Sunday, 3rd June DAY 17

Another chilly night but we set off down the Voortrekker road (H2-2) to Afsaal under a cloudless sky. Two pathetic white rhino nervously scamper over the road ahead of us, so different from the placid creatures that they once were.

We pause for coffee overlooking Ship Mountain just as the sun boils up over the horizon. My goodness folks, it is hard to beat the bushveld at sunrise.

This of course is the route of the transport riders some 140 years ago and it is quite nostalgic to think back to those days which moved at the pace of an ox.

“Jock of the Bushveld” would have followed this exact route along which trundled up to 500 wagons which supplied the newfound gold mines of the old Transvaal.

Readers will remember that a week ago I mentioned the giant mushroom cloud that reared up far to the south of Satara. Skukuza that day bore the brunt of a

massive hailstorm which damaged aircraft  and today we too see its effects as all the spruits have recently flooded.

Now you may scoff a little when I say that our hightlight was a Yellow-billed Hornbill feeding through a hole in the top of a termite mound.

We watched him for some time as he fished out and swallowed his catch, one after the other. Quite strange to imagine how these birds cope with a crop full of seething, biting insects.

Tchagaras, Groundscrapers, Orioles, Buntings and many other birds keep me busy and it is really a most pleasant early morning drive. Except for the corrugations. Oh dear, just three large tyres behind a bakkie is all that it takes but I suppose when you have a captive market then it doesn’t matter. I would love the Singita manager to have a go at Kruger for just six months. He would quickly shake things up. It’s all a question of management – or lack of it.

Rattling Cisticola

Breakfast under the trees at lovely Afsaal and then, unable to face the corrugations, we travel back along the tar (H3). Near the T-junction a collection of cars tell us that there is a leopard sleeping in the long grass close to the road. Renette sees its tail flicking but I see nothing. Back to our campsite at Pretoriuskop where our sentry toy leopard is put to good use repelling the monkeys which are hysterically chattering in the trees as I write. A perfect balmy day for braaiing – my goodness but SA has some marvellous positives.

A typical Pretoriuskop road lined with Silver Cluster-leaf trees

Which is why we so love it here, sheltered from the awful happenings of the outer world and vexatious people – in our cocoon of utter contentment. So much so that we are staying on an extra eight days and will only be returning to Ballito on the 17th. And we are working on extending that. If one can be so blissfully happy then why change things? “The peace that passeth all understanding”.

This evening we do a slow circuit (S10) around that great granite dome of Shabeni. High up near the summit perched on a tree are two magnificent African Hawk Eagles catching the last rays of today’s sun. From here we can look out eastward across the vast expanse of bushveld towards Skukuza and then southward to Ship Mountain – a truly wondrous spectacle in the evening light.

This is Manungu Koppie which together with Pretorius Koppie overlooks the camp from the west. So picturesque.

And that marks the end of our short stay at Pretoriuskop which is a shame as it is really a gem. But we do return here in August together with Mary. Tomorrow we move to Bergendal for five days.