Category Archives: Kruger National Park

Breaking Free from Lockdown. Day 44. Kleinplaas to Home

The further south we travelled the colder it became. We were on our way back to winter! This morning at 06:00 it was 5 degrees C and it didn’t rise very much until midday.

We all felt that we’d come to the end of the lollipop and our hearts went plop! The road trip was over. This last leg of the journey was the shortest drive we had to do. We followed Route 62 and stopped at Barrydale’s Country Pumpkin for breakfast. The sun was shining and it was warmer to sit outdoors at a sunny table than inside where it was very cold. We ordered our coffees/teas and enjoyed the warming effect of the hot liquid. When the waitress took our breakfast order she informed us that as we were caravanners we got our first cup free! Good on you Country Pumpkin for being so nice to caravanners! I was the only one to order a second cup. We all had omelettes which were absolutely delicious . They were served with sweet potato crisps and a small pumpkin fritter.

Two Geckos parked outside The Country Pumpkin in Barrydale

From then on we travelled the picturesque Tradeaux pass and it was once again a pleasure not to play dodge the pothole! Western Cape roads are in good condition.

Finally we turned onto the homeward road.

When we got to Bredasdorp we stopped to say an emotional goodbye before splitting to go to our respective homes in Napier and Struisbaai. You really become close to your friends when you spend forty-four days together!

Other friends, Yolandi and Carl and their daughter, Lisa had been staying in our house while waiting to move into their new home in Napier. Yesterday Yolandi sent a cryptic message to the Earl, “Ollie and Benji can’t wait to meet you.” Who were Ollie and Benjy? Hint – The Earl is a bunny hugger!

Hello, We love your garden. Please can this be our new forever home? Benji in front Ollie behind

Of course the Earl was over the moon. I was less so – who would look after them when we travel? We have been assured that a bunny-sitter, living nearby has already been found.

We like it here!

What a lovely end to our adventure.

Thank you all for following our adventure. I hope those of you who have never been to KNP feel the urge to put this wonderful reserve on your bucket list. Should you wish to find out more about booking a Sanparks Holiday, see my tips here.

Dankie aan al die Gecko Familielede wat elke dag saam met ons gery het. Dankie vir die pragitge kommentare op WhatsApp en FaceBook. Ek hoop dat die inligting wat ek ingesluit het, nuttig is.

Tot volgende keer – Totsiens.

PS A fellow blogger, Bushboy, from Australia asked what Bobotie (which I ate for dinner last night) is, so for my non-South African readers here is a brief explanation.

Bobotie is a curried mince dish with a milk and egg custard poured over and baked in the oven. It was imported from Indonesia in the seventeenth century then adapted by the Cape Malay community whose origins are from Indonesia and Malaysia. Click on the caption for a recipe.

Recipe for Bobotie

Breaking Free from Lockdown. Day 43. Gariep to Kleinplaas

We left Forever Resort, Gariep Dam at 07:30.

Goodbye Gariep
On the road again

Our route took us through the towns of Colesberg, Middleberg, Graaff-Reinet and Willowmore to Oudtshoorn where we are spending the night at Kleinplaas Caravan Park. The roads were amazing and we did not have to play Dodge the Pothole or Pass the Truck.

We filled up with fuel at Caltex Colesberg, found their restaurant and shop closed so continued to Shell Ultra City for breakfast at their Steers. The further south we travelled the cooler the weather became. It was lunchtime when we arrived at Willowmore where we filled up at Engen and then went to a quaint little coffee shop called Kapoet. Some of these small town have the loveliest ideas when decorating their shops. This coffee shop sold a variety of crafts, beauty products, confectionery and jams etc. The Earl and Alec went straight over to the confectionery section to see what was on offer. There were so many wonderful things in the shop that the Earl ended up spending more money than he intended on some specialty meats. Finally we sat down to tea/coffee and pancakes – cinnamon for Cathy and Alec and Spinach and Feta for the Earl and me. If you’re travelling through Willowmore with a caravan there is enough room to park in the street outside and Kapoet is well worth a visit.

Kapoet is an Afrikaans word which loosely translated means finished, at the end of your tether, defeated, So here you can refresh yourself
Lots of tempting products on offer
A wonderful place to stop and relax and enjoy a snack

We arrived at Kleinplaas at 16:00. Kleinplaas has lovely well-laid out, shady campsites. At reception they suggested we share a campsite so it cost half of what it would have. You are given a key to the ablution block and they are pristine. Kleinplaas is highly recommended as a stopover place in Oudtshoorn.

It was a little drizzly and cool so we decided not to order pizza and sit outside to eat as we did the last time we stayed here. Instead we went to Nostalgie. Alec was not feeling well so he did not accompany us. Cathy had the lamb shank – delicious. Earl had an ostrich fillet burger – divine and I had the best bobotie I’ve ever eaten. The restaurant is an old 80 year old converted house consisting of different rooms so when one is full they open another. The service was friendly, quick and efficient and you felt you were being entertained in somebody’s home. We just loved it.

Old hats decorating the walls of the room we had at Nostalgie

Tomorrow will be the last leg of our long, wonderful holiday.

Breaking Free from Lockdown. Day 42. Moreson to Forever Resort – Gariep

Sorry everyone but I got the name of the place we stayed at wrong in my post yesterday. It is not Sonop but Moreson which is 10 km outside the town of Vrede in the Free State. I have made the corrections.

As I stepped out of the caravan this morning, I spotted a little scrub hare hopping across the path and into the bush. It was a lovely start to the day.

The Earl got a lovely shot of the sunrise

We were on the road by 07:15 and once again rattled over the awful road until we joined the R34 then R103 to Warden. From there we travelled the R714 to Bethlehem before turning onto the N5 to Senekal and on to Winberg where we took the N1 to Gariep. On all of the R roads we played Dodge the Pothole, a dangerous game that was no fun at all. But we survived and changed the game to Follow the Truck and Pass When You Can which was frustrating as you simply couldn’t win but it was a tad less dangerous than the previous game.

A highlight of the trip, though, was our stop at Senekal Padstal. It is right on the N5 and has plenty of parking for caravans. The men were delighted to find a variety of confectionery on sale and indulged a few packets of crunchies, ginger snaps and soet koekies. Our breakfast was fluffy scrambled eggs, delicious pork sausages, bacon, tomato and toast at a very reasonable R60 per person including large mugs of excellent coffee.

It was indeed a long walk to the toilets
A lovely spot with a shop selling confectionary and crafts
A relaxing place to chill and have a meal after a long drive

At Winberg a fellow Gecko owner who was not towing his caravan passed us and posted a message on the Gecko Family Whatsapp Group. The Earl noticed that a Ford Ranger with a CCC registration had zapped past us. He is observant that way! Nice to meet you Charl and Tillie. Hope you found a lovely place to stay over.

We arrived at Forever Gariep at 15:00, checked in and found two level caravan sites near the wonderful ablutions for which this camp is famous.

Two Geckos at Gariep
Gariep Dam

In the evening we went to the restaurant for dinner. The service was a little slow but the food was fine. The Earl had rooibok shank, Alec had chicken schnitzel and Cathy and I had Chicken Breast de la Casa. All were served with chips and salad.

Gariep Forever Resort is highly recommended as a stopover or a holiday destination. The facilities are great and there are many activities on offer for adults and children.

Breaking Free from Lockdown. Day 41. Berge-en-Dal to Moreson Ranch

Sadly today we left Kruger National Park and started on the first leg of our journey back to Struisbaai and Napier. The Earl and I were ready by 07:00 and left slightly ahead of Alec and Cathy. We drove slowly along the S110. My favourite creatures were there to bid us farewell.

See you next year

Just before we were due to turn off onto the H3 which would take us to the Malelane Gate we saw a line of cars moving very slowly toward us. But who were they following? The king and queen of Kruger.

What are all these cars doing on my road?
Stick close to me, darling.

But instead she broke away from him and passed right by my open window,

Goodbye Your Majesty – see you next time!

It was a heart stopping moment and a wonderful way to end our visit.

Alec and Cathy were slightly delayed by the giraffe crossing the road and they too saw the lions but by then they’d left the road and were wandering off into the bush.

We waited just outside the exit gate for them to catch up and then drove in tandem the rest of the way. We tried to find a place for breakfast in Carolina but there was nothing suitable so we pushed on to Chrissiesmeer. The restaurants we passed looked a bit dodgy until we found Lake Chrissie Lodge. Outside a sign announced that the pub was open. I went in to ask if they did breakfast and the barman went in search of somebody in charge of the kitchen. A charming young lady emerged and said they would cook breakfast for us. I summoned the others and she showed us to a lovely dining room, brought in some coffee and within 15 minutes presented us with scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage and chips. We were the only patrons and it was really kind of them to accommodate us. The breakfast was lovely.

The roads we travelled were mostly good until we got to Standerton and travelled the R546 to Vrede. We had to play ‘dodge the pothole’ all the way and then turned onto the most horrific road to get to Moreson Ranch. Before booking Cathy had asked what the road condition was like and the reply had been, “It’s fine. It’s a tar road.” Well it might once have been but now it’s a corrugated mess which shook us up and rattled our vehicles and caravans in the most unpleasant way. To add injury to insult we found the campsite less than satisfactory. We were the only caravanners there. Our sites had not been raked or cleaned of buck droppings and the private ablutions had not been cleaned. The electricity also tripped because of the hot water geyser not functioning properly. Cathy reported the problems to reception and after a while the farm manager, Peter, arrived to sort everything out. Two young women came to clean the ablutions and later Peter himself came with a bucket and mop to clean another ablution that we had to use because the hot water problem could not be fixed.

Our campsite has a lovely view across the valley but is spoiled by a full on view of the lions they have in captivity. This farm breeds lions, a practice that I just don’t approve of. I find it upsetting to see these lovely wild beasts living in enclosures, never being able to roam and hunt or do things that lions should do.

We went to the restaurant for dinner and all four of us had rump steaks with mushroom sauce, chips and salad. The food was good.

Peter told us that he has just taken over the managing of this establishment. He knows there is a lot wrong and he intends to sort out all the problems as soon as he can. It’s a matter of putting to rights the things that have been neglected due to past bad management. He is a lovely young man and we wish him luck but it’s doubtful that we will ever come down that dreadful road again so we will never see the progress.

Breaking Free from Lockdown. Day 40 – Last Day in KNP

It was very hot in Kruger today the maximum reaching 39 degrees C. Summer is definitely on the way! Kruger National Park winters are short and even then the days are warm while the early mornings and evenings are cool. We have really enjoyed the August weather having only had very few cold days.

On this our last day we first did a short drive to the waterhole and back, made breakfast, did a few chores and then went out for a longer drive at 11:00 and returning at 15:00. Cathy and Alec did a longer morning drive and did not go out in the afternoon. The middle of the day is not the best time to be driving in the park but it was good to be in an a air-conditioned vehicle and we had a few nice sightings.

The visit to the waterhole at the end of S114 produced flocks of grey headed sparrows, yellow-fronted canaries, quelea and golden-breasted bunting coming down to the water’s edge to drink.

Yellow-fronted Canaries
Golden-breasted bunting
White-fronted bee-eaters were flying around too
And along the road a brown-crowned tchagra posed beautifully

On S110 just before the turnoff to the H3 we found a honeymoon couple. The bride did not show herself properly but the groom did.

On his way to where she lay.
Did the Earth move for you too, darling?

We wanted to go to Gardenia hide but the elephants had other ideas for us.

The shade here and we’re not moving off this road so that you can pass!

Two other vehicles were waiting patiently. There was a narrow route past the big mamma and the Earl wanted to risk passing by. But I said, “No, I am not yet ready to die.” Fortunately he listened to me and turned around. You never know what these creatures might do if they feel their young are threatened.

There had been nothing at Wimpies Waterhole but on the way back we found buffalo having a swim.

There were lots of giraffe around too.

Goodbye giraffe, see you next year.

It has been wonderful as always to visit Kruger National Park. It is always the highlight of my year and I hope to be able to make many more trips while the Earl and I are fit and healthy enough to do so. Having our new Power Touch caravan movers is a great help and will probably mean we can caravan for longer than might otherwise be possible. It has been encouraging seeing a number of people still camping/caravanning well into their eighties.

Berg-en-Dal is without doubt a great place to camp but there are a few problems. One would think that with so many caravans having Porta Potties there would be a facility for their disposal but there isn’t. This is the only camp we have been to where there isn’t one and using the toilets for this purpose is just wrong.

The ablutions are clean but are in need of an upgrade. The taps at the basin don’t work properly. The shower cubicles are a bit small and there is a need for a rack for your shampoo and soap etc. They do not have mixer taps which makes getting the temperature right a bit tricky.

Many people use their own caravan bathrooms which is great but some do not manage their grey water correctly and instead of collecting run off water in a bucket they let it out under the caravan leaving a scummy mess for the camper who comes after them. Park management needs to make a rule about how people manage their water disposal.

We love the park but this year we have noticed that litter has become a bit of a problem. Never before have we seen toilet paper blowing about or hanging on a bush, but this year it was glaring. There are plenty of picnic sites with toilet facilities so it is seldom necessary to risk getting out of your car in the bush when there is an urgent call of nature. But if you have to why would you leave your loo paper behind. How difficult would it be for offenders to put a Zip-lock bag in the center of the cardboard roll for holding their disposed paper. Who do they think will clean up after them?

In spite of these small problems the park is still a wonderful place to be. The staff are cheerful and friendly and will go out of their way to help. Each main camp has a swimming pool, restaurant, shop, laundrette and petrol station. Just remember if you wish to visit the park, book well in advance especially if you wish to visit during school holidays.

Our Berg-en-Dal Campsite

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.

Breaking Free from Lockdown. Day 38 A Lion Kinda Day

Today we enjoyed mild temperatures with a low of 19 degrees C and a high of 25. The Earl and I left camp at half past seven and did the route that Cathy and Alec did yesterday while they tried some other roads.

We started on the Matjulu loop and stopped when we saw two stationary cars. “What have they seen?” asked the Earl. I scanned with my binoculars and spotted something half hidden by a bush – “Lion,” I said. But the Earl could not see it. However, he’d spotted his friend, Jim just up the hill and he headed toward him. “Don’t move!” I yelled. “We have a perfect spot here. The lion is moving.” But he ignored me and went to chat to JIm and Maureen who could just make out the lions from where they sat. I was not pleased to lose our spot and insisted the Earl return. Instead he continued to the dam at the end of the road.

“Stop,” I yelled. He thought I meant stop and turn back for the lions so he just drove on. “Stop, Bird!” I insisted. So he stopped and I got a photo of a brown snake-eagle.

Don’t worry about the lions.
Look at me!

It wasn’t far to the end of the road and the waterhole where the Earl intended to turn around but I hoped it wouldn’t be too late to see the cats. I didn’t want to delay the return but who can resist taking a quick look at a waterhole scene. There were zebra having their morning drink.

And then they bounded up the embankment to cross over in front of us.

Come on chaps – keep up.
Wait for me!

“Go, go, go!” I urged the Earl. We have to see the lions.

When we got back to the scene, Jim was still in his spot but the other cars except for one had gone.
“Oh no, they’re hiding behind the bush so now we won’t be able to see them,” I lamented. The Earl parked at the spot where I’d first seen one and low and behold a cub emerged from behind the bush and tried to chase an impala!

Unfortunately the impala was too quick for this young cub
Mom, I tried to catch breakfast but he got away

Soon a few more members of the family appeared. We watched them regroup and then they all ran across the road in front of us and disappeared into the bush.

Never mind baby, we’re going to hunt later. Watch and learn.
Come on everyone – time to go
Coming, Mom.
Who are those people?
Who cares- let’s get out of here.

All of this happened in half an hour and after the pride had disappeared into the bush we continued with on the S114 with Jim and Maureen following. We stopped to photograph some lovely Kudu standing on an outcrop of rocks and staring into the distance.

Do you see any lions, Kara? No Kelly – I think we’re safe.

At the end of the road, J&M went left and we continued along the Crocodile Bridge Road.

We found a heap of rhino but they were not coming out to play
These giraffe must be very young
So tiny compared to their mums.

Ground Hornbills seem to like us because they have appeared to say hello almost every day. We’re not complaining. They’re fascinating birds.

At half past nine we turned onto the Mlamambane Loop. We kept a close eye on the riverbed for animals and birds. Just ahead of us we noticed a single stationary car. We thought he might be birdwatching but as we got closer I spotted her – Lion – I called.

She was on the move and I thought she would disappear quickly
But instead she flopped down and stared at me

From where we were we could see a campervan parked in a loop closer to the river bed and, wondering what they were looking at, we went down to join them. When we came alongside them they told us that there were ten lions on the rocks to the left. It was a pride of several males, females and cubs. The males seemed to be very good dads and were allowing the cubs to pull on their manes and bite their ears and tails. It was wonderful to watch.

Spending time with Dad is such fun

Jim and Maureen appeared from the opposite direction and enjoyed the sighting with us.

I wonder where Lara has got to. I’d better go and find her.
Another female lying on a rock nearby
Enjoying some me time.
A curious cub wondering where his parents have gone

After spending some lovely time with this pride we continued to Gardenia Hide where we found a single male giraffe.

Gardenia waterhole

Some aliens were sunning themselves on the rocks. Seems they want to meet Uncle Cyril.

Take us to your leader!
How delicately the giraffe uses his lips and tongue to pick the best leaves.

Outside the hide we found a few birds flitting about

The prettiest was a golden breasted bunting
The red-billed firefinch was not very cooperative

By this time we were getting hungry so we made our way to Afsaal picnic site where we met up with Alec and Cathy. We told them about the lions on the Mlamambane Loop and they made their way to the scene after lunch but there were only two visible when they got there.

After lunch we visited Renoster Pan and found some impala, wildebeest, zebra, a Dark Chanting Goshawk and a Malachite Kingfisher.

Dark Chanting Goshawk
The gang having a gathering
Looking for a fishing opportunity
Yes, I know, I’m everywhere but aren’t I gorgeous

At another waterhole we enjoyed watching a giraffe drinking.

It’s a long way down for a drink of water
But fun to splash the oxpecker!

Just before getting back to Berg-en-Dal we saw elephants but the resident Berg-en-Dal leopard has still not made an appearance. Maybe tomorrow!

And that’s all folks.

Breaking Free from Lockdown. Day 37. An interruption

Today was the day that we had to take the car to Malelane to have ithe cracked windscreen replaced. We also decided to have the car serviced at Malelane Ford while we were at it. The service would be overdue by the time we get home in two week’s time. Once the car was booked in at 07:00 a driver dropped us at Wimpy. We ordered breakfast and then spent the morning entertaining ourselves on our devices. There was nothing else we could do until the car was ready at 14:00. We then did some shopping and returned to Berg-en-Dal. Our drive there and back through the park yielded the usual creatures namely elephant, giraffe, impala, warthogs and kudu.

While we were missing in action Cathy and Alec took a drive to Gardenia Hide. Here are some their day’s highlights.

Wattled Lapwing
What a funny chap the crested barbet is.
I wonder what line he’s going to use to pick up the girl
The biggies are always around
The groomers are always looking for work

In the evening we braaied pork chops. It was a stunning, still warm evening. And that is all for today everyone. See you again soon.

Breaking Free from Lockdown. Day 36. Pretoriuskop to Berg-en-Dal

It was moving day today. Getting the caravan safely from one camp to another before the roads become busy and finding the perfect camping site was the Earl’s prime objective so it was an early start for us today. It was 7 degrees C when we left but it warmed up considerably and by the time we reached Berg-en-Dal the mercury had climbed to the high twenties. We left ahead of Cathy and Alec at quarter to seven and arrived just after nine o’clock. Of course, as usual, on a day we did not want to be delayed, the animals had other plans for us.

The Earl did not want to stop for the four hyaena I saw but reluctantly obliged for a few seconds allowing me to take some unpostable photos. They were still there, with their pups, when Alec and Cathy came half an hour later. Cathy got some awesome shots.

Hi, your friends just passed by a few mintues ago
I don’t know why they didn’t stay to chat

Giraffe, zebra, impala and kudu simply waved at as we passed by but just before the turn-off to the H3 we stopped to see what two stationary cars were looking at. One drove off but the other pointed and said, “There’s a leopard walking through the bush.” Then he drove off.

We saw her immediately – no other cars were there
We thought she would climb into the tree but she was just scratching the bark and marking her territory
Then she came out of the bush toward the caravan.

If only we were not towing we could have turned around and followed her. There were no other vehicles in sight.

Sorry, I’m not staying to chat – places to go, impala to catch
And that was the last we saw of her. Anybody coming toward her would have a perfect sighting but it wasn’t going to be us!

The above shot by the Earl is a reflection in his side mirror

The creatures were all out to greet us this morning which was lovely to see but we only stopped to take a few photographs.

Giraffe are irresistable
Impala and zebra at Kwagga Dam
This might be a dark morph Wahlberg’s Eagle?

Alec and Cathy ran into some interesting sightings too. Our friends Jim and Maureen recognised their CS registration and Gecko caravan and realised they must be our travelling companions when they saw them at a very special sighing.

Give me a kiss you lovely creature.

When we arrived at Berg-en-Dal we found the campground to be very full. There was no chance of getting a perimeter site but we found a fairly suitable one not too far from an ablution. It turned out later that it was close to Jim and Maureen too. We were all set up by the time Cathy and Alec arrived. The rhino had delayed them somewhat!

There were lots of birds about while we were busy including a brown-crowned tchagra, blue waxbill, bulbuls, sparrows and doves. I managed to get a shot of a sunbird.

Scarlet-chested Sunbird
Welcome to Berg-en-Dal

By the time both caravans were set up, we went to the restaurant which overlooks the dam for brunch.

A paradise for animals
Warthogs grazing
A waterbuck with egret following to catch the insects she disturbs
Juvenile striated heron

Afterwards I did the newly upgraded Rhino Walking Trail which is about 3,2 kilometres long starting at the restaurant and following beside the perimeter fence. Part of it is a Braille trail which also has a cable rail for the use of those needing it.

The trail has information boards with descriptions of various creatures. There are also riddles for children to solve. The answer can be found by lifting the flap.

Even adults can have fun with these
That wasn’t so difficult was it?
Information Boards in English and Afrikaans and Braille

It was a lovely trail to do and I saw quite a few creatures right beside me on the other side of the fence.

Amazing to see while on foot
I see you

Later in the afternoon we did the Majula Loop and saw a big herd of buffalo at the waterhole.

We saw other creatures too but the light was not good for photography. It was a perfect evening after the past two days of chill we have had so we had a lovely braai for supper. Tomorrow the Earl and I have to take the Everest into Malelane to have the cracked windscreen replaced. Hopefully it won’t take too long and we can do a game drive in the afternoon. See you all then!

Breaking Free from Lockdown. Day 34 Pretoriuskop to Lower Sabie and Back

Today was a very long day. It was warm at first but became cooler as the day wore on. It was quite windy too. The skies clouded over and rain threatened but all we got was a spit and a spot later in the afternoon and evening.

At 08:20 we found ourselves at Shithave Dam but did not stay long as there were a number of cars and more arrived before we left.

A beautiful morning scene
Although Egyptian Geese are common birds they always improve the scenery

We then took the H1-1 and passed groups of curious impies, kudu, giraffe and zebra.

A mongoose also crossed our path
We have seen quite a few families of Southern Ground Hornbill and today was no exception

The male ground hornbill has a pink skin patch on his throat while the female’s is violet blue. Sometimes it is difficult to see.

Here starting in the foreground – juvenile, male and female

We also popped in at Transport Dam

Seen on our way back to the road
A line of zebra appeared too

We continued along the H1-1 and were thrilled to see all the creatures along the way.

It was lovely to see an Emerald-spotted Wood Dove fly up and pose in a tree instead of flitting about on the ground.

Much of our route took us along the river and across weirs, low and high bridges. Where there is water, you will usually find animals.

Crossing the bridge on the H1-2 we spotted a fish eagle.

A handsome chap indeed
Then we saw a crocodile ….
…who needed an orthodontist

We were entertained by more creatures as we moved on.

A rather handsome Imp
Red-billed Ox-peckers taking a break from grooming their kudu client. The one in the middle is just an apprentice and only gets a red bill when she qualifies.
Always great to see you, Raafie
Kudu and Imps get on well together
Ellies having fun
Come on baby, don’t lag behind

As we got closer to Lower Sabie the traffic on the road became worse. It is a popular route because of the Sabie River and the abundance of animals especially lion and leopard. Today there were no less than three serious road blocks because cars would not adhere to the rule to stay on the side of the sighting and leave the other side free so people can take their photographs and move on. The worst one was for a leopard in a tree. We never got to see it because of the traffic jam. It turned out that it was so hidden that it was hardly worth the trouble to find it. By this time we were hungry and wanted to get to Lower Sabie for our lunch and so we concentrated on taking the first gap and dashed through quickly. There were two more roadblocks after that and it took an hour to do a distance that normally takes 15 minutes!

We managed to glimpse lions at the second roadblock.

Wondering what all the fuss is about
I couldn’t be bothered about those silly homosapiens

The third one was ridiculous. The lions were all fast asleep and would be for hours. There was absolutely no point for so many cars to block the road in anticipation of the creatures waking up.

Really? Would you stare for hours at this?

It was quite cold when we arrived at Lower Sabie but we were lucky enough to get a table in a sheltered spot on the Mug and Bean deck. We were all a bit rattled by having to fight traffic in a game reserve and decided to get back to Pretoriuskop as soon as we could. We did not stop to photograph too much.

We visited Sunset Dam just outside the camp before and after lunch.

Hippos and yellow-billed storks were fraternising
A thirsty giraffe took a deep drink
Look at those huge feet on the Jacana. They help him walk on water vegetation
The clever Great White Egret has found a rock to fish from. No wait – that’s not a rock – it’s a hippo!

We were tired so did not stop for very much more on the way back to camp. However, who can resist babies

A heap of hyaenas outside their den.
The babies are still quite young

Our last stop was at Mathekenyane

Me taking a photo of the Earl taking a photo of me
This great rocky outcrop has a great view

As we’d had a good lunch at Lower Sabie we did not cook but instead warmed up some pies for supper and then it was into our cosy caravans for our second last night at Pretoriuskop.