Skukuza 4-5-6th December

Skukuza 4-5-6th December

Wednesday, 4th

Yesterday was over 40 degrees but the south wind in the evening ushered in cool air – to the extent that we are wearing jerseys today. But it is unpleasantly windy with some drizzle and I seize the opportunity to do some office work. Even though one is in Kruger, horrible things such as bank statements and recons must be seen to and mine are badly in areas. So, we spend the entire day in the caravan doing oh so boring office work. 6mm of rain falls during the course of the day.

Thursday, 5th

Still heavily overcast and cold, we take off down the Sabie River road H4-1. We are going to do the Salitje S30 road today and end up at Lower Sabie for breakfast. Thinking back on that disastrous heatwave that our visitors had to endure, we feel a little guilty as we enjoy the most perfect cool conditions today along this beautiful road.

Although Southern Ground Hornbills are supposedly endangered, we frequently see them in small groups.

Visitors to Kruger will have no doubt seen the nests of the “foam nest tree frog”. The frog lays its eggs in foam balls overhanging water to protect the eggs from drying out and predators. Once the tadpoles hatch out, they of course just fall into the pond ready for action.

We come across a pair of the beautiful Double-Banded Sandgrouse.

Double-banded Sandgrouse (Library)
Little Bee-eater

Just as we approach the four-way crossing where the S128 road meets the H10, Renette is complaining that we are short of something spectacular. The words are hardly out of her mouth before a rather muddy cheetah crosses the road ahead of us and then lies in the veld some 100m off the road.

Brunch on the Mugg & Bean deck at Lower Sabie and then quickly up the H4-1 reaching Skukuza at 11am. What a pleasure to get back to camp refreshed after the recent heat.

The campsite and indeed Skukuza itself is empty. Which suits us as one hardly sees a car on the roads – even here at Skukuza. But I do get concerned about some obvious poor management in the Park whilst I read tourist numbers are in decline. With a world asset like Kruger, we should be pulling in the tourists.

This evening we go across the Sand River H1-2. On the south bank we find some lions in their normal oh so boring pose of sleeping.

Back at camp, Vodacom is on the blink and I cannot send out my blog as planned.

Friday, 6th

Off we go at 4.30am again with a cloudy sky and cold conditions. We are going down to Biyamithi Weir today along the S114. The eastern sky is clear and sitting at the Renoster water trough, we are treated to a lovely sunrise.

Pressing on, we come across a Side-striped Jackal running ahead of us. These animals seem to be increasing as we now see them quite regularly.

Side-striped Jackal (Library)

Turning right and following the S114, we have gone about 1Km when I spy a rather battle scarred male leopard in the grass next to the road.

This is a most attractive morning road with many bits of interest.

Dwarf Mongoose family
Impala Rams lock horns

Biyamithi Weir must be one of our most favourite spots in the whole Park. It is also a leopard hot-spot so when we arrive we travel along all the roads within a 1Km radius.

Biyamithi River

Crossing over the stream below the weir, we climb the hill and circle the koppie anticlockwise. And behind the koppie Renette picks out a female leopard lying on a rock right near the road.

No doubt intimidated by my lens poking out of the window, the leopard slides off the rock and disappears amongst the boulders and bushes. We decide to go down to the weir and enjoy the birdlife.

African Jacana going walkabouts on snoozing Hippo
A Green-backed Heron again showing its amazing elastic neck whilst fishing
A Malachite Kingfisher is also busy (Library)

We then decide to go back up the hill and see if our lady leopard has found a new rock to rest on. And amazingly Renette picks her out, some distance from the road but in a wonderful pose.

What a splendid action packed morning we have enjoyed, all in the most lovely cool weather. I wore a jersey all morning. We travel back up the S114 to Skukuza well satisfied.

This afternoon we go out at 4pm and again cross the Sand River. This is a photo of the Sand River just before it joins the Sabie River in the distance.

We stop and watch a troop of baboons. One is never short of interest here.

Returning along Maroela Loop S83, we come across this hansom adolescent Tawny Eagle which obliges by taking off over us in the evening sunshine.

Crossing the Sabie River low-level bridge, some baboons are taking flying leaps off the bridge onto the soft sand below.

My goodness, this must have been one of our best days in the Park this year from all respects. Oh how we wish that our departed guests could have enjoyed Kruger under these conditions.