On our second day, our morning drive was initially filled with birds. We had companions in the jeep who were bona fide birdwatchers. We slowed down a little bit and took a longer time to look at the birds. At one point, we came across storks wading in a pond early in the morning. It was simply magnificent watching them. So idyllic.
After a few hours of birding, it became all about big cats. One of the rangers managed to track down two lionesses hidden in the bush. It was the most incredible experience. Uly would just plow through bushes and past trees so we could get to them. The two of them were just lying under a shady tree. They are generally cranky and, like Stompy, also they charge the trucks occasionally. They did growl a few times at us, which made my heart race. Thankfully, nothing more happened. One of the lionesses was named “Yoda”. Apparently, many of the animals were named after Star Wars characters, which is pretty cool.
Then we got word that the male lion of the pair was spotted. So we drove to find him. Like the other two lionesses, he was lying underneath a tree. He barely acknowledged us. So sleepy. But he was huge! His paws were enormous.
Then we got word that cheetahs were spotted. So we were off further into the bush to find them. It was incredible how the terrain changed so much. We’d go from bushes and trees with beige soil to just bushes with red soil, and so on. It felt that traveling five minutes in any direction would change the landscape. So neat.
We came across the two cheetahs, also lazing about in the shade. I had heard that big cats spend a lot of time resting about. I fell in love with these cheetahs. They are such beautiful animals. One of them kept rolling in the opposite direction from the camera. Shy!
The rest of the morning and early afternoon was spent lounging on the deck of the restaurant facing the watering hole. The temperature was perfect; I was shaded and curled up with my best book. During that time, I listened to the hippos making their grunts. They even walked out of the water during the hottest time and grazed on land. It was amazing to watch a small herd of hippos wander about, bobbing their heads as they walked.
And then I finally saw the wild dogs. I was lazily reading when I had this feeling. I grabbed my binoculars and looked to see a whole pack of wild dogs hanging out on a small rocky outcropping. There were at least a dozen of them. Then they wandered across the plains and disappeared into the bush. I counted fourteen of them. A while later, I saw them running back from the bush back to the outcropping. It was so neat to see these relations of our dogs.
That’s all for now! We’ll talk about our afternoon drive tomorrow!