Now comes the shocking part.......we drive into camp slowly and survey the scene, which one of the various sites should we choose from; the one next to the observation tower or a few in the centre along the fence. After a few "you choose, no you choose" discussions we make our decision and I manouvre the Landy into position to give us space to offload and set up camp. Now from past experience I know that if an argument is going to break out, this is the time "hold that pole there, thread that other pole through the loop, no like this" any one who has camped has experienced it, so in the searing heat I force myself to remain cool. Shockingly it works and we're set up, but all the points have to be awarded to my beautiful SO, she was just great. But wow, that ground is hard, after bending a few pegs I resort to my trusty six inch nails which work well. We open the fridge and select a bitterly cold beer and really start to relax.
I get up and stand up against the fence watching 2 elephant showering themselves with cool river sand drectly in front of us, my arms leaning against the fence above my head. SO creeps up behind and playfully tugs the hair on the back of my leg, I jump and my forearm touches the electrical strands. Zap a few thousand volts shoot through my body.
Suddenly my hair goes straight, but boy am I now fully charged and ready for the game drive we were about to undertake. Hilarity reignes amongst the chaos of me running around in small circles. Finnaly I jolt back to reality and calmly sit down and finnish my cold one.
OK we're ready to go.... the chances of seeing a lot of game in this heat is slim, but we're here to see animals, not other people.
We head NE on the H7 towards Satara and turn onto the S140 at Rabelais Hut, there's not much happening and the road is really bad with those annoying corrugations, but we're in a Landy so it can take it. For about 25 k's it's Impala, the odd Wildebees and a troop of Baboons that cause us to stop and watch their hilarious antics and facial expressions for a while. In all this time we have seen no other cars so really feel like we are in the wilderness on our own. We move on and come across a few giraffe with a bull showing much attention to one of the females.
We rattle and shake around a corner when SO shouts "stop, stop, reverse a little" and there resting in the shade is a small group of Sable. How she spotted them I don't know. They were quite far away and difficult to see.
The S140 becomes the S145 and then joins onto the S36, we see a few more lone elephant and warthog amongst the numerous herds of Impala when up ahead I see a large breeding herd of Elephant making their slow purposeful way towards the road. We stop, switch off the engine and wait, giving plenty of space for their intended road crossing. I hear the noise of another vehicle comming along behind us at speed and waive him down in warning, the elephant are within 50 metres of the road. He skids to a stop right in front of us blocking our view completely
I move up along side him and we wait side by side on the road. An adolesent bull steps out of the bush onto the road followed by young and mature cows. SO looks to her left and a large bull is all but invisible in the bush alongside us. As the breeding herd completes their road crossing he slowly and majestically tags on behind.
We move on and around the corner is Shimangwaneni dam, the herd's private swimming pool. The youngsters break into a shambeling run and head straight for the water with the older cows bringing up the rear.
We sit and watch thier antics for quite some time until the GPS informs us that we need to move on to make camp by closing.
Just before reaching the tarred H7 again, we come across a big herd of Zebra, these three youngsters were inseperable. They stuck together like glue, moving together, stopping together, moving amongst the rest of the herd together. I wonder what the story is.
We arrived back at camp at 17:55 to end our first day in the park. The setting sun seemed to be saying "remember.... you have just had another priveledged experience in this eden"