13 January 2018
Last night I said, “You’re doing so well being ready to leave camp by 6:00 am. Tomorrow is our second last day in the park. Let’s try to get out even earlier than usual.”
“What do you call early?” asked Shan suspiciousy.
“The gate opens at 4:30 – but let’s say 5 or 5:30?
Two pairs of eyes looked at me in horrified disbelief. “Why?” they asked.
“Because you’re more likely to get the animals in active mode early in the morning. Lions spend 20 hours a day sleeping in the shade under trees. The chances of seeing them active in the morning is increased if you get out there nice and early.”
They reluctantly agreed.
It took a while to get them to wake up this morning and Simon said, “Gran, how can you do this to me!” But we managed to get out of the gate just after 5:00 am. Dawn was golden on the horizon and the kids’ cameras were clicking away at the seldom seen, awesome sight.
We took the S128 and then joined up with the H4-1 to Tshokwane. After a few minutes the early rising caught up with Simon and after taking a photo of some buffalo he gave up and fell asleep!
He woke with a start when Shan called out – Elephant! and one was right next to his window. Then a really big one stepped into the road behind the car and decided to follow us. This caused shrieks of “Drive, Grandpa, Drive!” from both kids. “Nah,” said Grandpa “I’ll let him catch up first and then drive!” The kids thought this might be fun and encouraged him to wait till he was really close but Gran reprimanded him. “Don’t you dare be a hero – you never know what he might do!” Nervous laughter from the kids before they started yelling for him to drive again!
Simon fell asleep again but after the next sighting sleep was impossible. The early rising was paying off.
We watched these lions playing for a little while and then went on as breakfast was calling.
A car was parked at the next turnoff and we almost rode straight past when Grandpa yelled – oops – Lion!
“The children’s education is complete,” I said.
“What do you mean, Gran,” said Shan
“That we now know how lions mate!” said Simon.
Four of the Big Five before breakfast! Yes getting out early certainly paid off this morning!
But wait, there’s more! The occupants of the car who had the honeymoon coupe first had moved on ahead of us and were parked next to a tree. They pointed out a Verreaux’s Eagle-owl. Great!
Tshokwane serves the best coffee in Kruger and we were ready for ours when we arrived there shortly after our lovely morning.
On our return trip we revisited the honey moon couple and continued to enjoy the regulars. The birding was good too. The best was seeing ground hornbill again.
It was almost midday when we arrived back at camp.
Simon has struck up a friendship with the boys camping next to us. All the kids had a great afternoon at the pool.
We went out again for a short drive at 4 pm. Nothing too exciting crossed our path but after the morning’s excitement we were content to enjoy the regulars.
Tomorrow is our last full day in The Park. We will spend our last night at Berg en Dal and then leave early on Monday morning.