Sunday, 19th August DAY 2

After a drizzly, cold night everyone happily reports on a comfortable night and we set off along the main tarred road. Coming to the T junction, we turn left up the main H3 towards Skukuza and stop for coffee on the Matjulu bridge. With grey skies I am undecided which route to take but my mind is made up for me as tourist bakkies begin to speed by and then turn left up the Matjulu loop gravel road back towards camp. We decide to investigate. Only 400m along the road we come across cars which tell us that a leopard is walking parallel to us along the river bank and we soon see her.

Before long she climbs up a marula tree and lies in a very convenient fork giving us a perfect view.

Now I detest these traffic scrums but the great view we have allows us to ignore the mob and concentrate on our lady.

She gives us a lovely show despite lying away from us and occasionally turning her head towards us. Finally she sits up and as I prepare to photograph her a tour bakkie drives into the veld blocking my view completely as she climbs down the tree. My goodness but one’s patience is sorely tested in these circumstances.

We drive back past a string of cars stretching hundreds of meters down the road and who saw nothing. Back on the main road bridge and looking up the riverbed, we find the leopard lying on some rocks away from the throng.

Thereafter we drive to the Matjulu waterpoint, the scene of so much activity during our visit in May this year. You may recall that on that trip I spent some very pleasurable hours photographing the bushveld birds that were drinking from puddles in the turning circle near the water trough. Of course everything is now tinder dry with only dusty holes marking where the puddles had been. But…. I have a cunning scheme up my sleeve.

Back at camp I collect up some water containers including a coolbox and leaving the girls, I go back to Matjulu and quickly fill a depression with water. Almost immediately some Grey-headed Sparrows and Canaries begin drinking and I settle down happily to photograph. However, a giraffe has been watching all this with interest and strolls over ready to drink up my precious water. Quickly shushing him away, the birds scatter too so I retreat to camp for lunch.

The sky has cleared and the north wind has picked up as we set out at 3pm together with water bottles to top up my puddle. We settle down to watch the show at Matjulu and Renette is appointed as watergirl.

White-fronted Bee-eaters, Lilac-breasted Rollers and other birds keep us busy whilst an ellie is again slurping water out the reservoir.


Happily, six white rhino come to drink as well which nowadays is a special sight.

Not bad for our first day as we settle in and we look forward to enjoying this very special part of Kruger.