Skukuza 10th November

Skukuza 10th November

A brisk south wind begins blowing during the night and by morning the sky is dull and overcast – respite from our long days of heat. Of course each morning, our natural alarm clocks are the beautiful Heuglin (White-browed Robin-chats) which begin calling at about 4am – such a feature of Skukuza.

White-browed Robin-chat (My Library)

We set out in the dark and – no prizes – we are heading again for the S30 Salitje Road, scene of yesterday’s action.

Once clear of the few cars at the gate, we see no more cars for the next two hours as we travel down the H4-1 river road, coffee on the bridge and then quietly down Salitje. All is quiet today until we reach the Nwatindlopfu causeway where we come across two white rhinos which are distressingly very nervous. Gone are the days of these placid animals grazing like cattle at the side of the road.

My Library

We push on for quite a way before turning and heading back to our lookout spot overlooking the waters of the Sabie. But today the wind is strong ruffling the surface of the water. The large crocodile that gave us such a show yesterday is sprawled comfortably on a sandbank and we suspect that he was finally successful yesterday as he pays no attention at all to a group of impala drinking nearby.

Coming back towards the bridge a couple of cars indicate two black maned lions on the far bank of the river.

Not the best of mornings as wind certainly seems to inhibit the bird life and make for rather dull photographic light. I look forward to the first rains which should usher in the migratory birds and fill the waterholes and streams. I still have not heard a Woodland Kingfisher or a Diederik’s Cuckoo – both such a feature of the Kruger summers. However, this morning we saw our our first impala lamb of the season – a forerunner of many to come as we notice so many bulging ewes.

Speaking of photography, I do have a facebook page for my photography and if anyone is interested they can click on the link below.

Being cool and with high cloud, I set off at 1.30pm. Readers may wonder why I have not yet mentioned that favourite destination of ours – the Stevenson-Hamilton Koppies.

The reason is that the S114 gravel road is closed for road works. So this afternoon I am going to reach the koppies from the H3 road leading to Afsaal and Malelane. At the T junction some 14km from Skukuza along the H1-1, I turn southward. Immediately I come across a group of cars who tell me that a pack of wild-dogs are sleeping in the bushes just off the road. Now wild-dogs are only ever doing one of two things – either sleeping or being hype-active – nothing in between.

So I push on past them and then take the S112 towards the koppies. It becomes apparent to me the effect that the recent heatwave has had on the veld. It is now brown and tinder dry and although I drive really slowly there is just nothing about – no birds or animals. I reach the Renoster water trough but find it empty and desolate – no doubt part of the Park policy of closing off artificial water points. Which from a tourist perspective is rather a shame as this wonderful viewing spot is now totally devoid of animals.

I then move back towards Stevenson-Hamilton but again all is dry and quiet. Bulldozers, heavy lorries, water trucks and graders are all busy resurfacing the top end of the S114 which is a little mystifying because they did this same stretch of road a year or so ago, I take the road up to the S-H koppie itself but all is quiet. Under these conditions it is really preferable to keep to the river roads.

I take the S112 back to the H3 and then head north towards the T junction. The cars are still with the dogs but I time it perfectly as the wild-dogs have roused themselves and come yelping, whining and tumbling out of the bush right next to me.

At the 4-way intersection just outside of camp, I am delayed by a herd of ellies that are casually sauntering along the road.

I pick up Renette at 5pm and we make our way along the Sabie river loops stopping to watch a family of monkeys.

We cross the river along the H-2 road and approaching the Sand River we find three cars eyeing a male leopard which is busy stalking a herd of impala. I manage to get some photos through the bush in the gloom. Really these new cameras are amazing what they can do in such poor light.

So, an exciting end to a rather low-key day. We enjoy a sundowner with our neighbours in camp and whilst so doing a large hyena trots right past us. Ratels, genets and now hyenas right here in camp. We are seeing more from our deck-chairs than outside on the roads.