Day 81 (Jan 20th
Day at home.
It rained solidly for thirty six hours, so we didn't even go to the pub for lunch.
We stayed put, snug in our little cottage, and I cooked a lekker roast chicken and all the trimmings.
We have a tin roof, so you can imagine the noise the rain made.............it was very late when we eventually got to sleep, and we wonderd what the next day would bring!!Day 82 (Jan 21st)
Today was a very interesting day!!
We had decided to visit Letaba if we were able to, to see how high the water levels were, so we were not on a mission to do any serious game spotting.
With this in mind we decided not to go out early, but to have an early lunch (corn on the cob) and make our way to the park early afternoon.
As we were dishing up, I had an SMS from a friend who is part of the "Blackberry Group" to say that there were Lions on the H14 near Shikumba.
We thought they would be gone by the time we'd eaten and cleared away etc, but thought we might just have a look, all the same.
I also had another reason for checking out the H14!!
Now I'm not the brightest penny in the box, and I was actually a bit confused!!
I had read the official SANparks statement that morning giving all the road/gate/camp closures, and it said the H1-6 (Letaba to Mopani) was closed because the high level bridge north of Letaba had flooded.
Now I knew the H14 was also a "no through road" because the causeway had flooded (though that wasn't mentioned in the statement) so how were people supposed to get to Mopani from Phala Gate? No H14 and no H1-6!!
Perhaps the H14 causeway was now clear, but I doubted it!!
We asked at the gate where we could go, and they said "All dirt roads are closed, and the H14 causeway is not passable. Also the high level bridge north of Letaba is closed..............well that at least confirmed what I had thought!!
We turned off the H9 up the H14, and the first thing we saw was a notice telling us that the causeway was closed, so anyone wanting to go to Mopani must use the H9 and H1-6..............that is the H1-6 the SANparks statement had said was closed!!! Very mysterious!!
Anyway we continued up the H14, and when we came to Shikumba, there they were lying flat out..........a group of six lions, Mom and five teenagers!! They had obviously eaten well, and were now sleeping it off.
They were a fair distance away, so not the best photos, but through the binocs we had a lovley view!!
I then received another call to say there was a male Lion with a Buff kill on the H9 past Erfplaas, so as we were going to Letaba anyway, we decided to check it out.
I must say I am not a big fan of this "Blackberry" thing, and don't have one of those phones myself (each to their own, but I like to find my own animals)
However occasionally a friend who is in the group will pass on alerts to me, and if we are in that area we will usually check it out. However we never rush to a sighting, and if we are not near, we always give it a miss!!
Therefore as we were now on a mission to get to Letaba, we would be passing Erfplaas anyway, so decided to check out this Buff kill.
We drove to Erfplaas.........still no Desi in his crevice, but joy of joy two of the three Klippies were there, and we were so pleased to see them.
Not too far from Erfplaas, there was a vehicle parked, so we stopped to see what was there, and sure enough, the driver told us there was a male Lion and behind it a dead Buff.
We of course were not really high enough to see much from our litle Atos, but we could just see the Lion lying under a tree.
He was huge with a very dark mane and as we watched he suddenly got up, and then sat on his haunches.
I took a couple of photos, but with all the trees in the way they are very blurred, so won't post them here..............I really just took them for proof of the sighting!!!
So it was turning into a big cat day!!
On the way to Letaba we saw very little else............a few Impies and a big Ellie and at Rhidonda Pan which was full to the brim, there was a huge Hippo grazing in the bushes.
Where had he come from?
Mostly the pan is dry and muddy or at best with very shallow water, so I can't believe this Hippo is resident there, and yet as soon as the pan fills up there he is!
We were also amazed at how much surface water there was.......huge ponds had appeared almost overnight, and what we had only ever seen as small dry riverbeds were now in full flow with muddy brown water!!
We turned left at the Letaba crossroads, and couldn't believe our eyes!! We had been there only four days earlier, and although the river was fuller than on previous visits, it was nothing in comparison with what met our eyes now!!
The river was a raging torrent, and was almost up to the level of the road..........any more rain and the road would be flooded!!
We drove to the high level bridge, and sure enough it was closed, though the men were busy working on it, and said it would be open soon hopefully!! Well done SANparks.
So there we have it...........the H14 causeway was closed (at least that was what the notice said) and visitors were advised to take the H9 then H1-6 to get to Mopani, but now we find the high level bridge was closed as well...............so how were people expected to get to Mopani? I can't help feeling I had missed something, but I'm just telling it as it was!!
We left the workmen to it, and drove back to Letaba where I took a few photos from the restaurant, before we left to return home. The one I have posted is taken from the bench in front of the restaurant looking to the left.
The waters had receeded according to other reports, but even so it was mega high, and a raging torrent!!
I had another call to say there were two Cheetahs on the H9 about 25 kms from Letaba, but so what...............no way were we rushing there.
Of course we didn't see them, though we found a Jeep Jockey also looking for them, but at least we know they are in the area, so maybe another time!!
Then as we were nearing Erfplaas we had another call to say there was a Leopard on the H14 near the H9 junction!!
It was now nearing gate closing time, but we thought we would just drive a km or two and see.
We stopped to let a Tortoise cross the road safely, and as I looked to our left, I saw something white moving......maybe a bird?
I looked again and way in the distance, perched on a termite mound was a beautiful Leopard, swishing his tail with it's white tip!! That's what had caught my eye!!
I only had time for a quick photo, which I have had to crop, so not the best, and then it was mission Phala Gate before it closed for the night!!
After a quick meal of savoury mince, butternut, cauliflower and baked spuds, we sipped our Amarula and reflected on our interesting day...........seven Lions, a Leopard, the missing Klippies, a mystery about travelling up closed roads to get to Mopani, and the mighty Letaba River in absolute control!!!Day 83 (Jan 22nd)
We woke to a beautiful sunny day with a cloudless blue sky................so different from recent days.
We had planned an early drive into Paradise, but fate had other plans!!!
The remote for the our gate wasn't working, and we didn't know how to turn on the manual function!!
We had to wait until we could find our neighbours who are caretakers for the property, and by that time the moment had passed, so we decided to stay put!!!
It will be chicken and chips tonight, an early night, and then hopefully a trip to Paradise tomorrow!!
To be continued................