Travel Blog:Kruger Trip Report Part 4

Wednesday,
14 January 2009

Orpen to Satara

We were all up early and ready to leave by quarter to six this
morning.  

There were herds of impala, wildebeest and zebra
right outside the camp. Silke and Kerry had told us that they’d seen a mother
cheetah and two cubs on Monday evening and Tuesday morning.   We knew they would be close to the camp gate
but after a few kilometres there was no sign of cheetah.   Priscilla said, “I’m so disappointed to miss
those cheetahs,”

“What are those?” I said and lo and behold, the
distant silhouettes I spotted turned into a mother cheetah with a cub that must
have been about six months old.     We
watched them for about 20 minutes.  The
mother was clearly introducing her son to hunting and he boldly confronted a
wildebeest who just appeared annoyed and butted him away.   He then decided that Mom was fair game and
pounced onto her back only to be shaken off with an annoyed look.  Eventually after they’d crossed the road back
and forth, a few times, they went behind the bushes and we decided to move
on.   We saw Kerry and Silke at the scene
and then again at Satara and they told us that they’d spent two hours with the
cheetahs. 

Although the scrub hare is a nocturnal creature,
the overcast weather makes him bold and at around 7 o’clock we saw one silently
grazing at the side of the road.  He was
amazingly confiding and did not scamper off into the bush when we stopped to
take photographs.

At 7:40, we turned onto the tar road H7 and not far
along saw, a camper van stopped ahead of us. 
They pointed into the bush and we observed a clump of lion dozing behind
some bushes, which camouflaged them very well. 
We might have missed them had we not been pre-warned.   It was fun seeing them interact with each
other but they were in doze mode so we didn’t pay them a long visit.

We saw a fair amount of game including elephants,
waterbuck, kudu, herds of giraffe, kudu, buffalo, zebra and wildebeest and of
course lots of birds too.   There were a
number of raptors sitting on top of trees the highlight of which was an African
Harrier Hawk.  The mammal highlight of
the day were two little jackal cubs who we thought should have been with Mother
but were out playing on their own.  After
a while, they scampered off, probably to where she had breakfast waiting for
them.

We had our breakfast at Satara and our waiter
greeted us cheerfully – “You are  bird
watchers.  After breakfast I show you a
scops owl in a Marula tree!’  And true to
his word he took us some distance from the restaurant near the eco information
centre and showed us exactly where a Scops was having his daytime sleep.  He was more interesting that the one at
Afsaal as he had his little tufts up and seemed to be not quite as fat!

There had been quite a bit of rain and there were
puddles everywhere but who would expect to see a turtle in one of them?  As we left the Satara car park Earl just
managed to avoid riding over the tiniest one I’ve ever seen and Pris got out to
rescue him but he swam too fast for her so we decided to let nature take its
course.   He’d survived thus far perhaps
he’d find a bigger pond soon enough!

The rest of our trip to Olifants was lovely.  We drove quickly along sections that were dry
and supported little game but in the greener parts along the river there were
herds of giraffe, zebra, wildebeest, buffalo, impala and kudu.   The bird-life was interesting and we saw
large flocks of white stork, marabou storks, wattled starlings and carmine
bee-eaters.   The different raptors we
saw included Eurasian hobby, black-breasted snake eagle, Walberg’s eagle and
tawny eagle and of course there were lots of vultures around.

Crossing the bridge over the Olifants, we saw
African pied wagtails and a pied kingfisher at the edge of the wall.  

Our accommodation is in hut 10 and 11 with the most
magnificent view of the River.   We
observed hippo on the banks and Earl called our attention to a ground hornbill
in a tree. All we could see was its wing hanging out of the foliage but it was
unmistakable.  A little later, he flew
out and settled in another tree on the opposite bank.

Thursday
15 January 2009

Olifants River Walk

We packed up, had breakfast at the restaurant where we saw hippos having
a confrontation and then went on a river walk with our guides Pilot and
Bridgeman.  They took us to the starting
point in an open land rover and we spotted a few interesting animals on
route.  Heather desperately wanted to see
the Pel’s Fishing Owl and it was to a place it is often seen that we were
headed.  Earl spotted it in the tree and
I got to see it fleetingly fly out but it took cover in the thick foliage and
would not come out again – so Heather will have to wait for another opportunity
to get this elusive bird!

 

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