Monday, 1st April
Lake Panic needs very special conditions to get optimum enjoyment – dead calm air and bright light. Today the camp gates open half an hour later so at 6am and with all the conditions favourable, we head that way.
April, of course, over southern Africa is magnificent. The sting has gone out of the summer heat and the colours are richer. Lake Panic is an absolute picture as we settle into our seats. It has filled completely after remaining so low for most of last year and the water lilies cover a lot of the water. In the exquisite early morning light everything becomes a target for a photograph and I spend four very happy hours snapping away.
I see nothing at all out of the ordinary but the non-stop opportunities keep me busy. Again, I am eternally grateful that I have a hobby that entertains me so richly and that takes me to such magnificent places.
I think it would be very difficult to find someone who would not be moved by Lake Panic on a morning such as this.
It is warm by midday and the sky has a summerish look to it suggesting that a front is on its way. At 4pm we cross the Sabie and Sand rivers heading for the northern end of the Maroela Loop. After our coffee we begin our crawl homewards.
The Maroela Loop is an enigma. It is the most beautiful of roads with lovely trees, grass and thickets as well as impala. Everything on it screams cat but on the scores of times that I have travelled this road I have never seen a leopard and only once some lion. But I would happily travel this road every day – such is its beauty.
After drawing our usual blank we come back across the rivers pausing on the low-level Sabie bridge to take a sunset photo.
Pre-1936 Skukuza camp was called “Sabie Bridge” because of the railway bridge that still spans the river. The name “Skukuza” was the African name given to Head Park Warden, James Stevenson-Hamilton, meaning “he who sweeps clean” after he had cleared the reserve of poachers and the remaining inhabitants.
At I write this at 7pm lightning is flashing to the south – something that we have not seen for weeks.