4 December 2019
We did not have a thunderstorm last night, but it did rain and the rain continued on and off all day today. This has cooled things down completely but is one ever satisfied? When the sun shines, photography is easier – as long as the sun is behind you of course, unlike yesterday when my lion/hyaena/vulture sighting was taken into the sunlight.
This morning we set off a little later as it was cooler. It was an exciting drive with a few very exciting experiences. Unfortunately, they were fast and brief and impossible to capture on camera and so, dear reader, you will have to picture the scene in your head.
First up we noticed a young man in a small vehicle pointing his camera determinedly into the bush. We pulled up next to him. “What have you spotted?” I asked.
“A leopard slipped past me on the road and he’s behind the tree!”
Oooh – a leopard – exciting. We stared and stared. He kept moving his camera but eventually, he told me – “He’s gone. I can’t see him anymore.” And he drove on.
We started to move too and then I yelled, “Stop!” I could see the leopard, running swiftly away from us, through the trees and then he was gone! No photograph and the Earl being on the other side of the car missed him. Oh dear! “If there’s no photograph, it didn’t happen!” they say. But I don’t go with that. I saw him even if it was only his back view!
Our next sighting was my worst kind. As we approached the bridge that crosses the Sabi River we saw a jam of jeep jockeys and other vehicles. Nobody was moving an inch. We managed to see that they were all looking at a lioness with a cub or two under a tree doing very little else than flicking a tail or twitching an ear. Why not take your photo and simply move on so others can enjoy the sighting too! But no, they stay put for hours, looking at the most boring scene ever. I took a bum shot and we wiggled our way out of there.
On the bridge, I yelled, “Stop” And way more exciting than a sleeping lioness was a beautiful saddle-billed stork trying to catch his breakfast. Now he is a beautiful bird and nobody was stopping traffic to look at him!
We continued our drive and spotted this and that and took some poor photographs. In fact today I hit an all-time low on photographs. Granted I usually take way too many and end up having to edit and delete up to 300 at a time. This morning, I got 36!
We worked our way through the traffic jam and quickly took a shot or two of the lioness and her cubs. This time we could see they were on a kill.
One jeep jockey started making way for us to leave and another came to block us off but decided better of it and reversed to let us through! Phew – we dashed off as soon as possible.
Just as we rounded the corner we saw impala on the left, running at full speed. “Something’s chasing them,” said the Earl.
“A hyaena!” I shouted and we watched him lope at an incredible speed after his prey. Impala dashing, hyaena chasing, losing sight as trees got in the way until I called, “He’s got a lamb!” Without slowing he’d grabbed a baby and continued running with her in his jaws. We watched him veer left and disappear into the bush.
The Earl turned the Everest around and took a side street but it wound the wrong way – we would not be able to see where he went with his prey.
Oh, poor Mommy Impala – she must be devastated! Nature is so cruel.
With hearts beating in our mouths we continued home to Skukuza and our own breakfast at Cattle Baron. It was a buffet and very good. The coffee was excellent.
One cannot believe that it was 44 degrees C yesterday and today’s high reached no more than 17! The rain continued and it is oh so good for the park. It’s that continuous, steady, soaking in kind of rain – not the what the hell type of deluge of the thunderstorm variety.
We went out again this afternoon but did not expect to see very much. However, it seems that hyaenas like rain because we saw a few. We also saw lots of impala with their babies, one or two waterbuck and of course returned to the lion sighting both on our way there and on our way back.
Photography was not easy because of the rain and the poor light but we enjoyed the coolness.
In the evening we went to Cattle Baron for dinner. The Earl had ribs and I had chateaubriand which is the best in the country.
We met a father and son who are ex-pats now living in Australia. They come back every year to visit the park. There is no place like home!
Tomorrow we are heading to Malane to take the caravan to have its wheel bearings checked. We will be in Berg en Dal for two nights after that.