|The white lion cub (center and its sibling (left)|
24 September 2012
Gomo Gomo Days 2 & 3
Thursday - we were awake when HJ knocked on our door at 5:30 a.m. We dressed in our chilly room and enjoyed coffee at the main lodge before leaving on the game drive. The sun was just brightening the sky each day as we climbed in the Land Rover and as the sun rose the sky was flame colored. We saw a variety of game this morning: kudu, wildebeest, giraffe, zebra, rhino and saw vultures circling the lion kill. But the lions were still there and the carcass odor was becoming more noticeable.
We had more delicious meals before the afternoon game drive and welcomed Neil and Lisa Vigars, honeymooners from the UK, to our vehicle. Our first stop was a visit to the lion kill where the lions were still working on the diminished carcass. We encountered a herd of elephants, saw hyena, a civet, giant eagle owl, and the ever present impala. That night we heard lions roar and hyena laugh—the hyena were getting impatient for their turn at the kill.
Ewan radioed HJ that they had followed the
mother lion to the den and had seen the white lion cub. We raced to the sandy river bed and we too
saw the tiny white lion and the tawny sibling staggering around the well hidden
den. Joe was only able to two two
unfocused photos. White lions are very
rare in the wild and only occur naturally in this area of the Timbavati and
Klaserie Reserves. They are not albino
but have blue eyes. Joe and Jan saw a
lion in 2001 that carried the recessive white lion gene and had read on the
Gomo Gomo website that the cub had been born about four weeks ago. HJ discovered it but the mother had moved the
cubs and they hadn’t been seen again until that morning. (Since then there were regular updates and
pictures of the cubs on the Gomo Gomo website http://www.gomogomo.co.za.)
Friday – In the early morning, while we were having coffee before the game drive we noticed something across the water hole in the dim light. HJ told us it was the mother of the white lion cub. She had a drink and then walked along the dam past Avery and Carol’s chalet. We got in our Land Rover and followed her through the bush. The second land rover was also following so we went a different direction so we wouldn’t spook her. We saw a jackal, hyena and a tawny eagle. We parked at the dam and watched a herd of elephants come down the bank to drink. It was quite a large herd and we watched them until they turned around and left. The lions were still at the kill and had dragged the remaining carcass, which was quite fragrant, around the tree where the vultures still waited. A couple of jackals were prancing back and forth in the distance.
The monkey and steenbok and impala seemed so ordinary after that. We were all chattering about the amazing white cub sighting sight when we returned to camp. Michelle had decided to sleep in that morning so she missed seeing it.
Michelle and Kevin went on the bush walk that morning. Avery would have liked to go along but the minimum age for the walk was 12. She had no trouble entertaining herself in camp with a book or swim or just watching the wildlife come to the water hole. She took many photos with her camera every day.
On the afternoon drive we stopped first at the den in hopes of seeing the white lion cub again. The mother was sleeping in the sandy river bed but the cubs must have been in the den as we did not see them. We commented how fortunate we were to have seen it that morning. Jeffrey left his seat on the fender and walked into the bush to track leopard again and somehow he found it, so we had another sighting.
We had seen four of the “big five,” lion, leopard, rhino, elephant, but so far had not encountered buffalo. HJ and Jeffrey were on a mission to complete the list. We drove through the bush and spotted a hyena, but we only paused for a few clicks of the shutter because HJ said he had a better sighting for us to see. He told us to hold on and sped through the bush. We bounced on the seats and ducked and swayed to avoid thorny trees and bushes. We watched as another vehicle navigated a deep narrow ravine and then we followed. The reward was a big herd of Cape Buffalo (estimated 400 +) coming to a water hole. They stirred up the dust as they rushed to drink, bellowing and pushing the leaders further and further into the water. In the fading light the animals continued to come out of the bush and bats flew overhead.
It was near dusk when we parked for “moon-uppers,” rather than sundowners. The sky glowed with shades of pinks and purples as we chatted around the table and enjoyed cold drinks and snacks. We stopped once again at the lion kill on the return to camp. The lions had moved on and jackals and hyena were sharing the remains of the giraffe. Hyenas have very strong jaws and feast on the bones.
All too soon our final day at Gomo Gomo arrived. Once again we left camp early Saturday for our last game drive. We went to the white lion den but there was no sign of the mother or the cubs so HJ said she must have moved them. But we saw rhino, a herd of about 20 kudu, monkeys, steenbok, impala, a squirrel and even a nocturnal bush baby in the daylight. Jeffrey spotted a leopard in a distant tree, but it jumped down before we all saw it—a disappointment for Jan who has never seen a leopard in a tree. We stopped for a long while to watch four hyena casually walking by. HJ said they were leaving the giraffe kill, dinner over.
After another hearty breakfast, we shared our Colorado Places photo book with our servers. They were so curious about the snow and a red barn and asked, “Is that your house?” Michelle passed out Colorado t-shirts to everyone who had served and cooked for us and Carol had gifts for them as well. We finished packing and were once again transferred back to Hoedspruit by Barney Smith. He took us to pick up our rental vehicle, an eight-seater Hyundai van. The luggage snugly fitted into the cargo space but we each had a window. Joe took the wheel and managed to drive on the left side of the road, although he switched on the windshield wipers when he meant to use the turn signals. It took a while to adjust.
Now we were looking forward to spending three days in the Kruger National Park. The entire Gomo Gomo experience was fantastic. Jan and I have been to southern Africa numerous times over the years but the game-viewing experience on this trip was about the best we have had.