It is day 5 (17 Dec’12), all packed up and on our way to Lower Sabie. Following the previous day's rains and the condition of the gravel roads deteriorating fast, I was really worried that further rain the night might cause some problems for us. Fortunately, the rain stayed away and the roads were fine, so off we went (no snake this time although I was driving extra slowly hoping to spot him).
We were approaching LS the way one should approach a giraffe, not directly, but with a sidewayish detoured angle which meant heading slowly to Crocodile Bridge (to get our Kruger passport stamped, fill up the car and enjoying a very good breakfast that was on a special – it was really really good – compliments to CB shop-restaurant.), then LS via the S29. If one have read one of Kobie Kruger’s books ‘All things wild and wonderful’
one could only imagine their life as rangers around here and the adventures they have had whilst nurturing the lion cub named Leo who had an identity problem thinking he was a dog, not a lion, despite their efforts to teach him to be like a lion
. (If you intend reading this book, read 'Mahlangeni'
first..still struggling to get ’Wildernis family’
On our way to CB, we came across a mega-troop of baboons – I stopped counting at 50 – they were all over the show as you can imagine and all ages and sizes...(Observing these entertainers par excellence, I recall Kobie Kruger’s stories when observing them and gaining their trust whilst filming in Shingwedzi - refer 'Mahlangeni'
After we had our scrumptious breakfast at CB, just about a km or so on the H4-2, we got our 2nd lion sighting (I guess they could be part of the Vurhami pride?).
Then it was time for the S29, with wonderful sightings all round and with this great spotted cuccoo interested in something right next to the road.
On our way to Duke’s waterhole I struggled to get a good photo of the green winged pytilla which really tested my focusing skills, even with camera setting on manual focus, and for the life of me I just could not get it to sit still long enough. Nevertheless, this bird was a first time sighting for me, hence deserving to be included in this TR (sorry for it not in focus).
This elephant was walking through the gap of a fallen tree whilst plenty of open space around him…
There was a thread on large buffalo herds, especially the one close to LS, o-boy were we lucky to have come across them – I tried to count, but too many of them – definitely more than quite a few hundred. It was amazing to see… Seems like these guys were discussing tactics for next Stormers clash
seems it proved to have paid off…
We arrived at LS which was extremely busy like Tygervalley shopping centre on Saturday morning – I guess it could have been the extreme heat, being lunchtime and the start of next visitor influx. We booked into the 2 BU3U units next to the restaurant and rested a bit. The afternoon it was time for Sunset dam and Sabieriver causeway (H10) which I will provide information on with bird and sunsets pics later.
Keeping in touch with what happening on the Forum, Bert’s question interested me when he wrote:”Can’t remember any comments on the S82. The gravel near Sunset. Stood in front of it a few times and never took it. Anyone done this road and what were their findings.”
Here I am, standing in front of the S82 (just opposite LS entrance) and it is the last hour before gate closing, hence decided to explore the road and let Bert know via BB on findings.
Travelling down S82 and after passing a herd of impalas with about 2km down, we got 2 male lions lying in long thick grass about 15m in on the Sunset dam side of the road. At first one could only see the tails wag now and then. We waited and waited. In front of us zebra and some impalas were moving into the bush close to the lions. At this time we were 2 cars parked back to back.
From the Sunset dam direction, we saw movement – it was a herd of elephant approaching moving in our direction. The lions did not move and was sleeping. The elephants came closer and closer, so close that one could clearly hear them breaking branches. Still no movement….
Now we were getting really excited as something is going to happen. Then one youngish elephant walked directly in our direction and less than 20 metres from the lions, the one lion closest to us suddenly jumped up. At this stage, my car’s window was down, car switched off and as the 2 cars were blocking their escape route the one lion ran straight in my direction looking me straight in the eyes.
With lion fast approaching, I struggled to get windows closed, then realized car must be switched on first. With lion about 5 meters away and getting an earful from SO next to me, I luckily managed to get the car switched on so the window could work. The lion realized there is no way out, he then changed direction.
He went past us and ran into another bush closeby where he directed his attention at the passing elephants.
So, they then looked around a bit and when they were satisfied all is safe, they literally fell down and continued to sleep. My heart was pumping and were so relieved, but managed to get these shots in – nearly lion food and ‘een waanzinnige ondervinding!’ It all went so fast…
I guess Bert’s question was answered. It was time to get back to camp (enjoying a nice cold Peroni
) and so the day ended with 2 lion sightings in one day, but as they say in the advertising business, “…and wait, that is not all… there are more…”…and this we were experiencing the next day – with double action on S82 to follow.