A bit of a milestone today, we have been a month on the road, how time has flown.
We set off early this morning after our pleasantly slightly disturbed night. When I arose at first light I was thrilled to hear a lion roaring to the west as it moved away from us. We did all the recommended riverside routes and other than a few impala, warthog and some elephants there was not much seen. Across the tarred C49 to the north, the ranger had suggested we might want to visit the artificial waterhole and newish hide on the way to Santika Ranger Station. It is on the map although the exact site of the waterhole is not. Directions are simple once you have found the dirt road leading off the tar, at the windmill turn right. It is about 10km from the tar. You have to drive about 10km southeast on the tar before you reach the turnoff to the north. It is not signposted but is on T4A GPS. Here we only found a solitary wildebeest but it is a nice setup and am sure it will be especially worth visiting when there is no other surface water in this northern section of the park.
Along the C49 we were treated to the sight of 2 substantial herds of the large and majestic roan antelope, increasingly rare in Africa. There were also some substantial herds of zebra, wildebeest and impala. Along this tar road the vistas are wider and I suspect that we are just not seeing the animals present in the more bushed up sections within the park. I am confident when more dry during the southern winter, they will be easier to spot.
When we arrived back in camp at about 11H00 it was to see great flocks of vultures circling above our camp and about 300m to the east along the river, even more sitting in trees. We immediately took a detour around the area but could not locate the obviously present carcass. As the vultures were still in the trees I remarked to Anne that I thought in fact there had been a leopard kill in the night and that the cat was still on the kill. It was most frustrating to know that there was something worth seeing only a couple of hundred meters from us but exploring on foot into the thick bush would have been foolhardy.
A couple of hours later a parks vehicle with armed rangers arrived and explored the area to see what was attracting the vultures. It turns out that a waterbuck had been killed by a solitary lion that night only 200m from us and had only recently left the carcass as the vultures had only just begun demolishing it. They were amazed that we had heard no commotion that night but it must have been the presence of the lion that caused the baboon and guinea fowl upset I had attributed to perhaps a leopard. Also amazing that the lion had left the kill without us spotting it. During the night and again this morning it must have passed pretty close to us. This is why I said, ignorance is bliss!
In the afternoon the game drive rewarded us with a few elephant breeding herds with the teenagers being full of bravado. We also saw good herds of zebra, wildebeest and impala as well as some red lechwe on the islands between the river channels. Birdlife was not quite as prolific as one may wish for but all the African waterside birds are present. For supper it was cottage pie and roasted butternut on the coals. I must admit we had lost a bit of confidence in our Bear Grylls survival skills after allowing a lion to hunt around our camp unnoticed and make a kill not 300m away. We set up a perimeter light on the edge of the camp clearing. We had hardly finished coffee when our friend greeted us with a few roars not too far off. Although we were due to go to bed, I dare say that our packing up for the night was a little hastier than usual. That night the roosting baboons again put up an Oscar performance in the middle of the night. The next morning there were indeed some lion tracks over our car tracks on the edge of the camp. The nights can be quite nippy and we had to use an extra blanket in the middle of the night.