Eingedi, Freestate 22nd October
First of all just a couple of late photos of our short stay at Eingedi.
Monday, 2nd November
We set out from Dave and Staph at 4am and with all the caravan defects mended we set course eastward towards the brightening dawn. Jo’burg has had good rain over the past few days and the brown veld has already turned green with pools of water lying in the fields. As is so often the case, thick mist blankets the escarpment area near Belfast making driving a little difficult.
But all goes well and we enter Malelane gate at 10am. All sorts of Covid regulations are in place but the staff are happy and friendly. It is always an advantage to get to campsites as early as possible before the influx arrives later in the day. So we waste no time moving rapidly up the main H3 road. It is apparent that the southern section of the Park has received good rain as there is a green flush of new grass everywhere. But not enough to fill the streams and waterholes which are all bone dry.
3Km’s south of the Afsaal Picnic Site a collection of cars indicate that a leopard is up a tree close to the road but towing a caravan makes maneuvering difficult so we thread our way past. We do see a paw and a tail trailing below a branch but that is all.
We sweep into Skukuza at midday and are delighted to find our usual campsite vacant. Disappointingly though one tree that usually provides such good shade is not looking good and is leafless. In an old stump right next to the caravan, a Black-collared Barbet is busy feeding its young in a hole in the branch.
Not all is going smoothly though. The tap fitting designated for our site does not fit that of our caravan which spells problem as one must get water into the caravan water tank. There is nothing for it but, after a rest, to take off to Hazyview where I get the requisite fittings. So, first day complete but with no great progress with the animal and bird spotting.
We arrive at the gate at 4.20am and are third in line. By the time the gates open at 4.30am quite a line of cars follow us out so Skukuza has an impressive number of diehards.
We follow a car down the Sabie River road (H4-1) and nearing the high-level bridge we come across two as always so impressive black-maned lions in the road. In the half light, only the wonders of the new camera technology produce the following photos.
Again I find the battle scarred condition of these Kruger lions to be in stark contrast to the immaculate Cape/Kgalagadi lions. Is it because these Kruger lions have to face fearsome buffaloes and flying giraffe hooves for their dinner and bear the consequences? Or is it genetic or disease?
Coffee on the high level bridge and then a dawdle down the beautiful Salitjie Road (S30) that runs along the north bank of the Sabie River. But very little stirs. We pause at the picturesque confluence of the Mwatimdlopfu stream – always a favourite place to spend a few hours.
At the bone-dry “duck pond” we breakfast and then turn and retrace our footsteps.
The air is muggy and high clouds begin to gather and by midday the sky really is looking threatening. However, they are only forecasting rain on Thursday and I suspect that there could be quite a bit.
Coming back to camp I stop for a shot of the new train coaches strung out across the old Selati bridge and awaiting the wealthy tourists to arrive.
One more bit of commercialism for Skukuza which I am not comfortable with. At midday we take our first swim of the summer in the pool down near the doctor’s rooms. How agreeable to feel the hot sun and being able to exercise again.
This afternoon we cross the Sabie and head along the H1-2 to the Sand River where we stop for our coffee.
But, consternation – we have forgotten the coffee which is a major oversight so we turn and return to camp amid recriminations.. Then down the Sabie river road again.
The sky is lightening all the while and by evening the sun is shining again.
More coffee on the high-level bridge from where we see the pair of African Harrier-hawks that have been resident here for years now.
It is wonderful to be back in Kruger. This evening on the way to the ablutions we come across two Ratels and a Genet Cat.