I can not honestly believe that I managed to make it up and out of my tented hut by 5.30am. I seriously considered showering but frankly it was a) way too early and b) it was WAY too cold to even consider it seeing as there was a gaping hole to the outside!
We had planned our truck for the day the night before but sadly it did not work out. Alan and Val sweetly made sure that I was with them as I was wondering around like a headless chicken for a while trying to work out which truck had friends on and also space! We ended up in starting a new one and had Chris and Jeremy as well as Peter and Sarah joined us. I had filled my hottie had a mass of layers on and also the blanket off of my bed as well as the blanket that was already on the truck – no seriously it was that cold as the wind was bitter and there are no sides – obviously so you can see the game easily and thus take photos. We had Pat as our guide who was great I have to say.
By 8.30 we had already seen a Lion sighting and were all hyped up and excited about what else there was to see out there. The views of the bush are just amazing hey. The natural beauty and seeing such ferocious beasts in their natural environment; NOTHING beats it. This is what I had been dreaming of after the matches. Sitting in the bush with a sundowner of a Castle (a small one mind – did not want a repetition of one of the family trips when I HAD to go and the guiders shone the search lights away from me as we were in the hunt for Lions at the time which were thought to be really close – never peed so quickly in my life!) biltong and soaking up the beauty of my surroundings. Sadly we never were out late enough in the Kruger to have Sundowners so instead it was the bar with the others – not quite natural surroundings but definitely more memorable.
All in all on the day we had 5 separate sightings of lions. Admittedly it was pretty darned hard to see some of them without binos and had we taken photos there would have been nothing there – you would have just had to take my word for it that there was a lion in the picture! I could hear all that Pat was saying much more clearly than the lady the night before and it was as fascinating as ever. I could so easily do their job – looking for game all day every day – I really doubt that I would tire from it.
We spent ages looking for crocodiles lying out of the water sunning themselves but sadly only saw one – Pat could not understand quite why none of them were out. Bless her though she checked loads of waterholes looking for them for us! We saw a fabulous sight – not for the feint hearted – of an Impala hanging from a tree – Pat had seen the leopard that had killed it the previous day with it in this tree and so we sat hopeful that we would see the leopard itself. There were so many cars though waiting there too that there was not a chance sadly. Pat was telling us that they are quite shy animals and that it would be very unlikely to see any with so many cars around. The cars were all people that are from the Gauteng area, Pat had pointed out from the car plates. She told us that they ruin game watching at times as they just sit waiting and watching the big cats and thus block off the road for others to be able to see them too with a good view. She was right hey, the amount of people in their cars that were just sitting there with their coffee and biscuits watching was unreal. Also the amount of people chatting/shouting at each other as to what we were looking at was unreal – if I was a lion I would have just though stuff you, I want peace and quiet and disappear into the bush away from all of the roads.
It was quite amusing hearing the radio calls to and from her husband in another jeep with some more of our lot – I think with Simon, Jeanette and Ian to name a few keeping check on where the other was and what they had seen and so on. They have their own names for the animals and things so that they don’t start saying over the radio lions etc as those in the tucks could get all excited and expectant and they might have moved by the time that the other gets there. She was explaining some of them to us – of course I can remember none of them now!! They were all derivatives of say Zulu and so on that only made sense to each other. Quite sweet really in some ways!
We stopped for lunch at one of the rest stops and lunch was all laid out for us ready and waiting. We were one of the first ones there though as we had been closer than the others as we were looking at the best Lion sighting that we had that day of a male lion, quite a young one we thought as the maine was not humungous. The beauty of sitting admiring him, how lucky were we? I kept having to pinch myself. A serious wow moment. Of course most of the lunch had peppers in it but truthfully I really was not that hungry anyway so it did not bother me. I spent a while watching the vervet monkies playing in the trees with the food stuffs that they had nicked off of picnickers close by before we headed off again. Chris and I were hopeful that the rest of the days sightings would all be out of the left hand side of the truck as we had had NOTHING on our side what so ever – typical!
Sadly we saw very little game in the afternoon, Pat spent most of the time looking around waterholes for us for the crocs and we also went back to the leopard kill just in case it had come back for some more food. It must have been around somewhere as they never leave their kill apparently for other animals to take. I spotted these really weird trees with sort of a green fruit of some form on them which I aptly named the Christmas bauble trees as I swear they looked like decorations on a tree. Birds had clearly sort of attacked them as they had a pattern on them of some form. I really wish that I had taken a photo of them as you SO would have seen where I was coming from!
Just as we were coming back in there was the 5th Lion spotting – to be honest pretty blooming difficult to see it through the thick grass in the area but there were loads of cars around and it could clearly be seen through the binos – but once again, not one to really get a good photo of. My hair was full of the dust from the road and so on getting back I headed straight to my hut to shower, at least while it was kind of warm outside as the sun was going down rapidly. I hate to think what colour the water was but I felt so much better after it. I applied the joyous mossie stuff everywhere. I had not seen one the whole time I was here but I was not taking any sodding risks as if anyone was going to be bitten it would be me. I am irresistible. I swear I am not going to miss the smell of the deet one little bit it hums like there is no tomorrow. I then sat and uploaded my photos from the day onto my laptop. Wow – I was actually quite impressed with my photographic skills – even when everything was on the right hand side! I phoned Juliet to see how she was and give her an update on what I have been doing and how things were going and then I phoned Mum and Dad – it was their wedding anniversary. I would not be at all surprised if half the camp didn’t hear my conversation. Poor Mum struggles so much and I guess the phone line must have been pretty poor anyway. I always sound, to those that don’t know that Mum is deaf like I am being REALLY rude as I have to speak really slowly for her to really hear well. Putting Dad on was not going to help apparently as he as deaf too at the moment as he has a double ear infection – he was clearly trying to be sympathetic for me!
The time flew by and I realised that it was past supper time. I really could not be bothered with supper as I knew that everyone would be at tables and Id look like the norman trying to find somewhere to sit. I really wished, and I can honestly say that this small part of the evening was the ONLY time of my entire trip that I wished to God I was travelling with some people that I actually knew. I’m an independent bugger but there are times when one just can’t be arsed. This was one of those moments. So the way I battled through was to order a double G & T with the full intention of getting something down my neck to take the pills with and retire to bed. Didn’t quite happen. I ended up chatting and so on to Jeanette and Sarah and had some of their vino that no-one seemed to be drinking and we all huddled around the bar area as it was pretty much only Pink Leopard left in the place and it was warmer there (apparently). As you can probably imagine another sing song was had – good old Sunshine Mountain and more. Once again we were also entertained by the bar staff who came out to join in and alcohol was consumed and such the like. I finally spoke to Boyzone and gave them shit for not talking to me earlier and that it was easier for them to come and talk to me than me to them. Anyhoo was the last to leave the bar with Boyzone and had somehow encouraged them to learn an actual Boyzone song to sing on the coach as a laugh. So they spent a while writing the lines down and practising after listening to it on the laptop. Apparently I was going to appear as a backing singer , yeah right – with my thoat I was having difficulty in even speaking/shouting. I obviously dutifully agreed (with no intention of actually fulfilling the promise)!!
And to think I would have missed out on all the fun if I had not gone to supper!
In reality I have no idea how I survived the flight my glands were agony and the ascent and decent was the worst by far. I grinned and bared it though – we were off to the bit I have been wanting to do the most – the Safari to see all of the animals – hopefully! I kept my head down and checked in as I was feeling so pants that I just knew that if anyone had asked me how I was feeling there would be Victoria Falls down my face. I reckon if anyone had told me that they could get me home to Mummy in 20 mins I would have gone.
We were given a torch and the remote for the air con and I remember putting my stuff in my room and it feeling like a blinking sauna and so I wacked the heating right down as I was going to roast later. Once our bags had been dropped off in our rooms (carried by people on their heads mainly despite there being a truck thing) we got extra layers as suggested as we were going out for a quick drive after ‘lunch’ but as we were later than expected (thanks to the CHAOS at Cape Town airport) we were only going to get about an hour and a bit of a drive as the Parks board are strict about what time you have to exit the park – and at this time of year because of the darker evenings it was half five.
Lunch was a bit of a no go area for me as it was riddled with peppers and I really didn’t fancy having to put up with the after effects out here and so I had a most delicious meal of potatoes and rice – with a beer too of course!! On some of the layers went with the camera and binos around the neck and I was ready to go. The breeze soon started getting to us and soon I had all of the layers that I had with me on and could hardly move for fabric!! It did keep me warm on the trip though. As we were not really likely to be able to go very far into the Kruger on this evenings visit I was not too hopeful of seeing any of the big 5 for starters and would have been quite happy just seeing some of the buck.
We were way luckier than that – we saw some zebra, a lone young male elephant, a giraffe, several buck and simply my favorite that evening of some white rhinos. There were three which we assumed were Mummy, Daddy and baby. It was simply wonderful sitting there in the golden light of the evening sun watching these three listening to us in case we were any danger to them – rhinos are very blind and so would probably not have seen us but have very acute hearing and you could see their tiny ears flapping away. When another car came up (not one of the other lots of jeeps) you could tell that they were getting flustered as their little ears were going tenfold. God it was great though. Literally just there in front of us these prehistoric looking animals in their own natural environment – once again the thought went through my mind that I really need to get a job as a ranger (is that the right word?) I would spend my life, every waking moment, going around the park just sitting and watching the animals – they are just so beautiful.
The evenings entertainment was a bomba – outside with traditional music and dancing – the clue there is in the outside bit. Bloomin freezing. But I had come well prepared. I went and put all of my bits and pieces back in my room and filled up my hot water bottle and shoved it up my jumper in between several of the layers so as not to burn my skin! OHMYGOD what an idea. I was roasty toasty standing in the bar where it all looked like we were smoking the air was so cold. Holding a cold beer too was really not the best of ideas as my hands were rather chilly to put it mildly. The conversation was hilarious and although we were all really cold it did nothing to dampen the spirits. The food itself was fairly non-plus and basic but then we are in the middle of nowhere and so there has to be a little bit of give. The ‘entertainment’ was in my view rubbish – we later heard that inside had a massive choir entertaining them where as we had 2 guys playing on xylophone type things and then one girl sort of dancing. And I mean sort of. No one was really taking much interest and I thought that she was just keeping warm until the rest of them came and joined her, but no, once she had disappeared I realised that that was actually it.
The fire was soon surrounded as we realised just how much heat it was giving off and of course the singing started all over again! We managed to keep it fairly clean though, most unlike us, as there were children around and most of our songs are not really ones that we felt the parents would be too impressed if their kids went around singing them?!!! We were however ‘told off’ for singing too loudly as there were some people that were sleeping and that we should consider at least moving inside at 10pm also as the bar closes. I think that most of us were quite happy to make our move to bed at around that time as we had a 5am wakeup call for breakfast and so on before we headed out for our full day safari. Eeeek, so excited!!! I emptied my hottie and refilled it patting myself on the back for the ingenious forward planning! Some of the others had no heating in their rooms at all; I had turned it back up to 31 when I came back after the safari and so it was nice and warm in there. I felt mighty relieved that mine was one of the few that was actually working.
Loads of the others had been really concerned about me in the morning and word had spread like wildfire that I was not quite myself. It was actually lovely to know that some were really quite concerned. I apologised for being a moody bitch and explained that if I had to talk about it that I would have started crying and wanted to go home – what a wuss hey!!