We must, rather unexpectedly, return to Malalane today to complete some of our errands from yesterday. This is no problem as I wanted to travel the S25 Crocodile River road at some stage. So, uninterrupted by lions and buffalo today we head south from Lower Sabie at 4.30am.
Some 10km’s along the road we come across three Wild-dogs trotting along the road towards us. Attracted by some impala, they fan out into the veld and are soon lost to view.
Down at the Gomondwana water point we turn left along the lovely H5 road.
With the sun rising behind us and not far from the S108 turnoff, we come across a young female leopard right at the side of the road.
Quickly turning so as to get the cameras working, we then follow this beautiful animal as she quietly walks parallel to us some 20-30m off the road for a good 500m. Unfortunately, it is quite bushy and we find it difficult to get some good shots.
We note some cuts and scrapes on her coat, always a reminder of how these predators must work for their dinner. Witness yesterday’s lions. We finally lose her as she wanders deeper into the bush.
We next turn onto the S108, left again onto the s26 and finally right onto the S25 Crocodile River road.
This is a most attractive part of the Park, I suppose spoilt somewhat by constant views of ‘civilization’ across the river. At the Biyamithi river bridge, we find yet another pack of Wild-dogs amongst the reeds always with their attendant hyenas. We have lost count of how many wild-dog we have seen on this trip but it must be something like eight packs.
The road is annoyingly corrugated which does spoil things a bit as both the vehicle and our teeth are constantly rattling.
This time we do complete everything on our list at Malalane before heading back to Crocodile Bridge gate and into the wasteland of that area. It is only 11am and already the temperature is sitting at 40℃. At 1pm high cloud masks the sun keeping the temperature from rising further.
At 4.30pm I venture up the H4-1 river road and a km beyond the Lubyelubye rocks come across a “cat-jam” of cars watching glimpses of a leopard sleeping on a branch in a dense ‘sausage’ tree.
I do have an advantage with my lens and high vehicle and manage a photo whereas many cannot even see it.
I don’t think that we have once passed the Lubyelubye Rocks without a sighting of lions. The are truly resident here.
I return to Sunset Dam just in time to witness the so well known sight of the sun sinking behind the old leadwood tree standing in the water.
Lion, leopards, wild-dogs, hyenas, buffalo – how dare one complain? But this to me is Kruger at its worst – drought stricken brown and bare. The Kruger that I love has pools filled with water birds, thick grasslands full of quails, francolins, seed eaters and other migratory birds. It is almost unthinkable that we haven’t visited Mlondozi Dam and the Duke waterhole which usually are a must. Lower Sabie must, under normal circumstances have the best game viewing opportunities in the Park but at the moment it is desperately dry and barren.
Yet another +40 ℃ day looms and at 4,30am the temperature is already 25℃ We are out of the gates heading for Salitjie S30 which is by far the best road in the area. The patchy rain has has been kind to this area and the veld is good here.
The ‘lion road’ keeps its reputation as we come across two black manes sleeping at the side of the road.
We stop as usual to enjoy our breakfast at our favourite lookout point.
Along the far bank to the right, I pick out two Grey Headed Kingfishers. Now these exquisite birds are high on my photographic ‘wish list’ but they are so far off here that I have no chance.
The weather stays cool until 8am when the high cloud clears and the temperature begins to rapidly climb. We cross the H13 bridge and then head down the H4-1 back to Lower Sabie. The animals are by now pouring into Sunset Dam.
By late morning the temperature is again at 40℃ and we seek refuge in the caravan with the aircon going. However, load shedding makes even that hazardous and we abandon the caravan for the swimming pool.
Good rain is forecast for next week but we leave the Park on Tuesday so we will unfortunately miss the oh so needed rain.