Breaking Free from Lockdown. A Gecko Road Trip. Day 20 Letaba to Olifants and back

Welcome aboard everybody. Fasten your seatbelts and let’s get started on today’s game drive. Have you got a fleece? If you really feel the cold I suggest you put on a warm jacket too. It’s 8:30 and 13 degrees C. The sky is cloudy but at least the wind has dropped. The weatherman tells us that it’s not going to warm up very much and it might even rain. Uh oh – I think I feel a spit and a spot already!

Right so off we go. See that Ford Ranger up ahead? We’re following Alec and Cathy to the S94. Sorry for the corrugations it’s going to be a bit of a rough ride. Not much to see here so let’s turn onto the S46 – Yes – this is a much smoother ride. Oh look – there in the tree a pretty little canary! No not they type you would keep in a cage. This one is wild and free.

Yellow Canary

Now let’s take this omrit to get a better view of the river. It’s called the Letaba which means River of Sand. But when there are good rains it flows quite strongly. Now it’s the dry season and there are still some lovely ponds which attract game and birds. Look there in that tree. What do you see? – Yes a kingfisher! This one typically perches near water and he will fly down fast to catch grasshoppers, millipedes, beetles, caterpillars as well as tadpoles, geckos and chameleons.

Brown-hooded Kingfisher

Oh look over there – a whole flotilla of Egyptian Geese. They’re having fun finding aquatic plants which they love to eat.

Egyptian Geese
Some lovely grub

Now we’re on the S93 and the Ford Ranger has stopped up ahead. What have they seen? Oh, they’ve moved on. But we have a road block!

Dagga Boy Buffalo decides to cross over
Hi my friend. Is this grass soft enough?

Buffalo are usually found in herds but sometimes older males go off on their own or in small groups so they can graze near water on softer grass which is more suitable to their teeth which are wearing out. They love to wallow in mud too as this protects them from the sun and parasites, their hair being a lot thinner than their younger kin.

Drive on and let’s see what else we can find. Hang on, Alec is calling on the walkie talkie, What’s that bird just landing in the tree?

It’s a black-winged kite – the Earl takes the shot

Creatures aren’t the only things to spot – look at that wonderful old tree. I’m sure it could tell us a story or two.

A gnarled old baobab tree

And now Alec has slowed again and has clearly seen something – Yes – What’s that darting through the trees? Something small. It’s stopped and turned to look at us! What do you mean you can’t see – look where I’m pointing – yes – there!

Steenbok

Steenbok can be very shy and will dart off if taken by surprise. They’re usually seen alone or in pairs if its the mating season.

Look at the time, 10:30 already. Are you all hungry? It’s time for breakfast. Let’s pop in at Olifant’s Rest Camp. We’ll park under the Marula tree.

The Ford Ranger entering Olifant’s
The Ford Everest under the Marula Tree

Look at the beautiful Impala Lilies. They bloom from July to September. The plant on which they grow resembles the baobab tree and can grow up to two metres. For most of the year it does not have leaves or flowers. These plants contain a watery latex that is toxic to domestic animals but does not affect the wild animals that eat it. However, the Bushmen of Namibia used to use the latex to poison the tips of their arrows and when an antelope was hit he would die after running a hundred paces.

Beautiful but toxic to some.

What would you like for breakfast? My choice would be the “Lion Run’ – Eggs, bacon, fried onion and tomato as well as a cheese griller served with a slice of toast and jam of your choice. But there are many other choices on the menu. Just take your pick and have a lovely hot cup of Americano to warm you up.

Breakfast over – let’s take a look at the wonderful view over the Olifant’s River.

Or just sit on a bench and wait for us to return from the deck
Walkway to the deck
Plenty of room for everyone
Breathtaking views over the river

Okay everybody comfort break is over. Let’s get back on board the Everest and off we go again. We’ll take the Lookout Loop and then return on the H8

Oh look – my favourite creatures there on the left.

A terrific trio

Now we’re right next to the river. There is not much going on but the hippo are out of the water looking for some warmth on the bank of the river. Not much of that today, I’m afraid.

A whole pod of hippo

And now a donkey in striped pyjamas!

She’s rather plump – is there a young one on the way?

And now what do we have? A bachelor herd of impala

I’m the boss here
These two are locking horns to see who really is the stronger

We’re at the lookout and you may alight from the vehicle. But please be aware and stay within the demarcated area.

Look out for lions!
A lovely view but not much wildlife to see

So now we’re on the last stretch back to Letaba. Earl, why are you stopping? I nearly went through the windscreen. Oh – a korhaan! How could I miss it!

Male Red-crested Korhaan

And now it’s almost half past two. The game drive is over but if you’d like to visit the Goldfields Educational Centre, please follow me. You will find it very interesting. The exhibits show the development of the elephant and all its stages of life. There is information about how elephants have been part of man’s history since the beginning of time. And if you want to know all about the big tuskers both past and present, this is the place to find out all about them.

Entrance to the museum

The grounds of Letaba are excellent for birding so if you’ve had enough of the museum come along with me.

Here we have a chinspot batis
And a Grey Go-away bird

My word there are a lot of green woodhoopoes about in the trees and on the ground.

Letaba is also famous for its visiting bushbuck who roam around the campsite as if it’s there just for them. I think they quite cleverly come here to avoid the predators in the park.

Male Bushbuck
Female bushbuck

Well that’s it for now. Thanks for travelling along with us. Right now I hear a hyaena right next to the fence – hopefully on the right side as it sounds like its right beside my caravan!

If you enjoyed today’s adventure, do join in again tomorrow.

2 Comments

  1. We have so enjoyed your blog. Hope you don’t mind we have forwarded your blog on to south African friends who live nearby. They are also avid Birdies like yourselves – they have been overseas – different places – just to go birding. Because we are all in lockdown it’s something for us all to look forward to. The delta Covid has struck us big time. The Hunter/ New England district ( where we live) has not had any infections for 347 days. This third wave has hit us hard. People are clamouring for the vax. So many people out there are anti-Vaxers. We are waiting to have our second one next week. Before this big outbreak we managed to get up to Lightening Ridge to the hot mineral pool then we went to Moree and stayed in a cabin in the. Gwydir caravan park which has four hot pools and family run – next time we go up there we will stay longer. It was so nice. Reminds us of the time we spent with you at Warmwatersberg. Although WWB had more atmosphere!!! The only wild life we saw were emus by the dozens and their young. Even kangaroos were scarce. No wildebeest either!!!!! So here we are all locked in – cannot go further than 5 klms from home to do essential services. We got home the day before a complete lockdown. Netflix is getting a beating. Our garden looks glorious.

    My youngest brother Peter ( 67) passed away last month from stage 4 lung cancer. We weren’t able to have a funeral. Peters daughter lives in Queensland – all borders are closed. Katy and her brother want to come down to sydney ( when able). To scatter his ashes on manly beach and have a family memorial lunch. So many funerals and weddings have been cancelled. Mu cousin in Cape Town – her daughter passed away with breast cancer – she was only 45. Her and my cousin were very close. This virus has certainly changed a lot of people’s lives. Not for the better in some cases. Our local cafes and restaurants are closed – I don’t know for how long. Erich and I can still play golf – in groups of two and after the game go straight home. But anyway it’s something to hang on to. Even if we cannot all get together. Now tell me where are you at with your Covid. I speak to Collette every now and then. She loves living up the coast and her little villa.she sees a lot more of her daughter now which is lovely. We will eventually get up there to see her – when these restrictions are lifted. In the meantime it is lovely just sitting on our stoep looking at the lake. It is so peaceful. Take care both of you. And keep on enjoying life !!! Love wendy and erich. Sent from my iPad

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    Liked by 1 person

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