24 – 26 August 2012 – sanbona beckons again…
We’ve had the pleasure of visiting Sanbona Wildlife Reserve a few times and we’ve already developed some fantastic friendships there. This time we decided to arrange a weekend away with our parents. That’s right: the parents and the in-laws all in one go!! Brave, aren’t we…:)
Our previous visits were all very target driven. This one was going to be slightly different. I was anticipating a much more relaxed trip and, in some aspects, it was. As always, Friday couldn’t come quickly enough. We arrived quite early at the gate to Keith’s warm and friendly welcome as always. We then made our way through to Khanni Lodge arriving to some bad news: Keir was sick in bed with bronchitis. (It did however mean that we were probably guaranteed lunch…:)) and we were in Alouise’s capable hands.
We arrived just as the sun was starting to set and the bats were coming out to play. On our last visit, we had managed to confirm these bats as Cape Serotine Bats, but had not managed to get any photos for our challenge. So Trevor took the opportunity to attempt to get a shot of the bats in absolutely no light at all. Although the results were far from professional, at least it was proof enough to go on to our challenge list…:)
After a well co-ordinated braai, we headed out into the darkness on a night drive. We took a drive though an area where Al and Trevor decided to go in search of a frog, the Karoo Caco. They didn’t find it, but were rewarded for their effort with several Karoo Toads and Flat Cacos. The night drive didn’t last too long. It was a rather quiet evening with the highlights of the evening being a Round-eared Elephant Shrew and an obliging Hewitt’s Red Rock Rabbit.
The next morning we packed lunch and headed north. We stopped at a little stream that Keir and Alouise had recently found Karoo Caco at (which would be a lifer for both of us), but no luck. We then followed the road further north through the most beautiful scenery of spectacular rock formations which also provided great views of Chacma Baboon and Klipspringer. Once in the north, the scenery changed to more open and typical Karoo plains. A stop at a small dam gave us a few photographic opportunities on Brown Throated Martins whilst we also enjoyed several small flocks of Black-headed Canaries and a couple of Karoo Korhaans.
Lunch was served at a small picnic site in the far north of the reserve. This must the the picnic spot with the best toilet facilities in the world. Not only because there is a first class restroom in the middle of the veld, but you have a spectacular view from the throne…! Turning over a few rocks in the area revealed several Opistophthalmus karooensis scorpions in the area.
After lunch, Al had a mission. After some searching, we were informed we were going for a walk. We probably walked for about 1km. Not too far at all. We started feeling we might actually be walking in circles when something golden raised its head. There about 50m from us was a Cheetah lying in the grass! We slowly approached. The Cheetah, code name 69, didn’t seem too concerned about us. She happily rolled around on the grass, completely oblivious to our presence. She finally got up and headed off in the direction of some Springbok. Lunch was ready to be served. What a great experience. What a great sighting!! And we could now finally add this species to our challenge list as well! A celebratory drink was enjoyed back at the vehicle afterwards…:)
En route back to our accommodation, we detoured for a herd of African Elephants. Who knew that they could climb slopes as well as they do? We spent quite a bit of time with them also enjoying the family interactions between the group.
A quick cup of coffee at Tilney Manor, one of the other lodges, and we were heading back home. What a day. After a great braai and some bonding around the fire, we headed out again into the night. With a number of rather weary people after a long day and not very much to be seen, it didn’t last too long and we were back at the lodge before too long and hitting the beds.
After a quick breakfast on Sunday, we headed back out again in the hope of catching up with a few more of the species we had missed so far. First stop was at another section of stream in the mountains where Trevor eventually found our lifer Karoo Caco. Al was so excited that she nearly ran him off his feet in her desperation to get there quickly and he almost lost the frog! Just as well it didn’t end like that…:)
Some searching for reptiles didn’t yield a huge amount, but a lovely Southern Rock Agama sunning himself and a very photogenic Ocellated Thick-toed Gecko were welcome distractions…
The next few hours saw us negotiating some interesting roads which had become rivers in their own right after the recent heavy rains that the reserve had experienced, but it was all worth it as we collected a good array of mammals including Giraffe, Plains Zebra, White Rhino, Black-backed Jackal and, eventually, a group of 3 white Lions, the final target of the weekend.
Unfortunately, all these wonderful weekends away always have to come to an end. We had a fantastic time (again!!) and I know for a fact that both sets of parents really enjoyed themselves.
And we survived…:)