Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Shilowa to Ndzopfuri via Shingwedzi Rest Camp. (Approximately 90km)

We woke up to the baboons arguing about something, not the most peacefull way to start the day and I definitely prefer the Pearl Spotted Owls but I think Caron prefers the baboons for some unfathomable reason.  We are starting to really get into the swing of things and everyone was ready to roll well before 07:00 so we left spot on 07:00.  I was very sorry to leave Shilowa campsite, I could really see myself spending a few days here under the shady trees in the bend of the dry river with nice hills nearby to climb.

Today was the day we started to see Baobabs which are a truly iconic Southern African tree and the first one we stopped at was about 300 years old and it turns out that the elephants really like to eat the tree and in the photograph below the big hole into which Tony and Cheryl have climbed is the result of the elephants.  Some of the Baobabs that we saw had been gnawed all the way around which for most trees would have been a death sentence but the Baobab is special in that kind of way.


Elephant damage. Photo courtesy of Caron.

There had been a family living at this particular trees location up until about 1960 even though the park was proclaimed in 1926 before they were evicted during the Apartheid era so I am sure that this forms part of a land claim by either themselves or their descendants.

After yesterdays tyre and the previous days caravan sage I was wondering what was in store for us today but, thankfully, today there were no untoward incidents and the driving was really easy.  Mostly sandy tracks with the occasional steep rocky ascent or descent.

Photo courtesy of Caron

The next Baobab that we stopped at was absolutely huge, it is estimated at about 1000years old but it was on the Mozambican side of the fence with a very enticing hole in the fence just where it needs to be.  Nobody dared to actually go over because, apparently according to Edward, the Mozambican authorities have got wind of tourists crossing the border illegally and have been known to lie in wait for the unwary tourst and arresting them for illegal entry.  It doesn't sound like anyone actually went to jail for this but it does sound like it was an expensive exercise to avoid any jail time.  It all looked perfectly peaceful and quiet on the other side but one never knows; anyway we were happy to just take our photo's from the South African side of the fence.

Shortly after the Baobab we bumped into an armed anti-poaching patrol looking for tracks of people entering from mozambique to poach Rhino, Elephant or Lions for profit or anything else just to eat.  One has to feel some kind of sympathy for those poaching to survive but for those engaging in it for profit, not so much.  A couple of days ago we had come across what looks like a heavy rubber blanket just left in the middle of the road and apparently what the rangers do is to hook that up to the back of a bakkie and drive the border road effectively sweeping it which makes any tracks of poachers really stand out and once they have the tracks they can find the poachers.  Caron takes quite a hard line against poachers which is apparently shared by the anti-poaching patrol.  We thanked them for their service and shared some droe-wors with them which I am sure they enjoyed later on.

After that, it was miles and miles of Mopane which is apparently not Tony's favourite environment.  I do have to agree as it does get a little monotonous but driving from south to north we can see the vegetation and the animals changing along with the vegetation.  For instance, grazers most stick to the soet (sweet) veld whereas the browsers or those that both graze and browse wander over the suur (sour) veld as well so the areas of suur veld appear to have fewer animals around.  Of course proximity to water is also a significant determining factor as to how many animals one sees so there are long stretches when one really doesn't see much wildlife due to the grazing being poor and far away from water sources.

We had a break at Shingwedzi Rest camp which is fine if looking a little tired and had a great sighting of a Bateleur on the ground which, it turns out, isn't an eagle.  Seeing her on the ground is quite unusual and it is surprising how powerfully built she is.  We also say some yellow-billed storks which was a first for us and with the water pools still in the Shingwedzi river there was loads of game in the area.  In quite a short space of time we say Elephants, buffalo, crocodiles, nyalas, kudu and of course, the ubiquitous impala.

Arrived at our final camp at around 15:30 which was great as it meant that we had some time to relax in the shade of the trees which weren't quite as nice as the one's we left behind at Shilowa but shady enough.  It was a really hot afternoon and my temperature gauge in the car briefly touched 47 deg. centigrade but I have a feeling that it is over-reading by at least a few degrees as nobody else saw 47 deg;  they were all down in the low 40's.

Photo courtesy of Caron.

For supper we had pasta while everyone else braai'd and this sharing a fire and just grabbing a shovel full of coals when one needs them really works well.  With it being the last night everyone brought out the delicacies that they had been saving like the "Salmon Roulade" shared by Therese and Pieter which went down extraordinarily well.  We ended up in the middle of the group around the camp fire and had a very pleasant conversation with Amanda and Jonathan who is now really starting to come out of his shell.  While we were busy snacking on all the delicacies we were invaded by the fancolins who are VERY habituated wanting their fair share of the food.

The campsite was unusual in that it had what Edward referred to as stingless bees which no anti-mozzie/fly ointment or prevention has any effect on.  The only known method is to take a branch with some leaves and fan one's self which feels a bit 19th century so there we were with most people fanning away furiously but for some reason they just didn't bother me.

After a nice warm shower we were off to bed a little worried that after the very hot day, the night may be uncomfortably warm as well.

Nyala. Photo courtesy of Amanda


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