Today was our second full day of game drives. Unlike yesterday, which was chilly and rainy at times, today started just overcast and much warmer. By mid-morning the Sun started to break through the clouds, although we still did not really see a sunrise.
We saw a lot of our old friends again today. At this point, after a couple of days of following the same animals around, you start to get a sense of their life and daily activities. We started by heading back to the first kill site we had seen early yesterday. On our way, we passed the pride of lions heading away from the site. That meant they had gorged themselves, and there was likely just bones and scraps left.
Lioness & Lion, August 2017
When we got there, the hyenas and vultures were scrapping over the bones, each taking a turn. The vultures sat in trees, then swooped down to pick at the remains. The hyenas were very cautious, as they knew the lions had just been there. Sixteen lions against nine hyenas is not a fair fight; the hyenas would be decimated. So they kept sniffing and looking to where the lions had gone, and finally started to chase off the vultures.
Vultures working the site, August 2017
Cautious hyenas, August 2017
After leaving that site, we went looking for the leopard (again). Along the way, we passed the elephant herd and Mark guessed they were headed for a water hole where Singita had an observation blind. So we went there and were rewarded by more than a dozen elephants stopping to drink and play a bit.
Drinking and playing, August 2017
The family that drinks together, August 2017
Somewhere along the way, we saw this large bull elephant. Not sure when.
No bull, August 2017
We also passed any number of other animals along the road during our drive. Here are three water buffalo resting in the grass.
The Three Amigos, August 2017
We did finally find the female leopard and her cub resting along the Sand River.
Mother leopard and cub, August 2017
We heard over the radio that the male leopard was walking further up the river, so we headed over there to see if we could catch a glimpse. When we got there, another truck was already there, and that guide told us that the leopard was deep in the brush and not visible. We parked and waited, and he came up from the river banks and posed for us. Then he tried to attack one of the baby elephants – our favorite herd had moved up here – which resulted in a lot of bellowing and stamping as the elephants gathered all the babies inside a defensive circle that the adults made. The leopard wisely gave up; while he might have injured one of the elephants, they probably would have killed him.
Leopard pose, August 2017
Trying to find an opening, August 2017
Much later, after seeing more elephants, hippos, rhinos, lions, endless impala, and who can remember what else, we ended the day with a traditional sundowner – drinks and snacks in the bush served by our guide and tracker.
We get up at 5:30 am again tomorrow for our last abbreviated game drive here in Singita. We need to leave the lodge to drive to a small runway about 40 minutes away, where we will catch a FedAir Unscheduled Charter to Mpumalanga, and then we’ll board a South African Airways flight to Cape Town.