Thursday, 7th June DAY 21

We are going to repeat yesterday’s route but try and reach the Matjulu water trough no later than 7.30am. So at 6am we are out the gate and travel along the tar towards Malelane. After 11Km at the T-junction we turn left and head up the main road (H3) towards Skukuza. Approaching the Matjulu bridge we find a Sanparks tour truck parked at the side of the road with a leopard right alongside giving the occupants a lovely sight. The sun has not yet risen so the light is poor and we get no photos. The leopard wanders off into the veld and is lost amongst the trees. A lion roars nearby exciting the tourists still further. It is always such a pleasure seeing overseas tourists deriving such happiness from such a sighting.

Again coffee on the bridge whilst the sun rises across this magnificent landscape. This Bergendal just gets better and better. Yesterday’s dramas are not repeated as we travel back along the gravel road.

Golden-breasted Bunting

At the water trough we take up a position at the turning circle where two small puddles are drawing many birds.

Cut-throat Finches

Photography proves to be rather difficult as motorists do not realise I am photographing the small birds coming in to drink and park so close as to frighten them off.

Red-billed Firefinch

One car parks right in the water. A little trying but we do intend coming back again on Saturday.

Scarlet-chested Sunbird

Back at camp I note the Scarlet Chested Sunbirds feeding amongst the flowering aloes so I spend an hour or so with them. I have fast come to the conclusion that Bergendal must be one of the top camps in the Park. The planning of the camp allowed for large areas of bush and trees to be set aside  within the fence making for an abundance of birdlife. It is spectacular. In fact the only negative about Bergendal are the lack of roads. Everything else – the mountains, the vegetation and the plentiful bird and animal numbers make this a great destination in Kruger.

This evening we again drive out to the water trough and watch some ellies drinking, sparing  and throwing up dust intermittently.

The White-fronted Bee-eaters are active and we can see their nests in the nearby river bank. By 4.30pm things are starting to wind down – the ellies have left and the Bee-eaters are retiring and we are thinking of returning to camp as the sun dips below the mountains.

A lone Buffalo strides purposefully towards the water when Renette’s long dormant hair trigger erupts. LEOPARD, LEOPARD. And sure enough a leopard is also making for the trough and arriving first begins drinking.

But the arrival of the buffalo scares her and she backs off. Most of the cars have left so it was easy to manoeuvre to an anticipated vantage point from where we could watch her exit across the road.

Which she did right in front of us all the while paying close attention to some nearby impala.

To add to the spectacle, five White rhino arrive to share the water trough with the lone buffalo. So the day ends in drama and we have had another thrilling day at Bergendal.