Sunday, 30 December 2007

Moremi - Day 3

Woke up this morning very early to something in the camp – I presume either the hyena or the baboons because I could hear the rubbish bag being pulled off the tree.  Pretty scary when it’s pitch black and all you can hear is heavy breathing of something outside, then the lions roaring in the distance and suddenly the baboons start screeching from the tree tops above you... that was my first wake up call at 3rd Bridge.  We saw what looked like pugs in the campsite, but they’re not clear, so we presume that they’re probably the hyena’s prints. 

We were up around 6am, can’t really stay asleep any longer because the waking up of the bush is really loud ;) Had a light breakfast – muffins, very convenient on these trips – and coffee and then off for the morning drive.  We were gone about an hour or so when we passed the South Africans in the camp next door. 
Our poor tent attacked by the baboons
They stopped to tell us that they’d tried to stop the baboons but it was no use – they were on the rampage again.   So we decided to drive back to camp, drop off the firewood we’d collected and check out the damage.  They had managed to rip a bigger hole in the fly sheet and actually bend one of the tent poles, probably by jumping on top of the tent, but luckily they didn’t get inside – still, they’re a major pest – saw them out foraging and you just wanna ride one of them over! They guys in the camp next door told us that the hyena had made off with their cooler box last night, so suppose it could have been worse.  Of course, these were the same guys that were following the hyena around with the spotlight – hyena’s revenge…

We spent the morning going around the Mboma loop at the recommendation of the Saffies.  It’s really pretty – beautiful forested areas and a long drive in the reeds, but unfortunately not any major predators, though we did at least see pugs around.  A cool sighting of a few warthogs – a mother with a couple of youngsters, lying on top of her, with an oxpecker sitting on top of them all.

Banded mongoose
Drove up to the Mboma boat station where you can take boat or mokoro trips – but at P120/hr for a mokoro and R360/hr for the boat, it’s a little bit pricey.

Dru had a chat with the guy that lives there – Dicks, from Serunga, which is in the pan handle of the Delta.  He was telling us a bit of his life story – from a poor family where he’s the only breadwinner cos his father has asthma and can’t work.  The guys that work here stay out here – about 7 of them and they get weekly rations of pap, beans and bully beef.  They aren’t allowed to fish, grow vegetables or catch any game – everything has to be preserved exactly the way it is, which is quite impressive from a wildlife point of view.  He’s looking to get his driver’s licence next year and then do guided tours.

Oxpecker on a pile of warthogs
Left the boat station, drove a while and then had a late breakfast of bacon rolls – they were delicious, though I think that food always tastes so much better when camping – the simple things ;) At the same time, collected firewood so we should have plenty for the next night or 2.

After a 5 hour game drive, decided to come back to camp for a while, which is very unusual for us since we normally spend the whole day driving.  But this time we have to spend a fair amount of time in camp – 2 reasons – firstly we only have a limited amount of fuel and still have to get back the 200km to Maun.  Secondly, today we decided to do a chicken in the potjie pot, but that means it’s going to take a few hours and we don’t want to take the chance of the baboons getting it. 

When we were in Khutse (a game reserve in the Kalahari which we were at before this trip) it was easy – put the chook in the potjie on the coals, go for a game drive and it was done by the time we got back.  But this time it’s a bit more complicated.  So the idea is to get the chook done now while it’s hot outside, then take it with us for an early game drive, get back and bake the rolls on the fire – there should be no dramas… hopefully ;)

So got back to the camp and began with defrosting the chicken since it was still frozen – Rob’s esky has been fantastic – kept the meat well and there wasn’t too much ice to start with since we could only get cubes in Maun.  Dropped the chicken into the pot, still in its bag, added some hot water and let it defrost.  In the meantime, had to decide what to do with the garbage, since the baboons keep raiding.  So at the moment, the garbage is in a black bag hung from a small branch, that hopefully the hyena can’t reach and the baboons won’t be interested in – will see how it goes tonight…
Driving through the grasslands
I managed to drop the chicken on the ground – had it out of the packet and was checking it to make sure it wasn’t too frozen still and the next thing I know it was on the ground – so had to wash that off before spicing it.  It should be a pretty good meal, it’s stewing away in lemon juice, chicken spice, rosemary and white wine.  Was good in Khutse as well, so sure to be a hit here as well. 
The flask exploded on me as well – What is this? We’ve been using the flask to keep ice in, cos it lasts quite a while.  In Khutse, the ice lasted about 3 days, so we can use it to put ice in our drinks.  But apparently you shouldn’t shake it and then open the cap… Which is exactly what I did and the whole inside just exploded.  Luckily nothing flew out, that could have been very nasty…  So for now, just hanging around camp with a glass of wine, enjoying the trees’ shade cos it hot as hell in the sun, before the evening ride and hopefully a bit more luck with the animals…
Wildebeest with calves
Later on…
Finally got our 2nd cat sighting – 3 lionesses, near the turnoff to the Mboma loop.  Earlier the French couple (the ones in the camp next to us) said to us that they had seen 3 lions at the turnoff at about 11am. So for the evening drive, we decided to go lion hunting – went down the loop for a few kms, basically following the wildebeest in the area, since Rene, the French guy, had said that they had seen the lions stalking the “gnus” (antelope). 

Came back from the loop and one of them was just sitting about 100 meters from the road, with the other 2 further back.  So far they haven’t done anything except look around, yawn and sleep.  The light is starting to go and there’s a massive storm brewing as well, so don’t think anything else much is going to happen before we have to head back to camp.  The good news is that it’s a short drive back to camp.  The bad news is that it’s a short drive back to camp.  They’re less than a kilometre away, so not sure how much sleep I’m going to have tonight ;)

Update to the lion situ:
Told the Saffies about them and they went back out to check them out.  They were back about half an hour later, just as dusk was hitting, to say that the lions were up, had crossed the road in front of them and were heading for the camps – when they left, there were about 500 meters away… That becomes a little bit uncomfortable – knowing there are 3 lions prowling around and looking to kill.  Fair amount of panic on our side – you can’t help but feel vulnerable.  And then of course the storm that had been brewing the whole afternoon broke – the storm wasn’t too bad over the campsite, but it makes visibility worse and adds to the feeling of helplessness.  Add to this that all the impala that had been wandering on the plains were now suddenly hiding amongst the campers…

Took a bit of comfort that the baboons were up in the trees – we figured that they would alert us, but then again – you never know with those little bastards.  All in all, a very hurried night of cooking the rolls, washing up, eating in the car and getting into the tent early.  Definitely felt a lot safer up there.  The baboons were quiet, a lot more subdued than the previous night, so fell asleep to the sound of rain.

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