Bets and Sone (a French name) invited me for brunch. Their warm welcome and hospitality amaze me. Bets brought her wood carving project, Sone is crocheting a blanket for her first grandchild to be born in June, and I paint in my sketchbook. We talk and laugh. It is like having instant old friends!
By two o’clock this Sunday afternoon everyone in the busy campground has packed up and headed home to Pretoria or Johannesburg. Fortunately there is a ranger and some workers living in the cabins around the corner, but it is totally quiet in the campground. I wander up to the little shop and swimming pool for a dip and to read in the shade. “Bushman of the Kalahari” by Laurens Van der Post, a South African writer and a good storyteller. There are a few people hanging around the pool who are day visitors.
The herd of wildebeest spend most of the day walking, running in short bursts, grazing and watering at the small dam nearby. I can watch them from my tent, it is just delightful. The wildebeest is my picture is a black one, a little darker than the many others here, and it has a blonde mane and tail.
Upon returning to my tent, there are little blue monkeys literally all over my bicycle. My tent is a bit askew. Most scamper off immediately but a mother stays on the overhang tree branch nursing her baby until I walk right up to examine the crime scene. Doesn’t that sound like a charming picture? Except they were up to no good.
They chewed a hole through my tent, not the rain fly fortunately, but crawled up underneath to the less dense material in my very nice Big Agnes tent. Sure enough, they stole an energy bar. My bike levers were loosened but still intact! A few feet away they had dropped my headlight for camping. I was glad they left it behind!
Late afternoon I hiked the trail loop up over the small hill. There were larger herds of wildebeest, also known as gnus, and some elands, the biggest antelope of all. Africa has about 120 kinds of antelope. This game reserve was three separate ranches, now the fences are removed and there are three different management systems. Fortunately, the baboons are not in this area. It would not be safe camping with them!
Last night the wildebeest strolled through camp when all was quiet. Between their soft snorts could be heard the jackels howling nearby! I am not sure this is really safe and hope everyone watches their children closely!
But tonight I lay awake as the wildebeest fill the mostly vacant campground, I can hear them grazing right next to my tent. Not only that, but they always snort and tonight they are hiccuping! Between howling jackels and snorting wildebeests, I find it hard to sleep really well. Such is camping in a game reserve!