Saturday, 16th June DAY 30

After six wonderful days at Satara we leave today to move to Crocodile Bridge for our final three nights. But early sunrises are too precious to miss (D & J??) so at 6am we shoot down the tarred road (H6) to Nwanetsi. After enjoying another beautiful sunrise across these vast, grassy plains we proceed to one of our favourite spots – the Sweni Causeway (S37). I am on a very special mission this morning as you may recall that earlier in our stay I did see the male Painted Snipe but failed to photograph him.

Male Painted Snipe

A few bars on the bird caller and he immediately and very obligingly rises out of some nearby sedgy growth at the water’s edge and settles on a nearby exposed mud bank……..and I thrillngly get my shot.

Elated and after our breakfast snack, we trek back to camp as some other visitors have arranged to take over our excellent site. But along the way we are delayed by squirrels and at last…………..

……. a Secretarybird.

Back at camp we rapidly do our 30 minute pack and are ready to go. I have noticed about camp some dead mice and I wonder if some misguided campers (or worse still – workers) are setting out poison for these night visitors. If so I wonder if they have considered whether what they are doing is probably also killing off the owls and African Wildcats. For the first time that I can remember, I never once heard a Scops Owl calling which is normally such a feature of Satara.

On the road at 10am, we make rapid progress southward (H1-3). A group of cars just beyond the Sweni bridge  tell us that there are some cheetah resting under a bush. Kumana Dam is a hive of activity as ellies and a vast herd of impala encircle the rapidly shrinking pool of water. What a pity it will be if the new Sanpark thinking does away with Kumana which is always such a drawcard with its grandstand view from the road.

Along the H10 near Muntshe mountain, the stream that feeds Mlondozi Dam is brimming with water no doubt after that isolated flash flood that occurred a couple of weeks ago.

Lions resting in the shade in the riverbed south of Lower Sabie (H4-2), again at the Gomondwana water point and finally cheetah resting in the shade close to Croc Bridge – and none of them did I see, such is my aversion for tangling with traffic – particularly with a caravan in tow. Maybe we are getting spoilt.

We settle into the little Crocodile Bridge campsite after 1pm, finding a site which will do fine for three days. A light southerly wind is all we feel of the recent front that moved up from the Cape and the sky remains cloudless.

This evening at 4pm we go out intending to take the Hippo Pool gravel road (S25) but noting a knot of cars further up the main tarred road, we decide to investigate.

We discover that everyone is watching a mother cheetah with three cubs who is doing her best to take her family across the road where some impala are grazing. Now being a main thoroughfare, at the end of a weekend day means that the cars start piling up. In no time we are caught up in this melee.

We catch a glimpse of this very harassed mum taking her cubs over the road through the traffic and then begin stalking a nearby impala. But with the chaos on the road behind her she aborts her plans, crosses back over and defeated seeks some peace about 300m from the road. Oh dear. This is the ugly face of Kruger that I do not enjoy.

This is the scene taken 90 degrees from the previous photo of the cheetah. It must be the biggest traffic pileup that I have experienced in Kruger but remarkably everyone was very well behaved with no ‘road rage’ that can so easily develop. Some of you will no doubt be appalled when you look at this photo but I can assure you that one can escape the crowds, even near the bigger camps. Kruger is all about when, where and how if one wants to experience the unspoiled wilderness.

So with very mixed feelings and a little ruffled we return to nearby camp after another very eventful and successful day in Kruger.

Renette has just returned from her shower and reports that the cheetah and the traffic jam were in place for most of the day. Furthermore, people weren’t so well behaved earlier and there was almost a punch up at the petrol bowsers in camp between two enraged motorists.