Skukuza 8-9th November

Skukuza 8-9th November

Sunday, 8th

Today promises to be even hotter than yesterday, so at 4.30am under a clear sky we are across the Sabie River heading for the Maroela Loop (S83). Coffee on the Sand River bridge as the sun slips over the horizon at 5.05am and the bushveld awakens. My goodness but one is in awe of the African bushveld – its sheer beauty and its incredible wildlife.

Maroela Loop

But despite its beauty and the fact that we creep slowly along the road, we see very little. Back on the main H1-2 road we double back along the banks of the Sand river, then across the Sabie and down the H4-1. By 8.30am the temperature is already well into the thirties so we return empty handed to camp. By 1pm, the air is like a furnace, the temperature stands at 42℃ and we find refuge in the swimming pool.

At 5pm we leave for the De Laporte water trough some 8kms along the H1-1 towards Pretoriuskop. Here the animals are busy drinking.

A hyena is lying in some mud trying to cool off whilst the impala warily keep their distance.

Spotted Hyena
Female Kudu breasting the stream bank
Adult Tawny Eagle

With the sun already set, two ellies arrive but we must hurry back to camp. A tough day.

Monday, 9th

Today we set out for the S30 Salitje Road at 4.30am. So slick is our routine now that from the time our alarm goes off at 4am we are at the gate by 4.20am – top marks to Renette. Again the sky is clear but the wind is due to swing around to the south cooling things a bit. Not far down the H4-1 Sabie River road we again come across two male lions lying in the gloom in the road – probably the same pair that we saw a few days ago.

.A quick coffee on the high level bridge and then quietly down the great Salitje Road. Today there are constant sightings of ellies, waterbuck, duiker, kudu, snorting impala, bushbuck, nyala, buffalo, wildebeest, hippo, giraffe, hyena, mongoose, zebra – in fact the animal life along the road is prolific.

As usual we turn at the empty ‘duck pond’ and retrace our steps arriving back at our favourite vantage point overlooking the Sabie river.

There are a lot of impala about and as we arrive a croc lunges at one at the water’s edge but misses. A herd of ellies next arrive to swim and drink.


A Goliath Heron is nest building nearby and is breaking off reeds and regularly flying past us.

Goliath Heron Nest Building

However, our croc has not given up on his quest for his meal of impala. He has taken up residence in a deep inlet and whenever an impala comes near submerges ready to pounce.

He therefore gives me ample warning of his intentions when an unwary impala comes to drink and I am poised for my shot. The croc explodes from the water but just then another impala jumps in front, my camera’s focus shifts off the croc and I lose what would have been a photo that one dreams about.. The “big one that got away”. Bitterly disappointed I must wait for another day. Wildlife photography can be very trying at times.

We had an absolutely wonderful morning, full of non-stop action all set in the most perfect environment. But I do confess to being disappointed at having lost out on my croc photo.

Today is cooler and the maximum temperature reaches 36℃. After our customary swim we set out for the De Laporte water trough again. For photography, the light direction is right, the water is close enough for good shots and it is conveniently close to camp.

After yesterday, there are no animals around but it is nevertheless the most pleasant of places. At 6.05pm just as we are about to pack up, Renette spots a leopard approaching. Quite unconcerned about our presence, she comes right up to the trough and drinks her fill.

All the time this leopard is glancing nervously over her shoulder and I wonder if a lion is in the offing. Suddenly she bolts away from water to the shelter of some bush. With time against us, we start up to return to camp but a most alert Renette spots a second leopard, a large male, lying under some bushes.

It was obviously he who had intimidated the first leopard causing her to flee. What a day and so typical of Kruger. When things are quiet and one begins to get despondent – wallop – the unexpected happens. And therein lies the great appeal of Kruger – its unlimited possibilities.