Skukuza 19-20th October

Skukuza 19-20th October


I desperately need a good photo of an African Finfoot. The best place to find one is in the waters of the Sabie River and the best vantage point is on the H12 high-level bridge.

With this in mind we set off early on a cloudless day down the H4-1 river road. We are delayed by lion sightings the second one being an exquisite male lion lying on some rocks close to our destination.

Then onto the bridge where we sit for an hour and a half but rather fruitlessly as we only see a distant Fish-eagle and a Harrier-hawk. Nothing at all in the water.

Eventually a car draws level and a foreigner informs us that there are Wild-dogs downstream just around the corner and further down the H4-1 two leopards are in a tree feeding off an impala.

We find both. Wild-dogs are rather a contradiction. When they are running about they are super active never keeping still. But when they lie in the shade resting, they assume the pose of lions – nothing rouses them, not even jostling cars within meters of them.

I snatch a few photos and we then move on to the leopards. We find them close to the Ntwatimhiri Causeway S79. But although the red meat of the carcass stands out along a tree branch, the leopards are snoozing at its base where we can just see some movement. With the day warming and a poor sighting. we retrace our footsteps back to camp.

During the heat of the day, I follow the fortunes of the Rugby World Cup matches. This evening we go out across the Sand River along the H1-2. Although water is still trickling under the bridge, three Km’s further on no water at all is visible in the riverbed. All is quiet and we see very little. The veld is tinder dry and we look forward to the advent of the rains which will bring the migratory birds and liven things up.

Sunday, 20th

After a cool night, today promises to be a +40 degree scorcher. So, at 5.30am we are quickly again down the H4-1 river road in rather hazey, golden light. Perfect for photography. But as so often happens, nothing presents itself for a good photo as we search along this gorgeous road.

A quiet coffee spot next to the Sabie

After the high-level H12 bridge we press on and I find a beautiful Red-chested Cuckoo at the side of the road. But he keeps his back to me in amongst twigs preventing a good photo so I am going to borrow a photo taken a couple of years ago almost at the same spot.

The beautiful Red-chested Cuckoo (Piet-my-vrou)

There is still plenty of game around but today is the first day that our progress has not been interrupted by cat sightings. It is noteworthy that the further we travel the more a green flush becomes evident in the veld – some rain has fallen across the very southern area of the Park. We eventually reach Lower Sabie and have breakfast at a rather slovenly Mugg & Bean on the deck.

Ellies fill the riverbed

Thereafter, with the temperature rapidly rising we hot foot it for Skukuza where I will follow the course of today’s RWC matches. Outside our caravan the temperature reaches 41 degrees whilst tomorrow 42 is forecast. This is the way across most of Southern Africa in October before the rains start. Intense heat before the prevailing winter high pressure system gives way to the low of the cooler rainy season.

This evening we trundle down the H4-1 river road which, because of the heat, is packed with game seeking the cool waters of the river. At the high level bridge we find again the African Harrier-hawk.

Amongst the game coming to drink are the beautiful Nyalas – once so rare but now fairly common.

Nyala ram

Inevitably the road carries heavy traffic returning to Skukuza at 6pm. The road this evening is blocked by ellies.