Skukuza 30th March

Skukuza 30th March

Saturday, 30th March

Today really shows Skukuza in its contrasting colours. We arrive at the gate at 5.03am – 8th in the queue. At 5.30am we head out with a long line of cars in front and behind us.

Some hyena in the road cause the front cars to stop whilst those at the back impatiently rev their engines and then squeeze past the bewildered hyenas.

We go straight through the four-way stop as we are heading to the Biyamithi weir. Within a Km we find the lead cars are now tracking a lone wild-dog that is loping ahead in the headlights. This is too much for some of the following cars who again squeeze through forcing the wild-dog to seek refuge in the grass verge.

We decide to take the main tar road down to Biyamithi as the gravel road (S114) is badly corrugated. So at the intersection we head down the H3 road towards Afsaal and Malelane. Around the corner we come upon three cars with a leopard sitting on the right side of the road. Snatching up my camera I am thwarted by the third car that turns at 90 degrees across the road with its nose in the grass thereby blocking our view completely. Hemmed in, the leopard retreats into the long grass and the cars eventually move on. This is where the Quantum comes into its own because with its height we are able to look over the grass and find the leopard crouched about 30m from the road.

I move onto the right hand side and manage to get a few photos but the leopard is facing away from us eyeing something beyond.

Meanwhile another car has come up behind us and, despite the meters of open road to our left, angrily demands that we move over so that they can pass. This they do and with pouting lips drive straight past the leopard. We begin to understand why so many people prefer the quieter northern section of Kruger.

The leopard moves off through the grass and we continue down this very attractive road splashed by early morning light.

The traffic has thinned out and we begin to recover our composure. We cut across to the very pretty S23 Biyamithi river loop road and make our way to the weir.

The vegetation has thickened a lot since we were last here and water is flowing over the spillway. A hippo is snoozing nearby and I get busy photographing Wire-tailed Swallows and a Pied Kingfisher.

Wire-tailed Swallow

Pied Kingfisher

We spend an hour or so at this most beautiful of spots and after breakfast we take the direct route back to camp along the gravel S114. After a few Km’s we come across a really special sight. We arrive at a roadside pond just as a White Rhino emerges from the bush and proceeds to go about his ablutions in a muddy wallow right next to us. Sounds of huffs and puffs and squelching mud fill the air with him sometimes on his back with feet pedalling in the air.

All by ourselves, we are treated to this wonderful spectacle amply making up for not having seen a single rhino for two months. Herewith Renette’s video:

With bad memories of jostling cars all forgotten, we return to camp well satisfied. This morning summed up Skukuza completely. If one can manage to avoid the crowds there is much to enjoy.

After our midday swim we set out for our favourite afternoon destination – the Sand River. Here we sit for over an hour enjoying the spectacle of kingfishers, herons and hamerkops all busily fishing in the fast flowing water.

Great White Herons
Green-backed Heron

We then continue along the Maroela Loop and after a while double back, recrossing the Sand River as the sun is setting on another glorious day in Kruger.