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Kruger National Park – Day 24

3 December 2017

We bade farewell to Pat and Tony this morning and they made their way through the park for a few hours before leaving for Witbank where they are spending the night.

The Earl and I decided to have a rest day and do a few things in camp.   Isn’t it great that each rest camp has a laundry with coin operated washing machines and dryers?   Just two five rand coins;  and half an hour later my bed linen was washed and ready for the dryer.  In went the next two coins. I pressed the start button – nothing!  Oh no!  Had it been clothes I could have made a plan to hang it out but Kingsize bed linen – Noooooo.  So I rang the duty manager and within minutes two charming young technicians arrived to sort out my problem.   “It took my money but it won’t work,”  I said sadly.

‘We’re here to help,” they said scratching their heads.  Then one unlocked the machine with a key, did something miraculous and hey presto the dryer started!  “What did you do?” I asked.  “‘Magic,” he replied.

I then put a load of clothing on while the linen dried and when that was done the clothes were ready for the dryer.  By 9:30 I’d done the laundry, cleaned the caravan, watched some birds and had a swim.

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Green-winged pytilia – otherwise known as a melba finch

The Earl and I then went to the restaurant for breakfast.  By this time the temperature was rising but it was cool relaxing on the deck under the trees.  The birding was good too,

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The white-fronted bee-eaters were very active

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The marsh sandpiper was as busy as ever

After sorting out banking and email on his laptop The Earl had a nap and then we did a two hour drive next to the river to Nkulu Picnic Site and back.  The trip there was very quiet with little to see except impala.   On the way back though, the animals seemed to have woken from their naps,

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I rather like this scene of elephant, fish eagle and water buck sharing the facilities

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He’s not called a water buffalo for nothing

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This is the way to travel

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Why are these people staring, Mum?

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I really need a manacure – no time with all this childcare

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Two beautiful male Nyala greeted us

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This elephant was right next to my window

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Aren’t I a handsome chap!

It was too hot to cook tonight so we went to the Cattle Baron Take-Away and got chicken wraps and I made a Greek salad.  A perfect ending to a very hot day!

 

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Kruger National Park – Day 16 – Satara

25 November 2017 – An Awesome Day

After yesterday’s heat we woke to rain this morning – very welcome as The Park is dry and they need their rains.  It was also quite cold but nothing dampens ones spirits when in The Park.  A Bad Day in Kruger is still better than a Good Day at home.

By 6:35 we were exploring the H7.   As usual we stopped for every interesting bird.  We saw common waxbill flitting about and while we were enjoying them we heard the familiar clicks and then kyip, kyip kyip – the call of the Red-Crested Korhaan.  Then we saw him strutting across the road.   He then flew up and tumbled down free-fall style.  What an awesome bird.  We expected he was showing off for a female but she was clearly not interested as she remained hidden.

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Next to pop up unexpectedly was this chap.

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We saw the usual suspects too, elephant, zebra, kudu etc  before turning onto the S39.  This drive was good too and we found a tawny eagle and some vultures.   As we trundled along we saw two cars alongside of each other up ahead.  “Either they’re friends having a chat about their next route or the one is telling the other what he has seen.  I bet it’s a leopard,” said I.
As we approached, the one pulled away and parked in front. The other indicated that we should take his place.  ” If you look carefully – you will see a leopard,” he told us. We looked but couldn’t see anything so went ahead a little way and watched some birds.  The second car left but the first remained.  He must still have it we thought so we reversed to take another look.  Oh Wow.  There he was – quite a big male but still well hidden under the tree.

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Oh those wild eyes

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J need my rest, you know

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Here’s looking at you, kid!

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How long are you planning on staying ?

Reluctantly we left the scene to let the next car have a chance and soon reached Timbavati Picnic site where we hired a skottel and cooked breakfast.  It was raining a bit but we were quite dry under the thatch shelters.

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Our return trip produced more hyena and lovely birds but it was raining so photography was a bit difficult.  Back at camp we had a rest. At 3:30 I went to see if Pat and Tony were awake – they weren’t so I told The Earl that we should skip an afternoon drive.  But when they woke at 4 they were still keen to go out  and so at 4:30 we hit the S100.  I had a strange feeling that something exciting would turn up and Pat voiced the same thought.

Sure enough we got a lovely surprise. We found the occupants of two vehicles staring into the distance.   We could just see the flick of a tail and a twitch of an ear.   Another car approached and asked what there was.  We told her not much and then one of the lionesses got up and moved!  We then all go lovely views of her and the other one until they disappeared in the undergrowth again.  We thought we might find them on our return route but they were nowhere around.

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It was certainly worth going for that short drive to find our lions!

You would think camp cooking would be problematic when the weather is cold and wet.  But we were lucky.  The rain held off and we were quite content to sit under our canopy and enjoy a fabulous meal cooked once again by our Bush Master Chef.  It was a most delicious chicken and vegetable dish cooked on the Snappy Chef. (Induction Stove)

The resident hyenas patrolled past the fence quite frequently.  One actually stopped and stared at us as if to say – Please share your meal with me!  But of course we said – No way – go and hunt your own food!

It rained in the night and we expected a wet pack up the next morning!

 

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Kruger National Park – Day 14 – Satara

23 November 2017 – Letaba to Satara and The S100.

After yesterday’s 40 degree C heat we woke to cooler conditions today.  In fact the mercury dropped by 20 degrees!

We were packed up and ready to roll by 7:00 o’clock.  Pat and Tony were to follow after going to reception to find out about getting Pat to a doctor.

The first excitement walked toward us on the tar road.   Mom, Dad and Little One

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Come on Mom and Dad – keep up!

Then they veered off the road and passed by the car.  We got a shot of Mom – or Dad – difficult to tell the sexes apart.

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She seems to be smiling about something.

When we arrived at Satara we got a call from Tony.  They were on their way and would set up camp and then head to Skukuza to see the camp doctor.

We set up next to the fence at the North-west side of camp.  There were quite a few interesting birds hanging around and posing for their portraits.

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Red-billed Buffalo-weaver

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Burchell’s Starling

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Grey-headed Sparrow

When Pat and Tony  arrived we helped them set up and then went to have breakfast at the restaurant.  They managed to get an appointment for 2 o’clock and set off for Skukuza at midday.

Earl and I had a rest and then at 3 pm set off to do a stretch of the S100, turning around and retracing our route so as to be back in camp in time.  The drive there produced some common residents.

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My favourite creatures

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Zebs had a dust bath

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A stripe of zebra

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Delighted to have this red-faced mousebird sit still for a second

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This non-breeding shaft-tailed whydah had us guessing for a while

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Red-billed quelea

We hoped to see a lot more as the S100 is famous for seeing both lion and leopard – but not luck there.  However, the birding was good.

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A lovely surprise – Trumpeter Hornbill

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Male Red-backed shrike

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Bateleur Female

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Bateleur Male

Seeing the trumpeter hornbill was special for me and I counted that as the highlight of the day.  I was in a bit of a complacent dream when suddenly I saw it, just a short distance away, so well camouflaged in the dry grass.  “There’s a cheetah!” I called out to The Earl.  “Where?” he said.  “There,” I pointed.  “Where’s there!”  he was frustrated.

“Stop!” I yelled.  “He’s going to come out in front of the car.”  And then he saw it too.

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What a brilliant surprise
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We had him all to ourselves

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The beautiful boy!

He crossed the road and then moved off into the distance.  We watched until he disappeared over the ridge.  A car approached – just a minute too late.  We were the only ones to have seen him!

Pat and Tony were back from the Skukuza by 6:15.   Pat’s wrist is badly sprained and the doctor strapped it into a brace.   She is comfortable but may have to have x-rays if the swelling doesn’t go down.

As it was so cool we decided that a stew would be best for dinner tonight. Once again our Master Chef of the Bushveld put our snappy chef and smartspace pots to excellent use and we dined in style once again.

5

Share your world 27 February 2017

Here are my answers to this weeks Cee’s Share your world

Ever ran out of gas in your vehicle? 

I can’t remember ever having run out of fuel in my vehicle.   But it’s been close.  Sometimes we travel long distances on roads that seem to go on forever but we make sure that we fuel when we can.  We have been in wild places where we’ve had to take in our own fuel.  That was fun!

 

Which are better: black or green olives?

I am of Mediterranean ancestry so olives are very important to me.  I always have black olives of various types in the fridge but I also like green olives.

If you were a great explorer, what would you explore?

I love exploring and have been to some pretty awesome places.  There is nothing I enjoy more than getting close and personal with African wildlife.

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Sunrise in Africa

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This Etosha Elephant tried to charge us

I imagine, though, that a great explorer is someone who goes where no man has gone before.   Well – I can’t identify with that – I have no desire to go to Mars or the arse end of the world where conditions are inhospitably hot or cold.  I don’t mind roughing it but there’s a limit.  So I think for this one I’d say anywhere exotic that I’ve never been before so long as I do not have to risk life or limb. And when I’m there I’d like to meet the local people, learn about their lifestyles and explore their fauna and flora.

Quotes List: At least three of your favorite quotes?

I often go on about attitude being the most important thing to get you through life.

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This one is probably my favourite because I have had so many moments like that have taken my breath away.

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Then there are the more flippant ones that make me laugh

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The last one comes from my brother – “I’d rather be rich and miserable than poor and miserable!”

Optional Bonus question:  What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?

On Monday The Earl had to go to the dentist as he’d lost a tooth while biting into his spare ribs.  (He never did find said tooth!)  She referred him to a periodontist in Somerset West – two hours drive from home.  He was lucky enough to get an appointment the following day. Fortunately I went along with him as during the hour and a half procedure he was given a sedative and wasn’t allowed to drive back!    We were grateful that he was able to get everything done in one session so we don’t have to return.   However, the price has been a lot of post procedure pain!  We went back to the dentist in Bredasdorp today and she has given him more antibiotic and pain medication.  Thankfully he is feeling much better now.

I am looking forward to this weekend as my daughter will be visiting.  She is bringing friends too which will be fun.

 

 

 

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Wild Adventure Chapter 9 – Where is that Leopard?

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This morning’s game drive found  Lord and Lady Grum-Peigh back at Kij Kij in search of the lioness and her cubs.  They found them in the company of two adult lions.  One of them was a young male.  They must have been drinking at Kij Kij but by the time they arrived there they were on the Rooiputs side of the WH.  They played for a bit and then made their way over the ridge – the opposite way to the previous day.

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There was nothing much to see other than kori bustards and other birds further on toward Melkvlei.  Then the Earl and Her Ladyship turned around and went to Twee Rivieren to refuel.   On the way they had lovely sightings of the smaller things.  They saw two yellow mongooses hunting and one caught a mouse!  There were also two slender mongoose and the two species didn’t seem to want to share territory.

“What’s that jackal up to,” said Lady G-P He was howling and looking quite agitated. “There must be a cheetah or a lion about – that’s how they behave when they want to get at the left overs from a kill”  The jackal was staring into a tree but in spite of a thorough search Lord and Lady G-P couldn’t see anything so they continued on their way.

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At Twee Rivieren they filled up then went to the restaurant where they took advantage of the internet access and caught up with emails and messages.  The shop had no fresh produce they nipped off to Kgalagadi lodge and bought some cauliflower and broccoli, pattipans, cucumber, tomatoes and sweet potatoes.

The Frend-Leighs decided to pop there too and they met up with them on their way back to TR.   The Leighs reported that there was a leopard in a tree between Leeudril and Rooiputs.   That’s what the jackal must have been agitating about.

On their return trip to Rooipust they found the site of the leopard but were told by Jan (a young man from the Cheque Republic who was camping on their site)  that they’d just missed her in the tree.  She’s jumped down and was definitely in the undergrowth under the tree but she was impossible to see. They waited half an hour but it was very hot so they left her in peace with a promise of coming back later.

At Rooiputs waterhole there were 4 Secretary birds.

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The late afternoon found them back searching for the leopard.   En route they were amused by the meerkats.

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There were a number of cars looking into the tree but nobody could see anything.  The Earl wanted to move on but Her Ladyship persuaded him to be patient.   Finally they were rewarded when all of a sudden the leopard emerged from his hiding place and began moving.

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His nap was over and he was off on a mission

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What a beauty

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I wonder if I’ll find a snack anywhere here?

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Nothing much happening – think I’ll sit here for a while

After walking off along the dunes the leopard flopped down for a rest then got up again and disappeared over the dunes.

“Another wonderful ending to a great day,” said Lady G-P

 

 

 

4

Wild Adventure Chapter 6 Lions at Kij Kij

8 March

The advantage of staying in a bush camp on the Botswana side of the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park is that there are fewer people in camp and one really gets to commune with nature – it’s living on the edge as there is always a chance that a wild creature could wander past your caravan or tent.  This is what the Frend-Leighs and Grum-Peighs love about Camp Rooiputs Number 2.   It is also closer to the water holes so you get to them before the crowds from Twee Rivieren arrive.  But Rooiputs has the added advantage of being close enough to Twee Rivieren so that when you need to replenish your stocks it’s a quick trip there and back.  On this particular morning the friends decide to check out the Kij Kij Waterhole nice and early and then take the long dune road that connects to another road that takes you to TR.  The plan is then to leave the park and shop at the Kgalagadi Lodge shop – and have breakfast at their restaurant.  There is nothing as good as mixing a bit of rustic living with luxury now and then!

And they are well rewarded when they get to Kij Kij and find some frolicking lions.

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Good Morning Kgalagadi

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This is fun!

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Come on let’s play!

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Time to go!

The Dune Road is very long and bendy and can be boring but today a honey badger rushed over the road in front of them and they saw 19 Northern Black Korhaan

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The best of the bunch

On the return journey the Grum-Peighs stop for every bird.  Ho-Hum!

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A lesser grey shrike

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The ever-present tawny eagle

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Southern Masked weaver and Lark-like Bunting

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Male and female red-headed finch

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Grey-backed sparrowlark

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Male red-headed finch

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Immature Pale Chanting Goshawk

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Jackal

The highlight was seeing a cobra try to invade a sociable weaver nest.

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In the evening the Frend-Leighs and Grum-Peighs had another delicious braai.  There was no sign of stormy weather and the sunset was magnificent.

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The Earl and The Friend bonding in front of the fire

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Sunset

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Camp Rooiputs Number 2 at night

1

ADDO ELEPHANT PARK

Homestead B&B and Caravan Park is just a few minutes away from the Addo Elephant Park entrance gate.  The site provides excellent shade and the ablutions and facilities are adequate and clean.  We paid R200 per night.   If you can’t get into the Addo Rest Camp this is an excellent alternative.  They also have Bed and Breakfast facilities.  I forgot to take photographs but rest assured it is great!
We set off for a game drive at about 3:30.  What a great afternoon we had.   The weather was stunning – clear skies and quite hot.   It was great to see plenty of the game grazing on the hillsides and in the veld. There is no shortage of warthogs, red hartebeest, kudu and zebra.  And it’s certainly the place to go if you want to see elephants.

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The buffalo are fat and healthy and the favourite food of the lions

We found that most of the animals were in the South of the park and that the elephants had spread out and could be seen at most of the waterholes.   In the heat of the day they were enjoying themselves in the red muddy holes along with their little friends the warthogs who seem so tiny when seen right next to these gentle giants.

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We left via the South Gate and then had a long drive back to camp but it was worth it.  On the way we found a number of delightful birds.

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The common but very pretty Cape Glossy Starling

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Always friendly – the African Pipit

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The red-faced mousebird seldom sits still long enough for a photoshoot so I was delighted to get a reasonable shot of him

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And he obliged to pose with his cousin the speckled mousebird

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The Southern Boubou tends to hide but he was quite conspicuous on this day

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Not just a pretty face but pretty feathers too has the emerald-spotted wood-dove

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A Bird of Prey that has me foxed

The evening was warm enough to sit outdoors without a jacket and we enjoyed a braai of ostrich steak and sausage.

We were up before six the next morning and in at the gate by 7.  Unfortunately when you are a day visitor you may only enter at 7 so miss the early 6 o’clock opening to the game area.

It is definitely better to stay in the park as you can then easily go back to your camp for a break in the middle of a hot day.   We took our breakfast break at Jack’s Picnic Site which is named after Jack the Black Rhino who was one of the first to be brought to Addo. He was kept in the enclosure which is now the picnic site. It has a security gate and well looked after, clean ablutions.  The picnic areas are also secluded and shady.

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Muesli and Yogurt followed by crackers and olive paste with a cup of coffee at Jack’s

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Cape Robin-chat came to check us out but did not like our food.

The bokmakierie is a common resident in the park and showed himself to us quite a few times.

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Such a pretty bird

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Plenty of these guys in the park

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And aren’t the zebra gorgeous

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At lunch time we went to the Cattle Baron in the Rest Camp   The food was good. I had a chicken salad with a generous amount of grilled chicken strips, greens, tomato and avo and Earl had seared chicken and Camembert with a salad which was delicious.   Cost – Around R190 altogether including a glass of wine and 2 beers.

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You may alight from your vehicle at certain viewpoints

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But entirely at your own risk!

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The warthogs are so amusing

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A nice muddy bath will do the trick

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And even the Dung Beetles are fascinating

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Elephants love the glorious mud

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The babies are adorable and so well cared for by the moms, aunts and sisters

Before lunch we came upon a traffic jam and were told that there was a lion under a tree – I managed to glimpse it but encouraged Earl to move on and come back later as all it was going to do was sleep for a few hours and it was not worth fighting for a good viewing spot.

When we returned at about 4ish we saw elephants at the nearby waterhole and quite a few cars were parked watching them.   Suddenly Earl called – “There’s the lion,” and toward the elephants a lion stealthily crept.

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Lions will not drink at the waterhole alongside ellies as they’re afraid of them – for good reason.   She soon dropped down behind a bush and then we spotted two others.  The elephants were well aware of them and some decided to leave but two remained for ages.  One of the younger lions quickly came down and took a few sips and then ran off as fast as she could.   We thought she might grab an unsuspecting warthog but he saw in in time and ran for his little life.

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The warthog is unaware of the pending danger

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But she justs wants a drink

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She is the only one of the lions brave enough to sneak a sip or two while the giants ignore her.

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Only when they leave do the others come down to drink

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This one was the last to arrive from the opposite direction and she was wearing a collar

We left the park at about 5 and it was a short drive to camp.   The evening was even hotter than the previous night so we once again sat outdoors in shorts and t-shirt.  Quite a difference from our evenings at Warmwaterberg and Buffalo Bay!

We packed up to leave early this morning with the intention of a stop-over at George or Gouritz but we decided in the end to press on and arrived home at half past three.  It was a good week away!