Saturday, 25th August DAY 8

The sky clears during the night and the temperature drops rapidly. True to of the laid-back ways of Pretoriuskop, there are only two cars at the gate at opening time.

Because of the burning, we have decided to take the same route as yesterday – the Fayi Loop. Thick mist lies in the streambeds and everything is damp and dewy. The rising sun quickly begins to burn off the mist and the bushveld typically starts to come alive after the rain.

Mary, who is real ‘Madam Hawk-Eyes’ on this trip, spots a Grey Headed Bushshrike near the road and I do manage to get a shot although not as close as I would have liked. It is quite an achievement to photograph this bird which is usually surrounded by thick foliage.

The birds are everywhere –

Robins, Bee-eaters, Korhaans, Groundscraper Thrushes, Barbets, Dark Chanting Goshawks, Black Shouldered Kites are all making merry. It is amazing to think how quiet was the veld yesterday afternoon in the cold, dark weather whilst today it is bursting with life. The rain fell not even two days ago and already the fresh green grass is sprouting from the blackened tufts left by the fires. The hyena den is quiet today with the pups no doubt sheltering in their drainpipe from where they were driven yesterday by the rainwater.

A Black-bellied Bustard

A herd of buffalo crosses over the road making for a postcard view of the bushveld stretching away to the granite koppies beyond. The beauty, peace and tranquility of the Lowveld is laid out before us and we are enraptured by it.

We spend a long time lingering around the Manungu Koppie which is seething with birdlife.

At 10am the light deteriorates photographically and we return to camp invigorated by a splendid morning.

Pretoriuskop may not have the animal abundance of other areas of Kruger but my goodness it certainly has its attraction – the camp itself, the Silver Clusterleaf trees, the granite koppies and the history.

This afternoon we circle Shabeni Kopppie slowly and then move across to check on the hyenas. We find them out of their drainpipe and mostly sleeping. The parents must really have to work hard to keep this lot fed.

The rain fell only two days ago and you will see from this shot of a Steenbok how the green growth is already shooting through.

On Pretorius Koppie itself we watch four Kudu rams quietly feeding next to the road.

But the real reason we are up here is to witness the sun setting over the escarpment to the west. It never fails to impress. After the sun sinks away we drive around and look out east towards Ship Mountain with the almost full moon hanging above it. What a splendid way to end another tremendous day in Kruger.