nThambo Tree Camp
This was supposed to be our last morning at nThambo before moving to the sister camp, Africa on Foot, but we arranged to spend another night as we were extremely comfortable and the cost was minimal to stay. Armed with the knowledge that we could relax the afternoon away and not worry about packing up, we settled into our last game drive with the other 7 guests we had spent the entire time with.
We lucked out and saw 3 large male kudus, although they were reluctant to leave the bushes so photo opportunities were not very good. Still, an excellent sighting to be sure. Isaack, still sitting on his throne on the front of the jeep, motioned for us to stop as we reached an intersection. He and Luan wandered off a bit and when Luan came back, he told us Isaack would be walking into the bush by himself following some tracks. He did not take a rifle with him although on game walks they always take one. Luan told us we’d meet up with Isaack shortly, after his surprise for us. We ventured down to a watering hole nearby and Luan turned the vehicle into position, side-on by the water, nestled under the shade of some thorn bushes. We waited.
About 10 minutes later, I could see the face of a lion peering at us through the bushes, which were on a bank above us. She soon walked along the ridge, was joined by another, and they both ambled down the bank to the edge of the water where they decided to fill up their bellies. They lay down to rest for a few minutes before heading off; but not until we had watched them for 20 minutes. One of these two has cubs and we were near the last known whereabouts of those cubs so Luan was hoping they’d be headed straight there to check on the little ones. We left them go, of course.
We caught up with Isaack and stopped for a morning coffee out in the bush. He had been tracking wild dogs, an animal I have never seen in the wild, and although he managed to see them, they soon avoided him and we never got to look for them. We continued on, and managed to see a honey badger (briefly), some zebra, a few giraffe, and several larger birds before getting back in time for a nice fry up for breakfast.
At various times during the afternoon, the other 7 guests left the lodge and we were joined by only 2 others. The once full camp (although it still feels remarkably quiet there) was now only occupied by four of us. And still, Savannah, the tame African wild cat was nowhere to be seen.
Our evening can only be described as amazing. We didn’t see any cats or rhinos; or buffalos for that matter, but it will still go down as one of my best on safari. Elephants were aplenty, as were female and young kudu, and once we stopped for sundowners and light became scarce, the real fun started. We lucked out and got a cooperative bushbaby, this one posing for a few seconds before leaping away. We saw another genet, and although he wasn’t around long enough for a photo, I did actually get to see his full body! Yay me. There were more vultures and an impressive tawny eagle as well.
We saw lights off in the distance and as we approached it was apparent that what we were seeing was staff of both lodges having set up an impromptu dinner out in the bush. They had laid electric lanterns around the dinner table, had a small table set up for both drinks and side dishes, and the lovely kitchen staff were busy cooking meat over an open flame. There would be ribs and chicken, salad and pap (a maize-based side). And of course, a visitor. Kim noticed something walking by, which few other people did until a light was blasted in its direction. Sure enough, we had been joined by a hyena. Two others sat on the road around 50 metres away as well. And we sat and ate. The hyena got within about 20 feet of us, but never once did it appear like it was going to get any closer or cause us any harm. At one point, two of the rangers decided to lie down and play dead to see if the hyena would come and sniff them. The hyena didn’t fall for it. So I sat there licking BBQ sauce off my fingers while an adult hyena stalked our table. Pretty cool really.