Breaking Free from Lockdown. A Gecko Road Trip. Day 22 Letaba

Both Gecko 82 and Gecko 109 find that they’re running short of supplies. The temporary Park Shop is not as well stocked as the previous lovely one would have been. They have no stocks of wine (horror!) and what alcohol they do sell is more expensive than elsewhere so the disgruntled campers decide to go to Phalaborwa to restock at Pick ‘n’ Pay.

After a leisurely cup of coffee, making notes and gathering themselves together they leave in tandem to make the one and half hour drive to the town. The radio crackles and Alec complains, “What’s going on here? We’ve been driving for 20 minutes and not a creature in sight.” They complete the journey after spotting an zebra or two, a lilac-breasted roller and a few white-crested Helmetshrikes who really didn’t want their portraits taken.

Come on Helmetshrike – show us your face.
So happy to see you Zebbie but I see Mom is just not interested
You never disappoint do you, beautiful bird

It doesn’t take too long to complete their chores but breakfast at the Spur is less than satisfactory. People who arrive after them are served first and it is forty five minutes before their order is brought – and that is only after they complain. So they are not in the best of moods and cannot wait to get back to the tranquility of The Kruger National Park!

Perhaps the creatures realise that these Gecko owners need some excitement. “Let’s make an appearance and give them a bit of an adrenaline rush,” the mischievous animals scheme together.

Alec stops when he sees what’s up ahead. “Road block,” he calls on the walkie-talkie.

This is a really big boy

The Earl comes up alongside his friend and they discuss what they should do. The Earl decides to sneak forward to see what happens.

“I think I’ll just slip past,” say the Earl. “Don’t you dare!” warns his terrified wife.

Then another one emerges from the left.

This guy has even bigger tusks
Which are great for resting a long snout on.
The Earl sits tight thinking the ellies will move off together
But Oom Olifant waves his trunk
And charges toward the Everest

The Earl is not afraid but his terrified wife screams and almost drops the camera as she videos the scene. Alec reverses at top speed to make room for the Everest’s escape. But Oom Olifant is just messing with them and doesn’t continue the charge. Eventually both ellies go off into the bush, probably laughing their heads off. Everyone breathes a big sigh of relief.

When the Earl stops to photograph a zebra, Alec overtakes and is once again in front.

Ha ha – I heard about the ellie incident!

Alec calls on the walkie-talkie – Fish eagle to the right.

The Ranger moves on while Helen takes some photos of the fish eagle.

The Ranger is already quite far ahead when the Earl stops again. He’s seen two warthogs in the bush. “Look there,” he says. “Behind that bush. Get the photo!”

“It’s no good,” I can’t. “Oh wait, reverse, no forward. Darn – they’ve gone!”

By this time the Ranger is out of range and doesn’t hear the call to come back for the next sighting.

The Earl is driving quickly to catch up to his friend. “Stop! Go back. Look!’ Helen calls excitedly

Do you see what Helen sees?
The impala do and they stand stock-still staring at the predator
A spotted hyaeana comes closer and closer
But walks right on by the trembling buck
And climbs up the embankment right next to the passenger window of the everest

He then crosses the road behind the car and walks in the opposite direction.

The Earl reverses so Helen can photograph him.

So that lovely sighting gives them enough of an adrenaline rush to last for the rest of the day.

Their journey is almost over but just before reaching Letaba Rest Camp a noisy troop of close relatives appears.

The little baboons screech and play just like human children
Hold tight baby, I can’t hold you and walk at the same time

Alec and Cathy are already unpacking the shopping when Earl and Helen arrive. The afternoon is spent sorting out the caravans, doing laundry etc. At four o’clock Alec and Cathy go out for a short drive. They find a bateleur couple acting strangely in the river bed.

The bateleurs keep walking around as if looking for something
And a beautiful lilac-breasted roller brightens their day

Today the temperature reaches a maximum of 24 degrees C. The evening is somewhat cooler but still warm enough to enjoy an outdoor braai. It is a lovely way to end the day.

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