For our last morning in Africa we went for one last session of birding. The temperature was the coldest we've experienced yet (-4°C) and there was a heavy frost, turning all the surrounding fields crisp white. We didn't see many birds, they weren't as silly as us, but we did get much closer views of a pair of Grey Crowned-Crane.
Got another stamp in our passports today. Yep that's right, we day tripped to another country.
This morning we had breakfast at 7:00am like civilised people before heading off to the bird in the Karkloof region, finding quite a few nice birds, but not before doing a spot of sight-seeing at Howick Falls. (Sight-seeing, who am I kidding? We were looking for Peregrine Falcon on the cliffs and there happened to be a waterfall too.)
On the road by 5:30am. Seriously, who pays to do this? Wimpy's for breakfast and then we headed for Dlinza Forest. We climbed a tower up into the canopy with great views over the forest. There were three birds we were targeting, and we found the first of them from up here, the endangered Eastern Bronze-naped Pigeon, now surviving in only three forests. A Crowned Eagle also flew over at close range, carrying a Vervet Monkey in its talons.
6:45am. Yes, another early start. This tour has an intense schedule, birding from dawn till dusk and beyond. I'm not sure how I'm doing with these posts, too much detail or not enough? It feels like maybe I'm just listing stuff, sorry if that's the case, but I'm writing them at the end of very long days. It's hard too, to decide what to put in, we see so many incredible sights every day, it would take me hours to write it all down.
Forest walk to start the day, the birding highlight a beautiful male Purple-banded Sunbird in the morning light. If you haven't already been googling these birds, google this one. Stunning.
6:00am start with an hour long drive up to the game reserve. We passed through a lot of rural villages with simple mud houses and where goats, cows and chickens freely roam.
7:00am start to pop in a quick session of birding before breakfast. We headed up into the hills in subzero temperatures, our guide freaking out because the windscreen iced over and he had never seen that before. Clearly he's never been to Central West NSW.
Today we birded the highland grasslands around Wakkerstroom. (Btw I've finally figured all these crazy South African words out, they are Dutch. South Africa was settled by the Dutch, so things like 'wildebeest' simply mean 'wild cow').
Departed Skukuza camp at 6:30am for our last morning in Kruger. Animal activity was pretty quiet this morning because of the low temperature. Our mammal sightings included a lone hyena huddled in the grass, looking rather eerie in the mist and bathed in golden morning light.
Once again out the gate when it opened at 6:00am. Headed south from Satara camp and got our first new mammal sighting of the day sitting by the roadside. Spotted Hyena. A juvenile sat up nicely only a couple of metres from our vehicle, giving us a great look at it.
SAFARI!!! Right, out the gate at 6:00am as soon as it opened. Today we had an open safari vehicle, driven by a local guide.
SAFARI!!! Right, now that's out there, we'll start from the start.
Meeting time this morning was 5:30am, my kind of holiday. We hit the road and headed north to Zaagkuildrift Road, where the habitat is arid acacia bushveld. This road is the eastern extent of the ranges for a lot of arid country birds so if we missed them today we wouldn't get another chance to see them.
Today was a travelling day. We bid farewell to the beautiful city of Cape Town and it's not hard to see why so many people who visit the Mother City decide to make it their home.
This morning we made our way down to the Nelson Mandela Gateway at the waterfront for our trip across to Robben Island. Whilst we were waiting to board the ferry we got to see the swing bridge in action, and also saw a big Cape Fur Seal bull haul up into the viewing area.
First up I have to say I kind of feel like Tippi Hedron. The gulls are incessant. They squawk all night long, they flock around the hotel for no apparent reason, and periodically they can be heard stalking across the rooftop. Thankfully none have dive-bombed through the windows and pecked our eyes out. Yet.
This morning we boarded the Cape Point Explorer City Sightseeing bus for a day of touring the Cape Peninsula. We headed south out of Cape Town, through the upmarket suburbs of Newlands and Wynberg.
They say that the only predictable thing about the weather in Cape Town is that it's unpredictable, and that if you wake up and the sky is clear, get your butt up Table Mountain before it changes. So that's what we did.
Well, we may not have seen any birds yesterday but we certainly heard some. Our hotel is by the waterfront and all night long the gulls were squawking, but it only annoyed me because I didn't know exactly what species they were. Upon further investigation in the morning from our hotel room window, they turned out to be Hartlaub's Gull. Our first ever African birds.
Now, anyone whose prone to fainting better sit down. Today was a pretty cruisey day. Yeah that's right, I didn't try to see everything Cape Town has to offer in one day.
Up at 6:30am, then a short drive to the airport. Checked in and then grabbed some breakfast. Bid farewell to Travel Buddy's Mum, then off through security. Boarded with no hassles and then settled in for our fourteen-hour flight to Johannesburg.