Once a week, I take the boys to their little play school in Phalaborwa. While they are playing with their friends and enjoy the company of other little people, I can do my weekly shopping in peace. And maybe even have a coffee with a friend to spend some time with big people;-)
Those early drives into town can be very quiet at times, where we don’t even see as much as an elephant. But other times, those drives are simply fantastic. It only takes that one special sighting to make a day! Well today, we had two.
Our boys usually wake up very early. But for some reason on the days, we have to go to school, they all of a sudden like to sleep until past 6! So I left the house with two still very sleepy boys in the car. They quickly woke up when we saw an elephant in the staff village helipad! My goodness did this young bull look like he was caught with his trunk in the cookie jar! He quickly walked through the broken fence and made like he was feeding on the Lala palms next to the cement landing spot. Got to love elephants, they are so very clever!
So this was a nice way to start our hour-long drive to town and both boys and I were in good spirit. It was still cold and a bit misty when we left Letaba, but I can feel winter is quickly coming to an end. Once the sun comes out, the temperature rises quickly and midday it is already getting hot again.
Apart from two small herds of buffalo, we did not see that many animals. Alex was enjoying his breakfast and Jack was bouncing in his car seat to the Queen CD I was playing on the radio. We were getting close to the Masorini archaeological site. From a distance, I could see a lot of cars through the Mopani bushes. They were all parked next to the open area close to the mountain that looks a bit like a pyramid. I wondered what was happening there…
When I got there I saw two young lions on top of the concrete structure by the waterhole. My heart skipped a beat. There was a whole pride spread out on this open area! I quickly counted 2 beautiful adult males, two females and about six for seven youngsters. Amazing! It has been a long time since I saw a whole pride like this. Alex whispered in my ear… Simba!
I found a nice spot to park the car and switched off my engine. The two adult females were cuddled up to the pride males in the last of the morning chill. I then switched my attention to the ‘teenagers’. They were so full of energy! And they were putting on a very entertaining show for us.
A young male was hiding in one of the big holes the elephants made when they dug up the water pipes. I could only see the top of his head. He was waiting for his brother to come closer. His sibling knew he was there but obviously played along. All of a sudden the young lion dashed out of his hiding place and jumped on top of his brother. They jumped into the air and chased each other around.
Two other youngsters were practicing their stalking and pouncing skills. One of them flattened himself against the ground and waited and waited for his sister to come close enough to give her a smack with his big paw. They clearly had such a jol play fighting and chasing each other. And for us, it was extremely entertaining to watch. Very different from the typical lion sighting, where the only thing you see them do is sleep!;-)
We spent a good 10 minutes watching the pride of lions. They were all over, jumping, play fighting and running up and down chasing each other around. The boys loved it as much as I did, and laughed every time the lions jumped into the air. I just wish I had my big camera with me. I would have been able to take some stunning pictures! Unfortunately, Phalaborwa’s crime is getting worse and I don’t feel comfortable taking my expensive equipment into town with me. So the only thing I managed is a little movie clip with my phone, which I will post on our Facebook page. After one more laugh at the lion’s antics, we had to go. We were late for school!
On our way back home from shopping and school, I decided to make a quick detour to Sable Dam. It was midday and hot, so I was hoping to see some elephants. Well, Sable Dam did not disappoint! When I drove on the little road past the water, there was a big breeding herd busy drinking and bathing.
They were really enjoying themselves. The babies were in the mud, sliding up and down, their trunks flopping around. Adults were tummy rumbling contently, drinking and throwing mud over their backs. One of the cows then had a nice scratch on a tree trunk right next to us. Two calves followed her example. Baby elephants are just so incredibly cute! They looked very clumsy trying to get on top of this fallen log trying to scratch their little bellies!
Then from the right, another breeding herd appeared. They were in single file, rushing towards the water. They were clearly very thirsty, and dove straight in pushing the other herd across towards us!
It was fantastic watching these elephants enjoy themselves in the water. I am going to make Sable Dam a regular stop on my way home from town! I will post an awesome video of these elephants on our Facebook page too.
Also read: Lions on our way to school. We had a very close encounter with a mating couple of lions!