Skukuza 18-19th February

Skukuza 18-19th February

Tueday, 18th

Skukuza often is our place where we get on with doing our domestic chores. Today I take off by myself at 5.30am bound for the town of Malelane where I must see to some maintenance issues and do some shopping.

A cool south wind is blowing and it is heavily overcast as I move quickly down the S114. These are not very good photographic conditions so I do not expect much by way of sightings. I stop at the Biyamithi Weir – a favourite spot in Kruger.

But the recent heavy rains have sanded up the weir and little deep water remains. In it snoozes a solitary hippo that has been resident here for years.

With the weather not being too good I push on along the S114 to the Mlambane causeway where I pause and try to attract the rare African Crake. The vegetation is so dense that when my quarry does excitedly arrive, he is immediately lost to view. I then slowly move along the picturesque S119 Mlambane river road but with the widespread pools everywhere the game has scattered and I see nothing.

Mlambane River

I then pass out of the Park at the Malelane Gate and begin working my way through my chores list in town. Then back into the Park and quickly up the H3 arriving back at Skukuza at midday.

This afternoon we go out over the Sand River bridge and then along the H1-2 next to the Sand River. It really is amazing how quiet is even this main road during the summer. February is a lovely month especially with the cool autumn type days we are experiencing.

Sand River

Wednesday, 19th

Today we are meeting up with some dear friends who we first met in Kruger some three years ago. They are staying at Lower Sabie so we have arranged to meet them for a swim and then lunch on the restaurant deck.

We are therefore out of the gates at 5.30am and down the H4-1 river road with not another car in sight. We cut across onto the high-level bridge over the Sabie river and onto the beautiful Salitje S30 road that runs along the north bank of the river. There is much of interest as we slowly move along this road in the golden early morning light.

Ground Hornbill (My Library)
Jacobin Cuckoo (My Library)

It is largely the anticipation that makes Kruger such a thrilling place. The possibilities are limitless and one is always hopeful of that exciting experience. It leaves little room for boredom.

We enjoy our breakfast at the end of the Salitje road next to an attractive pond.

Thereafter we move out onto the rich grassland plains that cover much of the eastern side of Kruger. These are the rich basalt soils which are covered with thick grass which contains so much bird and animal life.

Helmeted Guineafowl with chicks (My library)
S128 Road
Blue Wildebeest

We idle slowly along the S128 toward Lower Sabie so enjoying the life around us.

Lesser Grey Shrike

Our friends are Bob and Katrin Welsh from Switzerland. Actually, Bob is American and Katrin Swiss and they spend their time travelling to the Parks around Utah in the US, walking in the Swiss Alps and then their pilgrimage to Kruger. They are keen hikers and today they are walking through the grassland through which we ourselves are passing. We come across their Parks bakkie at one point from where they have walked.

Arriving fairly early at Lower Sabie, we spend a while at Sunset Dam enjoying the sights. As to be expected the dam is brim full with water.

Diederik’s Cuckoo (My Library)
We find a Black-crowned Night- Heron skulking in the shade of a dense bush.
Pied Kingfisher fishing in Sunset Dam (My Library)

After their strenuous walk, Bob and Katrin join us in the swimming pool where we cool off and spend a while chatting. Our visitors are becoming more interested in birds and notice the lovely call from the Orange-breasted Bushshrike from the tree above the pool.

Orange-breasted Bushshrike (My Library)

Thereafter we move to the very pleasant Mugg & Bean restaurant where we enjoy such a pleasant meal together. Kruger attracts people with common interests to ours and one of the great pleasures of the Park is meeting wonderful people.Bob and Katrin really are a joy to be with.

At 3pm we bid our farewells until the next time and move quickly back up the H4-1 to Skukuza where we spend the rest of the evening in camp.

The following is a photo of the historic old railway bridge across the Sabie at Skukuza. This is shortly going to carry a number of railway carriages in the form of a hotel with a difference. So the following photo is a record of what the bridge looks like now.