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Published: September 27th 2012
Let it shine
Did I say we were going to Pilanesberg to rest and relax? Getting up at 5.15am every morning and driving around to go game viewing is not really my idea of relaxing! But when you see some memorable sights it makes it worthwhile. And just to enjoy the fauna and flora around us is great.
We managed to get to Pilanesberg mid to late afternoon. Luckily there were quite a few camping sights still available, as they don’t allocate sights to you and the camp was filling up fast and furiously. Tents and gazebos up just in time, because the approaching storm was upon us. Lightning, thunder and gusts of wind lifting the gazebo so much so that we had to hold it down for a while, till the storm subsided. Not really the best thing to do, holding the poles in a lightning storm, but luckily we were safe and no lightning strikes harmed us. Fortunately for us we decided to eat at the restaurant for the first night, as most of the camp fires had been doused by the rain and it would have taken a while to fill our hungry stomachs. The other two nights
Terrapin - I see you!
we made lovely fires and cooked our scrumptious dinners over the coals. Nothing like watching a fire while sipping a drink and looking up at the stars periodically. Lions and leopards
Saturday, Sunday and Monday morning up at the crack of dawn to go game viewing. Early morning and late afternoon/evening is always the best time to look for game and we were very lucky with the raptors that we saw as well as the usual wildebeest, impala, zebra etcetera. When we stopped at one of the hides we were shown some photos of a leopard that people in another vehicle managed to spot. What amazing photos – so clear! We were told where to find the leopard but of course when we got there it had long since disappeared. We were also told of a lion ‘kill’ and where to find it so we headed off in that direction. Each vehicle approaching us stopped us and told us about it (game viewing etiquette), each with varying degrees of accuracy where the lion was actually spotted. We drove right past her, but fortunately someone with very good directions told us exactly where to look and we found her
Love those Impala eyes!
hiding behind a few blades of grass, about 5 metres off the road. So easy to miss her as she blends in so well with the landscape. When we got there we were the only vehicle, but soon there were a couple of other vehicles around us as well. The next day she was still there and there was a major traffic jam around the poor lioness! It looked like there were more vehicles than game at one stage and you would most likely be caught up for quite a while in the traffic jam, not being able to see anything at all. We never managed to find a leopard, although on Sunday morning a few people had caught a glimpse of it, before it walked into the dense bush. Black Rhino.
Mid to late morning we headed back to our camp sight and mid to late afternoon we drove around again. One of the highlights was seeing two black rhinoceros – not something one sees very often. But what amazed us the most was what they were eating – DRY TWIGS
! Surely there is not much nutrition in that, as for the flavour and texture! If I
was a rhino, I would far rather eat soft juicy leaves! Elephants.
We only managed to see the same two elephant three times while we were there. They must have been hiding behind a tree. You would never think that such a large animal can be so invisible, but they have managed the art of hiding behind tiny trees. At least we saw two! King of the fish.
As much as what we all enjoy looking for the ‘Big Five’, we take time to look at the smaller things as well. We were fascinated while watching a Pied Kingfisher catch a fish almost the same size as him. He then proceeded to bash the fish against the wood of the tree he was perched on. This went on for quite a few minutes until he was satisfied that it was soft enough and then swallowed it. It took a few attempts for the fish to reach his stomach, and at one stage we thought he would have to spit it out, because it looked like it was getting stuck, but eventually it managed to go down. He must have been exhausted after that!
Pilanesberg Cameras galore.
It can be very amusing to see photographers and there equipment. Cameras of all shapes and sizes, amateur and professional photographers alike. There seems to be quite a competition as to who’s photographs and equipment are better. And the size of some of the lenses! You need to do some serious weight lifting training to be able to carry some of that equipment, let alone hold it in place for that perfect shot. Granted, some of the photographs are absolutely stunning and I would love to be able to take some of their magnificent shots, but alas, my camera is just a little ‘point and shoot’ and I take ‘memory’ shots – or so I tell myself, when they tend to be a bit blurry! At least mine is easy to carry around and I do still have fun taking the photos. My apologies to all the photographers out there, if I have offended you in any way!
While Pilanesberg has its place to be able to see a fair amount of animals, I must admit that I have been spoilt having been to Zimbabwe and Botswana. Having said that, it was
a very good weekend and just the right medicine for us till the Christmas holidays.
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