Travelling in the Time of Covid – Kruger National Park – A Very Long Day

Monday 16 November 2020

Today we are awake before the sun. It is 3:45 am and I drag myself up and get ready for departure. We are going to Malelane. The Ford Everest needs to have its 15 000 kilometer service. It had too few kilometers on the clock before we left and will have too many when we get back.

We leave Satara at 4:30 am. Malelane Gate is 4 hours away. We could go out at Orpen Gate and take the R40. But the Earl says, “I don’t know the road.” He imagines it’s full of traffic, potholes, hijackers and other terrors lurking to get him.
“We’re not even stopping for leopards,” declares my over anxious spouse.

So the first thing we see – hyaena. There are lots of them including puppies. He drives around them and won’t stop. I tell him he’s being ridiculous and take a shot while the vehicle is moving.

Who can resist this cute little creature – there were abaout six of them

The speed limit on the tar is 50 km per hour. The Earl wants to make it to Malelane by 8:30 otherwise he will be in a queue and his service will be delayed. I tell him a few minutes at a special sighing won’t make that much difference but he is afraid we won’t make it back to Satara by 6:30 this evening.

“Of course we will!” I insist but he has speed control on and he is not about to put his foot on the brake.

”Watch out, ” I yell. ”Road Block!”

A pride of 11 are quite unconcerned that a desperate man needs to get to Malelane!

The Earl is stunned. “What do I do now?”

I am laughing my head off and just can’t stop. Any other day and we’d be thrilled but just because we’re on a mission the rulers of the park have other ideas.

My poor husband is not amused.
Slowly and carefully he manoeuvres around and through them. One or two grumpily get out the way.

What’s your problem – First you complain that we’re hiding away and now we show ourselves and you just want to run away!

He breathes a sigh of relief only to get another surprise a few meters later – the rest of the pride also lying on the road!
Finally he makes it round them too.
I’m still laughing.

More members of the big five appear. First a rhinoceros! He stares right at us and then turns and runs the other way.

Fine – if that’s the way you feel I’ll just go away!

Cars are stopped up ahead and we are held up for an entire minute. I ask what they’ve seen. A leopard has just jumped down from a tree. The earl finds a way through the traffic jam and does not bother to look for it. We drive straight on😱

Next we see a huge herd of buffalo. Much to the Earl’s relief just a few dash across the road to join the gang who have already done so.

Seriously? You don’t want to greet us?

In spite of these tiny delays we make it to Malelane by 8:30 on the dot. The car is checked in and we get a lift to Wimpy where we have breakfast. After that we walk to a nearby mall and find a shoe shop. We each buy a pair of plakkies with soles that are resistant to thorns!

We then walk back to Ford and wait another hour until the car is ready. Before we drive back to Satara we do a quick shop at Spar. It is 12 noon when we start our return trip. The Earl is now a happy man. The onboard computer has been reset and he can now relax that he won’t upset his maintenance plan by being late to service. Our return trip is far more relaxed.

The temperature is now in the high thirties so of course the animals are hiding in the shade. But we still have some interesting sightings.

We watch a drongo bother this tawny in the tree. The eagle fights back by striking him with its beak!

We stop at Tshokwane picnic site for coffee and cake.

A croissant for me and melktert for him

We also buy buffalo pies for dinner.

These two are hanging out together
These humans should really close the tap properly if they don’t want me to take advantage of a free drink

We stop at Mazithi Dam which is not as busy as the last time we were there.

This hamerkop has caught a frog
One of the Big Six birds to see – Saddle-billed Stork

It is 4:30 pm when we arrive back at Satara. We have been out for twelve hours!

A curious Southern Tree Agama has come to check out the Gecko

So now I’m all caught up with my blogging. It’s early to bed tonight.

6 thoughts on “Travelling in the Time of Covid – Kruger National Park – A Very Long Day

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