05-11-2019

Motswari Blog Volume 33 – Big Five in One Drive

No joke, that’s exactly what happened for our Geiger’s Camp guests last week. There are days when the bush can just blow your mind with its magic. We set off in the morning, on the fourth drive of six for all of our guests. They had seen so many animals already but the one thing that was missing was zebra. Vicki, the Geiger’s Camp guide, told us upon leaving the camp that the mission was to head south to the more open areas where there tends to be better grazing for the general game.

A stunning morning greeted us with perfect cool temperatures, slowly meandering to get to our southern destination. On route we caught a glimpse of a crash of rhino, various ages, quietly grazing on what little nutritious grass there is left. We stopped with them for a little while (no photos for good reason, please refer to Blog 31 to find out why!) and then continued on our journey.

Sure enough, as we reached the southerly section a beautiful herd of zebra awaited on the horizon. It felt as if they’d been placed there on order as it was a perfect vantage point of a stallion and his harem. Often, zebra can be very skittish around vehicles but this particular dazzle was more than happy to share their space with us, a privilege for us all.

Having achieved the morning’s mission within an hour we were free to explore and see what the south had in store – it had a number of surprises. The first one was mating lions, not something that you get to witness very often. Both the female and male were quite young and we struggled to identify who they were. The male looked around 4 years old, a beautiful mane but not yet fully developed. He also had a bit of a limp, but that didn’t stop him pursuing his female when required. We watched them mate a couple of times, only once in the open, the rest of the time they managed to strategically place themselves behind thick bushes where we enjoyed the sound effects in all their glory. The male is known to “mate guard” throughout the time he spends with the female, not resting much, not eating just protecting his female and being ready to perform. It truly is an exhausting process for him.

Word came in on the radio that literally around the corner from the mating lions a young male leopard had been spotted. We made space for other vehicles to view the lions and made our way to the leopard. On arrival it was clear that this was Hlangana, Ntombi’s latest youngster, who is around 18 months old. He’s as chilled as his mother and was stretched out on the top of a termite mound watching the world go by. He gave us a yawn, a stretch and then turned around as if saying “that’s enough now, I need my beauty sleep”.  We left to find a nice spot for morning coffee with much to chat about and reflect on the morning having seen three of the big five in a matter of hours.

The return home was filled with even more surprises. A massive breeding herd of buffalo was making its way across the road on a mission to find decent grazing, which is a challenge at this time of year. With the shrill call of the oxpecker accompanying the noisy grazing of the herd it was a tremendous audio experience as well as a visual one. Beginning to run a little late we left the herd to graze and carried on northwards. Now, we had seen four of the big five……we only had elephants left with about 15 minutes to go before being back at camp.

The return home was filled with even more surprises. A massive breeding herd of buffalo was making its way across the road on a mission to find decent grazing, which is a challenge at this time of year. With the shrill call of the oxpecker accompanying the noisy grazing of the herd it was a tremendous audio experience as well as a visual one. Beginning to run a little late we left the herd to graze and carried on northwards. Now, we had seen four of the big five……we only had elephants left with about 15 minutes to go before being back at camp.

Vicki stated that only once before had Jacky and her experienced such a drive, so this was massively memorable for them also. The most amusing part of the morning was that we were only desperately wanting to see zebra but the Timbavati had other plans, as is so often the case.

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