Tag Archives: Pretoriouskop

Travelling during the time of Covid – Kruger National Park – Day 4 – Skukuza to Pretoriouskop and Back

Today we left camp at six o’clock. It was overcast and started at a cool 23 degrees C. There was no wind and it did not rain. The day’s high was 28 degrees C.

We started on the H11. As we crossed the bridge over the Sabie River we had our first sighting of the day – eight hyaena scampering in the river bed. There were five adults and three still outgrowing their black, baby fur.

They were all over the place and very active but I managed to get three into one frame

The birds, at this time of the morning, are very active. The Earl called out that he could hear parrots. We stopped and scanned and this is what we found.

Brown-headed parrots decorating the dead trees
A close-up of two of them

Another special bird to make an appearance was the European Bee-eater

The elegant giraffe were also silently munching their breakfast

There were also plenty of elephants about today.

Just before Kruger Gate we turned left onto the S3 and found a warthog fraternising with a herd of impala.

We then followed the S1 and found kudu and zebra

We were also amused to see two sleepy hyaenas taking their nap in full view of the tourists

We arrived at Nyamundwa Dam at eight o’clock and were delighted to find this scene.

There were waterbuck, blue wildebeest, at least forty zebra, hippo and a few interesting birds. The zebra entertained us with their antics and the waterbuck were also in a frisky mood chasing each other across the veld.

As we continued we came across a black-bellied bustard. What an entertaining bird. He was quite happy to demonstrate his call which sounds like a frog’s croak followed by a pop similar to a cork releasing from a champagne bottle.

It is a very pretty drive to Pretoriouskop and soon the kop came into view.

Because of the dense trees and bush it is not easy to spot animals in this area. However, the birdlife is interesting.

Red-collared widowbird
Lilac-breasted Roller
Crested Barbet

We took a break at Pretoriouskop’s Wimpy which has lovely seating outdoors and in.

We then started our return trip on the H1-1 where a buffalo popped out from the trees to greet us.

Soon after this we turned down a dirt road to a waterhole where we found some giraffe and more buffalo

We then did a detour from S11 to see the Nahpe Boulder

The ashes of Joseph France Ludorf who had a great deal to do with the early establishment of the park
are scattered here.

We made another detour to Transport Dam but there was not much to be seen there beside zebra, waterbuck, a yellow-billed stork and some starlings.

We continued our journey and spotted more of the usual suspects, giraffe, zebra, kudu, impala etc. De Laporte Waterhole is about 5 km from Skukuza and we turned in there for a look and see. There was absolutely nothing or rather that is what The Earl said but I insisted on scanning with my binoculars and found two crested francolin, a three-banded plover, greater striped swallows and a pin-tailed whydah. They were too far for photos but fun to watch. The Earl was about to start the car and move but I insisted he wait ten minutes. Only three minutes later these giants came silently onto the scene.

These were the first
The rest of the troop weren’t far behind

They frolicked drank and showered and then turned around and left as silently as they had arrived. The Earl was about to start the car when I noticed more visitors approaching at a rapid rate.

The three little pigs must have been waiting for the elephants to leave before they rushed down to quench their thirst
And then the oxpecker groomers arrived for work
Just checking to see if your nostrils need cleaning
Looking good, Mr Piggy
All done – could you please give us a lift home?

We arrived back at camp at half past one and then went back to the De Laporte at half past four. It was quiet for a while but then European Bee-eaters came swooping down to drink in mid-flight, settle in a dead tree and then swoop down again. It was most entertaining to watch. A few male elephants visited in turn and just before we left it looked like some giraffe might come down but they decided to browse instead.

And so ended a most pleasant day.

Gecko #81 goes to Kruger – Berg en Dal to Pretoriouskop and Back

14 November 2019

Don’t go to Kruger in summer!   It will be too hot!  You won’t be able to cope with the heat!  The grass is too long.  You won’t see any animals.

The above is advice I have received from many well-meaning people, most of whom have never been to Kruger or who only go in winter.   All the information out there suggests that the winter months are the best.  It’s warm during the day but chilly at night but you will definitely see the animals as they won’t be hiding in the long grass!

Well, most of my visits over the past 20 years have been in summer and yes, it’s hot and the grass is long but the game viewing is still awesome.  Also, it’s a fantastic time to see birds as the migrants from Europe love the Kruger.

Now what we have never been warned about – mainly because the prophets of doom have never been here themselves – is that you might just get flooded out!   The weather can become rather extreme at this time of year.  In past years we have had a spit and a spot of rain and on a few occasions have had to pack up in wet conditions.  But read on dear reader to find out what happened to us today!

The roaring of lions woke us at an impolite hour this morning.  I turned over and ignored them!   Only crazy people go out at 4:30 in the morning.  The saner among us wait until after six!  I was up before the Earl and after my shower, I had coffee and a rusk ready to tempt him from his comfy bed.  The weather was overcast and warm and while I pottered around, a lovely white-browed robin made an appearance.

IMG_3063 White-browed robin 2019-11-14 5-57-00 AM

In order to have the Ford serviced we have to get to a certain number of km on the clock.  It didn’t have enough before we left home and by the time we get back, we’ll have too many.  So our Bredasdorp man organised for us to have it done in Nelspruit tomorrow.   We were just short of the required kilometres so we decided to do an extra-long trip today.   After coffee and rusks, we set off just after six stopping at Afsaal picnic site for breakfast and then continuing to Pretoriuskop Camp,  arriving around midday.

The overcast weather meant the light for photography was not great.  We hoped for a bit of rain as the park, like the rest of the country, really needs it. Since arriving in the park we have not needed to put on jackets or jerseys.  The temperatures have hovered in the early to late twenties.  Today it went right up to 33 degrees C.

There were long stretches of driving when there was absolutely nothing happening – not a bird nor a buck – yet by the end of the day we’d seen some interesting creatures and four out of the compulsory BIG FIVE!  Leopard, Buffalo, Rhino and Elephant.  Sorry  – no lions.

IMG_3073 Immature Martial Eagle 2019-11-14 7-35-38 AM

Always exciting to see eagles – this one we think is an immature Martial

IMG_3077 Impala herd of females 2019-11-14 7-53-03 AM

Very common and very pretty – the lovely Macdonald’s for lions – Impala females

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And a shy grey duiker

IMG_3102 Natal Spurfowl 2019-11-14 8-47-20 AM

Gardenia Hide produced very little but this Natal Spurfowl entertained us

IMG_3121 Elephant approaching 2019-11-14 9-16-16 AM

Lots of small herds of elephants and of course quite a few single males like this guy

IMG_3120 Terapin at elephant's feet 2019-11-14 9-14-17 AM

At the waterhole, he almost stepped on a terrapin

As we drove along we came across a stationary car.  “What have you spotted?” asked the Earl.   He was foreign and his answer sounded like, “kudu”  We couldn’t see a thing so the Earl drove on.  “Go back,” I said, “They’re still staring into the bush.  There must be something there!”

“Anything to make you happy, my love,”  he sighed obligingly.  And then I saw it – not a kudu – a cuckoo!

IMG_3129 Jacobin Cuckoo Pied Morph 2019-11-14 10-46-13 AM

Yesterday I posted the dark morph Jacobin Cuckoo – This is the pied morph Jacobin Cuckoo!

IMG_3137 Waterbuck 2019-11-14 11-38-40 AM

First, he refused to look at me but I asked nicely so he posed beautifully – Male Waterbuck

After we’d stopped and enjoyed an ice cream at Pretoriouskop we got back in the car to make our long way back to Berg en Dal.   The skies looked threatening and we expected a shower of rain.

IMG_3174 Storm clouds gathering 2019-11-14 2-25-41 PM

Not too scary looking

There was first one big splash and then another on the windscreen, a few stokes from the wipers and it was clear again.  This went on for a minute or two and then the wind got up. Omiword – it was gale force – almost like a hurricane.   The rain pelted down in huge drops and then the hail hit sounding like shots from a gun!  The Earl drove with full headlights on at snail’s pace and then had to come to a complete stop as visibility was zero!

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I was terrified!   I was afraid that the golfball-sized hailstones would crash through the windscreen or windows, we’d be drenched or drowned and never see home again!   I was wearing a fit watch that measures your heartbeat and mine went up from its normal 70 to 91!   The storm went on for an agonising 15 minutes and we were alone in the middle of the wilds of Africa!

And then it was over as suddenly as it had begun.  We were in one piece and perfectly safe.   What an adventure!

We continued and saw a few more animals.  Miraculously they’d survived the storm too!  Imagine being a tiny bird or helpless buck in a violent storm like that!

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A klipspringer surveying is surroundings – How that rock doesn’t tumble I do not know!

 

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There was a baby too but he was hiding from the camera

P1180341 Elephant 2019-11-14 8-19-00 AM

A happy ellie

P1180354 Zebra pattern Earl 2019-11-14 11-58-51 AM

Distinctive pattern on this guy’s rump

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A rather wet steenbok

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One of the many buffalo seen today

We also glimpsed a leopard again today.   It took us ages to locate him hiding under a tree and then he got up and disappeared into the bush.  Too quick for a photograph, I’m afraid.

The skies clouded over again as we approached Berg en Dal.  The Earl wanted to get back to camp quickly to secure our canopy and make sure the hatches were securely battened down!

Just as we got to the caravan the heavens opened, there was thunder, lightning and a heavy downpour.  We secured the poles and the Earl made sure the canopy didn’t collapse under the weight of the water collecting in it.

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The Earl using a broom to push the canopy up so the water emptied

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Suddenly we had a river running past our caravan!

This storm too lasted only about half an hour and then all was calm again.   We abandoned our original plans to braai and I cooked chicken in the Remosca pot.   So yes, we survived!