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Motswari – April 2006

It was a long weekend and as hard as we tried we could not find accommodation in the Sabi Sands. We eventually found that we could get accommodation in the Timbavati, at a camp called Motswari, but only for 3 nights. So, we decided to spend the additional night, our first, at Old Joe’s Kaia. On our drive up we meandered through Carolina, Badplaas and Machadodorp, seeing two sightings of secretary birds on our way. It is great to see them outside of a reserve.

The next morning we took the scenic route from Schoemanskloof to Sabie, Graskop and then up past Bourke’s Luck and the Three Rondavels to Hoedspruit. We arrived at Motswari at about 14h00. We saw impala and elephant on our way in plus a yellow-billed hornbill being mobbed by some arrow-marked babblers. Lunch was at 14h30 and then it was time to get ready for the afternoon drive.

28 April - Evening Drive

Ranger: Tabie; Tracker: Morris

We had lovely sightings of impala, giraffe and kudu, and we also watched a red-crested korhaan calling and then going up and diving down in display. We encountered a pride of 7 lions – 5 females and 2 young males of about 2.5 years. They were on the move. The drive back to camp was quiet except for a scrub hare and a couple of bronze-winged coursers.

29 April – Morning Drive

Ranger: Frankie; Tracker: Isaac

We changed vehicles as there were 2 new people and our vehicle was up to 9, which was a challenge as Terry’s camera equipment takes up some space too. The other vehicle only had 6 people, until we joined it. The drive was a quiet one. We saw a large male kudu. So we then drove to stop for coffee at a dam wall where we could watch hippos. After the break, things picked up. We rushed across the reserve to join a sighting of a male leopard. We followed him into the bush and back onto the road a few times before making our way back to camp. On the way back we found buffalo – 2 dagga boys. A big bull elephant wandered up to an anthill and used it to scratch his belly, then bum, then chin! We also saw a herd of zebra and one lone wildebeest. A small zebra was lying down. We were worried because it wasn’t moving at all. But then it suddenly jumped up and started feeding from its mother. We were all quite relieved.

29 April – Evening Drive

It was a slow evening. We saw some elephant bulls. We then had a glimpse of a skittish young female leopard, who tried to take on a herd of impala but the slunk away when they spotted her and let her know this in no uncertain terms.

30 April – Morning Drive

We were the only 2 people on the drive so we went birding! We saw, inter alia, dark chanting goshawk, shikra, a juvenile crowned eagle, martial eagle and a goliath heron. During the course of the morning, we stopped for coffee, a walk and the bathroom at the old Mbali camp. Nothing else was spotted by anyone, so we made our way back to camp in time for breakfast.

30 April – Evening Drive

It was another quiet drive. There were no major sightings. We eventually stopped for drinks on Java airstrip and watched the final stages of the sunset. We saw a giant eagle owl and a chameleon. Then a herd of elephants crossed the road behind us in the dark. The tracker was all excited because he thought he had seen a male lion, but instead we found a buffalo.

1 May – Morning Drive

We saved the best for last. On our last morning we had a wonderful sighting of a pride of lions with smallish cubs and a big male. And then it was time to make our way back home…