Text and photographs: Astrid Bluemel
DAY 3 – our luck ran out:
Same routine as yesterday, well almost. I get quite a shock as Susi asks me, at 06:10 in the morning, if I know the difference between a steenbok and klipspringer? Shit, she’s been studying her book. Would you know? I somehow talk my way out… Right outside camp we find a leopard on the riverbank. The first rays of sun light the scene and we get some wonderful photos. As do some other who get in even closer than we do, in doing so changing our background from bushes to jeep view.
From there it’s a lioness, zebra, giraffes, another leopard. Then elephants, about to cross the river. We park a little bit into the river to get a nice side angle, the river only has about 10cm of water in it, no problem. Upon leaving it is a little hard to get out of the river, so we proceed to plan B, don’t back out, go straight head and cross.
The afternoon it’s just the four of us, and it’s a disaster. We see nothing. First vultures, there must be a kill somewhere. We search for an hour then give up. The wild dog den site, nobody home. We sit and wait, have our sundowners in the car, wait some more, it gets dark, still nothing. We give up. Well see the positive side: we finally got our sundowners (missed out on those the nights before because we were too busy watching wildlife), and watched an amazing sunset, plus simultaneously at 180° in the other direction a beautiful moonrise. There is always something to photograph!
Susi’s comment: I’ve had it with these dogs, do we have to go again tomorrow? Yes we do! Seeing wild dogs, with pups, is like winning the lottery!
DAY 4 – lots of lions and the big 7:
Susi gets quite a scare as the lady bringing our morning coffee shows up in a winter coat, beanie and with gloves on. We better dress warm, a cold front has arrived! With the blankets and warm water bottles it isn’t too bad. Barely out of camp we see a pride of seven lions which follow for a long time. They walked right by the back side of camp, and then the best thing happened, three of the younger ones started to climb a tree! We couldn’t believe our eyes! The going up looked like fun, the going down less so. Especially one young male which climbed up really high was not so very happy with his situation, took him ages to get down. I don’t think he will do that again in the near future.
We guessed they might be going for a drink and got there just in time to watch them cross. More great photo opportunities. After our bush breakfast we ran into them again, no more action now, they did what lions do best: sleep. We saw a herd of at least 100 impala in the riverbed and watched another elephant crossing before it was time to go back.
After a lovely lunch we meet our new jeep mates at 15:00 for the next afternoon drive. Hope they will bring us more good luck. It is their first time in Africa too. So more gasps and exited exclamations from the back seat at every animal we see as we move along. It made me smile, it is always a delight to see how people can get such joy out of watching wildlife, seeing their first “live” elephant, giraffe or lion.
We see giraffe, impala, kudu, elephant and at last four old buffalos, in doing so completing Susi’s (and my) BIG 7. At sunset we found lions again, followed them again, and lost them again…. Time to get back to camp and have another great dinner in the boma.
Susi’s comment: Mornings are my favourites, we always see so much! Believe me, that is not always the case, but at the moment she’s dead right.
Stay tuned for part 3 of Astrid and Susi’s wonderful journey!