Cat House

Nancy Vandermey, Author
South Africa Trip October/November 2013 part 8

At 3 pm we met our trail rangers Job and Obert and co-hikers (two Spanish women with limited English, and a racist German man). On the way to camp we saw elephants, buffalo, more general game, and a giant eagle owl Sweni trail camp is set high on the bank of the Sweni river, a permanent camp with A-frame huts View from campfire/dining area There were lots of birds to see from camp, including plum-colored starlings and gray lourie and many elephants We set up the trail camera and enjoyed a good dinner, but the heat was oppressive - over 40 degrees Celcius and near 100 percent humidity. The moon rose red and there was much lightning in the distance. Everyone else went to their huts while we watched the storm get closer. When the rain started we moved to the safari vehicle, which was under a roof. Just in time, the storm passed directly overhead, with heavy wind and rain and lightning all around. Several times lightning struck right next to camp, with a super loud BOOM. I wish I could have caught this on camera. After the rain subsided a bit we went to our hut, but the lightning had a few more loud BOOMs yet. In the morning the rain had stopped, so hiking in the mud we went! I highly recommend the Sweni trail, the open area around camp is fantastic for walking. On foot we saw kudu giraffe impala waterbuck and klipspringer along with a view back to camp elephant flower morning glory impala afterbirth and hippo as well as several large trees brought down by the lightning last night Morning break was at a fantastic view point with skink and then it was back to walking. We came close to elephant and rhino and saw more flowers before approaching camp from the north Another tree hit by lightning right next to camp, probably one of the hits we heard Just before the camp gate Obert spotted a chameleon And then it was time to wash off the mud In the wilderness camps everyone votes whether to hike or do a game drive in the evening, as we had hiked about 17 km that morning we all chose a drive, with maybe a short hike to a sundowner spot (you bring your own drinks, but all food is provided). On the way to Marheya dam we found rhino a black backed jackal (rare to see here compared to Kgalagadi park) and then a large male lion and his companion At the dam we watched hippos and the sunset and relaxed Heading back after dark I caught two porcupine out of the corner of my eye, and then shortly thereafter another one was slow enough to allow a proof shot finally, our 6th one of this trip And to top things off we found 3 more male lions I woke up at midnight to the sound of breaking branches and ripping grass right outside the hut. I could even see a trunk by the moonlight reaching into the tree next door. My husband refused to believe there was an elephant in camp, as there is a fence, which is meant more to keep us in than animals out. We put shoes on and grabbed the flashlight and looked outside, but elephants are very good at hide and seek. In the morning Job asked if anyone had heard the elephant, so I wasn't crazy! There was a nice sunrise For today's hike first we drove 30 minutes away, seeing elephant, including a good tusker Today's hike was quieter than yesterday's, with squill caterpillars and spider nests There was giraffe and warthogs and impala too. At camp I took a picture of the area map before siesta time Getting together to plan the evening, we were treated to a hundred elephants coming to the water in front of camp to play KNP Video has 16 short clips, including these elephants, but you'll get ahead of the story if you watch it now!

We voted to go for a short drive and a walk to a nice sundowner spot. However that got derailed when soon out of camp we came across these male lions and a honeymoon couple Lots of pictures were taken as we stayed through 4 mating sessions Session #2 Posing afterwards Session #3 More posing, and resting Session #4 All done KNP Video has 16 short clips, including these lions, but you'll get ahead of the story if you watch it now!

Needless to say it was getting dark and too late to hike, but we were all happy! We did a quiet evening drive anyways In the morning we were up before the wake up call, as I was getting ready to shower Eric ran back yelling "Lions in sight!" so we all went to the campfire area and saw the honeymoon couple again, which I count as seeing lions while on foot (to go with the leopard, elephant, rhino, hippo, and many antelope) On the drive back to Satara we found a nice buffalo herd

Part 1 - Planning and Kgalgadi: Twee Rivieren
Part 2 - Kgalgadi: Urikaruus and Kalahari Tented Camp
Part 3 - Kgalgadi: Nossob, Grootkolk, Mata Mata
Part 4 - Kgalgadi: Twee Rivieren and Black Footed Cat group
Part 5 - Kruger: Berg En Dal and Skukuza
Part 6 - Kruger: Nwatimwambu Walking Trail and Lower Sabie
Part 7 - Kruger: Satara
Part 8 - Kruger: Sweni Wilderness Trail
Part 9 - Kruger: Olifants
Part 10 - Kruger: Tamboti and Biyamiti
Part 11 - Notten's Bush Camp