Sunday, 30th September  DAY 11

Sunday, 30th September  DAY 11

A howling east wind develops during the night but fortunately we are all in one piece in the morning. Today is to be a day with a difference. Thanks to Chris and Dudley’s efforts in the pub last night, we have been invited to join a game drive on tour bakkies to Deka, a new camp that is being built out west. Furthermore, we are to accompany one of the owners of the company that has the lease of Robins and his extended family. He lives at Mount Edgecombe in Durban and flies out of Virginia.

At 6am we join the group for coffee and rusks and then mount the vehicles and begin our trip. I am struck by how similar is the country to the Satara area – only a little more undulating. We see Roan Antelope again as well as Yellow-throated Sandgrouse along the way. Deka camp is perched on a low hillock and is in the process of being built from scratch.

Old rondavels and buildings are being demolished to be replaced and in operation by April next year. It transpires that nearly everyone in the group is a Michaelhouse Old Boy so Dudley and I have trouble defending the Hilton flag. After viewing the impressive surrounds and enjoying some bacon and egg rolls, we set off on a circuitous route back to Robins. This takes us back onto Kalahari Sands and immediately the vegetation changes from grass to woodland. We see in all four herds of Roan which is most pleasing. We pass, reedbuck, impala, ellies, zebra, duiker and leopard spoor in the road.

We stop at a water point where I am informed that the Bhejane Trust is responsible for sinking and then maintaining the boreholes throughout the Park. Rather like Kgalagadi, if there were no artificial water points then there would be precious little animal life for tourists to see. I am impressed by the flow from into the pan’s inlet point – easily +4,000lt/hr.

Co-owner of the Robins concession Murray Collins chats to Dudley.

Arriving back at camp, a King Air aircraft from Virginia, Durban lands (take note Warren) ready to carry some of the owner’s family members back home.

Amongst them is Bill Lambert, an old Pietermaritzburg stalwart. We are again plied with beers by our most generous hosts before making our way back to our campsite at 1pm. A most interesting and fascinating morning.

H R Robins. A wizened old pioneering farmer who left such a legacy.

We have been kindly invited by hosts to join then for an afternoon drive. So at 4.30pm we climb aboard and two bakkies set out – us to Salt Pan and the other to Big Toms.

We travel through mopane woodland initially but later come to the salt pan. At the nearby dam we find two Pratincoles.

We then head for Big Toms but before we can get there we come across 9 lionesses at the side of the road. They are in very relaxed mode but after a while stroll off down the road.

In the meantime we have called the other bakkie to the sighting. Their lean condition suggests that they are due for a meal. From the road the lionesses suddenly spy some zebras and one lioness comes running back past us and then we can see her circling the zebras amongst the bushes. The trap is almost closing when the zebras make a bolt for it and escape but the strategy shown by the lionesses was so interesting. We move on to Big Toms where we have drinks in the darkness. Then on the way back to camp we see a serval in the headlights.

Our hosts have been so  kind and have invited us to dinner in the dining hall. Three rather grubby campers join the others at the dining table and a most pleasant evening it was.