Both Colleen and Cheryl want to see a cheetah but quite honestly one can see them on any of the eastern grassland roads. For variation we chose to go south today along the S28 gravel road leading to Croc Bridge.
Out we go at 4.30am on another clear morning which promises to develop into another scorcher. These conditions are the very worst in the Park as one only has a couple of hours after sunrise and an hour before sunset to really enjoy. For the rest of the day the photographic light is poor and the animals themselves keep to dense shade. But after rain these grasslands become very active and this morning we have plenty to keep us stimulated. I must mention that so as to keep the blog interesting, when I do not manage to take a good photo, I do draw photos from my library which may have been taken at some other time – BUT ONLY WHEN WE HAVE ACTUALLY SEEN THE ANIMAL OR BIRD.
At the Nthandamfene hide the impala are snorting in alarm and a cat is almost certainly nearby.
Thereafter we continue to the breached and dry Nthandanyati Dam where we come across two Verreaux’s Giant-Owls (Giant Eagle) up a maroela tree. But I make a mess of it and miss my photographic chance.
Thereafter we continue southward and after a while see a form in the road ahead walking away from us. Hyena??, wild-dog??, leopard?? but as we draw closer the long, swinging tail indicates a lovely cheetah.
Unfortunately, it quickly turns into the long grass and is soon lost to view. Some chattering monkeys in a nearby tall tree have the cheetah in sight for quite a while. Tick – Colleen and Cheryl can now relax a little as they have at last seen their cheetah – albeit fleetingly.
We push on down to the main H4-2 road and turn left towards the Croc Bridge camp where we will breakfast. Despite the good rains and the lush grass everywhere the Vurhami stream remains bone dry. Following a light breakfast the temperature is rapidly rising so we set course for Lower Sabie up the main tarred road. Approaching camp we come across a pair of lions sprawled out in the shade close to the road but well hidden by bushes.
Back in camp with the blast furnace air now almost 40 degrees, we batten down the hatches and spend the rest of the day indoors – except for a swim in the warm pool at 3pm followed by a 5pm sortie up the H10. Little incidents of interest are always popping up to keep us honest.
We end off the day at Mugg & Bean overlooking the river and await tomorrow which promises to be even hotter. That means a super early start as we pack up and head for Skukuza whilst the temperature is bearable.
We are up at 4am and rapidly break camp as we are moving early to Skukuza to firstly, be first in the queue for a good campsite and secondly, to beat the heat. Lower Sabie has been good to us although this week’s heat has put a damper on things.
We leave Lower Sabie at 5.45am and reach Skukuza at 7am and are rewarded with our favourite shady campsite. Shade of course is the most important factor when considering what site to choose. After an hour of strenuous work the camp is all set up and we await Marion, Cheryl and Colleen’s arrival from LS later. Today is yet another 40 degree hottie and we spend another day rather frustratingly near air cons.
This evening we travel out over the Sand River along the H1-2 road to the north. Three weeks ago the Sand had almost dried up – today it is flowing strong and clear after Tuesday’s flooding.
Coffee under the beautiful riverine trees that line this most attractive river before turning for camp.
Whereas up until now we have seen single impala mums with their newborns, today we see for the first time herds of impala with nurseries of youngsters in their midst. I think that there has been a deluge of births over the past two days.
Tomorrow promises to be a little cooler so we are again going to be on dawn patrol at 4.30am.