Monday, 27th May
Road options are limited at Bergendal so today we are again down the S110 tarred road and again having coffee on the Matjulu Bridge on the H3. To our right the sun rises through the trees…………
To the left the magnificent vista of the Bergendal hills and woodlands.
It is very difficult not to be moved by it all. Thereafter along the gravel Matjulu S110 back to the water trough where we spend quite a time watching the birds in the morning light.
Back in camp the aloes are beginning to flower which of course attracts the sunbirds.
This afternoon we join the mob back at the water trough but nothing drinks today except a small group of kudu.
As over most of southern Africa the May days are warm and still but an hour after sunset a chill sets in with the nights quite chilly.
Tuesday, 28th May
Today we mean business. We are first at the gate at 5.30am determined to get onto Mlambane before the mob arrives. Out we go and around the first corner we find a male lion lying in the road lit up by the headlights. But he beats a rapid retreat into the grass and we move quickly down the tar S110. Over the Matjulu bridge and right onto the S114 gravel road heading east.
But……… there are five tourist bakkies ahead of us which have entered at the Malelane Park gate and have stolen a march on us. However, they all stop and look at a jackal and we regain the lead arriving at our Mlambane S119 destination just as the sun rises. Here, we creep along this wonderful road, all by ourselves with the golden light playing off the grass and trees. Today must be the day but……… nothing at all stirs and not once do I lift my camera. How disappointing.
We return to camp via the S120 road over the Steilberg but the light is very hazy and bland.
Back in camp I again find the sunbirds nearby.
We are advised that Werner and Noleen will only now be arriving tomorrow at midday.
Persistence is everything. We have not been doing very well at Bergendal and yesterday at the Matjulu water trough was quiet. Despite this, we head that way again and settle into a good vantage point. After a slowish start, Renette, amongst all the impala rutting sounds, detects a different alarm snort which alerts us that something is afoot. Not long after and despite the presence of ten cars, a leopard walks past us to behind the reservoir.
From here she emerges staring across the waterhole towards a herd of impala some 200m distant.
She then begins to stalk them…………..
but they see her coming and sound the alarm.
She then aborts and lies in the last rays of the setting sun, gazing back at us at one stage.
After a while she gets up and moves off out of view. But this is not the end of things. NINE white rhinos arrive to have their drink and what a magnificent sight they are, contentedly milling about.
A hyena then comes and drinks amongst them.
After a while the rhino stream away from the water and as if on cue, an ellie comes to the reservoir and drinks right next to us.
We are the last to leave as the gloom sets in but just before that a tenth rhino walks between us and the ellie.
What an afternoon. And that just about sums up Kruger. When everything is right, nothing materialises and then when one least expects it – wallop! Yesterday at Matjulu and this morning along the Mlambane everything was quiet and empty. Then in the space of one hour, everything changes and those tedious moments are all forgotten.