We got up this morning, ate breakfast at the hotel, took the shuttle to the airport, & flew on a 30 seat turbo prop plane to Nespruit. A driver met us at the airport and drove us to the Elephant Plains game reserve. Did I mention it was a 3 hour drive? It really was a nice drive which took us through many villages and farming areas. Some of the crops they grow are bananas, oranges, lemons, avocados, and macadamia nuts.
Once we arrived at the reserve we had lunch and then headed out on our first safari. Louis (pronounced Louie) is our driver. He ate lunch with us and told Jim that the seat directly behind him would be the best seat for taking pictures. It was an incredible trip–just outside of the complex we saw a pride of lions, called the Styx pride, eating a wildebeest. Louis told us they had made the kill last night.
There are 3 mature females and 8 cubs-2 males and 6 females-in the pride. The Land Rover gets within 10-15 feet of them. It was amazing to watch.
There was even a pair of vultures hanging out
in a tree wishing the lions would leave.
Down the road we saw two different small herds of elephants, three giraffes, wart hogs, and impalas.
Michael, our spotter, saw a young leopard hanging out on a grassy termite hill. They said he has a mother and two sisters, but they were no where to be found.
As the sun was setting we visited a water hole with a bunch of hippopotamuses. There were adults and babies. Unfortunately it was too dark for Jim to get any good pictures. On the way back to the reserve we saw four hyenas, and stopped again to watch the pride of lions hanging out at their kill. It truly was an incredible day!
ANIMAL COUNT: elephants-2 herds, lions-11, buffalo-0, leopards-1, rhinos-0, 1 giraffes-5, hippos-a pond full, impala-numerous, wart hogs-several
NOTE: when I talk about cubs, they are close to a year old and nearly the size of their mothers, not small newborns.