by Debbie Ross
founder of the Womens Travel Network.ca
Our discovery of Africa’s Big 5 and more continued on game drives today.
Some of the group took part in an Elephant Interaction session. Amazing!
Another early morning start as the sun rises over the trees. The first animals to greet us are Zebra, Red billed horn bill, Nyala (male and female), wart hog and then there were lions. Eight males lions were them lounging on the road way, slowly waking up for their morning hunt. We were very close, no one moves as we watch in silence.
We continue along the roadway spotting colourful birds and hippos lounging in the water hole. Time for a coffee break. John wants to test out the tracker seat. He decides it’s not the place he wants to be, it’s just a little to close to the lions.
We head back to the hippo water hole to see if they are out of the water. They are a little more visible and so is a great big crocodile. A giraffe watches us from the safety of the trees. Further along the road we came across bones left over from a lions meal. Just a short distance from our lodge we are stopped by a large herd of about 200 cape buffalo crossing the road.
Back to the lodge for another hearty breakfast. My clothes are getting tight. I wonder why! Mid morning our driver guides take us to the Elephant Sanctuary. On the way we saw some wildebeest, giraffe and there are a few warthogs hanging around the sanctuary.
The Elephant Sanctuary is home to 14 rescued elephants. The first one we met is 19 year old Jubulani who was rescued as a young calf when she was stuck in a mud hole. Next up was baby Mumbo who could hardly contain his excitement in meeting the people. We were able to touch the elephants, feel their rough skin and their smooth ivory tusks. The handlers gave us pellets to feed to the elephants. It was such a thrill to be so close to these very large, majestic creatures. The elephants are free to roam the park but they choose to stay near the sanctuary where they know they are well fed and protected.
Back at the lodge we enjoyed a delicious lunch in the spacious dining room. The monkey’s eagerly watch for patrons to leave their table, then they swoop in and steal the leftovers. Today we relaxed by the pool, enjoyed spa treatments and kept cool. It’s another hot day, close to 40 degrees celcius.
Late afternoon I headed back to my room to get ready for the evening safari drive. I heard a trumpet sound and went out to the balcony to see what was out side of my room. To my delight it was a pack of elephants. I watched in awe as they walked across the savannah, stopping to graze in the trees. What a thrill!
Back in the jeeps we head out for our evening game drive. along the way we see buffalo, jackal, horn bill, a large termite mound and a giraffe skeleton and skin. Eventually the skin will be eaten, as the rains come and soften the skin the scavengers enjoy another meal. We come across a family of about 50 baboons, Nyala and Zebra.
We head over to a water hole which is always a sure place to spot some wildlife. This evening there’s a family of hippos and one has baby by her side. Our drive cruises along the waters edge to try and get a closer look. There are buffalo vultures, a buffalo skeleton, vervet monkeys and a boom snake hanging in the tree.
Time for a sundowner. We get out of the jeep to stretch our legs, enjoy a cocktail and admire the spectacular view of the sun setting behind the mountains. It’s so peaceful.
Darkness has fallen. As we begin our drive back to the toward the lodge John gets radio message that someone has spotted a leopard. He quickly drove to the location and goes off road to hunt down the elusive leopard. He takes us on a 4 wheel journey through the long grasses, over logs, rocks and dried up river beds. What a thrill. Unfortunately we did not spot the leopard but we did see a bush baby. They are nocturnal so can only be seen at night. Perhaps we’ll see the leopard tomorrow.
Accommodation: Kampama Lodge, Kruger National Park