Well the day dawned, just like it does everyday and regardless of the frustrations of the previous night.
So my photo doesn't really do the sight justice, but when you are flying along at 120 km/h, eager to get there, you take what you can get!
The rest of the journey was uneventful and we stopped in Plett for a quick convenience stop, but my SO doesn't believe in meandering or dilly - dallying when he is on his way to his destination. We have spent many happy years in Plett with friends and can't believe how much it has grown.
With all the unhappiness surrounding e-tolling at the moment and toll roads in general, I want to say that I am ever so happy to pay the toll on the section of road between Plett and PE as it is one of the best maintained sections of road anywhere in the country. I don't know what "recipe" they used for the surface, but they should try it in other parts of the country as well. OK, soapbox packed away now!
We arrived at Matyholweni and checked in efficiently. The receptionist welcomed us as first time visitors, gave us the map and explained all the rules and gate times etc. She also told us where the lions are normally found.......I think they had gone away for the long weekend too.
We hastily unpacked and were very impressed with our accommodation.
I wasted no time heading out into the park and true to form, the first animal we met was this really friendly elllie.
He was not concerned with us and we had lots to look for in a very short space of time, so we left him to his munching.
We then saw a birdy that caused us much consternation...is it a Robin....no, it doesn't have a white brow....is it a Shrike........no, it has a russet chest....so we hastily paged through our trusty bird book and eventually decided that it was a Southern Boubou! We were very pleased with ourselves (and ticked it off), took the evidence photo, but it is not the only one we would end up with and others were infinitely better.
As we made our way along the road, we came across the first of MANY Pumbaas! They were everywhere and were a lot biger than I remember them.
We turned along the Mbotyi loop and didn't get to see very much in the thick Spekboom bush. It was a case of "if it doesn't step into the road, then we ain't going to see it", so we made this a bird loop due to the shortage of animal sightings.
This BSK was hovering, looking for his supper
and I was stopping for al the LBJs, which actually turned out to be the pretty Cape Longclaw
I have to admit that for every fairly reasonable photo, I have about 50 "blurreds", but that is the great advantage to digital photography. Maybe if I waited until the car has actualy stopped before I try taking the photo, I may have more luck - especially when I am driving! There were a lot of these birds down south and I really got to enjoy watching them flit from bush to bush as their colours were so pretty. At one stage, there was one flying next to our car and keeping up with the speed we were doing with absolutely no trouble at all. I was quite amazed.
Another LBJ was this little guy, siting fluffed up on the branch. The photo is not the greatest, but as people who have tried to photograph this little fellow, will know that they do not sit still for very long, so I took what I could get. Now my knowledge of LBJs is extremely limited, but I have put it in the Cisticola or Lark family and if anybody can be more specific, then please help out.
We crossed the main road and headed off down the Vukani loop and hoped to have more luck with the 4 legged animals. As I was driving, SO was pulling of my stints..."what is that bir....never mind, its gone". There was a beautiful raptor in flight, but by the time I had worked out what he was talking about, it was about 100m away from us and no chance of a photo.
When we saw the next lot of animals, I had a look around for Noah as they looked like they were getting ready to board the Ark - 2 by 2!
This little Kudu calf was trying to hide behind the cacti, but we managed to snap a quick piccie of him/ her.
We were held up by this mini road block, but it was infintiely better than any of the others we had seen on the road. I love the zebbies, so was happy to sit for a while and just watch them.
It gave us an opportunity to get a picture of this Shrike, probably the best of all of them as they too didn't feel the need to pose for me during the trip.
It was now getting late and as we were not sure of distances back to camp, we decided that it was time to head in that direction.
We again came across our friendly ellie, munching his way along the verge, so I pulled slightly to one side and parked the car about 100 m away from him.
As he meandered in our direction, SO started to get a bit antsy..."don't you think you should start the car?"...."no, just wait!". Closer he came...." ummmm, don't you think you had better move now?"....."No, just wait!"....I was keeping my beady eye on him all the time and he was quite happy with us there. my SO had one of the most wonderful experiences as Mr Ellie past us about 1 m away from the car and went on his way and we could then go on ours! When I asked SO if he had got a photos, his answer was "my camera doesn't zoom out that far!" He could have stuck his hand out and touched him.
WOW, how different these ellies are to the ones we are used to in KNP!
This little family of Warties came to wish us well as we returned to camp for our first night in our new paradise.
We really knew we were in the bush when all we could see from our deck was this
and what we could see insdie our chalet was these - there were 3 of them on the wall. (I have to admit that I slept with the bathroom light on)