Bergendal 16-20th May

Bergendal 16-20th May

To add to my problems, the settings on my computer have come back changed and you subscribers are not receiving my emailed notification of my posts. I am now in the hands of my technical support.

Kruger could not have come soon enough. After a torrid start to the year following another knee replacement op in January, recovery has been slow. With much anticipation then, we hooked up our faithful caravan on 12th April and headed up the N1 to Karoo National Park for two nights. Here the scenic splendour and desolation make it one of my favourites.

Then five nights with cousins Werner and Noleen on their splendid farm, Eingedi, near Ladybrand in the Freestate. This is wonderful rest and recuperation.

Eingedi – looking toward the mountains of Lesotho

Then down to Ballito in KZN, a week after the floods. April/May in these warm, balmy conditions is so therapeutic – plenty sun and exercise. That knee’s getting stronger as I break into a jog for the first time in many years. So much do we enjoy ourselves that we rebook for the same time next year.

As is now the way in SA, the route to Kruger must be carefully planned to avoid potholed roads which can do such damage to a caravan. So on Sunday 15th May we leave Ballito, travel up the N3 past Durban, PMB, then turn off at Ladysmith pushing on through Volksrust to Ermelo where we overnight. Here we leave at 5.45am on Monday morning 16th (under a total lunar eclipse) and finally arrive at Malelane Gate into Kruger at 9am. A good choice of roads even though we had to travel a round about way.

Evidence of the exceptionally wet summer experienced by Kruger is immediately apparent. The grass is long and water is still standing in places where one would not expect it to. The veld though has lost its lush summer green and is now brownish and more permeable – perfect game viewing conditions. But travelling through the section close to the Crocodile River, the number of dead trees really is concerning. I suppose it is the elephants causing the problem – and what a problem it is as Kruger is rapidly losing its trees because of the over population of elephants.

The campsite is full but we squeeze in amongst other campers and are soon settled in.

Catching our breath, we move down to the restaurant for lunch. As to be expected, the little adjourning dam has water aplenty. Tindlovu are the catering company that rescued many of the ailing camp eateries. It is rather a mystery how they manage to be profitable in the northern, remote camps but the food is reasonable so good luck to them. Unfortunately, their prices are now exorbitant which I don’t feel is the right approach as already custom is scarce. R142 for a pretty ordinary hamburger is stretching it a bit. At the six tables around us, no one is having lunch – just drinks.

Whilst at lunch a cold wind sweeps in and a sharp deluge of rain falls. As we arrive back at the caravan yet another heavy shower falls. The sky is later very threatening as we make our way to the Matjulu waterhole in the late afternoon.

Matjulu Waterhole (My Library)
The resident White-fronted Bee-eaters are still there

Returning to camp, the sky begins to clear again.

Our best laid plans now come adrift. Monday evening I settle down to get my blog activated and my trusty computer is dead, dead, dead.

Other problems also develop so Tuesday morning, instead of game spotting, sees me heading for Nelspruit. Of course the parts for the computer are not available so one way and another all our Bergendal plans are thwarted. I do snatch the odd sights in camp but I am going to have to rely on my library to supply the photographs. All the following birds were seen in the Bergendal camp.

The thick bush near reception is a favourite haunt of the White-throated Robin (my favourite Robin)
The aloes in camp are beginning to flower – attracting Scarlet Chested Sunbirds
I was a little nonplussed to hear a harsh chuck-chuck-chuck sound near the caravan. It turned out to be a Grey-headed Bushshrike seeing off a Fiscal Shrike. So different from its normal eerie call.
The Orange-breasted Bushshrike is common in camp

Collectively, I don’t think it is possible to find a kinder or more friendly group of people than campers. They are so well behaved too which adds so much to our Kruger trips. And here is something to give us all some real hope. The couple staying right next to us in their caravan are both 92 years old and still going strong. It transpires that the husband is Piet Robbertse, the old rugby test referee, who I distinctly remember taking charge of the New Zealand tests in 1970. He is delighted to share with me his rugby memories which I find fascinating. I cannot but think what an example he is to all of us when I see his sprightly figure wandering about the camp. 92!!!!

Faithful bloggers, please forgive me for the lack of live content in this blog but circumstances have really distracted me badly this week. Tomorrow we move to Skukuza and I hope to pass on some exciting action to you. I will just include some photos from previous trips, all of which were taken very close to Bergendal camp.

A young female leopard at the Matjulu waterhole
This beautiful chap was photographed a couple of hundred meters from the Bergendal Camp gates.
Just outside the gates
A lioness routs some hyenas close to camp.

A large cold front is sweeping over the country and Kruger, tucked away in the far north-east, often escapes them. Not so this one as during the night, heavy and prolonged rain falls. It is amazing how in these wet years every south wind brings rain with it whereas during droughts