We left Orpen and took the H7 for a short way then back along the S106 to the S140. We watched a pair of black backed jackals for a short while but the morning light was a bit too dim for our cameras to get good photos.
We wondered whether grumpy ellie would be there again and stopped on the crest of a hill to look at the road ahead. He WAS there again sauntering along the road- a huge gatekeeper. However we were at least a hill and valley away with good vision of most of the road ahead. We waited patiently until he turned into the bush and had wandered quite a way in. Then without delay drove steadily by – there may have been leopards, servals, lions, wild dogs, an aardvark, sable antelope, a yeti… but we did not pause until well past the spot where he had turned off the road. Is there a South African equivalent of a yeti or bunyip? I guess there are so many real enigmatic creatures that Africa doesn’t need a mythical one.
I think we were a little weary of taking photos on this stage of the journey. We did capture a leopard tortoise foaming at the mouth, a male steinbok and a white-backed vulture. I did a quick web search on foaming mouths in tortoises and in pet tortoises it indicates a respiratory infection such as pneumonia.
The most memorable scene on the drive to Tshokwane from Orpen was this pair of duelling male giraffes. We were horrified at the violence and power in their blows. They have hitherto seemed such docile, gentle creatures.
We stopped for a while on the bridge across the Sabie near Skukuza to watch a family of baboons and a very cute baby. Other visitors to the river at the bridge were a three banded plover and giant kingfisher.
We saw some impalas and relatively small elephant who seemed agitated. It was swaying, throwing branches about, trumpeting and doing short charges at something we couldn’t see. However when we returned along this road there were three hyenas resting in the vicinity of the place we’d seen the elephant.
I confess that prior to this trip I’ve never been particularly enamoured with hyenas. My favour has fallen on cats. This close encounter with hyenas changed my impression. They would have been about 1.5-2m at the most from my window. I think I was bewitched by them. They are beautiful now- absolutely magnificent creatures.