A prowling leopard

19th July 2014

Juvenile bateleur

Wednesday 16th July 2014

I joined Brett this morning and two of the EcoQuest group, Klaus and Martin, for a drive to Luvuvuh West second lookout. Very chilled out affair which gave me the opportunity to practice what I’d learnt in yesterday’s photography lecture. We got up nice and close to a juvenile bateleur which made for a great opportunity to photograph the raptor. The highlight of the morning for me was watching an African harrier hawk jumping around an apple leaf tree searching for prey in its many nooks and crannies.

There was no time for fitness today as we were all late back and then had to prepare for the sleep out. We were returning to my favourite place again, the site of the bushman paintings. Very different to normal as there were 18 of us in all. I was walking third in line behind Sean and Nico who were carrying rifles, I was armed with a cool box of food. As I looked back all I could see were people snaking through the bushveld behind me. I couldn’t even see the end of the column that Brett was marshalling a as the third and final rifle.

The sleep out hadn’t been planned in advance so not everyone had brought a sleeping bag with them to Makuleke. This posed a bit of a problem but there was a solution, we give them ours for the night. I normally sleep inside two sleeping bags and under one blanket so I wasn’t looking forward to the prospect of sleeping under just two blankets and a bunch of stars. As it turns out the weather was good for us and it didn’t get too cold throughout the night.

Sean showed the guests how to make fire using a base plate and drill which they appeared to master with little effort so we had the fire going in no time. Then it was a little bit more on bushcraft before sundowners up on the ridge.

Normally on one of these nights you’re asleep by eight, nine at the absolute latest but because the food took so long we were up much later. Not that I was complaining as it was fun around the fire with good company and Brett gave a really good talk on the stars.

I was chuffed with how well I slept, it wasn’t perfect and I woke more than a handful of times. One time I stirred was when a leopard was calling his deep “urg, urg, urg”. It was close, so close it sounded as if someone was sawing the tree down that I was sleeping under.