Skukuza 20-21st February

Skukuza 20-21st February

Thursday, 20th

I never thought that I would say this. Skukuza is becoming one of my favourite camps in Kruger. Yes, I know all about the crowds and the commercialization but the fact remains that Skukuza has great diversity, it has the Sabie River and it has Lake Panic. If one can escape the OSV’s (Open Safari Vehicles) then in summer one can enjoy all the great things about Skukuza without being overwhelmed.

Today Renette is joining me as we head for the Lake Panic Hide. But first we come across the same male leopard on the road just beyond the Msimuk bridge along the H11 road. Today however we don’t get close before he heads off into the long grass towards the staff village. A short downpour of rain has left pools of water on the road from which the leopard was drinking.

The H11 main road to Paul Kruger Gate must be the speeding highway of Kruger and we are horrified at the speed people are travelling at coming towards Skukuza. These are not tourists but appear to be employees in civilian vehicles.

We position ourselves at Lake Panic and the overcast dull sky leads to a slow start for the birds. But there is always something of interest here and today I focus on the Southern Masked Weavers busily stripping the reeds and flying off to their nests.

Southern Masked Weaver

There is always something to take one’s interest here – the kingfishers diving into the water, the ducks flying in formation and the fish eagle cries.

African Darter
White-breasted Cormorant

At 9.30am we pack up and head back to camp.

Today is like a sauna with high humidity. High cloud masks the sun and rain is forecast tomorrow. We go out again along the S83 Maroela loop this evening and find that sand covered causeway has been cleared.

Considering the thickness of the sand then small wonder that those poor folk got bogged down the other day.

Ending Maroela Loop we continue along the H1-2 to the H13 road where we cut across to the high=level bridge over the Sabie River. Here we sit admiring the golden sunset.

Back up the H4-1 road to camp where I take precautions for the predicted rain.

Friday, 21st

No rain at all falls in the night but we awake to a really dark morning. Nonetheless we take off throught the gates at 5.30am. At the 4-way crossing 1km from camp, we come across some thirty hyena milling about in the road whilst the stench from the nearby carcass is overpowering.

We quickly continue down the H4-1 Sabie river road taking all the loops and lay-byes as we go. No other cars are to be seen. Some 10km down the road we come across a leopard nosing about on the road verge.

We follow her for a good 200m before she wanders off into the bush – just as the first car arrives.

We turn on the high-level bridge and return to camp as we have quite a few chores to be seen to which necessitate the internet – which is only available immediately around Skukuza. Thereafter follows a very trying time whilst I attempt to sort out some repairs on my BMW (BM Trouble You) in Jo’burg. Again, it is forcibly brought home to me what a bubble of unreality we enjoy here in Kruger, far away from the helter-skelter of everyday living on the outside.

The day picks up when Bob and Katrin unexpectedly arrive having also experienced vehicle problems. Instead of going to Satara today, they had to go to Malelane and then decided to overnight at Skukuza. We spend a lovely time with them having supper on the restaurant deck next to the Sabie River recounting wildlife experiences. Bob and Katrin may be ‘Uitlanders’ but they have experienced more of SA than the local Saffers have.

Tomorrow we move to Lower Sabie where we expect Gareth’s (3rd son) in-laws, Gordon and Judy Crowther, to join us on Sunday from Cape Town for six days. We look forward to it.