For many people, including me, daily life is chock full of routine activities, work and life which for the most part are on auto-pilot. For me, its wash, eat, work, gym, rinse, repeat and only on vacation (holiday) can I break out of this routine and enjoy the excitement of something new. On the morning game drive, we saw animals waking to start the day in their groups, having breakfast and making their way to the water for a drink or two, not unlike most folks starting their day. The evening drive would prove a bit different from the morning and didn’t quite feel routine (at least to me).
We would revisit the lions who provided the “circle of life” reminder in the morning. Apparently, snacking on a buffalo has the same effect as when we eat turkey – full bellies and sleepy animals. Since the lions were exhausted from their buffalo feast (for now), an uninvited guest (or two) was stopping by for their buffalo snack
Thankfully the smell at the buffalo feast had subsided and with everyone pretty much sleepy, we moved along as we had a few hours before the sun would set and had heard of a wild dog sighting, which we were told was quite rare. The African Wild Dog numbers fewer than 500 in the Kruger Park, and considering how massive the park is, seeing one in this part of the park was a bonus. The wild dog generally travels in packs and feasts primarily on Impala (they will eat other animals if they can). As we drove nearer to the dog (which reminded me of a German Shepard), no suprise that he also had a busy day hunting and was sleeping it off. Unfazed by the motor of the truck, he just slept.
Looking at him sleep, I had to remember that this dog is not housebroken or man’s best friend no matter how cute he might be. He is a predator in the Kruger having to feed himself (and those of his pack) to survive everyday.
As a few more vehicles arrived at the wild dog sighting, so we moved along in the bush in our elaborate game of “hide and seek” as the light of the day was fading. Making our way back to Inyati’s land, we passed along the road to the conference center which was empty that day except for the monkey delegates learning how to overturn furniture and play along the deck. This guy was taking a break.
With a garbled message over the walkie talkie, our guide drove faster along the water toward what would be an interesting sight for me – a leopard in a tree. I was impressed that this large animal could climb so high – he was at the top of the tree to avoid the lioness that chased him. I was not impressed that he abandoned his lady friend as they were caught in the act by the lioness and scattered to avoid being on the dinner menu.
When it was our turn to leave, we continued on our trek stopping for our sundowner break. Each game vehicle tries to stop for a sundowner break if they can – this night we stopped in a field to stretch our legs and I enjoyed a nice glass of wine and a few snacks. Not venturing far from the truck, unlike my Botswana walking safari, i was able to marvel in the landscape, breath in the beauty and realize how lucky I was to be here as the sun was setting on yet another good safari day.
As darkness fell, the safari drive felt a bit different as we made our way back to the lodge, I didn’t feel in danger in any way but at the same time, I’d prefer not to be out in the dark as the only light we had was from the trucks headlights and the trackers light.
We would stop to see another leopard in another tree – we were having good luck today, the leopards not so much. This time she was alone (maybe the partner of the other guy?) in a tree far from the earlier sighting.
After the leopard climbed down out of the tree, all three vehicles moved along on our way back to our respective lodges for dinner. We did stop for a last sighting and this one drew all kinds of “wow, how did he see that?”
Of course, this was for show as the other couple said “we stopped here last night too, as the frog lives on the tree” – sucking the magic out of the initial wonder of the tracker. With the moon out now, we head back to the lodge for our outdoor feast in the boma accompanied by staff singing and dancing in a mesmorizing display of fun – a wonderful way to end the long day. Even the moon agreed, with a smile.