Lions, wild dogs, a tower, a memory and a warthog
I picked the Martin’s up from their lodge in St Lucia just before 5am for the drive to the iMfolozi-Hluhluwe Game Reserve, just over 75kms away. The drive was uneventful with the Martin’s half-watching, half-napping on the drive. We stopped at the gate and I went in while they freshened up in the restrooms.
Straight away I turned towards where I knew the lions were encamped from the previous evening, hoping to catch them still lazing in the early morning coolness. After about 15 minutes we came over a small rise in the road and in the next dip, there they were. I smiled quietly to myself when the Martin’s erupted with loud exclamations of “Look, lions!”. What an awesome start to the day!
We stayed with the pride for a while and then carried on with our adventure. During the early morning until coffee, we encountered some giraffe, zebra, impala, a nyala, a Cape buffalo and a pair of white rhinos far off in the distance on a hillside.
We had brekkie at a viewpoint overlooking the half-dried riverbed where the game would come to water themselves. We spotted a family group, or memory, of elephants at the water and we discussed trying to find them later in the day once they’d moved on from the water.
Off we set to conquer the park and were extremely lucky to have a pack of wild dogs completely surround our vehicle playing and rough-housing around. We sat quietly enjoying their antics for close on an half hour. As we watched them, the Martin’s cameras started off clicking and whirring away, but slowly they were lowered into their laps as they just sat and beheld in awe. It was beautiful to experience.
Closing on lunchtime and we still hadn’t caught up to the ellies yet for the Martin’s proper Big 5 sightings checklist. Then, all of sudden in full-view as we rounded a turn, stood an elephant bull in a clearing, slightly engorged. More clicking and whirring… And with that awesome sighting, the Martins’ Big 5 sightings checklists were each complete.
And there we were, at the rest site where we were going to have lunch, a South African braai prepared by me. We stopped and while the Martin’s stretched their legs I started the fire. While I was busy cooking the meat on the fire, a few of the camp site residents and neighbours showed up to say hi. First an impala doe and then a big male warthog came past our table as if to say “Sawubona, I see you”.
After enjoying our meals immensely, it was time to pack up and get on back to St Lucia. As luck would have it, on our drive back to the gate, we drove through a group, or tower, of giraffes at least a kilometre wide. A lovely ending to our voyage of adventure.
The drive home was uneventful and I left the Martin’s with huge smiles, cameras full of thousands of photos and their sense of adventure for the day fulfilled.