We are at the gate at 5.55am and following about ten cars. We are heading for the Mlambane River road (S119) today. Typically the wind at this time of the year swings from north to south on almost a daily basis. The smoke from the Malelane Sugar Mill shows us that despite the clear sky, a brisk southerly wind is blowing. Up the main H3 tar and we are first onto the Crocodile River road (S114).
After only a Km or two an alert Mary spots a black maned lion running through the veld on the left, glancing backwards every now and then. A lioness is following and we conclude that they have had a tiff and that he is ‘in the dog-box’. I get some lovely shots in the early rays from a rising sun before a deluge of cars both from Bergendal and the Malelane gate arrive. The lions retreat into the bush and disappear – another example of the importance of being first on these early morning roads.
We see many birds of interest along this very attractive road before crossing the tar and taking the Steilberg road (S120) up over the mountains.
From the lookout, as we have breakfast, we can look out across the hills and mountains of south-western Kruger – a most pleasing spectre even though the light is becoming hazy and bland.
Back at camp I refill my water containers and head for the Matjulu water point.
I move back to admire my handiwork and take a few photos before a troop of baboons pass by in single file with each one stopping for a drink. My water level goes down rapidly and there is nothing I can do as there are other cars about.
By midday the temperature is rapidly rising and the wind has switched back to north. Another cold front is hitting Cape Town. Back in camp the girls have prepared a great meal. I will restate the fact that Bergendal must be the best planned camp in Kruger – which I suppose is to be expected seeing it is the newest. Our campsite is up against thick bush and the birdlife is prolific.
With water containers filled we set out for Matjulu at 3pm again. A large troop of baboons are at the water trough and predictably my puddle is empty. But Mary is soon busy recharging it out of the door and we settle down to watch proceedings.
Another lovely day with non-stop action.