Tuesday, 12th February
At the gate at 5-30am reminds of staying at Shingwedzi some twenty years ago. We returned home and a week or two later I read that the gate guard at Shingwedzi had left his window open during the night allowing an old leopard access. In the morning tourists found that the guard had been devoured by the leopard.
We begin by crossing over the Shingwedzi causeway along the road (S52) to Red Rocks that runs westward along the north bank of the river.
At a steady 10kph, we creep along enjoying little items of interest as we go. Two African Hawk-eagles are busy bathing and drinking in the river below.
There is water everywhere standing as pools in the open veld.
The streams have all come down in spate and at one donga we are almost left hanging as the Quantum is not built to negotiate this type of road. The road ahead is a picture with great trees lining the road.
At one point a huge cobra crosses ahead, so quickly that I never had time to get a shot.
We turn at the Tshanga lookoutspot and as the light is fast deteriorating, we get back on the main tar road and return to camp. yr.no are predicting heavy rain from tomorrow night through to Monday which should be interesting. I have placed the rain gauge this time.
Wednesday, 13th February
We leave camp by the rather informal East Gate and meander down the road towards Kanniedood Dam. The ominous heavy rain that is being forecast is reflected by a troubled sky.
This attractive road (S50) has dense riverine vegetation and large trees through which winds along a narrow track. I am particularly keen to photograph the beautiful Grey Headed Kingfisher which I have seen often along this route. But it is shy and twice I see a flash of violet as it streaks off as we approach. Another bird that I would like to get is the splendid African Golden Oriole. A beautiful specimen also flies over the road and disappears.
We see Ground Hornbill, warthogs and a hyena before reaching Kanniedood Dam – or what is left of it.
The floods of January 2013 destroyed it and I suspect the Sanparks have added to its demolition as it is their policy to do away with unnatural dams and waterpoints.
Downstream from the dam wall there are some large pools of water, always frequented by hippos. We arrive just as a large herd of ellies comes down the opposite slope sending some snoozing hippo splashing from their sandbank into the water.
We sit for a good hour watching these most magnificent animals go about their business. Deafening trumpets, growls, rumbles and screeches reach us as we sit high at our vantage point. The ellies sort out their squabbles, ablutions, bathing and powdering themselves with dust. This is really a most impressive spectacle played out in perfect weather conditions.
“I don’t like Kruger because it is too busy” one often hears said. Yesterday we travelled for three and a half hours before we saw our first car. Today we meet our first car as we are about to re-enter the camp – four and a half hours since our early start. Yes, parts of Kruger can be annoyingly busy at times but if one knows when, where and how, one can escape the masses and enjoy real solitude.
At midday thunder begins rumbling to the southeast and clouds cover the sun. I go out at 1.30pm on the trail of my Kingfisher. Idling in first gear, I creep down and then up the Kanniedood (S50) road and twice again I see the violet flash as he takes off. This is going to be difficult. Huge clouds are mushrooming over Mozambique and lightning flashes from their dark bases. yr.no is predicting rain right through to Tuesday with most falling on Friday and Saturday. They are expecting it to begin falling at 10pm tonight and at both Satara and Punda they were spot on.
I have a problem though. In camp two Red-billed Hornbills have shredded the rubbers on the windscreen wipers so with all this rain about I anticipate difficulties. And I note a slow puncture on a back tyre which I am told they can repair in the workshop.
I am having a problem downloading my photos this evening as the power keeps going on and off. Our enjoyment of life here remains undiminished and we are both very happy and content.