As promised here is my trip reprot for the Kruger 14-18 Sept 2007.
If I may a brief bit of background info first.
I own a tour operation specialising in safaris to the Kruger and get to go there often, well i used to! Our company has progressed to a stage where i am office bound but we have guides who leave on a daily basis into Kruger. Therefore most of my experience of Kruger is predominantly from Mopane camp south, due to its proximity from Johannesburg. My fiance and I decided to go to Kruger for our holiday and to go North as we do not know the area so well and I relished the idea of getting into areas where tour operators are not that common, i.e where traffic volumes are not so high.
After leaving Joburg at 04h00 am (I could not wait to get going!!!)
We arrived at Phalaborwa Gate (being upgraded and looking quite smart) at around 10h15. Straight into Kruger we decided to head directly to Shingwedzi which was our camp for the first two nights.
On our first day we saw a couple of elephant, impala, giraffe and a few zebra. It must be said however that we were coming to Kruger to relax, get away from the city and hopefully cell phone reception! Bonus MTN did not have reception at Shingwedzi or Bateleur
So the fact that we did not see any cats on our first day was no problem at all!! It was such a thrill to drive in areas further north. I absolutely love the scenery there, large trees running along rivers, beautiful savanna vegetation, it was absolutely brilliant!!
Arrived a Shingwedzi quite early, around 15h30 and relaxed for the rest of the day.
Left Shingwedzi at gate opening and headed north for Babalala picnic spot. I drove quite slowly as we are avid birders. It was really pleasing to see some buffalo early on, but even more exciting was the large number of yellow billed oxpeckers. We also got some nice photos of african hawk eagle.
At Boyela waterhole we were very lucky see a cheetah, being harrased and then eventually chasing away black backed jackal.
And THEN a sighting that still excites me, we left boyela and 4.9 km's south of babalala saw a roan antelope silhoutted in the distance. I was really excited as this was another reason I wanted to come to the north.
After photographing the antelope for a while we drove a couple of metres further only to discover he was not alone! there was a group of 18-20 roan antelope concealed in the bush!! I could not contain my excitement! Unfortunately i was not able to photograph them as they were too concealed but i was able to get a relatively accurate count on them.
We hung around with them for about 45 minutes before heading off, extremely satisfied with the morning's sighting.
After breakfast at babalala we decided to head along the river road back to Shingwedzi, immediately after leaving Babalala we spotted another roan on his own in a river bed!
The rest of our journey back to Shingwedzi consisted mainly of birdwatching, lots of brown headed parrots!
Our afternoon drive took us to Kanniedood bird hide, saw eastern white pelican, yellowbilled storks, african spoonbills and a nice sighting of malachite kingfisher.
We were booked into Bateleur camp for the next two nights and at gate opening time made our way slowly but surely to the camp. What a priveledge to visit such a beautiful place!! the scenery on the road to Bateleur was simply breathtaking, huge nyala trees, jackal berrys, sycamore figs all lines dry riverbeds and provide ample shade for animals, and we saw lots of impala, giraffe, zebra, buffalo, sharpes grysbok and baboon. Also got a pair of giant eagle owls grunting in a jackal berry.
The nice thing about bateleur camp from a photographic point of view is that a few of the chalets have small water baths at each chalet to attract birds. I got my set up just right and spent most of the afternoon photographing birds, squirrels and a family of dwarf mongoose coming to our water bath, in the comfort of a cushioned chair!
Found martial eagle in a tree with the leg of what looked like a steenbok. some nice buffalo sightings, once again accompanied by good numbers of yellow billed oxpeckers.
Spent our sunset at rooibosrand waterhole. Another large herd of buffalo present at the waterhole. good buffalo numbers in the north!
Our last day had arrived
We decided we were in no hurrly to get home and took a slow drive back to Phalaborwa gate. On the old main road between Shingwedzi and mopane at Dzombo West waterhole we came across a really large herd of buffalo. I am not sure how many animals were in the herd but we parked our car, switched off the engine and waited for easily half an hour as the herd crossed the road, and they were in a bit of a hurry so they were not ambling along! They just kept on coming! another unforgettable sighting in Kruger.
And that pretty much concluded our trip.
All in all, lots of buffalo, elephant, some roan, giraffe, zebra, and then of course our cheetah sighting as well.
I have travelled into many parks in southern and east Africa and it is impossible to compare them but I can honestly say, Kruger is my favourite destination. The variety of wildlife and birds always astounds me and i am always sad to leave!
Thank you for the opportunity to record my sightings and for taking the time to read my report and have a great day