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Published: March 8th 2006
Timbavati Game Preserve- first sighting - a pride of lions
This pride consisted of Dad, Mom, Mom's sister, and the 3 cubs which were about 3 months old.
In reality the entire 12 days was one WILD RIDE!! The days just flew by with all the great things that we saw and did. If I tried to recap the entire trip in one blog, it would take me several weeks just to down load all the photos that I have chosen from the hundreds that I took. So, instead I am going to do this in 4 segments, starting with our safari at Kruger National Park. Which was really in Timbavati Game Preserve.
We stayed in Akeru Safari Lodge which was delightful. We had a small traditional hut with no electricity. The entire lodge is run on a small generator and kerosene lamps are used for lighting. There was a wild warthog and her 2 piglets roaming the grounds. They didn't bother the guests, but she wouldn't let you get to close to her babies. All the dining areas were outside or under ramadas, if it rains. The people were very nice, the food was beautiful, and the guides and trackers did an excellent job on our game drives. During the 2 days that we were there, we went on 4 drives and saw heaps of animals.
On our first afternoon drive we were treated to a pride of lions in a dry river bed. Mark flew over the dirt tracks, careened down dry river banks, and plowed through the bush to get us there. They were perfectly content to let us photograph them for as long as we desired. The lionesses were rather lethargic, the lion was somewhat protective, and the cubs were full of energy and never sat still the entire time that we were there. This drive also produced an abundance of other animals such as elephants, impala, warthogs, and cape buffalo. At sunset we stopped at a small pond for sundowner drinks before continuing the hunt for the wild things. We then returned to the lodge for a fabulous dinner under the stars. The only problem was it started to rain as soon as our food arrived and we had to run to the covered dining area with our plates in hand.
On day 2 we were up at 4:45 to get ready for the 5:30 morning drive. It was a beautiful, cool, sunny morning and one of the first things that we did was track a rhino on foot. It was
"too cool" and equally exciting. First, Mark and Richard left our group of 6 in the land rover and went on "walk-about" to see if she was in her normal sleeping location. After 15 minutes they returned and laid down the rules. We were to be absolutely quiet, no stepping on dry twigs, no photography, stay in a single line, and follow all hand signals that they might give us.
We walked through the bush for about 5 minutes and stopped about 25 yards from the black rhino that had just awoken. She was peacefully grazing on the surrounding brush and never realized that we were there. A few times she heard us, but a rhino's eyesight is so poor that she never located our position. It was a most thrilling experience. However, there are no rhino photos because she was the only one that we saw.
As we continued on the drive we saw many other creatures with the best being the leopard. We were just heading back to the lodge when Mark got a call on the radio that a leopard had just killed an impala and was up in a tree having her breakfast. Mark
looked at us and asked if we minded being late for breakfast. The general consensus was, "Who needs breakfast when there's been a leopard sighting." So, we were off on another wild ride through the bush. This trip made the chase to the lions, the night before, seem like a kiddy ride. We were speeding down the dirt track, bouncing over bumps, and whizzing around the bends in the road. It was like jet boating on land!!
By the time we arrived at the sight, she had finished eating and was resting with a full tummy under a bush. She barely moved while we were there. Richard and Mark assured us that she would still be in the same area when we went on the afternoon drive. If they had a kill stashed, they won't move from the area until it has been totally eaten. From the looks of the impala she had at least one meal left to finish.
After our very LATE breakfast, we lounged around the lodge until the 4:00 game drive departure. This is pretty much the routine when on safari. Since the lodges are located right in the preserves, the animals can roam
freely. So there is no chance of taking a long walk in the bush. The time is spent eating, reading, chatting with other guests, and lounging until the next drive.
Our first stop on the afternoon drive was to check on the leopard. From the looks of the impala she had already had her dinner, as you can see in the photo. What really amazed us was the herd of impala that were in the field across the road from the tree where she was hanging. They were quite vocal and agitated about their dead sister. We knew that elephants reacted this way, but we had no idea that impalas would grieve a lost member of the herd.
The morning drive of our last day was also full of birds, beetles, lizards, and animals. The best sighting occured right as we were returning to the lodge for breakfast. Two cheetahs were laying in the grass very near the track. This was a very rare sighting since there are only 200 to 250 cheetahs in all of Kruger Park. Mark and Richard were very amazed and told us that we were very lucky to see them. They were rather
shy and didn't stay for long before moving into the bush.
That sums up our first safari. Future segments will cover our visit to Cape Town, the safari at Chobe National Park, and our visit to Victoria Falls and the cruise up the Zambezi River. I hope I am not giving you more info or photos than you would like. Since this is also my personal online journal of the trip you are getting everything that I don't want to forget about this amazing trip.
Presently, we are back in Perth. We just returned from a 4 day trip along the coast. First, we went to Walpole and saw the giant Tingle trees (similar to Redwoods) and then we headed north to the Pinnancles, Monkey Mia, and Shark Bay. The trip north was interesting, but the 105 degree temps and the hoardes of flies made it a very trying experience. Eventually I will provide more details about those trips. Everything will be a bit outdated until I get caught up with the Africa portion.
Saturday we fly to BROOME. For the past 3 years I have been telling everyone we were going to Broome when we retired
and now it's about to happen. BROOME OR BUST!!!!!!!!
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