Sunday morning, 5.30am

Sunday morning, 5.30am

the phone rings with our wake up call.  Of course, we are already up and running, getting ready for our early morning drive. 


There's plenty of hot coffee and tea, baskets of pastries and suchlike to wake us up at this ungodly hour, but Jacob and Carlos are eager to be off.


And just before 6am, we're out again having assumed our regular places in the Land Cruiser: my hero and I in the dress circle with a spectacular view all round and Carlos perched up front.


This morning, Jacob tells us that we're going to drive out onto the plains, to view the animals who graze there at this time of the day.  Before long, we stop to admire the sunrise.


A herd of gnu are waking up, having spent the night sleeping on the road.  We don't disturb them but simply stop and admire the view - and the herd of zebra that come our way.


I can't recall the exact species of zebra Jacob described, save for the fact they have the thin "shadow" stripe there on their hind quarters.


I can't help but admire the way their markings adapt to their contour, around the head and legs.  Beautiful.


They munch quietly as we snap away and listen to Jacob offer information about them.


Meanwhile, the gnu are on the move.


The male walks alone whilst the herd gather together and wander off.


And there's always someone watching from a distance, standing quietly...


or, like this small jackal, sitting waiting for the sun to warm his muscles up before going off and doing what any small jackal has to do at this time of the day.


I liked the way the rather less than beautiful warthog stood in a patch of flowers for his photograph!


On we drove, in a different part of the park from last evening, looking for different animals and enjoying a different view.  Wherever we looked, it was gorgeous.


From time to time, Jacob stopped, leapt out and picked up a plant for us to see.  This one, with a flower like a mouse's face, can be squeezed gently to provide a clear liquid which can be used as eyedrops.  We didn't try it for ourselves, though.


Around the next corner, we heard a rustling in the trees and looked up.  A bunch of small grey monkeys were darting about, swinging in the branches above our heads and it took a while before one stopped for long enough for me to get his photo.


From there, we were out onto the plans again, watching giraffe stroll over the grassland, admiring their easy gait.


A mother and baby warthog scurried past us as we watched.


Then, suddenly, Jacob went quiet and we sensed a change of plan.  He stepped on the pedal a bit and we seemed to be heading somewhere with a purpose.


He had heard on his earpiece from one of the other guides that there was a leopard in the area and hoped to get there before it moved on.  We just about made it - I clicked my camera in the same direction as the beautiful creature I saw before it disappeared into the undergrowth.  Sadly, the sunlight spoiled the clear shot, but what I saw is there in the picture, just not as clear as I remember! 


We tracked about for some time, hoping to see it emerge from the other side of the clump of bushes, perhaps, or out of the undergrowth in a different spot.  But he decided to lie low for a while and all we spotted was in the picture above.  Oh well, the best photographs are in my head, as always.


The giraffes are rather better photographic models, needing little encouragement to stand and stare.


It was this spot, in their company, where Carlos got out the picnic table, the flasks of coffee and hot chocolate and the tiffin tin, freshly loaded with oatie slices, danish pastries and blueberry muffins.

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Can there ever have been more interesting company for morning coffee?


Once on our way again, we continued to snap and try to spot those elusive animals.  But it was getting warmer and our dawn drive was coming to an end.


There was just time for a small water monitor lizard to put in an appearance, though.  Related to the komodo dragon, these little creatures can bite and infect the wound with their bacteria-laden tongue in exactly the same way to their bigger relatives.  Eeeuwww.


Speaking of breakfast....

We were back at the camp by 9am, to find Thandi and her crew waiting with a hot cooked breakfast with everything we could possibly wish for.  By 10am, we were back in our suite, reflecting on the amazing experiences we'd already enjoyed this morning.


Time for a swim in the infinity pool before lunch, then!



Sunday, continued

Sunday, continued

We're going on a lion hunt

We're going on a lion hunt