Once again nature proves it's all about timing and being in the right place at the right time! This held very true for a couple that was staying with us for three nights, their timing could not have been any better, being the first guests that we have shown the, “Big Seven!”
It all started with their first afternoon drive, which was to set it all up. We kind of new of a few things out there, that we would follow up on after finding them in the morning, and hoped they would still be around for the afternoon. So setting out from camp we headed to the West, having already seen what was on offer in the morning Herald set out looking for the missing pieces and it was not long before he found one of the more difficult pieces, a female leopard not far from camp. Putting on hold our plans we responded to Kuhanya, as we were not far and it would be a great way to start off drive, we also did not know yet whether our other friends were still around. After spending some time with her we got news that our friends were in fact still around from the morning, it was going to be a busy afternoon. We left Kuhanya to her sleeping on the termite mound, seemingly oblivious to the world around and set off West again.
Our first stop was to visit the Mahlatini Males, three Lions that were making their way back home in the North West. On arriving at the sight it appeared that in fact it was a “ Cats Life”, as they too were sound asleep and only half heartedly raised their head to acknowledge our arrival. While watching these sleeping beasts we got word that our next potential sight had got mobile and the chance of seeing it was deteriorating fast. We let sleeping cats lie and headed off hoping to get lucky and bump into our next visitor.
The direction they had led us put us not far from another sight that was found in the morning and we decided to take a quick look see. Our four mysterious Lions, one young male and three females were still to be found sound asleep in the shade of some nearby trees.
The following day was a very quite one in comparison to the previous day, but after a start like that it was bound to be, as I said, Feast or Famine. We did however fill in on a lot of the smaller things.
The day there after was to be one filled with action, in the morning we were responding to Tenga Tenga, a large male rhino, when we bumped into a very large herd of buffalo that made their way to Hide Dam to drink and bathe. It was a great sight to watch, as plus minus a hundred and fifty buffalo jostled with one another to get to the water.
Having got our fill we made our way to Tenga Tenga, who was now slowly feeding along No Name River. The beauty about him, is he is totally unfased by the vehicles and goes about his business passing right alongside .
The afternoon drive we spent in the North bumbling along taking in whatever came our way, we had a great sighting of a breeding herd of elephant, which we spent a fair amount of time with as they are fascinating to watch and provide endless oohs and aahs. We were also fortunate enough to locate Argyle Jnr Female, she's not as relaxed as some of our other female leopards but on this occasion she allowed us to view her for a great deal of the afternoon. I think it may have been the fact that she was hunting a group of Impala, that she ignored our presence. As dark fell we left her to her business and made our way for sundowners, bringing to an end another brilliant African day in the bush.
Next morning got off to a very slow start and seemed to be following the general pattern of Feast or Famine. This was all to change after the coffee break! When we got going again the radio was abuzz with activity, the guys in the South had apparently been very busy and their hard work had come to fruition. They had found Rockfig Jnr and Zankumi, her surviving cub, and the words that I had to have repeated to me a couple of times before I could bring myself to believe, Skankana, Cheetah! I was like a kid at Christmas when the guys invited us to come see them. As you all know it's only my third time to see cheetah in my nine months, which apparently is lucky, as this would be Jacky's first time in eight years! We visited Rockfig Jnr first as to allow the line up at the Cheetah to subside, it also gave me the opportunity to radio the lodge to let them know we would be late for breakfast.
After getting somewhat miss-placed we eventually found our way to the three Cheetah that were resting in amongst some Mopane trees. It looked to me as if it was two adolescents and their mother, but it could also have been three young males, difficult to say from our views. They appeared relaxed and went about their business of sleeping interspersed by bouts of grooming. A great sight and another one for the top draw of the memory bank. We eventually had to leave, although it would have been easy to sit there all day, but my guests were checking out.
While on our trip back I received a message that the plane that was to fetch my guests had landed, with us twenty five minutes out and them not being packed at all, this could not be good! I attribute it to a breakdown in communication, and just maybe their timing was not as perfect as I previously thought and there may after all be a bit of luck involved as well! So their timing was “NEAR” perfect, allowing us to see “THE BIG SEVEN”