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 Post subject: Re: Things Wild and Wonderful; Creatures Great and Small
Unread postPosted: Sat Apr 27, 2013 7:47 am 
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We continued along the Tropic of Capricorn loop.

A group of alert looking zebras was standing beside the road.

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Near Tihongonyeni some mud spattered Tsessebe crossed in front of us and headed on through the dry bushes to the north.

An impala followed them. One of the tsessebe turned around and ran back towards it. She began to sniff it and we realized that it was a tiny baby tsessebe.

Then the baby ran off after the others.

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The one who had done the sniffing glanced around in a worried way. She looked as if she had remembered something that she had forgotten.

Then she cantered back across the road.

Suddenly another beige baby rushed up from the south. It launched itself towards the big one.

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Like a live battering ram, it butted and nuzzled at her belly.

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It flicked its fluffy tail from side to side and it suckled and suckled.


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 Post subject: Re: Things Wild and Wonderful; Creatures Great and Small
Unread postPosted: Sun May 05, 2013 10:45 am 
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At N’wambu Pan we went left towards the tarred road. A little way past the Tropic of Capricorn we turned onto the track that leads to Shidlayengwenya.

The lilies looked lovely in the late morning light

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Bowerkop was bustling and busy.

An elephant was standing in front of the concrete dam; buffalo blending into the background

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Some tsessebe were taking their time getting to the trough

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Another elephant was spraying water splashily about

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More elephant and buffalo were sharing the shade of a tree. The tsessebe looked longingly at the water

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At the trough at last

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The tsessebe seemed to kneel in grateful thanks.


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 Post subject: Re: Things Wild and Wonderful; Creatures Great and Small
Unread postPosted: Sun May 12, 2013 5:57 am 
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Three more elephants arrived. They showered at the trough before going across to drink from the concrete dam.

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By now it was past lunchtime and we were in need of refreshment ourselves.

We returned to camp.

At our bungalow two hornbills were on the kitchen windowsill. They appeared to be admiring their reflections.

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We downed a large glass of water each. Then, more sedately, we sipped at icy gins and tonic.

After that, we enjoyed a late lunch to the accompaniment of the constant chorus of Egyptian geese out on the dam.

We leant back in our chairs, looking up and breathing in gratefully.

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The thatched roof was sun warmed and it smelled nostalgically sweet.


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 Post subject: Re: Things Wild and Wonderful; Creatures Great and Small
Unread postPosted: Sat Jun 01, 2013 5:21 am 
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The next morning swallows were swooping about an overcast sky as we bid farewell to Mopani. That night we would sleep at Tamboti.

We set off for the south down the H1-6 whose surface was stripy with giant songololos on the move. We weaved our way between them as best we could to avoid squashing any.

We stopped to admire a young buffalo. It was carrying passengers that were paying their fares by pecking off its parasites

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Beyond Mooiplaas, a whiskery warthog was on its knees, enjoying the fresh green grass

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When I was a child, before Mooiplaas or Mopani existed, we would break our journey between Letaba and Shingwedzi at a picnic spot called Shawo.

My memory of it is a bit misty. There was a paraffin fridge filled with fizzy cold drinks. There was a water tank on a tall stand. There were tables and chairs in a square open sided shelter. It was always hot and dusty. What I remember best is the slightly scary walk down a long, stone lined, open path to the toilet. There, you could sit on the big wooden box of a seat and enjoy a most magnificent view across the veld.

Shawo was somewhere around the top of the Tsendze loop and the bottom S49 and S50. That day, I looked all around the area for some sign of it, but I could see none. I think it may have been where Nshawu Number 1 is now.

It would be good to be able to pinpoint where it used to be. Does anyone else remember Shawo?


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 Post subject: Re: Things Wild and Wonderful; Creatures Great and Small
Unread postPosted: Wed Jun 12, 2013 11:23 am 
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We carried on southwards. When we reached the Olifants River, after the H1-5 turns eastwards, we drove down one of the little loops to its banks.

We were shocked to see the devastation caused by the 2012 floods.

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Below N’wamanzi lookout three hippos had their noses to the ground. One, on the new broad beach, was perfectly reflected in the water, even though the height of the sand bank makes it appear far from the edge.

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On the Timbavati Road we paused to watch a hornbill double act

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and a wildebeest who seemed to say “What are you looking at?”

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a lovely lady

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and her beautiful beau

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On the lush and lovely S12, two giraffes interrupted their neck wrestling to stare at us while the rest of their group ignored us

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Then all too soon, although it was long after noon, we turned onto the H7

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We had never stayed at Tamboti before. Was this to be the highway to heaven?


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 Post subject: Re: Things Wild and Wonderful; Creatures Great and Small
Unread postPosted: Sun Jun 23, 2013 5:47 am 
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Along the way we passed a zebra whose shadow stripe was dotted with spots that looked a bit like perforation marks

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Shortly afterwards we saw a guinea fowl whose colour scheme seemed to be on a similar theme

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And a tortoise who was wearing, well, tortoise shell

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An ostrich, a fine feathered fellow, was striding across the road as we passed the turnoff to Muzandzeni

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Then, near the end of the H-7, a jackal, looking just like a dog on a lawn, lay in the late sunlight

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At Orpen, the receptionist warned us about the naughty monkeys and baboons at Tamboti. He and Chacma bantered about the baboons in the Cape that had reportedly taken to throwing stones at motorists. Back in the car, we reflected thankfully that however badly the baboons at Tamboti might behave, at least they would be bandits of the unarmed variety.


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 Post subject: Re: Things Wild and Wonderful; Creatures Great and Small
Unread postPosted: Sat Jul 13, 2013 11:24 am 
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On our first morning at Tamboti, we woke to a wonderful chorus of birdsong.

The evening before, the voice of a woman, a few tents away, had all but drowned out the sounds of nature. Every loud statement she uttered began with the word “I”. We unpacked and prepared our dinner to the tune of her opinions.

The corkscrew was missing from the cupboards, so we wrestled the cork from our bottle of wine with a knife and fork. Then, just as we sat down to eat, the loud mouthed lady suddenly went silent. We wondered whether somebody had gagged her or whether she had simply worn herself out and fallen asleep. Either way, we did not care. We just raised our glasses in a silent toast.

As we let the peace wash over us, a frog cleared its throat and began to serenade us.

After a good night’s sleep we felt as bright eyed and bushy tailed as the little squirrel who was sitting on our deck when we opened the door.

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We joined him with our coffee and rusks.

Then Chacma took his camera for a walk around the camp.

The Appelblaar trees were in full bloom

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Overnight their blossoms had fallen to form a colourful carpet.

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A C shaped caterpillar clung to the base of a many stamened flower

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And a husbandly hornbill was paying a paternal call.

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It had been too dim in the tent the night before (and besides we were too tired to be bothered) to unpack. Now I dragged the boxes out of the gloomy passage into the patch of lovely morning light at the foot of the bed. There, I put any food that did not need to go in the fridge into an opaque black plastic box and made sure its clips were tightly closed. Books, bottles and the box of laundry soap went onto the generous windowsills of the tent. Then, I washed some clothes and hung them on the deck to dry. I was closely observed by a group of monkeys.

One grabbed another’s tail.

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The other ignored him and pretended to be counting his fingers and toes.

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When Chacma returned from his walk we shared an avocado and a small paw paw for breakfast. Then we filled a flask with cold water and set off for a drive. First we went to Orpen and bought a corkscrew and a bag of jelly babies. Then we drove along the H7. At Bobbejaanskranz we sat on the bench and drank some water. While we shared the jelly babies, I remembered reading somewhere of a study that had found that mothers mostly bite the heads off jelly babies first while other people bite the feet first. It had seemed a frivolous sort of study, but nevertheless, I sneaked a look at the jelly baby that Chacma was holding. It was a double amputee below the waist. I looked at the one in my hand. It had been neatly beheaded.

Leaving behind the beautiful Bobbejaanskranz and its cool breeze, we went to look at Rabelais.

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The old photographs on the walls were really interesting, as were the stories. The photograph of the Eileen Orpen Dam did not look right though. It is hard to believe that the landscape around it can have changed so much.

As we left Rabelais, we closed the door carefully behind us so that the cartoon on the door would not become a reality for the next visitor (The cartoon shows a satisfied looking lion patting his full belly and saying “Next please”). We looked around carefully so that the cartoon would not become a reality for us either and quickly covered the few feet of open ground to the car.

Three hundred metres up the road, with Rabelais still in the rear view mirror, some giraffe were standing beside the road. A big people moving vehicle had stopped next to them. We were about to pass it when the driver flapped his hand up and down and pointed further into the bush.


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 Post subject: Re: Things Wild and Wonderful; Creatures Great and Small
Unread postPosted: Tue Jul 16, 2013 3:11 pm 
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The giraffe looked uneasy. They were all staring at something low down. We followed their gaze, as well as the direction of the man's pointing finger. There, beneath a bush, was a shadowy shape. It shifted slightly. Indistinct as it was, it was nevertheless unmistakable. It was a lion.

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and there was another lion. Just lying there.

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To think that a minute ago, we had been out of our car, less than 300 metres from these awesome animals.

Lazily, they lolled there. The only movement was an occasional languid tail flick or ear twitch. The male was almost totally hidden behind part of the bush and one of the females was lying on her back with her huge paws in the air. Another lifted her head up briefly.

The giraffe were alert and worried looking, but these cats looked far too laid back to stir themselves to a chase. Another car came by and we showed the driver what we were watching. He happily told us that now he just needed to see a leopard to complete his big five tally for the day.

By now it was two o'clock and we still had not had lunch. We decided to go back to camp, have a drink and lunch, and return later to see if the lions had roused themselves. The giraffe had since retreated out of sight.

After a gin and tonic and a cheese and salad sandwich, we preprepared our dinner. Into a saucepan went chicken pieces, along with balsamic vinegar, a crumbled stock cube, diced onion, garlic, olive oil and brown sugar. While the chicken simmered to a gentle parboil, I chopped a bundle fresh green beans into another saucepan. Then, having locked the saucepans securely in the deck cupboard, we headed out again.

The lions were still there. Still flopped out. Tails twitched from time to time. A leg stretched in the air occasionally.

One lady sat up briefly and looked hard in our direction,

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but all too soon, she plopped heavily down again.

We stayed until the lengthening shadows reminded us to leave.

As we neared the turnoff to Tamboti, we saw our faithful friend in the road.

He was lapping up the water that had leaked from another car's radiator

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The sun was setting as we turned towards Tamboti

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We lingered a little too long, watching it disappear behind the hill.

We were the last in a convoy of cars returning to camp. A second after our back wheels had crossed the entrance grid, the clock on the dashboard turned to 6.01. We had made it back in time. Just.

Chacma lit the braai and uncorked a bottle of Shiraz. We had no sooner settled in our chairs, than battalions of bugs began to bombard us. The electric lights had entranced them. We switched off the lights. The bugs flew away.

That night, as we ate our marinated chicken and lightly buttered green beans, above us, billions of brilliant stars blazed from a sky that was totally untainted by the lights of human habitation.


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 Post subject: Re: Things Wild and Wonderful; Creatures Great and Small
Unread postPosted: Sun Jul 21, 2013 12:40 pm 
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Next morning, we woke to an overcast sky. A Piet my Vrou, across the river, was repeating his call over and over. Somes doves, nearby, were having a lively debate. “Satara, Satara, Satara,” said one. “Letaba, Letaba, Letaba,” insisted another.

I had begun to doze again when a third dove joined in. “Work smarter, not harder,” it advised. What?! What had it said? It had sounded just like my boss. That was a sound I did not want to hear on holiday. It was time to get up and get going.

We had a long day planned. We packed our lunch and locked away everything else edible.

At the bottom of the tent steps, a songololo was still coiled asleep.

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We drove down the S106, but the lions had long since left their previous day’s siesta spot. At Rabelais dam, an opportunistic bird had built a penthouse nest on the windmill stand, but like the rest of the clearing, it appeared to be deserted.

We turned east onto the H7. The map showed Bobbejaanskranz to be on the west side of the S106/H7 intersection. We felt sorry to have bypassed it. We were rather relieved (and somewhat surprised) when, after a few kilometres, we came upon the turnoff to none other than Bobbejaanskranz! Fortuitously for us, the makers of our map had made another mistake.

We sat on the bench to enjoy a cup of coffee and admire the view. Across the river, on the grass beneath the trees, some waterbuck were playing chasey, while two young impalas were practicing their skills in a play fight.

Back on the road, past Rockvale, a small herd of buffalo was lying low

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Further on, down the S36, a pair of intrepid German ladies, in a motor home stopped to warn us about a big elephant they had just passed. They told us they had traveled 8000 km, including Botswana.

When we got to Muzandzeni, a party of men and a woman was enjoying early morning beers and reminiscing loudly about their earlier expeditions and exploits.

Sensibly ignoring them was a pretty little waxbill

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Carrying on down the S36, we passed Ximangwaneni waterhole, where a few Egyptian geese sat on the dam wall. Two waterbuck were on the far bank; their proud leader stood on an anthill on the other side of road.

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Further on a little Grysbok was standing shyly in the grass

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At Mondzweni, a sweetly scented blossom hung from a sekelblaar bush.

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It looked like a mulberry all dressed up for a day at the races.


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 Post subject: Re: Things Wild and Wonderful; Creatures Great and Small
Unread postPosted: Mon Jul 29, 2013 9:40 am 
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We drove on.

Just past the turnoff to Hoyo Hoyo, we exchanged waves with two men in green park uniform who were sitting under a tree. After that, we passed some guinea fowl, and a skittish steenbokkie who bounded away into the bushes.

Past the turnoff to Hamilton's tented camp, beyond Ngwenyeni, we passed impala, giraffe, elephant and some serious erosion.

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A small herd of zebra crossing the road caused us to pause before we crossed the Nwasitsontso river.

Then, past another turnoff to Hamilton's tented camp, an industrious dung beetle was busily rolling its booty home

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Further on, a flash of vivid orange on the verge turned out to be a lovely flower

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At Nhlanguleni, a tree full of beautiful blossoms had formed an outdoor room with a lilac coloured ceiling and a matching carpet

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Making themselves at home were a beautiful butterfly

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a busy beetle

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and a blitzing bee

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On we went.

Lugmag was dry.

Then we saw why

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Pressing on, we passed some meerkats, who took off at speed when we stopped, and a family of dwarf mongooses draped over an anthill

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Around a bend, a mud caked elephant stepped out of the bushes.

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He was a dirty great fellow who had a hole through his right ear.

Vutomi road was closed.

Along the S34, which we took instead, we saw a bloukopkoggelmander (a sort of blue headed lizard - I don't know what it is called in English) in a ditch, five ground hornbills strutting along, impala, wildebeest, warthog, giraffe at a distance, a kudu bull, giraffe in the road, a steenbokkie without horns, and giraffe beside the road.


We had lunch at Tshokwane. It was the quietest I have ever seen it.

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There were monkeys running around, but they were beautifully behaved.


After lunch it was time to return to Tamboti, but first we took a quick trip to Eileen Orpen Dam to see how it compared with the old photograph at Rabelais. It did look very different.

At one point during the day we passed a well-used rhino midden, but its clientele had clearly already cleared off.

Then, somewhere else, a bit later, to our great delight, we found this beautiful beast and its backing band.

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Although we had not really been counting, we could not help feeling a touch triumphant that we had just reached the big five total for our trip.

High five!


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 Post subject: Re: Things Wild and Wonderful; Creatures Great and Small
Unread postPosted: Fri Aug 02, 2013 10:44 am 
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That day, we were almost late back to camp again.

We turned onto the H7 with plenty of time to spare.

At Nsemani Dam, a crowd of cars was clustered along the road’s edge. Great guffaws were erupting from one.

When we drew alongside it, the driver turned his head briefly to us. Smothering a smile, he said that they were watching the hippos feed the fish.

Puzzled, we parked and waited for a while, watching the water.

There were hippos in there to be sure, but they looked, as hippos so often do, just like large round rocks. Then after a bit, first one and then another rose up slightly. They began to flick their tails furiously from side to side, churning the water behind them to a foaming froth.

Their appreciative audience applauded.

And we decided to drive on, leaving the hippos to continue scattering their. . . um . . .fish food.


Further on, we turned in and got out of the car at a deserted Bobbejaanskrans.

When we stood up from the bench to go back to the car, we saw that we were no longer alone.

While we had been sitting quietly, absorbed in the view, a group of waterbuck had walked, even more quietly, into the clearing. They were standing there, silently staring at us.

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We set off again, with, by then, a lot less time to spare.

We had not gone very far, when we spotted a dog like shape up ahead.

“Look,” I said, “A hyena. It’s that time of day.”

It was that time of day alright. In fact, it was nearly that time of night.

But what it was not was a hyena.

It was a wild dog!

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There were two!

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With our feelings fluctuating between gratitude and frustration, we took a few fleeting photographs.

Then we had to hurry on.

We crossed the metal grid into Tamboti just as the clock ticked over to 6.01. Again.

As we climbed the steps to our tent, a Piet my vrou and a hadeda called out a welcome.

That night, we had beef and potato stew for dinner. Afterwards, while we sat out on the deck, savouring a last glass of shiraz, a dear little genet came by.

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It sat at the top of the steps looking outwards.

From time to time, it looked at us over its shoulder and the patches beneath its eyes glowed like lanterns in the dark.


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 Post subject: Re: Things Wild and Wonderful; Creatures Great and Small
Unread postPosted: Sun Aug 25, 2013 8:53 am 
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Later that night, a thunderstorm lashed the lowveld.

The next morning we woke to a freshly washed world. A little lady bushbuck looked at us through the fence as we ate breakfast. Fried potato, egg and toast followed by a good dollop of yoghurt to restore our internal flora that was being decimated by daily doses of doxycycline.
Then we headed off to Hoedspruit to stock up on fresh fruit, vegetables and meat. We also wanted to fill the car's fuel tank and buy some more wine.

When we got to the town we discovered that lightening had struck the petrol station during the storm and the pumps were all out of action. Luckily there was another petrol station a few streets away. It had survived the storm and we were able to fill up there.

South African red wines are the best in the world. Serendipitously, and somewhat surprisingly, the bottle shop had shelf upon shelf of some of the best of the best. Names like Delheim, Backsberg and Meerlust reminded us of past good times and had us spoilt for choice.

The butcher was a friendly fellow. He volunteered to vacuum pack our purchases when we told him we were visiting the Kruger Park. His shop was decorated with rugby memorabilia and also some rather more tragic trophies: Mounted on the shop walls were several stuffed animal heads.

Soon we had got everything on our shopping list - except avocados and green mealies. These we were going to get at a farm stall we had passed on the way in to town, but when we got there it had closed.

Near the turnoff back to Orpen we followed a sign that pointed to Acornhoek. The place was bustling and busy. The power was out and so were all the traffic lights. It could have been chaotic, but every driver approached each intersection with caution and proceeded with care. Consideration and courtesy could have been that town’s motto that morning.

At the taxi station a woman was standing beside a pile of green mealies. She had boiled them, unshucked, in a steaming half drum of water set over a wood fire. We had meant to buy raw mealies, but believing that any mealie is better than no mealie at all, we bought two of hers.

Then, we spotted some stalls down a side street. At about the third stall along the row, we found some beautiful big ripe avocados. Yay! Our shopping mission was accomplished.

Triumphantly, we returned to Tamboti.

We packed away the shopping. Then we reheated the mealies and ate them for lunch with salt, pepper and lots of butter.

A francolin and her babies came to forage in the dry leaves in front of the deck.

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It rained softly all afternoon.

We stayed home, just soaking up the sights, sounds and smells of our damp African camp. Squirrels scampered. Turtle doves cooed. The rain pitter pattered on the tent. It was bliss.


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 Post subject: Re: Things Wild and Wonderful; Creatures Great and Small
Unread postPosted: Tue Sep 03, 2013 11:51 am 
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The next day we were up early. We had a long drive ahead of us. We needed to reach Bateleur by nightfall.

The night before we had simmered chunks of hubbard squash in olive oil, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, pepper and a little chicken stock. Served with steamed baby marrows and beef stew, and teamed with a snazzy Shiraz, it made a meal fit for royalty.

There were no visitors to our deck that last night in Tamboti. A neighbour told us that a honey badger had broken into his fridge. He had found it ripping open his milk based foods. When he confronted it, it had acted as if it wanted to tear into him too.

We packed up, closely monitored, but unmolested by the monkey mob.

Then we set off on our long journey, stopping briefly at Bobbejaanskrans for coffee, rusks and malaria muti.

Back on the road, we had not gone far when we saw a car stopped up ahead.

A chameleon was tottering as fast as it could go across the road and onto the grassy verge.

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A bit further on, a safari jeep had stopped. Its passengers were looking around, first this way and then that way. The driver leant down and said to us, “They said there is a leopard lying down somewhere around here”. Then, raising his binoculars to his eyes again, he added rather sadly, “but I haven't seen it."

We wished him luck and drove on.

In a bush beside the road a pair of long tailed shrikes were showing off their front and back views

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We saw monkeys walking in the river bed. Wildebeest, zebra and warthogs grazed on the banks.

Then we came across a group of guinea fowl in the road. The male was running madly behind one of the hens. His beak was latched onto the feathers on her back. She was leading him a merry dance. She dashed this way and that with him swerving wildly behind her like an out of control trailer.

At Nsemani all was quiet. There were just some hippos in the middle of the dam looking like half submerged submarines.

At the gate into Satara, the car in front of us stopped suddenly. A boy jumped out and scooped something from the middle of the road. He carried it carefully in his cupped hands and placed it in the grass beside the road. It was a tiny terrapin. The kind hearted kid had been putting it out of the way of immediate harm.

Satara was busy, busy, busy. Safari jeeps swarmed about and jostled for parking spaces. The shop was well stocked with potential gifts, but there was no time to browse there that day. We still had many miles to go. The tables on the stoep were packed with people. Everybody seemed to be talking at once; each person louder than the next one. It was like the Tower of Babel out there.

Near the car park, in a tree above the hubbub, a Scops owl sat quietly snoozing.

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The new picnic site looked nice, but there was no time to explore it that day.

We ate our lunch in the car; a delicious, buttery Acornhoek avocado.

Then we went on our way northwards again. We saw kudu, wildebeest, baboon, zebra, giraffe, elephant and impala beside the road.

Near Ngotso North we passed a leopard’s pantry. The horns, skull, and lower legs of an impala were hanging from the fork of a tree. The leopard though, was lying low. It was nowhere to be seen.

The high bridge over the Olifants River was lively with people milling about out of their cars. There were hippos wading over the rocks in the middle of the river and elephants wandering along the far bank. We leaned our arms on the green metal guard rail, enjoying the sunshine and the view.

Then a tour guide, with a carrying voice, began talking loudly to his group. He was in his element. They were enthralled.

We were as entertained as they were; especially when we heard him say that the goliath heron is the largest bird in the park. It was tempting to offer an observation about the ostrich, but it seemed somehow impolite to interrupt.

Not wishing to embarrass him in front of his adoring audience, we kept our counsel.

We climbed back into our car and carried on across the river and on up the road.


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 Post subject: Re: Things Wild and Wonderful; Creatures Great and Small
Unread postPosted: Sat Sep 28, 2013 9:43 am 
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With the Lebombos lining the horizon to the east, we drove steadily northwards. New spring grass covered the ground in a green haze. It felt good to be back among the Mopani again.

The sign at the bridge over the Letaba river had been given a bit of a facelift.

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At Middelvlei some buffalo and zebra were grazing peacefully and companionably.

A warthog appeared to be lying dead beside the road. It was being licked by a second warthog.

Then to our great relief, it suddenly sat up.

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Further on, we found three zebras with a fluffy baby.

One of the zebras had a clear line of dots in its black stripes and only the slightest shadow in its white stripes.

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At Nshawu the tent that had been pitched there a few days previously had gone. Again we looked in vain for signs of the old Shawo picnic spot.

We stopped at Mooiplaas to slice and eat some paw paw, oranges and biltong. Some other people were braaiing wors. It smelt delicious.

The air was full of fluttering white butterflies and heavy with the promise of rain.

Back in the car, we called in briefly at Mopani to check our phones, but there was no reception.

Bowkerkop was deserted that day.

A bit further on, we passed a tiny tortoise on the verge and then skirted around a larger one that was crossing the road. A car behind us drove straight over the one in the road. I cringed and looked back gingerly. I thought it would be squashed, but it had ducked down and the base of the car had cleared it.

Just before the Tropic of Capricorn, large dollops of rain began to fall. That wonderful smell of rain on hot grass wafted in our windows.

Past Eendrag a huge herd of buffalo was crossing the road. We stopped to wait for them.

Then we noticed a breeding herd of elephant moving fast through the bush towards us. They were heading for the river on the other side of the road. It looked as if they were coming straight at us, but when they reached the road they walked beside it for a bit. Then they quickly crossed behind the cars.

At Nwambu there was another breeding herd of elephants. They had lots of babies. One was really tiny. The bigger elephants stood with their trunks hung over the side of the concrete dam. They drank deeply. Then the whole herd went around to the trough so that the little ones could also get a drink.

At Nkokodzi there were two parked cars and yet another breeding herd of elephants.

Past the old main road, under the electricity wires, and on we drove.

We passed some zebras on the left and piles of what looked like firewood on both verges.

At last we reached the S52 Red Rocks road and turned onto it. At the lookout point we got out of the car to stretch our legs. On the far bank of the Shingwedzi river a lone elephant was drinking from a rock pool.

We went to stand at the barrier and looked down into the ravine. To one side, at the bottom of a cliff, lay a waterhole. Beautiful blue lilies floated on its surface.

Dreamily admiring the flowers, I slowly became aware of a movement among the mopani below.

Something half hidden was emerging from the shelter of the trees.


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 Post subject: Re: Things Wild and Wonderful; Creatures Great and Small
Unread postPosted: Mon Oct 07, 2013 12:16 pm 
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Silently, in single file, a herd of elephants was descending into the ravine. They passed beneath the thorn trees, directly below us.

It was so thrilling to have nothing between us and them that at first we simply stared in awed delight. Then suddenly we thought about photographing them.

Somewhere near Middelvlei, the SD card in the big camera had filled up. We had looked for another in all the camp shops we had passed that day, but it is a fairly old type and there were none to be had.

I fished my little camera out of my pocket. Oh dear! I had forgotten to switch it off before I put it away. Its battery was flat.

Luckily my iPad has a built in camera, so we were able to capture something of the scene after all.

Image

Image


While the herd was drinking, the lone elephant on the far bank came across the rocks. As he began to descend towards them, the matriarch went forward to meet him. They greeted each other with outstretched trunks. They seemed to know one another. I wondered if he had been a member of the herd who had recently left it to seek his fortune as a young adult.

Back on the S52 we saw giraffe, impala, another giraffe just past the red rocks windmill, and more giraffe further on. We passed a little duiker standing alone under a tree.

Just before the Tshanga river a water monitor wanderered onto the road.

Image


Over the river, we turned on to the road to the Tshanga lookout. It used to be a dreadful road in the old days. Rocky and rough; it got worse the higher you drove.

But then, the vast expansive view, that still rewards one today, was worth every judder and jolt.

Image


We arrived at Bateleur just before sunset.

On the reception desk stood a small statue of a leopard, the well-earned floating trophy for the best bushveld camp. We were warmly welcomed. Then we went and settled into the bungalow called Tiptol (bulbul) which was to be our home for the next four nights.


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