It was difficult to sleep through the night, as either hippos and/or elephants were just outside our tent, grazing on the brush. We had asked BB if we could leave a littler earlier, so we got our wake-up call at 5am. We were ready to go at 5:30, just as the sun was starting to become visible. Both Rick and Beverly were able to join us this time.
We headed off in a different direction this time, heading roughly northwest. We saw a hyena just on the northern periphery of camp as we drove by. The vegetation had more high grass (apparently none of the elephants had mowed it), and less water. We got the impression this was the area where all the animals were coming from in the afternoon to head to the waterhole in front of the main lodge. We were not having much luck for sometime, but there was a nice sunrise.
Then we stumbled upon a group of elephants, one of which was just feet away. It kept kicking at the roots to break the grass free from the soil, much like we would use a shovel or a hoe to get rid of weeds. Then it would pick up the grass with its trunk, and swipe it back and forth across the ground to get all of the dirt of the grass. He put on quite a show for us, then we headed off.
We ran into a massive group of water buffalo, presumably the one a different truck had seen the day before. We could tell how big the group was from all the dust that had been kicked up. We had heard there were 3000 the day before, but BB estimated there were "only" 1000 in the group we saw. They were very skittish – any time we drove near they dispersed. They were still close enough for several good shots, however:
Just past all of the water buffalo was a large group (maybe 40-50) of wildebeest. Past the wildebeest we just ran into a lot of tall grass and some sandy roads that caused our truck to move around like a boat. There weren't very many animals at all, but we did get some good bird shots, though, including the lilac breasted roller that had consistently eluded Justin. There was one in a tree, and another one on some rocks with hippos in the background. We also got a picture of a long-tailed shrike, a Senegal coucar, and spur-winged goose. The spur-winged goose actually had iridescent feathers. There was also a duck family with a bunch of chicks. We also saw an African mangosteen tree – we aren't sure if it's the same type of mangosteen we ate in the Philippines so many years ago. We took our morning break, and got a group shot with BB.
We made our way back to the part of the concession we had spent most of our time at on the first three drives, and then we started to see things in waves. First, we saw a coucar. Then we saw a hornbill and a fish eagle. We also saw a steenbok, the smallest antelope in the area. It looked like a baby from any of the other antelope groups. Then we saw a large group of zebra drinking water, yielding a number of good shots:
BB told us that baby zebra are born unusually tall, making it more difficult for predators to identify them. After we left the watering hole, we saw several vervet monkeys, some on the ground and some up in the trees (close and far). We headed out in a slightly different direction, away from the camp, and saw some impala along with a tsetsebe, when we made a rapid U-turn. Given the timing, we figured we had just run out of time. We were heading back in a direction towards camp, but at the spot where we would have turned left and headed back to camp, we turned right, so we figured there might be something good.
Then we saw a carcass, with several vultures chowing down. There were three different types – whiteback, leopard faced, and hooded. Then we saw another vehicle off in the distance. Justin saw an animal, and asked if it was a dog, but BB said it was a jackal. As we got closer, Justin got more convinced it was a dog, but BB was insistent it was a jackal. When we got up to where the other car was, we saw a group of "jackals," which BB eventually gave in and admitted were dogs – he was just giving Justin a hard time. There were about a dozen dogs, in two groups near one another. They were both in shade – 5 adults in one group, 5 adults and 2 puppies in the other. They had taken down the impala, and were now resting and digesting. We stayed there for some time, taking tons of photos, then headed back. Some of the highlights were:
So while the drive started off slow, it was by far the most eventful, with the dogs, the buffalo, the elephant, and the zebra being worthy of a good drive in their own right. We looked through some photos after lunch, then slept and got up at 3. The afternoon game drive was not as eventful as the morning, but very peaceful and relaxing. We spent a fair amount of time watching a mom and baby elephant graze on an Acacia tree, despite its long thorns. While watching that pair, we saw another mom and baby pair approach from our right. The baby kept lagging behind when it would stop for water. Eventually they walked right past one of the other Selinda vehicles.
Later we saw a very large, very old, male giraffe. BB told us that as giraffes age, they get darker – a bit like gray hair on humans. We saw a wildebeest, which at point looked like it was stalking an impala. We watched a group of hippos for some time, and there was a rumble when someone stepped on someone else's toe. Nearby we saw a group of ground hornbills. We drove back towards where the dogs were, first noting that the impala was down to its spine – the hyenas had dragged off everything else.
We tried to follow the dogs tracks, as did one of the other vehicles, but to no avail. The sunset was very nice, so we stopped just east of a channel with several hippos and watched the sun go down, while watching all of the hippos' antics. On the drive home, we saw several more hippos, now out of the water, but by now it was too dark for any of our pictures to turn out. Not much happened after we got back – it was almost dinner time, and we went to sleep shortly thereafter. We did determine, however, that BB was a soccer fan, and in fact followed the same team Justin does, so the jersey he had thought of bringing as a gift would have in fact been a hit. Oh well.