June 16th, Eighth day, Traveling in paradise . . . , Saturday – Part 2
Within a few minutes I’m at Sweni birdhide. My first way goes down to the river again. Here I see a lot of Egyptian geese.
Then I go to the hide where I write my diary. A pair of Egyptian geese stay guard and tell me whenever something is moving; a crocodile, a hippo. . . . Following these alarm calls I catch my camera to store the new situation. But sometimes these geese are standing in the scene in wrong position avoiding decent pictures.
Like last time I count the crocodiles and can add up now and then till six.
I’m alone and enjoy the silence and all the impressions. It’s Saturday and I’m alone!
Did I say silence? The hippos start snoring very loud. They seem to have a big argument somewhere up the river.
When I have to leave I'm sad and I promise myself to come back . . . my eyes travel around for a very last time . . . then I turn and leave. . .
I’m driving at the S37 again. A beautiful landscape and I can feel my heart opening and taking in every sight, smell and impression. . . .
After a long while I switch on the radio hearing The Cranberries on Radio Jacaranda: Dreams. I sing with them . . . loud, very loud . . . I'm just happy. . . Unbelievable. . . .dreams. I’m afraid to wake up to realize it was only a dream. . . .
When the song is over I see two impala rams blocking the road. They are fighting for females. When a lonely female is passing very close to them a few seconds later they are rather upset and don’t know what to do. . . I try to explain them . . . . and tell them why they have been fighting and what for . . . . but they move away . . . not really understanding me . . . . or not really interested in females.
Next stop is with some kudus then I take some pictures of the beautiful landscape again like I have done the whole day.
Still driving on the S37 I see two elephant bulls. First they are far away from the road and I take some pics of them framed by this breathtaking landscapes. When they come closer they are walking in the best light and I take one pic after another. I can hear branches breaking, the sound when their feet wander trough grass and touching African soil. I hear the flapping of their ears and their rumbling coming out from deed inside. Finally they are too close and I have to drive backwards for some time when they ask for the right of way. It looks like they are having some fun forcing me to start the engine again and again.
Take some more pics till they come to close to the car again. The engine is still switched off and I can hear the soft sound of the sand below their feet. Watching them moving step by step is giving me the impression of a slow motion. Then they are so close they can nearly touch the car with their trunks. But they are only chasing me away in a gentle manner again. When they leave towards the east we have spent a very long and exiting time together. I feel sorry leaving them behind and being alone again.
This is an unbelievable road. I only meet three cars in three hours even if it is Saturday. All the time the light is so well I only have to push the button.
At the T-Junction to S35 some warthogs try to avoid to be photographed with no success.
I’m going the S35 and stop at Wolhuter's Lion Attack Plaque.
I think most of you know his story when he was attacked by two lions.
But for the others:
In August 1903 ranger Harry Wolhuter riding on his horse accompanied by his dog was attacked by two lions in the late afternoon. Wolhuter killed one of the lions with his knife. Badly wounded he climbed a tree. The other lion first unsuccessfully attacking the horse soon returned. It tried to get the wounded ranger out of the tree. Luckily Wolhuters dog also returned and by his barking (the dogs barking!) distracted the lions attention.
Then his black assistant who was following Wolhuter with some slow-moving pack donkeys arrived. He could manage to frighten the lion that went off.
You still can see the knife, so small and simple you can't believe this is the one a lion was killed with, and the skin of the killed lion at Skukuzas museum.
Today there is still a log put in a stone plinth at the scene and every point of this drama is marked in the area around.
Is this really the original stump, more than one hundred years old? Does anybody know more about it?
At least this tree (is it a knob thorn tree?) brings back some memories to me.
Climbing on the run in the same tree species standing in a tide fork for nearly two hours waiting for someone to be rescued . . . .
If you think I tried to seek shelter of an air hostess you are wrong . . . .
This time they were two mating male ostriches with very nice red legs. Maybe you know what this means. They were trying to get me . . . . close call . . . . .not easy to avert big problems . . .
But this is another story. . . .
Let’s coming back to today’s adventures.
I'm a little behind my time schedule and have to go faster. Then for the next kilometers I see Yellow-billed hornbills every fifty meters. I have never seen so many of them. Why they all sitting next to and in the road?
After due consideration my final solution: They are waiting for road kills!
I reduce my speed to avoid falling prey to these interesting birds.
Then I come to Orpen dam. Nobody is here. I'm on my own again. Beautiful!
I have never been here before but I'm sure I will return to this jewel. To be here sitting and walking around and having some time is gorgeous.
I let come Africa to my feelings the air touching my skin and I’m taking in the scent of the African savannah and let them refresh the colors of my soul. Dreaming . . . Here I can feel it: Dreams are the wings of my life. . . . .
Some Waterbucks are coming to the dam passing very close next to crocodiles. A fish eagle is sitting in a tree and once more I can hear the whispering in the leaves. Telling me more secrets of the African Savannah . . . .
I spend more time than expected. When I'm on the way to leave a nice couple from Jo'burg arrives. We talk for a few minutes and when I start going to my car they show me that I have forgotten a lens-cap. I thank them and drive on.
Next to road H10. This tarred road is coated with sand for many kilometers and soon I'm stopped by a dung beetle. The dung ball it is rolling with its hind legs is covert with sand giving it a glow of amber jewels.
It's funny trying to get a picture out of the car in the right angle. But however, finally I get some.
The next animal I see is somehow bigger. It's a white rhino walking in some distance on the left side of the road. Slowly it is coming closer and I'm waiting and waiting. I add my converter to the camera to get at least some pictures. When it is close enough for decent pics a truck is coming - speeding. The rhino runs away and all my waiting was for nearly nothing . . . .
I like this truck driver or fairly different dark thoughts come to my mind.
I wait for some more minutes but have to recognize this rhino will not come closer for the next few hours and drive on. Luckily for me . . . .
At the Junction to S122 - Muntshe Loop - I see two catlike silhouettes in front light are crossing the road. Lionesses - of course. I drive closer where they went into the bush. I'm looking for these statures and then I find them. One first then a second, finally it's three.
No, not lions. Cheetahs!!!
First they wander around then lay down on an old termite hill. It’s the best light of the day but unfortunately front light, so it is coming from the wrong direction.
Then they stand up again changing there positions, lay down again . . . . but all the time still in front light . . .
Albeit I take many pics and some video but soon I have to drive on to be at Lower Sabie before the gates close.
At the low-water bridge at sundown I can take some pics of the beautiful red and golden nature spectacle.
I'm awarded with tent #7 the last one in the south-west of the camp. First I'm disappointed but later I recognize that I can hear the night sound coming from the sunset dam.
When I take some pics of the tent I look to the stars. They are so bright you could belief you can touch them. I decide to take some pics of them. Take my tripod and camera and move on walking through the high grass away from the light into the dark. I have no torch with me and it’s difficult to handle the camera. But that’s only one reason why I’m not very successful in taking pictures this evening.
So I go back towards my tent and remember that I was resolved to use my torch when walking in the dark. But when I thought about this I was always on one end of the way and my torch on the other.
Here is my torch. And here I left it when I went into the dark . . .
I'm not afraid of snakes because they move away when they see you or feel the vibration of something coming except they are busy with feeding but then they can't bite. But Puff adders are different because they belief in their camouflage.
Once when I collected information for one of my wilderness stories I have learned there are up to fifty thousand dead per year worldwide resulting from snake bites. Another source tells up to 120,000 but I can't belief this. Anyway, no nice thinking about.
As I saw only three snakes during these days I thought there are few. But when I red Anjas and boorgatspooks reports I have learned there where many. Especially the Puff adder Anja saw on the way to their Lower Sabie tent was close around.
However, I was not bitten by a snake nor got I pictures of the stars. No good pics and no snake bite are ok. Both yes would be worse.
I’m sitting on the veranda writing my diary and drinking whisky-coke. At some glass the mix is very strong. I should have added more coke.
And what else? Yes I'm freezing again and fetch my pullover.
Now and then during the night I hear lions roaring.
Picture of the day:
To be continued . . . .