Shingwedzi – Bergendal

Shingwedzi – Bergendal

Photos of Shingwedzi Camp from my library

Old style chalets
A view of the camp from the low-level causeway
The low-level Causeway

Saturday, 28th February – Shingwedzi Another 28mm of rain falls during the night and I leave camp at 6am. Immediately, I am aware that the river next to the camp is angry.

It is flowing bank to bank and carries foam and debris. I go to the confluence of the Shingwedzi and Mphongolo Rivers some 3Km from camp and I can immediately see that it is the Mphongolo that is the one that is seriously flooding.

I decide to go up the H1-7 northward to investigate. I stop on the high-level bridge and note the logs and other detritus being swept downstream.

Travelling northward one can see why the river is flooding . In places vast sheets of water cover the open veld and the streams are all flowing strongly.

I suppose that the ground is so saturated with water that any further rain that falls just runs off. After about 15Km’s I turn back.

I investigate the S52 Redrocks road and cannot believe that they have not closed it off.

At the causeway there is no way that I am going to attempt the crossing as the water sweeps over it. I just hope no inexperienced tourist attempts it.

The low-level causeway just outside camp is somewhere under all that.

By midday the rain lifts and I decide to go to an interesting but often forgotten place. I refer to the Tropic of Capricorn S143 Road, about 50Km south of Shingwedzi. It was here a few years ago that I photographed the very rare Golden Pipit.

Golden Pipit (My Library)
Sabota Lark

What makes this area so special is that it is a flat, boggy and grassy expanse with no bushes or trees. It is frequented by herds of Zebra and Wildebeest and White Stocks which stride through the grassland.

Although I really try hard, I just cannot photograph the shy quails that scuttle over the road ahead of me but are then lost in the long grass. At one point a Lanner Falcon cruises past me on the hunt. Not the most successful outing but interesting nonetheless.

Sunday, 28th February Shingwedzi – Bergendal More light rain during the night and it is still raining when I rise. Domestic duties are making my return to Jo’burg necessary so with all the local gravel road now closed, I decide to head south to Bergendal. So with the caravan in tow, I take my leave of beautiful Shingwedzi and head down the main road southward. My windscreen wipers do not stop all the way to Letaba.

I stop at Satara for breakfast and then push on.

Life is tough for these poor Kruger lions

Bergendal is 340Km’s from Shingwedzi and I make the trip in eight hours. The only diversion is near the Bergendal turnoff on the H3 where I stop to photograph a leopard up a tree. Malelane must be the leopard capital of Kruger.

Bergendal of course is so different to the other camps. Set amongst beautiful hills and mountains, it is so well laid out with much natural bush within the camp perimeter fence.

This afternoon I take the Matjulu S110 Loop which is a gravel road leading down to the main H3 tarred road. The sun breaks through at last and I am treated to a wonderful spectacle of sunlight playing on the rocky slopes.

There is water everywhere
European Bee-eater

As I write this a lion is roaring close by, such a characteristic feature of Bergendal come to think of it.

Monday, 1st March I exit the camp gates at 5.30am and go down the main tar road. Of course Bergendal Camp is base to the lovely Mlambane river so I am heading there. Onto the H3 and I come across some vehicles watching a pride of lions. But the light is not good so I push on comforted by the knowledge that the lions will distract the following traffic. I turn right onto the S114 and I am amazed how much game is about. Large herds of impala, zebra, wildebeest, giraffe, buffalo and,,,,,,, three separate sightings of white rhinos. They seem quite relaxed too which is gratifying.

I follow thhe S25 and finally turn left onto the S119 Mlambane river road. But although I creep along this picturesque road very little stirs. I stop on the S114 Mlambane causeway and try and call in an African Crake but the recent flooding has flattened the vegetation and there is no cover for them.

I continue along the S118 but again no luck. Back onto the H3 and I follow the tarred road back to camp.

On the southern boundary of Kruger looking out over the Crocodile River valley.

I spend the day doing spring cleaning of the caravan and vehicle. February is meant to be an unpleasantly hot month but with all the rain about it has only been cool. At 3.30pm I go out again down to the H3 tar road but rain is again threatening.

On the way back to camp, I come across a small car whose young occupants are peering intently at a tree some 100m distant. They tell me that a leopard is in the tree but even with binoculars I struggle to see it. Which is all a little sad as I cannot believe how sharp sighted are these youngsters (are you listening David).

And that folks, ends the next chapter in Kruger but despair not as its pull is so great that we will be back soon. If I think back over the past month then I will remember February 2021 for rain, flooding rivers and rich green grass everywhere. It is a true paradise.