collision avoided, although our hearts are pounding.
Then another shout to stop. Hyena…. Two of them. We are all quietly relieved to see the rhino vanish into darkness. I am starting to wonder…. Not bad going for the S100 so far.
Off we go. Another genet, giant eagle owl and some impis go past. Then the American lad sitting next to me spots something just as it disappears into the dark behind us “STOP! LION!”
Lion?! The truck pulls back and there out of the grass pops three little heads. 3 cubs waiting for the pride to return after the hunt. Now the cameras go mad! Questions are ask as to where the adults could be. Off hunting no guess.
The cubs amuse us by playing with each other. Then we tear ourselves away. Eventually we make a u-turn. It is time to start heading back to camp.
We go past the cubs again, still hiding and rough and tumbling. By now we are used to the dust.
All of a sudden there is a commotion on the left of the truck. A hyena shows up in the spot light. But what is that he is looking at?
But wait! If you look now, you’ll see the second leopard for free!
Two leopard. They disappear into the bush. Then as we prepare to leave they re-appear. Reinette and I wake the kids who had fallen asleep to look at these cats.
Eventually we spend 30 minutes and numerous photo flashes with these magnificent beasts. When everyone had taken the pictures they could, we left them in peace with their hyena visitor and headed back to camp.
As a last goodbye, the S100 showed us a magnificent Martial eagle roosting in a tree.
A very dusty but happy group of tourists alighted from the truck in camp.
As for me and the S100? Well on Tuesday afternoon we drove the S100 again.
Guess what? No luck again.
So, the S100 works. At night. With a large group of tourists. On a park truck.
That is, if you are me.