Sightings in Kruger included a herd of about 60 elephant on the way to Satara and a herd of about 200 buffalo, I know how many because I counted them as they crossed the road in front of our car one by one!
The highlight really though has to be our last 2 days in Skukuza when we first saw a Leopard in a tree, we had a really clear view and there were only a few cars there, not the normal traffic jam you get when a big cat is spotted. As the leopard left the tree we drove further up the road and found 8 wild dog just lounging and playing in the road. Again, we were the first car there and only a couple joined us to watch. They stayed for half an hour or so until one of them seemed to give a silent signal and they all got up and moved off into the bush. It was late afternoon so I guess they were off to hunt.
The next morning we went looking for some hyena pups Aaron had seen the night before, came across 3 adult hyena lying in the road and stopped
to watch. It was when I asked Andy to move closer so I could get a photo that he realised the immobiliser fob that we need to start the car wasn't on his keyring. There ensued a thorough search of the car, under the seats, under the carpets, under our bums, for goodness sake, just how far can a tiny little bit of plastic go.
Eventually we decided the only other place to look was inside the plastic housing of the steering column. Luckily I used to be a boy scout so am always prepared (or is that the guides?) and as seasoned campers we travel fully equipped including the very useful leatherman and maglite. However it is quite difficult to sit in the drivers seat and undo the screws that you can't see and can barely reach and don't even know are there. However with Andy's seat pushed back and my head in his lap I did manage to access them - not sure what passing cars thought! One guy did stop to see if we had a problem and when we told him he said 'Oh right, well if you go back on the S112 and turn
left at the t junction just about 2km along there are some lion'. We were a little dumbstruck at that but just smiled and said thanks.
After we got the plastic off, with my mini maglite I was just able to spot it inside the column and with some delicate manoeuvering with a plastic straw from my drink managed to tease it to within reach and gingerly get hold of it. One false move and it would probably have ended up in the engine somewhere never to be seen again. I'm glad I used to watch MacGyver.
Anyway, now we were far too late to see any pups playing as dawn breaks so we just carried on driving and came across – another leopard! In a tree, just metres from the road in full view. After watching this one until it disappeared we drove some more, came around bend and saw – a leopard walking in the road. 3 in 24 hours, we couldn't believe our luck. Although we love seeing all the game, the big cats are still special.
The next excitement was a bit closer to home. We got back from a game drive to
find our neighbour looking up excitedly into a tree above our tent. Apparently a 'black mamba' (aren't they always mambas) was in her tent where it zapped a chameleon and she chased it out and up the tree. A ranger identified it as a boomslang which apparently is much preferable to a black mamba!
This now made the whole party nervous especially as we had booked at the Selati restaurant for supper and wouldn't be able to see what happened to the snake. This restaurant is built as a replica of a nearby station in the 50s and has one of the original steam trains as a bar. Very original and quite fascinating as a member of staff told us the full history of it. Anyway, after our lovely meal, and my especially good Durban curry, we returned to camp where no one was very keen to sit outside so we all had a pretty early night very carefully zipped up in our tents, after a quick torch inspection to make sure snakey hadn't nipped in while we were out. Anyway in the morning the snake was still in the tree much to the relief of all of us
as we packed up camp.
The next morning we all moved on, Aaron to go home and us to Satara for a few more days.
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