Travelling in the time of Covid – Kruger National Park – Day 1- Skukuza

Yesterday we arrived at Heins Farm Resort at about 3:30 pm. It is situated right on the N11 just outside Ermelo so is a convenient overnight stay on the way to KNP. There are cabins and camping sites which are very neat but the ablutions could do with an upgrade. The kitchen facilities are also very basic but we enjoyed our stay there. There is no restaurant but they do have a hall with a bar where you can go for sundowners. They also cater for functions and when we arrived they were preparing for a 21st birthday party.

Our campsie

It was a tad chilly from 4 pm onwards and when we woke this morning it was raining. We left at 5:30 am and at times drove through mist but when we got to Malelane it had cleared up although it was still overcast. We had a Wimpy breakfast and shopped at Pick ‘n Pay before entering at Malelane Gate just after 10.

Approaching Malelane Gate
Elation as we enter Malelane Gate

Check in involved sanitising, having temperatures taken and filling in a Covid form at an outside desk before going into reception. It all went quickly and efficiently and within 20 minutes we were driving towards Skukuza. What joy to be in my favourite place in the world again.

There was still a way to go to Skukza. As we were towing a caravan we stuck to the tar roads and did not take any loops or diversions. It limits you from getting the best viewing as you can’t stop suddenly or reverse into a better position so we try to get to camp as quickly as possible so we can unhitch and get settled and then devote attention to seeking the wildlife.

Skukuza Gate

We always try to guess what our first sighting will be – usually it’s impala but today the Earl called out – warthog! And there on the side of the road was a mother with tiny piglets. However, they were not interested in posing for Adventures into Retirement! Other creatures I wished to feature were a little reluctant too but I wouldn’t take no for an answer.

Wildebeest too relaxed to bother
A klipspringer all high and mighty
A giraffe too engrossed in browsing

As we approached Kwagga Waterhole we saw an Egyptian geese and were going to just drive on when the Earl said, “Elephant approaching” and there in the distance a whole troop, with trunks in the air came lolloping down for a drink.

This lot couldn’t wait to get to the water!
At least these girls had a zest for life

We arrived at Skukuza at about 12:30 and check in went very smoothly. The campsite was quite full but we found a suitable site and within the hour we were nicely set up for our eight-night stay here.

Last year the pathway to the ablutions had potholes but we were delighted to see that these have been fixed. The ablutions are clean and functioning well too.

There was a chorus of bird song once we’d settled down for a refreshing drink and some were polite enough to sit still and greet us.

The collared sunbird was not easy to snap
But the blue waxbill was very photogenic
And the dark-capped bulbul showed off constantly

Later in the afternoon we took a short drive to Lake Panic Hide. There was a sign on the gate indicating that no more than 10 people were allowed in at a time. And sure enough the benches had huge crosses on the sections that were to kept bum free! The lake has suffered due to drought and the activity which is usually very lively and exciting has dwindled considerably. We didn’t even see the weavers who are usually very active at their nests which overhang the water. After three quarters of an hour we had enjoyed all that was there.

Lake Panic
Egyptian Goose showing his lovely colours
Blacksmith Lapwing
African Black Crake
Female Pied Kingfisher\
Male Pied Kingfisher
Green-backed Heron
Squacco Heron
Water Thick-knees – Spot the baby

There was also a fish eagle and a few jacanas about but they were too far away to photograph. The hippos were conspicuous by their absence.

At Heins yesterday we met another two caravanners who are also now at Skukuza and while our dinner was cooking we invited them to join us for sundowners. Although the day had been cool with temperature not rising above 24 degrees C, the evening was still quite warm. After a lovely chat our friends left and we enjoyed the Romosca Chicken which was done to perfection. And now as I write I can hear the laughter of hyaena. What a privilege to be here and to hear the sounds of the bush at night. A bad day in Kruger beats a good day at home every time.

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.

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