Day 3 Continued
…although you couldn’t really call it a traffic jam….it was just an orderly line of cars on the left side of the road. We slowly approached the last car in the line and were told that there was a cheetah ahead
, but that we had to get in the queue!?
We thought this was a bit odd but it soon became clear that the cheetah must be right next to the road, and it was only possible to see it one car at a time, so we joined the back of the queue to await our turn. We were very impressed with everyone’s patience and consideration for others, and not one person tried to push in, as is so often the case in situations like this. Each person that took their spot at the front took a couple of pictures and then moved on so as to give everyone else a turn. As we neared the front of the queue we reminded Alessandro to keep quiet and calm (almost impossible as this was what he had been waiting to see since his very first trip!), and that we had to be as considerate as everyone else and move off quite quickly. At last it was our turn – and boy, was it worth the wait! There, right next to the road, was the most beautiful creature.
The cheetah was lying in the shade, panting quite heavily. We took a couple of pictures, admired it for a suitably short time and then made way for the next car. Alessandro was obviously upset not to have been able to spend more time there, but understood that we had to be fair, and was thrilled at the sighting.
We wondered why the cheetah was panting so heavily and Alessandro suggested that it might have just made a kill, but my dad and I pointed out that we hadn’t seen anything nearby, and that it was the hottest part of the day. Anyway, Alessandro had seen his no. 1 wish-list animal at last, and we had just had the best morning of the whole trip!
We happily checked in at Lower Sabie, and were given hut no. 32. It had a large closed-in kitchen area/verandah, separate bedroom, and large, clean bathroom. A couple with one son had also just moved into the hut next to ours. We said hello to them and tried to engage them in conversation, but it became clear that they were not the ‘sociable’ type, and the first words uttered by the mom were complaints about the accommodation – that it was dirty and not what they had been expecting. She seemed to have missed the fact that the hut was still being cleaned!
She then said that when they had arrived they hadn’t had towels and had nagged the cleaner until she took our towels to give to them – what a cheek!
If it had been me I would have returned them and got the cleaner to bring more. As it happened, we had one bath towel and 3 hand towels for the first night – not ideal, but also not the end of the world! Anyway we left the 3 Miseries
(as Alessandro called them) and went down to the pool. I had forgotten my costume but Alessandro had a quick dip and then we were off on our afternoon drive.
We decided to take a drive to Duke’s Waterhole, but apart from some elephant we saw nothing. Alessandro soon started nagging to go back to see if the cheetah was still there. My dad and I both said it would have disappeared long ago but he was persistent, so eventually we doubled back and crossed the Sabie again. Not feeling very optimistic, my dad and I were both surprised to find another traffic jam in the same place – this one not as orderly as the first. We stopped next to a young couple who said that the cheetah was behind a little green bush on an impala kill!!!
So Alessandro had been right….about the kill and about going back – and boy, did he make sure we remembered that!
We could see where the cheetah supposedly was and every now and then the bush would shake and we could hear the sounds of bones crunching and skin tearing, and there was the occasional whiff of dead animal.
Cars started moving off as there wasn’t much to see, so we moved into a better spot, and our patience eventually paid off. He peeked out from behind his bush for a couple of photos and then disappeared again.
Suddenly there was a big commotion and the impala’s legs appeared.
Of course during all of this, another traffic jam had built up and there were the usual culprits, and from where they were there was no way they could even see the cheetah or how close to the road it was!
A young guy in the car next to us was gesticulating madly at these offenders to get back in their car. They eventually did so and approached him and asked what his problem was. He very politely explained the rules of the park, and that by getting out of their car they were endangering themselves, and potentially ruining the sighting for everyone else.
Feeling suitably chastised they apologized and went on their way. We started talking and he noticed the yellow ribbon. It turned out that he’s not a forumite but that he does read the forums and had even read some of my posts! I felt quite famous.
At last the cheetah had had enough to eat and decided to give the patient few a chance to see him properly!
He was quite big, so almost definitely a male, and beautiful. I can’t remember when I last saw cheetah in the park, so this was a real treat. Of course, this had made Alessandro’s day (and trip), and my dad and I were very glad that we’d listened to him!
Sadly we had to head back to camp, but we felt very satisfied. We lit a fire and at last had ice-cold wine. The 3 Miseries
sat inside and stared at each other in silence and soon went to bed, seemingly without any supper, while we enjoyed a lamb curry (maybe not such a good idea considering the temperatures we’d been having
). Staying in the little bungalows next to us (the white ones with 4 units joined together) was a tour group, who my dad soon got chatting to. They were from all over Europe and were traveling through S.A for 3 weeks. They had spent two days in the park and were off to Swaziland in the morning. It was very interesting to hear their stories, but everyone was exhausted, so it was time to shower (drying off with a hand-towel was interesting!
) and then off to the land of nod!