Friday, 12th April
Renette strongly feels that her place at present is in Johannesburg. Given the grief experienced by the Jones family and with young Callum’s birthday party on the 13th, a ticket was hastily booked for Renette to fly from Skukuza to Johannesburg.
In dark overcast skies we begin the day along the Fayi Loop. We do see a Martial Eagle but he quickly flies off before we can get close. Back in camp Renette does her packing and at midday we set out for the airport at Skukuza from where she flies at 2.50pm. I call at Lake Panic but it is crowded and the light is bad so I move on. I next stop at Transport Dam along the H1-1 road back to Preoriuskop. However, the dam is so full and surrounded by tall grass that no birds or animals are evident.
So I spend the rest of the dark evening on the little roads around camp.
Saturday, 13th April
At last I have a bright and sunny start to the day so I seize the chance to go down the Voortrekker H2-2 road past Ship Mountain to the Afsaal Picnic Spot. The 6am gate opening time is just too easy for people and a queue of cars pour out of the gates – a few of them choosing my route.
I let them go and slowly make my way along noting the high grass all the way past Ship Mountain.
I do stop to photograph some Little Bee-eaters but other than that, I see very little of interest.
Tindlovu have taken over the running of Afsaal and have built a new dispensing section into the picnic area. It is crowded and busy and after snatching a sausage roll, I take off northward along the main H3 and arrive back at Pretoriuskop at about 10am.
I settle down and spend the day doing my long overdue bookwork. Unfortunately, even in Kruger, one has to keep track of one’s finances.
In the evening I again circle the koppies enjoying the sight of a new bird for me – a Lazy Cisticola.
And with the sun again lining the clouds to the west, I end off the day in the serenity of Pretoriuskop.
Renette is safely in Jo’burg with the Jones’s this evening and comfortingly enjoying a happy time with them.
Sunday, 14th April
Another bright, perfect April day and I again go down the Voortrekker H2-2 road towards Ship Mountain.
But the volume of traffic and the number of tour bakkies flying past makes me change course and double back. I rather take to the peace of the beautiful Fayi Loop. Here I find a Bateleur with its brilliant white under wings outstretched in the morning sun. But just as I line up on him he furls his wings and I lose the chance.
Near Shabeni koppie I am told that there is a Lizard Buzzard feeding on a snake 4Km’s along the road towards Phabeni so I hurry there. I do not find it but instead find a Verreaux’s Eagle Owl (Giant) in dense shade up a leafy tree.
Yes, Pretoriuskop is sparsely populated with game but it sure has an appeal and I have enjoyed its peace and tranquility. But, having done a lot of our ‘running repairs’, I am now ready to move on to our next stop which will be the very underrated Bergendal Camp. Here we will stay for a week with Renette returning on Tuesday and son David and family joining us for the Easter weekend.
This afternoon in beautiful autumnal light I again circle Shabeni.
I then take the S7 towards Phabeni looking back towards Shabeni Koppie.
At the T junction I turn left along the S3 towards Numbi Gate stopping at Mestel Dam for coffee.
Back on the koppies I watch the sun sink again below the escarpment.
I fear readers that my accounts over the past couple of weeks have not made the most exciting reading. But I have enjoyed Pretoriuskop with its laid-back atmosphere and old world simplicity. We may not have seen much here but the wonderful lifestyle that we enjoy here continues and tomorrow I move on to Bergendal for our next adventure.