Friday 15th November: Day 1
We were stationed this week at Dikhololo - a bit of a schlep for working in Pretoria, Yes - so we decided to leave early at 5am - which amazingly for our family, we achieved spot on!
The only traffic we had on route was at the Doornpoort Toll Plaza, but then it was plain sailing - traffic wise. Both mom and I found the bakkie unusually unsteady - like we were ice skating rather than driving on a highway, so we pulled off at the Alzu Petroport (after trying Ultracity where they were not willing to help us) to check tyre pressure, and sure enough, we were over-inflated by quite a margin, and the left front significantly less so than the right! So after that was sorted, we were back to plain sailing! We then had a stop at Dullstroom for Trout and Beer
and continued, where we seemed to get behind every truck and slow moving vehicle (idiot
) in Mpumalanga! But we finally got to the first Orpen Gate at about 14:30 with nerves and tempers a bit frayed, to be greeted by one of the friendliest guards we have encountered!
The drive to the second Orpen gate only delivered Impala, which only my mom saw, but still she won the condensed milk (our family tradition for whomever spots the first animal in the reserve) - she spotted more Impala after checking in that we all saw, so there was no arguing that she was the deserved winner! At the 2nd Gate
Check in was simple and efficient, even though there were several people trying to do so all at once. Mom and I took the opportunity to buy the firewood and stickers for our car, whilst dad enjoyed the aircon in the queue
. We were allocated tents 15 and 16 and departed to set eyes on Tamboti for the first time
. We had stayed in Maroela soon after it and Tamboti had first been opened, but that is as close as we have ever been. We found our tents and then set off to find ablutions on foot. I noted that people weren't lying when there were comments about it being quite a walk! We then started unpacking the basics so we could have our late lunch, but first I went to check out no. 16 which my parents had decided was to be mine, to discover there was no bedding or mattresses
. So because of the frayed tempers we had a quick lunch and mom and I went back to reception to see what could be done. We would have been moved to 27 and 28, but seeing as my father was left to make himself comfortable on a bed, that was no longer an option, so I was moved to 14, which besides the long nightly walk, was perfect in every other respect!
. We returned, finally got the yellow ribbon on, and went on an afternoon drive, down the H7 up until the Rabelais Loop and back, spotting many flowers and some 'common' game that we were delighted to see
First up were these Pregnant Impala
and teenage Kudu
on opposite sides of the road.
And then a Zebra celebrating Movember in style
Some of the flowers we saw included this Dwarf Boer-Bean (Schotia capitata)
and Poison Apple (Solanum cf. panduriforme)
And just behind the poison apple was this cute Steenbok
And then it was the birds time to shine
First up on the gravel road down to N'wamatsatsa waterhole, a Magpie Shrike
and an action shot from a Yellow-billed Hornbill
Heading back on the H7 we were supposed to have seen a leopard through a Kruger Jam
and then caused our own Kruger Jam with this Brown-hooded Kingfisher
Thnakfully by the time we stopped for this Ostrich
, all the Big 5 Seekers had rushed past us in a huff!
And we returned to camp for our first Kruger braai in a long time! Unfortunately I was simultaneously assisting with the final unpacking and braai master with an uncooperative fire that kept going out every time I wasn't watching
, but finally got it going and cooked our pork rashers, which we had with mom's potato salad and asparagus - Yum. Whilst sitting round the table a head popped up the stairs
so I spent a happy hour or so, trying to get a decent pic of our rather friendly visitor - a Large-spotted Genet
'Care to throw something down to a hungry 'kitty'? Pleeeasssse'
'Peek-a-boo' (or 'ok, fine then, I'll go into this grass and sulk where you can't photograph me!'
I must say, watching him/her I really can see how they are more closely related to Mongooses/geese than to cats. Sadly I just couldn't get the extraordinarily long tail they have into the pic. But what a fantastic time we had watching them. There were at least three of them, but only this one was brave enough to come out to be photographed. We never did meet the honeybadger, which is maybe a good thing
After our long walk to wash up the dishes and ourselves, we settled down for the night with a beautiful full moon illuminating the riverbed in front of us. Ah, Bliss!...Zzzz