Like “Diamonds are Forever” the game park has “The Big Five” which is a very good marketing slogan. These are: Lion, Leopard, Elephant, Buffalo & Rhinoceros. There is a corresponding Little Five: Ant Lion, Leopard Tortoise, Eastern Rock Elephant Shrew, Red billed Buffalo Weaver & Rino Beetle. But wait, there’s more, The Ugly Five: The Hippo, Vulture, Warthog, Marabou Stork & the Wildebeest.
Like other times you have to keep your eyes peeled and the little fella above was at the side of the road and held his position while I reversed to almost next to him for his picture to be taken.
Have seen many giraffe but this was the first one drinking where they first spread their front legs, then bend the knees forward so they can finally reach the water below.
We were staying at a bush camp called Talamati which has the above watering hole just outside the fence and you can sit in their viewing hide and watch the goings on. A borehole feeds the concrete tank as well as the pond in front. This herd seems to visit it a couple of times a day and can be quite entertaining.
We head out one morning south from Talamati and have to negotiate some rather iffy sections of dirt road. Usually in a dip across a dry riverbed that has accumulated sand and bumps at it’s low point. A high clearance 4×4 is no problem but my Hyundai Accent rental will not get out if it bogs down. So we decide to come back the long route on the main tarred road and don’t expect to see much game.
The usual, “There’s a car stopped up ahead, wonder what they are looking at”? We slow and gaze into the tree on the left (South Africa drives on the left so Rose in the passenger seat is closest to the action). “It’s a leopard up a tree and he has a kill”, she exclaims in disbelief. For the last few days I had been saying “all I want to see is a leopard in a tree”, now I had my wish come true. This was #5 of the Big Five for us.
He was well camouflaged in the foliage and apparently the first car to stop saw him draging a small Impala up the tree. We were car #3 and savored the quietness till this sighting got mobbed.
Still on the way back to the camp we detour down a spur to a medium sized pond and find these guys having a whale of a time. Luckily they are on the far side but you have to keep checking around to see if some might be headed your way. Few interruptions here as we are off the tar & dirt road.
Again, right on the side of the tar road is a Brown Snake Eagle tearing away at some meat.
Leaving Talamati we had one last night in Skukuza before flying home. Again on the dirt road out we saw a car stopped next to this big guy in the shade. At first glance it looked like she was dead but the odd twitch of the ear signaled otherwise. Do you wait for some action or take a few photo’s and move on? We moved on and literally a Km down the road we saw a few cars heading for the “lion sighting”. Word was out. At the tar intersection 5 Km away the green tourist trucks where tearing along so they can show their clients Mrs Lion, if she was still there.
We had been in Kruger for 18 days now, had had a great time and simply mellowed out on the way down to Skukuza.
We went down to the restaurant deck for a last breakfast and saw the dark Dineo clouds roll in from the east. The cyclone would pound the Mozambique coast before dumping buckets of rain on the Kruger veld. All dirt roads would be closed for days as nature takes it course and things dry out.