Skukuza 16-17th November

Skukuza 16-17th November

Monday, 16th

David was disturbed by a sound on the stoep of his chalet at midnight and upon investigating found two hyenas at the door. So they seem to be plentiful in the camp.

In what are now almost drought conditions we have decided to stay close to the Sabie and Sand Rivers. By way of a difference this morning, we travel out along the H11 towards Kruger Gate and then take the S3 river road towards Phabeni.

This is a most beautiful road with large riverine trees and vegetation. The only negative is the view across the river of lodges which later give way to housing. We begin with two African Hawk-eagles perched on a dry tree. These impressive birds are so often seen in pairs.

African Hawk-eagles (My Library)

Next the following delightful face stares at us from the bushes.

Although we creep along we do not see anything out of the ordinary. I notice that they have swept the road which I at first thought may be to smooth out the corrugations. But then we come across a Parks bakkie with rangers scanning the road surface intently – I presume that they are looking for footprints. This is a poaching hotspot with a large population across the river.

Back on the S1 Doispane tarred road we head back towards camp stopping to watch some hyenas. I wonder how many hyenas throughout the Park have found residence in road culverts.

Fortunately, the intense +40℃ heat that we experienced last week is not repeated and each day is comfortably in the mid 30’s. Each day we spend some enjoyable time in the swimming pool.

This afternoon we go out along the H1-1 towards Pretoriuskop and stop off on the Granokop (Mathekenyane) granite dome where we climb and then alight from the vehicle enjoying the view across the great expanse of Kruger. We turn back and come across two beautiful Tawny Eagles – one a dark brown adult and the other a youthful pale buff colour.

Interestingly the latter begins to gain its dark brown colouring after about eighteen months of age – but first from the head. Note the following photo taken a couple of years ago.

(My Library)

Our main aim of the afternoon is the De Laporte water trough and we take up our position at 5.30pm. Our first visitor is a giraffe.

Then rather unusually a male and female Grey Duiker arrive for a drink.

A small group of ellies then arrive.

No leopards tonight.

Tuesday, 17th

Today is David’s birthday so we decide to head for breakfast at Lower Sabie down the great Sabie river road. H4-1.

But first in the torchlight we find another hyena caught in the Park’s trap erected near David’s chalet. Upon enquiry, the Parks official told us that they take the hyena and release it “400Km’s away”. Utter nonsense and I am sure this streetwise hyena will be back within a day. Meanwhile we ourselves had a troubled night as outside a Ratel made determined efforts to get into our cooler box.

We set off again down the Sabie river road with the now usual settled weather. We come across a Ratel scuttling about near the road and then a Male lion well concealed by bushes. After our coffee on the bridge we continue down the H4-1 and find this wonderful Verreaux’s Eagle-owl.

This early morning drive is just superb.

We then come across a pair of the most beautiful Bearded Woodpeckers.

Lesser Striped Swallow

We stop at the beautiful Nkuhlu Picnic Site to stretch our legs.

A pair of quite tame Bushbuck allow me a close up photo.

The Lubyelubye Lions are again performing today and from the bridge over this ravine, I take these photos.

Munching on a Klipspringer, Bushbuck (??) leg.
A Hooded Vulture is perched just above the lion
Lion eyeing out the vulture.

We continue towards Lower Sabie and Callum (5) excels himself by spotting his own new lioness hunting impala.

Our sharpshooters at the ready.

These eight Km’s or so up from Lower Sabie are just teeming with game.

Buffalo in the river. Note the bare, dry veld beyond.

At Sunset Dam impala are drinking whilst a small herd of buffalo lie at the water’s edge.

A most pleasant breakfast at Mugg & Bean with a large herd of ellies noisily going about their business in the reeds below.

We set off for Skukuza at about 10am but just beyond the Lubyelubye Rocks we find the road jammed with cars which can only mean one thing. Another leopard up a Sausage Tree with an impala. Actually I am fortunate to get any sort of photograph so dense is the foliage and the traffic.

With the temperature rising again into the mid 30’s we head for Skukuza and the swimming pool. Late evening we go out rather late to the Maroela Loop without finding anything special to report about.

We end off a wonderful day celebrating David’s birthday at the new and very smart station restaurant. I wonder how the old Cattle Baron restaurant is faring as overseas tourists are absent and they can scarcely afford to lose what little custom that they have.