10 December 2013

4. - 10 Dec.: Game drives and night safari

In the cold afternoon drizzle we again brave the elements but are rewarded when we meet the resident cheetahs with a recent kill. The mother and 4 cubs rest, stomachs full, next to the carcass of a springbok. They sit atop a hill, with clear visibility in all directions, and are probably waiting to finish off what flesh is left on the bones of the antilope before the hyenas home in at night.

Cheetah meal leftover

A number of other sightings, including a large family of elephants who block the road and force us to wait a good half an hour, make the discomfort worthwhile after all. It's dusk and we are making our way back to the lodge, we meet a matriarch elephant leading her herd through the thick forest and into a green expanse. They are obviously used to cars and can't be bothered by our presence.

After dinner we go for a night safari, it is my first ever. Yuan is driving with one hand and brandishing a powerful halogen lamp with the other. He only points it at nocturnal animals, who can quickly adjust to it, and avoids shining it into the face of diurnal animals who could easily be blinded and scared away.

We go by our cheetas and they are still there, no signs of hyenas. Yuan explains that normally they would have gone to hide by now but evidently can't afford to leave all that meat behind. 

After a little while we run into  our elephants again, and the matriarchal female moves very close to us to show who is in charge. Yuan is slightly worried, shifts into reverse and backs off. I am a bit disappointed as I would have liked to see the animal closer, even more so when he says he would have let her come and touch the car had he been alone. Still, a magical moment to share with these gentlr beasts under a soft moonlight.

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