Saturday, October 20, 2012

Cheetah! Cheetah! Cheetah!

What a day!  This drive was...... yeah, I'm gonna say it.  It was epic.

It was our first game drive alone, and we were obviously very excited!  We told the guides that we didn't care about big animals, we just wanted to focus on the birds, and we could go slower and look at all the little guys that had been getting away from us.  So that was the plan.

However, when we got into the car, they got excited.  Someone had radioed them that they found a cheetah, but it was far away.  They had a look in their eye.  "Do you wanna go?" I asked.  "Well..... uuummmmm........ " "You look like you wanna go.  Okay, let's go find a cheetah!"  And with that, we were off.

Oh, I forgot to mention that on the way to the car we saw the francolin family.  So cute!
Francolin Family
We drove a long way.  We went basically to the furthest point we reached yesterday, just going fast and not stopping for much.  It looked different today though.  It looked........ burned. Apparently in last night's storm, some lightning struck and there was a veld fire!  It was still burning, but obviously we did not go to the part with the big fire.  This was quite close enough, thank you.
Veld Fire
It was really interesting to see exactly the same area, two days apart, once unburned and once burned.  They said that the fires come every couple of years, they don't burn everything, and things grow back really quickly.  In a couple of weeks there will be green grass everywhere.  There were several eagles perched around, picking up easy meals from the small animals fleeing the fire.
Veld Fire
 We turned off the road and started to find the other car that had the cheetah in sight.  It turns out that they sent out another car early that morning specifically to look for animals for us to see!  This place is incredible.  Once we were off the road, it was a long time - several hours - before we got back onto one.  It was a rough ride, and we were loving it!  It still took a couple of hours of directions and turns and somewhat crazy maneuvers to find..........

 The cheetah!  Oh, how gorgeous she was!  We followed her for a while, including some time in the shade under a tree........
 .... and some time in the sun on top of a tree.
 She was looking for something to hunt and enjoy for lunch.
 It turned out that this was the first cheetah they have seen there for 6 months!  We were really lucky.
 Once we left the cheetah, we saw lots of other cool stuff, including this group of pelicans flying overhead.  There were I think about 50 of them!  Here are a couple doing some in-flight preening.
Great White Pelicans
 We stopped at a beautiful open area that some giraffes were hanging out in.
 When we got out of the vehicle, they all lined up behind these little trees, hiding and watching us.  They moved off after a few minutes.
 There were a couple of little bee-eaters flying around and being lovely!  I didn't get any pictures at all of them flying, but their underwings are really incredibly beautiful.  We went on a little walk around the clearing, it felt good to move around a bit.
Little Bee-eater
 Back in the vehicle, going in the general direction of camp, still off-road.  We came across this buffalo herd.  I love this picture, there was one looking at us for a while and then that darker one just popped in for a quick glance also.  :-)
 They look so dream-like in the tall golden reeds.
 Magpie shrikes!  I am definitely not tired of them yet.  Look at those tails!
Magpie Shrikes
Magpie Shrikes

We had to cross a couple of channels off-road.  The guys looked for animal tracks and we followed them, basically just going and hoping for the best.  We made it, but it was a fairly close thing......  if we had gotten stuck the guys were ready (and possibly a tiny bit looking forward to) getting some branches and making some sort of temporary bridge.  They are very outdoorsy.

Hoping for the best
 Still not close to a road, we saw this large group of storks flying overhead!
 Okay, we made it back to a road.  And we have been gone for a really long time!  We drove fast back to camp, pausing to take a look at this odd sight.  It looks like elephants took the bottom of the tree, and it will most likely not survive there.  Looks crazy!    We told all of the staff about the cheetah, and they asked for our pictures to use in a newsletter.  We have them a bunch on a USB drive, so our cheetah pictures might make it into the &Beyond newsletter.  I hope so!
Tree on termite mound

No comments:

Post a Comment