Second Day at Imbali Lodge.
We woke up at the lodge to the sound of Baboons running across the roof of the chalet. Quietly opening the doors to the terrace we were in time to see the Baboons. They were jumping from the tree onto our terrace and then down into the dry ditch. One of the smaller Baboons misjudged the distance and with a loud splash landed in the jacuzzi. A wet and very surprised Baboon clambered out, shook and ran off after the others. Unfortunately we didn’t have the camera with us. After coffee and rusk we were off on our game drive in the half light.
The first sighting was of the Pearl Spotted Owlet in the tree just outside the lodge. Then we saw five Ground Hornbills standing in some long grass. Nearby a Giraffe stood tall with an Oxpecker on its’ back. We drove past the tree where we had seen the white headed vulture yesterday and there it was. It must be its’ roost.
As the light improved we could see male and female ostrich in the distance. Waterbuck turned their backs to us and walked away into the bush. A Coucal sat in a tree and a pair of Hammerkop stood in a ditch in the shade. Francolin, Spurfowl and Guinea Fowl scurried across the track as Yellow Billed Hornbills and Grey Lori flew along. Nearby a Ground Squirrel dug around at the base of a tree and groups of Impala raised their heads and stared. From the undergrowth a Grey Duiker appeared, looked and quickly disappeared. We had a brief sighting of a Stenbok, before it too disappeared.
Hunting Dogs and Hyenas
Suddenly we sped up Hunting Dog (also called Cape Hunting Dogs) had been spotted. Leaving a trail of dust we headed to the spot where they had last been seen. The first thing we saw and heard was a Hyena and then a pack of Hunting Dogs appeared and were chasing the Hyenas. One of the Hyenas had part of a carcass and was being pursued by the dogs. The meat was reclaimed and the dog was then stalked by the Hyenas. A dog caught the tail of the Hyena and there was a lot of noise as he broke free and ran off into the shrub. An amazing encounter for us to experience and photograph. What would we see next?
Cape Buffalo “Last of the big five”
It had been noticeable this whole trip that buffalo had been very difficult to find. In fact only one lone male had been spotted in the distance. Therefore we were really pleased to finally come across a herd. They were of all sizes, males, females and lots of young calves. We were able to get right among the herd and experience the smell and sound of such large animals as they munched their way through the foliage. Although being in sitting in the middle of a large herd of one of Africa’s 10 Most dangerous animals was at times a little worrying.
Back to the lodge for lunch
On the way back to the lodge we were entertained by a group of Dwarf Mongoose who were busy chasing each other. Back at the lodge we watched Egyptian Geese at the water hole and had good views of a Pearl Spotted Owlet by the pool.
After lunch we sat on our terrace and watched Crested Barbets in a nearby tree. Suddenly a young Bushbuck walked onto the other side of our terrace and had a drink from our jacuzzi. Imbali Lodge is a really special place to experience wildlife close at hand.
Afternoon Game Drive at Imbali
After such a special morning we were really looking forward to the afternoon game drive. As we drove along the trail we saw the usual Impala, Kudu, Waterbuck, Giraffe and a timid Grey Duiker. At a waterhole were a family of Elephants. A youngster raised his trunk and flapped his ears in a mock charge. The species of birds were the same as we had seen previously. In the distance a group of Ostrich raised their long necks and the males fluffed up their dark tail feathers. We were even lucky enough to see the Buffalo again and a group of Wildebeest.
We were off to a good start. A vehicle from the other direction told us that Lions had been sighted. Once again we were off at speed to track down the Lions. Hidden in the grass alongside the track we could see movement. Suddenly ears and heads appeared and the grass parted to reveal Lion cubs. They were playing, chasing, rolling over and leaping on each other. A Lioness appeared and then another. There were an amazing four Lionesses and nine cubs. The Lioness crossed the track followed in a single line by the cubs and the other Lionesses. We watched in amazement as they disappeared from sight.
After such excitement we decided it would be a good time to find a place for a sundowner. In a small clearing we climbed out of the vehicle to enjoy the sunset and our G&Ts. Alan disappeared into the undergrowth for a comfort break as another vehicle approached with lights flashing. The guides radio also alerted us that Lions were heading our way. To our amazement as we hurriedly climbed into the vehicle the Lions we had seen earlier walked past us only yards away. As the light had almost gone it was difficult to photograph. As they disappeared from view their progress only noticeable by the movement of the long grass.
Back on the track and headed to the lodge the drivers torch lit up a tree. We stopped and gazed at a White Faced Owl looking down at us. Once again the torch lit up Chameleons in the bushes. As we approached the lodge we startled groups of Bushbuck, Impala and Baboons. What a fantastic day!
After another superb evening meal it was time to pack as we were returning home the next day.
Drive back to the Orphen Gate
Unfortunately it was time to leave South Africa and head for home after a fantastic wildlife experience. The drive back to the Orphen Gate out of the Kruger would be our last opportunity to see the wildlife of this part of Africa. It didn’t disappoint as all the usual animals and birds were waking up. The Ground Hornbills were even in the same patch. Additionally a jackal, covered in dew, crossed the track and spent some time posing as it tried to dry itself followed by a banded mongoose walking through the grass.
Back at the Orphen Gate we thanked our driver/guide and transferred to the coach which was to transport us to the airport.
It was an unforgettable wildlife holiday, which was organised by Titan, our first time travelling with this tour company. We were impressed with their organisation on this trip,The South African Safari Adventure. Our guide/drivers were informative and helpful and the tour leader Gys was excellent. All four lodges we stayed at were excellent, very clean, comfortable with great food and friendly staff.