Saturday, 4 June, 2011It was 39 degrees, the coldest temperature of the
trip, as we departed camp at 6:10 a.m. Our route this
morning: H1-6 north, S95, S62 to the Longwe
Lookout/Matambeni Bird Hide, H1-6 and H1-5 south, S91,
across the Oliphants River and back, S92, H8, S44, then
a u-turn and drove S44 again (navigation complication),
S93, S46, and S94 back to camp.
Elephant Adventure: Game Drives Around Letaba
From the Matambeni Hide we had a great view of some
hippopotami. Hippos may look lazy and out of shape, but
they kill more people than any other animal in Africa
each year. Fact: Hippos spin their tails while
defecating to spread their poo over the largest area
possible. Note to Santa: I no longer want a
hippopotamus for Christmas.
from Matambeni Hide
At the Olifants River Lookout (more hippos and crocs),
Linda almost got a South African boyfriend on holiday
from the Cape. She might deny it, but Tom and I both
heard her ask the gentleman “Do you come here often?” A
pickup line if I ever heard one! I walked out of
earshot before I could hear him respond with “What's
This was a many-elephant day. We saw herds several
different times. On one side road, we were approaching
a dead-end turnaround, when we came upon a large herd
of elephants, with several babies, browsing alongside
the road. One of the elephants stepped out into our
path, turned to face us, and started flapping its ears.
I responded by throwing the car in reverse and backing
down the narrow road about two blocks, the elephant
slowly following us, until I felt we'd gained enough
distance to take the time to execute a many-point
“Austin Powers” style turn and get the heck out of
there. I consider that our Elephant Adventure!
We were back to our cottage at 12:15 for sandwiches and
Pringles. Then Linda went to Letaba's elephant museum
while Tom and I filled the car with petrol once again.
After that, I went for a walk alone around camp. I saw
more elephants, bushbuck, waterbucks, impala, baboons,
and two vervet monkeys having sex (sadly, no photo).
The baboons were looking for a way across the camp
fence, and the monkeys who were already inside the
fence were clearly distressed by their presence.
Letaba's elephant museum
I was almost back to our cottage when I spotted a
6-foot-long monitor lizard on our side of the fence,
practically on the sidewalk. It was so cool, and I had
it all to myself, but I wish Tom had been there to see
it too. I watched it for ten minutes or so while it
tried to find its way back outside the fence, until it
finally slithered under. I thought I might see - sad as
it would be, of course - the lizard get fried on the
electric fencing, but it turns out the electric part is
just at the top of the fence.
lizard a/k/a rock leguaan
We went out again from 3:15 to 5:15. Our route: H1-6,
S95, S47 to Mingerhout Dam, then S47 and H1-6 back to
Letaba. Not much wildlife on this drive, but we saw
some impressive elephant destruction partially blocking
the road and a nice sunset.
Dinner at the Letaba restaurant again tonight, pizza
for Linda and me and a BLT for Tom. Tom and I had
Castle beer, while Linda opted for wine. The wine list
was pretty short: red, white, or brandy. She went with
red. Timothy was our waiter both nights. He has worked
at Letaba for 27 years and provided us with excellent
It was a warm and pleasant evening, and we sat out on
our cottage stoep for a couple of hours after dinner
reading and writing in our journals. Even though we saw
no mosquitoes, we lit a couple of mosquito coils. After
all, we'd bought a 10-pack.
A high of 90 degrees again today.
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