Skukuza 5-6th November

Skukuza 5-6th November,, the excellent Norwegian weather forecaster says that there will be rain until 10am this morning. So we decide on a bit of exploration up the H1-2 to Tshokwane in the expected bad weather. But at 4.30am we leave the camp gates second in line and in the gloom head north. The sky however is clear and got this one very wrong.

The route takes one past the koppies south of Leeupan and from here onwards the veld becomes brown and dry. Again the Tshokwane area seems to have missed out on the recent rains. When we last saw Leeupan in March you may remember that it was a seething mass of activity with all manner of birds about – Golden Bishops, Painted Snipes amongst others, attracted by the thick vegetation and abundant water. Today, what a contrast.

Leeupan – desert=like with bare dry ground

Making maximum use of the good early morning light we pass Tshokwane and stop at a vantage point above a pool of water in the Mwaswitswontso River bed.

Herds of impala, zebra, wildebeest, giraffe warties are all attracted to the water. In the pool a lone hippo is making the most of his fast shrinking pool but surely the rains will soon arrive.

Back at Tshokwane, we hope to sample some of their excellent breakfasts but oh dear, by 8am there are no signs of any action from the kitchen and we; together other grumbling tourists leave empty tummied. I hope that the once excellent Tshokwane is not on the skids.

With the light fast deteriorating we return quickly to Skukuza arriving back at 9am. We decide to investigate the new facilities at the old railway station. If Tshokwane is on the slide, this part of Skukuza is really on the up. It is beautifully laid out with lovely restaurants, refurbished railway coaches coupled on to the original though now dormant steam-engine. The following photos will give you some idea of this new Skukuza development.

The 7 coaches already placed on the bridge

Well done to Sanparks for the effort they have gone to.

This afternoon we again go to the De Laporte water trough but nothing stirs.

Friday, 6th

Some good rain falls during the night which poor again failed to predict. At 4.30am we are second out of the gate heading down the Sabie River road H4-1. One never fails on this road which always throws up items of interest.

Bushbuck Ram
Nyala are really becoming common in Kruger

This usually busy road is desolate at the this early hour. Our intention is to get to Sunset Dam at Lower Sabie and enjoy the early morning sun there. Just short of the S79 Nwatimhiri causeway loop, we come across a freshly killed impala up a tree.

It is well placed to give us an excellent view of the leopard when he returns to feed. So we settle down to wait…… and wait. After an hour and a half a Hooded Vulture zooms in and settles in the tree.

Surely now the leopard will return to safeguard his kill. But the spirited vulture actually settles on the impala which is the signal for scores of other vultures to pour in and join the feast.

Under carriage down for landing
A smart White-backed Vulture

Soon the impala disappears under a mass of writhing vultures who take very little time in stripping the body.

Why the leopard chose to let the vultures have his meal escapes me completely.

The wind turns towards the northwest and the air warms rapidly. I must shoot into Hazyview for a few chores but such are the crowds in the bank and Vodacom that I abandon my mission and return to camp having achieved nothing at all. With the temperature now 36 degrees we make for the swimming pool.

At 3.30pm I set out along the Pretoriuskop road (H1-1) for Transport road. I am hoping that the hot weather will bring the animals to the water in the evening light.

Transport Dam

A very pleasant couple of hours although I do not see anything untoward. Hot weather is forecast for the next two days so we will venture out early tomorrow and then find refuge in the caravan and swimming pool.