Satara 3rd September

Sunny and clear with a drift from the north, perfect again for the S100 Nwanetsi River road. The sun rises at 6.03am today and the scene is just magnificent.

The leopard up the sycamore fig should be just a memory but….. I am wrong. He is still there and I notice a waterbuck shin bone wedged in a nearby fork. Our leopard though is sleeping soundly and barely moves behind dense foliage.

“X” marks the spot where the leopard is lying.

I now have a dilemma. Should I wait for some great early morning photos of him or should I press on down the road. I am afraid that I am a leopard fan, never tiring of these wonderful animals. So, I sit put willing him to come down from his branch and have a drink of water.

I wait there two hours and am just about to give up when he rises and comes down the branch.

He then strolls to the water and has a leisurely drink. That over with, he flops down on a nearby strip of sand and I get some attractive shots with shafts of sunlight playing over his face.

I am afraid that this idyllic scene ends in chaos – South African style. A GP SUV arrives and manages to put his front wheel over the lip of the river bank – and cannot then reverse. With engine screaming, the driver wheel spins wildly and thick clouds of dust envelop the scene – but the car doesn’t move at all, just digging itself deeper. Perplexed, our streetwise leopard just stares wide-eyed at these goings on. Suddenly both front doors of the SUV are flung open and two ‘manne’ (straight out the manual) emerge muttering oaths. The leopard takes one look at this and bolts into the far distance. After deflating their tyres, the Vaalies extricate themselves and leave with a final wheel spin which showers my Quantum with stones. They are followed by some choice comments from other furious onlookers. Fortunately, I got my photos before their intervention but still rather bemused, I return to camp after 9am.

With not a cloud in the sky, the temperature reaches 33℃ but it feels cool and comfortable.

At 3pm I take off down the H6 tarred Nwanetsi Road calling in at the Sweni Causeway. I then make my way northward up the S41 crossing the Nwanetsi Stream that is flowing strongly.

Then on to the causeway above Gudzani Dam over which the stream is also pouring despite this being the dry season.

I photograph a Striated (Green-backed) Heron – beautiful in the evening light.

Then back up the S100 Nwanetsi gravel road heading for camp and splendid in the last hour before sunset.

Nwanetsi River
The end of another wonderful day in paradise.