Balule Safari 4
Early last night the hippos down the river became quite rowdy, but were
quiet again by ten, leaving the night to be serenaded by crickets backed
every now and then by the "wooh-wooh" of an owl.
In the early hours of the morning the hippos became quite rowdy again
with a lot of laughter up and down the river.
We could still hear the odd hippo where we were stopped on
the low water bridge for the sunrise photo session.
This morning it was chilly again and like these dwarf mongoose, the KNP
citizens were basking in the sun where-ever possible.
Even the vultures in a giant fever tree had to wait for the sun to warm the
bush up and create the thermal currents they need to soar.
As the morning chill slowly left together with the yellow in the early morning
light, the baboon troop started looking for their breakfast. Dad seemed
particularly fond of the berries he found.
A little later we had an unusual sighting of a hippo from a bridge. As he
swam up and down underneath the bride we were not quite sure if he
was coming back to look at us or if we were the ones actually looking
Soon we were crawling down the long dust roads of the park excitedly
talking about what this day will bring to us.
We did not have to wait long, as when we turned off to Letaba Camp for
our daily supplies, we were surprised by a beautiful Nyala crossing the
road in front of us.
As the day wore on we headed North on the dust roads. Soon the temperature
was rocketing and game started heading for shade.
We spent some time with an impala herd. Here we were entertained by
Red Billed Oxpeckers going about their daily activities as if we were not there.
In the short grass of the large grassy plains Secretary Birds were striding
along purposefully finding a small tit-bit every now and then.
Where patches of thorn veldt alternate with the grassy plains we every
now and then found lone elephants, some just drowsing, and here and
there one dusting himself.
The small and difficult to photograph LBJ’s were everywhere like this Rufus
Winged Cisticola carefully treading over the thorns of a "wag-'n-bietjie" shrub.
Later-on, as the sun moved past its apex, we found ourselves along the
Letaba where game was seen much more frequently.
It was in this area where we found a couple of buffalo - “modder bulle”
or “daga boys” as they are sometimes called. They had obviously just
“cleansed” themselves in a nearby mud wallow and were shiningly
covered in marvelous mud.
There also was a Saddlebilled Stork dancing up the river.
Then there was this giant striding through the Letaba on his way to
savour the leaves that are always greener on the other side.
Along the Letaba River the heaps of dung that dots the road bore
testament of the numbers elephants roaming here. We always try to
avoid driving over these dung heaps as there may be small game
in there doing what they do best.
We also came to a point where there were some vultures drying their
wings before moving on. They clearly had a wash after gorging themselves
at some distant carcass.
In the golden light of the setting sun we saw this herd of “all shapes and
sizes” kicking water and flapping ears as they crossed far up the Letaba
heading for fields anew.
We were quite far from camp with only an hour to go before closing of camp
gates when we turned the car’s nose south. As usual this is the time all the
best sightings are made. This time we were forced to stop by a hippo road
block. Unusually, he was standing in the middle of the road, kilometers away
from any water.
Today we had stretched our day too much and it started to look like we were
going to be late back to camp. Rushing back we decided not to go for a sunset
photo session, but were then graciously presented with this serene twilight scene.
And then, within walking distance of the gate, we found baboons on their way to
the sleeping trees. Here one little darling is getting his bed-time story from his mother.
That night in camp we relished the night sounds interrupting the silence that
you only hear in the African bush. We all could just reflected on the wonderful
privilege we once again had to be here in paradise.
Tomorrow the car will be pointed South - to the civilization waiting beyond
Kruger Gate - but that’s a story for later.