23.08.09After another great sleep i was woken up before 5am by jackals barking somewhere not too far away. Feeling good i decided to get up and enjoy the pre dawn. It was still very dark which makes for great viewing of the stars and that is exactly what i did. I really must get around to familiarising myself with our solar system so i know which constellations i am looking at, all i know currently is the southern cross. So much for me to learn, and quite honestly that is great as it keeps everything all the more exciting.
All the owls started going off again around 5.30, the Giant eagle owl, scops and pearl spotted as well as the jackals and hyaenas every now and then.
The morning felt great, and i had that wondefull feeling of good it is to be alive resounding within.
At the gate at 5.50 i found another landy already there and chatted with a couple from hoedspruit who were very pleasant.
Heading south i took the phalaborwa road again heading south towards the Letaba river and by 6.20 i came across my first leopard sighting of this trip which i was very chuffed about as i was beginning to think i might not see one this time around.
In the Kaleka riverbed it was just 25 metres or so from me.
Unfortunately it was only a brief sighting as it looked like she had just had a drink of water in a small pool in the otherwise dry riverbed, and within 30 seconds she had disappeared into the bush, but it did not matter too much, i was just grateful for the glimpse of her.
There really is a lot of luck involved with game viewing, especially the cats. I have travelled some roads in the past where i have almost gotten blasé at the sight of lions yet other times travelling the same areas and routes i have not seen one at all.
The river beds and rocky outcrops seemed even prettier at this time of day and the sunrise was absolutely beautiful as there were a few clouds about as well a blanket of cloud higher up that the sunrise soon disappeared into.
A few klicks further on i was also lucky enough to have two large rhino step out of the bush in front of me to cross my path. I startled them though and they turned and ran back into the undergrowth. As i drew level with the spot where they had appeared i saw an open space a few metres on and fortunately was able to see them again staring back at me where they had stopped. However, being the shy creatures that they are went off into the bush again as i tried to get my camera on them.
I crawled along taking over two hours to cover just twenty klicks. I did not see too much else particularly exciting over and above various buck, giraffes and a couple of elephant but the surrounding country was so pretty it more than made up for it. The colours were amazing in the morning light and i vowed to get a decent lens for scenic landscape shots.
I took a couple of pics of a little female steenbok and the background is a beautiful burnt orange which should come out magnificently against the little steenboks hide.
Reaching the just after 9am Letaba i crossed over the causeway and parked up on the far side where the water was for breakfast. It was beautiful and scanned the whole panorama with my handy cam.
I really must get around to editing the many hours of film that i now have and uploading some of the better stuff.
I turned back towards Tzendze after that and had a relatively quiet drive back although i did see a group of ten giraffes at a waterhole surrounded by lala palms which was a nice picture.
I spent four hours back in camp which was lovely, apart from another nice omelette, shower, snooze and general chores i had a nice walk around and enjoyed a good variety of birds, it was a Sunday and a ‘Sunday’ was what i was in the mood for.
I went out again soon after 3pm and took the Nshawu track for a lazy crawl when after a few klicks i realised that not only did i need petrol but i also had to recharge my computer and try again to get a connection to the internet for mails and upload some of my scribbling.
However i was quite pleased that i had forgotten and not gone straight to Mopani because as i picked up a little speed to get there in good time i noticed a couple of ostriches about thirty metres to my left walking towards me. I pulled up and reversed so i was slightly behind a couple of bushes in an attempt to get a couple of shots of them as they approached me and as they went p[ast on there way to the river bed. At the pace they were moving, grazing every few steps it was apparent they were going to take a good ten minutes at least so i reached for my notebook to make some notes. They were still about 20 metres off at this point. Well talk about sharp eyes, the female saw my movement and started running away followed closely by the male. It was actually quite a sight and let me tell you those birds can really move fast, enhanced all the more by the dust they kicked up.
I have had a close encounter with an ostrich before, not in Kruger but at the elephant sanctuary near Hartebeestpoort while i was walking…but thats a story for my bush diary which i will eventually get around to writing about.
At Mopani i sat in the lounge on the fish eagle terrace and for the first time in almost a week got a great connection and was able to upload three days of notes as well as collect my mail as i was finishing up.
There were a couple i had to answer briefly so i only left well after 5pm and took a slow drive back to camp checking out one of the short river loops on the way. Whilst there i noticed what looked like a small breeding herd off to my left and there was one young ‘teenage’male amongst them who took umbrage at my presence and let me know it in no uncertain terms. As i moved off he kind of shepherded me along trumpeting and continually turning towards me in a threatening manner. I knew i was safe but all the same it does get the adrenalin going!