October, Thursday 24,
We set off for the Park at 4,30 and the temp is already 26deg and it’s heavily overcast. By the time we get to the gate there’s a complete change, the temp has dropped and there’s a
strong wind blowing from the south, and the cloud cover is lifting and clearing. Quickly through border control and onto the H7 and we make for Girivana waterhole, along the way plenty of general game and as usual some hyena, today just a couple trotting along the road and a couple of herds of elephant. Arriving at Girivana we find the lioness and
her 3 cubs, not far from the road. After a while she suddenly gets up and wanders off leaving the 3 cubs just on the edge of the woodland. A short time later, walking in from the north a group of 7 buffalo bulls come into the trough to drink, having done so they
cross the road and of course, they come on some very fresh lion smell, watch their reaction when they do, ready to do battle but wisely the 3 cubs slip away before anything drastic happens. Finding nothing they keep going and a short while later the lioness returns and all 4 do what lions do best, go off to sleep with, by this time plenty of cars viewing them. The weather, has in the mean time changed and very high cloud has moved in. Suddenly it starts to rain, hard for awhile. We continue down to Nsemani dam but all quiet so we head along to Satara, a quick pit stop then south down the H1-3 to the S126, Sweni Rd. At the Sweni waterhole, zebra, impala and a few wildebeest plus a bull elephant, a little further on we find a hyena and a jackal, they are surrounded by hundreds of vultures. The hyena feeding on an old carcass, the jackal darting in to grab a morsel before being chased off by the hyena and masses of vultures, they are on the ground and in the trees, all waiting their turn. All quiet at Welverdiend water hole so we continue on for Muzandzeni picnic site. It’s now 12,30, lunch and then we start for home, past Rockvale waterhole, impala, zebra and a few wildebeest, hanging around plus a couple of elephant bulls at the water. Back on the H7 for Orpen and along the Timbavati river , impala and 17 giraffe, 5 of whom are on the tar road and they are drinking from the puddles on the tar , unusual as there was water close by, albeit pretty muddy. That’s the drive. (Please note the oxpeckers on the buffalo are the yellow billed oxpeckers, a special sighting, sorry not that great a pic).
The blistering heat continues, we had plenty thunder and lighting on Friday night but measured just 1mm in the rain gauge. When we are not in either Olifants or the Park we are spoiled with plenty of beautiful sightings right off our deck.
A wonderful cool wind springs up during the night, bringing with it heavy cloud with a promise of rain and a huge drop in the temp, very welcome, again we had planned to go
into Olifants, but decide instead to head into the Park. We are about 2 K’s from the control gate when we spot a herd of about, we estimate 400 buffalo , all walking along, close to the fence line in the Timbavati, wonderful sighting, many years ago you could see herds of buffalo like that on Olifants. We are first at the control gate and first at the Office, seems that the earlier entrance time of 5,30 is a little too early for some, which we are happy with. So onto H7 for Satara and as usual just plenty of game along the route, in
particular impala, just seem many more this morning, plus good sightings of giraffe,kudu, warthog and of course elephant, many of the herds some way from the road but got a good pic of a old boy close to the road. All quiet along the Timbavati but as we climb up the hill come on a lone vehicle and they have a leopard some distance from the road, but manage to get a reasonable pic of him asleep in the branches, we take the dust road for Girivana waterhole, but except for some impala and a couple giraffe, all quiet so we head down to the Nsemani dam. here there are more giraffe, impala a herd of wildebeest, some vultures on a old kill and a woolynecked stork. In the surrounding bush, elephant , zebra and more impala. Still nice and cool and we decide of instead sitting at the dam we should wander further afield. After making a pit stop at Satara we head up north along the H1-4, here there’s wonderful grass land as far as the eye can see and it is packed with plains game, zebra, wildebeest, giraffe, waterbuck and hogs and also impala and of course in amongst all this a lioness has pulled down a wildebeest and has it tucked under a small tree. Of course being on the main road it soon attracts a mass of cars, so we move on. We take the Ngotso loop, then pick up the road which takes you down to Balule and the crossing of the Olifants, plenty of game along the river, impala, waterbuck, giraffe and the odd family of hogs. We take the S91 up to the H1-4 and head south for Satara, stop on the bridge for a moment, looking up and down stream just masses of game, the river bed much much wider here so plenty of grazing for game. We stay on the H1-4 till the turn off for the Timbavati Picnic Site S127. We have a quick bite to eat at the picnic site before heading up the S39, eventually joining the H7, this section very quiet, just some impala and a couple of giraffe.On the road to Orpen, we spot impala, giraffe and the odd elephant herd but between the Orpen camp and the booking office, a matter of 500 metres or so, a pride of lions, all lying in the long grass, with only the sight of feet in the air and the occasional head, very frustrating, pretty sure this is the pride with the white cubs. A great day.
It’s another cool overcast morning, with the promise of some rain. We decide to tempt fate and head for Olifants. We do get rain but just the lightest of showers off and on, and by the time we head for home the cloud cover has started to lift and the sun pops out. Along the railway line we find impala, kudu and a couple of giraffe, at our cutline, a scrawny jackal.We turn off at 22/19 and head up to wild dog, a fair amount of water in the pan, but nothing about. We take the e/e for the airstrip, spotting the odd impala and a couple of kudu along the way, down the airstrip and onto warthog plains, just a few impala about. We continue along the palm and then take neil’s link, and are happy to find both owls are back, haven’t seen them for some time, great to see them back, took some pics, not that great I’m afraid. We head for hide, finding only a few impala up saba’s dr. A couple of hippo and an immature fish eagle. We move over to nkhokoni, again the odd impala about, mostly up on buff plains one. Taking nyoga dr we make for sand dam, zip here so we head for rhino pan, we find a fairly large herd of impala in the woodland just before we get to the hide, but nothing around this pan. We take the klaserie link and then north for fungi drive, along here plenty of impala, two herds of kudu and a couple more giraffe, all quiet at big dam, so we head back up big dam link and onto the klaserie cutline once more and head north, take the tambothi link, just the odd impala about and then right on the link road that takes you to the rusermi cutline, continue to double dam, getting very low, so upto the 4 pylons down through jackal plains and past hide dam once more, mala lane and onto the Railway line road then make for home. Quiet drive, the weather not that great, but really special to see the pair of spotted eagle owls are back.
On Tuesday 29, we saw a large herd of buffalo in theTimbavati, close to the road as we made our way into the Park and I made the comment, that it’s been years since we have seen a buffalo herd like that on Olifants. Looking back through my videos I found the video above, taken from Geoff’s table about 10 years ago, a large herd, coming into drink at Warthog Pan, wonderful. Begs the question of course, Where have all the Buffalo gone??
That’s the lot for this week and month, You all take care now, R&T, N&M.