Thursday, 23rd November DAY 9

It is dark, windy and drizzly when we wake so when it becomes light enough, we break camp and begin the trip back to Skukuza (H1-3). All goes without incident but at the turnoff to Leeupan, some lions are lying just off the road. Then some impala come tearing over the road with an optimistic hyena in hot pursuit.

At Skukuza we find a really good shady campsite which looks good for birds. Renette is a little deflated when an attendant arrives to tell us to look out for the black mamba that is resident nearby.

In heavy cloud and a light, cold south wind blowing we set out for Transport Dam (H1-1) – the site of “The Battle in Kruger” movie. Nearby Granokop we come across a car parked next to a young impala lying with a broken back leg – no doubt hit by a speedster. At the dam hippo are noisily cavorting about but the light is so bad that I don’t bother to lift the camera.

Back at the dam turnoff, a family of hyena lie next to a culvert under the road. We then decide to go down the main road (H3) towards Malelane and then cut across on the gravel (S112) to the Stevenson-Hamilton koppies.

We had not gone far along this road before Renette spots an elderly, female leopard ahead on the side of the road. I back off to get some photos which came out quite well despite the evening gloom. Our lady then strolls confidently towards us and disappears from view under the front of the Quantum. I next hear chewing of rubber and cautiously look out of my open window past the camera – straight into the leopard’s golden eyes, no more that one meter from me. Not at all fazed, she returns to gnawing on the tyre right under me and then rubs her head and neck against the wheel. Renette by this time has climbed into the back and is busy videoing this whole performance out of the window. Madam then strolls beneath Renette, round the back and then gives the rear, left tyre the same treatment. Of course she is far too close for me to take any photos at this stage so I decide to back off and get some better shots. The leopard is completely relaxed as I start the vehicle and she gazes after us as I back off down the road. But then before I can set up, she strolls off into the bushes. This must be the most bizarre leopard sighting that I can remember.

Not far beyond, we come across another hyena family at the side of the road. Renette loves hyena so all in all we had a lovely afternoon.

And the internet is working here and I have been able to do the necessary.