The alternate path

Have to share this one ... The morning of Jan 7th I left Makalali to catch a bus back to Jo'burg - a detour off the scheduled 2 weeks at base & bush camp. Vlad stayed the full time there. That night, an epic hyena brawl broke out in the middle of bush camp. I had thought of staying back that same night to avoid Jo'burg layover but didn't do it. Talk about choosing your own adventure.. 

 

Here is Vlad's story from his own writing. Epic.

 

"Anyway, I wanted to tell you about bush camp.  The night THaniya left we had some serious excitement.  In the middle of the night (around 1 am, I found out later) I started to hear some really eerie howling from all around camp.  It sounded quiete close and it was very unnerving.  The noise the animals were making was demonic - blood curdling.  It got closer and closer and, as it did, it was increasing in volume and intensity.  Whatever was happening sounded violent, but I couldn't see a thing to tell.  Soon, the noise was all around us and it sounded like a kill was being made.  ONe of the creatures that we could hear sounded like it was getting mauled.  I was scared stiff.  It was too black to see anything and I was utterly terrified of making a sound of any kind.  All I could hope was that it was going to end, hopefully sooner than later, and that we weren't going to end up being a target of whatever predators were on the other side of our tent walls (I was in the last tent) and that if this got bad, Patson would save us.  

So the action kept escalating when I heard a scream coming from 2 tents over - I believe it was the one that THaniya had stayed in for our overnight stay.  A moment later I heard Patson burst out of his house.  I could see the beam from his flashlight approaching the tented area and then he started yelling and hollering.  THere was a big scramble but after a few moments it became apparent that Patson was scaring the creatures off.  However, one loitered around my tent until the very end and I had to yell for Patson to come over to scare it off.

So after the action died down we were all communicating to each other from our tents.  All of us, except Patson, were terrified.  Turns out a hyena brawl had spilled into bush camp.  The scream I heard was from Louise who was responding to hers and her husbands tent being violently struck by the creatures outside.  Apparently two hyenas were fighting it out on the front porch and were bashing into the tent wall.  Louise and Andy, in the dark, couldn't tell if the creatures had actually tumbled inside the tent or not.  THe tent had actually been pushed off it's moorings (the tent pegs that held it down to the platform).  Luckily the hyenas had not actually fallen into the tent.

Patson was pretty relaxed about the whole affair.  He seemed to think that it was all a whole load of noise about nothing - or, at least, that's what he said to us.  But I barely slept for the rest of the week and Shareas, who was sleeping in the tent next to me, moved back to Twines.  I retrieved one of the fire extinguishers from the bathroom and slept with that next to my bed for the rest of the week.  Louise and Andy had a fire extinguisher, a shovel and a knife!!!  Hilarious.

It really changed the game viewing experience too.  As it happens, two days later Alex gave us a talk on Hyenas and that re-ignited the memories of that night.  THat same day we came upon lions twice and Louise and Andy were really uncomfortable - especially during the 1st viewing when the somewhat bothered lioness was right alongside the vehicle no more than 20 feet away.  I was a little nervous too, I must admit, but I had faith in Patson's judgement."