With the rare luxury of an afternoon off myself and two other guides from Bush Lodge, (Simon Smit and Kevin Power), decided that we wanted to walk the length of the Msuthlu River that winds it’s way through the property with the aim of admiring the beautiful riverine ecosystem, birds, and the bonus of viewing any animals along the way.
We set off on our walk at midday as there were various tasks that needed to be taken care of after the morning safari. Arriving at our starting point we all suited up making sure we had all the necessities one needs to embark on a long walk through the African wilderness.
Setting off under the warm African sun, we made our way through the sands of the river. I have always had a love for riverbeds and their beauty as they shape the landscape around them, bringing life bearing water that the animals desperately need so late into the dry season.
Making our way along the river, examining and discussing all the signs that had been left in the sands by a huge variety of animals – from the tracks of the elegant bushbuck, the paw prints of male lions, to baboons drinking from the excavations elephants dig in the sands to get to the filtered waters running just below the surface.
One can also only marvel at the massive trees that line the banks of the rivers from the immense Sycamore Fig trees to the mammoth Jackalberry trees, sending us into long discussions as to how many hundreds of years old the trees must be, as well as the events that they had played witness to in their lifetimes.
About two hours into the walk we picked up on the distinctive calls of the Red-billed Oxpecker. This call alerts us to the possible presence of larger dangerous game such as the Cape buffalo and rhino etc. After spending time assessing where the potential danger could be, we edged on to investigate. Not far along the track was a large buffalo bull not more than 20 meters from us. Engrossed in the riverine vegetation we silently backtracked. The idea was to cross to the opposite bank in order to view this extremely dangerous animal from a safe vantage point. After slipping into the river we were treated to the Maxabeni male leopard drinking from a shallow pool in the sands. As soon as he became aware of us, the leopard made a hasty exit up the bank and he was off. At this point we decided to not push our luck and carried on our route along the river.
Carrying on we decided to investigate an open area that runs along the banks of the river. About an hour after encountering buffalo and a male leopard, we came across signs of male lion. Following up on this we came across Solo and the Eyrefield male sleeping in the shade. After announcing our presence to them through the wind, they became aware of us and by observing the body language could assess our next step.
With the last stretch of the walk we were treated to a herd of elephant feeding along the banks of the river. By giving them a wide berth we made our way past and back into Bush Lodge without them becoming aware of our presence.
Once back at the lodge we discussed the walk and came to the conclusion that some of the events did not seem real, as if they were a dream.
With that we could conclude that we are part of a very small group of people that can honestly say that they are living their dream.