Tag Archive for Woodland Kingfisher

Warming up in Kruger – Christmas Day

A Woodland Kingfisher woke us up on Christmas Day. How’s that for a Christmas present?

Woodland Kingfisher

We had a relaxed breakfast on our veranda, taking our time – not having to check out until 10. It was already getting pretty hot and humid. After cleaning and packing up, we drove off with the airco on to cool off a bit. The plan was to drive to Sirheni via Shingwedzi, where we would stop for lunch.

Tropic of Capricorn

We passed the Tropic of Capricorn, just north of Mopani and took the obligatory tourist photo. We were in the tropics! We almost melted when we got out the car, so we quickly went back inside. (Wikipedia says the tropic drifts north at the rate of almost half a second of latitude, which is about 15 metres per year. Someone’ d better move that plaque up a bit!)

River view

We didn’t see many animals, except mopani worms crossing the road.  We just loved driving through the scenic landscape, still amazed by the beauty of it all.

Palm tree

We arrived at Shingwedzi for lunch. The picnic spot at Shingwedzi was packed, but the restaurant wasn’t too busy. We both had Chicken mayo tramezzini for Xmas brunch. We had to roll ourselves to the car after that. Nom.

Meanwhile, it was getting hotter and more humid. Dark clouds were gathering and it looked like we might get a thunderstorm.

 

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.