Gemma, Anne Marie, that Leopard was taken on the Voortrekker road, one of the best Leopard sightings that I have ever had. It sat only a metre away not at all disturbed by our company. I am using it, because if you keep reading, the Leopard will play a vital role in the report.
Own, thank you
. I hope that you pop in every now and then.
Elsa, I consider myself very, very blessed to have been able to have this experience.
More coming cuz
FC, if you are back in 8 days, I am very, very
This was my first experience of bush walking and having Bruce Brydon as my first mentor was such a privilege. I realise this more and more as I grow to appreciate the bush at a deeper and deeper level.
It was not only Bruce though. Our other rangers were also amazing, so dedicated and knowledgeable.
Sakkie is an authority in all things Botany. His love for trees, grasses all things growing became infectious. I do think that he is respected in the wider bush community for his expertise. He and Bruce had a wonderful rapport. It made the trip that much more enjoyable.
Vanessa was very young, but had a maturity way beyond her years. I loved to see a woman so comfortable and doing so well. I could see that my daughters were looking at her as a role model. Sisters are doing it together. Having grown up in an era when all things nature were considered the sole domain of testosterone, it was good to see that you could be young, female and attractive and still be taken seriously.
Bruce has his back to the camera. My daughter Explorer is closest to the camera, Noname has a black hat. Vanessa is sitting in the middle of the group.
Our first day did not yield much in terms of sightings, but it did not need to.
I was quite awed by the smells, the sounds, and the feel of the air. At one point, Bruce stopped. “What has happened here?” he asked.
We stopped, looked and looked again. I could not see a thing, no spoor, no spats, nothing. This was not going to be a brownie point moment for me.
“Smell”, he said... and indeed, there was a strong smell... of something. Still no brownie points though.
“An elephant has passed by”, he said.
Now, when I stop my car and just sit, I am sometimes aware, an elephant has just passed by.
We spent a lot of time looking at spoor, examining spats. I am still useless, but I just enjoyed the moment.
I was very tired by the time we left to go back to camp for lunch. I was also very hungry. On arrival, Johanna told us that she had seen the resident Leopard walk past the camp, probably on its way to have a drink.
My intention was to take a quick snooze while my daughters studied, this was there matric year. It was not to be. Johanna asked me to accompany her to Skukuza to pick up some ice. Always ready for an adventure, off I went.
When I came back, my daughters were full of excitement. They had spent the afternoon watching the antics of a small group of monkeys.
“Make sure all your things are safe”, said Sakkie, “their sense of smell can detect the smallest item of food”. That is another story.
Before we left for our evening walk and sundowners, I heard Sakkie shouting and using some rather strong expletives. Ever curious, I went to have a look to see what was causing him so much agitation. He was busy trying to get rid of some baboons that seemed intent on paying an uninvited visit.
Not that used to baboons, I could not understand why he seemed to dislike the thought of their company so much. After all, “live and let live”, I thought.
Ja, well, no fine. That is another story.
We left for our evening walk and sundowners. This became my favourite time of the day. As the coolness sets in, the bush takes on another mood, one so sensitive and listening.
We travelled to an area with interesting rock formations. I was keen to explore, until Sakkie said, “be careful, this is the domain of black mambas”.
It was on our way back to the vehicle that the first truly disquieting moment happened. Bruce picked something up. It was a shoe.
Sakkie and Bruce looked at each other. A meaningful look was passed, but nothing was said. Maybe, having my daughters, still so young and vulnerable kept them silent. For me, I was left with the terrifying thought, was this final place, a place of terror of some refugees end?
Sundowners had me thoughtful.