The Last Safaris

Tshukudu
On the way out to Tshukudu, I captured this idyllic scene of Flenter’s Corner, with two giraffes walking near the water (we actually saw one cross the river – which is rare to see – but I didn’t get a good picture of it..)

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I also thought it was time to photograph the roads on which I have spent hundreds of hours these last 8 months. This is one of the nice tar roads (with no potholes), leading to Kruger and Tshukudu, and aside from the fact that there are hills all through the landscape, it just looks like a straight line going on forever..

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On the topic of roads, both the gravel road and the river road (the two entraces to the lodge) have also been quite the unforgettable experience – this bumpy ride has to be experienced to get what I’m talking about!

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Despite my greatest wishes, we sadly never got to see the lion cubs in Tshukudu on my last drive either. But we did get some really good scenes of the elephants and the rhinos surrounding the car.

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We found the elephants mud- and dustbathing so I tried to catch Becky (the matriach) while throwing dust in the air.

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And of course I was deeply fascinated by Alfred’s antics ^^ He and the other young elephant were goofing around in the mud to their hearts’ content.

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The four elephants then continued down the the waterhole where they got a drink of water and then walked in a line around the dam, mirrored by the water beneath them.

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At a later stage, we found the elephants again, standing right next to a herd of buffalos and Alfred started jumping up with his front feet on the other elephant’s head. It was the most adorable thing! And he kept doing it 3 times >.<

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We of course saw Ntombi as well but she was busy eating an impala so we couldn’t touch her.. I still got some good photos of her but it was sad to say goodbye to her without touching..

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Goodbye, little girl. 😥

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Kruger
My last trip to Kruger. And what a sad way to end it. I guess Kruger was as sentimental as I was, at least the weather and the animals all seemed down.. It was cloudy and a bit windy from the morning, but it didn’t take long before the wind picked up and it started raining too. And with that kind of weather, I knew we’d be lucky to see anything because a lot of animals would hide in that weather.
After a while, we heard about a lion sighting on S90 so we hurried there but there were no signs of lions when we arrived.. We continued down that road and at least found some steenbok, zebra, wildebeest, impalas, and giraffes on our way.
This wet little steenbok was actually unusually close to his mate, I just couldn’t fit them both in the picture because they are so camera shy..

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Baby zebra with a mohawk.

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Wildebeest wondering what kind of weird creature we were..

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A baby giraffe lying down. ^^

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Impala male looking his best for the camera.

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We heard of a really good sighting of three cheetahs eating a waterbuck just next to the road only 30 minutes from us so we drove down that road but sadly, we were again too late. The cheetahs had left their kill and wandered off, leaving only the vultures left on the carcass.. Both whitebacked and lappet-faced vultures. There were so many of them surrounding the carcass, busy eating, but every now and then, a head would peek up from the feast.

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We were pretty bummed about missing out on such great sightings and decided it was time to head towards Satara for coffee. But then finally, luck smiled at us and we had a young male lion walking across the road right in front of us and continuing into the high grass on our left side where he stood for a while watching some wildebeest.

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We almost thought he was in stalking mode with the way he was looking at them and then got down, but unfortunately he just lay down in the grass.

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And this point, it was raining into the car and my camera lens kept getting wet but at least we got the lion! After a while, he walked off into the bush so we left the sight. We then found some waterbuck and I think it is one of the first times I’ve seen one lying down.

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Shortly after, a herd of impalas were doing the same thing. One of them had completely given up, just lying its head flat on the ground too. Nobody liked the weather at all 😦

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We had coffee in Satara and then headed off towards Olifants in the hope that there’d be lions or leopards in that direction. We saw neither lions or leopards but did find a hyena just a few meters from the road, lying in the same depressed position on the ground as all the other animals..

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It’s such a cute animal, Disney be damned!

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It didn’t move much and barely registed when we turned on and off the vehicle right next to it, but finally it moved its head and we got a view of those adorable eyes ^^

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Otherwise, we had a good elephant sighting and lots of hippos out of water by Olifants River before we had lunch at the rest camp. After lunch, we had one of the closest elephant encounters I have ever had. They were standing next to the road, eating, so we pulled up and watched. But then one of the elephants pushed over a tree in our direction, narrowly missing us and then the elephant came within a meter’s distance of the car as it started eating from the crown. The elephants weren’t bothered by the car at all because they got close on their terms, but we also couldn’t leave, lest we gave them a fright with the roar of the engine. So we just sat there and observed. They were almost too close for my lens but at least I got a nice (bit blurry) close-up of the most beautiful eye of a baby elephant. It was so cute! >.<

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That was our final big sighting before we headed out towards Phalaborwa gate and home to the lodge, fortunately in dry weather..

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Goodbye Ben T_T

This morning I brought a hand towel from my chalet because I knew the chances of my eyes leaking today would be 100%..

Now, I haven’t spent much time writing about the weekly township tour on this blog because it is the same story every week, and really, what made this trip worthwhile for me can be said in a single word: Ben.

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Our tour guide, Ben, was my reason for coming every time because his positive mindset and familiarity always puts me in a good mood. He spreads happiness ^^ And somehow, we have developed quite a close relationship with one another over the months..

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When we came out to Leka Gape (center for women and children) today and met Ben, I gave him a long hug and when we parted again, he said that he got me something. And that’s when he went to his car and pulled out a beautiful bag wrapped in transparent foil and a bow! ❤ It’s covered in all the words for “goodday” in the South African languages. I love it so much, I can’t even express how grateful I am! It really means a lot to me so I’m going to use it immediately! He instructed me to especially learn the Shangaan “avuxeni” so I could say hello to him next time 🙂
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The visit to the center normally consists of a tour of the center and an introduction to their different projects there before Emelda (the woman with the kids in the picture) takes the guests to meet the kids and let them play with them 🙂

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Then the tour continues to a family living in the middle class and Ben explains more about family, marriage, status etc. and lets the guests explore the inside of the houses for themselves.. This family has three houses: a Mandela house (granted by the governmet for free), a round house, and a new house they are slowly building themselves..

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The round house is actually really nice and comfortable because the materials it is made out off are good for isolation, meaning it’s a much more comfortable house to live in rather than the Mandela house with a corrogated iron roof.. But nobody wants the round house because it’s not modern.

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A couple of weeks ago, I was in township on a Friday and that meant that the school children from the closest schools were off early and came running to us, just to see these white people.

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In fact, they were so reluctant to leave us that they ran after the car for about 100 meter before they had to give up the chase..

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The next stop on the tour is a pre-school for kids of refugees from Mozambique and normally they will sit inside the classroom, singing a couple of songs for the guests. But on my last day today, the kids were dancing outside and I convinced Elton to join in so we got a special performance by him ^^

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We then go to the sangoma/medicinman/witchdoctor afterwards where people can see what a traditional South African hospital looks like. Many of the people still believe in their ancestors and that they can consult a witchdoctor if they want to know their ancesters’ will, get luck from remedies, or get cured from natural deceases.

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The last stop on the tour is a small restaurant where I had my final serving of pap and mopani worms today. Pap is boiled mealie meal.

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After we had eaten, the clock started ticking, I had to ask Ben if I could get one last photo with him before I said goodbye. I was still in an unreal world so I was smiling, happy to be with Ben as always.

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As the last shutter went off, it was finally time. We had to say goodbye. I hugged him again, unable to believe or even comprehend that this was not a normal ‘goodbye, see you next week’. 😦 With the second hug, though, the tears slowly snuck up on me. But only after we had left to drive home to the lodge did the tears become uncontrollable. T_T FML, goodbyes are the worst!

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The Beginning of the End

The final chapter of Nyati has begon and it’s slowly creeping up on me that this is the end, this is reality.. This realisation especially hit me when Lux told me that he was going off this coming week, meaning that I had to say goodbye to him a week earlier than expected. T_T I immediately gave him a hug and within seconds my eyes got wet and the tears kept rolling. That was the beginning of the end..

Well, the day before, I had also woken up early and couldn’t fall back asleep because I’d realised it was the second last time in my bed. I tried distracting myself with packing and getting ready to move, which only caused the waterworks to start again..
That afternoon, I went with Deon on game drive and we located a jackal den where we know there are currently four pups with parents living. We were unfortunately parked too far away for pictures (to avoid disturbing them) but I still got an actual decent photo of a parent (these jackals are impossible to capture without branches or running away..)

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We drove up to Tintshaba and that’s where we found three mountain reedbucks!! Finally, I see them! They’ve been hiding from me for 8 months now!

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We also went exploring in a mica mining cave which was quite interesting. With my phone torch, I went as far as I could but there were some long shafts that I’d love to go back and explore with proper light and protection. Meanwhile, I unfortunately missed the sunset picture but at least Dihan was willing to “model” for a silhouette picture ^^

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On the way back to the lodge, Deon and I went on a new road and I spotted a lesser bushbaby! (too dark for pictures..) And later we found a scorpion too! Deon climbed out of the car to hold and show it to the guests, careful not to get stung (even if it is the one with very little venom.)

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The following day was my last trip to HESC and despite seeing the same animals every time, I always do enjoy that tour (and the breakfast there!) I had the best sighting of sables yet with both a male and two females! I didn’t even know that they had females or that the females looked so different!. The male has such impressive horns!

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Yet the females didn’t seem to care for his advances much – here he is appealing to a lady with his hoof.

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I also got a nice shot of a young king cheetah walking by the car.

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It walked over to a small pile of other normal cheetahs that were busy grooming and licking each other’s faces..

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When I came home and had finished office work, I went to my house – for the last time – and finished packing my stuff… Until the whole room was empty 😥 I said goodbye to my house and went down to chalet 10 which is to be my new home for the last week! ^^ The first thing I did was to break in the outdoor shower and use the hammock – the two things I have envied guests the most! Aaah, I felt in pure luxury! Here’s the new accommodation:

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IMG_0932 My river view

Goodbye Lux

On Saturday, I started my last week at Nyati. That meant saying hello to the new translator, Anne, and saying goodbye to one of our best guides, Lux (aka “Stay Soft”)

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When we came back from Lydenburg with the new guests and Anne, I asked Lux not to go home before I could say goodbye to him properly! I was sitting in the office when he knocked on the door, I hugged him as soon as he stepped in and of course couldn’t hold the tears back T_T That was my first goodbye, and the second and third came on the same night when I hugged Joseph (our bartender) and Simon (our chef) goodbye as well.. This week is going to be so hard on me with goodbyes every single day!
Good news of the day – the jacarandas are beautiful and they are everywhere on the Drakensberg Panorama route..

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Baby Genet

That Saturday, we also had a bit of excitement at the lodge: Deon found a baby genet in a tree and it was all alone with no sight of a nest or a parent so he saved it! It is sooo adorable! 😀 Deon is a dad! Shame I won’t get to see it grow up but at least I was there for the rescue mission! It now needs heat and special formula milk and then I’m sure Deon will be able to raise it until it is ready to go back to the bush again ^^

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L I O N S – 19 LIONS, 7 SIGHTINGS!

As usual, Kruger was a really early affair but Deon had a good feeling about the day, being extremely happy, and that rubbed off on me – and Kruger it would seem, because it certainly delivered!
When we got to the first gate, however, it seemed like our high hopes were in vain because we missed a pack of wild dogs by 5 minutes! Oh well, so be it. We drove in after Orpen rest camp to find first one hyena (hiding), then another one, and then two puppies! Kyaaa! They were so cute and fluffy, standing there in the open for a while, giving us perfect photo opportunities!

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Around Bobbejaankrans, we knew there had been spotted lions earlier so we kept an eye out and then suddenly, Deon exclaimed “lion on a buffalo! He’s killing it!” It was far down in the dry riverbed, but I could see two lions with a buffalo through my binoculars! Unfortunately, the lion was down on the ground again so we decided to race closer to them for a better view! Well, it turned out everybody else in the park had gotten the same idea and with tons of trees and branches covering the lions, we sadly couldn’t see the actual kill :/

But we were there! Here and there, I could see in between the branches with my binoculars (but pictures were impossible..) There were three male lions and two buffalos. One lion already had one buffalo down and was eating while the other two lions were busy killing the second buffalo. We could hear its dying screams.. Eventually, we left the sighting, it was too bad visually, and too many cars.

We stopped in Satara for coffee and were told by bush telegraph about more lions down South so we drove towards Tshokwane and proceeded to have one of the best lion days ever! We saw two females by N’wanetsi bridge (bad sighting) and then continued to find three old male lions lying right in the open, one of them only about 10 meters from the car! 😀

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One of the others got up and walked to a tree and then started spraying, marking his territory.

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These three were obviously all brothers of the same age, each with a big lush mane and scars on their faces. This guy went closer towards us, doing a contact call, most likely trying to reach out to the females that were there earlier but probably moved off to hunt for them..

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He met up with the lion lying right in front of us and they then did the cutest cuddle walk until they stopped, sat down together, and leaned against each other like loving brothers. I almost died of excitement, knowing that I was getting all of this on camera! :DDD (Interestly, I’ve also learned that this must be very normal affectionate behaviour between lions because I saw the same thing happening between two females on N’wanetsi bridge in August..)

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They lay down in the grass, lazy despite the nice temperature (it was cloudy so all the animals were active!), and one of them yawned big.

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As they got up again, I got this stunning photo of the lion’s mane. Yoh, but that is handsome!

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All three of them settled down further into the bush, underneath some trees, laziness kicking in again..

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So we left the sighting and continued to the next which we had heard about from another car. Supposedly, that one was less crowded because it was on a side road loop. So yeah, we had our fourth lion sighting with two male lions lying in the riverbed, all paws in the air. It wasn’t a good sight either but props to Deon for spotting them! We continued down the same loop and soon found a few cars parked on the road so we approached carefully and started looking down into the riverbed again. Only to get half a shock when we looked down and found a female lion lying just a few meters from our car, looking at us! She was so beautiful lying there, didn’t even seem bothered by us but Deon put a bit more distance to her to be ethical towards her..

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She had the most gorgeous dreamy eyes..

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We could see four more lions (one male, three females) lying under a tree about 15 meters away, so we tried to approach them until we once again got a surprise lioness lying on a rock right next to the road sleeping! This female didn’t look like she was going to move any time soon, but she must have heard Deon expressing as much because that was her cue to get up, and start yawning and grooming herself..

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I got all of it on video so my photos of her are scarse, but I do like her eyes on this one..

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We had to leave these beauties if we didn’t want to be late for lunch so we drove to Tshokwane, ate lunch and then drove the long way towards Orpen gate again. We passed the three old male lion sighting again (now down to only one), and I really didn’t expect to see any more lions than that (the total count was already 16) but then that’s exactly what we did! Deon’s eagle eyes spotted our sixth lion sighting, a male and female walking out of the bush towards the road so we got in position. But then the unexpected happened, she lay down and he got behind her and we got the front row seats to two lions mating! 😀 Yaay, now I can cross that off my list as well!

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On our way out, we also had to drive past the three lions with the buffalos and now there were fewer cars so we could get in and get some photos of the aftermath. One guy was lying with all his paws in the air (obviously not when I was ready to take photos..)

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…and the other two were busy eating from the buffalo carcass. We saw them pulling of chunks of meat and devouring them!

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We took rabalais road out and found ourselves three rhinos so we finally had four of the Big 5. We never got the leopard, but were looking eagerly for it till the last gate. And then I really thought it was over, we were going home now. Buuuuut Kruger had one last thing in store for us! A white lion – AN ACTUAL WHITE LION! – had broken out of Kruger and was lying in the bush, visible from a bridge just 5km after the gate! I was excited beyond reason! White lions are 1 in 500/1000 lions which means statistically, there must be about 5 in Kruger. Maybe 10 max. (They are not albino, they just lack the yellow pigment.) We all climbed out of the car, even the police was there, and we watched the lion. It was too dark for photos already but it was clearly white with the way it reflected the moonlight. That made our final count 19 lions, in 7 sightings!
With all the adrenaline pumping throughout the day, we could finally relax a bit on the tar road. Or so I thought, until a new burst shot through me, this time of the unwelcome kind! It was dark, we were almost at the top of a hill, and that’s when two sets of car lights suddenly came towards us, taking up both lanes in front of us! Deon had only a few seconds to react, swinging us into the extra half lane on the left, missing the overtaking car by just 5cm! We were in shock. If we had hit that car, we would all have been dead! Now more alert than ever, we had to go on the river road home. Deon kept seeing fresh buffalo dung so I joked that we’d probably hit a buffalo in two seconds. Less than a minute later, a bushbuck ran right in front of our headlights, narrowly missing a direct hit! Shock! And it didn’t take us long to find the buffalo. A big old male standing in the road, looking at us and approaching. I thought he might just charge at any time. We got him off the road, though, but didn’t even drive 200 meter before we had two hippos in the road -_- *sigh* There was just no end to this madness of a day! From then on, we crawled around every corner, afraid we might run into something. Thankfully, the only animal we saw from then on was scrub hares..

Other pictures from this week:

This great elephant tusker with enormous tusks!

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This female hippo yawning.

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Tshukudu’s big male hippo surrounded by his harem of females.. Here seen mounting a female and providing us with more bush porn.

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Autumn Luck!

Tshukudu

On the way out of river road, we already had a fantastic trip – we kept running into elephants! On the road, in the river, by the tar road – everywhere! Look at that eye:

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Tshukudu was equally successful. We got hippos, crocodiles..

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..zebras, rhinos, and the big male lion, out in the open and close to the car. He was hiding in the shade, fat and content and very lazy, so it was quite difficult to get him to roar. Eventually he did, though ^^

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After that we drove towards the lodge because we had heard that Ntombi was there. However, when we got off, there were 26 guests surrounding her so I figured that was more than enough people crowding her. So instead, my attention was swept away by the wild dog that was lying just on the other side of a fence in short distance of our group. I went over to it and sat down, just 1.5meters plus a fence separating us and got some good close-ups of its face ^^

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Of course I had a short cuddle with Ntombi before we went for sundowner drinks and snacks and then drove home. As we drove out of Tshukudu, I saw Lux munching on something so I asked what it was. He put it in my hand and at first I thought it was giraffe dung! DX I then realized that it wasn’t but still couldn’t identify what it was so he pursuaded me to try it. I still had no clue what it was and he wouldn’t tell me what it was so I thought he deserved a splash of water for his trick! Oops, without knowing it, I accidently triggered a “war”… >.<
On our way back on the river road, we saw another elephant standing in the road as well as two hippos! I’ve never seen the hippos up there
on the river road! So I was quite excited! 😀

Kruger

So much luck on this Kruger trip! I was filled with happiness because I enjoyed my colleagues, my guests, and all the awesome animal sightings! Days like these will be the reason I will miss Nyati for a long time to come ❤
After a dry spell with no leopards for me for 1.5 months, I didn’t expect much from this Kruger trip, especially when I learnt that it would be 40+ degrees during the day.. And let’s just say, our first event of the day was to get a flat tire (around Hoedspruit) so our luck didn’t exactly look promising..
However, we got to the first gate at Orpen and rolled into one of my best hyena sightings so far! She was on the road as we approached and at first I didn’t think it was anything but a bushbuck, but on second look, that kind of walking could only belong to one animal! 😀 She got up on the ridge right next to the road so we had her just a couple of meters from the car and swiftly, I shot a series of pictures because she soon started running and headed into thicker bush.. Luck was already smiling at us because we were the only Nyati car that saw it!

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Shortly after, we got another surprise when a honey badger crossed the road and we caught up with it as it ran through the bush. My sharpest badger picture yet! 😀

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We were on a roll and we hadn’t even entered Orpen rest camp. Buffalos greeted us on this road as well. And right after we left the camp, we saw another hyena in the bushes! It was almost too easy, who’s luck might have I been sponging on? Unfortunately didn’t get a picture of the second hyena, but oh well. We also saw this extremely young kudu male with the shortest horns I’ve ever seen.

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We were on our way to Satara when we heard of a good lion sighting at the end of Rabalais road and we found them easily with the many cars
surrounding them. Unfortunately, we didn’t get a good view of the big male but his females were lying around in the bush, close to the road, for our viewing pleasure ^^

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This female in particular was extremely beautiful and lay there with her big eyes sparkling in the sun, looking ethereal..

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We continued to Nsemani dam where we found a breeding herd of elephants walking in a single file towards the water (though there isn’t much left..) The matriach followed by babies of all sizes:

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Now we had three of the Big 5, but it didn’t take long before we could cross off the rhino on our list as well 🙂 In fact, we had plenty of rhino sightings during the day, though only one was “closer” to the road (the others were in the distance as always..)

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We had coffee at Satara and drove towards Olifants for lunch and on that road we came across lots of animals too. Zebras rolling in the dust.

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And standing like models in a row for the paparazzis.

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In the heat, it was very obvious that the elephants were tired and all craved water. We saw several during the day sleeping like this one: Standing with closed eyes, supporting itself with its trunk on the ground..

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Well, we weren’t any better than the elephants either, we were dying for a drink of water too. Problem was, we didn’t have any in our car! So I called Lux who had taken our cooler box with drinks. But he said he didn’t have any drinks. So then I called Elton. He denied as well.. It wasn’t hard to figure out who the culprit was.. And I was gonna get back at him as soon as we came to Olifant bridge! When we parked on the bridge, I got out and went straight to Lux to playfully hit him with his own file. The attempt was useless, though, because Lux soon had me locked in his arms and threatened to throw me over the bridge >.< Noooo!
We came to a truce in order to hand out drinks to the guests, but the peace slipped as soon as the mischievous Lux reminded me that I had thrown water on him in Tshukudu. Karma returns! I had to go in defence mode and quickly got some ice cubes, put Lux in a headlock (why was that so easy?), and put the ice into his collar and down his back. Well done, Gitte! Meanwhile, Lux’s hands were busy opening a bottle of water (aah, that’s why it was so easy), so once I was done, he grabbed me and poured all the water over me!
WATER FIGHT!!!!!
We ran around the bridge in 40 degrees heat, each armed with water bottles and lots of energy, never ready to surrender! We progressively got more and more wet – not that it bothered me the least bit – and the fight continued even after I had gotten back into the car. (Got another full bottle poured over me inside the car despite camera and phone.. – it is completely my own fault, though..)

We drove along Olifant river and saw so many elephants by the water! We stopped at this really nice viewpoint and had a splendid view over the river and the elephants bathing 🙂

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Even though my shorts were already dry, my shirt was quite clearly still soaked here!

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We had lunch at Olifants and drove out towards Phalaborwa gate but didn’t see much in general.. All my concentration went into leopard spotting, though I did also have time to admire how green the bush has gotten..

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One of the few sights we did have was this big buffalo bull with impressive horns, coming out behind the tree to let us get a better look 🙂

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We still had a while before we were out when a guest asked for a toilet so we decided to go straight to Masorini picnic spot. But just as we blinked for the turn off, we saw four cars 100m down the road. Now, that was very promising when we’d seen very little for some time so we decided to go check it out before the toilet break. We didn’t see the expected elephants so we had to ask the cars what they were all looking at..
LEOPARD!
Hell to the yes, it was a leopard! He was lying in the shade of a watertank with a little puddle right next to him so it was really the ideal place to be!

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It didn’t look like he was going to move any time soon. The only movement he did was to yawn big and wag his tail a few times..

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That was until a herd of impalas walked by. That actually got his attention.

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…For a short while. Because his behind was still very much relaxed, even if he still had an eye on the impalas..

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The stupid impalas weren’t even escaping after noticing the leopard. In fact, a few of them walked back, just standing their ground while watching him.

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…Not that he was bothered. We got another yawn and he scratched his head with his back paw.

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A third yawn. Life’s hard. Dinner not even trying to run..

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The impalas began making snorting noises and that’s when the leopard finally had enough of them disturbing his peace. So he went around the corner of the round watertank.

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That was it, we had seen everything. Day done! We shortly made a toilet stop at Masorini where Kruger pulled out the last animal from its sleave: A male and a female klipspringer! 😀

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After that we drove home and were at the lodge early so I had time for a much needed shower before drinks!

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It’s The Small Things

We’ve had this female bushbuck living inside the lodge’s fence ever since I came here, but unfortunately, she somehow got a spinal bone stuck around her ankle that is too far above her hoof to get it off again without help. It’s now been about half a year since we first attempted to catch her and get it off – but we’ve had no luck yet.. She’s too shy of humans. So now they’re attempting to get her accustomed to humans by feeding her but it’s a slow process. There’s been talk about darting her as well..

But recently, we found out that there was a new player in the game! Our lady bushbuck was pregnant! Now we’ve been waiting for about a week since we found out (because she looked like she was in labour), and today we finally saw the baby for the first time! 😀

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It’s so small and cute ^^ Walking around on its little legs, trying to get some milk at any given opportunity. 🙂

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Mommy is still limping around, you can clearly see the big bone around her right front leg here and it seems to cause her pain.. But at least she and her baby are fairly safe inside the camp..

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We also had a bigger commotion inside the camp yesterday evening and night when Ib the elephant decided to return and break down the fence on both sides of the gate by Cheetah camp to get to our delicious trees inside.. He’s too familiar with the inside and knows exactly what’s there and that’s why he keeps coming back. He was active all night, continuously getting past our defence to wander inside.. And he’s not giving up so easily, apparently he’s been trying to get in from the opposite side of the camp today as well..

Also! I finally had a really good rock hyrax sighting on Thursday when we drove up to Tintshaba for bush dinner. A whole family of more than 10 had been lying there on the rocks until we came and most of them ran for cover between the rocks. But a few of them were still curious enough to stay back and look at us ^^

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Rhino Bath

So now there’s less than a month left of my stay here at Nyati and it is with very mixed feelings that I approach the end.. It is going to be extremely difficult to say goodbye to everything and everyone so now I’m just trying to enjoy my last time here as much as possible, not thinking too much about the inevitable.. At least I have a two week road trip in South Africa to look forward to before I leave the country completely, though. So let the happy thoughts prevail!

After welcoming the new guests on Sunday, we spent the afternoon in Tshukudu. We got completely fascinated by the rhinos hanging out by a waterhole so we stayed for a long time observing them. First it was only the two young males here, looking super cute sleeping with their mouths together. ^^

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Then an older territorial male and a female with a calf came by and walked down to the waterhole for a drink. In the beginning, they looked very neat, just standing on the bank with only their mouths down in the water..

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Got a bum shot of mom and baby:

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But then the baby got into the water and soon got an entirely different colour from the muddy water (mommy’s legs got in as well.)

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It looked so cute and fit perfectly into mommy’s profile.. 🙂

It seemed like the old male was the only one still keeping it clean and drinking gracefully..

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..Until he attempted to sit down in the water as well..

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We got quite a bathing show from these beautiful animals, entertaining us for a long while and making us forget all about lions and cheetahs.. (momentarily.. Of course we found both later..)

I know this was a short update but I didn’t take very many pictures last week so I only really have a few extra to share that I like:

The colourful lilac breasted roller.

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And a kudu chewing leaves.

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Latest Animal Sightings

Life is still filled with animals from both Tshukudu and Kruger so here are the latest of my favourite sightings:

Tshukudu

I went with Dawie to Tshukudu on Sunday afternoon and even though we didn’t find the lions, we had a nice reunion with Nbomti, Tshukudu’s cheetah girl ^^ I haven’t seen her in a long time and since Tshukudu didn’t have a location on the male cheetahs this time, Deon suggested visiting Ntombi 🙂 She was of course happy to see Deon (and vice versa) but after a few guests had been to greet her, she got up and walked to Dawie instead. It was adorable, I don’t think I’ve seen the two of them together so I had to take some photos of Dawie petting her and getting his hands licked ^^

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We also found the elephants and the rhinos. As always, I’m completely Alfred-biased because I just love that little elephant baby! 😀 He’s so cute and really fun to observe! Here he is trying to get food using his mouth directly instead of the trunk ^^

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Even if he doesn’t have full control over the trunk yet, he is always busy with it, though..

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I do adore animal babies a lot, obviously, and I know that I uploaded a rhino baby nursing by its mother last week.. But this week I got double the cuteness! TWO rhino babies nursing! At the same time and in the same picture!

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Kruger

Kruger is back in action – with more lions! We got to the park early and hadn’t gotten very far before we heard news that lions had been spotted about 6km from where we were! Woohoo, crossed all my fingers that they’d still be there! And they were! Only 10 meters from the road! As we got there, we could barely see the lions because cars were standing at all the best spots, but the lions provided us with such a kind service: the couple got up and went to an open spot where we could easily manoeuvre our car into a good position! 😀

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The male was hidden a bit while the female was right in front of us, eating grass (or whatever she was attempting to do with it.. Maybe she’s trying to smile to the camera?)

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As we sat there, the lions got up again and the male started walking into a much better spot for me and my lens ^^

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We stopped at Satara for coffee and then hit the road again, going North because we had heard of another lion sighting. By then we had already spotted both buffalos and rhinos as well, but they were far into the distance.. It was the same case with the lions, we did indeed find them but they were hiding under a tree, some 100 meters out, so I just enjoyed them through my binoculars. On our way to Olifants rest camp, we saw two herds of ostriches, first a group of males only (in the distance) and then a group of females flaunting their bums at us ^^

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We ate at Olifants and then we continued to Phalaborwa gate. We bumped into this lonely elephant bull in the middle of the river, probably staying close to the water because it was flippin’ hot that day!

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We saw lots of buffalos on the way out (they looked extremely skinny, though :/ When’s the next rain??) Aaand then there was this red-crested Korhaan standing so nicely on top of the termite mound, being a true model.

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My favourite shot of the day was a zebra, though. The zebras were standing very close to the road and this one posed so nicely for me till I got a good close-up of its face 🙂

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Rhino – Straight Ahead!

Last Saturday when we went to Drakensberg, it was so cloudy that I thought the rondavels would be impossible to see, but I got a big surprise! Not only was the entire Blyde River Canyon clear of clouds, the air was also clear of white mist – we had extremely good visibility! I haven’t seen it that clear in ages! Even though there were dark clouds everywhere above.. Dihan, one of our guides, is pointing out nice visibility of the three rondavels here ^^

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I also got him to take one of me (and my hair flying in the wind :/ ) in front of the rondavels 🙂

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After our little photo session, we were just talking about how cool it would be to go down on one of the cliffs and pose from there. And well, that thought quickly turned into action when he decided to risk everything and climb down there fast! (We had a bus waiting for us so rapidity was essential!) I got some nice photos of the canyon with him just standing as a tiny spot in the corner, looking out: ^^

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This week seemed like a good week for rhinos, we were very lucky with our sightings of them both in Tshukudu and Kruger! We came upon this mother and baby several times and even though you cannot see it in this picture, they are now eating grass directly from the ground instead of relying on the feeding bales only..

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I was so excited to see all the beautiful grass that now grows in Tshukudu where it used to be barren! 😀 It looks soo pretty! ^^ This other baby didn’t seem to care much about the feeding grass, though.. It would rather nurse by its mother and when it was done with that, it lay down to sleep ^^

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In Kruger, we also had several rhino sightings but like it has been for a long time, the first couple of sightings were just “moving rocks with horns” far out in the distance.. But then we had a stroke of luck when Lux suddenly called in a white rhino right next to the road and just after we rolled up behind Lux, the rhino moved closer and crossed the road in front of the cars! 😀

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This rhino had its own plan for the day, though, so it didn’t take long before it was on the other side and walking off into the bush again, showing us its bum (but not before eating a bit of grass..)

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Also, at Timbavati picnic spot, we saw a yellow-billed kite that was busy looking for food so it kept circling the area and got very close and its way of flying is so slow and tempting that I just had to get my camera to get a few shots! 🙂

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I just love the expression it has here, cocking its head as if to say “what kind of weird wingless bird are you?”

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Aaand, finally, I’ve got some more birds for you because these oxpeckers were having a big conference here on the giraffe’s neck and frankly looked like they had all taken drugs (look at those eyes o.o) and didn’t know what this conference was even about..

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Kyaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!

Quick little update from HESC.

Now here’s a wild dog.

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I know it looks kind of evil with those eyes but to the people who say that it is ugly, I just want to say: You’re wrong! In fact, wild dogs are really cute! And here’s why..

A pile of dogs:

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Look at this doggy: ^^

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Head peaking up: >.<

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If wild dogs are not doing it for you, then you must be a cat person. Fair enough, then I’ve got something else for you: cheetah cubs! Adorable little 2 month old fur-balls that still have a black and grey-ish coat (to imitate the ferocious honey badger and avoid lions killing them..)

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Kyaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!

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Kyaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!

You want more fluff? I’ll give you more fluff! This fluff is 4 months old and growing into its spots:

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Here’s an adult cheetah for size:

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Kyaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!

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Kyaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!

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Kyaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!

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Kyaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!

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