Peter, our guide, was passionate about wildlife, and was a mine of information
about the plants and animals in this part of Africa
We were up before sunrise for our early morning game drive with our guide Peter. We piled into the vehicle, snug under warm blankets against the chilly dawn, and set off for Hwange National Park. Our drive had barely begun before we came across some kudu. Peter explained that they are found in woodlands and bushlands, as they like to hide among the thickets. They are hunted for their meat, hide and horns, which are used in Africa for musical instruments, and symbolic ritual objects.
Kudu, hiding in the bushes
Just ahead of the kudu, we saw some impala. In contrast to the kudu, herds of impala are found in savanna, and open woodland. They can run very fast to try to outrun their predators. Their distinctive markings on the rear enable them to follow one another when they are on the move.
A group of impala
The long road to the National Park, running through thick bush on either side
Sable sheltering among the trees
We finally arrived at the park, having dilly dallied to take lots of photos. We arrived at just the right time, however, as Peter spotted a cheetah across the savanna. We stopped to watch, as other vehicles joined us to see what we were looking at.
The cheetah kept walking towards us…
…and crossed the road right in front of our vehicle
…then went to sit in the shade under a tree only metres away.
We sat mesmerised by the cheetah, taking numerous photos, before it suddenly got up and wandered off. Wow! That was amazing!
From there we went to a platform, overlooking a waterhole. Peter had packed drinks and food, so we breakfasted at the hide, as we watched the animals come down to drink.
Unfortunately, Zimbabwe is waiting for the rains, and the waterhole was only half full. We felt sorry for the poor hippos, who were trying to submerge themselves under the water, before coming out to eat some grass.
Hippos coming out of the waterhole.
After good rains, the water should rise past the zebra in the background
We also saw this enormous crocodile, lying there among bleached bones…
…and a herd of zebra
The day was wearing on, and it was time to return to Ivory Lodge for lunch. The sun was becoming brighter and hotter, and we had discarded our cosy blankets long before.
We drove back through the bush…
..but had to stop on the way to photograph these African Hornbill
This was only our first game drive, and we had already seen a wonderful selection of game, the cheetah being our first prize. After a wonderful lunch at Ivory Lodge, we all went for a siesta to prepare ourselves for our evening game drive. What would we see next?