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Photo Essay: Saturday Game Drive

By Samara on February 18, 2016

There’s nothing more wonderful than spending a whole day out in the bush, where the usual parameters of space and time become almost artificial. Last Saturday, we experienced one such day. 

Setting off mid-morning, we left the comforts of the Manor behind and began our trek up Kondoa Mountain.


















Almost as soon as we had left, dramatic clouds began rolling in from the north-east, creating beautiful patterns in the sky.












We drove at a leisurely pace towards Wolwekloof, taking in the sights and fragrant smells of the bush whilst a flock of Blue Cranes called their magical, eerie cry overhead. We normally see them in the winter months in groups of up to 200, but this summer they have congregated in little groups around the water points on the reserve. We have also been seeing dozens of Secretary Birds, stalking the veldt like sentries on duty with quills tucked behind their ears.













Once we had made it up the steep slopes and onto the mountain-top, a new world awaited us. Acre upon acre of sweet grasslands unfolded ahead, made even more dramatic by the ever-changing weather.













We meandered across the plains, watching as Black Wildebeest cavorted and snorted, running around in circles to prove their fitness, as the stately Eland looked on.











Soon, we decided it was time for a drink. We found a spot overlooking the entire Western side of the reserve, all the way to Tanjiesberg, or ‘Tooth Mountain’.













Tendai, Samara’s Head Ranger, was quick to provide welcome refreshments – nothing tastes as good as a G&T in the bush!




















Once our thirst had been quenched, and our eyes had taken in the spectacular view, we set off again, this time to Eagle Rock. Around a bend we came across two Cape Mountain Zebras sunbathing – what beautiful creatures! Many people tend to liken them to mules but to me they are far more refined in their appearance than their counterparts on the plains below.












Arriving at Eagle Rock, we were surprised to find Gemsbok dung right on the edge – it seems we are not the only ones to appreciate the view! After scanning the veld below for signs of animals, we took to the vehicle once more, tummies grumbling and excited for some lunch.













We found a picnic spot under a wild olive tree with views stretching for miles across the Plains of Camdeboo. What a treat. After a delicious meal of gourmet sandwiches, spicy lamb koftas and bean salad, followed by a decadent chocolate cake, we sat in the shade and contemplated such varied topics as the ongoing rhino poaching crisis and the Proteas’ cricketing prowess.














Fully sated, we clambered back into the vehicle and followed the track down the mountain. We passed through at least 3 distinct vegetation biomes, from plateau grassland on the mountain top, through valley bushveld on the thick mountain slopes, to the scrubby landscape typical of the Karoo.













We spotted a group of Giraffe from miles away, and continued to wind our way in their direction, finally finding them quenching their thirst at Tshkudu Dam, named after one of the Black Rhinos.
















It being almost Valentine’s Day, some of the giraffe were in a playful mood…











We decided to leave them to it, and drove on towards Paardekraal Dam, remarkably full compared to many other waterholes on the reserve.












It was here that we were privy to a most remarkable sighting – a herd of over 400 Eland, loosely divided into smaller groups including a nursery herd with this year’s and last year’s calves.











Everywhere we looked we saw eland – we were completely surrounded!









What a magical experience to stop the engine of the car and listen to the clip-clop of hundreds of hooves across the rocky terrain, and witness the clouds of dust rising behind them. And so we drove back to the Manor, tired, but happy.

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