We were sad to bid farewell to Punda Maria this morning but packing up and hitching the caravan with the help of our new caravan movers was a pleasure.
When we move from camp to camp in a game reserve we stick to the tar roads and try to get to our destination with as little stopping as possible. Caravans at sightings are not a pretty thing. But Murphy was at work with his law again and today was the day that we needed to stop several times for some really lovely sightings.
As we turned onto the H1-7 we saw a huge herd of buffalo. They were a bit far off heading toward us so we waved and moved on. Cathy and Alec were a few minutes behind us but we found out later that they had seen them too.
The Earl will only stop if he doesn’t have to maneuver into a good position. Stopping for birdds is usually not a problem.
At ten past nine, we noticed a few cars stopped up ahead. We pulled up behind a jeep jockey. The guide was alone and taking photographs of something. Then I saw that partially hidden by bush were two lions on a kill, presumably a buffalo. After a few minutes we discovered there were three feasting and a fourth was lying under a nearby bush.
The Earl tried to get Cathy on the radio and after the third try she responded. He passed the three parked cars ahead of us and they slipped into our spot. We were able to see a bit more before moving on so as not to block the road for other cars arriving on the scene.
Next up were zebra and the cutest little foal stole our hearts.
It’s a 70km drive from Punda to Shingwedzi but with the speed limit being 50km per hour and actually going a lot slower than that and stopping from time to time, it takes a lot longer. So it was already ten to ten when we stopped at Babalala Picnic Site for a loo break. This is an unfenced site and has a caretaker making sure that everything is safe and kept in a pristine condition. We find that these rustic sites are far nicer than the busier fenced ones in the south. The ablutions were spotless and although we didn’t stay to have a snack we know from past experience that you can get boiling water from a pot that the caretaker keeps going on a gas stove, you can hire a skottel to cook breakfast and there is also a washup facility.
The next bird we stopped for had us confused at first. We were hoping for a Martial Eagle but it was something way smaller.
At Boyela Waterhole we found a mix of browsers and grazers – wildebeest, zebra and giraffe.
Cathy and Alec were in the lead and called us on the hand held radios. What a great surprise. They’d spotted two cheetah hiding in the grass and keeping a close eye on the the game. We could see them clearly but they did not face us and so most of our shots are of the backs of cheetahs! Cathy got the best one which I’m sharing here.
You do not want to meet up with elephants when towing a caravan but when they’re a fair distance away then it’s perfectly okay. We watched with joy as a herd came marching down an embankment and then began digging holes in the dry river bed and giving themselves a dust bath. The babies are the most adorable creatures.
Finally we arrived at Shingwedzi, checked in at reception and then went in search of a good camping site.
To get a perimeter site at Shingwedzi you have to pay a little extra. You are not given a particular number but can choose any one of the 26 sites available. At first we were devastated to see how many were already taken and thought we might have to settle for one without shade but luck was on our side and we have the best, shadiest site you could ever wish for. This afternoon we observed an elephant wander past and as we sat round the braai fire a hyaena patrolled the fence.
As I wrote this blog I heard a scops owl calling and various other wild sounds including the distant roar of a lion. I couldn’t wish to be in a more amazing place.