Sunday, 10 October 2010

Safari Day 3. Bongani Mountain Lodge

Up again, bright and early, those 6am wake up calls are unpleasant, but the reason for them is so worthwhile!
Lots of things to see this morning.
Nyala (this one is a male)
Giraffe (look how adorable the baby one is)
Zebra Millipede
Common Flat Lizard (I don't think he is common at all)
We also saw (but a bit far for reasonable photos)
Lions (in the boma)
Giant Plated Lizard

The birdlife is amazing, and it's great to see the big animals, but also just as great to see the variety of birds as we travelled around.  The kids became really great at bird spotting and identification, although they were tricky to photograph, so here is a list.
Purple Crested Turaco
Hawk Tail Drongo
Blue Bill Wax Horn
White Bellied Sunbird
Wahlberg's Eagle
Red Headed Weaver
Dazzle Blue Tail

After the Sunday morning drive, Nelson’s Chick Mobile was back in the garage, the students had packed up and moved on to Johannesburg to catch their flight, and the lodge was very quiet again. 
It was a hot day, about mid-thirties, and we all moved to the viewing deck and pool.  By pulling all of the large shade umbrellas into position, we could settle into the shade, have a swim, and enjoy a few drinks and lunch looking out over the valley.  It was a really pleasant afternoon, and we saw giraffe and lots of buck in the valley below. 

By late afternoon we had all drifted off for ‘nana-naps’ and were thinking about preparing for the evening game drive.  Phil spotted some elephants, and called the others back.  A massive herd appeared and moved down the valley to the watering hole.  It was surprising how fast they covered the distance, even though they seemed to be only strolling.  We watched them at play from up on the cliff and suspect they were oblivious to our presence.  It was a lovely sighting.  The surprising thing was how quickly they ‘melt’ back into the bush after they left the waterhole.

Evening game drive:

We had not seen any of the cats – except for the two lions acclimatising to their new surrounding in the boma.  We headed on our drive to the other side of the park, in the hope of seeing Leopard.  I’m sure lots of leopards saw us, but we didn’t see any of them!  Our stop this evening was just spectacular.  Watching Steven prepare his gun just in case (note we were in leopard territory), made Nicole feel somewhat anxious.
We climbed up onto a lock ledge and had a magnificent view over the valley, and had a few drinks, some snacks, and watched the sunset. It was glorious, peaceful and a real highlight. 

 Both Aaron and Steven were fantastic showing the kids (and adults)
interesting information about the bush.
What did we see tonight?
Other animals we saw, but a bit far to take photos were.
Duiker (although how Aaron spotted these on the edge of a large rock in a distance amazes us)
Bush Baby (Galago)
Community Spider Webs
White Tail Mongoose

Red Bull Oxpecker
Fiery Neck Nightjar

After the game drive, we arrived back to find our dinner to be served outside in a boma (enclosure) under the stars.  It was a delicious barbeque, and one other guest had arrived on her own (and had a ‘table for one’ set up on the other side of the boma).   We asked her to join us, and had the fortune of meeting Marika, who would then be a part of our group for the rest of her time at Bongani.

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