Posted by: tim ellis | December 25, 2012

Just Cats:- Friday 19th October 2012

Purple Roller

Another early morning and another alarm failure – fortunately I had prepared everything last night so I am good to go. We are driving along the Sabie River to Lower Sabie Camp for breakfast. This takes us past the site of yesterday’s lion kill again. We don’t see mum this morning, but the cubs are still there. No impala remains are evident. The estimate is that the older cub is around 4 months old, and the younger around 2 months. This is a bit of a puzzle, as they are too close together to be (half) siblings, and lions do not usually “adopt” orphans – we are sure Disney or the BBC wildlife department could come up with an interesting back story to base a film or TV special on!

Chacma Baboons

We also get to the bridge where we saw all the baboons last night. There are still several around, though they are starting to head off on the other side of the river. We hear plaintive cries and see a small baboon leap across some rocks into the middle of the river. The next rock looks a bit further and he seems uncertain – thinking he will retreat, we start to head off when he jumps, and misses! At first he seems to trapped in an eddy by the rock he was leaping for, but he manages to escape, and is carried downstream by the current, from where he is able to reach the shore. He made it across, albeit a bit damper than he had planned.

The weather is dull, even threatening to rain at one point, and although it doesn’t actually materialise, Leon distributes ponchos when we stop for a loo break – he also has to chase off an opportunistic baboon who manages to help himself to the coffee supply. Leon retrieves the tupperware container, but not the coffee…

Leon & The Terrapin

He has another close encounter when when we finally find another animal capable of blocking the road. A large terrapin is crossing a bridge, and there is not sufficient room to pass him by safely (for us or him). Since they have very smelly urine, which they use as a defence mechanism, Leon is reluctant to pick him up, so he ends up nudging him in the desired direction to give us clear access.

Lower Sabie camp looks very impressive, and we take breakfast overlooking the river where we can see hippo, crocodile and an African spoonbill.

The weather is a little brighter when we set off again and eventually the sun comes out to give a nice hot afternoon.

Black Rhino

We stop at a waystation to buy food for another “lunch on the go”, and again at Nkumbe viewpoint. This overlooks the plains, where we see (mainly) buffalo. Just as we are preparing to leave someone spots a black rhino. Leon says this is the first time he has seen one on a “Just Cats” tour, and only the third he has seen in the Kruger National Park, so we are all quite pleased with this.

We hear reports of a leopard sighting further ahead, so we push on. On the way we are stopped by a vehicle waiting to see young bateleur eagle take a dead genet from the road. It appears nervous (possibly because the car is too close to the dead animal?) and after some time seems no nearer to making a move, so Leon asks if he can go past. The eagle flies a short distance to a dead tree as we do so, and as we leave we another eagle and a white faced vulture starting to fly this way. Yet another wildlife special story!

Bateleur Eagle

At the place the leopard was supposed to have been seen is a (very) dead porcupine in a ditch by the road, and a car whose inhabitants say they think the leopard has retreated into the culvert. They have been here half an hour and seen nothing. We have a look (and check the other side of the road too, just in case) but are equally unsuccessful.

We can’t afford to wait too long, so continue on to Satara camp. We arrive at 3 pm, and leave at 4 for an afternoon safari. It has clouded over again, but we do see gnu and waterbuck for the first time, as well as more hippo, elephants, giraffes etc.

Dinner is a barbecue, but because of the cooler weather we eat indoors.

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