Today is mostly clear with some scattered cloud. The gate guard plays it to the book today as I leave Bergendal at 5.30am. I am heading for my favourite Mlambane river road (S118&9) so quickly head down the tar to the H3 mainroad, turn left, cross the Matjulu stream and turn right onto the S114 gravel road that skirts the Crocodile River.
Golfers will recognise this section of the Park as being that over which a powerful lens picks out interesting animals from the Leopard Creek golf course across the river during tournaments.
Unfortunately, the Malelane Park entry gate also opens at 5.30am so the tourist bakkies get a headstart on me who must come from the 11Km distant Bergendal. Nevertheless it takes me 40 minutes to reach my destination – the S119 Mlambane river road. A south wind has picked up and the air is cool and the early sunlight is beautifully diffused – perfect for photography. I do find two hyenas on the road at a place where many random tyre marks indicate some incident happened yesterday.
I pass many common animals along the road and eventually find a pair of Bearded Woodpeckers on a nearby fallen tree.
Although I see nothing spectacular many of you will understand how magnificent is to meander through this paradise at sunrise. The air is cool and the colours gentle and rich.
The Impala, Kudu and Giraffe, being browsers, don’t feel so much the effect of the drought.
I pause at the water trough along the S118 watching impala, zebra, buffalo and kudu.
Not far beyond, there is a dead elephant in the riverbed with attendant vultures, a couple of which I think to be Cape.
I take the main H3 tarred road back to camp, delayed for a while whilst a cluster of cars view what must be one of the most inactive sights in Kruger. A pride of snoozing lions lie right next to the road paying no attention at all to the passing traffic.
With a cool wind still blowing from the south, today is pleasant in camp. I do some more brisk lengths in the pool and it is great to feel that summer vigour returning.
Being cool I leave early for the Matjulu water trough but the wind has become quite strong and clouds of dust billow up the valley with every gust. A little rain is forecast for Thursday and how the Park needs it. I park next to a lovely couple from George and we while away the time in conversation. Which is just as well as, despite the freshly filled trough, very little comes down to drink. Just some rhino whilst the White-fronted Bee-eaters fly about.
Nothing spectacular but another marvellously therapeutic day in Kruger.