Saturday, 4 June, 2011
Elephant Adventure: Game Drives Around Letaba

It 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.

#########

Brown snake-eagle

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.

#########

Hippos from Matambeni Hide

#########

Dead or just resting?

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 your sign?”

#########

Designated alighting area

#########

Oliphants River

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!

#########

Time to git!

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.

#########

Outside Letaba's elephant museum

#########

A view from Letaba

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.

#########

Monitor 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.

#########

Elephant roadblock

#########

Impressive, isn't it?

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 service.

#########

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.

Continue to June 5, 2011

Kruger Park, South Africa Journal Main Page

Tom Goetz's Homepage

Sign our guestbook

View our guestbook