SOMKHANDA SOMBERNESS

As we awoke this morning there seemed to be a very somber mood hanging over the BBB’s .. It’s Friday and our last day here on Somkhanda Game Reserve , it has been such an amazing experience and it fills our hearts with sadness to think that this be our last full day here and we have to leave this beautiful place in 24 hours :’( .

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Sat around at breakfast we glance down over the balcony down towards the new dam they are building in front of the lodge we see the Black Backed Jackals doing their morning business before running off together which kind of ruins our plans for the afternoon as we had planned on using the telemetry equipment to track them .

We meet up with Oomps and prepare for our second Rhino Tracking exercise of the week , we just have one problem .. again the weather isn’t on our side and we have 100% cloud cover which makes it very difficult to use the telemetry because the signal bounces around everywhere and you can’t pin point the direction from the collars :/

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Cool breezes blow through the game viewer as we head out to try and find the Rhino making it bitterly cold and yet Ben and Oomps are sunning it up in the front cabin of the vehicle with the heater and radio on having a good old sing along while we froze our butts off ! And yet again we had a morning full of Impala and Nyala this is because the reserve doesn’t have that many predators that would normally feed off them .. at the moment their only real threat are Leopards and the Wild Dogs .

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By now our spirits have picked up as we are all having a good laugh as the vehicle seems to be moving in sync with the music haha especially when MC Hammer – Can’t touch this came on haha . At certain points along the tracks there are awesome little hills and troughs which made it an awesome little roller coaster ride at times :p .

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We didn’t seem to be having much luck with the other Rhino so we decided to drive over to the part of the reserve where we first saw them on Wednesday morning and as luck would have it the 4 were in exactly the same spot and by exactly .. I mean EXACTLY .. just a little too far into the bush to be able to get close to them although it still gave us some opportunities for photos .

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Time was pushing on and vols were hungry so it was definitely time to head back to the lodge for some French toast , bacon and beans and a nice hot cup of tea or coffee to warm the bones that we had just frozen for the last couple of hours !

Hamish then had a great suggestion about checking the camera traps so after breakfast we loaded everyone back on in search of the camera traps . The reserve has these camera traps dotted around the reserve to try and observe if there are any new species that have wandered into the reserve and to try and identify any of the existing game to see if they have any territorial patterns .

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These camera traps run on rechargeable batteries and the info gets stored onto normal memory cards so need to be changed once a week or so depending on the amount of activity in that particular area . Oomps showed us how to change the first one and make sure that all the settings are correct and then gave us the chance to try our hand at changing a few of the others .

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Once back at the lodge we all gathered around as Oomps sat down with his laptop and began loading the images and data from the memory cards . Most of the pics were of Nyala with some Impala .. one very large Kudu and some Zebra but there were some interesting ones of the White Rhinos , these Black Rhinos really are very secretive as we haven’t had a glimpse of one all week apart from tracks when a Cow and her Calf walked right over our vehicle tracks just after we had passed by .. arrgghhh !!

We also checked the camera from the Vulture Restaurant which if you can remember from our earlier blogs had a fresh Zebra carcass dumped off their at the beginning of the week .. first to feast on it were Bush Pigs which are kind of similar to a boar looking animal and then the White Backed Vultures pulled in and did their thing ! One very creepy looking Hyena also appeared on the season looking extremely devilish with his eyes glowing from the camera flash !

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Nap time took place once more with most of us including Oomps passing out on the chair cushions on the floor .. tut tut .. they just can’t handle the pace haha . Lunch came and went and the first part of the afternoon was spent just sat around chatting and telling each other more stories and Ben introducing us to a new game .. Zip,Bong !!

Sitting in a large circle with our lips curled around our teeth looking like a bunch of OAP’s we went round the circle trying to say Zip , then if someone said Bong it would change direction . The aim of the game was to keep your lips tucked around your teeth for the entire game even if your laughing which becomes impossible and makes you laugh even harder watching others cringe trying to hold it together haha .. it was hilarious .

Days here seem to fly by soo fast and before we knew it , it was time to start our last ever activity at this incredible reserve with Oomps for his last ever game drive as he will be leaving the reserve next week to move on to bigger and better things . The decision was made to go out and try and find these elusive Black Rhino and maybe even Hyena and Leopard which are pretty much the only game that we have yet to see .

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Apparently the largest concentration of these animals are towards the West hand side of the reserve so it just seemed common sense to start there .. not through lack of trying it just didn’t seem our destiny to find them .. maybe something wants us to see them next week at some point so it gives us something to look forward to .. who knows ??!

So we made the trip as fun as possible with singing and even water fights which Ben and Oomps seemed to be having a lot of fun with .. definitely not fair they had control of the windscreen washers which shot water high enough to get over the windscreen and into our faces !!! :/ lol .

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One last time we took a slow casual ride back to the lodge and applauded Oomps for his amazing services , fun times and friendship this week it really has made our week and this entire experience a lot more enjoyable .

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Our last night will be spent having dinner with our new found friends and just enjoying our last few hours together and reminiscing about all the fantastic times , great laughs and wonderful sightings we have had during the last week . It’s going to be very hard leaving this place tomorrow as it has been our first home here in Africa and will always have a place in our hearts .

It won’t be a late one this evening as we have to be up at 4am tomorrow morning to get on the road and hit Hluhluwe / Umfolozi game reserve at 6am for our full day game drive in a Big 5 game park with the high hopes of seeing some of the fiercer African animals .. mainly Lions …!!

So for one last time we wish you all sweet dreams from Somkhanda and cannot wait to tell you all about it when we get home we just wish you could have been here to experience this with us …..
Signing Out … BBB’s

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