Day 14… the good, bad and the lucky
It was another beautiful morning in Kruger and we were marking our second week in the bush, I couldn’t believe that the time went by so fast. Oh how I wish that the clock would tick just a bit slower, there is so much more that the Park has to offer. The morning started like any other and I was on the road again, leaving Wendy at camp. I just planned on doing the S28 to LS and then come back via the H4-2 then H5->S26->S25.
First sighting this morning was a dagha boy, it was strange seeing him soaking in mud as it was a bit chilly and misty, definitely not the kind of weather for me to be wet.
Some scenic views of the misty sunrise, it was really a beautiful morning
After a while I heard some whoooooping and then found two hyenas in the road, tails up smelling and walking in the road. I was with them, following them slowly for 10 minutes when the first car came up behind me.
After a few minutes they disappeared into the bushes and it was time again to move on. After a few more kilometres I got a BBJ. The car behind me decided that it was time to pass me and I sat with the jackal for a few minutes before he too decided that it was time to move deeper into the bushes.
I drove on my merry way when I saw the car stopped about 200m in front of me and what looked like the silhouette of a slender cat walking in front of the car across the road. As I got closer, spots appeared and I got very excited as it was my first cheetah for this trip.
He posed for a few kiekies and then walked back in the road behind me, that is when I noticed that he was cripple, I believe that his leg was broken as he didn’t use it at all, he crossed the road again and then walked up an anthill for a better view
He then walked a few metres further and lied down in the grass. I only saw a tail flick every now and then, and then I knew I wouldn’t see much so I moved on.
Next I saw these grumpy old men, you could see by their faces that they weren’t really awake.
And then when I got the S137 turn-off I was in two minds, must I check out Dukes’ waterhole or go straight with the S28? Eish, what now? So I went straight and not even a kilometre when I found this in the road…
I sat there a few minutes and he didn’t move at all so I knew that nature is making the choice for me, I turned around and then turned into the S137. After a few metres a heard a CLI-CLANG and stopped, did I just drive over a piece of metal? I drove on and a bit further on my tyre started screeching, I stopped, reversed and heard something shoot out, happy with that I moved on. When I rounded the bend towards the Dukes’ turnoff I got the biggest fright ever I saw this…
I was alone with her and only about 4 metres away from her, unfortunately the only thing I saw was her licking herself then she stood up and jumped off the signpost. She walked deeper into the bushes and at least one car saw her disappearing into the bushes... What a great sighting this just was! My smile was from ear to ear and the day just couldn’t get better, so I pushed on towards the S130. I got a lifer as well…
A squacco Heron
And a lappet-faced vulture
Then the trouble started, I got the screeching sound as well and when I reverse there was nothing, I struggled for a few metres when I decided that I would wait for another car come so we can check it out. After about 10 minutes a car came and we climbed out of our cars to check if there is a piece of wire stuck somewhere under my car, nothing nada niks… So they bid me farewell and leave. Ok it doesn’t really help me as when I drive it sounds like a metal grinder underneath my car… I reverse and go forward, phone my father etc. And the best advice I got was to go to the nearest camp to sort this out… I reverse again and I hear another KA-KLANG so when I started forward there was absolutely no sound and YAY! I decided to drive as quickly as I’m allowed to get to LS as it was ‘only’ 14km from camp. I got to the 8km mark when my car started making that screeching sound again and I was gatvol, I reversed and then with another CLANG a rock the size of a R5 coin shot out and lay on the tar road. I cannot believe such a small thing has made my drive a living nightmare the last 90 minutes, it seems that this rock was between my tyre and brakes the whole time but oh how glad I was that it was over!
Next up was this monster rock monitor, I initially thought it was a croc.
I got to LS, freshened up and got some cold fruit juice then I was on my merry way back to camp. I got to the S28 N entrance when I was stopped by these yellow billed kites swooping down for something on the ground.
Then a few more kilometres on there were a small roadblock, at first I couldn’t make out what it was as I saw grey hair through the foliage. As the roadblock cleared I got a great spot and actually saw that it was a baby ellie, Sparrow guessed a few days old, all on his own. He would walk one way then another, suckling on the tree trunk every now and then. It was heartbreaking to see it. I was at reception at LS when I heard someone reporting it so was glad that when I was there, some employees stopped to assess the situation, you will see the baby ellie in the back, yes that is how small he was. They left again and I stayed with him for another 30 minutes then moved on as it was starting to get hot. Sparrow informed me the next day that he was taken to Skukuza to be taken care of.
Nothing was really seen on the rest of the road only some warties having brunch
On the S25 I found people I had a talk with on the S137 as they missed the leppie literally by seconds, they informed me that the Vurhami pride was on the S28 about 2km from the tar so wished eachother luck and I decided to go have a look at the lions before I get to camp. I got to the spot and was greeted by a lot of cars, they were huddled up together 10 metres from me but a JJ told me to not go there and to wait as he is going to move and I will have a view of some lionesses about 15 metres into the bush. He left and I pulled into his spot, there was only one car in front of me, and we had a ‘great’ view if you think about it and in no one’s way. After about 20 minutes the lionesses stood up one by one and walked towards the other lions, as well as I saw a failed hunt on a zebra.
I didn’t want to join the other cars in the jam so I went to camp to have an afternoon rest as it was 13:30. I got to camp, popped open a KPA and decided that today would be one of those days that should be spent on the roads the whole time. So I decided to take the H4-2->S130->S137->S28 back to camp. It was very hot but I didn’t worry at all, I saw some general game, farting zebs and then I decided to stop where I saw the cheetah this morning, I was thinking that because his leg was broken that he wouldn’t move that far and as I took my binocs to scan the area I saw his tail flick. I was super excited and decided that I’m going to camp out here this afternoon, one after the other car stopped and asked what I was seeing, I explained to them and they would wait around for a afew minutes and then moved one, after 30 minutes and no sign of him I was thinking that I had seen a mirage and once again a car stopped and I was looking at him explaining where the cheetah was when he shouted ‘There, I see him!’ Yay I wasn’t imagining cats! I was there for 2 hours and only saw him 5 times, he would just move into the shade every now and then… He was about 50-100m from the road and just check the roadblock that I started, the only gagga thing was that people weren’t really behaving…
Then one of the people I met with the cheetah earlier told me that there is a leopard on the S137 in a tree so I left these people with the cheetah and turned around towards Dukes road. I drove there and saw nothing so I turned around and then a car flashed from the front as I was driving back again, I stopped next to them and recognised them from our chat at the lion cub sighting near Satara, they said if I look left I would get an early x-mas present and there she was, my leopard from the morning in a tree all relaxed.
I stayed with her for 10 minutes as it was in the open and everybody had a nice view. Then Thokozani pitched up, I showed them the leppie and then it was time for me to get a move on as I had an hour to get to camp. I drove and didn’t stop for anything but drove past ellies, buffaloes and rhino on my way back then I had to just stop for this birdy in the road, a black bellied korhaan
I got to the lions, everybody was still there and I heard that I missed them catching a wartie… eish
I wasn’t high enough to see the lions so I went on my way again, I got to camp 5 minutes late but at least didn’t get any trouble, Wendy had already started the fire and was relaxing with a refreshing KPA. That night she told me that she organised another night in CB and we were ecstatic so we had to wangle another night as we would be added to Sparrow’s reservation… We also were in contact with Sparrow about our plans tomorrow as we would be going to LS for a Christmas lunch. That night I went to bed happy as we were in a great place, I had a fantastic day and tomorrow I’m going to spend my time with amazing friends.
To be continued…