Wednesday, 25-8-2010 Lower Sabie
Today was the day of our first morning walk during this stay.
At the assembly point, Irving was already present. He also recognized us, although he first couldn’t remember where from. But the words “buffalo capture” made him remember it again.
The group consisted of 8 people, 5 Americans, 1 South-African and the 2 of us. Robbert was the 2nd rangers. When we left camp it started to drizzle and later on in turned into rain.
The ride to the walking area gave us a lot of nice sightings. We saw 3 white-rhino’s, 2 elephants, 3 giraffes, 2 jackals and a lot of vultures. The walking area was on a no entry road of the s29. When we arrived the rain had become much heavier and we had to wait for getting out of the car. Irving was in doubt whether the walk should take place or should be cancelled. He asked all the guests when they would leave Lower Sabie. All, except for us, wasn’t staying longer than this day. So delaying the walk was out of the question. Therefore Irving decided to wait longer hoping it would stop raining. We were lucky, after about 20 minutes it stopped and we could start the walk. We first walked in the direction of a tree with the vultures. There had to be a kill in the neighbourhood and maybe still with a predator. We found the kill.
It was a buffalo.
The suspect(s) had already been gone. The jackals, we saw earlier on the road, were now close by, waiting for us to leave.
Half way the walk Irving spotted 2 white-rhino’s, a mother and child. We silently approached them up to about 20 meters. After some time the rhino’s had probably scented some danger and slowly walked away. It was a great experience.
Then Irving said he heard buffalo’s and started walking in that direction. He was right, there was a herd. The buffalo’s weren’t aware of our presence until one of them noticed us and alerted the rest of the herd. It was funny how they reacted. First panic, then they all looked at our direction to let us know, they had seen us. The message was clear, don’t you try to come closer.
Here we got their attention.
We had breakfast with a view on the herd. Towards the end it started to rain again, we picked up our stuff and walked back to the car. When we arrived we were all soaked and our shoes were covered with mud.
Back at Lower Sabie we quickly changed our clothes and went to the restaurant to drink something warm, as we were both getting cold.
We again met ranger Patrick and had a nice talk with him. He told us about the special sightings he had on his morning drive and told us that we really should join him on a drive. We like the walks better than the drives, but we promised him we would think about it.
After we had warmed up a bit, we got into the car and left for a drive.
First we paid a visit to Sunset dam, where we saw this green-backed heron
A little bit further we saw a buffalo with oxpecker. The tail of the buffalo was just too short to chase of the oxpecker. The bird probably did know where it could sit safely and not getting hit.
We planned to drive to Skukuza, but when we were on the s79 we turned back to Lower Sabie because Mark wasn’t feeling well.
Back in Lower Sabie Mark went to bed and I went out for a drive on my own.
I decided to go to Duke waterhole via the s82 and s130. On the s82 were a lot of impala’s. Some of them were drinking from the puddles on the road.
I also met elephants. It’s always exciting when running into a herd of elephants, especially when you are on your own. You will never know if they will let you pass without any problems. I was lucky, this time they were all eating between the bushes. One elephant had remarkably tusks. She got a bit irritated when I came closer and she made that clear. As she was on the other side of the road I could only make a picture through the front window before she left with her young.
On the s137 I had some nice sightings of:
A Ground hornbill
A zebra having a drink
and a lovely steenbok
At Duke’s waterhole there were a lot of wildebeests, zebra’s and giraffes, what a popular place this is. I stopped there for a while and then returned to Lower Sabie taking the same way.
On the s130 I spotted a nice family of mongoose. They were very playfully
Back on the s82 I had some great bird sightings.
First I saw a Crowned Lapwing with a young.
When I just finished taking pictures of them a Burchell’s glossy starling (I think it is) came by to say hello.
Further on I spotted this beauty.
And then again I ran into a herd of elephants.
But now they were on both sides of the road and some of them were (I my opinion) too close to it. I was in doubt, what should I do. I’m not really afraid of elephants but some of them did scare me on some occasions, so that made me very carefully when in their neighbourhood. There were no other cars around so I had to found out myself if I could pass them. After taking some deep breaths, I got on with it. I drove steady and passed an elephant and another and another without any problem. How I loved them, they were so peacefully. When I had passed I realized I didn’t have a good look at them all. Maybe the elephant with the big tusks was among them. If so, I could try taking better pictures of her. So I turned the car and then ….
an elephant was coming my way. I could not reverse because I had just crossed a dry “riverbed” and there on the other side a car had just arrived.
Fortunately the elephant didn’t come closer so I carefully made my way. Again no problems. I even passed an elephant so close by and he/she didn’t mind.
I then turned the car again at a safe distance. I waited for the people in the other car to come, but they showed no intention of moving on, so for the last time I drove through the herd. The big tusk elephant I didn’t see, but this was a great experience. This herd learned me to be much more confident with elephants again.
Some of them crossing the road.
The 2 women in the other car were very impressed that I dared to drive through the herd. I reassured them that this was a very relaxing herd and that they wouldn’t have any problems with the elephants. I really hope they didn’t.
At the end of the s82 I found this relaxing impala.
Before I went back to Lower Sabie I first drove to Sunset dam. The Green-backed heron was still present.
Mark was not yet recovered,
so after having a drink, I left again. This time I went to the H10 and drove a few kilometres into the s128, until it got too dark for taking decent pictures.
When I drove on the bridge I saw a Goliath heron catching a fish. Unfortunately I was just too late for taking a picture. But the fish made the heron having a big thirst, so I could take a picture of the heron quenching its thirst.
Somewhat further a bushbuck doing
And on my way back a troop of baboons prowled around the bridge.Sightings:
White-rhino, elephant, bufaalo, impala, duiker, giraffe, warthog, black-backed jackal, kudu, vervet monkey, wildebeest, zebra, steenbok, baboon, bushbuck, hippo.Route:
H4-1, s79, H4-1, s82, H4-2, s130, s137, s130, H4-2, s82, H10, s128, H10.