We left the Nsumo Pan exhilarated by the hippo sightings. If we saw nothing else, we would have been satisfied with our time in Mkhuse. We chose a route to the Enxwala Vista Point for a picnic lunch. The park has great views of the Lebombo Mountains in the distance. The area in which we traveled was a grassy veld with enough trees to provide shade for weary animals. Unfortunately, the road was so rough, we had to turn back about half way there. We were high-centering on rocks and worried about damaging the rental car beyond insurance limits … or repair within the park. We slowly made our way back and tried another loop road with the same results. We retraced our track back to the main park road and tried yet another gravel track heading towards the kuMasinga Hide.
We had a very late picnic lunch of bread, cheese and smoked chicken before heading into the hide. There were several cars there and no one seemed to be leaving. That was a good sign. If we were excited about seeing hippos, we were ecstatic with the number and variety of animals at the waterhole here.
We watched as a giraffe family … mom, dad and baby … made their way tentatively to the muddy water's edge for a drink. Despite their size, the giraffes were very skittish. They sensed we were watching and looked directly at us from time to time.
When they felt safe enough, they'd splay their legs precariously and stick out their long tongues to sip a quick drink, then abruptly turn away.
Rhinos walked the edge, too, looking for a good place to wallow. We watched a zebra approach tentatively and then jump back when a rhino snuffed at him impatiently.
Then a wildebeest made his way from the forest's edge and tromped into the thick, viscous mud right up to his knees. He had no reservations whatsoever. He was hot and needed a drink and cool-down.
A fat old warthog, obviously ill-tempered based on the wide berth he was given, approached as well. He found a good wallowing spot immediately and luxuriated in the cool mud with grunts of appreciation.
Every once in awhile, something would spook the animals and they'd all gallop off to a safe distance, returning, slowly cautious, when they deemed the coast was clear again.
We could have stayed watching and observing forever, but we needed to be out of the park before dark and negotiating the rough roads back to the highway loomed in our minds. We reluctantly drove back to the gate, checked out of the park and headed back to the highway. The Shayamoya Lodge was less than an hour's drive to the north, just shy of the Swaziland border.
The drive in was comparable to some of the rough gravel roads in the park, so we weren't sure what to expect. Oh, my … were we ever surprised. Talk about good luck. Our “chalet” was a beautiful thatch-roofed, secluded hut.
The interior was rustic, but elegantly charming as befits an African lodge. Wooden furniture, mosquito-netted beds (twins, unfortunately), a large bathroom with tub and an outside, hot-water shower. It was positively splendid.
We were invited to a braai (BBQ) in the lapa, an outside patio area and enjoyed our dinner under the stars. We returned along a dimly lighted, stone path to our chalet. We could hear frogs and insects and the night sounds of small animals nearby. All in all, a lovely, unexpectedly fine evening. As we concluded Day 2 of our inland travel, we sighed in satisfaction and anticipated what lay ahead.