KNP 2013 ~ Day 6
4th October, 2013
Elephant v Buffalo
4 October 2013
Did I mention that I had venison stew for dinner last night? Well, I did. It was delicious. At the time I could have climbed in the bowl with it, but this morning I am not feeling so very lekker. The plan was to be out by 6 and head off up the S100 to Gudzani Dam. We had a little conflab and decided to take the “highway” (tar) road, visit N’wanetsi and Gudzani Dam and drive back to Satara via the S100, which is a dirt road. It is also a magical road, and can be very fickle when sharing the goodies out. This way the sun would be behind us on the way back, rather than full on, in our face. And, it will give the tummy a little time to settle.
We have had a lot of luck on this tar road (H6) in the past and have nicknamed it “Hyaena Highway” for the obvious reason. However, the first thing we saw walking up the road was a huge, really HUGE bird. Later on when we looked at the pictures we both agreed that they truly do not convey exactly how big this bird really is. It was a Kori bustard, Africa’s heaviest flying bird. It may even be the world’s heaviest flying bird. As if that wasn’t enough, he decided to give us the full show and prepared for take off. I kid you not, it was like watching a jumbo jet taking off at a bush airstrip. We were so amazed we didn’t take a single picture. He took forever to get up, and then put his wheels down and landed again not too far down the road. It was going to be a “big bird” day because the next thing we saw was an ostrich. We did spot hyaenas. They were far back in the bush, a group of youngsters tussling over a large piece of “something.”
There is a view point and picnic spot at N’wanetzi, and, most important, a loo. It’s a lovely view (the lookout not the loo), built on the side of a small cliff. More of a donga really, and we like to take our coffee and rusks up there and sit for a while. There was a couple of crocs, a grey heron, a pair of Egyptian geese with 8 goslings and an African openbilled stork. He looked ready to do a perfect swan dive, or, he was blessing eveyone else. We could hear brown headed parrots and finally caught a glimpse of them flying from tree to tree across the bank.
.... and this little guy. Tree agama.
Back in the car again and we’re off to “do” the S100. This is a dirt road and runs along the river for the most part. It’s not a raging torrent at all, but there is a little bit of water in there. The road has a reputation for being very “hit or miss” It is 19 klm long and you either see a boatload of animals, or not so much. We have been on both ends of that stick and I always begin this road with a tingle in my tummy. My tummy is feeling a lot better now, too . The hubby is convinced that we have missed the sighting of all sightings based on the fact that the cars who did drive the S100 this morning should be trickling in to N’wanetzi by now and we are the only ones. We aren’t seeing anyone heading towards us either. The man times things to the second, so I am not optimistic. Worst case scenario is the mega pride is out in full force this morning and we have missed them.
Not today. The S100 is about to deliver a little gem.
Without boring you too much, we have been driving this road for 32 years. For 32 years I have wished that a leopard would cross in front of us.
The hubby: There’s your lion. It’s a leopard.
The hubby managed a couple of pictures as he disappeared into the long grass (for proof) but this was one of those things where you simply cannot move. He was HUGE. He was beautiful. It was all over in about 30 seconds and we were the only people who saw him. Another car appeared and stopped and we told them “ a leopard just crossed.” We’ve been on the end of that stick, too, so we wished them luck and hoped that they would catch a glimpse of him. After that it was pointless. We were so excited, I was shaking. I couldn’t tell you what we saw the rest of the way, only that the biggest leopard I have ever seen crossed the road right in front of the car. A little S100 magic.
Tonight we will sleep at Orpen. It is a small camp and also has one of the main gates into the park. When we go to Nkorho this is the gate we leave by in order to go to Sabi Sands. We have never stayed at the camp before so this is a first for us. The road up was very quiet indeed and the last part of the tar road was closed so we had to take the dirt road detour. It was still very quiet so when we came across a couple of buffalo (dagga boys) soaking in a small puddle, we decided to pull over and watch them for a while.
Just as we were about to leave a young elephant came charging across the road trumpeting and flapping. He was accompanied by a slightly bigger elephant who arrived more sedately. The little guy was full of snot. He tried to fit his whole self in the puddle, he eventually chased all the buffs, came back and charged the little hammerkop and when there was no animals left, he started on the cars. We stayed well back, I don’t know how many times we reversed up the hill. Only when we were sure he was out of sight, beating up another bush, did we make our own charge down the hill and up the other side. A teenage ellie, on the rampage.
We are going to braai (barbecue) tonight. We have boerwors (sausage) and Mrs. Ball's chutney. Two of the things we miss very much. We also found some Mrs Ball's flavoured chips so the hubby's day is made. We have a bottle of wine and our entertainment is the little boy next door who is making a "trap" for the resident honey badger. It involves a lot of string and a wonderful imagination. We are impressed.