Mon 17th Dec
We meet Gareth and Sarah at the gate at 4.20am and bid them our fond farewells. They have both been absolute stars on the trip and we wish them safe travels on their way back to Ballito.
As we leave camp a thin cloud cover sweeps over the sky and the start of our Sweni trip this morning is a little dark and drab. But soon after sunrise the sun begins to break through giving a most appealing dappled light.
We saw nothing spectacular today but I am going to rely on the following photographs to convey to you the enthralling three hours that we spent on Sweni this morning.
There was just so much to see. As is the norm at this time of the year, young impala and wildebeest are everywhere. Tawny Eagles are as usual perched on high branches. A pair of Red-billed Hornbills are nest building flying in mud to seal up their nest.
A really impressive tusker stepped into the road ahead of us.
At the exact spot where we saw the mating Red-crested Korhaans two days ago, we find a male standing on an antheap. He suddenly calls and immediately rockets skyward, falls back to earth in a ball and then ‘parachutes’ in with his wings extended at the last moment. Surely this is the same amorous individual that we saw on Saturday and if so where is that spectacular ‘red crest’ that he showed off during his courtship?
We continue to the nearby Welverdiend water point and enjoy some breakfast.
Soon a large ellie arrives and drinks from the brimming water reservoir.
No lions, no cats or anything spectacular but one of the most enriching mornings that we have spent in the Park. Kruger is tops.
Tue 18th Dec
Like yesterday at 4am, the sky is star-studded and clear, by 4.45am it is overcast with high cloud. The Sweni Road (S126) presents by far the best option under the present conditions. It is scenically beautiful, it has had rain, it is fairly close to camp and it has very little traffic. The Nwanetsi River road (S100) is one of the top roads in the Park but the volume of traffic makes it a non-starter for us.
A cold front is passing through the Cape at present and, as is always the case, the temperatures soar ahead of it. They are forecasting two days of +40C. So we seize the couple of hours available to us and idle along Sweni. Unlike yesterday, very little stirs.
We find our love lost Red-crested Korhaan on his same antheap and before long he rockets skyward and parachutes back to earth. I do notice some reddish feathering at the back of his neck but he has still done a fine job of covering up the flamboyant red crest that he showed to us on Saturday.
By 8am we hurry back to camp and prepare for the hottest day so far by an early swim and then retiring to our air-conned caravan.
Late afternoon and we venture out northward along the Main H1-4 road. The sky is clear of all cloud and everything is simmering. On the way back some cars reveal a pride of lions quite close to the road stalking some unsuspecting zebra. There are too many bushes for photos and we are already late for the gate so we miss the outcome of the hunt.
Back in camp we find that one of these German Rotel budget truck and trailers have set up camp next to us. Renette of course goes walk-abouts and learns the they pay E3,500 for the flights, Kruger, Big Bend in Swaziland, Durban, the Berg, the Garden Route and Cape Town. My goodness, this not the right weather for this as the poor souls are shoe-horned into little boxes in the trailer where they all sleep.
Tomorrow we head for Skukuza for the last leg of our trip before travelling home to Ballito on the 23rd.