6.30am and we are both out of camp winding our way up to the plateau. Here we pause for our customary cup of condensed milk coffee.
If you look carefully at this photo you will see a couple of houses down near the dam. This is the first farmstead built in the area in 1838 – the time of the Great Trek – and subsequently became the farm on which Mountain Zebra Park began.
Every day has its different mood. Today, although the sky is clear, mist banks lie in the valleys. The scene across the plains is just beautiful.
Take note of the highest koppie in the above photo. Its name is Saltpeterskop and it lies just within the northern boundary of the Park. During the Boer War, the British established a lookout atop this koppie from where they commanded a good view of the surrounding country. Bored Brit soldiers carved a chessboard into a flat rock on the the summit (it still exists) and through a heliograph (mirror signalling system) could communicate with the main camp in Cradock which had their own chessboard. Thus games of chess helped to pass the time for bored soldiers.
We see our first Blue Cranes but only at a distance.
Again, there is much to be seen in these grasslands but nothing that I haven’t already mentioned in previous reports. Arriving at the little dam along the road towards Ubejane, we find the female South African Shelduck by herself. Just as we are beginning to speculate that something may have happened to the male, he arrives in a flurry.
These must be up there with the most beautiful of the ducks. We watch them for some time whilst they are busy feeding and I am hoping to get a shot of them flying off. But before that can happen a typically agressive, noisy Egyptian Goose divebombs them and puts them to flight.
We return to camp at 10am after a lovely morning. This afternoon we decide to head for the ‘duck dam’ but our progress is delightfully delayed by the sight of three Black Rhinos – an adult female, a juvenile and a baby. My goodness that really warms the heart to see these rare, beautiful animals so relaxed.
Next a Secretarybird comes striding past complete in his leotard trousers.
We then come to a puddle in the road in which a variety of birds are bathing and drinking – a special sight in the evening light.
What a great day, full of interest and unusual sights.
The campsite cannot take further bookings despite being only 50% full – a spinoff from the Covid business. In rather a selfish way, we quite enjoy this as the roads in the Park are so quiet and devoid of traffic.