Tuesday, October 4, 2011
Phinda Private Game Reserve , night at &Beyond Phinda Forest Lodge .
The 'Big Five' refers to Africa's greatest trophy animals – the one’s considered the most challenging and dangerous to hunt - lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo and rhino.
We transited a night in Durban (the supposedly posh northern suburb of Umhalanga actually) en route to Phinda . Durban was a non descript one night halt . A bit of a crawl through the humungous Gateway mall, a very iffy Chinese dinner and bad sleep sums Durban up !
The 330 odd Km drive from Durban to Phinda was very comfortable . The roads are great as is the discipline – caught myself driving my ‘ India ways ‘ a few time , as did mother hen Chin !
Our lodge is spacious with sit out decks on two ends including a private dip pool and well stocked bar . The walls are 90 % glass and gives a feeling of being up in a tree house .
After a light lunch we set off on our first safari . Initially we saw Nyala , Red Duiker ,Grey Duiker and Impala ( all deer ) , which didn’t excite me too much . Then we saw Wildebeest from upfront which was great .
The odd crested and helmeted guinea fowl kept crisscrossing our jeep , while from a distance we saw Zebra and Giraffes . We also managed a close viewing of hippopotamus – they look beautiful as did 2 naughty young elephants uprooting the forest .
What was exciting is how our guide Matt kept trying to track a Cheetah which was spotted from far away . We drove to the spot where Matt thought the cheetah would eventually work his way to and that’s exactly what the cheetah did .
About 20 feet away from our stationary jeep 2 male cheetahs ( brothers ) walked passed –sleek , magnificent and elegant . I was so excited that I didnt take pictures initially , simply feasted my eyes on them .This beautiful cat was hunted into extinction in India by the British officers and the royalty .
We kept tracking them , and turns out that they were a family of 5 ! We viewed them from close for about 30 minutes . This was our first major spotting and was spectacular as we could even smell their breath , we were that close for 25-30 minutes .
By now it was dark , the guide stopped the jeep in the middle of the jungle and set up a table with a complete bar and snacks ! A few drinks later everyone was huddled back into the jeep and we slowly made our way back .
Back turned out to be a surprise spot away from came , in the jungle the resort people had set up a fire , and drinks and dinner for 20 odd guests . Good fun and very well done
October 5, 2011
An early morning wake up – 4:45 am to get set for our early morning safari with Matt . A cold morning saw us huddled in our open air jeep all set to spot wildlife . We got lucky again , this time with a sighting of a magnificent lion . One of the only two dominant pride lions in Phinda .
This guy majestically walked past our jeep and didn’t seem to mind our following him 10 feet away .
We tracked him for quite some distance and then moved away as there was some buzz on the wireless about a leopard spotting .Matt deftly lead us to the area where the action was , and then he and our spotter set off to look for the leopard .
They returned in a while very excited as they had spotted him fast asleep , satiated after a big meal . Closer examination through the binoculars and Chin discovered that the poor animal was’nt asleep but was dead – apparently killed by an alpha male .
We moved away and headed back to where Matt thought the lion would now be , and there he was sitting on a mound in this beautiful veldt – open grassland with flowering wild bushes - majestically like a sphinx , his mane flying in the wind , something I wont forget in hurry .
We also spotted some hippopotamus lazily submerged in a pond totally oblivious to all what was happening around them .
A very good morning for spotting animals . Breakfast and a while later we drove off to Phinda’s other camp , Mountain Lodge .