Monday, 4th June DAY 18

During the night Renette hears a rustle at the fence and shining a torch finds a civet only meters away. We have been hugely fortunate to get such a good site at Pretoriuskop.

We must be showing our age. Today we are heading for Shabeni to watch the sunrise from this spectacular vantage point.

We are not disappointed as at 6.32am this great fiery ball slips over the horizon. Soon the massive granite dome behind us is lit up by its rays.

It really is a spiritual experience. This is in stark contrast to life ten Kms to the west where a forest of lights remind us of the masses living out their lives in poverty and squallor. Which, like iMfolozi-Hluhluwe, is the drawback of Pretoriuskop. From certain places one is reminded that there is a real world out there – something that we are trying to escape from.

Slowly circuiting this great granite dome, the clouds move in, the wind springs up as a mild front arrives from the south. So we move back to camp and begin packing up ready for our move to Bergendal.

Soon we are on the road (H1-1) and a brisk south wind is blowing. Clouds are skudding over the sky and everything looks a bit drab with occasional bursts of sunshine. I am feeling rather negative about my photographic prospects which is exactly when Kruger typically shakes one.

Wallop! About 4Kms north of Afsaal where the (H3) road winds through some granite koppies, we come across a few cars and cannot believe our eyes when we find a leopard lying placidly on a boulder but 10m from the road verge.

It is as though she is on a pedestal as she gazes down on her subjects jostling below.

I scramble to set up my camera and she is so close that even with the caravan I can just park on the far side of the road and uninterrupted get perfect views of this magnificent animal. Oh goodness, what is it about these creatures that is so mesmerizing. Had it been a lioness we would have probably just moved on but here we sit with a great view, lit up by bursts of sunshine.

After casually resting, she comes walking down the rock, strolls through the traffic and heads for a pile of boulders some 150m on the east side of the road. Where we watch her for a while before, exhilerated, we move on. How typically Kruger – one moment nothing and the next a spectacular sighting.

1Km south of Afsaal and there are more cars but this time it is a ratel burrowing some 80m off the road on the left. Which necessitates me doing a U-turn with the caravan and coming back for a photo. But this is a busy mainroad and in no time I am boxed in and unable to go forward or back and dealing with unhappy motorists, we finally beat a retreat.

The caravan battery has been giving trouble so we drive through the Malelane gate on to the nearby town of Malelane with its swarming masses. Here an ex Empangeni fellow helps with the battery, I get myself a new Vodacom Modem for Satara and then Renette does a grocery stock up at Spar.

Then thankfully back in at the Malelane gate and off the Bergendal – only 12Km distant (S110). But the campsite is full and we must make do with a bleak site right in the middle of everyone and with no bush nearby. Win some, lose some and after Pretoriuskop we were due for failure. But we are still in Kruger and look forward to exploring tomorrow.