Thursday, 31st January
This is our last 4.30am call to the gate and we make our way southward in the dark heading for Mwaswitsonto. The usual hyena are out of their culverts lying in the road and just before the Nkaya Pan turn-off we come across a large pride of lion in the headlights. They are soon gone and we move on.
Turning on to the Mwaswitsonto (S125) road we pause for coffee amongst a herd of ellies. We must back off as another group come through, no doubt from nearby Kumana Dam.
The sun rises at 5.36am, already 8 minutes later than when we arrived ten days ago. The precious first hour after sunrise is spent creeping along this outstandingly scenic road with the early sunrays touching the trees and grass. What a sight. Can there be anything more beautiful than the African bushveld at sunrise?
We see little snippets of interest all along the road and then turning onto the northward (S36) road I make a mistake. Too late we see a 2m black mamba sunning himself at the side of the road but he rears up in panic as we are on him and with the forward half of his body raised above the ground he takes off over and into the grass. With his light underside, grey upper body and his gaping black mouth, he is such an impressive sight. If only we had seen him from a distance we could have crept up and photographed him.
Between Muzandzeni and Rockvale we come across a lovely family of ostrich and after patiently waiting a while, they obligingly cross the road ahead of us.
Back in camp at 8.30am which is just about right as I find our concentration begins to waver after four hours in the car. A great morning in cool, clear conditions.
Crash go our boxes outside the caravan and I shoot out to find two huge baboons rifling through our belongings. This is unusual for Satara where we have never been harassed before by monkeys or baboons.
After our customary swim we go out to Girivani Dam this evening and note how the veld has improved since the rains.
Which is probably why there is so little going on around the dams. I am busy lining up a beautiful Martial Eagle when a car arrives and scares it off. But at least we did see raptures today.
There has been an outbreak of insects and at nightime they cluster about the lights. This is in contrast to last week when none were apparent. I feel that this is a sign that the rains will begin in earnest.