Thursday, 23rd May
The sun rises through a hazy sky as we sip coffee on the high level bridge over the Sabie River.
Thereafter we drift down the S30 Salietjie road which is particularly beautiful this morning, bathed in golden light.
Although we have our antennas on high alert, we see nothing except two hyenas that cross in front of us. We turn after about 12Km’s and return to the most pleasant Nwatindlophu lookout spot for some breakfast.
At midday we begin packing in preparation for our move to Bergendal tomorrow.
With the hazy sky softening the light, I take off early to Lake Panic at 2.30pm but the afternoons are quiet with most of the birds having filled their stomachs during the early morning feeding frenzy. There are nevertheless some pleasing sights.
Shadows stretch out over the dam by 4pm so I pack up and travel out along the Doispan S1 road – the scene of our leopard sighting with Chris and Renette. I watch thousands of doves pouring into “Jenky’s Pool”, some 4Km’s along the road, scattering in panic when they sense an aerial attack.
I turn back onto the H11 road between Paul Kruger Gate and Skukuza which must have the heaviest traffic and with the least regard for the speed limit. A minibus overtakes me but then comes to a screeching halt in front of me and I notice a leopard crouched in the grass verge on the left. A really battle scarred veteran then emerges and goes walkabouts amongst the piling up traffic.
After scenting some trees, he crosses the road and then lies on a low bank in the grass, some 8m off the road – completely at ease with the traffic.
Some tourist bakkies arrive and the ecstatic occupants get a close up view of a leopard – something they are most fortunate to achieve.
All very well, but I cannot but feel that this leopard’s indifference to the cars will lead to his downfall when he encounters a 100KPH speedster – all too common in the Park. Perhaps not the most moving of sights but interesting none the less.
Friday, 24th May
With minimal effort, the last items are packed and we are on our way to Bergendal at 6.05am. The sky is cloudy today and as we travel southward it becomes misty with drizzle. By the time we reach Afsaal it is actually raining and the tortoises are on the road drinking their fill.
Our tactic of getting early to these camps pays off again as we get our usual excellent site just as the occupant is leaving. No other suitable campsites are left. We quickly set up and I then leave for a few chores in nearby Malalane town.
This afternoon I dawdle down the S118 and S119 Mlambane river road. Even though the sun is shining, large summer clouds are drifting about. Puddles at the side of the road indicate that some rain fell this morning.
Fresh Rhino middens line the road and at one stage I am fortunate to see two Whites cross ahead.
The following two photos are of those two old “war horses” the Lilac-breasted Roller and the White-fronted Bee-eater. Somehow one never tires of photographing these extravagantly beautiful birds.
Back at camp I collect Renette and we go out a short way on the Matjulu Loop S110 from where we admire the sunset over the Bergendal hills.
Tomorrow we will properly begin our early morning sorties into this scenically beautiful part of Kruger.