Farewell to the Bush…

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Dawn at our lodge

Last game drive. So sad. We made sure to cherish every little part of it as it really was the little moments that made the trip. The crisp morning air.  The stars still shining brightly in the sky.  The complete tranquility of being in the bush.  Drinking tea on the viewing deck at dawn, I was taking it all in when I heard a weird groaning from afar. I raised this to Neil and after matching it up with a sighting from Ellard, the other guide, he confirmed it was likely the same lion we tracked last night. He was close by, and likely had finished feeding, so he was making the same noises we humans would make after a really big meal. We set out to look for his tracks, and even though there were fresh tracks to confirm his presence right outside of our lodge, we never ended up finding him. We did a little more tracking for leopards and the lionesses that were seen a few days ago, but also to no avail.

Instead, today would be a pretty boring day when it came to sightings, as if the animals knew we were leaving and put their show away early. So we enjoyed it for what it was, a calm morning drive, cruising around the countryside, just taking it all in for the last time. We saw the usual suspects roaming around in their usual spots – rhinos, warthogs, zebras, etc. Strangely, no elephants despite seeing them in droves during our stay. We did stop and see a zebra carcass which was pretty fascinating – lionesses were spotted feasting on it, but the hyenas likely came to clean up. Even the ears were chewed off, which Neil attributed to the jackals, who always have to wait until the bigger predators are finished. I asked if there was actually much sustenance and Neil said, no, it’s more like chewing gum to these guys. Haha. It was a pretty humid day, the warmest we’d had, so I think that limited the wildlife activity too. We got out of there at the ideal time since it was probably going to rain some much needed rain soon.

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Klipspringers make for the most adorable love story.  Monogamous for life, they never venture far from their partner’s side and likely won’t find another partner when their mate dies.
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Zebra carcass.  Nothing but bones…even the ears were gone.
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Zebra and kudu
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I could never get tired of Rhino shots
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Baby rhino, Doug’s buddy

After coming back to the lodge to eat and check out of our room, Neil drove us to the main gate where we met our next driver who would take us back to Johannesburg. We stopped and Neil quizzed us as he usually did, about which animal matched the track and what direction it was going in. We answered wrong, clearly we have learned nothing on this trip. Sorry Neil.

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Thanks to Neil, we created many lasting memories from our trip.  His love for wildlife and tracking was both infectious and inspirational.

A mere six days in the bush and it felt like we were away from civilization for an eternity (in a good way).  In retrospect, we realized it might’ve been better to start with Cape Town and end with the safari as the cherry on top, but we were so grateful to walk away with so many incredible experiences during our stay.  Just three hours later, we were at Johannesburg airport and off to Cape Town, ready to embark on a completely different kind of adventure…

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