Mist on the Veldt

Fog shrouded trees on the veld

5am comes around far too quickly, especially when you have been out in the bush partying with the locals. Even so I jump out of bed and headed out to the balcony to see the sunrise, imagine my surprise when I see the veld completely covered in fog, it was quite breathtaking and totally unexpected. I couldn't even see Safari Lodge.

 

We quickly got dressed as we wanted to be on time for Johan, at least once in our visit, and headed up to the Rock lodge parking area. About a minute or do after we got there they pulled up and we gave Johan a impatient look as though we had been waiting for hours and then he got a bit pouty, lol.

Johan’s early morning pout

It was a bit sad because it was our final ride with Steve and Julia, as they were leaving in the afternoon, but as they pulled up I realized that Julia wasn't there. This was the morning that Johan was taking us on a walking tour. At all times you are confined to the vehicle as the animals don’t register the vehicles as a danger to them, but once you are out of the vehicle it’s a different proposition. Julia isn't very comfortable with snakes and as it was a walk through areas where they could be seen she felt it would be better for the group to sit this one out.

So we headed down the mountain looking forward to our walking tour. Once we got to the bottom it was still quite foggy but you could tell it was burning off the more the sun rose.

About ten minutes into the ride we came across the Leopard and her two cubs. The mother had just made a kill and she and one of the cubs were sharing the kill.

Leopard and cub with kill

As we watched the cub eating lost interest and started to wander away with the other cub following.

Leopard cub

Mum kept going on the Impala as the kids crept away. After about five minutes they had moved quite a distance away so mum thought she'd better get closer to them and picked up the kill and dragged it over to them.

Leopard dragging the kill

We headed out toward the spot where we were going to go walking and ran into a large herd of elephants, I think it may have been the ones we saw yesterday. It’s quite a sight to see a fully grown male elephant come out of the bush and walk right up to the vehicle. Once again they were accompanied by the young baby elephants that are always a delight to watch as the scuttle in and out around their mother.

Unfortunately the elephants were hanging out in the exact place that Johan wanted to do the walk so we drove for another 5 minutes and came to a stop at a flat open area. Anios broke out the Amarula laced coffee and in a few minutes we were a happy bunch of campers.

After the coffee Johan briefed us on our walk, all in single file unless on the road, if approached by something dangerous don’t run stand still. After the briefing it was off into the bush. Johan was great, he explained so much about the area we were walking in especially the dung, he was the dung king. All joking aside he showed us, by breaking apart various animal dung specimens. All in all we walked for about an hour and a half learning how things work in the veld and the history of the area.

Johan - Dung King

After the walk we hopped on the vehicle and asked Johan if we could have breakfast with Steve and Julia to say goodbye and then get a lift back up to the Rock Lodge. He said that would be fine and we headed for the Safari Lodge. Julia was waiting for us as she'd come out to say goodbye but we jumped down and took her to breakfast. Here's a group shot of what I'm calling "Johan's Pride", left to right Ian, Vicky, Stephen, Julia, Kelly & your's truly.

Johan's "Pride"

Following breakfast we said a sad farewell to the two of them and the other staff at Safari and Anios took us back up to the Rock.

Back at the lodge we decided to skip lunch and instead went up to the gym to try and work off some of that good food we'd been eating.

For our last afternoon drive we were joined by a new couple from Luxembourg. By this time it was getting a bit cloudy which made a nice break from the cloudless sky and gave us some lovely sunset shots.

Sunset in the bush

On the drive we came across quite a few animals including;

  • Warthogs
  • Lion
  • Cheetah
  • Wilderbeast
  • Elephant
  • Chameleon

Chameleon .. can you see him?

At one stage we came across a large male elephant who'd just picked up a soda drink can, that someone had thrown out of a vehicle, and he was crushing it and trying to eat it. Johan waited a few minutes until he dropped it and had moved to the other side of the track and then he got out of the vehicle to collect the can. As soon as he moved a metre away from the vehicle the elephant the elephant reared up and stomped one step forward, Johan quickly jumped back next to the vehicle and then slowly got in. It was amazing how a vehicle full of people doesn't phase them but as soon as you are out and independent of that car they are instantly aware of you.

We finished the drive by meeting up with another group of Ulusaba folk at the Observatory. This is a large round stone building near the airport runway. It contains a 12” reflector telescope with tracking control for viewing the night sky. The cloudy night reduced the visibility in some cases but we were able to see Jupiter quite clearly and identify its moons.

Finally after another long day, we arrived back at the Rock, showered and changed for dinner. This evening we had requested a private dinner on one of the extended decks looking out from the mountain, halfway through it we had retired to some armchairs overlooking a large section of the rock that was illuminated and we both fell sound asleep, it wasn't until the waiter came down to bring us more wine that we woke up. We finished up and crawled into bed, knowing we had one more safari and then it was back to Johannesburg.

 

 

 

 

 

Tony Redhead

93 Maud Street, Unley, SA, 5061, Australia