Gecko #81 Goes to Kruger – Skukuza

4 December 2019

We did not have a thunderstorm last night, but it did rain and the rain continued on and off all day today.  This has cooled things down completely but is one ever satisfied?   When the sun shines, photography is easier – as long as the sun is behind you of course, unlike yesterday when my lion/hyaena/vulture sighting was taken into the sunlight.

This morning we set off a little later as it was cooler.  It was an exciting drive with a few very exciting experiences.  Unfortunately, they were fast and brief and impossible to capture on camera and so, dear reader, you will have to picture the scene in your head.

First up we noticed a young man in a small vehicle pointing his camera determinedly into the bush.  We pulled up next to him.  “What have you spotted?”  I asked.

“A leopard slipped past me on the road and he’s behind the tree!”

Oooh – a leopard – exciting.   We stared and stared.  He kept moving his camera but eventually, he told me – “He’s gone.   I can’t see him anymore.” And he drove on.

We started to move too and then I yelled, “Stop!”   I could see the leopard, running swiftly away from us, through the trees and then he was gone!   No photograph and the Earl being on the other side of the car missed him.  Oh dear!  “If there’s no photograph, it didn’t happen!” they say.  But I don’t go with that.  I saw him even if it was only his back view!

Our next sighting was my worst kind.   As we approached the bridge that crosses the Sabi River we saw a jam of jeep jockeys and other vehicles.  Nobody was moving an inch. We managed to see that they were all looking at a lioness with a cub or two under a tree doing very little else than flicking a tail or twitching an ear.  Why not take your photo and simply move on so others can enjoy the sighting too!   But no, they stay put for hours, looking at the most boring scene ever.   I took a bum shot and we wiggled our way out of there.

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Imagine staring at this for half an hour!

On the bridge, I yelled, “Stop”  And way more exciting than a sleeping lioness was a beautiful saddle-billed stork trying to catch his breakfast.  Now he is a beautiful bird and nobody was stopping traffic to look at him!

IMG_6677 Saddle-billed Stork female 2019-12-04 6-48-56 AM 2019-12-04 6-48-56 AM
Such beauty is hard to find

We continued our drive and spotted this and that and took some poor photographs.  In fact today I hit an all-time low on photographs.   Granted I usually take way too many and end up having to edit and delete up to 300 at a time.  This morning, I got 36!

IMG_6678 Brown Snake-eagle 2019-12-04 7-00-47 AM
This wet brown snake-eagle looks better in sepia
IMG_6681 Male Impala fighting 2019-12-04 7-20-58 AM
Male impalas competing for dominance
IMG_6687 Hyaena 2019-12-04 7-33-33 AM
We actually saw two hyaena – I missed the first one – does this one count?
IMG_6691 Bateleur immature 2019-12-04 7-43-03 AM
Immature Bateleur – I am longing to get his parents to pose!
P1190076 Lappet-faced Vulture 2019-12-04 7-41-56 AM
Lappet-faced Vulture

IMG_6700 Jacobin Cuckoo 2019-12-04 8-25-55 AM

P1190077 Giraffe 2019-12-04 8-05-38 AM
Gerry
P1190074 Tortoise 2019-12-04 7-36-02 AM
Not a leopard but a leopard tortoise
IMG_6692 Road Block 2019-12-04 7-55-58 AM
This is my most hated scene – on our return to Skukuza – still a traffic jam on the bridge

We worked our way through the traffic jam and quickly took a shot or two of the lioness and her cubs.  This time we could see they were on a kill.

IMG_6696
I just got a glimpse of the babies
P1190078
The Earl got a lovely close up of Mom

One jeep jockey started making way for us to leave and another came to block us off but decided better of it and reversed to let us through!  Phew – we dashed off as soon as possible.

Just as we rounded the corner we saw impala on the left, running at full speed.  “Something’s chasing them,” said the Earl.

“A hyaena!” I shouted and we watched him lope at an incredible speed after his prey.   Impala dashing, hyaena chasing, losing sight as trees got in the way until I called, “He’s got a lamb!”   Without slowing he’d grabbed a baby and continued running with her in his jaws.   We watched him veer left and disappear into the bush.

The Earl turned the Everest around and took a side street but it wound the wrong way – we would not be able to see where he went with his prey.

Oh, poor Mommy Impala – she must be devastated!   Nature is so cruel.

With hearts beating in our mouths we continued home to Skukuza and our own breakfast at  Cattle Baron.  It was a buffet and very good.  The coffee was excellent.

One cannot believe that it was 44 degrees C yesterday and today’s high reached no more than 17!   The rain continued and it is oh so good for the park.   It’s that continuous, steady, soaking in kind of rain – not the what the hell type of deluge of the thunderstorm variety.

We went out again this afternoon but did not expect to see very much.  However, it seems that hyaenas like rain because we saw a few.  We also saw lots of impala with their babies, one or two waterbuck and of course returned to the lion sighting both on our way there and on our way back.

IMG_6717
Barn Swallows settled close to the ground to catch insects that were too wet to fly

IMG_6702

IMG_6758
The baby lambs are so cute

 

IMG_6754
Our cousins were trying to be human

 

IMG_6739
Family Portrait

 

IMG_6767
Hyaena looking for a snack

 

P1190081
Lion still asleep

 

IMG_6725
A treeful of Little Bee-eaters

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photography was not easy because of the rain and the poor light but we enjoyed the coolness.

In the evening we went to Cattle Baron for dinner. The Earl had ribs and I had chateaubriand which is the best in the country.

We met a father and son who are ex-pats now living in Australia.  They come back every year to visit the park.   There is no place like home!

Tomorrow we are heading to Malane to take the caravan to have its wheel bearings checked.   We will be in Berg en Dal for two nights after that.

 

 

Published by puppy1952

I am making the most of the South African Lifestyle and hope with my blog to share some of the adventures my husband and I are having in our retirement. We live at the Southern Tip of Africa in the small coastal town of Struisbaai. Earl and I have a Gecko off-road caravan and we travel around South Africa frequently. We are bird and wild life enthusiasts so are often in game reserves.

2 thoughts on “Gecko #81 Goes to Kruger – Skukuza

  1. Having visited the KNP in what looked like post-apocolyptic conditions, I am pleased that the rain is having a beneficial effect on the vegetation. Soft soaking rain is best.

    Like

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