• Day32

    Game Drive 2

    January 31, 2016 in South Africa

    North Uthungulu, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
    Sunday, January 31, 2016

    I fear this could become quite boring; long litanies of the animals viewed, so I'll keep it to the highlights to cover the next couple of days!
    Is it Sunday today? (you loose track of the days), but whatever the day, the faithful 5o'clk alarm call cometh. I felt terrible, so tired; who would think that sitting in a jeep for hours on end could be so exhausting.
    The highlights of the morning were another delightful cheetah family, consisting of Mum and four cubs this time. Mum is doing very well to get four cubs to 10 months and all looking so well. These were quite playful and kept messing about with each other. Mum got pretty fed up with it and moved slightly away from them, whence they got up and promptly followed lounging all over her. Typical teenagers, irritating!
    We tracked our pride of dozy lions from yesterday for ages. There were tracks all over the place and Mr T was hard put to work out where they were going. Eventually, he and Dylan got out of the jeep to walk into the bush to have a look. They were just out of sight when glancing left what should I see, but 'Lion to the left'. The whole pride was on the move. With Dylan and Mr T back in the jeep we discreetly followed them. The two mothers of the eight cubs were clearly in hunting mode. They parked the cubs in a thicket and set off together tracking Nyala and came jolly close to catching one. Unfortunately, a couple of the cubs had got restless and appeared at the wrong moment and the kill was lost. It was clear the mothers were not happy! Kids, they never stay where you tell them!!
    This afternoon we drove out to the northern tip of the reserve, which is yet again a different terrain altogether. Flat grassland, with some more luxuriant sections. This is possibly one of the features of Phinda, there are several habitats within a relatively small area. It is famous for its large section of sand forrest, a very rare ecosystem and the largest of its type in the world. Like a lot of things in this neck of the woods, it is endangered, but at least in the right place i.e. a reserve to be protected. It is very beautiful on the eye.
    The aim was to see white and black rhino, buffalo and elephant and boy did we ever. To be honest the white and black rhino look identical, unless you know what to look for. If I have this correctly, the white have a square jaw and lower head carriage and the black a rounded more pointed jaw, with a high head carriage. The colour and size are the same, but at least now you'll have no problem telling them apart!! Next on stage were some water buffalo, the most dangerous animal in the bush, for their propensity to attack without warning and for no good reason, beyond they're feeling a bit grumpy that day. I think I can relate to that and maybe know a few human examples! The finale had to be a huge herd of elephants of all sizes, from an enormous bull to a tiny calf of two weeks. They were wonderful and very large! Two passed within 5' of the jeep fixing us with their beady eyes. Nobody moved!!
    Dylan had a surprise for our sundowner, in that we arrived at a sheltered clearing seemingly in the middle of nowhere, to find suspended from an overhanging tree, oil lamps, a bottle of champagne (in an ice bucket!), flutes and snax. The chilled cocktail bar was in the corner for those who wanted a beer or G&T. It looked gorgeous and tasted the same as the sun went down in spectacular fashion. A great end to another superb day.
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