Lower Sabie Fri 7th Dec
Given the drought we are loathe to venture away from the Sabie River. So at 4,30am we leave the camp gates and wander up the river road to the Lullaby Rocks (Lubyelubye) where we have our customary coffee. Here we contemplate the weather forecast which predicts a +40 degree prefrontal hottie. We drift back down to Sunset Dam and watch the birds going about their business and the herds of animals pouring to drink. I note water gushing into the dam through an inlet pipe feeding pumped water from the river.
A Banded Martin
The heat is certainly building up quickly and by 5.30am my shirt is off. There is just never a dull moment at Sunset Dam and we enjoy a couple of tremendous hours watching the passing show. By 8am we beat a retreat to the caravan and get the air con busy. But oh dear, Escom’s tentacles have reached us in Kruger and we experience intermittent load shedding throughout the day. We visit the pool during the midday heat and I can really feel my fitness levels rising as I do my quick lengths.
Late afternoon and we cross the bridge over the river and go out along the eastern Mlondozi loop road but it is so dry that the veld is lifeless. Almost two years ago and after a period of good rains, these grasslands were vibrant with life in the long grass. Whereas quails would be calling every few meters along the road, now there is precious little. Droughts really are difficult times for the Park.
Tomorrow they are predicting rain as the front moving up from the Cape finally reaches us. This will coincide with the arrival of Gareth (our third son) together with financee Sarah. We do hope that rain falls so that Sarah can enjoy the great beauty that Kruger has to offer.
Lower Sabie Sat 8th Dec
Another hot high 30’s day threatens as we meander up the Sabie river road (H4-1) at 4.30am. People are serious here and we must be number six in the queue. At the Lullaby rocks we come across our mandatory lions on and alongside the rocks.
This must be the most likely spot in Kruger to see a lion or leopard.
Then on up this very attractive road with very few other cars about at this time of day. The angle of the early morning sun rays is just right and we enjoy a couple of really interesting hours seeing a variety of birds and animals.
Round the Nwatimhiri Loop (S79) and back down the main road to camp. yr.no is forecasting rain at 2pm and rather sadly we scan the clear south-western sky for cloud. Gareth and Sarah are making good progress and are at Piet Retief.
Puffback and Cinnamon-breasted Bunting (below)
At midday while taking our ‘cooling off’ swim, the wind changes to the southwest and the temperature begins to fall. Gareth phones at 3.15pm to say that they are at Croc Bridge Gate. At 3.45pm we decide to drive down and meet them coming up the road. After reaching the S28 turnoff and not finding them we turn around and head for camp where I manage a scrambled call to Gareth to learn that they are busy with a leopard THAT SARAH SPOTTED AFTER ONLY EVER BEING IN KRUGER FOR 20 MINUTES. Well if that doesn’t fire her up nothing will.
Eventually they make it to Lower Sabie and no sooner have they settled into their ‘weaver huts’ than a heavy storm descends on us. Water is coursing down the roads and paths and I have difficulty keeping the caravan awning from collapsing under the weight of the rapidly collecting rain water. Oh my goodness, what a blessing on this parched land and now that the rain has subsided I can imagine the veld gathering itself to burst into life as only Kruger seems to do. I suspect that the rain was general and I so look forward to the next few days.