South Africa Day 10

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This morning, I did most of the roads around Pretoriuskop.

The first part of the trip is out to the Shitlhave dam, then to the Kahpe boulder, and then to the Transport dam (which I visited when staying at Skukuza). One again I'm particularly looking for rare antelopes and cheetahs.

Once again I see nothing until I get to the dam. This is not unsurprising as it's dark most of the way. When I get to the dam, I can bearly see to the other side of the water. Within 10 minutes that's possible. At the dam, I see just one hippo, a little egret and a grey heron. It's pouring with rain.

I see nothing for 20K, and then a collection of cars. Someone says his partner has seen a cheetah, but it's gone into the bushes now. They go up and down, and as it's seems genuine, I go up and down too. We give up after a while.

One K later, and there's another collection of cars. I ask one person what are people looking for. He replies in Afrikanse with something that sounds like He says he doesn't know the English. He xpains it's a small cat. (It turns out later to be a genet cat.) I overtake a lot of the cars that are looking and stop by another one. A person with an English accent says its a caracal. I later find out that she is from Petersfield, that's she's been here for 3 weeks, she's going back tomorrow and that her parents live here. We both moan about the weather. It is still pouring with rain. Whether it was a caracal or a genet it's now gone. It's probably hiding from the tourists and the rain. (I've actually seen both once before. The small cats are rarely seen. It would have made my day to have seen it.)

It's just 4K to Transport dam. I see a wildebeeste on the way, and at the dam, I see a dater, a little egret, 2 habida ibis, a crocodile, a hippo and 2 waterbuck. And some weaver birds.

On the way back to the Shithave dam, I see an enormous slug (that is about 5 inches long and nearly 2 inches high), a hyaena, 5 giraffe, 2 giraffe and lots of zebra.

At the dam, I see a fish eagle (probably th sme one as I saw there yesterday afternoon) and 7 waterbucks.

Betweeen the dam anf the outskirts of Pretoriuskop, I see a squirrel and a steenbok.

For the second part of this morning's game drive, I'm going to go north. I don't recall doing these roads before. But the sightings board has people seeing lions in this area yesterday. .

It takes about 50 minutes but I only see an elephant, 2 waterbuck and lots of mongoose.

I return to Pretoriuskop to go to the loo. I see from the special sightings book that yesterday at 0930 someone saw Lichtenstein's hartebeest in the area I was looking this morning.

According to the special sightings book, reedback were seen on the Fayi loop a couple of days ago. The Fayi loop is a sandy road, but the weather has dried up, and hopefully it won't be too slippery.

So for the rest of the morning I go round the Fayi loop and nearby roads. There are three streams to cross and because of the recent rain these are deeper than usual, and I also come across a piece of road that has deep ruts. I get out of my vehicle (not allowed) to see whether we will cope. The car does.

Whilst travelling around, I see an elephant, 2 female kudus, 3 more and a monkey. Not rally very fruiful. However, because I'm tired, I think I was driving far too fat to see any reedbuck.

I need to go the restauarnat to book a table for tonight's dinner. It's Neaw Year's Eve and so it's a gala dinner. I'm not sure what that'll mean apart from a drink when you arrive and an increase of 40 rand.

I don't want to go there before 12 noon, and so I make another return trip to Shitlhave dam. This time I see 10 waterbuck and a hippo.

When I go to the restaurant, as usual at lunchtime there is no one there, but I see someone clearing tables from the takeaway next door. It turns out to be my waiter from last night. He recognises me, and asks me whether I want the same table again. I say yes. So that's that sorted.

At 1611, I leave again. There's little enthusiasm as it's pouring with rain. There's little to see. During the nextt two hours I see baboons, 1 warthog, 1 buffalo, 2 elephants and 2 buffalo.

Later, in the restaurant, I go to the same table that I had yesterday. I've brought yesterday's half bottle of wine with me. It's a different waiter from yesterday, but he immediately understands when I say I don't want the wine list because I've still to drink the rest of yesterday's wine.

About 10 minutes later when I'm getting my second course, I dsicover that the real occupants of my table have turned up. It appears that they booked the table last night. Anyway they been re-allocated my table, and they don't seem to mind. Although it's not totally my fault, I feel a bit bad about it as my table is bigger than theirs and there are two of them.

As I'm tucking into my main course, a person comes up to me and ask me whether I've seen much since I last saw him. Needless to say, having seen so many cars, I've no idea who he is. I say since when. This is my attempt at a polite way of saying who are you?. He explains that he is the one who mentioned wild dogs to me. He points out the table containing the other three of his group. We swap stories. He says he's going to Satara tomorrow. I say that I am too. He invites me to come over to his braai.

Later I think that's it's going to be hard work finding them in Satara. So when I finish my meal I go over to have a quick word with them. After a while they ask me to sit down, and I learn a lot about them. The three women explain that he's got it wrong as they are going to Skukuza tomorrow.

One of the, Melody, is in IT building web pages for people. And they are all IT literate. They have each brought a laptop. Not feeling to be left out, I explain that I would have done, but it's too heavy. However, I have brough a PDA and am producing a web page in Word Mobile each day writing up what happens that day.

Heather and Helen take photos of us. Heather is using a digital and she shows me what she's taken. I ask her to send me a copy and give her my business card as it's got my e-mail address on it.

We talk about all sorts of things, including GPS. Earl has been using a GPS unit to record waymarks. He thinks I'm wasting my time logging the routes as he says these are freely available. I disagree. I decide that both he and I have had to much to drink but later I get his e-mail address so that I can pursue it later, and perhaps get his waypoints.

As they are all birders, I mention that I'm disappointed not to have seen any bateleurs. I also moan that I've not seen any klipspringers. They say they've seen lots. I also mention the lack of pied kingfishers and giant kingfishers. They seem to say that giant kingfishers are rarely seen. I say that on previous trips I've not had any difficulty in seeing them.

Earl orders more wine, and then he gets other drinks. We leave a lot latter than I planned, and I'm a lot more drunk that I had planned.

At about 2315 I start writing a message to text to people saying Happy New Year. After doing this, I wait for the New Year to arrive. I fall asleep playing Sodoku on my PDA, and when I wake up it's 0115. I send my text message, and then go to sleep.

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