A Day In a Guides Life At Phalaborwa Gate



By Donavan Terblanche

04h00: Wake-up to a crisp morning. Prepare the catering for the morning walk.

05h00: Lourens Botha and I met the guests at the Phalaborwa gate with warm coffee and rusks. The group comprises three foreigners and two South Africans. We proceeded to our walking site, although Lourens and I were still debating our final destination. The drive to the site was great - we saw lion on the road and not far from that a journey of giraffe. Lourens and I extended our debate as to who would be leading the walk.

05h45: We arrived at an area called Shivulani Windmill. I pulled rank so therefore got to lead the trail. During the safety briefing we heard rumbling and branches breaking. We knew we were going to see the giants that walk the earth. With the wind in our favour and the sun at our backs, the seven of us then moved towards the crackling of breaking branches. As we got closer and closer the sound amplified from a low murmur to a loud rumble and there they were: a breeding herd of elephants – what a sighting, calves and all. The aim of the encounter was to view and leave the animals without them even knowing that we were there. To the astonishment of the guests we did exactly that.

As the walk continued we saw a variety of flowers, insects, birds and markings of animals that had come and gone. Again I heard a rumble and stopped, thinking that we had found another elephant, but it appeared to be Lourens' tummy and time for a scrumptious, filling and well-deserved breakfast. After breakfast we started heading back via a distant koppie. Coming back to where we left the car, the oxpeckers flew up and warned us about the lonely buffalo at the watering hole.

10h00: On our drive back we saw general game and shared impressions and experiences with the guests. We bid our guests farewell and had to return to the office for the dreadful thing called ‘paper work'.

16h30: Preparations for the Bush Braai for tonight for 14 guests, With two 10-seater vehicles, we picked up the guests from various points in Phalaborwa. As I entered Kruger the general game was everywhere. From a small steenbok to the taller-than-trees giraffe.

The sun melted away on the horizon, where else does one want to be at that time than in the bush having a cold one, and everyone enjoyed nature's farewell to the day. On our way to the bush braai spot we had an exhilarating encounter with an elephant bull in musth. He shouted, I shouted, he won, I reversed. Eventually he gave us one last salute and let us be.

19h00: The bush braai spot, and exclusive kraal close to Sable dam, was lit up with loads of lanterns and friendly staff trying to please everybody's needs. After the hunger had been stilled and the thirst had been quenched we took a slow drive back to civilisation and tried to find all the creepy crawlies that you would not normally see in the day.

21h30: As I bade my guests farewell I was off home to get some rest before another day in ‘my back yard'... Besides the above mentioned activities we offer loads more including an overnight 4x4 camping trail. Please phone 013 735 3547/8 for all enquiries and bookings.

Leopard, wild dogs and elephant

Kruger National Park (KNP) guides Raymond Khosa and Obakeng Koma were on a walk in the Berg-en-Dal area when they heard a leopard grunt. They decided to move to higher ground in the hope of spotting the leopard. Suddenly they saw impala scattering in all directions with wild dogs hot on their tail. More wild dogs were running on the other side of the valley.

These dogs crossed paths with the leopard who promptly found a quieter spot in a tree. With their attention focussed on the leopard, they did not notice a breeding herd of elephant who made no bones about the dogs staying in the same spot as them. The leopard leaped to level ground, but he too was persuaded to go. Raymond and Obakeng watched the leopard for a few minutes before it disappeared into the undergrowth.

Cape clawless otter

John Adamson, head guide at Olifants camp, spotted a Cape clawless otter when returning from a morning walk from the low-water bridge at Balule in October. The otter seemed to be playing with a lone hippo bull by swimming unseen around it - possibly nipping its tail on occasion. The hippo was aware of the otter and quickly spun around on a couple of occasions.



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