Skukuza 13th November

Skukuza 13th November

The forecast today is for clear, cool weather so we are going to be staying out longer. At 4.30am we are the only car travelling down the H4-1 Sabie River road. Whilst on the high-level bridge the sun rises and we set off quietly down the H4-1 towards Lower Sabie.

This road is just exquisite in the early morning light. The Red-chested Cuckoos are now really calling and their “Piet my Vrou” song is constantly with us.

Red-chested Cuckoo (My Library)

The Jacobin Cuckoos are also starting to make their presence heard.

Jacobin Cuckoo (My Library)

But by the time we have reached the Lubyelubye Rocks we have seen precious little. Incidentally this is the same sandstone formation that one sees so prominently around the Clarens – Golden Gate area of the Freestate – hence its name The Clarens Formation.

In true Kruger tradition the quiet morning suddenly comes alive as we meet a lioness coming up the road towards us. She is then followed by a second – and then a third and fourth.

As they pass my window I think back to those wonderful, unblemished Kgalagadi lionesses that we saw at Mountain Zebra in Cape last month under similar circumstances and I wonder at the difference.

Kgalagadi lioness – Mtn Zebra
Kgalagadi Lioness – Mtn Zebra

But back to today’s lions. They mean business and are on the hunt scouring the riverbed for targets. And amazingly for the first 15 minutes of the sighting we were the only car there.

The lionesses move steadily along the river bank below us and then in order to cross the rocky Lubyelubye stream, they move up onto the road amongst the now gathering cars and cross over the bridge.

And then disaster strikes as my new camera starts malfunctioning and goes on the blink. I am fumbling around trying to fit another camera to the lens with a lioness some 15m away from us on the road ahead. Suddenly a group of impala come rocketing out of the bush jumping straight over the lion which is trying its best to catch one in midair. An amazing sight which I totally missed photographing. Maybe I must start photographing trees and statues as this happened far too quickly for me.

We follow the lions 2Km beyond the rocks until they became lost to view below the riverbank. Their tactic was to move just above the reeds and flush out something to tackle but nothing showed itself.

We then move down to the H10 bridge over the river from where I photography a group of ellies in the river below the Lower Sabie restaurant.

Then back to the Lower Sabie campsite where we lookup our camping neighbours who we were with in March just before ‘lockdown’. Bob and Rosa live permanently under a shady tree in their caravan and intend staying there indefinitely.

Then breakfast at Mugg & Bean before leaving LS at 10am. A herd of buffalo are drinking on the far side of Sunset Dam.

Back at Skukuza we begin making preparations for the arrival of Dave (our second son), Steph and their two children tomorrow. They will be staying in chalets for 8 days.

This evening we head for the De Laporte water trough but successive herds of ellies and buffalo have so lowered the water level that a giraffe cannot bend low enough to drink. He leaves still thirsty.

Five ellies then take up a position around the trough which ensures that nothing else comes to drink. Back through the gates into camp at 6.30pm. Ominously the weather forecast is for more hot weather. so poor Dave and Steph must brace themselves. If only the rains would begin.