Well guys … much to our dismay the day has finally come … our last day here at the incredible Somkhanda Game Reserve . This morning we were due to have a bit of a lie in but at around 5am while we were all still sleeping most of us woke to a tremendous thunder storm that had blown over the reserve . We first heard the rain pitter pattering onto our tents and then these earth rumbling roars coming from the heavens above , like we could feel it running through our bodies .
This however did not stop us from continuing our lie in haha which we thoroughly needed . Most of us woke around 7am had a quick shower and then headed down to the main reception area for a lovely warm cooked breakfast and looking at the weather today it looked like we would need it . The skies were heavy and the rain looked set to be in for the rest of the day and did not look good for our planned morning of tracking the Wild Dogs and the Rhinos .
So the plan this morning was to split up into the same groups as yesterday so the guys who had missed out on seeing the Rhinos would get one more chance to try and find them while the other group used the telemetry equipment to see if the Wild Dogs were up and about and on the hunt . It was going to be a very cold and wet morning of activities so we stuck on some warm clothes , loaded the vehicles and headed out .
Ben leaded the Rhino group of Eric , Cheleigh , Emily , Phillipe , Amelie , Will , Shelby , Elissa , Dan and Alyssa and guide Riley . Shelby , Will , Elissa and Amelie decided to sit at the front of the vehicle which turned out to be a horrendous mistake haha as there was no front cover so they took the brunt of all the rain and cold winds haha sorry guys :/ . First we headed out to one of the highest vantage points in the area in order to find the strongest signal possible with the tracking device but we knew the weather was really going to be a major factor today in heeding our progress .
Just as we thought we couldn’t find signal for any of the Rhinos so it looked like we all have to do it old school and track them using our eyes trying to find signs of fresh tracks or faeces . We did however manage to find a signal for the Wild Dogs so we left T.L Tara with the telemetry equipment to continue the search for them with her group and went on our way . After a km or two and a few bumpy roads along the way , Eric pipes up from the back .. MY PHONE HAS GONE ! It had ‘ Apparently ‘ slipped out of his pocket and fell out the back of the truck – why is it always Eric ! lol . So back we went searching along the roads for the phone crossing paths with Tara’s group again along the way .. then what do we hear .. FOUND IT ! – turns out it was still in the vehicle just tucked in by the seat .. you should have seen the scowl on our faces ! haha … typical .
Anyway we carried on regardless and managed to find some tracks along the road so followed them , the only thing was that the rain was making it very difficult as it kept washing away the tracks . We made sure to keep our eyes and ears open along the way and ended up on the airstrip where we found some fresher tracks and a lonely Giraffe wandering around . the morning was pushing on but at around 11am on our way back along a road we had already been about 1hr prior we saw FRESH tracks and would not let this opportunity evade us .
We all hopped out of the game viewer and marched up the road in search of these elusive Rhinos for the sake of Will , Shelby and Elissa who are yet to see one here at Somkhanda .. even with our best efforts and newly acquired tracking skills the trail seemed to go quiet and being cold and wet we decided enough was enough and made our way back to put on some warm clothes and have a nice hot cup of tea or coffee . Mind you .. we’re not surprised we never found them , I mean would you go wandering around in the cold and wet if you really didn’t have to !!
Team leader Tara got to be with Elisa, Deborah, Jordan, Keira, Chris, James, Doug, Scout, Nikkita and Devon. Since Ben and I got to hang out with the other groups all day yesterday, him and I wanted to make sure we each get enough time with both groups! Man was it raining hard this morning. Oooowee! It was as if we had a free shower or something. Well, at least this means we won’t be using up all the water I suppose. However, it was a bit cold in the rain, and we were driving, which made it less desirable. This morning we went out to track the wild dogs in the park.
Wild dogs are extremely endangered in Africa. There are only about 400 wild dogs left in the whole continent. Many farmers hate the dogs because they eat so much and will come into their farms sometimes and prey on their cattle. Somkhanda has introduced them to their habitat in order to help them breed and build up the population of them. They are absolutely unbelievable creatures. They make really weird sounds that you wouldn’t even think come from a dog, they are beautiful and they are much higher on the food chain than most people understand. The colors and unique attributes of them are incomparable too. We were so hoping to see one today as we went out in the rain.
Waiting for the wild dogs can sometimes take hours on end and they are so unpredictable. They hang out around their den for the most part, but they go out and hunt twice a day for food at certain times. We used the telemetry to keep an eye on them for about two hours today. We drove around the area with the den, got out to stretch our legs, waited some more, got really wet and had no luck with seeing them. Because their den is way down deep in the valley, there are no access roads down there. Otherwise, we would’ve driven down there to get a bit closer.
We were soaking wet after that amount of time, and we were content to go back to the lodge to warm up. It was a shame that we didn’t see any, but coming back was worth it because the weather turned south as soon as we got back. It was pouring rain when we arrived. Some were more wet than others, and I felt so bad for the people sitting in the front seat. Chris definitely took one for the team by blocking most of the rain from everyone else. Poor guys! Luckily, we had hot coffee and tea waiting for us upon our arrival and we warmed up quickly. We played even more games to keep us occupied, and pretty soon the others arrived to join us. We laughed our booties off playing too!!
Lunch was upon us and it couldn’t come soon enough , a delicious tuna pasta bake which we couldn’t get enough of . Our original plan this afternoon was to head out into the reserve and do some Snare Sweeps to try and find any Snare Traps that potential poachers may have placed around the reserve to try and capture game . But the weather still didn’t look like it was letting up so the unanimous decision was made to stay at the lodge for the afternoon play games and maybe watch a documentary that Riley wanted to show us .
Tara was game leader and we started off by playing the ‘ hands game ‘ where we all had to sit in a large circle with our hands on the table and criss cross hands with the person next to us and then we would have to go around the table slapping our hands down in the correct order which can get very confusing when you have them interlinked with others and you forget which hands are yours ! haha . It was made even more difficult when we incorporated ‘ skipping ‘ and ‘ reversing ‘ into it .. yoh ! And Chris finally won his first game after finishing 2nd for most of the week haha congrats !
By far the most hilarious game we have ever played came next ZIP , BONG !!!! Again we were all sat in a circle and we had to sit there and tuck our lips over our teeth so you kind of look like an old person and you had to keep this expression for the entire length of the game . While holding our mouths like this we went round in a circle and said ZIP .. if someone said BONG it would go back the other direction … sounds easy right .. ??!! NO !!
When you have 23 people trying to say ZIP and BONG the ridiculous accents we were coming out with sounded hilarious haha you sound like some kind of hick Texan straight out of the corn fields haha . Most of us failed because we were laughing to hard especially when Elisa couldn’t control herself with fits of laughter and actually started crying and somehow managed to keep her expression although she was coming out with some very strange sounds when trying to say the words haha .
Then Will started with his country bumpkin actions and had everyone in stitches .. he honest to god looked and sounded like some western American gran’pa especially with his hillbilly facial and arm expressions hahaha honestly .. it came down to a decided between T.L Ben and Phillipe who both ended up in a draw .. well done guys … we have not laughed soo much in such a long time !!
Even through hours of trying to configure the laptop/projector/sound combo to get the dvd to work it was hopeless so we just spent the rest of the afternoon playing other games and just generally having a great time with everyone and enjoying our last afternoon here.