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A Walk on the Wild Side in Timbavati and Sabi Sands


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Morning Gamedrive - July 28th


The second and already last full day at Bateleur. Writing the TR it feels this day came very soon, but I didn't thought about it at all when we were there. Looking back at it, I could have spent several more nights at this camp.


The morning started with this buffalo just outside the entrance of the camp.



An archeological discovery: a hole got dug out by some animal and unveiled this ancient pot, dating from the iron age. It’s now just sitting out there in the bush. The discovery was reported, so maybe someone will come to dig it out in a way the pot remains in good condition.



A spider web beautiful lit by the sunlight.



A few ellies browsing the trees.





Then, fresh Mkhombetracks on the road. This could be interesting. We circled the block and saw no tracks going out, so we went back to where we found the tracks. It is time for another walk. We left the car behind and Lucky found the track into the bush. It was great to see how Lucky went ahead, sneaking through the bush, deciding on the best path to find them. Christian stayed with us and in total silence we followed Lucky once he said we could.



Slowly we were getting closer and we could see some big grey shadow in the bushes. A male Mkhombe was in the bush, a bit nervous as he probably heard or smelled us. But also because other rhinos weren’t that happy with his presence. Once he walked off, we continued. And found 7 Mkhombes! First standing up, but soon laying down on the ground. We were watching them from about 50 meter. Sometimes lifting their head. They looked really relaxed now the male was gone.








We weren’t the only spectators. In the tree above the rhinos a tawny eagle enjoyed the view from the top.



We returned to the car and enjoyed a hot chocolate. Lucky enthusiastically talked about his passion for the bush and it's wildlife. But also about his mission to educate people about the bush. In his hometown, Acornhoek, he goes to schools to talk about how to behave around wildlife and in the bush and also organises workshops to share his skills. Not a paid job, really about sharing his passion and also to learn people how to live in harmony with wildlife. If you ever going to stay here, ask him about it, he's a very entertaining speaker.



We continued the drive and found more elephants along the way.











So far for the morning drive, time to get back to camp for breakfast. But as we would found out, not so much time for relaxing as there was a program between the gamedrives as well today.


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Bushcraft workshop - July 28th


Before lunch we were treated on a bushcraft workshop, organized by Lucky. It turned out to be a unique and very interesting experience. It's the first time I've ever got the chance to do a workshop like this and I wonder if other camps actually have this on offer? It made the stay at Bateleur even more special.



First he talked about the three essential things when you need to survive in the bush:

- shelter

- fire

- food and water



I thought Lucky did a great job as he made it a very interactive workshop, asking what we thought first and then explaining what (not) to do. I'm not going into detail here, because if you ever get the chance, it's nice to do the workshop yourself.



We knew in the basics how to make a fire, but never understood completely how it works. So this demonstration by Lucky and his assistant was interesting to watch. It takes a special skill to adjust enough pressure and turn it as fast as possible.





The most important rule: make sure the stick and the wooden piece are of the same kind of wood. Otherwise the harder piece will go through the softer piece and not create enough friction to create enough heat. After a short while smoke appeared.





Underneath is a hard piece of wood, it collects the hot sawdust which is the basis of the fire.



That is put in dried grass and with a few extra blows, a fire is born.





Next up was how to transport your fire in case you have to walk several days through the bush. Apparantly you can get buffalo dung, put in in the fire and it will start to smolder. It won't really catch fire, but can smolder for hours/multiple days, so at your next location you can just put it in dry grass to have a fire within seconds. Get some hard wood to put it in between and you can safely transport it as well.



Last but not least was how to get food. Lucky showed us how to get sisal rope from a leave and set a trap with it. He demonstrated how it worked, which is really simple but also really smart.




So, that were the most important things to survive in the bush. One final smart use of plants: a specific kind of leaf can be used as soap. Because once you have shelter, fire and food, ofcourse you want to smell nice. :) 


There was more, but it's the kind of thing you need to experience instead of read about it. If you are ever looking at camps and lodges and one has a bushcraft workshop on offer, I'd suggest to choose the one with the workshop when you've never done it before.

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very cool workshop. .i've never experienced camps providing such a workshop but would have been an interesting inclusion in camps!

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Nice add-on! Did you also get a chance to try your hand at making fire?

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@LarsS, thank you for the report - I am following it with a big interest.

In your video there is a moment where the male lion is going toward you - limping. And then you show a cub who was very thoughtful. It looked like a dramatic scene! Like: Father is sick, how the feature will turn for us kinds... 

Firstly I even thought that his injury was bad. Because of that scene! ;-) but then I've read the text! (yes, clear- firstly looking at pics and then reading ;-)

Do you have a pic of resident wild cat? I am curious because you mentioned it is used to people, this is like cats got domesticated... 

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11 hours ago, Kalaharikind said:

Nice add-on! Did you also get a chance to try your hand at making fire?

Due to covid not, unfortunately. But it would probably be too hard to achieve it first time as well. They worked together well, switching turns. Twisting the sticks between their hands and work from the top down to apply enough pressure. However, I am going to try it at home for sure.



6 hours ago, ElenaH said:

@LarsS, thank you for the report - I am following it with a big interest.

In your video there is a moment where the male lion is going toward you - limping. And then you show a cub who was very thoughtful. It looked like a dramatic scene! Like: Father is sick, how the feature will turn for us kinds... 

Firstly I even thought that his injury was bad. Because of that scene! ;-) but then I've read the text! (yes, clear- firstly looking at pics and then reading ;-)

Do you have a pic of resident wild cat? I am curious because you mentioned it is used to people, this is like cats got domesticated... 

It was not as dramatic as you describe, but it was a bit because the cub really looked like that when all adults left.


Unfortunately no picture, we only saw the wild cat on arrival. We had left our bags with cameras and phones in the car and staff brought it to our room. After many hours in the car, we were just happy to be there, check in and get a drink (tea for my wife, a beer for me). Can't find one on their insta either.


15 hours ago, Kitsafari said:

very cool workshop. .i've never experienced camps providing such a workshop but would have been an interesting inclusion in camps!

Yes, I'd never thought about it, but now I know of it, I am surprised not many camps offer it. I think their might be more kinds of workshops camps could organise.

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Afternoon Gamedrive - July 28th


The afternoon gamedrive started with an follow-up class of the workshop. Christian stopped at some bushes and convinced us to eat the leaves. The first one was delicious, taste very similar to basil. The second leaf came from a tree was to demonstrate how trees defend themself from giraffes and other herbivores. I should have see it coming, but I didn't. After the good experience of the basil-like leaf, I took a big leaf of the branch and ate it all at once. Obviously a tree that has a defence mechanism doesn't taste great. But even if I would have realized that, I wouldn't have been prepared for what was happening in my mouth. The leaf content huge amounts of tannin. My mouth went completely dry. I kept trying to chew it and swallow it away, but without any saliva that's impossible. So I tried to spit it out, which was also not a pretty sight, because that's also almost impossible without saliva... I do like wines with a good taste of tannin, but this was too much. Much to the joy of my wife though. Still, it was a nice experience to taste leaves and understand how trees defend themselfs. In addition to that, apparantly the next tree can sense the 'attacked' tree generating tannin and starts to spread tannin on it's leaves even before a herbivore has started to feed on it's leaves. Amazing, isn't it?


We went on, looking for wildlife. The first wildlife sighting was this couple of jackals, albeit quite in the distant.



It wasn't the only animal that we spotted but in a place where we couldn't get close enough for a good look. Rhino, giraffe and buffalo among them. But things got quite interesting later on.


Fresh tracks of leopard and dragging tracks. All our senses were on, where was that leopard. We checked out the trees as Lucky looked where the tracks went into the bush. We drove up and down, but nothing in sight. Lucky got out on foot as we tried to check out a bit further down the road. An exciting, but quiet Lucky on the porto. He’d found the leopard and kill.

We raced back, followed Lucky’s directions and we found… Lucky. No leopard. Lucky was confused because we should have passed the leopard. He jumped back on the trackers seat and the search was on again. We found the bush where the leopard was minutes ago. Remainings of the kill were on the ground, but no leopard or kill. I think we literally checked all the bushes in the surroundings, listened frequently to the sounds, but there was no leopard to be found or heard. Lucky and Christian were a bit frustrated, they knew it was close, but where?


Help came from an unexpected partner in crime: a hyena.



The hyena probably was even more eager to find the leopard than we were, or better said: eager to steal the kill. We watched him smell and look around when he clearly picked up a trail. He walked straight into the direction where Lucky had seen the leopard and where we found the resting spot with skin remainings. But after a while the hyena looked at us for help. He had been wondering around in all directions. We'd been following the hyena through the bush, but at one point it was clear he gave up. For the first time in his search he look at our car, like he was desperate to get some help from us. Then he wondered off and we'd spend a lot of time searching a leopard with a hyena as the only result. This leopard must have been a master in hide and seek.



Meanwhile it got dark and we weren't expecting too much of the rest of the drive. Like often when you least expect it, the bush finds a way to surprise you. Suddenly in the spot there was a white-tailed mongoose! And we actually had quite a good sighting. Yes, he walked off, but through an open area and even stood still to look at us. I got a short video clip of it and the photos are actually stills from the video.


In the video you can hear guide Christian's excitement for this sighting.









Christian and Lucky were not satisfied yet. They really wanted to find us a leopard, so the search continued. A leopard was known to have a kill in a tree somewhere, so we went to look for it. The kill was found easily, but the leopard wasn't up in the tree.




One or two other cars were also in the area and everybody agreed the leopard probably went for a drink at a nearby waterhole. Getting there wasn't that easy, a small group of buffaloes was close to the water. We cautiously passed them and parked the car, waiting for the leopard to show up. It didn't take long before the leopard came out of the bush and walked closely next to the car towards the water. Again a short video and a few stills from it.









The buffaloes were within meters, 20 at most, and behaved pretty nervous. Right next to the water, the leopard was aware of it's surroundings, but not nervous. That changed when he walked away. Unfortunately not in the move, but it was an interesting sighting. The leopard walked behind the buffaloes back into the bush, but literally just behind them. He sneaked into the bush like a thief in the night (as we say in The Netherlands), passing one of the buffaloes within 2 metres.


The night was finished of with a sighting of a chameleon.



Time to go for dinner and enjoy the hyenas and lions calling at night one last time at Timbavati.

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Morning Gamedrive - July 29th


Our last morning, but we were determined to enjoy it to the fullest.



The previous night we and the hyena had trouble finding the leopard and it's kill. This hyena was clearly more succesfull, what a full bellie!



A few wildebeest crossed the road in front of our car.





Zazou wasn't happy that we were leaving later this morning.



Christian leveled up his birding skills and spotted this beautiful pearl spotted owlet up in the tree. What a great sighting!



A still from my video shows the back of it's head, with two black dots looking like false eyes to confuse predators.



Another bird we'd seen later, but I'm not succesful identifying, was this one, hunting down insects in the tree:





Driving to find a place for our morning break, I recognised something in the bush and casually pointed to a rhino with calf. Next thing I knew Christian pulled over and directed everybody out of the car. "Let's see if we can get closer!". I was actually a bit confused, I 'just' pointed it out for everybody to see it and as it wasn't good visible, I didn't even think about asking to stop the car. It shows Christian's and Lucky's passion for the bush and to experience it on foot. The bush appeared to be too thick to safely get closer so we had to give up after 100m.


And one where you can see the calf on the left.



After the break we came across a herd of buffaloes.











It looked like there were more different species of larger game around compared to other days. Next up were the zebras:















The day before we had seen a giraf in the far distance, but today this giraf made up for it, standing right next to the road.










And to round up our drive and stay at Bateleur, this elephant was the last animal we spotted in the Timbavati Game Reserve. What an amazing stay we had here!




From Timbavati it's a short drive to Arathusa Safari Lodge in the Sabi Sands. More on that in the next episodes!

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@LarsSThanks for the great report, I am just so jealous. A safari just seems an impossible dream here at the moment. Im glad too that some visitors are trickling back, the industry must be desperate.

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Getting to Arathusa Safari Lodge


For the second part of our safari we moved from Timbavati to Sabi Sands. Here we stayed for four nights at Arathusa Safari Lodge. We'd been here before, as you can read in a previous trip report here. It was a place we like a lot, not in the last place because elephants were visiting our plunge pool and we could enjoy this view from within meters. I'm not going into details of camp in this trip report, as I think my previous trip report and video series have covered it well and not a lot has changed since then.


The drive from Bateleur to Arathusa is an easy one, in a little less than 3 hours we arrived at Arathusa. The road to/from Timbavati's gate is a convenient tar road, but to Arathusa you drive through small villages mostly on dirt roads. Once you come across another tar road, it is actually worse than the dirt road, because of all the potholes. Our mini suv did a fine job, although I wished the wheels were a bit larger to have a more comfortable drive over potholes like these.



I like the drive a lot, because you see a lot of how the people live in the villages. I was surprised to see how fancy some of the new built houses look (or are going to look). Somehow we didn't take pictures, probably enjoyed looking around enough and also had to keep an eye out to follow the signs.



After quite a bumpy ride to the gate of Sabi Sands, it was a relief to ride in the park. Probably because the speed limit the road was less damaged and the bumping was more friendly.




Previous time at Arathusa we stayed at the bush chalet, where elephants came drinking at our pool. At first, we wanted to stay in the same chalet again. We liked it as it was remotely located in the bush and you have a chance of wildlife passing the chalet. Besides elephants, leopards are also regularly seen at the private pools and on the sundeck of the chalets.


However, because of the cold nights and several times a day  the need to change clothes, we opted for a room in camp. In addition, the waterhole in front of camp was full (last time it was completely dry) and a family of hippos had made it their home. Much to the joy of my wife. So we settled for a room in a less wild location. The room was very comfortable, with a bath and shower inside, but also an outdoor shower within an enclosure. Here I showered every night despite the cold, still nothing beats the sounds of the bush and a starry sky.


Although it must be said, the area in camp is just as wild as the area outside camp. A week before we arrived, a male lion made an impala kill on the lawn. Two nights before, a leopard killed a civet in camp and ate it on the doorstep of our room (or maybe the neighbours).
So, less wild… right? :)


Throughout our stay we saw all kinds of animals inside camp. Just a collection of wildlife. Some more special moments will follow later in the trip report.


The hippos:











And nyala liked the grass in camp a lot:









And so did a warthog



Waterbuck obviously were more interested in the area around the pool. Unfortunately the deck was too high for them ;) 




And some birds. The starling made smart use of the sprinklers



The bird that probably misses the buffets the most, now everything is served to the table.



And a nice wire-tailed swallow





Edited by LarsS
removed one photo
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Very nice! And cool to see those nyalas!

For the unknown bird with the red bill, look into wood-hoopoes / scimitarbills :)

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* General notice *


Unfortunately somehow the camera settings were unintentionally adjusted. This has resulted in lots of photos being overexposed. We're still confused what happened, as it didn't affect all photos. It can even differ for almost similar photos. I'll leave them out, unless it helps telling the story or want to share the sighting.



Afternoon Gamedrive - July 29th

We shared the car with just two other guests, two men from Chicago. It was their first safari and they had been very lucky so far, so we hoped their luck would continu. In the end we


At Timbavati we'd seen steenbokkies all the time, but never had the opportunity take a good picture. This gamedrive made up for that right at the start.






A message on the radio made us go for a little detour, where we found these two beautys right next to the road.





From there we continued our drive with the other grey giant from the big five, a mother and calf elephant.





While we were looking at them to the left of us, meanwhile another ellie came from the other side out of the bush to check out our spotter. It must be such a magical feeling when an ellie is checking yout from so closeby.



Spotting members of the big five continued, as we came across a nice buffalo herd. They mostly hided a bit between the bushes, but this one posed nicely for us.





Ofcourse there's more wildlife to be found than just the big five, as these zebra proved.









However, the Americans kept on sharing their luck with us. We were tracking down a leopard that should be around with a kill, but couldn't find it. Our tracker went on foot and we drove offroad. Usually the tracker is the lucky one, but this time we were. We ended up staying at this sighting for quite a while and I felt sorry for the tracker as we only picked him after the sighting. All the time he was just waiting somewhere in the bush.


The leopard was up in a tree with the remainings of an impala.



But he wasn't alone in the area. On the ground a hyena was eagerly waiting for something to drop. He made the most of the waiting time, enjoying himself by rolling over and scratching his back on the ground.




The leopard wasn't happy with how he placed the impala in the tree, so tried to move it a bit. It looked risky with hyena around.



The movement attracted another hyena to come out of the bush, probably was waiting there for a while already.






The benefit for us was that the leopard faced us now.



But the leopard itself was really focussed on the hyenas on the ground.




The leopard didn't drop a part of the impala, but this hyena could not believe it and looked unsuccesfully for something to eat.






The leopard was standing up and looking in the distance and looked like to be coming down. After a few fake attempts, he did came down. I was curious what the hyena would do. But nothing happened. They just lay down and the leopard just walked off. I thought there would be at least a few growls at each other. The leopard slowly walked off and disappeared into the thickets.










Unsure where he went, we decided it was time for a break to enjoy a sundowner on this beautiful night. When we enjoyed the drinks and snacks, a hyena casually walked by on the road, not too far from us.




The second part of the drive was ofcourse in the dark. The tracker used his spotlight, but no animals to be found. Surely the bush had delivered enough for a first day right?


But then, one last sighting and we had completed the big five in our first drive already!


This male lion was enjoying the last bits of a killed buffalo.








Now it was time to call it a night and head back to the lodge. We enjoyed a great dinner outside, together with other guests at a long table, with some space between the couples for safety. It was the start of a great time with the other guests.


But after dinner we were interrupted by movement in the waterhole. On the other side a few hyenas were very excited and standing in the water. Something was moving away from them and when it reached the area that was lit up by the spotlight, I could see it was an impala swimming towards camp to escape the hyenas. They probably hunt him down and he saw only one way to escape them. Meanwhile the hyena were changing strategy and started walking around the waterhole towards camp. Not sure what made them hesistant, but it looked like they didn't like coming over all the way. The impala reached the camp area and rested between the bushes. The hyena were still very excited running up and down on the other side of the waterhole. Then a leopard calling added to our excitement. Not sure if that stopped the hyenas coming over to camp, I wouldn't guess so, but the leopard was somewhere on their route.

We waited, witnessed and listened to everything that was going on. But in the end, the hyenas walked off, the leopard went quiet and the impala just stood there.

Time for everybody to go to bed. I had my shower outside, but there was nothing special to be heard again, so I think the impala later walked off in safety.


What a start of our stay at Arathusa!



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1 hour ago, ForWildlife said:

Very nice! And cool to see those nyalas!

For the unknown bird with the red bill, look into wood-hoopoes / scimitarbills :)

Green wood hoopoe / red-billed wood hoopoe? It looks a bit darker then other photos I see of them, but the characteristics and range/habitat do match. Am I right?

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12 hours ago, LarsS said:

Green wood hoopoe / red-billed wood hoopoe? It looks a bit darker then other photos I see of them, but the characteristics and range/habitat do match. Am I right?

Yes :)

Cool birds, live in family groups with only one breeding female, and chicks of previous clutches help raise the next ones.

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I've been enjoying a sudden spell of summer the last few days, hope you forgive me the short break in this trip report. I'll make it up to you. I did manage to edit a short video in addition to my latest update. Here you can see the leopard up in the tree, the hyenas arriving to the scene and finally the leopard coming down before disappearing into the bush. A small correction to my previous update, it appeared a few scraps fall down for the hyena. Although I think it was next to nothing as it was so little you can't even see it.



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Morning Gamedrive - July 30th


This morning it was less cold than previous mornings, still pretty chilly though. But with the right clothing, we thought it was comfortable in the car. It looked like most animals didn't feel that way, as it was a quiet morning. The area around the airstrip was usually well-visited by several animals, mostly impalas ofcourse. Now only a few wildebeest that were only moving through.




The above photo was taken at 6h41, just after the start of our drive. The timestamp of the next photo is 8h03. Over an hour and twenty minutes between two photos. That really means a quiet morning.


A couple of waterbuck were the ones who woke us up from our standby mode.









We went to a beautiful open area for our morning break. First we passed a large waterhole, with this huge croc in it.




Just a little further was a smaller waterhole with a big herd of impala having a drink. Here you can see what I mean with overexposed photos.



We had our drinks and enjoyed looking at the impalas. Between the bushes we could see some zebra coming for a drink as well, but as soon as they heard/saw/smelled us, they hided and waited until we would leave. No point in waiting much longer, so off we went, hoping for a better second half of our drive.


And better it got! The Nkuhuma pride was on the move and we intercepted them in a way I like it the most: we parked the car and waited for the lions to come to us. They were walking straight in our direction, providing us with a view that always makes me humble. Lions really walk like a threatening gang that is coming for you. The group counted around 10 members of the pride.






Luckily they weren't really coming for us and just passed the car. It looked like they were on a mission, so we followed them.












While we thought we might see some action, the lions had other plans.






They were just laying down, blocking the road for us and the other car at the sighting. There was a herd of impala a little further in the bush, but the alarm calls told us (and the lions) they had been spotted. Why waste energy when your prey has already spotted you and you probably don't stand a chance?




If it really was a tactic, I'm not sure. But suddenly things changed rapidly. The lions had spread a little bit, but not too far from each other. Apart from a few members. There were probably more lions around then the 8 or 9 we had seen, because the lions managed to corner the impala herd. That sparkled so much action, it's hard to describe. All lions got up and closed down on the impalas. Absolute panic in the herd. They ran in all directions and lions were chasing them as well in all directions. Not the best strategy if you're not working together and focussing on the same impala. Probably the impala managed to confuse the lion as they all got away.


The lions calmed down, disappointed the plan did not deliver them success. Or did it?


One impala was left behind, still surrounded by all the lions and he was discovered. Again a burst of action all over the place. Now all lions were working together chasing one impala. He ran off, chased by a few lions straigh into the claws of another.


But again, things unfolded again in a way we did not expect. We were all waiting for the lion to take down the impala, but the impala had one last trick on it's sleeve. It jumped. It jumped straight over the lion. We could not believe what we saw. The lion tried to catch it, but the impala jumped high enough to stay out of reach and ran off in safety. What an incredible life saving jump that was and what an incredible action to witness!


The impalas were nowhere to be found. The lions looked a bit embarassed that they had failed when chances were pretty good.


The lions looked confused at each other and arranged a meeting to evaluate the hunt.






We stayed a little longer with them, seeing what they would do now, but when they walked off, we couldn't follow them anymore.


This definitely made up for the slow start to the morning. Satisfied as we were, we headed back to camp, while talking about that magnificent jump of the impala.


Almost back at camp we drove along the air strip. In the morning the wildebeest were the only game around. But now, there was even less. Soon we would find out why.


We turned away from the airstrip to camp and drove straight into a pack of wild dogs resting on the road. Wild dogs! So unexpectedly, we were all a bit confused. But there they were, wild dogs in the middle of the road and a few right next to it as well. What a fantastic finish!








When we parked the car, the dogs got up and walked away.




But luckily not too far. Resting again precisely next to the road.







This dog got himself hurt on his leg.














We enjoyed the sighting with just our car for quite a while. Obviously other cars were called in, but since it was at the end of the morning drive, they all had to come from pretty far. Some safari go-ers had to postpone their breakfast for some time, but I think they would agree it was worth it.


An incredible morning!

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Afternoon Gamedrive - July 30th


For the afternoon gamedrive it was in clear in which way we were going to depart. To the airstrip and see if the dogs were still there. They were still resting but our arrival did wake them up. Almost all our photos of this afternoon turned out too overexposed. Luckily I used my camera for a few pictures instead of video (which I rarely do as my wife's camera beats my zoom possibilities by miles).






The next part of our afternoon planning was also something we agreed on before departure. The female leopard Xidulu had two cubs who were regurlarly seen. We went to that area and try to find them. It was a bit of a distance as they were in another property. But leopard cubs would be a first, so I was eager and excited to try.


On the way we stopped for a herd of impala. Most guides drive past them, but despite them being always around, I love them and think they are beautiful animals.






Also a few birds caught my attention. For example this little bee-eater.





And secondly this crested barbet. I felt a bit proud I could ask the guide to stop for the crested barbet, mentioning its name. The guide and other guests were impressed I recognized it so quick. I didn't tell them we had actually seen the bird a few days before at Timbavati and I had no idea at the time what that bird was. We didn't have chance for a photo that time, but this time made up for it.




Our mission to find the cubs of Xidulu and/or the female leopard itself, we were unlucky. There was a place where the cubs would hide most of the time. A sort of tree graveyard. I imagined that they might be there, but if they are inside the pile of trees, you have absolutely no chance of seeing them. We drove a few circles, parked the car to see if something would happen if we were quiet, but nothing. We decided this was not our day and went to an other area where the guides knew a leopard was also having cubs.


The reason we didn't go there straight away, was that that location was very difficult for a sighting of them. The cubs usually hided in the drainage line and there were a lot of trees, which made it hard to reach the area. We had to duck for branches all the time, but then the guide said the magic words. "get your camera out, there's one up in a tree". We drove through some bushes and there he/she was! A really young cub sitting on a branch. Before we could even think of pointing the camera at the cub, it came down and went back hiding in the drainage line. A 2 second viewing of a leopard cub, but at least we did see a leopard cub for the first time ever!


The patience game didn't pay off this time either, so we got on the road again. Another vehicle was parked in a dry riverbed, so we went there as well to check out what they were after. It appeared to be a leopard on a fresh kill. Fresh as in not started eating yet (well, maybe a few bites). We drove in as well, but the bush was a huge obstacle. We could see the leopard and the killed impala, but it was already getting out of sight in the thick bush. Soon after we arrived the leopard disappeared, dragging the kill over the ground. A very cool sighting, albeit obstructed. After that, we looked around to find the leopard again. We were sure the leopard was looking for a suitable tree to store the kill. But all the trees were empty and no sign of the leopard anywhere.


I managed to get a few stills from my video:




Here you see less of the leopard, but if you look closely, you can see the kill on the ground.





We continued our drive and had a last interesting sighting in the daylight. I love to see different species at one sighting, especially if it concerns larger animals like this elephant and rhino.





We went to another airstrip then the one near our camp for the sundowner. Here we were all of a sudden guests on a birthday party. One of the Americans was celebrating his birthday. We had cupcakes and I had the honour of popping the champagne. It was actually fun, because it was a pre-birthday experience for ourself as well. My wife had her birthday two days later on August 1st. In camp we found out that of all 4 couples, 3 were there celebrating a birthday. :) 





In the dark we found the same male lion as we did the other night when he was eating the leftovers of a kill. This time he was just relaxing. May be a bit too relaxed, because gasses escaped from his behind all the time. :D 







Being a lion is tiring, time to nap! We decided to follow his example and go back to camp, not missing dinner ofcourse, but then a good night of sleeping.



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  • 2 weeks later...

Sorry for the waiting, I've been busy, but here it continues



Morning Gamedrive - July 31th


An unsual morning to wake-up, as it was a foggy morning. It meant it was also a bit darker when we went out, because the sun had not done it's job to drive out the fog.




The sun was gaining terrain, but still the fog made it hard to spot wildlife. We spotted very fresh lion tracks on the road, but this was how it looked between the bushes. Not an easy spot.



We lost track and decided to drive back from where we came from. A good decision, because we had passed the lions without spotting them, but this time a lion raised it's head to unveil their location. The pride was still in sleepy mode, so was easy to be missed under these conditions.










There was a lot of yawning at this time of day










A white backed vulture was hanging around near the pride, but there seemed to be nothing to scavenge.







We stopped for an early tea, but during the break there was something going on. We could hear the impala's alarm call quite often. Time to get in the car and see what was causing the stress. No impalas were to be found, or was there? Because we did find this not far from the road. Not sure what kind of organ it is, may be a stomach?



Almost immediately we heard hyenas and they sounded excited, so ofcourse we wanted to investigate it further. We followed a drag trail, which finished at a tree. That's where we found a female leopard with the kill on a branch. This just happened when we were having a break. The fact we stopped probably helped to find this, otherwise we might not have heard it as we were heading into another direction.




And here you can see the kill better:





We parked the car and watched the leopard, at the same time hearing very excited hyenas running around. Sometimes they were running at the back of our car, but unfortunately for my wife hard to see them from her position. No photos of them, but the more photos of the leopard. She was keeping an eye out what was going on and at the same time relaxing on a branch, cleaning herself and doing some stretching.









We thought she had it all, a nice tree and food, but she wasn't planning on staying and climbed down.


(sorry, that my camera in the picture, but on the plus side it means I have video from it)


She paused for a moment and then walked off. Pretty close to our. Since we were parked at the bottom of a little hill, it felt even closer.








She disappeared in the bush behind us, but we didn't follow her. Our tracker at the front told us to be quiet and wait. Another leopard was coming! Apparantly it was her twin brother who came in to guard the prey. He was coming in front of our car and here you can really see well the great perspective we had from the car.






Shall I climb up?






















His sister was probably closeby, as he seemed to keep an eye on her. The hyenas were running around, but he stayed focussed in the direction the female left.


We spend the whole second part of our drive here. The sounds were great to hear and two leopard, climbing up and down the tree was an amazing sighting. It was the last morning of the American couple, a perfect ending for their first safari ever I would think.


When we drove out I was keeping an eye out to see if I could spot some hyenas or the female leopard at the stomach or whatever it was. It was gone, probably the strongest hyena made it his own.


We drove back to camp and were thinking about what the chef would have in mind for breakfast, when we were surprised with one last sighting that morning: two side-striped jackals.






When they left, we did as well. It's only time for breakfast when the bush allows you to have your breakfast.


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Morning Bushwalk - July 31th


Like many people I’m a big fan of the tv show Friends. They name all their episodes starting like ‘The One…’. followed by the subject of that episode. I thought about naming this trip report ‘The One I Survived’, but that sounded like a clickbait headline (and also a lot like looking for attention). But I can assure you, there’s nothing clickbait about this chapter. This really is ‘The One I Survived’. 


After the morning drive we enjoyed a good breakfast. Our guide suggested to go for a bushwalk. The Americans would leave straight after breakfast and my wife went to the spa to get her nails done. Being alone in camp otherwise, I thought it would be nice to go out for a walk for about 45mins. The weather was nice and cool, so off we went. At first the usual talk about animal tracks and various plants. We've done various walks before, so I mostly enjoyed just walking at a moderate temperature, because most of the times it was always hot when we walked.





First the good stuff. When we left the road and walked more into the bush, things got interesting. A single giraf was in front of us. We carefully tried to get closer. I only took my mobile phone and not my big camera, I didn't want to carry a lot and expected the walk to be mostly about plants, trees and tracks. Some regrets at this point though.




Normal camera mode to show you how close/far we were standing.



And zoomed in the giraf looked like this:





The giraf got a bit nervous so walked away. We walked a bit in the same direction and another exciting sighting was there: a honey badger in full daylight. It was on the move and not very close, more regrets of not bringing a decent camera with zoomlens...


These are from my mobile, with some imagination you can see the honeybadger just next to the road walking into the bush. We saw it walking away further into the bush a quite some pace and lost it out of sight quickly after.






We both were very excited with these two sightings, not the usual walk in the camps area.


We continued our walk and arrived at the other side of the waterhole you can see from camp. Here it got even more unsual, or rather a nightmare.


We walked in a single file, but at one point I could spot a lone buffalo behind a bush. I immediately knew this was bad business, the guide didn't see it yet. So I made him aware. Not sure if my voice would upset the buffalo even more, but otherwise the guide would walk even closer. In my mind I only had one thing I thought of 'don't run, don't run, don't run'. As I froze and awaited instructions, the thing we didn't want to happen, happened. I don't recall how it started, but from the three of us (guide, buffalo and me) I know I was the last one to start running. I remember it all very clearly. I saw a branch in front of me and decided to run into that direction, hoping the buffalo couldn't go underneath it or at least gave me a chance to let me fall into the blind spot behind the tree (it was partly on laying on the ground as well). That way I would be able to get out of the buffalo's way.


Meanwhile I've learned a buffalo can run over 50km/hour. That tells you all you need to know about my chances. Also, I realised if I could go underneath, the buffalo probably would be able to do so as well. I was running against all knowledge. I saw the guide running in front of me, I heard the buffalo behind me. The footsteps became so loud, I knew there was no escape. I made myself small, put my head down, my hand and arms around my head. There was a brief moment I could watch underneath my arms and looked straight at the buffalo. In a moment it would hit me and thought that I would die.


The fact I'm writing this tr gives away the outcome. I got hit, really can't tell how exactly. I remember I tried to let me fall to the side, away from the hooves. No idea if I made it. No idea if the buffalo pushed me to the side. No idea how far from the impact I landed on the ground. All I know is I got up as soon as I lay still, heard the buffalo running after the guide and ran in opposite direction to increase the distance between me and the buffalo as fast as possible. From 100m I stopped and decided to walk slowly, avoiding other things I could run into.


Adrenaline was in full mode. I was relieved to know how I could walk back to camp. I didn't know what happened to the guide. I saw some moments of the buffalo going after him, I've heard him scream. Once I saw the buffalo walking away, I decided to call him. Thank god he replied he was ok and coming into my direction. Scared as hell we walked back to camp. I noticed he had a massive injury to his leg, his pants were soaked with blood.


Back in camp and went into the office and called the manager. He couldn't process what I was saying just happened. But the guide was off to a hospital a few minutes later. So far, everything I did was pure on adrenaline, but now I started to feel my body. I didn't wanna go straight to a hospital, as I needed time to get to myself. My arm was two or three times as big. The buffalo hit me in the back and on my arm with his horn. Luckily the side and not the point, although looking at the damage in my back, it probably was a close call. I couldn't lift anything with my arm, but thanks to a befriended general practisioner and whatsapp, we did some test to exclude the option it would have been broken.


My whole body was sore, literally sore to the bone. And I still can literally feel it in my bones. I bruised multiple ribs in the front and at the back. And everything in my upper body, except my head was hurt. I couldn't look left or right. At the same time I strangely also felt pretty ok. It was all so surreal. But I survived.


I survived and I am really thankful for it.


The days and nights after I had pain everywhere and even now I can still feel my bruised ribs, it feels my hand is still bruised and my arm is also a bit sensitive when I put pressure on my muscle. At one point, my arm was blue/purple/yellow all the way from the edge of my t-shirt until my wrist. But all of this doesn't worry me that much, thinking of what could have happened.


What doesn't kill you, makes you stronger. Right?

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That is utterly terrifying @LarsS.  So, glad that you didn't get more hurt.  I assume your guide ended up being OK?   


You did have a daytime honey badger sighting though...does that ease the pain at all? ;)



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So glad nothing got broken and you weren't more seriously injured.

So it was just you and the guide, no armed ranger? And when you ran from the buffalo, the guide was in front of you? Sounds like incredible negligence on the guide's part.

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Wow @LarsS- not many people get attacked by a buffalo and live to tell the tale. So glad to hear it wasn't worse.   Definitely delaying doing a walk on safari until I lose the extra lbs gained during the long lockdowns!!  Did you hear about the guide - were they ok? 


I also thought these walks had to be escorted with an armed guard in case something like this happened;  is that not always the case? It rather sounds from your recollection that it was a bit chaotic and the guide just ran off and left you to fend for yourself!


On another note, because I want to acknowledge this, your leopard photos and video are beautiful - that is a mighty fine brother and sister!

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I had to catch up a bit with your excellent report after being away and did it early this morning until I came to the final part which like all the others who read it until now made my shiver and for a moment I thought it was not real after that almost idyllic start … extremely happy you are still with us of course but I have never been on a walk be it a short one without an armed ranger or armed guide sometimes both and improvisation in this sort of situation in the African Bush is simply not done 

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@LarsS- Wow!!! What a close call that was! Hope you feel better soon ....... sorry about the accident, but, as the others say thank God you are safe! 


Was it just the guide alone on a walk? was he armed?  Still not much he can do with a charging buffalo at close range, possibly..

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