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Rattray’s Mala Mala - Day Twelve

Wakeup call came at 5:30 as promised. Pearly gray, early morning light with the sun not yet over the horizon. Quick cup of coffee and underway by 6. Impala fighting, Mala Mala, South Africa. February 2012.Had expected it to be cool and had brought layers, but very pleasant and short-sleeved shirt was sufficient. After previous evening, had expected animals to be waiting to be tripped over, but they had probably heard our gloating to the other guests about our good luck the previous evening, and decided to redress the balance. Beautiful country to drive through as the sun rose, but aside from elephant and impala herds, over which you can continually trip, not much to be seen. As an aside, never thought that I’d very quickly become blasé about herds of wild elephants and antelope. Marabou stork at sunset, Mala Mala, South Africa. February 2013. Original size 4514 x 3386 px. (Gerald FitzGerald)Had the car to ourselves this morning, and Yuri our tracker, spent much time driving slowly and looking at the dirt road for foot prints. After about 3/4 of an hour tacking cross-country, stopping to search with binoculars and looking at pug marks, Yuri announced that he’d found a cheetah. We crossed country and came up to him pacing regally down a dirt road. Just a stunning sight! We turned off the engine and he stopped to groom himself and pose for pictures, then drifted into the high grass and disappeared.

Swimming hippo with two turtles on his back, Mala Mala, South Africa. February 2013. Original size 4779x2759px. (Gerald FitzGerald)After that we beat around and found lots of impala, kudu, warthogs and an old hippo in a small pond with a pair of terrapin sunning themselves on his back. Can’t recall all the animals that we saw as the sightings began to blur into each other after a while but there were many and it was a beautiful hot, sun-drenched day and the drive itself was almost enough.

Wary cheetah, Mala Mala, South Africa. February 2012.Home for breakfast at about 9:30 and then caught up on blogs, pics etc and just rested on our verandah and watched the river. About noon 4 big elephants drifted along the riverbank right in front of our verandah. I climbed down on to the slope for a closeup, but one of the big males, opened out his ears, stamped his foot, rumbled very, very deeply in his diaphragm and fixed me with a significantly evil eye. Beat a hasty retreat back to my chair and enjoyed the view until lunch at 13:30.

Male elephant warning, Mala Mala, South Africa. February 2013. Original size 5429 x 3620 px. (Gerald FitzGerald)Off again at 16:00 for our afternoon drive. Our car partners were due to arrive at the camp and join us for our drive but by 16:00 no sign of them so went off on our own with Yuri. Can’t recall what we saw; more of the long list of animals that we are now beginning to recognize but not remember. Yuri pressed us to stop for sundowners, but we wanted to keep driving and keep looking so still have not had that pleasure. Must do it once before we leave.

Dinner and an early bed.

Rattray’s Mala Mala - Day Thirteen

White River to Mala Mala Rattray's - Day Eleven