Hippo Galore in Olifants River. Single Rhino & Waterbuck on S91
After a short break on arriving at Olifants Camp (waypoint 453) I decided to complete a short loop and meander up a section of the main tar rod towards Letaba that I had not yet completed. The morning drive up to Olifants had been a wonderful one and included the sighting of 2
Leopards, one of which caught its meal for the day in my presence. I started by driving down the H8 towards the junction with the main H1-5 and turned north at waypoint 454.
Click on this map to enlarge then take a close look at this loop and exactly where it is situated relative to the Olifants River … as you can see it is virtually enclosed by the River on 3 sides. This will immediately tell you that this route should be excellent from all perspectives … scenery, wildlife, and riverine diversity. And it is.
At waypoint 455 I sat in the shade of a large
Sycamore Fig tree overlooking the perennial Olifants River as it flowed east before creating a large U-turn, south then east, then north before turning abruptly east again to continue with its journey to join the Letaba River just before the Olifants Gorge. As I sat in this shady area enjoying the riverine sites I could
help but marvel at how the tiny Fig Wasps are able to be totally responsible for the pollination of such large and magnificent trees. The story of these wasps is quite fascinating and one day I’ll create an article on their activities.
There were a few
birds chattering away in the background and a large group of
Hippos were sunning themselves about 50 metres away. A single large
crocodile was also close by. The Olifants is home to one of the most famous crocodile breeding grounds in the world … the Olifants Gorge and which is
currently under threat form the rising of height of the
Massingir Dam wall just inside Mozambique.
Waypoint 456 highlights an amazing koppie that reminded me of a man-made dry brick wall on a gigantic scale. From the top of these bare “brick” walls some 30 metres or so above the road level, which in itself had risen from 220 metres to 300 metres between the 2 waypoints, grew tress still waiting for the first signs of true spring so that their new green leaves could burst forth. The name of the koppie is Shamiri. The koppie extended for about 2 to 3 kms running south to north. It was indeed an impressive site. Close by I watched an Eagle in a tree but had difficulty identifying it as is so often the case for me when I see a brown eagle perched in a tree just too far away to get a good close up view with binoculars. This one seemed to have grey legs and also a crest.
On the bed of the river before I’d reached this koppie there was a white-headed vulture and it was the first one of this species that I could recollect having seen on my trips this year. In fact on this trip I
would see 3 different types of vultures, 2 nesting, this one here and another walking close to a
lion resting on the edge of a mud hole.
Waypoint 457 is the well known viewpoint overlooking the Olifants at Nmwamanzi. You can get out of the car to take
advantage of the splendid view and an amusing incident occurred while I was there.
There were many Hippos sunbathing themselves on the sandbanks of the river.
A young couple drew up in their car and left their car to view the river. A few minutes later there was a shout and I turned around. There was a
Monkey in the car and he was in no hurry to get out even when they
approached the car.
When the Monkey finally did leave the car he took 2 apples and a bag
of potato crisps with it. I say it was amusing and of course it was but
it illustrates the danger of feeding animals that are wild. This Monkey
was quite aggressive to the couple who tried to shoo it away. I have no
doubt he would have bitten if threatened more closely.
Waypoint 458 is the junction of the H1-5 with the S91 loop leading to Balule 5 kms away. Along this drive on my way back to the Olifants Camp I saw many Elephants, a large number of Hippo, and even a single
Rhino relaxing on the far side of the river.
Impala were plentiful as were
|Tomorrow I would retrace part of this loop in order to cross the Olifants River to head south down the S90.|