Light rain begins falling during the night and I tilt the caravan and awning to maximize runoff. It is pointless going out early as the light is dark and dismal and very poor for photography.
Gordon and Judy Crowther, Gareth’s (3rd son) in-laws, are arriving for six days from Cape Town today. So I set off early for Komatipoort to stock up on provisions. As I head southward, the intensity of the rain increases so that by the time I arrive in Komatipoort, water is sluicing down the streets. Thereafter I head back for Lower Sabie at 10am amid quite dense traffic. It seems the norm here that all the locals spend their Sundays in the Park as day visitors. So at Gomondwana when I come across two big male lions in the road, I am twelveth in the queue. I finally get through and arrive back at 11am.
Campers are generally very pleasant and good natured, Not so one cantankerous nearby neighbour who complains to Renette that we kept him up all night with our noise. Really mystified by this, I ask him what he is on about. The sound of me adjusting my jockey wheel for the rain apparently was what upset him. That I spent all of half a minute doing this and not the “whole night” really floors me for pettiness. This is Savanna – Simbithi all over again. Mercifully, here it is a very temporary irritation as campers soon go separate ways. Those one does like we keep in contact with.
A cold south wind blows during the whole day even necessitating a jersey. We track the progress of the Crowther’s down from Jo’burg along the N4 and they finally reach Lower Sabie at 5.45pm. Once settled in, it is a most pleasant supper together at the caravan. Tomorrow morning promises to be cold, dark and windy so game spotting will only get going again later.
Lower Sabie is a good example of “crisis management” at work. Nothing gets done unless that is the only option left. Broken equipment and appliances stay unfixed for months on end. I have made mention of the large troop of baboons that now ranges freely through the camp. This is a photo of the electrified security fence around the perimeter.
It doesn’t work. Now in addition to the baboons, we are told that tourists came across a leopard drinking from the swimming pool early this morning. Late tonight at 11pm, our washing up stand filled with plates, glasses and utensils crashes over. It must have been a sizeable animal that brought that down. We await the reaction from our light sleeping neighbour in the morning,
Our neighbour was indeed startled out of his sleep by the crash of breaking crockery. He then shows me the spoor of a hyena in the sand of his campsite. Baboons, leopards and now hyenas? It is almost now a case of game spotting from one’s bed in camp.
We leave the Crowther’s to catch their breath in camp on this windy and cold morning. I cross the river and go out along the S29 gravel road out east, around past Mlondozi Dam.
It is rather miserable and on days like this the animals and birds seek shelter. I must mention again the riddle of the quails. Everywhere is thick, long grass – ideal cover for the quails. But I have neither seen or heard of them since we have been here. Except that one day before the rains at Satara when I travelled out west along the H7 towards Orpen. That day the Harlequin Quails were calling continually along the roadside. So very strange.
I arrive back in camp in time to see campers peering up into a tree. I find that a Little Sparrowhawk has caught a small bird (flycatcher?) and is busy devouring it.
Late afternoon we again travel up the H10 towards Muntshe where we see some buffalo and others.
Just before we enter camp some Verreaux’s owls appear.
Back to camp, a great braai together and tomorrow we begin spotting in earnest with the Crowther’s.
I must get to Skukuza to speak to the doctor about some routine blood tests that I had done. So at 5.30am we leave Lower Sabie and travel along the H4-1. After the rain (6mm) that fell yesterday, the air is crisp and clear. At the Lullaby (Lubyelubye) Rocks we pass and admire the sky across the river towards Muntshe mountain.
Then we idle up the road lined with impala. At one stage a mustke old ellie comes sauntering down the road.
Near the Nwatimhiri Causeway we come across the Wattled Lapwing at the side of the road.
Thereafter we stop at the derelict Mkuhlu Picnic site. We are told that there are wild-dog and a leopard along the H13 across the river.
Arriving there we find wild-dogs sleeping amongst the traffic on the northern end of the bridge. The leopard meanwhile has disappeared. We turn left on to the H1-2 and head for Skukuza. Here I visit the very decent doctor in his rooms and we then all relax on the restaurant deck enjoying a really good breakfast. Kruger really has got its restaurants sorted at last.
Thereafter quickly down the H4-1 arriving back at Lower Sabie at 12 noon. The Crowther’s have had to bring work with them and retire for the afternoon. Renette and I go down the H4-2 towards Croc Bridge and then turn onto the very attractive S130 Gomondwana road. The light is crystal clear and the colours rich as an autumnal crispness reminds us that the summer is ending shortly.
The grass around Duke is long and thick and we do not see much. Despite that a most pleastant afternoon.
I have hit the jackpot. I have always been hesitant to take the caravan to Okavango because of the sand and bad roads. One neighbour here in Lower Sabie manages a lodge there and has given me some great advice on making it there. So, we are making plans for a visit in November-December later this year.