Phinda – October 2010

We left early on the Saturday morning to go to Phinda. Unfortunately there were major road works so we had to take a long route around. The one advantage of this is that we spotted bald ibis along the R60 Louwsburg. We had not seen them in quite some time.

Mountain Lodge

Ranger: Donald; Tracker: Malusi

Guests: Barbara from Cape Town and her friend Maggie from the UK, Geoff (who was in ZA for an AIDS workshop) and his son, Andy, who had come with him for the trip. In fact, it is Andy who introduced us to the kindle showing us how well it worked. It wasn’t too long after this that we bought our own!

Saturday, 23 October – Evening Drive

Warthogs were prolific as we made our way out on our drive. We also saw nyala and impala as we drove over the mountain, before coming across two female lions. Later, as we were watching violet-backed starlings and a bearded woodpecker, we were called about a leopard sighting. We rushed across to the sighting, fully expecting not to see anything given how rare leopard sightings are at Phinda. As we arrived at the sighting, the other vehicle left and the leopard came out into the road. We followed for a short way until he climbed over the top of a rock and then left us. 

Other sightings: giraffe, white rhino, wildebeest and a large spotted genet

Sunday, 24 October – Morning Drive

We saw plenty of white rhino and warthogs, as well as a huge pod of hippos. We drove to the grass plains where we came across two male cheetahs. We drove to a lookout to stop for drinks and passed a kudu nearby. We also encountered a large terrapin on the road. He hid in the bush and stopped.

Other sightings: sharp-nosed grass frog and African tree frog (dark grey)
Birds: Kurrichane buttonquail

Back in camp we saw an olive toad. We also asked to have our tables put together and started a trend for our stay at Mountain Lodge – having breakfast together as a group each morning.

Sunday, 24 October – Evening Drive

There were plenty of giraffe out and about. We also saw a bull elephant walking across the road. There was plenty of lightning about too as it got a little darker, but we spent most of our time at a dam doing some birding.

Other sightings: crocodile
Birds: red-chested cuckoo, yellow-billed stork and African spoonbill

Monday, 25 October – Morning Drive

We saw a female cheetah and both black and white rhino on our drive. There were plenty of giraffe again. We also saw a crab with a millipede in its claws and a hinged tortoise. We also took note of all the flowers that were present in the bush. There were lilies – fireball, candy-striped and a variety of grass lily – white-pink gerbera and plenty of scotia. The bush was really colourful.

Monday, 25 October – Evening Drive

This was a drive full of babies! There was a giraffe that was only about 1 or 2 weeks old, a 2/3 week old zebra and plenty of warthog piglets. We drove north and came across a herd of buffalo. As we drove in towards Forest Lodge, we found a red duiker in the sand forest. We then drove further north and found 3 different families of elephants who had come to drink at a dam. One herd had a really small baby! As it grew darker we also saw 3 large spotted genets.

Tuesday, 26 October – Morning Drive

We saw a rhino mom and her 6 month old calf. Then we came across a baby zebra standing among some wildebeest. Mom then crossed the road and re-united with an affectionate rubbing of the neck and head. It was really cute! On the way back, we saw a baby giraffe and rhino with a 2 month old calf. It was baby day again…

We all had our last breakfast together. The others were on their way home, but we had to pack and then we were off to Forest Lodge. Everyone was really envious.

Forest Lodge

Ranger: Paolo; Tracker: Zakhele
Guests: Pippa and Mike, and a cousin, Sara, who was on her first ever safari

Tuesday, 26 October – Evening Drive

We saw both red duiker and suni while in our room and on our drive out of camp. We then saw 2 bull elephants fighting, plus 2 male cheetah and plenty of white rhinos. Then, believe it or not, we saw 2 sightings of leopard, a white-tailed mongoose and what we think was a marsh owl once it was dark and we were on our way back towards camp.

Wednesday, 27 October – Morning Drive

We saw a lioness and her 3 nine month old cubs – 2 male and 1 female. We also saw 3 young spotted eagle owls in a tree with one adult close by.

Other sightings: hippos and white rhino
Birds: red-chested cuckoo

We had breakfast in the bush and then made our way back to camp where we relaxed in our room and saw a blue-mantled crested flycatcher (L), first the female and then the male.

Wednesday, 28 October – Evening Drive

While we waited to go in and see the lions, we did some bird-watching. We then made our way into the sighting of the lions and found them in the road – Mom and the 3 cubs again. The lioness then got up and started to move, so the cubs followed. And so did we. We tracked them off road and then the ranger/tracker decided that she looked keen to hunt so we held back. She left the cubs and took down a male nyala in the bushes. We moved in and watched the kill-bite as well as the excitement of the cubs as they rolled over the carcass and each other! We stayed with them until it was nearly dark and then made our way out to stop somewhere safer for drinks. We saw a large spotted genet and then it started to rain so we made our way back to camp early, but everyone was in agreement that we had had a good night!

Thursday, 29 October – Morning Drive

We drove into the south. We saw buffalo, zebra, giraffe and kudu, as well as the usual culprits. We also saw a pygmy kingfisher and a giant kingfisher – quite a contrast in size!

Thursday, 29 October – Evening Drive

There were new guests – Jacqueline and Paul – who joined our vehicle. We went back to see the lioness and her 3 cubs. We saw the tail-end of a herd of elephant and a really big bull elephant. We saw 2 hyenas at a den. We were also lucky enough to see a thick-tailed bush-baby who was really relaxed.

Birds: Neergaard’s sunbird

Friday, 30 October – Morning Drive

We drove onto the marsh and found some rhino along the way. We also found the 2 cheetah brothers again. We had a couple of sightings of pairs of secretary birds at a distance and we also watched one catch and eat a snake. Instead of hearing the red-chested cuckoo all morning, today it was the gorgeous bush-shrike and after much searching (on a good few occasions) we were lucky enough to see one. There were reedbuck on the marsh and we also saw a rock monitor.

Friday, 30 October – Evening Drive

We saw white rhino, some more reedbuck, some buffalo and a black rhino, before we made our way in to see the lioness and her 3 cubs again. They had another nyala kill and they were all lying around in the dark, sleeping. On our way back to camp we saw a white-tailed mongoose, another thick-tailed bush-baby and 2 bateleurs roosting in trees.

Saturday, 31 October – Morning Drive

We went back to see the lions and they were all “fat” from the nyala kill. We followed them as they made their way down to drink. But they did not look like they had energy to do more than this! So we continued with our game drive. We saw baboons, reedbuck and some general game and we used the opportunity to take some photographs of the beautiful lilies.