Wednesday, 6th February
Today is cloudy and cool so I decide to spend some time down at the Luvuvhu River. Renette understandably elects to stay in camp.
At 5.30am I am the only car at the gate. I must mention that the gate is not much more than waist height with no barbs or electrics to prevent a leopard jumping over with ease. In fact a human can. Anyway off on my 55Km trip which of course takes an hour and a bit.
I begin by crossing the Luvuvhu Bridge, noting that the river is flowing quite well and that the water is clear. Which makes for a change. Usually the river is either bone dry or a raging chocolate torrent.
I then travel a few Km’s out along the main Pafuri road and then double back. I am on the quest of some birds that I have never photographed before. Warren spent some time in the Makuleke Concession last year so has briefed me on the best tactics to use.. The first success is with the Burnt-necked Eremomela….
followed by the Green-capped Eremomela.
Flushed with success, I come back over the bridge and set out along the river road that runs along the south bank of the river. I soon come across the Meves Glossy Starling which I have photographed before but very poorly.
Note the long, barred tail.
I queried the other day whether it is worth travelling so far north. Well this morning answered that emphatically. This area of the Park is just incredible. The majestic trees, the remoteness and the abundance of birds make it something not to be missed.
I stop at the beautiful Picnic Spot on the banks of the river.
I then wander down towards Crooks Corner marvelling at the beauty of it all.
I note a hippo and a large croc in the river which really makes me wonder what happens to them when the rivers run dry – which happens often. Before getting to Crook’s Corner I pause at the lala palms but have no success with the Yellow-breasted Canary which is resident here. On to Crooks Corner and…….oh dear.
The trickle of water coming down the riverbed is the mighty Limpopo whilst at the bottom of the photo you can see the Luvuvhu joining it.
It is getting late in the morning so back to the bridge where I decide to go out to the Pafuri Gate which I have never seen before. Leaving the river behind, the road enters tall Mopane trees which are not unattractive at all.
After only 23Km’s I reach the Pafuri Gate.
And so ends a fabulous morning that I really enjoyed. I quickly back track to Punda Maria.
Going out at 4pm we are delayed by a Shikra inside the campsite.
Renette joins me and this evening we wish to do the Mahonie Loop but now do it clockwise to the halfway point and turn back. After the rain the countryside is superb with everything just bursting with life. The impala are frisky, nyala are plentiful and birds are everywhere.
The road takes one west of the camp and one drops down into a valley below the Punda hills. I was surprised to see Silver Cluster Leaf in one place.
Near where we intended to turn around we come across a large male ellie which is standing with his rear end towards us. However, something makes me wary as he is standing stock still but looking around at us not moving at all. When about 20m from him he suddenly wheels around and comes at us fast. I look back to reverse out and then glance to the front and am appalled to find that he is coming full taps only some 10m from the Quantum. I put my foot down and with engine screaming make good our escape. I know ellies fairly well and I know that this crusty old fellow was not playing. No huffing and puffing – just a quiet and deadly charge. Thank goodness that there was no other car behind us as there would then have been no escape. In all my sixty years of coming to Kruger I have never been charged so meanly and with such fury.
I must make mention of the new Canon movie camera that I bought Renette. Despite its expense it is a disaster. It takes ten seconds to fire up which means that she keeps missing great shots – the best of all would have been this ellie charge. I am going to have to change it when we go to the wedding in March which is annoying.
We return to camp buoyed by what must have been our best day yet of the trip. We absolutely love Punda. Fittingly we end the day having supper with some far more docile ellies drinking over the fence.