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Published: June 10th 2019
Our final morning at Gomo Gomo and we were going to join the morning game drive before breakfast and then be delivered to Hoedspruit Airport to be picked up and taken south to part 2 of our safari adventure.
Again someone came knocking at the door at 5.15am and we readied ourselves for the departure after breakfast by making sure we were virtually packed and ready to go.
Another chilly morning and we were well rugged up against the cold although this time there was some overcast cloud so that the bite from the wind as we started out on the drive wasn’t quite as severe as it had been on previous mornings.
After the sighting of the leopard in the late afternoon yesterday there was still anticipation amongst ourselves and the American family that we might yet tick of #5 of the Big Five, the lion and we felt that Gert and Dominic would like to try and make sure we got to see one.
First up though was a lone kudu, a large deer like grazing animal, one which we hadn’t come across on the previous drives.
Shortly afterwards it was another mixed group
of zebras and giraffes with a baby amongst them. Apparently these two animals are often found together with the zebras relying upon the height of the giraffes to provide expert lookout for a predator nearby.
The young giraffe must have been feeling frisky as it jumped around whilst its mother looked seriously, as they appear to, at us.
More Cape Buffalo were next for us to view including some youngsters amongst the herd. These buffalo graze like cows but can be aggressive in nature if we were to block their passage of where they were heading so parking the vehicle in the right place was important.
We had a coffee break at the watering hole not far from where we saw the leopard up the tree yesterday. We had gone back in that direction on the chance that the leopard might still be around and give us another sighting.
We spent the rest of the time driving around but there seemed to be a lack of animals on the tracks we drove and we ended up back at the lodge for breakfast without seeing any extra animals we hadn’t already seen.
We said our farewells
and were driven to Hoedspruit airport about 40 minutes away and Jack, who had driven 3 hours from Tydon Safari Camp at Sabi Sands was waiting in the car park for us. This was a relief after the delay in someone from Gomo Gomo arriving to pick us up 3 days ago.
It was a 3 hour drive south to the township of Hazyview where Jack drove us into a mall car park for a lunch break. We had had great coffee from Wimpy at PE airport so we made for the café and ordered up our coffees and a toasted sandwich to share, it hadn’t seemed that long since breakfast.
The drive south had been interesting with inhabitation almost all the way although not in villages or towns as such but houses scattered here and there mostly alongside or close to the highway, the N#####
We reckoned roughly a quarter of the vehicles on the road or stopped alongside the highway were those taxi minivans. Where we did come to a more formal looking township and there was a shopping mall then the minivans had their own area to drop off and load up with passengers.
In the roughly 180km that we travelled by lunchtime we calculated we had seen the most car cleaning businesses we have ever seen in that distance travelled. They were everywhere ! Although of course they were not the automated car wash as we have attached to petrol stations in NZ.These were usually a shaded area of 4 sticks and a piece of fabric or material tied to the sticks for a ‘roof ‘and 2 or 3 eager people waiting for someone to stop by. As the structures were right beside the highway and usually a good distance from any other permanent building it was safe to assume they had no running water at hand for a ‘clean’ wash of your vehicle. Still at least there were people earning a living and providing a much needed service as once you were off the tar seal it was just a dusty road or track to drive on and as this is the dry season it would be little wonder if your vehicle didn’t need washing on a very regular basis.
The other main vendor on the roadside for the full distance we travelled was the fruit and vege sellers with
all manners of produce for sale.
Much of the house looked solid enough although not fancy and many had the telltale sign of there being no sewage, the single small building all alone at the bottom of the section, the outhouse. !Many were some distance from the house and you would need to rely on what lighting was available from surrounding houses to guide your way in the dark
Finishing our coffee and toasted sandwich we met Jack back at the car and we were on our way for the 45km to Tydon Safari Camp in the private game reserve at Sabi Sands.
We were welcomed by the two guides in charge,Drikus and Sinead and shown to our accommodation which is a tent like structure but set up on wooden piles with a solid floor. It has generous size bedroom with air conditioning(electric) and a separate bathroom with toilet and shower cabinet. All the comforts of home in a very large tent !
Within an hour of arriving we were off with Neil as our guide on a game drive with sunset drinks and back for dinner by 7pm.The drive was just for us as there
were no other guests in for the night.
We took off in the land rover down the boundary fence that marks the start of the Sabi Sands reserve. The dirt track had a smooth surface and was undulating and as straight as a die for what looked like many kilometres. Neil drove like ‘Stirling Moss’ as Gretchen advised him !
We turned off the straight track and entered a large area with few trees or shrubs and then on into the bush and there was a very large elephant just touching distance away from the side of the track. One of his tusks had a piece out of it and Neil explained that once that happens or they lose a tusk in digging up roots etc they don’t grow back. It sort of made him look like he was a bit of a fighter and we both became a bit worried as Neil rolled the land rover quietly and slowly towards him so we could get a front on view of this majestic animal. He initially kept on eating pulling at shrubs with his trunk partly rolled around and stuffing the leaves into his mouth. Then he edged
closer and Gretchen thought it was time Neil started the engine and we removed ourselves a safer distance than the few metres that separated us. But Neil clearly had it all under control and the elephant slowly walked across the track right in front of the vehicle and off into the bush.
By far our closest encounter with one of the Big Five !
Following a couple of zebra we came across 3 rhinos grazing at the track side and again we could have reached out from the vehicle and touched as they were that close to us.
If this is going to be the way we get to do sightings at Tydon Safari Camp it will be on a much more ‘personal’ basis than we got at Gomo Gomo where the animals were a little more distant and needed a bit of zoom on the video and camera to get the same detail of the animal we achieved here. We had seen rhino at Gomo Gomo but they were across a watering hole not right beside the vehicle !
We had our sunset drink in a clearing and watched another amazing sunset and then it
was time to move off just as a hyena walked across the same clearing we had been in and off into the bush
Over the radio Neil got a message that a leopard with its kill up a marula tree had been seen nearby and with darkness falling we headed off the short distance to find the right tree.
Gretchen spotted the kill first and sure enough just below on a large branch was a leopard sprawled out while 3 hyenas patrolled below waiting for something of the kill to fall down to them to scavenge.
Three of the Big Five in two hours and a classic view of hyenas waiting below a leopard was quite something for us all to take in.
We spent about a quarter of an hour in a great position after going off road and having to push tree branches out of the way to get to park where our view was not obstructed except for when the leopard moved position slightly and part of his body was hidden slightly by small branches and leaves. As darkness fully took over the light from the spotlight kept our sighting in touch with
the leopard but eventually it was time to move on.
It didn’t matter one bit that we didn’t catch anything in the spotlight for the rest of the hour of the drive and we were on a high as we got back to the camp.
It was just the two of us for dinner in the boma with the guides joining us for some discussion about our thrilling game drive that will remain a highlight of this adventure that will be hard to top.
Tomorrow it’s a 6am call for a 6.30am game drive and again it will be just us two feeling like royalty !
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