Day Three – Wednesday, April 9, 2014: Early morning wake up was 5:30 am as usual. We were off to Sabi Sands Game Reserve at 6:00 am! We (Bangkok and Lancaster PA families) left in a very slight drizzle so there was no sunrise to speak of but the rain gear was waiting for us in the open vehicle. It was another tight fit – the Bangkok family (Mom and two girls) in the last row; their Dad and me in the second row; and the Lancaster family in the front row – but it worked out quite well.
Morning/Sunrise Game Drive
First a herd of Elephants blocked the road. The baby tried to get up under his mother while she was eating and she trumpeted her displeasure at being disturbed.
Next, a White Rhinoceros – that’s number 5 of the Big Five! – blocked the road then zigzagged – as though it was taunting us – when we tried to drive past it. Then it turned around and stared us down for a few minutes.
Jacques, our guide/driver, cut off the engine and waited. The Rhino, happy with its triumph, soon sauntered away into the woods.
Suddenly, the CB radio blurted some additional good news. We drove like the wind to a crossroad then we stalked a fully grown (7-8 years old) male Lion, named Solo, for an hour or so.
His rather full belly showed us he had obviously just eaten as he ambled along the road – not at all concerned with us – looking for a favorite spot under a tree.
We got close up and personal with a huge African Spider and web whose tentacles when spread out was large enough to engulf my face. Those who know me, know what lengths I’ll go to avoid a spider but, since it was more than 20 feet away from me, I shook off my terrors and took several shots of this monster.
We soon passed Wildebeests and Impala, and when we stopped to look at a Hornbill, the engine stalled. The vehicle would not start up again.
We weren’t worried at all. Jacques called Debbie – another Tydon Safari guide – on the CB radio and after rigging us up to her vehicle, we got dragged past some Buffalo and Kudu to the Tydon Bush Camp. Almost as soon as we got a new vehicle, it started to pour down raining.
However, we were not daunted by the quick storm and kept moving on; we met more Buffalo, Impala, and one Rhino on the road as we drove back to our camp.
Breakfast and lunch was just as good as the day before with glorious fruit, especially mangos and papaya!
The family from Lancaster, Pennsylvania left after breakfast and this was a sad parting for me. We had become friends after just four game drives and six meals together.
Evening/Sunset Game Drive
This game drive started off kind of quiet-like. As soon as we (me and the Bangkok family) entered the park we saw a Roller playing with its food.
Here I was able to perfect my aim and focus on smaller animals with the big 80-400 VR lens as the bird would repeatedly toss the grasshopper up in the air from its beak before finally devouring it.
Another herd of Elephants crossed the road in front of us as we drove to the Tydon Bush Camp to pick up Debbie (guide) and Wendy (from London).
Debbie rode shot gun to follow some leopard tracks.
In the distance, we saw a Brown Snake Eagle then a whole bunch of Zebras and 4 Giraffes. There was a rainbow that lingered after the storm and I had the white wine at a different sundowner spot from Day One. I even got up in the shotgun seat while we watched a sunset.
Sunset turned into pitch black night and I thought we would end this game drive just as quietly as we began it. Oh, how wrong I was! Over the thrum of the engine and our light conversation, Debbie heard a different sound. Jacques cut off the engine and after a bit we all heard the noise: it was a low growl intermingled with snapping or crackling. Soon after, the direction was identified and we found a leopard dragging his late night snack up a tree behind the Tydon Bush Camp.
The Leopard suddenly had spotlights on him from 3 different vehicles converging in an ambush and I think we startled him. I’m sure the animal was pissed at us for making it drop the Impala but I’m absolutely certain it was even more furious with the Hyena that dragged the carcass away. I wish I would’ve recorded the whining! Oh well…
We felt only a little sorry for the Leopard as we drove back to our camp – it did not provide us with many good shots anyway – but that limited sadness soon gave way to delight and satisfaction of a fine Braai (BBQ): chicken shish kebab and lamb sausage… all courtesy of Bernet, another Tydon Safari guide.
Pap, cole slaw, marinated beets, and garlic bread rounded out the meal and, of course, I had the South African white wine.
Another great day; another memorable encounter with a Leopard and I saw all five of the Big Five in one day! You know I slept well.
Continued in Day Four…