Skukuza 31st March

Skukuza 31st March

Sunday, 31st March

Yesterday I felt that the Skukuza crowds held the upper hand so today I am determined to correct that. Renette has much to do in camp so at 4.30am I am first at the gate by myself – Mr Bean like. At 5.30am I take off at 50kph heading again for Biyamithi weir but this time travelling down the S114 gravel road. It is heavily overcast and some spots of rain are falling.

Having shaken off all followers and maintaining my 40kph on the gravel, I am approaching the Stevenson-Hamilton koppies when a speeding set of headlights appear in my mirror and trail me by a few meters in the thick dust. When I reach the Renoster water point I slow and allow the vehicle to overtake. A Sanparks tour bakkie filled with dust choked tourists sweeps by. No tips for the idiot tour guide I fear.

Now I am in two minds to turn along the Nwatimhiri or the Biyamithi road and decide to do whatever the Sanparks bakkie doesn’t turn onto. He turns left so I continue southward to Biyamithi. And what a good choice it proves to be.

Not far thereafter, I come across three rhino sleeping next to the road in the half light. I eventually edge past them trying my best not to upset them.

White Rhinoceros

A Km further on I come across a pride of lions draped across the road – typical morning scene in Kruger.

Following along the S114, I pass the scene of yesterday’s rhino wallow and 5Km before the weir I note a dark shape under a large marula tree on the lefthand side of the road. I stop to investigate and a magnificent male leopard gets to his feet, stretches and yawns after his snooze which I have just interrupted.

He is totally at ease with my presence and after a while moves into the grass only 8m off the road. I creep right up to him and he remains completely unfazed.

The photo info on my camera tells me that I sat with him for 30 minutes before the first tourist bakkie arrives. A second one joins us and these fortunate tourists get an outstanding view of this wondrous animal preening itself at point blank range.

So laid back is he that I do not foresee any further action and I eventually I leave. Unfortunately, the heavy cloud and dull light as well as the thick grass prevents me from getting good photos but the experience was great. I steady myself at the weir but the light is still dull – not suitable for bird photography. I then wind my way slowly along the Biyamithi River road S23 pondering on this Skukuza. This morning proved conclusively that here it is all about, how, when and where. There are great things to be seen in solitude at Skukuza.

Back at camp Renette has done fine work in getting the caravan back into top condition after the neglect it suffered during her three weeks in Cape Town. She is also keeping the monkeys at bay with her toy leopard as they keep their distance chattering.

The camp empties rapidly today as the schools reopen this week. Oh how pleasant to be a pensioner.

This afternoon we select to go out on the Doispan road and then cut down to the Sabie river along the S4, back to Paul Kruger Gate and then back to camp along the busy H11 mainroad.

This such a picturesque area particularly in the late afternoon.

My over confidence that I had solved the Skukuza mania backfires spectacularly along the H11 road. A pack of wild-dog run down this busy road and there is instant mayhem as the cars logjam. You will see in the photo below the dogs huddled on the verge. The car in front of the bakkie on the left just will not move as he hogs prime position. Others try to overtake thus blocking oncoming traffic and there is bad tempered bedlam. What you do not see in the photo is that there were an equal number of cars behind us. So, back to the drawing board and more careful planning on future drives.

The Ugly Face of Skukuza