Having been defeated by the Lions the previous evening we once again intended to head in their direction to follow up with our new found luck! As things would have it though while we were busy with Shongile the Simbavati boys had found tracks, followed up and found the Jacaranda Pride with the one White Timbavati Female not far from their camp. So although two of our guests had chosen to sleep in, we did not want to chance our luck and decided to head in their direction, as the previous day they had been seen in the morning but had moved during the heat of the day and we missed out in the afternoon. Along our way there we had a very nice sighting of a flock of Ground Hornbills feeding in the open grasslands around Argyle Dam, perfect for photography!
Arriving at the sighting the two older females were out for the count but their sub adults and the White Female were all still settling in for their mid morning siesta so we got to see them heads up and somewhat active. With things warming up quickly it was not long though before they too dropped their heads and headed off to the land of Nod. With having spent so much time and effort the previous evening in trying to find them and facing the disappointment when we didn't, we got to experience the complete opposite emotions this morning. Spending our time with the pride we eventually headed off South towards Java hoping to relocate on a herd of Buffalo that had been seen their the previous afternoon.
We chose to travel down the Tsharalumi River South and this turned out to be a great choice as we seemed to find herd after herd of Elephant. They came in all sizes, shape and sex and we spent considerable time with each herd as they went about their different activities. Getting caught up we decided to stop for morning coffee before continuing to follow up on our Buffalo.
Resuming our search it was not long before we picked up fresh tracks for the small herd. True to Buffalo behaviour they then ran us around in circles for the next hour with us eventually catching up with them nearly exactly where we took our coffee break and after all our hard work it was not that great a sighting as they placed themselves in a very inaccessible area along the river allowing for only obscured views from all angles. It would have been a little disappointing had we not seen a herd of Elephant that must number nearly a hundred and a whole bunch of Giraffe while looking for them. With poor visuals and having run out of time a while back we headed back to camp with our wildlife having redeemed themselves and we look forward to what the afternoon holds in store.
With two of my guest having missed out on the lions in the morning our afternoons intentions were to drive along the Tsharalumi River South to Java and look around for Mbali, as we had tracks for her in the morning in the area, followed by returning to the Lions when they were a little more active. Our plans changed quickly when we received news shortly after heading out on drive that the lions were actually active and up and mobile. This worked out well for us as we could visit them straight away and then not have to return back for them and we could spend our time on Java without worrying that we needed to get back. By the time we got into the sighting though the four youngsters had gone static on a termite mound while the mothers wandered off to a nearby watering hole. We chose to stick with the youngsters as although they were static they were heads up and intrigued by their surroundings. We sat with them as they inter-mingled and went about their social bonding. When they did finally settle down to rest we took it as our cue to head South in search of our Leopard.
As was in the morning we found herd after herd of Elephant along the Tsharalumi and spent a great deal of time with each of them as we slowly headed South. On reaching Java the skies had turned very dark and we received news that it had started to rain pretty hard in the North. Looking around us we could see cloud burst all around us and our drive took on trying to avoid these heavy downpours.
We found ourselves heading further and further South which turned out to be very fortunate as Shadrack had gone to the far South to visit Rockfig Jnr and on his way back he had found Mtenga-tenga, our large resident male White Rhino. Not being far away and needing Rhino we jumped at the opportunity and headed in his direction. It also looked far drier to the South of us. Reaching the sighting quickly we spent a fair amount of time following him as he went about feeding and marking his territory. We eventually had to leave though as the isolated downpours congregated and the perfect storm was formed.
With a slither of light on the Western boundary we decided to head in that direction before turning North biding our time to let the rain pass. Initially this worked very well but as we got further and further North the rain became harder and harder until eventually it was bucketing down that the rain actually felt like hail stinging you as it fell. As we now had chosen the longer route home we had to weather the storm for longer and by the time we reached camp we were wet through and through. Truth be told though it was a lot of fun and a great and memorable way to finish off the year!