Crash goes our crockery at 3.50am as a suspected hyena pulls the tray of plates and glasses off the table. Whatever it was panics and backs off into the shade-awning pole bringing the canvas down as well. A scene of wreckage greets me as I venture outside. Our night prowler has now accounted for four plates, three glasses, a milk frother, two coffee mugs and some lost sleep for us and our neighbours.
High cloud, clear in the east as we set off up the H4-1 bound for Nwatimhiri S21. We are first onto this splendid road and stop for coffee at the “The Pond”, some 4km’s from the tar. Thereafter we move slowly along this truly beautiful bushveld road.
After 20km’s we pass the large granite koppie and stop for a pair of klipspringer.
Next we come to a pond – so pretty in the morning light. Here we find some Comb Ducks with ducklings, White-faced Ducks and Egyptian Geese enjoying the waters.
We stay a good hour enjoying the spectacle, marred a bit by a stiff breeze that ripples the water surface. We intend returning on a still, sunny day.
This morning the only thing we saw along this road were some impala and the klipspringer. Some bloggers may be sceptical when I say that we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. Birds add such a huge dimension to one’s Kruger experience and today they certainly entertained where the animals didn’t.
Midday sees us performing domestic duties and again I marvel at the inept camp management. One faulty, decrepit washing machine serves the whole camp and I squirm in embarrassment as an Aussie woman gives vent to her frustration.
It is still overcast and cool as we set off down the H4-2 towards Croc Bridge at 3pm. We turn off at the bottom end of the delightful S130 Gomondwana Road and work our way back towards camp. We haven’t gone far before we come across six immaculate wild-dogs right next to the road.
Ellies, white rhino and many animals keep us busy. Near the Duke turn-off we come across some lions well screened in the grass.
We have now spent 39 days in the Park on our present trip and I can safely say that I have never once felt any boredom. Both Renette and I love the lifestyle and are very content and happy. What more could one hope for.
Bob, our resident neighbour, has one of these “bush cameras”, triggered by motion of the subject. He rigged it up last night so as to identify our night visitor but nothing arrives. However, he shows me recent shots of a civet cat visiting his campsite. So maybe it is a civet that is causing the mayhem.
The sky is quite clear as we stop on the river bridge for coffee and to admire the sunrise.
Thereafter we move up the S128 through the grasslands, glorious in the early sunlight.
I must make mention again of the strange absence of quails in these rich grasslands. We have not seen or heard of a single one. And yet that one day along the Orpen road the Harlequins were calling incessantly.
We next creep along the S30 Salitje road with the sun at our back.
But mysteriously and without any wind at all, the sky clouds over completely within twenty minutes. Today is not my day. The road rejoins the Sabie River just as a herd of ellies run through the water sending great sprays of water high into the air. But they are through before I can focus.
Then passing through the Nwatindlopfu stream we join a car which points out to us two leopards on a rock. But as I mount and swivel my camera they climb down and are lost to view.
With conditions a little dull, we cross over the H13 high-level bridge and return back to Lower Sabie.
With the midday light not bad, I venture out onto the grasslands around Muntshe but see little.
I return to camp at 4.30pm to collect Renette and we then go up the H10 back towards Muntshe mountain. The sky is dark but the air very still. Approaching the Mlondozi S29 turnoff, a car stops and tells us that there is a large leopard on the road around the corner at the nearby intersection. We quickly get there but nothing stirs. As we turn to search the grass verges, our magnificent male leopard steps onto the road just ahead of us. And does he give us a show. Completely at ease with our presence, he sometimes strolls next to us, enters the grass but then comes back onto the road and then lies on the tar close by.
What is it about these animals that so stirs the senses. We spend about twenty minutes with him before we must hurry back to camp by 6pm – elated.