Mercifully a south wind begins blowing in the early hours and the searing temperatures plummet. We have been camp bound for the past three days because of the heat so today we are going to extend ourselves a bit.
With light, scattered clouds racing up from the south, we set off at 4.30am along the H1-2, headed for Tshokwane. Coffee on the Sand River bridge with the waters gushing beneath us and then onto the Maroela Loop S83. This splendid road yet again inexplicably serves up very little and we move back onto the main road.
We turn off and wander along the Nwatindlophu Loop and then rather on impulse I decide to take the S36 road towards Hlanguleni. My thinking is that Sable are often seen along this road as are lions. We stop at Jones’ Dam which has some water in it but only a few Waterbuck in attendance.
Between there to the S33 Vutomi Road, the only thing of real interest are three White Rhinos.
I must pass on this bad news. Last week we spoke to a neighbour at Lower Sabie who joined a day bush walk from Lullaby Rocks. They encountered four dehorned rhino carcasses (2 black, 2 white) on that very limited walk. Today we learn that another White Rhino has been killed down near Croc Bridge so the prospects for these magnificent animals is bleak indeed.
Back to this morning’s drive. We turn right onto the Vutomi S33 road which does have regular pools of water on the western side.
However, I regret taking this route as it is just too long with scant reward. So five rather sagging tourists finally arrive at Tshokwane at about 9am – four and a half hours after we set out which is just too long. However, a good breakfast on Tshokwane’s renowned pies re-energises us. I must say again that the standard of Tshokwane is heartening and we are pleased to hear that Nkuhlu too will shortly become privatised.
At 10am we set off for Skukuza and along the way call in at Leeupan which surprisingly has quite a bit of water in it. An hour later I offload our weary passengers at camp.
After the trials of this morning, Colleen stays in camp whilst we take a leisurely evening drive out to Renoster Koppies along the S114 and then circle back to the beautiful Stevenson-Hamilton koppie.
What bliss to enjoy such a cool, beautiful day. Climbing steeply up S-H koppie, we come across a really lovely pair of Klipspringers.
Evening coffee at the parking area from where we listen to the Red-chested Cuckoos and the Orange-breasted Bushshrikes calling.
Leaving the koppie and looking back, we are amused to see a Klipspringer perched right on top next to the survey beacon.
Rain brings life to an otherwise desolate landscape. A small pool next to the road reveals………..
A truly beautiful evening and another lesson in the merits of taking short, slow, quality drives.
So much did we enjoy yesterday evening’s drive that we elect to go back to the koppies. We begin with a family of hyena sprawled across the S114 gravel road.
At the Renoster Koppies water trough we come across two majestic maned male lions that are resting next the water.
After some ablutions and some impressive roaring, they amble off into the bush. At this time of the morning there is no traffic at all and we enjoyed a good forty minutes with these two immaculate lions.
We again circle around towards Stevenson-Hamilton and at the koppie climb up to the parking zone. We then alight and creep on foot (quite legally) around the massive granite rock to the rear from where we can gaze out across the so inspiring bushveld sweeping to the south. It was here that Stevenson-Hamilton chose to have his ashes scattered in 1957, a year before I first visited the Park as a young lad.
Back at the car we enjoy breakfast….
…… before sliding down the steep road. Along the S23 near the koppies we find this social or communal Spider nest.
Back to Skukuza by 9am.
At midday the temperature suddenly climbs ahead of a front coming up from the south. Tomorrow is forecast to be 39 degrees C and thereafter some rain and cooler weather.
This evening we drift down the H4-1 Sabie River road calling in at all the loops along the way. Although it is scenically exquisite in the late afternoon light, we see little extraordinary and return to the restaurant deck for supper.