Gamewalk, Moholoholo, night drive
Komatipoort Travel Blog› entry 6 of 24 › view all entries
Today is sunday, normally that means taking things easy, but since this is not a normal day, this is what we will not be doing. We get out of bed at 5 am. No breakfast, just coffee with rusks (little breadrolls with raisins, that are dried and therefore so hard that you simply cannot eat them without dunking them in your coffee first).
After a ten minute drive we arrive at the location where our gamewalk starts. With two guides and Johan we enter the private game park. We have to walk double file and must not wander off, since lone animals (people too) are potential prey for lions. After a while Exson (our black guide) spots some kudus at a distance, but a groupmembers' dropping waterbottle makes them run away.
At a certain point there is no other way than wading through a ditch with water in it.
A little later, Exson finds buffalo tracks and soon we spot the animals too. They're at quite a distance, but the dominant male is already nervous and ready to stampede towards us. That would mean that the entire herd would follow him and probably trample us. We wisely keep quiet and slowly go back to where we came from. We try to find an alternative way back to the camp, but due to the recent rains we have to go through the same ditch as we did earlier. It's only nine o'clock now, but it's already very hot and I'm really looking forward to a decent breakfast.
At 9.30 breakfast is served in the restaurant of our lodge and it's very tasty. At ten we go back to our rondavel and take a quick shower (and we remove the three ticks Trudy collected during the walk).
Around eleven we leave for Moholoholo, a rehab centre for wounded and weakened animals. First the ranger explains how the centre works and afterwards we can go and see the animals. Some animals will never be able to go back into the wild again, others are set loose when they are sufficiently recovered. We get a chance to go into some cages with birds of prey, with as special highlight the feeding of the vultures, which we can do ourselves. We get a thick leather glove with armsleeve, a chunk of meat is put in our hand, and the vulture comes to sit on our arm whilst eating the meat from our hand.
By now the sky starts to darken, but we take the risk of being surprised by a rainshower and go on with the tour. When we're walking to the leopards' den a marabu lands right in front of us, dropping in from the wild. We are almost at the leopards' cage when it starts to rain. Not just a shower though, but an unimaginable downpour. We make a run for the visitors' centre, but in the twenty second dash everyone is completely soaked. When the rain stops after about 15 minutes, the ranger offers to finish the rest of the tour, but only five people are interested, the rest of the group stay indoors.
When we're done we drive back to Timbawati where lunch is waiting for us (it's 3 pm now). We have a one and a half hour window before we're going on a nightdrive.
The first part of the drive sunlight is abundant, but when the sun starts setting everything turns pink, even the rhinoes we come across have a colour that's strangely cheerful. After the break at sunset (sundowners) the "real" nightdrive starts. There is a huge flashlight aboard our jeep, that is used to locate animals in the darkness. We see plenty: giraffes, warthogs (with piglets), deer, a python etc. Taking pictures however turns out to be well-nigh impossible. The last half hour of the drive is on open road back to Timbawati. The darkness is overwhelming and this brings out the starlit African sky beautifully. Of three jeeps we are the last one to return to the lodge.
For me there's only one more thing to do tonight, and that is paying our drinks tab of the last couple of days. For that I have to go to John, the English bartender with whom I've had plenty of laughs during our stay in this place. I have mixed feelings saying goodbye to him, I'm looking forward to what's next, but I'll miss his jokes and wisecracks. That's life I'm afraid...