Wednesday 16 November
I was awake before my alarm went off at 4am and was on the N1 to Polokwane just after 5am. I phoned Val after going through Polokwane; it was just after 8am and the GPS reckoned only a couple of more hours. The GPS obviously wasn’t aware of all the roadworks and the stop/go signs I sat at for ages. Anyway, I finally arrived in Phalabowra around 11:00am and followed CrestedVal’s instructions to the cottage she and Dungie were renting whilst there.
It was lovely to finally meet them and after no time at all it felt like we were old friends! After a quick catch up (we actually found out we had quite a lot in common, having both lived in South Africa years ago - not only at the same time, but in the same area in Jo’burg!) we jumped in our cars and made the quick 2km journey to Phalabowra Gate.
Val and Dungie were going to take me to “their Causeway”. It was a hot afternoon and game was sparse. We saw impala, warties, a martial eagle, zebra, kudu, ellies, then I thought I saw a rhino. Val and Dungie were yet to see one around Phalabowra. I stopped the car and got the binocs out … it wasn’t a rhino, it was a big buffalo all on his own, having a snooze in the shade!
There were lots of vultures circling in the air, there were obviously a number of kills around though none were visible from the road.
We stopped for lunch on a bridge … all was quiet; we then continued on to Val & Dungie’s Causeway (where the H1-4 crosses the Letaba). There was a lonesome ellie in the riverbed, a couple of saddle-bills (who you could see through binocs – though if you look carefully at the photo of the ellie, you can just about make them out over by the rocks) hippos and crocs. We could hear a fish eagle but couldn’t see him …
We turned around and made our way back, stopping at Sable Dam on the way. I’d heard about the overnight hide there and wanted to have a look … another one for my wish list!!! How amazing it must be sleeping in that hide overnight …
Just as we were approaching Phalabowra Gate, Val’s worst nightmare … a large herd of ellies on either side of the road. Dungie manoeuvred their car past the herd whilst I’m sure Val’s eyes were tightly closed and she was saying a little prayer!
I love elllies, and this herd, though close to the road, didn’t seem bothered by the cars. One of the ellies had a tusk which stuck out to the side rather than the front …
Val and Dungie were waiting for me on the other side of the gate; we went back to their cottage where Val had prepared a delicious chilli con carne for dinner.
We sat in their lovely garden and exchanged many stories over drinkies, dinner, more drinkies and, of course, a few Amarulas!