We leave Sirheni Bush Camp at the crack of dawn.
We’re off to Bateleur Bush Camp, but taking the long way – via Letaba Rest Camp – because we need the ATM machine there. Maybe one day, the little ATM machines at the park’s shops will be sophisticated enough to accept foreign bank cards. Until then, we will have to make do 🙂
So, off to Letaba it is. No stops on the way down. Apart from the usual suspects we don’t see anything spectacular. After feeding the ATM machine our bank card and receiving fresh new bank notes as a reward, we drive back up. First stop Letaba river bridge …
… where we spot a buffalo and a small herd of waterbuck. On the other side of the bank we see a lonesome Ground Hornbill strolling towards the bank. (River bank, not the ATM)
We arrive at Mopani Rest Camp, where we want to pick up some groceries. While there, we see there’s an exhibition going on in the conference center, so we decide to have a look.
Brian Jones of Moholoholo Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre fame is giving a talk. The talk has already started, but the Honorary Ranger ladies show us to a seat anyway.
Brian Jones has the gift of the gab. He talks faster than anyone I know. He also has a lot to say!
The goal of Brian’s presentations is to make the public aware of the plight of the Environment in Southern Africa. He does this with the help of two cheetahs, a bateleur, a – was it a pearl-spotted owl? (I don’t remember) – and Queenie the Crowned Eagle. (Thanks for the reminders Cees & Corina)
These most unexpected sightings turn out to be the highlight of the day. We skip petting the cheetah – what’s his name again? – and drive off towards Bateleur Bush Camp instead.
So, here we are at Bateleur Bush Camp. It’s a tiny camp, in the middle of nowhere. It’s also bone dry and hot. At check-in we meet the charming and much appraised Lazarus Lekhuleni, Bateleur’s Hospitality Manager. Lazarus shows us to our bungalow, whilst giving us the latest news and the best spot for cell phone reception (Tshanga look out point). We get no 6 as requested, it has a bird bath. We settle in, put fresh water and a few ice cubes in the bird bath and relax 🙂
The next day we drive off to discover Rooibosrant Dam. On our way we see the beautiful Long-tailed Paradise Whydah. ✓
When we arrive near the dam, we see the loop road has been closed. We can drive onwards a bit, but there is only a small spot to park and we need to peer through the foliage to see the dam. 🙁
There’s a Fish Eagle (first of the trip!) in a dead tree and we spot a Jacana tiptoeing on the lilies, but that’s about all we manage to see. Most of the view is obstructed. Very disappointed we drive back and decide to have a look at Silvervis Dam.
We are out of luck. Silvervis is overgrown by reeds. Can’t see a thing. Time for plan C: off to Shingwedzi. We were instantly rewarded with this lovely sighting of African Hawk-eagle ✓
Near Shingwedzi Rest Camp we stop to watch a Marabou Stork, that is foraging for food in elephant-made puddles of water.
We spot a Saddle-billed Stork stalking fish.
A White-fronted Bee-eater waiting for lunch
Little Egret taking off
After lunch we slowly drive back to camp and decide to do what the impala are doing; rest in the shade.
It’s the 30th of December and we’re off to Mopani to have lunch with friends Cees, Corina & André. On our way down we spot:
a lovely Carmine Bee-eater
ellie at Shipandani hide
After the lovely lunch with a view, we decided to drive back via Mooiplaas and the Tropic of Capricorn loop. Great plan until we arrived at Mooiplaas.
Two things happened: I realised I still had my camera & 400mm lens in the boot of the car and Mr Gorgeous here, walked into the road and blocked us from going further.
(curtesy of Panasonic Lumix FZ30)
After waiting a while and kindly smiling to the elephant, we decided to turn back to Mopani. I had to get my camera out anyway.
We took the H1-6 home. There’s a beautiful Baobab near the road there.