Breaking Free from Lockdown. Day 39 -A Big Five Kinda Day

Today we were supposed to travel in tandem with Cathy and Alec but we left slightly earlier and planned to meet up on the road. But the best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry. The Earl and I checked out the waterhole at the end of the S110 before doing the Matjulu loop. There was nothing going on there and instead of waiting for Cathy and Alec to catch up we carried on. Bad choice! When they arrived they got the most amazing sighting which delayed them for another half an hour. To cut a long story short, things just didn’t go according to plan. We went on ahead to Crocodile Bridge and when they failed to catch us up on the road we guessed they’d been delayed by something exciting. When we got to Crocodile Bridge we called them to say not to try to catch up as the road was bad. Luckily they were in a spot where they could get cell reception.

We had had some awesome sightings and so had they so I am making this a two part report. I will showcase all Cathy’s fabulous photos in Part 1 and in Part 2 I will report on what happened to the Earl and me.

Part 1 Cathy and Alec’s Awesome Sightings

As I have told you before Alec and Cathy have not had much luck with leopard sightings in Kruger in the past. Earlier on in this trip they did get to see one walking toward them but the photos were not great. Today all that was to change. They arrived at the waterhole just minutes after we had left and had the most amazing leopard sighting anyone could wish for. I am going to let Cathy’s photos tell the story.

HI Alec, I’m here at last
I’m not going anywhere just yet. Cathy, I’m here for a photo shoot!
This is my good side
Is this pose okay?
I can’t pout but don’t you love my lip licking?
How about the twisted look?
I wonder what this is? Oh – just a stone. I can’t eat that
I think I’ll roll about a bit – the mud is a good beauty treatment you know
That was lovely
Well it was great seeing you guys – but now it’s time to go
See you next year!

When they told us all about their day, Alec said that sighting made his holiday and nothing else mattered from then on. However, they continued to have some lovely sightings the photos of which are shown below.

Rhino at Gardenia Hide
A stunning malachite kingfisher
And a white-fronted bee-eater
A warthog having a mud bath
Raafie cannot be left out

Part 2 A Long Day for Earl and Helen

We left camp about twenty minutes before Alec and Cathy and what a difference timing can make to a day. However, although we missed the awesome waterhole leopard – the famous Berg-en-Dal leopard, I think, that is often seen near the camp, we did have a great day ourselves. Our plan was to travel the dirt roads to Crocodile Bridge, have breakfast there and then return on dirt roads too. BUT some of those roads are just not comfortable to ride on so we decided to return the long way round on mostly tar roads. This meant we were out from 07:15 to 17:00 making it a pretty tiring day.

Out first sighting of the day was a giraffe. Many more showed up during the day
Some more of my favourite creature

On the S118 near Wimpie’s Waterhole we found one of the Big Five

How sad that he has had his horn removed. But at least he is now safe from poachers.

Cathy and Alec saw rhino at Gardenia Hide but they weren’t there earlier. However, we did watch some little birds outside the hide.

Jameson’s Firefinch

On the S119 we saw Jim and Maureen’s stationery vehicle and guessed they were looking at something exciting. As we drew nearer I saw exactly what they were peering at.

A headless leopard!

They had been with the leopard for a while and had taken some good photos of it looking at them. After a chat with us they left and we slipped into their spot. I would not let the Earl leave until the leopard showed us her face. After ten minutes she lifted her head, then stood up and stretched before turning around and facing the other way.

She decided to be polite and gave us quite a few lovely photo opportunities. At this stage we did not know where Cathy and Alec were. We called on the walkie-talkie – no response. We phoned – no response either. Later we when we phoned them from Crocodile Bridge they answered and were at this very scene, their second leopard sighting of the day. However, at that time she was fast asleep and did not look at them. After their morning at the waterhole they didn’t mind at all.

Hello, fans – Nice to see you.

After spending some time with the beautiful leopard we moved on toward Crocodile Bridge and had some lovely encounters on the way.

This little guy tried to scare us by flapping his ears, waving his trunk and trumpeting.
We just thought he was cute.
Warthogs and impala were about as usual
A lovely bateleur posed for us

We arrived at Crocodile Bridge at 11 o’clock. There is no restaurant there but you can buy sandwiches or pies from the shop and there is a verandah where you can sit to enjoy your snack with a good cup of coffee made on the premises.

On our return trip on the tar roads we stopped in at Sunset Dam near Lower Sabie Rest Camp.

The elephants were enjoying a drink
And bufflaalo were having fun too.
We enjoyed the Common Waxbills that were flitting about
Crocodiles and hippos were soacking up some sun

Driving next to the Sabie River was rewarding. We saw large herds of buffalo, hundreds of elephant, kudu, impala, giraffe and zebra.

This guy did not want to get out of the way
His herd looked on and did nothing to encourage him off the road.
Just a few of the many elephants that were about
It was the middle of the day when lion low lie but we managed to spot this one

We also saw a big male lion walk through the bush and flop down out of sight.

There were many other animals and birds that we kept stopping for as we continued our long trip home but I think I have posted enough for today.
Sadly tomorrow is our last day and we plan to do a short morning drive so that we have the afternoon free to get ready for the long trek home.

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