Sixth (and last) Game Drive, Morning of Day 4 at Londolozi
So…about this 5AM thing . . .
Saturday’s drive was relatively uneventful – but we’d already experienced so much, we were content to just be out in that beautiful landscape, spectators drinking in the beauty of another gorgeous morning in this amazing world.
This hippo got himself stuck just outside the camp fence. (Was it our drunken hippo trying to find his way home? Or to another swampy bar?)
Another beautiful morning sky.
We started off slowly . . . a kudu here, an “ellie” there . . .were we so soon jaded?
We had another drive by the pond, where African Grey Herons were doing their morning dance atop hippo backs. Was this a form of Thai massage?
Given that we’d had such luck with our sightings up to this point, we decided to challenge Sean to either one of the many pregnant zebra actually giving birth, or mating leopards. Mating leopards, you ask?
At yoga on Friday, Jen had heard a Tree Camp guest report that they’d seen leopards mating, so we just threw that idea into the ring as a great way to end our safari. We learned that female leopards go into heat for 4 days, during which time they mate every 20 minutes. So, if you found a mating couple, chances are you’d see something interesting. Sean accepted the challenge, and spent the morning looking for this couple, which Joy said he thought he had heard nearby (apparently, they are none too quiet during this activity). At one point Joy left the jeep and set out on foot, with only a radio. When Sue asked why no gun, Sean said that many of the native trackers prefer to go without, as they then focus more, using only their senses, which are heightened as they do not have the protection of a gun.
After Joy set off, we drove around for some time, hoping to find the leopards on our own, but without luck. When Sean tried to radio Joy, he got no answer. He tried several more times, again no answer, and nobody said anything, but we were all thinking the same thing: Joy found the leopards, and the leopards found Joy.
Eventually, Sean started off-roading through thicker and thicker bush, sometimes having to perform several 3-point-turn maneuvers to get around the bigger trees and brush – the smaller ones he just drove over, and they popped right back up. We laughed as we bounced along and ducked thorny branches that brushed the jeep.
Sean turned back onto one of the dirt roads, and suddenly, there was Joy, appearing out of nowhere, slowly walking towards us. The two chatted calmly and Joy casually reported that his radio battery was dead. This was a head-scratcher to Sean, who’d tested the radios before setting out that morning.
After a short wild-dog-chase that also came up empty, our time to leave had come (we had scheduled an abbreviated drive since we had to pack up and head for the airport). Sean headed back by way of the small Londolozi airstrip (used mainly for emergencies, they do allow guests to fly in here, with small planes, but they discourage it through high fees, as they don’t really want the aircraft disturbing the wildlife — or the other guests).
The airstrip seemed to be a gathering place for many animals, and we had final sightings of many of our new old friends: giraffe, impala, wildebeest, and zebra – with a few scrub hares thrown in just for something new. There was also a warthog convention.
The giraffe were especially graceful loping across the runway.
One last breakfast sighting from the deck — a giraffe silhouetted on the ridge.
We were sad to say goodbye, but it also felt like the right amount of time: 6 game drives, 3 mornings and 3 evenings. We’d seen so much, been treated so well, experienced such beauty, met lovely people. We all left feeling extremely lucky and thinking that maybe, one day, we might come back. After all, we hadn’t seen a cheetah.
(Is that Sean in the background shedding a tear?)
Goodbye, lovely Londolozi. Until we meet again.