As the weatherman promised, we woke up on Friday to an extremely windy day, and it was a wind that wouldn’t let up until very late in the evening. Now, days like this normally strike fear into even the most hardy of guides, as we all know that the animals just don’t like the wind, and we were worried about just how much would be out there – by the close of day, we realised that we needn’t have worried! I headed out a bit early than the rest of the gang due to early checkouts, but bumbled along not ticking off much more than impala and waterbuck in the early morning before watching the sun rise over the eastern horizon. We spent time with zebra, hippo, crocoodile, impala and a lilac breasted roller around Buffalo Pan before seeing several groups of giraffe as we made our way towards what would turn out to be the same small buffalo herd from yesterday, except that they were now on our western boundary; a long way to go, but not so if the seven Timbavati Pride members were chasing you (although, following close scrutiny of some of my photos, I am not even sure myself anymore…maybe Xanatsi Pride???) all night. We eventually arrived and found the herd resting until late in the morning, probably still knackered from the efforts of staying alive – the lions however were found further east, towards the Nhlarlaumi without a reward for their efforts. Whilst watching some vultures nearby, another guide radioed in even more at Lily Pan, and said that he was going to investigate – he soon called to say that he had a wild dog with a kill there; as I was only a short distance away, I rushed to join him and the lone wild dog that was nervously munching away on its kudu calf kill – i am sure that it must be the same wild dog that was seen on Java a few days back, as well as the same individual that ran past Jacky when he was tracking lions in the east last week; despite being without a pack, she looks in great shape and was possibly one of the larger dogs I have seen! However, in the wind, and without the protection of the pack, she was a bit nervous of hanging around her kill and after having her enjoyed her share, she ran off into the bush and disappeared. It was odd just seeing one wild dog, but as it had been a specific request from my guests, we were all glad that we had ventured out in the wind. We didn’t go see the Timbavati Pride of lions, but headed back home passing kudu, a lone elephant, impalas and some more giraffe. We popped into the Western Pride of lions – still only six of them – resting in a mopane thicket just off Piva Plains, and although they stirred a bit, they were definitely down for the day. We passed more impala, zebra, waterbuck (including babies), hippos and crocodiles around Argyle Dam before closing down at the lodge after a successful morning!
Luckily this set things up for a good afternoon in the wind, as just as well, asI and guests only visiting for one night. We began with warthogs and impalas on the airstrip followed by time at Argyle Dam doing some birding and enjoying waterbuck, impala, hippos and crocodiles around the dam. Crossing onto Piva Plains we were treated with zebra, waterbuck, impala and warthogs all out in the open, but the lions remained in the thickets on the western side. We opted not to go to see them just yet, and headed towards Buffalo Pan again, and along the way we continued to see waterbuck, impala as well as a distant troop of baboons followed by loads of impala, a surprised hippo, a crocodile and more zebra around the pan. Elephants tracks indicated that a herd had been around recently, so a little following up led us to a small herd of elephants before we made our way back towards Piva Plains, passing some relaxed giraffes, impala and waterbuck along the way. The lions had made their way onto the plains, but the general game had moved off – this didn’t deter the lions who started to stir and began playing with one another making for a lovely sighting in the fading light as the full moon sat in the sky above. It was already dark when we left them, so we headed back tot he lodge for early drinks at the bar, satisfied with another great day of viewing, despite the wind! In the evening Brad spent some time with the Timbavati Pride as they moved north along the Nhlaralumi, whilst Andries got to see Nthombi female leopard down in the south; some elephants showed up after dark near the lodge too to complete our sightings list.