The Internet Cafe.
There was no internet today at Hilltop Camp. There were no power plugs to charge either because we are on some kind of minimal solar array. The power turns off when solar store runs out and returns at dusk only if there has been sunshine. Orion managed to get a bit of Vodacom cell signal and set up a hotspot by the road. Here is the internet cafe.
There are ongoing tensions in our large group between groups trying to do different things with scarce cars. The latest is that some people have no ride back to Durban because their expected ride is going direct to Jbg and the alternative ride is leaving a day earlier to catch a plane to Cape Town. There was a round of negotiation and recrimination and now the lost folk are going to hire a car outside the park and drive themselves.
The WhatsApp Group
The game reserve has a whatsapp group where you can report game. Today it reported a lion kill by the road to Mpila. Everything reported is far away and long ago because of the huge park size and intermittent connectivity.
Quiet. No lion noises. We had a braai around a campfire with steak, chicken sausages and chicken drumsticks. Baboons barked from the last remaining waterhole on the river which is around the corner. Apparently the hippos have holed out there and on the morning walk the group saw fresh hippo spore. It seems increasingly unlikely Wren will get eaten by lion.
During dinner the lights suddenly shut out when our solar battery charge ran out. Wren was distraught. Everyone else was a bit unprepared. It was blacker than any near-urban blackness - fully “no hand in front of face” blackness with the sounds of the bush - cicadas and other bleating insects continuing unconcerned. I found a flashlight and Lanny found candles but it was still very close, dark and quiet, with the moths diving into the flames, so we went to bed early at 8.30pm.
The problem of luggage
Earlier that evening there was a drama. Ingrid had been told that those going on 3 day game trail had to have their luggage at Mpila base camp - 45km away - by Monday evening. Jane A told her this was not true. Our guide told Ingrid it was true and if she and Dad did not have their bags down there tonight they would have to carry them because the donkeys which carry luggage leave at dawn for the walk to the first day camp.
The guide made plan with Ingrid to drive down to Mpila after dark. This is not allowed usually because there is a curfew in the park to prevent rhino poaching and to reduce risk to animals from night drivers. At dusk the park and camp gates close and no private vehicles can be on the road without a ranger.
Ingrid called Alistair and Jane but they said they would work their luggage out tomorrow. Ingrid drove down with David and Siyabonga. Buffalo loomed out the darkness by the road and a genet cat ran across in front of them. The highlight was a leopard which stopped on the road in front of them and walked slowly along the road in their headlights.
We remain uncertain who is right about the luggage.