Waking up this morning we all compared the various noises we had heard in the night and came to the conclusion, with Mandla's help, that we had heard hippo's, elephant, hyena and leopard…not bad! Pretty glad I didn't venture outside my tent though!
Today's task is to do…well…nothing! We can laze by the pool but we can't wander too far on our own. The itinerary has changed slightly from what is written in that we should have done the textile factory and village visit today but it's been swapped with tonight's sunset game drive! Giving us the whole day to catch up on some zzz's!
Which is exactly what I did! After breakfast I returned to our tent to write some blog and fell asleep! For about 2 hours!!! Perfect!
On waking up I found a huge spider's web with an equally huge spider just outside! It was about the size of my hand but I am assured it's harmless. I chose to stay away though just in case!
Along the river bank we could see some fighting hippo's which was awesome although thankfully they were quite far away. There were also lots of buck roaming around and in the far distance we should just make out some elephant. It's pretty surreal knowing there are no fences to protect you should any of these animals chose to come any closer! Most of what we saw only became clear through binoculars though so we weren't too worried!
In the evening we had a sunset game drive in the park with a local guide. That said Mandla seems to know a fair bit about the animals here and pretty much talked over the guide the entire time…oops!
In the park we drove around the various tracks to different areas and vegetation types for about an area and ended up at a nice viewpoint to watch the sunset, although it wasn't the most spectacular I've seen given the sun was hidden by trees but it was still pretty cool. Each of us was given a bottle of beer or cider to enjoy and, being on a high view point we were allowed to get out of our 4x4 to stretch our legs provided we kept an eye out for the more dangerous animals. We had spent the last hour or so driving around looking for leopards but had been unlucky and seen nothing. This park is supposed to have the largest concentration of leopard in Africa meaning our chances were high but you can't account for wild animals!
After dark another guide in the vehicle switched on a high powered search light and we went in search of eyes! This guide is apparently an expert and can identify an animal just by the glow from his eyes in the light. If anyone is going to find big cats and hyena (at Adam's request) it's him!
We did manage to see a type of small cat, it was gone too quickly and was too dark for pictures but it was apparently a Genet and looked more like a type of lemur than a cat. Later a small civet ran in front of us as well as a small jackal although we've seen these before but they are strikingly similar to dogs.
Later on we saw 2 separate spotted hyena stalking along the side of the road and both completely ignored the trucks following them before disappearing into the bush. I tried to take pictures but it was just too dark and they were pretty blurred. There was also rumour of a leopard wandering around but by the time we arrived at the place where it was seen it was long gone, if it was there at all!
Back at the campsite we were all escorted safely to our tents for the night. I woke up several times listening to the noises outside...