Tag Archive for South Africa

Warming up in Kruger (2.1)

We woke up early on Thursday the 23rd. Even though we were still quite tired, we had a long drive ahead (Mopani) and wanted to get an early start. The weather was lovely and we left Skukuza with great expectations 😉
Our first full day in the park … what would we see?

Would we see sable, leopard in tree, lion …?

Sable Antelope

Sable Antelope

Leopard

Leopard in Tree

Lion

… uhm … yes.

We came across the herd of Sable Antelope on the H1-2, about 45 minutes after we left Skukuza. I think there must have been around 15 antelope in the herd. There were quite a few young ones too. I was mega excited about this super sighting and clicked away.  But they stayed in the bush, so I couldn’t get a clear shot. Not to worry, we got to see the elusive Sable Antelope again. Yay.

Several cars whizzed by, unaware of the uniqueness of this sighting. Just as we were about to drive on, we were flagged down by kindred spirits who told us about the leopard in tree a few kilos further on. Our smiles got even bigger and we drove on, windows open, enjoying the lovely weather, bird sounds and cool African breeze until we spotted 5 cars on the side of the road. Yep. LIT. (leopard in tree)

Leopard in Tree

We stayed with the lazy leopard for about 15 minutes, and then drove on towards our first pit stop of the day: Tshokwane Picnic Spot, where we arrived at 7 for a quick stop and stretch.

.. to be continued ..

Warming up in Kruger (1)

After a false start – our plane didn’t leave due to heavy snowfall in Amsterdam on Friday the 17th – we finally arrived in South Africa for our two weeks of sun, sundowners & safari. Because we departed three days later than planned, we had to reschedule the booked accommodation. Many thanks to José for quickly booking us into the Airport Game Lodge at Jo’burg, to Trish & SANParks (Nedret & Joep) for helping me rescheduling our itinerary and to Cars for helping us with our rental.

After landing at Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport the next day, we picked up our car and did some shopping in Nelspruit. We only got a few essentials – cool box, ice, meat, veggies, biltong, chili bites and DEET – and quickly drove on, as I can spend HOURS in big supermarkets if I get the chance.  We entered Kruger via Numbi gate [map], where we were greeted by Woodland kingfishers (first lifer for Foeke). And there we were, in beautiful green, green Kruger National Park.

Because of the rescheduling, we missed out staying in lovely Satara and bushveld camp Shimuwini. We were too tired to drive up north on Wednesday, so opted for a night in Skukuza instead.

After getting our permit, we slowly drove up the H1-1 to Skukuza, where cold beer was waiting for us. Our first good sighting was a rhino pretending to be a hippo:

Square-lipped rhinoceros

Square-lipped rhinoceros

It was standing in a pool of water, enjoying a couple of hours of natural skin therapy. Further along the road we saw another ‘white’ rhino. This one had a wound just below its eye. Perhaps it had been in a fight.
The next exciting sighting was a lifer for both of us, the lovely Pin-tailed Whydah.

Pin-tailed Whydah

Vidua macroura

Next was another lifer, the European Roller. Imagine going all the way to Africa to see a European bird.

We then saw two juvenile elephants, playing in a little pool of water. It was great to see water everywhere, in August the park is always bone dry.

European Roller

European Roller

The final great sighting of the day was a pretty European Bee-eater.

European bee-eater

European bee-eater

We arrived at Skukuza where we cracked open a Windhoek lager, lit the braai and had boerewors for dinner. We then collapsed in our little bungalow (no 82) and slept the night away ’til the Hadeda woke us at dawn.

Kruger windmill

Windmill Kruger National Park

This is a typical old windmill in Kruger National Park. They don’t all have nests of course 😀
I think this might be a Hamerkop nest.  Anyway, this windmill pumps water into a drinking trough for animals.

Between 1930 and 1980 about 300 windmills were erected to attract more game into the area. At first this seemed a good idea, but in the late 1980’s KNP management noticed that animal numbers began to change dramatically. Rare species like the Sable Antelope, Roan and Reedbuck began to decrease.

The park has started to close the waterholes to let nature take its course, although around 50 boreholes will remain open for tourism purposes.

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