Thursday, 30 April 2015

Bush Day 5

Seriously restless night! Got up early so mom could go to the bank and I could go to the dentist after 2 days of increasing pain. 

Town is a 1hr drive for us so going to town has to be for a good reason and fortunately for me, we had banking to do - otherwise, I honestly would have pushed through with the pain. Anyway, we arrived in town just before 8am and fortunately Pick n Pay was open so we could get our groceries done (thinking that we could do dentist then bank then get home early). After grocery shopping we found the dentists office and I was sorted with a script for my tooth infection and sent on my way feeling relieved that no dental work was needed. We went to the local Link pharmacy (sadly there is no Dis-Chem in town), got the meds and then got cokes from the Spar before going to the bank.

Sadly, when we hit town I saw a message that a good friend of mine had passed away. Although I think we all knew it was going to happen sooner or later, it is still very sad and our hearts go out to the family. Ali was a very special lady.

Anyway... The bank was entertaining and totally unhelpful. We had to wait an unknown time for them to sort something out so we headed to Wimpy for a quick breakfast followed by some shopping for a friend of moms and then visiting someone we knew before heading back to the bank. I was seriously unimpressed by how we were treated. The consultant had zero care in the world about us. She just wanted lunch and when asked questions, she ignored me. At one stage I asked for the customer care telephone number and she blatantly ignored me! It was only after I asked again in front of one of her colleagues that she gave it to me. She then went on lunch.

Long story short: we kind of came right at the bank but are in amazement at how bad that branch is.

We got home just after lunch and relaxed with a drink and our books. Much needed recovery after the morning! And by this stage, I was sore again.

Late afternoon we hit the road again for a night drive. In general it was a drab drive from a game perspective. There was hardly anything. Ok fine... 4 buffalo grazing but that was the highlight. Until we came across Nunu Pie! This little squirrel was so funny. We had stopped for a drink and to watch the sunset when this little squirrel started climbing around our wheel and popping its head in and out of the wheel arch. It was almost as if he was trying to see what this strange species was on this giant tin can.

(The yummy bottle of wine I got as a gift from my colleagues.)

After Nunu Pie, we meandered on through the bush with no excitement and we decided to head home. On our way, mom asked for a drinks refill so I stopped and as I did so, my sister in law spotted a young leopard. We watched him as he casually turned around and went to take another route to wherever he or she was headed. We tried to find it again but were unsuccessful so we headed home for dinner. But... An early dinner was not to be! Not far from where we had seen the leopard, we turned a corner and in the middle of the road were 2 sleeping lionesses!!

We watched them for at least 30minutes as we waited for them to move out of the way.  Eventually they got up and ambled past the vehicles and into the bush. Whilst watching them, I aimed my cycling light at them as a spot light so we wouldn't have to use the spot lights - I was so amazed at how well it worked!! I may just have to get a stronger bike light for use on the deck and landie... (Ok, and hopefully Transbaviaans next year.)

We got home and eventually had our steaks and went to bed. Must after we had closed up and gone to bed, an elephant was spotted walking past the house so we all got up, watched the elephant meander past and then we eventually all went to bed.

Was a long but good day.

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Bush Day 4

Day 4

Lions roared a fair bit last night and that combined with the sight, sound and smell of the rain made for a peaceful night in the bush. Except for one major thing: bats. When I went to bed, I saw the poo on my bed then in the middle of the night I heard screeching and scratching and knew they were above my bed. Those evil little flying monsters were right above my head!! (I don't like flying creatures.) 

I woke to the sight of a glowing red sky as the sun started peaking over the horizon. Was a good way to start the day. After coffee, showers and a quick breakfast, we were off for a drive on the neighboring reserve in the hope of finding the lions. 

Olifants North is a very different reserve to ours in its topography. Where as ours has hills and flats, theirs is predominately hills. We headed along to the road across from our house then to 2 of their dams but the lions were no where to be found. As we were headed in the direction of the next dam, we came across a herd of buffalo that were clearly headed to the dam we had just been to so we made a u-turn and headed back to that dam to wait. 

Buffalo are definitely not pretty animals but they are certainly majestic in their size and how they charge almost viciously at the water and then become as meek and seemly mild as a domestic cow as they relax in the cool water.

Sometime during our drive we heard a report on the radio that there was an impala that looks like it had been shot with maybe a shotgun. Will wait for official news before I comment further but I find it totally sickening that someone could kill something like that. 

After that special sighting, we meandered in the direction of the next dam but instead of finding it, we found a scenic road with a nice view point before heading home for lunch.

After lunch, Gareth and I headed of to main camp to do some errands. On the way back, I pulled in at a dam so I could teach him the absolute basics of photography: finding where to measure light from. Whilst sitting at the dam we had some great game sightings and had a few good photo opportunities.

In the evening we all went for a drive and got the opportunity to see 2 young female lions that came nice and close to the vehicles, closing off our big 5 sightings. The rest of the evening drive was uneventful.  

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Bush day 3

Woke up early and watched the light grow until it was light enough for a run. Running up and down the driveway was not as bad as I had thought it would be but it was somewhat tiring and I managed a good 5.5km in 30mins.

After all exercise was done and everyone else was awake (I did not wake them), I helped make breakfast before we headed out.

The drive was quiet and almost somber as we saw how thin the animals were. At the main camp they told us how little rain we had had and how bad it really was - we are definitely in for a long winter!! The drive was pleasant with general game but nothing overly exciting was seen.

Lunch was a yummy meal of burgers and was followed by chill time where some slept and others read. This evening we opted to not go for a drive and instead we relaxed at home and got ready for a braai. I made a potbrood with Camembert cheese and mom made sweet potato, boerewors and chops with a salad. Fortunately for us, we finished our cooking just in time before the rains came down and a storm hit. Both the and and the rains that lasted on and off during the night were welcome. 

Monday, 27 April 2015

Bush day 2

Day 2

Woke up early and watched the sun slowly rise over the horizon as I read my book. At 6:30, I got up, made coffee and then did my core exercises. After a killer core session (yes, I am determined to do exercise whilst here), I had another cofee and chilled.

At 7:45 mom woke and we had breakfast and then went for a drive before fetching my brother and his wife who had left Joburg that day. 

At home we relaxed, had lunch and relaxed some more before heading out for a drive which started with the river loop where we spotted a lone elephant on the other side of the river. Whilst we were near Wild Dog Pan we heard that there were leopards lazing at a dam not too far away so we sped off and saw them. Seriously lazy leopard and an ok sighting (no where near the good sighting from the night before). We then meandered along to Dad's tree where we had a subset drink before heading on. Unfortunately the rain closed in and we had to head in the direction of home. Whilst driving we decided to try for a covered dinner spot we knew, but on approach I saw a light and the idea was abandoned. But then as we drove around the other side, the light was gone and the family told me I must have seen a star so we went around again and up to the spot. Surprise surprise! There was a vehicle there so we had to drive on. Dinner idea was changed to the air field but as we drove up, the rain started coming down and we opted for a picnic on the deck.

The drive home was uneventful with the exception of seeing a civit. Today was definitely a quieter day for game but also a day with less bugs.

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Bush Day 1

Day 1
Woke up nice and early and hit the road to the farm. In general the road was not hectic and with the exception for getting stuck behind a truck, progress was awesome. Even the potholes were not a deterrent! (Surprisingly there were way less than we expected.) We got to Hoedspruit on time and mom quickly popped in at the PicknPay for the odd bits she had forgotten. This was the last sight of civilization for a few days. 

Road to the farm is looking good and traveling was easy. Was really nice to see a strong anti-poaching presence on the way in.  After getting the Landie, we headed to the house where Louis the game guard was waiting to help us unpack (small extra fee but well worth it as it made the process way faster). We settled in, had a drink and started the relaxing process to the sounds of the hippo in front of the house.

In the late arvie, we went for a short drive. On our way we heard a radio call for something at Sable Dam, I handed the radio to mom and she instinctively put it in the pouch in front of her - not realizing it was full of water! Radio dead. So we missed out on the fact that there were lions. We cruised around watching plenty general game (Impala, zebra, warthogs etc) and looking at happiness at how green the veld is still looking. After a drink at Hide Dam we slowly headed home. As we were driving, we smelt the distinct smell of rotting meat. Mom started saying something and half way through the word "leopard", one appeared in my headlights!! This big guy gave us a brilliant show for 30mins as he walked along the road with his tail flicking and then eventually ducking down to watch some nearby Impala. He eventually ducked into thick bush and we lost sight of him. 

After that sight, we drove the last few hundred meters home, had dinner and hit the hay. Day 1 was long but really successful and sleep was definitely welcome.