Skukuza 21st October

Skukuza 21st October

We were booked to move to Satara tomorrow but, for a number of reasons, have decided to stay on at Skukuza. The H4-1 Sabie river road has served us so well these last few days. After the barren Mlambane and Matjulu roads of Bergendal, the Sabie has constantly produced interesting sightings. The trick is to get one’s tactics right. Get up early, let the early rush of cars get well ahead and then in solitude enjoy all the highways and byways that this exquisite road has to offer.

Impala Ram

Today that strategy pays dividends when we come across a lion family resting on a dome of rock near the H12 high-level bridge. With few cars to deal with, we have a splendid view of the family starting their day. Firstly Daddy awakes, stretches and yawns.

Next he begins roaring loudly so as to summon his family.

Meanwhile Mummy has been meditating behind him but when the kids wake up, she must begin her chores.

Eventually as the sun strengthens they move off together into the shade of some trees in the riverbed. A truly wonderful sighting all set in that glorious early morning light.

On the bridge we look down at a pair of Pied Kingfishers that are busy “tenderising” a small fish. The male first does some strenuous work and then hands over the fish to the female who, after further preparation, finally manages to swallow their catch.

It is always amazing how they manage to ingest these relatively big fish.

A Grey Duiker crosses the road ahead of us.

An Orange-breasted Bushshrike is calling and a…………..

Brown-snake Eagle is perched nearby.

We note with pleasure a team of workers moving down the road collecting litter on the verges. Not that litter is a big problem as most people are considerate. Not so a girl at the gate this morning who, after a few puffs on her cigarette, stubbs it out underfoot. This is too much for Renette who tells her to pick it up (cringe) to which she meekly complies. I don’t think that she will do that again.

We are told that another leopard is feeding on an impala up a tree near the Staff Village along the Paul Kruger Gate H11 road. Apparently some idiot got out of his car for a better look whereupon the leopard bolted. We investigate but find nothing. But along that road at 8.30am we meet a flood of tourist bakkies coming in from the surrounding lodges. I suppose they are performing a most valuable service to our tourist industry but……. to avoid them, get up early (sorry D & J).

It sounds as though today is a day for whingeing. We are most disappointed to note that the beautiful, reed and bird filled water feature near the entrance clock-tower is bone dry. A shortage of water cannot be the reason to close this most lovely feature within Skukuza camp.

Lunch in 40 degree heat on the deck of the Cattle Baron restaurant overlooking the river. What a lovely setting. This evening we trundle down the river road and see our first Golden-backed Bee-eaters – the first of the season.

Golden-backed (European) Bee-eater