At dawn, myself and another guide Russell Anderson met our two guests, and after an invigorating cup of coffee, we all set out for one of our morning walking trails.
Trail walks give nature enthusiasts a great opportunity to enjoy the little things: the feel of the soil beneath our shoes, the wind on our faces, the smells and sounds of the bush that are usually masked by the vehicle, and all the smaller animals that are usually overseen on game drives.
We enjoyed a lovely chameleon sighting, though I am not sure that it enjoyed us. It was a lovely mix of white and grey when we found it, making it relatively conspicuous. Within a minute of us spotting it and focusing on it, it turned to the same green as its surrounding vegetation and became almost invisible. Whenever cameras got too close for comfort, it would puff up, making itself look almost twice as large as it actually was.
Further down the trail, we also enjoyed the calm presence of one of the largest owls in Southern Africa, the Verreaux’s Eagle Owl, which was perched in a Camel Thorn and observed us with what seemed like just as much curiosity as we were observing it. We had a nice view of a Monitor Lizard as it was scurrying along in the bush.
But the most exciting part of the walk (albeit also the most frustrating) was when we missed a Leopard sighting by quite literally two minutes. We heard Vervet Monkeys as well as several bird species alarm calling, and hurried to a spot where we had a good view… only to see nothing. As we went over to the area the calls had been coming from, a set of beautiful fresh Leopard tracks awaited us. Unfortunately, they were leading right into thick bush where following it would have been far too dangerous. So we had to accept nature’s teasing and leave it at that.
Words by: Field Guide Helen Mertens
Photos by: Charlotte Arthun
(Included photos were not taken at Marataba)