Tuesday 17 November 2020
It is 4:35 am and we are driving through Satara Camp Gate. Our mission is to find those Hyaena puppies that we tore ourselves away from yesterday morning. If we want to see them, we must get to the den before the rush of tourists chase them back into hiding.
I know they’re called cubs and not puppies and I know a hyaena is more closely related to a cat than a dog – but kitten doesn’t do it for me. Hyaenas are in fact neither cat nor dog. They are a species all of their own. Members of the Hyaenidae family include spotted hyaena, brown hyaena and aardworf
The early morning really is the best part of the day. The camp gates open and close at different times depending on the season. The longest they stay open are in November, December and January – from 4:30 to 6:30 pm.
At 5:20 we arrive at the den and there are no other cars in sight. The puppies, however, are there to greet us.
Mom is lying on the road just ahead of the car. She is quite unconcerned that her children are talking to strangers.
When other cars arrive we drag ourselves away from the cuteness and concentrate on some birding.
We try to find the lions from yesterday but the water hole that they favoured is drying up and they must have gone off to seek another drinking spot.
We find two jackals at the muddy pond/
We turn around and make our way back toward Satara. I am sitting in the back so I can move from the left to the right window with ease. I am looking intently to the left seeking something special when the Earl says calmly, “What are these things running towards us? I turn to look forward and squeal in delight.
A line of vehicles is following them but we see them head on and they run by on either side of the car.
“You’ve made my day!” I tell the Earl. All is forgiven for not giving in to my stop yells yesterday.
“I try to please,” he says sweetly.
The dogs run on and we continue birding. There is a bush that many of the species love.
We also enjoy the plains animals and the general beauty of the park. It is a clear sunny day. The temperature is still in the cool twenties but will rise to above thirty later today. We are making the most of the early sightings.
We arrive back at camp 8:00. They did not wash the car after the service yesterday their excuse being they did not want to risk it being infected with Covid. I don’t understand the logic but we are living in interesting times. So we unpack the car and Earl takes it to the service station where there is a car valet service. It costs R70 to have it cleaned inside and out. “Come back in an hour,” says the guy who is taking on the challenge of ridding our vehicle of three weeks of gruelling travel. We have been through weather, mud, puddles and dust. It is not a pretty sight.
While the car is having its bath, the Earl cooks us delicious scrambled eggs for breakfast. When he returns to fetch the car, it is not yet ready. It is so dirty it takes twice as long. The Earl gives the valet a generous tip and now we have a pristine vehicle! Let’s see how long it will last!
We spend the rest of the morning doing chores and resting and then go out later in the afternoon. I will blog about that tomorrow.