Timbavati Safari: Off to an incredible start

Trevor McCall-Peat

Our guests arrived at the stunning Umlani Bush Camp and settled into their rooms. We all met up for a delicious lunch and discussed our plan over the next few days and chatted about camera settings and gear.

Click here to learn more about joining us in the Timbavati or email safaris@atclosequarters.com

After high tea, we set out into the Timbavati Nature Reserve and let nature take control. We checked some water sources for activity and enjoyed taking in the beautiful scenery, filled with large undulating dry riverbeds and wooded areas.

A leopard had been found on a kill during the morning and we decided to follow up and see if we could find her. We heard on the radio that she was still close to her kill and headed in that direction.

We found her in a spectacular setting. She was in a large Boerbean tree on the banks of a large dry riverbed. The sun was setting behind her and we had her almost at eye level. Perfect for photography. We stayed with her for 90 minutes, assisitng our guests to capture some special images of her.

We then headed back to Umlani for a candle lit dinner. We could hear lions roaring some 500 meters from us as we ate and chatted about our first day. After a sumptuous meal we headed to bed, eager for the new dawn to break.

The lions called close to camp until about 11:30pm.

We also heard hyenas and kudu alarm calls in the drainage line infront of camp. We woke up this morning to a very windy and overcast morning with a slight drizzle, which luckily stopped as we left camp.

We headed out with the intention of looking for the lions. It was a difficult task as the wind had blown the sandy roads and made finding tracks very difficult. Added to this, animals seek shelter in bad weather. The morning started out slowly with no sign of the lions.

Along the way we saw a kudu cow eating a bone which is very interesting behavior. The reason for this behaviour is to get calcium into its diet. We then decided to stop for coffee and stretch our legs in an attempt to warm up and think of what our next move would be.

This allowed us some time to get some beautiful landscape shots as the sun peeped through the clouds, creating incredible rays of light. Once we had finished coffee, we decide to head to a nearby hyena den which, on arrival, was quite active. There were two adults, two sub adults and one very young cub. A great moment to photograph and admire their behavior.

We then decided to make our way back to camp. Along the way we saw some giraffe, zebra, steenbuck and even a squirrel camping in a birds nest. We were almost home when we came across two male lions’ tracks in the road. We decided to give ourselves a few more minutes to work out where they could be.

Our tracker jumped off the vehicle and started following the tracks while we looped around to the other side of the block to see if they had come out. As we searched, road by road, we became more confident that they were still in the block and not far from us.

We decided to make our way back towards camp on the access road to see if there was any further sign and, if not, we would call it quits for the morning and try again in the afternoon.

As we turned onto the home stretch, the vehicle came to a sudden stop! Lion tracks on the road on top of the vehicle’s tracks. While we were still trying to work out direction, we looked around and, just off the road, there they were, we had done it! All the work we had put in, paid off.

What an incredible experience to see the guide and tracker committed to the cause and giving 110%. We grabbed a couple of images, enjoying the moment and then headed home for brunch. A morning that started out rather quiet it ended amazingly.

Click here to learn more about joining us in the Timbavati or email safaris@atclosequarters.com

Showing 2 comments
  • Alice Ross
    Reply

    Love your blog Trev – the way you described it I felt I was there ( wish I was). Bet you can’t wait for tomorrow. Thanks for sharing AMAZING EXPERIENCES

  • Marc Dr Chalain
    Reply

    Thanks for sharing. Great trip!

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