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Mesi Mesi Trail Day Two

Written on: Thursday November 30th, 2006

A journal entry from: The Winter of 2006/2007

  • No animal sounds again last night so we slept really well and Phillip woke us at 3:45 am.  We had our coffee and rubbing our eyes climbed into the safari truck again.  Rudy said he was going to take us to the area we had looked down on while we had our sundowners last night.  As we drove along we soon spotted a couple of giraffes and then two rhinos with a baby, a short time later we saw wildebeests and then the piece de resistance, we rounded a corner and a pride of lions jumped to their feet and scattered.   It all happened so fast that we didn?t see how many but I got the impression that there were at least two females and several cubs, someone said they saw a male.  The only lions that stayed so that we could see them were the females but it was still quite dark so I wasn?t able to get any useable pictures although one was quite neat as it showed the outline of a tree with two eyes glowing, Mike got a couple that he may be able to enhance.  We stayed around for a while but the others didn?t come out so we drove off to our trail site. 
  • We walked mainly in and beside a river-bed, it?s been very dry here so there isn?t too much water around.  Rudy showed us skeletons of various animals that had died, some naturally and others killed by predators, because we were near water we saw many wading birds including storks and herons.  There are eagles around, the biggest being the fish eagle which we spotted high in a tree.   At one point there was a dam in the river and it was here that Rudy was heading as there was a large number of hippos wallowing there.  We were able to watch them and listen to them but as they?re mostly submerged we were only able to snap pictures of their ears and eyes, they spend their days in the water then come out to graze on a night-time.  Time for breakfast now sitting on the trunk of a fallen tree.  
  • Moving on we saw a crocodile in the distance, he was moving quickly into the bush ? thank goodness.  In the same area there were a couple of Cape Buffalo, we headed towards them trying to get closer and eventually came upon three of them, they were a bit suspicious of us but we managed to get reasonably close.  As we headed back towards the truck we passed close by three giraffes, they kept their eyes on us as we circled around them.  Back to camp for brunch and a rest.
  • As we drove out for our afternoon trek we passed a dam, Rudy explained that we were going to park the truck and then walk back to the dam.  We started off our walk passing a huge pile of elephant dung which was quite fresh ? we?ve got to be quite the experts on animal excrement.  The dung was alive with dung beetles; these beetles roll the dung into a ball and then, using their hind legs, roll the ball into a hole and it?s here that the female lays her eggs, when the larvae hatches it feeds on the dung - lovely.  Wandering through the bush, Rudy and Phillip picked up the trail of an elephant which they believed was close by.  Rudy went ahead into the bush while Phillip stayed with us, it was the second scariest moment of our trip as we then heard the elephant only about twenty feet away, a big male who could have been dangerous if we got him angry, we were glad to get away from what he considered his space. 
  • The dam site was quite large and we took a walk all the way around it, a couple of crocodiles popped into the water as we approached and hippos grunted in the middle of the dam.  There were birds flying all around as they began to settle in for the night.  Walking away from the dam (very relieved as we had appeared to be heading for a huge crocodile lazing on the bank) we came across another dead baby impala, it didn?t have any marks on it to show it had been attacked, Rudy said it had probably just died because its mum didn?t have enough milk for it.  He said it had probably been dead about a day and once the beetles had started to break down the carcass, birds of prey and predators would arrive to feed on it.
  • Back to the truck and a ride around the dam to a site where we could have our sundowners overlooking the hippos, the crocs, the fish eagle and tons of birds. 
  • Once back at the camp we had our last evening with our new-found friends, we sat around for a few hours talking about the last couple of days and then to bed as, although we weren?t hiking the next day, we still had to be up early.
  • Up at 5 am, by now though we were all awake waiting for John to come around with our water, it?s amazing how quickly you adapt to a new lifestyle.  We had a full breakfast before heading back to Skukuzo, where we?d left the car.  Here we bid our farewells to Rudy, Phillip, John, David and Garren.  Email addresses were exchanged with promises to share photos with one another.
  •  We hung around Skukuzo for a couple of hours and then drove to our next rest camp further north ? Satara.