During the day it got more and more cloudier and windier and it cooled down extremely as if a thunderstorm might come up so we decided to visit this evening the restaurant instead of risking any fire which might become independent from the braai stand as meanwhile also the wind turned into a heavy storm and also due to this we only did a short afternoon drive which led us to the S93, as the S44 was unfortunately still closed, as this would be normally the road which we had chosen. The drive was extreme quiet, however, we were able to spot this little chap and made it clear same crossed the street without getting harmed.
On one of those small bridges crossing remaining feeders we spotted relatively close to the road this hamerkop busy in searching something for dinner. Although the water in that pond stank extremely it did not bother our feathered friend as same eagerly continued searching for something yummy.
Sure was also that we made it clear to get a picture of this famous baobab tree and that was also the signal for us to turn around
and paid a short visit to N’wanandzi lookout point as otherwise we would have missed same this year. As already said the wind was howling now incredibly and I even had trouble to close the car door but the view at that spot always compensates for nearly everything especially when spotting these chaps obviously on a buffalo get together somewhere in the dunes. Maybe not the best picture also due to the bad light but still one of my favourites of the entire trip.
Back in camp Timon decided to do a short run whilst I had my magical half an hour on our verandah until it got too dark to spot anything and after a refreshing shower we went over to the restaurant and had a nice meal there. Due to the heavy storm outside we decided against a sit in on our verandah after our dinner and went to bed immediately after that thrilling day.Friday, 24. February 2012 – Olifants - Mopani
Today we had to do our very last packing as we were heading to our final camp but before we did so we enjoyed the breathtaking view down to the river with the setting sun and a fresh hot coffee in hand. Unfortunately our favourite road, the S44, was still closed so we had no alternative to drive the S93 where we soon spotted a lone hippo in a pond between the famous red rocks in that area. We stopped our engine and simply enjoyed the presence of the hippo in silence as same although in the water was alarmingly close.
As soon as Timon started the car the hippo obviously got the fright of its life and jumped catlike out of the water – with all 4 legs in the air – and suddenly stood behind our car motionless. I felt so sorry for same as this was not our intention and therefore we left it and hopefully same returned into its private spa immediately. At least its heart must have beaten as strong as ours during that incident.
Finally the road led to the S46 and we enjoyed the lovely views into the Letaba river via the many loops which were astonishingly in extreme good condition if not in the best condition I ever noticed that road. This is one of those roads which gives you all or nothing but we had the feeling that we had a Deja Vu as soon a lone hyaena came running into our direction
and only allowed one single shot.
Suddenly a snake slithered out of the bushes, paused on the road, also allowed only one decent shot, and crawled away.
Obviously the animals were all late in their appointment as none of them had enough time for a small chat.
Funny but true after the snake disappeared another hyaena clan appeared on the scene and what to say they had also no time for us.
Maybe the lone one which we only saw a couple of seconds before was their vanguard and they left no time and hurried up to follow their buddy.
It was simply like last year where we obviously met the same hyaena clan on that road and nearly the same time. I just said to Timon that now only the lone buffalo is missing but what to say we saw when we drove around the next corner – Mr. Buffalo himself!
If we did not have met the snake which we did not see last year this would have frightened me.
We did not miss any single loop when we neared the Engelhard dam and there on some remains from the flood a beautiful fish eagle was enthroning
Its mate was circling above and it was obvious that they were a couple.
The rest of our drive until we reached Letaba camp was quiet besides a very hungry elephant which was busy in munching his breakfast close to the road – Gladly for us he was only interested in his branches and green and not in us.
In Letaba we paid a short visit to the Elephant Hall which we always do when there, stocked up a bit our food and enjoyed a yummy ice cream whilst strolling a bit through the camp.
As we still had a long way ahead of us we could not stay that long but simply had time enough to admire all these beautiful trees in camp. The tar road accompanying the Letaba river with its many loops is still a breathtaking drive and so is as well the S95 – Although today the road itself was quiet in the water we could admire uncountable hippos, waterbucks and sunbathing crocodiles on their own private island.
Shortly before the high water bridge an adult Carmine bee eater was once again demonstrating a juvenile one how to catch properly insects and we had another awesome time in watching them. Although the light was bad as dark clouds and blue sky were taking turns and we had to change permanently the iso number, especially the pictures Timon took from the young one came out not that bad.
In this picture it’s thought were these: “Maybe the bees will come all by itself if I only wait long enough?”
The high water bridge is always a lovely break from sitting in the car and so we took advance of it to climb off the car and stretch the legs a bit of course with the camera and binos always ready for operating.
For this “little” chap no binos were required as same was sleeping close to where we stand on a sandy island
not far away another huge croc was doing exactly the same. A light breeze was blowing and it was simply magic to stand there and let our eyes wander around to admire the beauty and enjoy simply the moment. Sigh! A bit farer away a bachelor group of waterbucks enjoyed life at an extreme peaceful spot
and on the other side a large group of ground hornbills was foraging in the river bed.
As we again wanted to drive the Tsendze loop and later on also the Tropic of Capricorn loop we could not stay that much longer but as we booked next year for 2 nights Olifants we already planned a longer day trip to Letaba as well as to Mingerhout dam – there must be always something you can look forward too. The H1-6 was extreme quiet besides this shy elephant who was hiding himself behind the smallest branch he could find the minute we stopped closed to him.
Although the elephant bulls in the North are known to be much more aggressive as their brothers in the South we experienced always the contrary the calmest of these huge giants are the ones from the North. The longer we stayed the more trust he got in us an even came a bit closer
and although looking innocent we are always alert whenever standing that close to such a giant and believe me this was one of the huger ones and also one of the well behaved in the park. Funny was that a Carmine bee eater was catching the insects the elephant rousted and so partly there appeared some sort of red dots on the pictures.
Normally we wanted to do a short break at Makhadzi picnic spot, however, same was still closed after the floods and so we strolled back on a lovely quiet road on which a lone wooly-necked stork was searching for something yummy in a giant mud hole.
Its bill was already extreme dirty but the catch must have compensated same. Only a bit further we had to cross a small bridge and there in a remaining puddle another wooly necked stork couple was busy in preparing a nest.
On our way back to the tar road first we only saw a couple of unmistakably tails high in the air but then a whole family of warthogs popped out in the high and thick grass and started to feed on the grass close to the road.
At first sight they were a bit shy against us but after recognizing us as Timon & Pumbaa they relied on us and even the little ones came closer and allowed us some lovely shots.
The previous warthogs we saw during our many trips whenever they had piglets with them were extreme shy and alert but this little family was so relaxed and we enjoyed their presence so much.to be continued with "Finally we arrived at Tihongonyeni"......