As the Chinese celebrate their New Year and enter the Year of the Dragon, it is amazing to see just how many Chinese visitors we have had stay at our lodges. I am sure the population of China must have nearly halved and all come to South Africa on holiday. Every vehicle that we pass on safari breaks out into a cheerful conversation between the guests, probably comparing what they have seen, but I have no clue because I don’t speak Mandarin. For all I know they could just as easily be talking about my lack of hair…
Currently we have a fantastic Chinese family staying with us at Little Bush Camp on an exclusive use basis, and they brought with them 2 guides in order to assist them with translation. They are forever smiling and I seem to have made a new best friend, a 5 year old, whose English extends to, “GO, GO, GO!!!” Although we can’t communicate with one another without the help of one of their tour guides, he shows his approval in the form of high 5’s!
The game viewing over the last three drives has been great and their level of interest measures up to any guest I have previously had. The look on their faces when we found our first elephant was priceless and the arrival of the rest of their group in Fred’s vehicle led to a shriek of excitement from my little 5 year old friend. Realising half way through that he shouldn’t be screaming he quickly threw his hands over his mouth as if trying to pull the scream back to where it came from and then blushed with embarrassment. I was giggling so hard that I forgot that the elephant was there.
The afternoon drive started perfectly when we found an aggregation of zebra, rhino, wildebeest, waterbuck and impala in the same area. The guests didn’t know which way to point their cameras. After about 45 minutes watching and explaining all the different animals we set out to find some other animals. We hadn’t driven for more than 10 minutes before we found a small herd of elephants with the tiniest of babies.
After all this excitement we stopped for a sundowner and then headed out for the evening stretch. As the light faded, a call came in over the radio saying that one of the other vehicles had found a leopard. When we got to sighting he was on top of termite mound feeding on an old carcass. We knew it was old because if you got down wind of it your nostrils were filled with the smell of rotting flesh. As we sat waiting to get a better view of him, Solly spotted a Mozambican Spitting Cobra winding its way up a tree close to the kill. He had been attracted by the smell of the rotting flesh and moved in hoping to feed on some of the maggots that would have hatched in the flesh of the leopards kill. After gorging himself on the little that was left, the leopard then came down from the mound, groomed himself for a bit and then slipped off into the night.
The following morning started well when we found the Southern Pride’s tracks right outside of Little Bush Camp. Fred and I started planning our tracking mission, he would stay on the track and I would try get in front of them. As we rounded a corner we found ourselves facing a big puddle in front of us and after all the rain the ground was still soft. Now the rule with mud is momentum, momentum, momentum…but not even this was going to help us! The right side of the car sank and even with low range and diff engaged there was no way out! The other problem was that 2 other vehicles had also become stuck in different parts of the reserve and they also needed to be rescued. We eventually got onto another vehicle and carried on tracking the lions. After about thirty minutes and lots of walking, the lions were found and it was quite a highlight for the guests to experience getting stuck; tracking and finding lions; and then enjoying some quality time with the super pride! A great few days and a good start to the safaris after all the rain and floods cause such havoc on the reserve.