|Pic Of The Day.|
( Grant & Herold.)
Leopard ( Kuhanya) / Motswari – Seans Clearing.
Rhino ( Female & Calf)
Elephant ( Kambaku) / Peru – Hippo Rocky Rd.
Buffalo ( Dagha Boy) / Mbali – White Syringa Rd.
Lion ( 2 x Mafikizolo Males) / JayDee – Civet Rd.
( Grant, Herold & Chad.)
Elephant ( Kambaku) / Motswari – Motswari Northern Access.
Elephant ( Kambaku) / Buchner – River Rd.
Elephant ( Kambaku) / Buchner – Camp Pan.
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Buchner – Buchner Access.
Leopard ( Umfana Male) / Kings – Hyena Rd.
Leopard ( Rockfig Jnr) / Kings – Little Ridge.
Lion ( Machaton Pride) / Kings – Leisha's Link.
Rhino ( Male)
Our morning started as any other winters morning, crisp clear skies with fog settling on the ridges. With no real agenda for the morning we set off East to look for Zebra in the mist and any other secrets that may be hidden in this not often driven area. Herold was keen to follow up on the Lions from yesterday afternoon and headed out West but only after checking around Argyle Dam where we could hear Baboons alarm calling from before drive. While sitting at the dam Herold could only hear a Hyena on Phiva Plains and thought that must be the cause of the disturbance and continued his journey West.
While heading to the plains in the East we received a request from our guests to see Buffalo again as their pictures had not come out nicely from the day before. So adding them to the Christmas List we kept our eyes peeled for any tracks or signs. Finding our Zebra in the light and conditions we wanted, we were unfortunately let down by their position as they were some way from the road and in amongst a Mopane thicket. It also did not help that the stallion kept chasing a particular female and her foul which dragged the entire herd deeper into the thicket where we eventually lost all sight of them. Being close to the Kruger boundary we decided to visit this spot of interest and it was just as well we did as we found relatively fresh tracks for a herd of Buffalo entering into our traversing area from the Kruger. We now set about tracking them as they slowly made their way to the West and a nearby dam. While we were on the trail of the Buffalo, Herold was now on the trail of his Lions and by the sounds of things was not far off finding them. While they set off on foot to check a drainage line we continued our working away at our tracks that now had turned South after visiting the Dam. Unlike the morning before it appeared we would be in for the long haul on this one as we moved further and further South. The disadvantage of the area we were working in is that the blocks created by the roads are very big and it makes the tracking very difficult, not to mention time consuming. With the clock winding down the bush sprung to life with the South extending us an invitation to visit the Machaton Pride that were hot on the heels of another herd of Buffalo. Having had a good sighting of Lion the evening before we chose to continue our search as did Herold, as half the excitement and challenge is in finding your own animals as opposed to responding to sightings. Our resolve was only tested when Chad and Patrick, who were on bush work at the time, found Kuhanya near camp. I approached our guests with the options of continuing our search for the Buffalo or to respond to Kuhanya who was not to far away. This was answered unanimously in favour of visiting Kuhanya, maybe I'm wrong when it comes to the art of tracking but I did not mind much as it has been nearly five weeks since I'd last seen her and we were long overdue our visit. Herold however stuck to his guns and was rewarded in finding his two male Lions on foot unfortunately when the Lions saw them they disappeared in the opposite direction and Herold was unable to relocate them with the car.
We arrived to find Kuhanya showing some interest in a couple of Kudu but soon lost interest and returned to the road and headed South marking her territory along the way. Lets hope this is a sign that she intends to hang around the area for a while. I noticed while she walked that she seems to be crab walking as if she had dislocated a hip or something. On closer investigation I discovered a large lump, almost like an abyss, on the back left inside thigh. It did not seem to bother her much and only affected her style of walk as she now seems to swing her hips a little, very much like a runway model, which I guess she is the bushes equivalent of anyway! We witnessed her mobility when she heard the snorting of Impala off in the distance and immediately darted off in their direction at lightening speed, so I guess she is all good but we'll keep a close eye on it and her progress.
Having enjoyed a great sighting of her we headed off for morning coffee after which we decided to walk back to camp as it was such a beautiful morning. Our walk was uneventful and apart from the Hippo's in Argyle Dam, the many Waterbuck around it and a lone Wildebeest we were able to concentrate more on the flora and the smaller things that one often overlooks while driving.
While we were sweating it out on the walk, Herold turned on his magic once again and whilst responding to Kuhanya he found himself our other relaxed female Rhino and her new born calf. We do not see them as often as the other two but on the few occasions that we have seen them now it would appear that the youngster is becoming more relaxed and hopefully with a little more exposure to the vehicles it will become as relaxed as its mother is. Adding Buffalo and Elephant to Herolds tally and he had himself a Big Five morning, clearly the Mgiba Magic is back!
Afternoon drive saw a number of guides return to the mix and with our guests having seen a fair amount we took the opportunity to visit places less travelled and thus avoid the hustle and bustle. Our drive got off to a good start with an Elephant Bull on Motswari's entrance road but he was somewhat shy and when we tried approaching he disappeared off across a drainage line clearly not wanting to be seen. Leaving him we continued our journey to the North East.
Herold headed off to the East following our tracks from the morning but like ourselves he did not have any luck with the breeding herd of Buffalo but instead found himself a large male Rhino drinking at one of the pans in the area. Chad got off to a later start so he checked around the camp and Argyle Dam while he waited for his late arrivals. With everybody being on board and receiving an invitation to visit the Machaton Pride down on Kings both he and Herold turned South and headed in their direction.
We in turn continued in the opposite direction for our date with the best sundowner spot in the entire Timbavati and with clear skies all around it was sure to not disappoint. Although we did not see a whole lot on this occasion we did find tracks and signs that the area is a hive of activity. I guess it's all about being in the right place at the right time. There were fresh tracks for Lions which we did follow North along the riverbed but with them approaching the Kruger boundary and the sun sinking fast we regained focus and continued towards our sundowner spot. Along the way we had ourselves a nice little encounter with a Hippo that was resting in a shallow pool. While sitting watching, it became uneasy with our presence and decided to let us know by sinking below the surface of the water before bursting out, mouth wide open running towards the car. At the time it felt like it was bearing down on us and would collide with the car any second but in reality it must have only travelled a couple of metres towards us before stopping. This created a large bow wave that came rushing up towards us and lapped against the tyres of the car. It was also enough to make one of my guests calmly utter, “ I think we should go now,” all be it a little higher pitched than normal.
With everyone's adrenalin slightly raised we continued on to our drinking spot which we now had to speed up for as yet again I had mistimed our arrival. Scrambling up the rocks we made it just in time for the sun to begin melting into the horizon and painting the sky in pastels. Its not only a great spot for 360 degree views as far as the eye can see but also a place that you can hear the slightest noise. So we sat and took in the beauty of the bush. Towards the end of drinks we heard the distant rumble of a Lion calling across the boundary in Kruger, a near perfect way to end another tough day in Africa.