Game drive sightings from Maninghi Game Lodge.

“Africa changes you forever, like nowhere on earth. Once you have been there, you will never be the same. But how do you begin to describe its magic to someone who has never felt it? How can you explain the fascination of this vast, dusty continent, whose oldest roads are elephant paths? Could it be because Africa is the place of all our beginnings, the cradle of mankind, where our species first stood upright on the savannahs of long ago?” * Brian Jackman (British journalist and author, best known for his interest in wildlife and wild places – especially Africa)
It is said that the kitchen is the heart of the home. If that is the case, then the same is true of this retro kitchen at Maninghi Game Lodge. This is where guests gather before heading out on either a morning game drive or walk, depending on what activity has been planned for the day.
In true South African tradition, a day here will usually begin with a hot beverage as well as rusks or muffins before heading out.
This is the view of the Olifants River as you sip your beverage of choice and chomp down on a snack.
The river was flowing faster than I had expected it to, but despite that, I did spot both hippos and crocodiles in the water.
It was not only the guests that were up early. There seemed to be a resident troop of baboons that patrolled the river bank looking for fruit that might have fallen during the night or anything edible that might be scavenged…all the while keeping an eye on us.
Something that I was not expecting to see as we walked towards the game drive vehicle was a giraffe peering at me over the fence that is at the edge of the property.
Seems that guests do not even have to leave camp in order to interact with this iconic species. One that, together with zebra, has become a firm favourite with international guests.
The African version of “Saddle up and ride”?
Time to head off into the reserve to see what might be out and about. Sightings while out on a drive can never be guaranteed, however, it is seldom, if ever, that you will see ‘nothing’.
You might not see any of the dangerous species, but there are ALWAYS Impala to fall back on!
As Paul, the co-manager of the property was away, we were extremely lucky to have Lee take us for a morning walk. 3 hours and we only covered about 2.5km. But distance is not what these walks are all about. They focus on education, entertainment and information. And that Lee did for our group in spades. Who knew those rock formations could be that exciting?
This is a piece of Banded iron stone which is part of the Volkberg Group and is probably in excess of 2 billion years old. That is not a typo…it is BILLION.
The ridges and depressions on the rock are caused by deposits of micro-organisms that were found in the oxygen-rich water all those years ago.
This stone could have come from as far away as Polokwane and over the intervening years it has washed down into the Olifants River which is where we found it.
Being tumbled through river systems caused the rounded, smooth edges which might lead people, who might know no better, to think that this is actually a river pebble. (My thanks to Lee Gutteridge for supplying this information).
It was Impala rutting season when we were at the lodge and the air was filled with the sounds of the rams trying to ward off rivals as well as try to keep their ewes controlled and not heading off to see if the ‘grass was greener on the other side‘. Both from a food and physical point of view.
During the rutting season, the rams have only one focus…procreation…and that often leads to their death as they tend not to eat and they lose condition which means that they become easy prey for predators.
But, at the end of the day, it is about the survival of the fittest that is all that matters.
A family of Waterbuck on the far bank kept me entertained for a while as they foraged, seemingly without a care in the world.
And, just in case you think that the troop had left… They did vanish during the day but were back in the afternoon before we once more headed out.
Sunset from the back of the game drive vehicle as we head back to camp for dinner.

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