A real Dr Dolittle

10th June 2014

Tuesday 3rd June 2014

I stood down from “backing-up” today so that Steve and Jomi could walk together, one last time. It ended up being a decent walk, we were dropped at Banini and walked back to camp. This took us seven hours to cover the 16km.

On our drive there we came across a small breeding herd of elephants, I’m pretty sure it was the same one that I saw on my last day at The Outpost. We watched them a while before continuing on our way, next up was a very special spot, two racket-tailed rollers displaying for us.

Half the group, JP, Brogan and his parents stayed at Banini to do some birding, after which they drove the Landy back. We weren’t long into our walk when Jomi managed to call in a pearl spotted owlet by imitating its call, very impressive, a real Dr Dolittle.

On our way we stopped for a morning cuppa overlooking Spokonyole Pan, far better than any coffee shop back home. We then made our way down to the Limpopo through the scorched earth which meant we kicked up a lot of dust as we went.

We weren’t alone, the friendly-hawkers followed us from time to time snapping up the insects much lower down in the food chain. As we closed in on the Limpopo, there was spoor from the opposite end of the food chain. Human footprints, very probably immigrants crossing in from Zimbabwe, they were treading the same path where we also found lion spoor. Immigration is a risk business.

The day was getting hotter and hotter so any shade that the ana trees and apple leafs provided us was welcome. Whilst we were struggling in the sun the African darters were revelling in it with their wings outspread as they air dried.

Makwadzi Pan was lined with so many beautiful apple leafs, their leaves hung heavy with dehydration, they looked just as I felt. I was very happy when Jomi said that we’d stop for some breakfast. This joy was short lived when he pulled out a tin of corned beef and some rice crackers. After this hearty meal I found the shade of a large ana tree and had a little bit of a snooze. I left the “watch duties” to those in charge.

Jomi must have found it quite amazing to lead his parents on a walk through the African bush. But what was even more amazing was when he almost led them straight into an elephant standing in the shade of a Terminalia.

The Forest down by the Limpopo was as incredible as ever with big stands of fever trees surrounding us as we followed an elephant path with vervets, baboons, impala and nyala moving aside as we passed through.

With the majesty of the forest I soon forgot how heavy my boots were feeling, w’d been walking a long while now, my three litres of water had run dry, I was now onto my reserve. As we crossed the floodplain to camp we came across lion scat, lots of lion activity on this walk, we just need to see one now. I would love a lion encounter, just to find out how I would handle it more than anything.

The birding was good, Jomi’s speciality. I’m still struggling in this respect but I did enjoy some really good close up sightings of numerous fish eagles, a bateleur, tawny eagles and plenty of storks – yellow billed, woolly-necked, saddle-billed and black.

Hardly ever does the wildlife experience end when you get back to camp. As I went onto my deck a spotted bush snake that was sunning itself made off through Duncan’s gym shorts and onto the roof of our tent. Luckily Duncan was not wearing his shorts at the time.

Margaux and I stayed back in the afternoon to set up for the graduation dinner. I cooked the pork and beef joints on the Webber which took a while, as I was braaing I had to have a few beers. After the official elements of graduation we retired to the deck for “Fines Night”, I presided over the affair and my boot was used as the fines vessel.