The question about when the best time to visit is a difficult one to answer. Any time is good. If you are a keen birdwatcher then summer is definitely the best because the migrant birds will be here. If you can’t take extreme heat then rather come between May and August. The days will be warm and dry but the nights will be quite chilly. Summer is the rainy season so it is very green and the grass is high making it a little trickier to see the animals. They are very good at hiding away. We have been at least once during each season and for us, in spite of the heat, we prefer summer. November is great because there are usually lots of baby animals too. It is the beginning of the rainy season and when it rains it cools everything down too.
Today it was clear and sunny with just the odd fluffy white cloud skidding across the sky. At 6 am it was 20 degrees C but by mid-morning it had risen to the hight thirties and even got as high as 40 at Lower Sabie! We cope with the heat because we have air con in the car and also in the caravan!
When I stepped outside the caravan this morning I was greeted by one of the locals.
We left Skukuza at six o’clock and returned at quarter to two. There is little point being out in the heat of the day as the animals and birds are not very active then.
We were really pleased the sun was out as the birds were really active during the first part of our trip. Their tantalising calls had us stopping and seeking and becoming really frustrated when they sang and sang but would not show themselves. Others show themselves but refuse to pose for the blog. Hower, we were happy to enjoy the speckled mousebirds, a green-winged pytilia (Melba Finch), crested francolin and swainson’s francolin before turning off onto the H4-1 at 6:25. These guys did pose for us.
Before long, on the H4-1 we saw a small traffic jam ahead.
We had a total of three lion sightings today but one was so far away it would be embarassing to show the photograph. However, with our binoculars we could clearly see five on a buffalo kill. They were under a tree in the Sabie valley.
The other had such a traffic jam around them that we simply weaved our way through and drove on. There were also five there.
We were far more interested when we came across two vultures on a nest.
At eight o’clock we stopped for a leg-stretch at Nkulu picnic site. It has beautiful views across the river and sometimes the trees hold some surprises.
While looking for another puffback in one of the trees, I spotted a chinspot batis. He pretended to pose but just as I clicked he flew off and hid behind the foliage. I am sure he went off to tell his friends all about this crazy women chasing him with a camera.
The call of the fish eagle always gives me a thrill and we heard one several times. We saw a few of them too but none of the photos are worthy of being displayed here. I am sure the perfect one will present itself soon.
We continued our journey to Lower Sabie rest camp and came across a hyaena. He was pulling at some carrion but took off in the direction opposite than that in which we were travelling. I didn’t think it worth snapping his bottom through a dusty back window.
Instead I’ll show the cute grey duiker that did not run away.
My favourite animal, the giraffe, never disappoints. He is a natural model and always poses beautifully.
Before entering the camp we stopped briefly at the famous Sunset Dam where we saw our first hippos and crocodiles of the trip.
A big treat for us was seeing both the male and female Diederick’s cuckoo
Lower Sabie’s Mug and Bean restaurant overlooks the river and we found a table with a good enough view. I don’t usually like the Mug and Bean or Bug and Mean as I call it but this one is actually quite good. We enjoyed scrambled eggs, bacon and tomato and an excellent cup of coffee.
It was 10:45 and very hot when we started our return journey so there was not much bird or animal activity. Even so we had some interesting encounters.
When we got back to Skukuza, we went to the shop to get some R5 coins for the laundry. I also bought a new sarong as I had forgotten to pack one.
We are camped closest to ablution, laundry and camp kitchen number 6. Unfortunately Laundry 6 has lost its machines and so I had to go to number 7 which is a bit further away – at the tented camp to be exact. The machines take two new R5 coins. The dryer also needs two R5 coins. I don’t think R20 for a load of washing is too extravagant. Within an hour and a half it was all done a dusted. While it was in progress I edited my photos.The Earl had a nap while I did laundry etc, when he awoke we went to the pool for a swim and the decided to go there to Kruger Station for dinner.
The old station has been converted into a restaurant and it is really awesome. The staff are friendly and attentive and this evening it was not overly busy. We ordered pizza – warthog sausage, bacon, cheese and avo. I think it was R118 each. It was really one of the best pizzas I have ever had and I am fussy.