Sunday, October 9, 2011 Ngala Safari Lodge , Mpumalanga .
This morning we drove from Mashishing to Ngala Safari Lodge , yet another superb private game reserve from & Beyond . A large water hole faces all the common areas ( dining / reception ) and elephants amongst other animals come here to drink water .
We are escorted to and from our cottages after dark as animals have been known to stray into the lodge . At all times all cottages are well locked – baboons seem to enjoy the cottages and the contents therein !
Crashing our way through the bush , scratched and bumped around we had written off our ranger Derrick who comes across as he’d rather be doing a million other things than driving us around and showing us stuff .He is a big burly Shangan local very much the strong and silent guy – a cultural trait we think. This is in strong contrast to our previous ranger Giles at the Mountain Lodge was fantastic .
A couple of minutes of being buffeted around we come across a half eaten bush buck carcass hanging from a fork in a tree with a mass of flies swarming around it. A little ahead we spotted a leopard sleeping in the sun . We tested her by inching closer in our jeep , she was alert but not alarmed . By now we had spotted one of her two cubs .
Greed got the better of us and we edged almost by her side , and thank God we did . At first she appeared to sleep , no sign of the cubs . Then one peeped out between 2 branches , figured out that we were harmless and made a dive for milk ! It suckled away as it’s mom slept and after a bit slept by her tail .
Realizing that moms tail could be fun the cub started to pull it ! For the next 20 minutes we watched the leopard and her cub play . The cub tugging at moms tail , jumping all over her , she rolling on her back , cuddling him – it was such a happy heart warming sight . Reminded me of how are dogs are with their pups . It was amazing . This cub must have been 2 months old and was adorable !
Suddenly cub moved away from mom and got all inquisitive about the hanging half eaten buck and climbed that tree . The lioness too got onto the tree , a sight from an animated movie ! Simply fascinating .
She then got cracking on the carcass , and scooped out an eyeball and then slurped out some brain and even as we watched chomped down on the skull, bones crackling loudly . This amazing sight we witnessed not more than 20 feet away .
We also learnt from our ranger that this must be a young mom as an experienced mother wouldn’t expose her cubs to danger by being so close to the kill – the smell of which would attract hyenas .
I also learnt that guinea fowl sleep on trees !
Monday, October 10, 2011
This mornings safari was quite dull – or maybe we have seen it all so as to speak . I’s disappointing that the spotting’s have been so few and the bush seems not populated at all ( other than impalas ) . This seems odd considering we border Kruger National Park and there are no fences between Kruger and Ngala .
Impalas apart we saw the odd kudu . A lone female giraffe which is odd to spot . Derrick pointed out that she was probably looking for an isolated spot to deliver her baby – which is the only time one sees female giraffes alone !
The highlight was another magnificient male leopard . We tracked him closely alongside a river bankfor 30 minutes or so . There was a tense few moments when a herd of impalas who were near by gave an alarm call . That turned out to be a non event as the leopard was well fed and was looking for a nap !
The evening run was initially a very dull as we drove endlessly trying to find buffalo . After an hour Derrick gave up and led us to a hyena den . Turned out that there were two litters , but only one mom around .
The cubs were very cute and their markings were similar to those of baby leopards . The mom was very pretty ..and played with her pups just like dogs do . This was a very exciting sighting and we were mesmerized watching the cubs inquisitively bounce all around us and roll over the mother .
Interestingly hyenas live in abandoned termite mounds .