10

Addo Elephant Park – Last Day

I am not lying when I tell you that I saw a lion today but he was far away and lying flat in the long grass – so I’m not even going to bore you with a bad photograph!

There are more interesting things to write about but this will be a short post.  I took dozens of photographs;  too many to post and difficult to know which ones to choose.   So I am going to be brief and hope you enjoy the photo story instead.

In a small park like Addo it’s easy to get around the whole game area in a day.    It’s always wise to try to stick to early morning and late afternoon but as a day visitor this is not so easy.   We might have had a chance to see lions had we stayed on till the end of the day but that would be exhausting.

The main stars of Addo are definitely the elephants. Zebra can be mighty entertaining too and even though the warthogs are everywhere, I just love them and can watch their antics for hours.

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This poaching monitor and his anti poaching dog kindly posed for a photo at the entrance. Dogs like this one are invaluable in keeping poaching to a minimum

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A Pale-chanting Goshawk was more obliging than the lions we saw nearby

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Such an attractive antelope is the male kudu

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So easy to ignore these guys after a while – but they’re really cute

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Hapoor Waterhole hosted a huge herd of ellies this morning

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They just kept coming

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Group Bath-time!

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Breathing with a built in snorkel!

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Fun fun fun

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Here we go again

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Elephants just wanna have fun

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We came across three zebras having a group hug!

At Marion Baree Waterhole another group of ellies were kicking up mud

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Glorious Mud

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Water and mud play is good for kids, Mom

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This little one certainly enjoyed it

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Mommy Pig and Baby Porkie looked on enviously waiting for their turn.

It was our last day visiting Addo today but we will be back another time.  It’s such a fab place to visit.

 

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9

Addo Elephant Park – Another day in Elephantasia

Staying outside of a game reserve is not ideal but it’s better than nothing.  We’re loving The Homestead which is just a short distance from the entrance gate.   Day visitors may only enter the game viewing at 7:00 am while for residents it’s an hour earlier.   In the past we would be first at the gate!  But today we only woke up at 7 and entered the park after 8.   Then we had a leisurely breakfast at The Cattle Baron before setting off on our game drive.

There are many different types of antelope in the park and they’re all thriving.   First we were greeted by this beauty.

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Lovely male kudu with another in the background

Addo Elephant Park is one of the few places in the country that is home to the flightless dung beetle. Visitors are warned to watch out for them on the roads as they cannot fly away to safety.

The flightless dung beetles mostly feed on elephant or buffalo faeces, but they have been recorded to also feed on dung from other species such as rabbits, baboons, antelope and ostrich.   Read about dung beetles  here

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We really enjoy the birdlife in the parks we visit but Autumn in Addo hasn’t produced anything too exciting.  These are some of the birds we managed to photograph

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Cape Wagtail collecting nesting material

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Speckled Mousebird

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Cape Glossy Starling

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Red-necked spurfowl

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Southern Boubou

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Capped Wheatear

Tortoises tend to be less plentiful as winter approaches but we did find one who was still quite wide awake

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We found lots of plains animals in the south today.   There are a number of waterholes that attract them and the grazing in also very good.   All the animals are looking very healthy.  We enjoyed seeing a number of different species making Addo look like what one expects Africa to be.  It was lovely to see a mix of zebra, kudu, red hartebeest, warthogs and elephants spread across the veld.

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We learned that elephants were starting to dominate the waterholes and leaving little over for the other creatures.  So the authorities have placed an electric fence around one we saw today.  The wires hang down to a certain height and prevent the elephants from drinking but are high enough for the smaller animals to be unaffected.  No chance of the zebras being squirted by elephants at this waterhole!

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Do you see the wires hanging just above the zebras

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This elephant walked right past – obviously knows what will happen if he goes to this pub!

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Oh the bliss of elephant free water!

BUT at the waterholes where they’re free to frolic there was a lot of fun today.  They swam and played and rolled in mud to their hearts content.

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It’s hot – I need a swim

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Oh what fun

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Look at me!

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Mom – I love this

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What’s going on here?

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Time to get out

 

Most of the waterholes we visited had tons of frisky elephants taking the waters.  It was fascinating to watch them.

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We stopped at Jack’s picnic site for coffee

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And the final excitement of the day was this young hyaena lying next tot he side of the road – not often seen in Addo so we were thrilled.

 

 

 

8

A Visit to Addo – Carol’s Rest is Elephantastic

Today we left Jubilee Farm and headed to Addo Elephant Park. Their camping was fully booked so we had to find accommodation outside The Park.  Our intention was to stay  at the south end near Colchester.   However, we heard on the radio that there was rioting on the N2 and in the village.   Rocks and burning objects were being thrown around so we thought it best to stay out of the troubled zone.    News 24 Report

The other end of the park was not affected so we booked into The Homestead just 10 minutes away from the Addo Rest Camp entrance.   By 2:30 we were set up and ready to go adventuring.

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There were lots of black-headed heron around

After enjoying a variety of zebra, red hartebeest, kudu and millions of warthogs we stopped at Carol’s Rest where one male elephant was hogging the water hole while another two were fooling around and a fourth made a later appearance.  A thirsty zebra was too nervous to drink while Jumbo was taking up most of the space

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Please can I join you for a drink?

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Clearly you’re not sharing with me!

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The cheeky warthogs had no fear and joined right in

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Still the zebra was not too sure

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A jackal decided to make do with a muddy puddle further away

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Thirst drove the zebra to take a few steps closer

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Brave boy – you did it!

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Aaah that’s better 

The zebra got his drink then what the camera missed was hilarious.  The elephant squirted him with his trunk!  We nearly fell out of the car laughing and the zebra leaped out of the pond!

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I think he’s telling his friend all about it

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These two entertained us with their interaction

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They twisted their trunks together

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And seemed to really like each other

We spent ages just watching these wonderful creatures interact, push, pull, chase and scratch each others ears with their tusks – it was amazing.

But as we had to leave the park by six we made our way back to the gate and out again.  On our way home we stopped at Lenmore to shop for fresh veggies at their deli.  We also decided to go to their restaurant for supper.  What a great decision as their lamb shank was to die for.   It was served with delicious veggies too – green beans, cauliflower cheese, creamed spinach, glazed carrots and roasted baby potatoes.

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A fabulous ending to a perfect day

 

 

 

 

6

Kruger Adventure with Grandpa, Gran, Simon and Shan – Day 12

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.

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Simon took this one through the side mirror of the car

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The hippos were having an early morning swim

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This chap seemed happy to see us

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!

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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!

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The big boy just wanted to follow us

Simon fell asleep again but after the next sighting sleep was impossible.  The early rising was paying off.

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Two young lions playing

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We counted six of them but found out later there were 12 but some were hidden

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This chap pulled the bark off the tree and played with it

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Such a handsome lion

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!

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A honeymoon coupe!

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She looked sleepy

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But The King had other ideas

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People are watching – to find a room of course

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And she did – well a sort of private spot anyway.

“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!

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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.

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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.

 

 

6

Kruger Adventure with Grandpa, Gran, Simon and Shan – Day 11

12 January 2018

The weather is once again hot in The Kruger National Park with temperatures reaching the mid thirties.

This morning for our  drive we drove to Crocodile Bridge Camp.  There were lots of the usual animals about and we got four of the Big Five.   Four rhino were quite far away so we didn’t take a photo.  There were a few elephant sightings but as we have many ellie photos we didn’t take of them either.   The same goes for buffalo which we saw from camp and from the bridge.  There is no restaurant at this Gate Camp but you can get coffee from a kiosk and ready made sandwiches, pies, muffins etc from the shop.  In the past we have enjoyed their pies but today there were none available so we settled for sandwiches which were also very good.

These are the highlights from this morning’s drive.

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A Bateleur finally posed for a half decent photograph

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The veld was littered with Impala – The kids now call them litter!

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A wildebeest resting in the shade

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Donkeys in striped pajamas everywhere

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A flotilla of white-faced ducks with a female knob-billed duck in the foreground

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An emerald-spotted wood-dove

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Wild Dog about to settle down in the shade for a midday nap

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But we disturbed their peace

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Such gorgeous creatures

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Yes – It’s hot!

When we got back to camp our neighbours told us about lions just three km from the bridge so we went in search of them.

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They were asleep under a tree quite far from the road but The King got up and stared at us

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Then flopped down again

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At the bridge we got this lovely Goliath Heron

We chilled in camp for most of the afternoon and then went out again for a short drive from 4 o’clock to 6 o’clock.  The Amur falcons and  rollers were flocking together and hawking insects which was really interesting to watch.

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Rollers hawking insects

Here are the other highlights of our afternoon drive

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Southern White-crowned Shrike

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Burchell’s Coucal

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Snake-eagle with a reptile of some sort – see the tail

When we got back the kids went for a swim with the neighbour’s kids and later Simon went on another night hike and saw hyaena from the restaurant deck.

It was a beautiful evening and we had a braai.    It was after nine before we were ready for bed.

1

Kruger Adventure with Grandpa, Gran, Simon and Shan – Day 9

The wind died down last night and did not blow us all away to Oz. We all had a good night’s sleep but the effects of early rising for the past week have taken its toll on our teenage grandchildren.  It took a while to coax them out of the tent this morning and it was after six before we went off for our morning drive.

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Shan was out of it for the first hour of the day!!

We did a short morning drive along the S100, checked out the Leopard/Hyaena kill and then went back to camp.  These are the highlights:-

Vultures were feasting on the leftovers of the leopard’s kill.

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We also found some white storks. I imagine they’d just made a delivery of babies to some Park Parents.IMG_2084

We  found a spot where there was a Painted Snipe, Grey Heron, African Black Crake and Fish Eagle.

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Painted Snipe

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Fish Eagle

Some other birding delights of the day were:-

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Finally I got a half decent photo of a Magpie Shrike

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Carmine bee-eaters

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Amur Falcon

Then we had an encounter with a bull elephant in musth.   He owned the road and just kept coming toward us.  “Reverse, Grandpa!”  yelled the kids.  “We’re going to die!”  moaned Shannon.   “Tell my parents I love them!’

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Slightly scary when a giant heads straight for your vehicle

While they were freaking out they both kept their cameras trained on the scene videoing the drama.  There were other cars on the road too and we all just gave the Elllie his space and reversed until he decided he’d had enough fun and went off into the bush.

The commentary on the video was hilarious.  “I don’t know who will see this but at least you will know how I died.   This is freaking terrifying!   Grandpa – reverse faster.  (chuckles from Grandpa)  Don’t worry kids he’s not angry he won’t do anything. (from Grandma)  That’s was the last crushed people said (from Shan)   Lots of nervous laughter.

It all lasted about three minutes and when it was over the kids said – Man that was scary! – But really we were in no danger.   This was no angry, charging elephant.

Back at camp we had breakfast and spent a few hours chilling before going out again at 3.   It was not a very exciting afternoon – probably just as well after the morning drama.  The highlight was coming across a mommy hyaena with cubs

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I was also thrilled to get the African Hawk Eagle

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The weather was cold again today but by this evening we could see that it was clearing.   The Earl cooked a chicken casserole for supper.  An elephant passed by the fence. He was so silent that had the neighbours not alerted us we would not have seen him.   It is such fun being close to the fence.

2

Kruger Adventure with Grandpa, Gran, Simon and Shan – Day 8

What a night!!  The wind got up and blew all night rocking the caravan and preventing us from getting a decent amount of sleep.  There was thunder and lightening too but no rain.   This morning Shan and Simon looked totally wrecked.  “I thought the tent was going to be blown away with me in it never to be seen again!’  she complained.  “Well, ” said I ” You would just have been taken off to the Land of Oz and there you would have met a lion with no courage so you’d have been perfectly safe!”   She was not amused.

“Tonight I’m sleeping in your bed!”  said Si.

Well I was actually waiting for that to happen but no little bodies found there way in.  They were too scared to move!   I did peep through my window to see if they were okay and all seemed well and it seems they did survive!

We left camp closer to 7 than 6 this morning.  It was still blowing and it was overcast and much cooler than yesterday which was a relief.  But the wind was still hectic.  Travelling in the car was more comfortable than staying at the campsite!  We did a short loop, returned for breakfast which Grandpa cooked and then went straight out again, taking our left overs with us for lunch.

On our Before Breakfast Drive we had some lovely sightings of the usual gang but these are the highlights.

We saw first one bull elephant and then another.

Why had it got chunks out of its ears, Shan wanted to know.   And why is the one tusk so worn out.

The wear and tear on the tusks is from using it to dig and if the elephant is right dominant the right tusk will be more worn than the left and vice versa.  I’m not sure but many of them do.

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The second bull, though, had ears and tusks in good condition.  That’s because he takes care of himself and brushes with Colgate – I joked.

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Simon earned more points by spotting brown hooded parrots for us.

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Giraffe entertained us at regular intervals

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A red-crested korhaan caught a juicy grasshopper for breakfast

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A turtle out of water – probably seeking a new pond.

After breakfast we planned on doing a long loop but we were too tired to finish it so took a short cut home.  It was a good choice as we had some lovely sightings on the changed route.

We saw a jeep jockey stopped on the side of the road and asked him what they were looking at.  “A tortoise,” he said.  “But 1km from here you will find  some ‘nice’ lions.

“Drive,”  Grandpa, “Drive!”  yelled the kids.   Much to their disgust Grandpa took off very slowly.  Just look for cars, he said.  Then you’ll know we’ve found them.  Simon saw the cars first and then spotted a sleeping lion some distance before the group of cars and a little way off next to a waterhole.

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First a back view – but it was a male which was a good sign

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Then another male fast asleep

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And another

We moved closer and found a good spot to see yet more male lions.  There were five altogether – a bachelor pride!

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Good Morning Your Majesty

It was time to stop and stare.  I climbed over the seat and got the ice creams out of the car freezer.

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Shan decided to take a photograph of hers – Ice cream in the bush-veld.

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“My grandparents stop for birds.  I stop for ice cream”

After enjoying our lion and ice cream we moved on and enjoyed some more birds

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European Bee-eater

My favourite small antelope is the Steenbok.  They are usually solitary but sometimes mating pairs will be seen together.  This morning we got a pair.

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They are very shy and try to hide

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Mr Steenbok thinks I can’t see him

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Mrs Steenbok showed herself

Soon after this we came upon another traffic jam.   “What do you think we will see?” I asked.   “Wild Dog.” said Simon.  “Cheetah!”  said Shan. “Lion” said Earl.  “Leopard.”  said I.

Simon saw them first and called – Wild Dog.  I saw them second and called Leopard.  Then I changed it to Cheetah. –  Shan was right!    Simon got 20 for spotting them first and Shan 10 for the right guess.

There were six on a kill – A mom and five almost fully grown cubs.  Shan had been dying to see cheetah and they were on my side of the car so I quickly swapped places with her so she could fully enjoy them.

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Shan getting some good shots

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It was quite a feast

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These three had full tummies and were just resting

A driver in a car facing us wanted to leave and tried to start her car.  Uh oh – The battery was flat.  She was devastated and put her head on the steering wheel and looked like she was about to burst into tears.  Her companion too looked distressed.  I put my head out of the window and called, “Don’t worry!  As soon as we can my husband will help you.  We have jump leads.”   She put her hands together in thanks.   I think they were French tourists.

The cheetahs finished their meal and were getting restless.  The Earl opened the door  and climbed up to get the leads out of the box on top of the roof.  Simon and Shannon freaked.  “Grandpa – the cheetahs – they’ll eat you!”   “Don’t worry kids, the cheetahs’ tummies are full – they won’t want to eat a tough old man like Grandpa.”   Other tourists looked on in horror.  I indicated to them that the other car needed help and they all nodded in wonder.

The cheetahs looked on too and started to move away from their kill.  They kept a wary eye on The Earl and the young man from the other car but made no attempt to attack.  They were, I think, more afraid of them than they of the cheetahs.   If you zoom in on the photo you can see a blurred image of them staring at the goings on.

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The Earl fetching the jump leads

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Doing the necessary while the cheetahs look on

Some of the other tourists looked horrified that the assistance happened so near a group of predators, but they were far enough away for the two men to hop back into the cars if they approached.

When got back to camp at around two o’clock, our neighbour approached us.

“Have you done the S100?”  she asked.

“Only yesterday.” we replied.

“Well today a leopard killed a zebra near the waterhole.  Go quickly and you might see it.”

The kids were not keen to go out yet again and The Earl needed a nap so it was after 4 o’clock when we decided to see what was happening on the infamous S 100.   We couldn’t have timed it better.  We came upon the traffic jam at said waterhole.
“Surely the leopard won’t still be here.”  I said.

“It’s a hyaena!”  called Simon and he was right.  No sign of the leopard at all.  We managed to get a really nice position and had perfect views of the hyaena working away at the zebra kill.   In the trees and on the ground there were also vultures waiting anxiously for their turn to get at the carcass.

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This zebra is rather delicious

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The undertakers of the bush

The hyaena was really tucking in and we were enjoying the action when The Earl suddenly said, “Hey, I can see the leopard.”   And he carefully described where he saw some spots under a nearby tree.  How he spotted it, I do not know. It was simply a collection of spots with ears the twitched from time to time.  We couldn’t believe it!

“Why is the leopard allowing the hyaena to eat his dinner?”  the kids wanted to know.  We explained that this often happens to leopards. They make the kill and unless he gets it up a tree quickly other predators steal it from him.  He was clearly exhausted and lying under the tree unable to challenge the thief.

But after about half an hour something amazing happened.  The hyaena dragged part of the kill toward the tree where the leopard was lying.   As soon as he passed the spot, the leopard got up and went to the kill where he started eating, unchallenged by the thief.

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Leopard returning to his kill

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Tucking in to a lovely meal

Then to our immense surprise the hyaena left the piece he’d dragged away.  We expected to see a scuffle between the two predators but instead the leopard allowed the hyaena to join him at the table.   “A mixed species dinner date!’  said Shan.

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Hyaena and Leopard sharing a meal!

This went on for some time and then the leopard left the table and went to chew on what Hyaena had left in front of the tree!

I wonder if these two creatures are friends.  Did Leopard say – Hey, Hyaena – You’re welcome to my zebra – it’s too much for one leopard.  You’ve got good teeth and jaws – make a start on it and I’ll join you later.

There certainly was no attempt by either to chase the other away.  They really were content to share.   Sharing, is after all, caring!   I just wonder if they ended up inviting the vultures to finish it off when they were done.  We didn’t have time to find out as gate closing time was fast approaching.   We were, however, thrilled to see what we did.