Tuesday, 27 December 2011

26th December – The Heavens Open!

Photo of the Day
Fiesty elephant calves
Morning Drive
(Chad, Petros and Grant)
1 x breeding herd of buffalo – Peru, Henk se Brug
1 x breeding herd of buffalo – Motswari, Sean’s Clearing
4 x buffalo bulls – Motswari, Northern Access

Afternoon Drive
(Chad, Grant, Petros and Herold)
2 x rhinos (Rose and Maria)
1 x breeding herd of buffalo – Karans, Central Street
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Karans, Corkwood Drive
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Java, Java Access
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Vielmetter, Hide Dam
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Kings, Sibejane Rd
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Kings, Eagle Owl Plains

Daily Synopsis
Heading out on Boxing Day, the radio was awfully quiet, and for the first hour or so, it was just Grant, Petros and myself out – we couldn’t work out why, but as we headed south, the ground got wetter and wetter, and soon, so did we!  At the lodge, we measured maybe 5mm of rain, but Java got over 50mm 9km south of us, and Kings – a mere 15km south – got over 85mm (making their three day total close to 140mm while ours was 18mm!).  Needless to say they didn’t go out on drive, and wisely so – they stayed dry!
Driving about, it didn’t look as though there had been as much rain as we would soon realise there had been...it was very quiet out there, and besides a herd of buffalo, some zebras and impalas, there was nothing to speak of – the wild dog tracks headed south but the rain got too much and we headed back to camp.

Buffalo herd
Waiting for the guests’ transfer to arrive, we got a phone calling saying that they transfer could not arrive as the little Nyosi river crossing – a concrete low-level bridge –was uncrossable!   Not believing it, Dave went to see it, and sure enough, the water was gushing over so much that not even a Land Rover could drive through!
As it was still raining, we took the guests down the Argyle Rd in our own private vehicles, and fortunately the rain had stopped in the south when we arrived, so the river subsided enough for us to get across!  The race was now on to get back before the considerably larger Nhlaralumi river blocked off the Ingwelala low-level crossing!

Helping our guests across the Nyosi River!
Fortunately that only happened late in the afternoon, but it was still navigable with a Land Rover, so Grant managed to get all his guests to the camp.
With our traversing sliced in half by the uncrossable Nhlaralumi, I wasn't expected much from the drive.  My first port of call though was the Nhlaralumi, to see this impressive river in flood is something quite amazing; especially seeing as when we were driving across the same river yesterday, there was nothing more than dry sand!
Vyeboom Dam was pumping hard over the wall, and the river was flowing bank to bank...

Water flowing over Vyeboom Dam on the Nhlaralumi, and birds like the Hamerkop relishing every minute!
Concrete crossing below Peru Dam was totally covered...
Umm, there was a bridge there last time i checked!  Concrete Crossing overflows :)
Mbali Dam was overflowing the dam wall as well as the overflow area...

Mbali Dam overflowing
It was wonderful to see all this water about; Machaton River, Nyosi River, Zebenine River, Nhlaralumi River were all actually rivers for once...sadly, the only one that didn’t flow was the Sohebele river in front of the camp...Game was less easy to see, but we ticked off a few thins like warthog and some nice birds.

Swainson's spurfowl and warthog with oxpeckers
Kings found some rhinos in the south and extended an invitation, which seeing as I hadn’t seen rhino, I gladly took up.  Heading south past Hide Dam we found some zebra and a nice herd of elephants with some rather naughty little elephant calves that were chasing and trumpeting at us!

Elephant herd
On the way to the rhinos we ticked off another herd of elephants, but enjoyed a great sighting of two relaxed female rhinos feeding out in the open next to the road.

Female white rhinos
While unsuccessfully checking an area where the impalas began alarm calling next to the rhinos, we found another herd of elephants before we went for a sundowner.

Another elephant herd
While drinking we had a hyena come to join us for drinks before heading home – we saw impala, wildebeest and giraffe on the way home, but for once, had a cat-free day!
Lets hope we get some tomorrow...


  1. Good luck for cats tomorrow Chad - your photos are stunning (puts mine to shame) - you really should put a wildlife book together soon!

  2. Great to see it so green after the grey-yellow August! Beautiful pics as always ;-) Enjoy all the water while it lasts, hopefully Sohebele will not disappoint you in the next few days!

  3. Hard to believe it's the same place!!!

  4. hey chad
    i still enjoy passing by the motswari blog and read the news about the animals and see your (and your colleagues) nice pictures.
    keep it up!
    yours pierre ( from são paulo)