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  • Day33

    Game Drive 3

    February 1, 2016 in South Africa

    North Uthungulu, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
    Monday, February 1, 2016

    Unbelievably, this is our final game drive day and also our final day in South Africa before heading home tomorrow. It has all gone so quickly.
    The alarm call came as regular as clockwork and it was over to the main lodge for a drink and some food if you could face it, before heading off. Dylan had heard that the pride of lions we were watching yesterday had moved much closer to us overnight and so we called to say hello. They were literally just down the road. Our next port of call was to our favourite cheetah family. The cubs were delightful, in a really playful mood. Mum however, seemed more than usually watchful, maybe she had wind of the lion pride not far away and the threat they posed to her youngsters. Before long she moved them all to a thicket close by and we watched the little dears frolicking around in what seemed to be a cheetah adventure playground. Dylan then wanted to check again on the lion family. He must have had a premonition. We arrived as the older lioness had brought down a warthog and a feeding frenzy began. A warthog is clearly small fry for a pride of lions and there was much growling, jostling for position and quarrelling over the prize. Survival of the fittest came to mind. It was a fascinating if gruesome sight, but we were pleased to have seen a kill. By the time every morsel was crunched and devoured, with the exception of the tusks, those moody aggressive beasts were flat on their backs with full (ish) tummies and beatific smiles of their faces. Quite a change from ten minutes before. Right under the noses of the lions we watched some dung beetles at work, opportunists that they are. They are so interesting to watch, beavering away, rolling their huge ball of dung far larger than themselves. Inclines are hilarious.
    Breakfast beckoned and more of Happiness's superlative cooking. Before you leave the table she comes to take your lunch order -groan!! February is to be a non food month!!
    The afternoon drive proved to be a quite something. Elephants had appeared at the lodge and we drove round to have a look. There were about ten of them, all ages and they proceeded to have a drink at no 6 lodge's plunge pool and pull the pump apart because apparently they love fresh cool water! We continued by driving through the sand forest, an area I have come to love. Mr T spotted a rare bird called a Trojan. I don't know how he does it, he can only have seen a flash of movement. In truth we had been looking for one from the beginning. They are rather like a bird of paradise, with their beautiful red chests, yellow beak, white tail and green/blue iridescent body. The cheetah family were sleeping in the shade of a small tree in a clearing and we watched them for a while -sleeping! (there are only so many times you can exclaim at the twitch of a tail). However, our patience paid off, eventually they all yawned and did their yoga exercises, or so it seemed. Mother set off with a purpose, hunting was the considered opinion, and we followed her. (It appears to make no difference to the animals that this great big vehicle full of gawping humans is tracking them!). After one of two false starts she haired off with the cubs in hot pursuit, learning all the time. This time she was successful and brought down a young Impala. The cubs tucked in with relish, whilst their mother sat back catching her breath and keeping an eye out for trouble. The youngsters had had a good feed, but she had had none, when who should trot out of the trees, but a very large lioness. My heart sank, as I knew exactly what was going to happen next and sure enough she bounded over to them. The cubs scattered immediately, but their mother stood her ground, growling and threatening. She was of course no match for the lioness and she took flight in the opposite direction leading the lioness away from her Cubs, in a classic decoying tactic. If the lioness could catch the cubs she would kill them make no mistake. Thankfully, it didn't happen and the lioness returned to the kill and devoured the remains. This is something that you read of, but hardly expect to see in person. Dylan had never witnessed such a thing and was as astounded as we were. Night was falling rapidly and it was time to head back to the lodge. We could not have had a more spectacular end to our game drive. On the way home we even managed to see a nightjar (rare bird) and a bush baby.
    When we arrived back to the lodge, dinner was set out on the vlei lit by candles and lamps. We entertained our guide Dylan and it was the perfect end to a fabulous trip.
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