Day 4 Part 3 - Letaba to Olifants and the bush braai:
We left Letaba after a quick stop at the Park Shop. We quickly learned that as long as Veronica had a little time to shop, she could endure several hours at a time cooped up in the car with a bunch of rude men and all their silly jokes.
We drove out the S94 to the S46 to the H1-5. This was the view of the river
We had a great male Kudu that posed nicely for us
And a couple of Bee Eaters on a dead branch
Then a large Elephant that caused a little bit of a road block before deciding to move out of the road. He was very chill though
And then a good looking Bataleur perched in a tree
As we were traveling along the H1-5, Dave suddenly yelled "STOP!!! LEOPARD!!!"
He told me there was a Leopard next to the road on the passenger side of the car. I threw the car into reverse and tried to back up, but couldn't see anything with all of the luggage in the back. I tried using the side mirrors, but all I could see was elbows and heads leaning out to look for the Leopard. By the time I got back to the area both Dave and Mike saw it moving off into the deep bush and it was long gone before anyone got a picture. We stayed around and looked for quite a while, but he/she never reappeared.
The mood for the rest of the drive was pretty somber. I felt terrible for not being able to get them in a position to get a good view of the Leopard. They all tried to assure me that it wasn't my fault, but I still felt responsible for scaring the thing off.
We arrived at Olifants with very few additional sightings. When we arrived, the radio stayed on when I took the key out of the ignition and the car doors would not lock. I think there was a gremlin somewhere in the car.....
We checked in and were assigned bungalows 38 and 39 and Cottage 18C. The camp has been revamped since I was last there and was absolutely beautiful. The staff were great and the accommodations were very well maintained. The cottage had an awesome verandah with a sweeping view of the river below. Everyone loved it. The river overlook by the restaurant had been rebuilt with a nice thatch overhang and was a very nice setting.
By the time we got unpacked and settled it was time to meet at reception for our 1st bush braai. John, the Head Guide at Olifants was going to be our guide. He explained that we would be driving about an hour from camp to a remote area where the braai had been set up. In addition to our group of 8 there were two German couples and a South African with an American Journalist. We didn't quite figure out what their relationship was.....
We drove along the river past Balule and had a great sunset. We also saw Bataleur, and Elephant.
And then a Pearl Spotted Owlet
As we continued on the drive to the braai site we saw Hippo, Nightjar, Hyena, Impala, and Genet. All of a sudden Mike yelled "STOP LEOPARD!!!" That was the second time I had heard that in a matter of hours. This time I got a glimpse of the tail end of a Leopard as it slinked deeper into the bush. I saw it briefly, but it wasn't a great sighting.
We finally arrived at the braai site in the middle of nowhere along the river. We tried to get John to join us for dinner, but he said the site was unpredictable and he remained vigilant with his rifle at the ready throughout our meal.
The meal consisted of chicken and beef, pap and sauce, potatoes, salad, mixed vegetables, and malva pudding. It was VERY good!!!!
After dinner we returned to camp with relatively few sightings. Even still the atmosphere was perfect and everyone raved about the experience.
By the time we got back to camp everyone was exhausted, but it was a really cool day.
Stay tuned for more......