Thursday, November 16, 2017

Honeymoon Day 21: Baby Lions and Elephants on Safari in Timbavati

1/19/2017
Honeymoon Day 21: Baby Lions and Elephants on Safari in Timbavati

Up early again for our full day at andBeyond Ngala Safari Lodge in the Timbavati area of South Africa. We were up at 5am and met for a tea and rusk at 5:30. This was a bit of a better and clearer schedule than at Simbambili and so it worked super well as they gave us a bit more buffer time to get up and dressed. And off we went, immediately to an epic morning game drive. Today was especially awesome as we got to see some baby lions and also a baby elephant!

We started off by seeing Jenni's favourite bird, which she was super psyched about and pointed out to us. Next up were some elephants, in the middle of their breakfast, as they stripped the bark off of trees and branches with their trunks! It was very funny to watch and super cool to see how they accomplished this task without hands to use. One elephant was trying to wedge his head into the tree a bit because the branch/trunk itself was not stable, and he was pulling on the branch with his trunk, so he was trying to stabilize the tree and pull of the bark at the same time.

Jenni's favourite bird

Elephant!




Taking a stroll!
Another funny bird
We drove for a bit longer to an open area and were incredibly lucky to see SO many lions, inclduing so many lion cubs!!!! Lion cubs!!!!!!!!! They were soooo cute and really hilarious. Given our timing in January, there were both 4 month and 2 month-old cubs there, and they were playing together... soooo sweeet!!!! They were mostly playing in the long grass so it was tough but I snagged a few photos (a few in sharp focus, at least!) The cubs continued to play and at one point the 2 month "baby" and the 4 month "older brother" were playing with sticks in their mouths!!! Oh man... adorbs. At some point one of them was trying to nurse, Mom lion had her leg up and was surprisingly very unconcerned about our presence there in a big truck! The older one went over to Dad lion who was relaxing and tried to play with Dad, who gave him a playful bat with his paw "not now!" In total there were 9 cubs, as well as 1 adult male lion (eventually 2 adult males -- the other one came by just as we were leaving) and 4 adult females. The cubs were in the grass for 30+ minutes... and then decided to come out from the long grass literally AS we turned on the car and started to drive away. But I got a few photos as they got into the clearing!

Some wider view photos first from my phone, we were super close to the huge pack of lions!








Little guy!!!


Following closely to Mom Lion



Playing with a stick!







A little scratch
Mom watching carefully
Whisker!



Dad lion looking intense
A playful bat
Play fighting

4 month old cub


(mini) King of the Jungle
Mom and baby

Here's a video of the lions and their cubs.



Graham, a ranger from another one of the andBeyond lodges, drove with us today. When we stopped for a break, he told us about the Marula fruit (which Amarula is made from). He peeled a pretty ripe one for us so we could taste it, it was very citrusy. It was still a bit sour as they are not super ripe until February. Still, very cool to try it!! We also had a MochaChocaRula while taking our morning break. We saw a cool little Owelette and a Fed Air plane leaving the runway right near the lodge, and then headed back to the lodge for breakfast.




Back to the lodge, we had a nice brekkie of eggs, sausages, mushrooms and tomatoes, as well as a nice yoghurt with macadamia nut and fruit mix. It was a little warmer today so it was super nice to nap in our cool room ahhh... and then we headed to the main pool area for a dip in the pool to cool off as well as to read some magazines. The staff at the lodge suggested it was perfect warm weather for a "nice G&T" (Gin and Tonic!) and so we abided as well as getting a Kola tonic and lemonade. Mmm... that was a super nice time as well as the little hop into the pool to cool off.

In what felt like a short time, it was time for lunch (food again?!) The lunch was similar to yesterday, but this time with a crazy epic vanilla baked cheesecake with crispy edges!! We just ate a light amount as it was quite hot in the middle of the day and we didn't want to overdo it. We enjoyed it all and then headed back to the room to do some journal catchup and some more relaxing.

Some monkeys were on our patio and I got a quick video.


Around 4pm it was time to meet everyone again at the "tea" spot, to get ready for the evening game drive. But first... tea time! We had a tea and a really nice eggy chocolate cake. Eating! Allen recommended I try taking a time lapse on my GoPro camera so I tried it (but it didn't really work) ;)




First up on the evening drive was a big herd of elephants with a baby elephant with them!! Jenni explained that in general the mother will stay between us and the baby (on our side of where the baby was standing) to protect it and block it from our view. I managed to snap a quick few photos while the baby elephant was in sight. We also saw a nice giraffe as well!











Baby Elephant!

I was of course super keen to see more Leopards if possible, so Jenni and Elvis took us on a search to see if we could find some Leopards. We did eventually find one... and again... she was up a tree!! They love doing that!!! haha. It was a bit tough to get a good angle for the photo as she was straddling the trees very hilariously and doing some sort of Leopard yoga. We sat under the leopard for about half and hour as I tried to get some good photos, and we enjoyed the sunset while we were there.


Sunset!





Another silly leopard up a tree!




Realllly funny how she was perched up in the tree


Leopard yoga


Africa!

After watching the leopard for a long while and enjoying that, we headed to a nice open area to watch the remainder of the sunset and have another MochaChocaRula. Those are good. :)

Our snacks today were EPIIIIIC. This was perhaps the best biltong I have ever tasted. It was soft but not too damp. It was very fresh, and cut in larger chunks. Jenni said they got it from a butcher directly. It was fantastic, and I ate like 1/2 the container myself. Amazing. Our snacks were organized into cool little metal stacking containers, "bento box" style. Also they had some awesome granola cookie things called "crunchies" that were ALSO awesome. That biltong though.... that was insane.





Snack time!

So that was magical. We headed back to the lodge to change and get ready for dinner... a nice romantic honeymoon dinner... with Jenni!! Our other car-mate Vikram was not having dinner this evening, so our car group was just the three of us tonight. So that was funny. We had a lovely chat and learned how she decided to become a ranger which was super interesting. She told us more details about the super stringent process it takes to become a ranger -- you do an 8-day "Walkabout" in 42 degrees C?!?!? And this is on your own with only a radio for emergencies and you have to forage for your own food and some other super crazy survival stuff. It sounded like crazy amounts of training -- no wonder we are in such good hands here!

Driving back at night was pretty crazy with just the one big spotlight.


Rhinos at night time as we drove back to the lodge

Dinner location!

Dinner was a BBQ-style and was super interesting and awesome. Ostrich Kebabs! The chef was very proud of his sauce, as I got closer and he served me some meat, he said, "You want... 'Chakalakka Sauce'?!" He paused for a moment... "Chakka-lakka!" It was so funny and he was very psyched about the sauce. It was a super delicious BBQ tomato based salsa/sauce as well as having a hilarious name. For dessert was Malva Pudding (yesss). We were tired from a long and awesome day of driving, so it was bedtime, but first a nice bath in our fancy safari room by candlelight. An epic honeymoon location!!

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