I saw that Salva managed a Part one and Part two.
I paid dearly for my trip in terms of free moments, so bear with me and allow for a part one ... and part two.
Background to my visit.
A few years ago I applied to do a wildlife course. This was going to be mainly for my own interest, but once I saw the prospectus I realised that I did not have the time to give it the input it needed. I do still intend doing the course once my current project is up and running.
I did however get onto this particular organisation's mailing list and was fortunate to receive invitations to “bush experiences" every so often. This is usually once the current course participants have made all their bookings. So when I received a letter to say there was space available from the 12th to the 16th October, I grabbed the opportunity to join the participants on their bush adventure. (This is my third trip)
As the focus of the few days was educational, a lot of time was spent looking at spoor and animal “pooh".
Wednesday 12th October
I had originally planned to come via the Phabeni gate to meet my fellow campers at Skukuza. My plans however changed when I was approached by a couple of course members wanting to share transport.
The first sight of Kruger was a shock. I had never seen it this dry. The day was a steaming 41 plus.
Our first sighting was a large elephant on the river bank just before we entered via Kruger gate. We watched from the bridge before driving through. We saw a male warthog wondering around the vicinity of the gate and then almost nothing until we arrived at Skukuza.
The heat was unbelievable, so we spent the next hour under the trees looking down at an elephant on the banks of the Sabie River until it was time to meet our fellow campers.
At 2:15 we all met at the Hamilton Library and left for the camp. (About 15 minutes away driving north)
The camp consists of two bedded raised tents. There is no electricity, only limited gas. The central kitchen is gas powered and the freezers are kept cold with ice brought in from Skakuza.
Once we had been allocated our tents, given a briefing and had something wet to quench our thirst, we left for a game drive and sundowners.
On the way to our dam we spotted a young Ground Hornbill and a Tawny Eagle. There were also a few Giraffe and Zebra to lift our spirits.
We arrived at our "sundowner dam" at about 5:30. It was somewhere in the vicinity of the Rhino trails. The dam was much emptier than I remembered from previous years. It was however filled with a very large family group of hippos. There were also a few crocs on the opposite bank having a snooze.
The first thing the rangers noticed was a flat tyre, so while we slaked our thirst, waited for the sunset and gave advice, the rangers changed the vehicle's tyre.
On our way back we had the sighting of all sightings. In a clearing, away from any bushes, a Serval was lying, taking in the evening coolness. We watched for a while before moving on.
About 15 minutes from camp a horrible “slap, slap" sound started. It was another flat tyre. The rest of the trip was focused on getting back to camp with minimum damage.
We were woken up at about 4:30 am, much later than originally planned. With no vehicle until someone could get to Skukuza, we were confined to the area around our camp. After a cup of coffee and rusks we started out. Breakfast was later in a dried river bank.
The first interesting stop was at a civetry (a civit's toilet). These little guys must have the most flexible digestive systems on the planet. They always return to the same toilet and have “poohs" big enough for a lion.
We saw Bushbuck, Impies, Duiker, two of the most magnificent Fish Eagles, nearly walked into an ellie, a Goliath Heron, and looked at lots of spoor.
We eventually arrived at a hippo pool where we could enjoy looking at crocs and a number of very sleepy hippo taking a siesta.
Fortunately the morning was cool so walking was not a problem.
After lunch we had a bit of alone time before we left at about 4 for a short drive and another short walk.
This walk was fairly uneventful. I had been in this area before where we had seen lots of game and Rhino. Now, due to the drought, all the animals had moved away.
Sundowners were on a small koppie where we could scramble over rocks. Be carefull of the Mamba, the ranger warned.
On our way back we spotted a White tailed Mongoose and Steenbuck.
After supper we went to bed fairly early as we had to get up at about 4:15.
I realised this was not going to be a peaceful night as a troop of baboons had moved into the trees above our tents. Baboons are not toilet trained.
At about 1:30 all hell broke loose. There was a screaming and a rumpus from the trees as though a murder was taking place. I also heard the unmistakable “sawing" of a Leopard passing by. I suddenly thought of the Black Label I had finished at supper and the ablutions some meters away.
My dilemma, had there been an actual primate killing and the Leopard was taking it up a nearby tree, or might I be the targeted primate on my way to the ablutions.
Next episode.... on its way..
As you see, one for the mouse, nill for the feline