Another park, another landscape altogether. Today we visited Solio Game Ranch. It is typical savannah country, with grassy plains, thickets of yellow acacia trees … and wildlife. We got there before 7am and the sun was streaming through the trees, the grass was still wet with dew and the sun’s rays shining through the morning mist was very picturesque. Today we were in a little open jeep with a canvas top – no windows – & it was rather cold to begin with. I hesitate to complain after being so hot for the first few days, but I did have to buy myself a fleecy sweater to wear. But once the sun came out it was a perfect day. Blue sky, gentle breeze, fluffy white clouds.
Solio is apparently one of the best places to see rhino, and we were not disappointed. There were several large groups (?herds) and a few individuals who came very close to our vehicle. These were White Rhino (which are not white at all but “wide”), and we also spotted a few antelope species we hadn’t seen before – Oryx, Eland (the largest antelope), and some cool birds – the lilac-breasted roller (one of the prettiest) and the Secretary Bird (one of the oddest). There were huge flocks of crested cranes, which are very elegant birds.
There is a very upmarket lodge right inside the game park, and we stopped there to use the bathroom. If you have serious money to burn, I’d recommend it, it was gorgeous. But we were politely thrown out as there were “clients” present – clearly we sullied the landscape in our dusty khakis. It was a beautiful bathroom though – something we have come to very much appreciate.
Solio is very close to Rhino Watch so we came back “home” for lunch. Most days we have a packed lunch which we eat in various places, from a picnic rug on the grass to a shady bougainvillea-covered verandah. The lunches are enormous, and always include a huge sandwich, some fruit, some cake or biscuits, and always, a hard-boiled egg. And often a juice & other bits & pieces. Like I said, huge. Whatever food we don’t eat is collected up & given to the local children to eat. But today we ate in and were treated to a most delicious 3 course meal.
We were planning an afternoon siesta before going out but rain was forecast so we headed straight back to the jeep for another visit to Solio. This time we took a different route through the park, and we informed our driver, Michael, that we were only interested in seeing big cats. So we spent the afternoon looking in vain for lions, cheetah or leopards – we are assured there are some in the park, but in 3 visits so far no-one has seen them. And it rained from about 10 minutes after we entered the park. Have I mentioned that it is quite cold up here? And that we were driving in a vehicle with no windows & a canvas roof? I’m sure you are getting the picture. We spotted some elusive black rhino in the distance (at least Michael assured us that’s what they were) and some very interesting hairy caterpillars, but all in all we were very glad to get back to our comfortable chalets and a hot shower.
We have had some rain every afternoon since we have been at Rhino watch. The day we arrived there was a terrific thunderstorm, with driving rain and almost continual thunder. Although Frank said that was just a drizzle compared to the rain they get in the wet season. Every day dawns clear & cloudless, it is actually quite warm (relatively speaking) for this area. Very pleasant. But mid afternoon the big clouds roll in, and then the rain comes, and by dinner-time the stars & moon are shining above. Still – hakuna matata, as they say here – no worries! (And yes, they really do say this, and not just since Disney made it popular). A little rain is not going to spoil our fun!