Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Berg en Dal Bliss Day1

21 December 2011, the first official day of our holiday, but our 3rd day away from home. :) (Slow and steady wins the race.)

We got out of bed at 04h30, made coffee and packed the leftover braaivleis. We gathered all our belongings and headed for the gate. There were no ques and by 05h37 we were in the park.

Before we left I did extensive research and according to my gathered information campers are allowed to check in at 09h00 in the morning. This means that we had a good three and a half hours of early morning game viewing before checking in and the arduous task of pitching the tent.

First animal we saw was a couple of beautiful kudu's.
When threatened, the kudu will often run away rather than fight. Wounded bulls have been known to charge the attacker, hitting the attacker with their sturdy horn base rather than stabbing it. Wounded females can keep running for many miles without stopping to rest for more than a minute. They are great kickers and are capable of breaking a wild dog's or jackal's neck or back. They are good jumpers and can clear a 5-foot fence from a standing start.

A mutualistic relationship has evolved between Dwarf Mongooses and hornbills, in which hornbills seek out mongooses in order for the two species to forage together and warn each other of nearby birds of prey and other predators.

These cute carnivores are often found around old termite mounds, their favourite place to sleep. We saw a lot of them in the Berg and Dal area especially in the campsite where they scurried around tents and trailers looking for discarded food.

Rhino's was on the menu again! This time they were completely relaxed and we parked the car and had some coffee with the family unit.

The big male was clearly the head of his family, but he did try and play a little hide and seek with us.

First he tried hiding behind a bush...

Then he decided a nearby tree was a better option...

He finally decided to give up the fight and had a lie down with his family...
After a while all three got really restless and started standing up and walking around! We could not figure out what alarmed them. Stiaan was convinced that they could smell the coffee, or maybe they wanted a bite from our 'braaibroodjies'. Finally we saw the reason for their restlessness.

A group of hikers on their morning walk was standing only a couple of meters away. They were all really quiet and since Rino's have really bad eyesight they settled down again after a couple of tense minutes I am sure. :) (would loved to have been in that group!)

As we drove away from the Rhino's a car coming from the front flagged us down. It was a young lady and possibly her mother. They warned us that there was some really cheeky elephants next to the road up ahead and one of them had already mock charged a couple of cars.

When we arrived we could see a commotion in the road ahead. We stopped to take a bum-shot of some less-cheeky elephants and then sneaked onto a side road away from the action. (I had no intention of challenging a big male elephant in a bad mood!)
The side road turned out to be an excellent idea as it lead to more Rhino's!!!
These boys were right next to the road, unfortunately we could not get a good picture because of the long grass. The sound however was absolutely amazing and something I will never forget. To hear them munching away was really special. I could not believe how loud it was. You could hear, see and smell how much they enjoyed their breakfast! I just hope that my children would also be able to experience this one day.
The buffalo's hiding in the grass proved to be a bit of a challenge to try and photograph even though they were really close. :) We did however manage to get a whole lot of different bum-shots on a variety of animals.



and another Elephant, this one without a tail. :) Apparently elephants sometimes loose their tails when they hold on to each other as they walk. Maybe that is what happened to this one.

We did manage to get a nice head-shot of a Rhino. Just look at those huge ears. All the better to hear you with my dear...
Community nest spiders make large untidy web constructions that superficially resemble bird's nests. Many spiders, including males, females and young , live together on the web but each may recline into a separate one of the many tunnels and chambers present. Part of the web is designed to entrap prey, which is immediately overcome by a hunting group of the community nest spiders which drag it back to the retreat where it is shared by all the members of the nest. Community nest spiders can be fairly large, up to 2cm, but they are harmless.

Of course we saw some birds, lots of them actually. This purple-headed turaco (I think) whas the highlight and the only bird we managed a picture of. :) The turaco family has some pigments that are unique to them. This includes a green pigment called turacin. The green in the turaco's feathers is the only green caused by an actual pigment. All other greens in birds' feathers are caused by either tyndal scattering or a combination of yellow and black pigment in the feathers.
We finally arrived at Berg en Dal Camp at around 09h15 that morning. We had a very friendly and efficient check in and then started the search for a camp site. Eventually we found one (not by the fence) but at least we had 3 out of the 4 things we really wanted. Shade, a braai and electricity! Not bad. Pitching the tent was slow going as it was very hot (yes at 09h30 in the morning.) Most of my jobs are inside the tent whitch was by now a large oven! Finally an hour and a half later we rewarded ourselves with a swim and a beer!

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