Sunday, February 3, 2019

I am currently sitting by the pool with the little lizards during our Sunday morning break. Brenda is off napping and I think lunch will be served soon. But I’m hoping to get at least some stuff typed up about this morning’s exciting game drive and bush walk.

So as I mentioned yesterday, wake up around here is 5am. I had asked Tyrone when the sunrise was cause I want to see the red African sky. He said it would be a little before that and he could get us up in time. But wouldn’t ya know, this morning was overcast so no red sky 😢 Good thing I’ve got a few more mornings to get it 🤩 By 5:30 we're all at the Jeep and ready for the morning game drive. With it overcast, it was a little cooler than anticipated, so I’m glad I grabbed my long sleeves.

Early morning is when a lot of the animals are more active. They had actually been tracking a pride of lions yesterday before we got here, but by the time they found them they were already lying there napping and looking half dead. So that was this morning’s mission...to get a good lion sighting.

With no animals to look at, I was focused on the sky. It started to clear and get a little colorful, but we were heading in the other direction. Tom told me to just ask Tyrone to stop anytime and he would. He spun us around and I nailed it! Still hoping to do better, but this is a good start 😍

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Onward toward the lions we went when Tom spotted a leopard hiding in the trees. We were able to stop and not scare her away. Make that our number 4 of the big 5. And pretty impressive since leopards are good at hiding and there aren’t many black rhinos (we did also see white rhinos yesterday too. I have pics of both, but I’m not sure if I can actually tell them apart 🤦🏽‍♀️).

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By markings and paw prints they could tell there had been quite the gathering of cats overnight. Surprisingly, no one in our camp had heard them (they did the night before). We have an actual enclosed “chalet” with air con and a patio and a cement block bathroom, although still no actual door on the bathroom. But the other couples are staying out in the thatched roof tents. There is also a hide or observation platform that overlooks a small watering hole. Brenda & I haven’t seen anything the two times we went up there. But we did see two nyalas in camp that had wandered in to munch on the grass.

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Anyhoo, back to the big cats and our lion search. We spotted a female standing up in the distance. We had to go a little out and around to get by her, and there was the big old male just laying there minding his own business. Tyrone said that since the females and the cubs were up and moving, it was only a matter of time before the male got up and followed them too. And sure enough, there he went; first needing to spray and mark his territory, which I actually captured (score!!). Tyrone positioned our Jeep so that we could get the male walking right toward us, and at one point it looked like he was going to walk right up onto Tipple’s lap. It’s a pride of nine: 2 females (probabaly sisters), the male, and 6 cubs (3 from each female) all about 4.5 months old. We sat there a bit watching the cubs play a little. And then of course they had to go bother mom. Brenda got a great video where you can actually hear them purring...just before they walked around the car and started sharpening their claws on the tree by me. Just incredible stuff. It was time to get going when they looked to be sizing up a warthog for breakfast. But then one of the cubs mucked it up and scared him off anyway. Later on we saw the same pride in a little different spot just sprawled out sleeping. The life of a cat doesn’t change much regardless of the size 😝

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Somewhere in there we also had a little coffee stop, make that hot chocolate for us. And they had these delightful lemon poppyseed muffins to snack on. And by shortly after 9:00 we were back to the lodge and ready for our proper breakfast. We skipped the chef’s special flapjacks and just went with eggs and bacon, served with the usual mushrooms and tomatoes on the side.

Tanks refilled and not too hot out yet, we were off on a bush walk. Tyrone drove us near one of the damns and then we got out of the car to go get a better look around the water. Or that was the plan at least since you never know who or what you’ll find and how they will react to you. Rules for a walk: stay behind the rifle, keep it quiet (snap or slap your leg if you need his attention), walk in a single file line, only take pics when he says it’s safe, and do NOT run! Yeah, what can go wrong there?! 😳

He had spotted a hippo, so that’s what we were headed toward. Problem is you can’t come at them where they have a chance to run straight at you - cause that’s not a battle you’re going to win. Once the hippo picked us up, he kept moving in the water to make sure he would always know where we were. He’d go under, then ploop, he’d pop up and there were his beedy little eyes on us. So in the process of trying to get closer to the hippo (who seemed to be a mama and baby combo), we ended up coming upon a pair of cape buffaloes. Yet another animal you don’t want to tick off. And when Tyrone was like “let’s back up and just give them more space,” I think we all got a little nervous. I heard Annabel say something about her heart pounding, and I was feeling the same. He then elaborated and said if they charge, he’d have to shoot and hit just right and even then sometimes it takes 2 rifles (which we did not have). We did get to a place where he let us snap some photos. Being directionally challenged in a place that appears to look exactly the same everywhere I turn, I was looking at my watch wondering how long it was gonna take us to get back. Thankfully we were actually mere feet from the Jeep, everyone having survived!! As Tyrone pointed out, we were stalked by a hippo and avoided a Cape buffalo, so not a bad morning walk.

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Walk over we drove back to camp for our midday break. And that’s how I’ve been able to get this all typed 💃🏽😎 The couple from the Netherlands left and another one showed up (he’s French and she’s Dutch and that’s where they live). Lunch was served: a barbecued beef sandwich with carmelized onions and a coleslaw type salad. Now we’re all sitting in the outdoor living room waiting to hop aboard the Jeep. Hopefully my request for giraffes and elephants will be fulfilled 🤞🏽 But considering how quickly we were able to see all of the big five, I can’t complain. 😊

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Turns out we were waiting for another pair of Germans to show up, a mother and son. So this afternoon game drive was a little cozier with 8 guests on board the Jeep. The first place we headed was back toward the lions. The heat of the day upon us, they were all lounging under trees just trying to nap. Next thing we knew, we were back in the middle of a herd of elephants. Those are some very large vegans right there!! Then there were trees to photograph (for me at least; that’s my go to when there aren’t any animals to look at). Yet more elephant sightings...this time shaking the amarula tree to grab some tasty fruits. A stop for some sundowner drinks and snacks, and then we were heading back to get ready for dinner. Wow!! Such a crazy exciting day.

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We got back to camp and were in the boma for dinner around 8:00. The fire was stoked and going strong and the staff was ready to dazzle us. It was just 6 for dinner though as the German couple were off dining alone. The meal tonight was even better than last night (Neil and Ian weren’t kidding about the abundance of food we were in for on safari). So first up was some kind of flat bread with avocado, bacon, tomato and a sauce on top. That’s a two thumbs up right there. Then the main course was yet another fresh, summery salad. This accompanied roast chicken stuffed with spinach and cheese alongside some basmati rice. And what’s an amazing meal without a delctible dessert?! That consisted of a meringue base topped with fruit and a berry sauce. After such a successful game drive, it was only right that we washed it all down with the local Savanna cider. Everyone was feeling relaxed and chatty so we hung out in the boma for a while. But finally they needed to clean up and we needed to get to bed in order to do it all over again tomorrow. How is this my life right now?! 😝😍

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This featured blog entry was written by JackiesJourneys from the blog South Africa & Victoria Falls - 2019.
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By JackiesJourneys

Posted Wed, Feb 06, 2019 | South Africa | Comments