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.
Breakfast at the guesthouse before hitting the road for the coast. A quick stop off at False Bay Park, where we saw our first pelicans and then onto St Lucia, a cool little seaside town, where hippos sometimes happen to wander up the main street. Lunch first up of course, before checking into our accommodation. This lodge is close to the estuary which is home to hundreds of hippos and they do occasionally wander in here. We've been told to keep a lookout and get to our room immediately should we spot one.
Spent the afternoon wandering the trails of the Igwalagwala sand forest. Within ten minutes we had spotted our two main targets; Livingstone's Turaco and Trumpeter Hornbill. Spectacular birds.
At 8:00pm we set off on a three-hour night drive. Our local guide was very switched on, for example he was able to spotlight a Dwarf Chameleon in a tree while driving along at 60kph. Incredible. We drove through the forests, wetlands and dunes of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, a world heritage area. It is planned to become part of a trans frontier park that will incorporate game reserves and parks in four countries and will extend from the Indian to Atlantic Ocean in one piece of continuous habitat. An extremely ambitious project so we'll have to see how that goes.
We saw a fair few animals like zebra, buffalo, waterbuck and bushbuck and scored a couple of new mammals for our list; Common Reedbuck and Common Duiker. We saw heaps of nightjars, mostly Fiery-necked like we saw in Kruger but also a Swamp Nightjar which is relatively rare. Most of them were sitting on the road and would then take flight, but we did get to see one waddle off the road on its tiny little legs, very cute.
At one point the guide stopped and picked a baby Flap-neck Chameleon out of the grass. It had chosen lime green to colour itself and the guide asked who wanted to hold it. No prizes for guessing whose hand was the first one to shoot out. So I got to hold the little fella, with his tiny little claws gripping tightly to my fingers, pretty cool.
About two hours into the drive we stopped and piled out of the vehicle to enjoy a hot chocolate by the roadside. Yes, there are leopard and hyena in the park but the guides didn't seem to worry so I didn't either.
Another hour looking about and then we headed back to our lodge. Checked for hippos but it was all clear so back to our rooms we safely went.