While writing this blog suddenly a group of Pumbas followed by a group of monkeys passed by my little desk. Obviously not all animals are kept outside the camp. The monkeys I knew how to handle as this hasn’t been my first close encounter. Just hide all food and shiny things and basically anything valuable they could grab. But the Pumbas I had no idea how to deal with. It was a mother and her three teenage kids and their teeth were of quite impressive size. But as the other campers stayed calm, I also carried on writing.
After breakfast we were back in the park to see no animals for quite some time – maybe they were sleeping in. The first animal we then saw actually was sleeping in – it was a male lion. While the lioness we had seen two days earlier were hunting, he did what he was best at, dozing the day away. As he didn’t intend to get up, this time we couldn’t shoot that once in a lifetime photo, but there are more days to come.
After a morning with mostly impalas we had a lunch bbq at the Nkuhlu picnic site at the beautiful Sabie river. And while preparing our burgers we could observe a group of elephants drinking on the other side of the river and of course some monkeys, this time vervet monkeys, were looking out for our food.
While following the river we were looking out for crocodiles and after a while we actually got lucky. There it was, gigantic, notorious and lazy, sleeping in the middle of the river on a sand bank. We thought we had hit the jackpot until we arrived at the Sunset pan where we saw dozens of those prehistoric creatures.
They were lining up at the sand bank of this pretty big water hole warming up and relaxing all day long in the sun. But whenever you think you found the perfect spot at a lake and everything is perfectly set you can be sure that some idiot shows up and ruins it. In the case of the crocodiles, this idiot was a hyperactive hippo. This hippo showed no fear, walking into the crocodiles and bulling them until they got so annoyed that they left for the water. But not even there they were save from the hippo. It followed them and chased them through half the water hole just for the fun of it. We always thought that this would be an even fight, but either the crocodiles don’t stand a chance against the way bigger and stronger hippo or they are just too lazy to fight back. Nevertheless, my idea that hippos are bullies harassing and sometimes killing other animals just for fun got enforced by this experience. But as annoying as this was for the crocs, the better this was for us filmmakers.
But there were more things happening at the Sunset pan. There was a baby crocodile sleeping right in front of some other guest’s car and there were lots of those saddle-billed storks with their red and yellow faces and then there was a gigantic buffalo. We had no idea that they could get that big. But the 1.5t hippo looked like a pony compared to the way bigger water buffalo. But as bullies only harass weaker creatures and the water buffalo is a way more peaceful creature there was no conflict evolving in between those two. The buffalo was just enjoying himself in the mud, covering all his body, including the head with this nurturing soil – he must have been a beauty addict.
At some point we eventually had to leave this spectacular scenery as we were already late again for gate closing. But what we saw next was of at least the same level of fascination. We saw a female kudu and couldn’t believe what we saw. Its ears were so big and its appearance so different from everything we’ve ever seen before we were convinced it must have arrived directly from a fantasy movie.
While on our way back we entered the golden hour. As the sun started to go down the light was simply perfect and therefore the female nyalas, the zebras and giraffes, the group of elephants, the grey go-away-bird (that is actually his name) and the pied kingfisher looked even more beautiful.
We meanwhile figured out why zebras and giraffes mostly stick together. This symbiosis occurs because of protection. While giraffes can see quite far at day and warn the zebras when a predator approaches, the zebras possess an excellent night vision and can warn the giraffes at night. And by working together they are both saver.