Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Hluhluwe Imfolozi Game Reserve - Round two.

On October 23rd, Scott of course had to be back at work, so his parents Deb and Brett and I headed up to Hluhluwe Game Reserve for my second visit. To read about my first visit please click here.
This time, we arrived without incident at the gate. In the park we spotted a few animals on our way to Hilltop camp, including a small herd of Zebras who where blocking the road. After dinner we headed to bed early in our rondavels as the morning safari was leaving at 5am.

After initially spotting a sleepy herd of buffalo we had to drive around quite a while before anything else happened.

Oh we did see this young nyala crossing the road.

And I managed to take a fabulous shot of this bird flying away,
unfortunately I can't remember the name of the bird.

Then I spotted lions, the three males which have recently been newly introduced to the area. They were wearing tracking collars. It was the first lion spotting of the day so any other safari vehicle we passed asked about them and we let them know which area of the 96,000 hectare reserve the lions could be sighted in.

If you look closely in the photo above there is a lion peaking out of the bush.

Our adventurous safari vehicle. 

After a quick stop for tea and coffee we saw a heard of elephants and I noticed they looked so much more red since the last time we had been there. All the recent rain had made the landscape a lot more green but it also provided watering holes and mud patches for elephants to get muddy in. These ones must have found one with the red soil that is also common in the area. 

Bush chickens.

One of my favourite animals up close and personal.
These giraffes were grazing right next to the road.
This grouping had two adults and two young.

This one has a bird riding on his head. I would assume it's ok because the bird eats the bugs. 

More elephants this time much closer up. 

Rough looking Buffalo passing us on the road.

Deb spotted this rhino having a morning nap in the mud. Rhinos keep themselves cool with the mud and it also keep the bugs away.

I just couldn't crop out this Toyota, there was something rather strange and amusing about the juxtaposition. 

We returned to the lions to check how they where doing. Still having naps. 

Right before the gate at Hilltop Camp this elephant was having breakfast.

Deb and Brett with our excellent and knowledgeable safari guide. 

After the morning safari we had breakfast at Hilltop and had a few upclose and personal experiences with the normally very shy samango monkeys. They must have smelled the bacon... 

The rondavels make for very cool hotel rooms. The only downside.. these ones didn't have washrooms. Shared ablutions were a bit further down.

The rest of the day we relaxed, had naps, I painted a few pages in my travel sketchbook, read and I went for a dip in the pool. Then we got ready for the evening safari.

Ready for more adventure!

This rhino came out of the bush right in front of the safari vehicle, he was doing his evening round. Male rhinos are hugely territorial and walk around their territory twice a day at least to mark it by spraying against things. And did he ever "spray" - it was like a poof cloud of pee misting out of him.  

Then we passed by another driver who told us where the three lions had moved to from this morning. This little hill was right in the middle of a road loop, so we were able to see them from three sides. 

This lion picked up a smell of something interesting to him and he got up... 

... strolled right across the path in front of us...

and had a further sniff.

The other lion is more aware now. 

When these large animals act in ways that even our house cat does you can't help but think that it's ridiculously cool. 

Like this cat stretch... 

Finally we figured out what the lions were tracking.. there was a buffalo hanging out in the bush. Over the next ten minutes we got to witness how the two lions stalked the buffalo and then promptly got chased away by the buffalo. Turns out these three lions were recently relocated from Namibia. According to our guide the area must have not had buffalo because these three lions never learned how to hunt them properly. This buffalo chased them away with their tails between their legs. 

It got dark very quickly after the exciting lion adventure and we scanned the treetops and sides of the bush with two spot lights. One of the other passengers spotted the glowing eyes of a leopard very far up in a tall tree in the distance. With the help of binoculars and the zoom on my camera we were able to discern that it was a leopard in the tree with his most recent kill. He is more or less sitting on an antelope that is hanging from the tree. The photos are blurry because even the two spot lights and me holding my breathe for a very long time did not make up for the vibration of the safari truck. 

This photo gives a pretty good feel to what it's like to drive in the safari vehicle at night with the spot lights. The only thing the photo doesn't show is the thousands of bugs we ate accidentally. 

On our way out of the park the next morning.

We had a lovely exit committee, blocking the road.

No comments: