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Published: November 25th 2019
We started our morning game drive at 5:30am but not before having some coffee and a few healthy snacks. Jonty, who is strong and stands 6’7” tall, immediately headed us to the Sands River which our suite overlooks. Due to rains that had fallen the previous day, Jonty and Lewis consulted another guide and determined the river was safe for us to cross so the Land Rover headed into the water and we crossed at a quick pace. Another group was not as brave as Kevin and me and refused to let their guide do the crossing. Within 5 minutes of crossing, we came upon a beautiful leopard lounging on a tree branch. It completely ignored us as we sat and watched it for at least a half hour.
Jonty was then informed via radio that three lions were protecting a Cape Buffalo that they had brought down the previous night. We drove to the site where we saw two younger lion siblings and a very old lion, not in their pride which is very unusual, sharing the carcass of the buffalo. When we first approached, all three were just lazing in the morning sun, but soon, the older male,
aged about 14 years old and in the later stage of his life, got up and started eating on the throat of the carcass. I was so happy that I decided not to order the steak tartare appetizer the previous night. His bottom canines were worn down but he was able to slowly tug and chew through the skin to get to the meat, if you really want to call it that. We sat there for at least an hour, just watching them. It’s amazing how the animals in this park don’t mind being around humans. They are completely wild but are used to seeing people, so as long as you are still, talk in low voices, don’t stand up in your vehicle and above all, don’t try to run away. You’re fine and feel completely safe. And of course, Jonty and Lewis have rifles but they’ve never had to use them. Ebony Lodge is on a private game reserve so only guests of the Singita lodges have access. It’s usually just the four of us out on the savannah with not another human in site.
Throughout the 5 1/2 hour morning drive which concluded with a one hour
walk back to the lodge (Lewis took the rover back to the lodge and we followed the armed Jonty single file), we saw zebra, giraffe, elephants, impala, a tortoise just like our Coop at home, hippo, exotic birds and I’m sure many more animals that I can’t remember. We were very hot and sweaty upon return to the lodge so after a quick dip in our pool, we had a wonderful late breakfast and rested until the afternoon drive.
We met Jonty and Lewis at the boarding area at 3:30pm that afternoon where we were joined by Hazel, a new Singita employee stationed in Cape Town. The five of us decided we wanted to see the wild dogs several guides had spotted so we headed in a new direction to find them, but not before loading up with cocktails and snacks for a mid-drive respite. We drove everywhere to find the wild dogs, who are rare in South Africa, but they were always just out of reach. Lewis did happen to spot a fresh pile of elephant dung covered in dung beetles. The beetles smell the dung in the air, fly to it, roll it into balls and push
it backward with their hind legs somewhere so they can eat some of it and lay eggs in it so the new babies can eat it too when they hatch. Then, just as we stopped for a drink, we heard they were spotted somewhere so we made the decision to “drive like hooligans” 60km per hour only to find that they’d disappeared again. About ready to give up and with the sun low on the horizon, we spotted two hyenas coming towards us on the road. We hadn’t spotted this animal yet so seeing two of them was a victory. We also saw lots of elephants on this drive and on the way home we drove very close to two of them who were about ten feet away from my side of the rover. Instinctively, I leaned away a bit and the elephant looked at me, startled.
After returning to the lodge and taking a quick outdoor shower, we headed to the boma brai, which is an area where where barbecuing is done over a real fire. We dined on all types of meat and traditional south african dishes, a wonderful 2013 merlot and concluded the evening by listening
to the Singita choir and accompanying them on drums provided at our table.
Oh, and I can’t forget to mention that one of the staff informed me that just one hour earlier, a leopard had walked the entire 200 yard walkway from the main lodge past our suite. He was just visiting.
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