Rather like fishing, Kruger is a lot about tactics – with a good bit of luck thrown in. When, where and how with Punda even more so with its limited options. Cloudy days are for the distant Pafuri valley where one can linger without being quickly driven away by the heat. Today it is the still, warm, sunny day option.
We are at the gate in complete darkness at 4.23am. This being informal Punda, the gate guard opens up early and out we go. Immediately, a hyena runs over the road in the headlights carrying a large piece of carrion in his jaws. We are initially keeping to the main H13-2 and H13-1 roads heading eastward. The road is full of bright-eyed nightjars and at 40kph I am hard pressed to avoid hitting them. One can only wonder at the carnage on the country’s roads of these beautiful birds. Gradually the glimmer in the eastern sky strengthens and by the time we reach the H1-9 intersection it is quite light. The veld here is surprisingly dry. Turning left we pass under the Eskom powerlines from Cahora Bassa and take the third exit left along the S61 Klopperfontein where we pause for coffee, That done, the sun slips over the horizon at 5.35am as we creep on past the little dam to the water trough.
Up on a raised vantage point, we look down on a scene of such beauty.
To crown it all, a small pack of wild-dogs runs past the eland who see them on their way. I can think of few places in Kruger that will give one such a spectacular early morning setting and it is something for future Punda visitors to remember.
We move slowly on past baobabs and lovely koppies. One is shaped like a mini Ayre’s Rock. And all this bathed in the soft morning sunlight. Absolutely exquisite.
With the rich morning light deteriorating, we join the S60, turn left onto the S59, right on the main H1-9 and then skirt the Dzundzwini Hill along the S58.
Heading back to camp along the H13-1, we stop to try and find the Arnot’s Chat but to no avail. What we do hear though are the “horse’s hooves” call of the Stierling’s Wren-Warbler and with aid of the bird caller I am able to get a photo of this pretty little bird.
We arrive back in camp at 9am after a really splendid morning. Today though is pre-frontal and the temperature is rising rapidly. Some ellies arrive at the camp waterhole to drink.
In summer the swimming pool is a lifeline for keeping fit and active. Next week we are due to move Shingwedzi and that camp boasts the best pool in the Park.
Just as we are savouring the thought, an email arrives informing us that the Shingwedzi pool is closed for maintenance which is quite a blow. I regarded the two weeks that we were going to stay at Shingwedzi as the high spot of the trip but with no swimming pool……… We are going to have to reschedule our time.
After cooling off in the rather inferior Punda pool we set out for a short evening drive along the Mahonie Loop just west of the camp. Nothing out of the ordinary but very pleasant nonetheless.