The First Morning Safari

Oh my god! The phone rings at 5am and I drag myself out of bed to answer it. it's someone from the lodge telling me its 5am!!! I didn't get to bed last night until 1am, as I was finishing a project. So with 4 hours sleep I wasn't feeling too chirpy but as I had already got out of bed to answer the phone I thought I may as well make the best of it, splash some water on my face, throw on some warm clothes and head off for a coffee.

Sunrise at Ulusaba

We were on our way just as the sun was rising. It's a great feeling sitting high in the safari vehicle with the sun coming up over the plains and the chilling wind in your face. Maybe this is something I can get use to.After our evening drive last night we were full of expectations as last night some of the guests had spotted a Cheetah and Johan was determined to track it down. So off we went left, right, through the bush but nothing our only sighting was a Crested Barbet.

Crested Barbet

About an hour later after driving off-road for about 15 minutes we came across the sight of the carcass of an Impala that a Leopard had dragged up into a tree. It's amazing to think how powerful that animal must be to drag such a heavy carcass in their mouth up so high.

Carcass in a tree

Anios, our tracker, got off the safari vehicle and did a bit of close tracking but to no avail.

Anios, our tracker

But that wasn't the end of it as we soon encountered other animals including our first Giraffes. There were 3 of them and it was magnificient to see them in the wild. They were pretty much motionless for the whole time we were there, just occassionally flicking their heads to shake of the birds that were perched on them.

Giraffe

A little while later, after more off roading, we came to a female Leopard and two cubs (one male, one female).

Female Leopard

The male cub had a small Impala in little clearing in the bushes, unfortunately he hadn't killed it yet and was playing with it as cats do with a mouse or lizard. Every so often we would hear the Impala cry out as the cub made a playful bite or swipe with his paw.

Cub with prey

Our next encounter was with a Pride of Lions, two males and three females resting in the morning sun.

Lion Pride

After that it was back to the lodge for breakfast, lunch and then the evening drive before dinner. You can see there's a fair bit of food consumption going on so I think it's going to have to be a trip to the gym tomorrow.

Lunch was outside on the balcony opposite the waterhole where we were looked after by a young trainee called Frans who lives in a village not far from the lodge. He's hoping to get a full time job here and I think he deserves it.

Frans

While we were having lunch a beautiful Cape Glossy Starling was hoping around looking for crumbs, they have the most beautiful irradescent feathers and piercing yellow eyes.

Cape Glossy Starling

After lunch it was back to do a bit more of the project and before I knew it it was 3:45 and we were planning an early evening drive leaving at 4pm. So I quickly packed up and put evening drive gear on, basically the same as morning except with shorts!

So off we went again to look for the elusive Cheetah, on the way running across an Elephant, a Leopard with Cub eating a recent kill, (dead this time thank heavens). We also saw African Wild Geese ...

Geese

... two Rhinos ...

Rhinos

... and then we found the Cheetah! The Cheetah was resting on a slope not far from the carcass of a pregnant Impala that he'd recently killed. The Impala had a large part of it's rump missing that he'd already eaten but for now he was biding his time and would finish it all later.

Cheetah

Cheetah and prey

The sun was setting so we drove to a quiet spot for evening coffee before a final drive and then back to the lodge.

Our last sighting for the day was a Pride of Lions, resting in the grass, apparently tired out from trying to run down a buffalo herd. As it was dark the only lighting we had on hand were the torches stored in the vehicles.

Lioness

Finally it was back to the lodge, change for dinner, with the help of Candice, one the young girls working at the lodge, we mixed a crazy cocktail loosely based on a Mai Tai that we christened the Maibok Tai, that had the effect of getting me a tad drunk very quickly and completely knocking me out so much that I had to take a nap during dinner!

By the time I'd finally got back to the River room, I hit the bed and went to sleep immediately.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tony Redhead

93 Maud Street, Unley, SA, 5061, Australia