Early morning today. We awoke to a knock on the door at 5:30. Off for a quick coffee at the lodge before jumping on the safari jeep and heading off in search of leopards. Our safarian partners, Karl and Jeremy, were leaving early and hadn’t seen a leopard. The radio buzzed with reports of leopard tracks. Our tracker Foster grabbed his machete and took off on foot through the brush. Who thought this was a safe way to track leopards??? Two hours later, Foster rejoined us but we had to say goodbye to Karl and Jeremy with no leopard sightings.
The rest of the mornings drive was pretty relaxed. Simon concentrated on bird sightings and we had a great time. We arrived back at camp at 9:30 where breakfast was being served. Very odd since we’d been up for 4 hours already.
After breakfast (because who really skips a meal on vacation?) we joined a group for a walk to the staff village. It is a complex group with offices, communications, laundry, etc. But most interesting was the actual village. The people of the area, the Shangaan, are an offshoot of the Zulu tribe. We had one of their members with us to describe their history and traditions. We visited the preschool where the children sang to us and demonstrated their English skills by listing the months of the year. Very LOUDLY. One little boy, around 2, made a beeline to me and wanted to be cuddled. Very cute.
We had a bit of time to relax by the splash pool before heading back to the lodge for afternoon tea. From the deck of the lodge we saw a leopard resting on the opposite bank of the river. So much easier when the game come to you…
Evening game drive – we were in search on lions tonight and found three lionesses immediately. We were following their tracks when suddenly there they were by the side of road not more than 6 feet from us. They were completely uninterested in us, just snoozing and swatting flies. After another vehicle joined us, we left and went off to find a good spot for sundowners. But the radio crackled with news that the group was on the move. We crashed through the brush trying to catch up. Suddenly a bushbuck lept through the brush followed by a lion in pursuit. She quickly realized the hunt was futile so backed off and rejoined her group. We looped around to an open area and waited for the pride. They emerged from the brush and walked right by our vehicle, with not so much as a moment of hesitation.
We had our sundowners long after the sun had set, but it was a great evening in the bush.
We’ve seen the Big Five!!