Friday, 28 Dec, Day 1 First day for out first timer friends
There is no better sight to greet you on arriving at a Kruger entrance after a night approach, than the full expanse of the gate in front of you, as happened to us at Phabeni.
The clouds were low and charged with rain. We waited 90 minutes or so for the gate to open and were first out on the road.
Almost immediately we started with buffs, for those interested in the so called ‘big 5’, then a nursing hyena next to the road.
The coffee at Skukuza was delicious. At the junction down from Skuk to the river was another group of hyena pups. We headed for Tshokwane via the low bridges. I was amazed to see 3 nyala does in the Sand river bed. So far south and in the open.
At the junction down from Skuk to the river was another group of hyena pups.
Then I believe I drove straight past Freda,
YR flying, and came to a traffic jam. The caravan brigade blocked the road and we were told there had been 2 LITs, but they had jumped down. While the rest were staring at empty trees, I struggled to get through the pack, as I thought the leopards might go elsewhere, and as I almost got clear, sure enough, one of the leopards crossed the road 50 metres ahead.
By the time I got there, it was gone. Still, leopard before lions, I can handle that.
Just past that, I spotted a bee-eater in a roadside tree. Yes! It was the carmine, my favourite bird! We were to see quite a lot of them on every day of the trip.
Our guests desperately wanted to see elephants in the wild, - a decision that later they would be very uneasy with – but we had to wait until the Nwaswantso loop, where we saw a breeding herd of about 35 in and around the river.
There was drizzle in the air, but it cleared up a bit when we pitched our tents at Satara. There I saw a YR and it was Pieter Steyn (& family), who told me a very interesting story – to be posted – and while the rest of my party settled in, I went on a drive looking for lions. Ok, ok, but our guests were first timers and I really wanted them to see some good stuff. Sure enough, 2 km from camp were a pair going nowhere, so I did the Girivana loop and headed to camp and fetched the others who saw 4 of the B5 on their first day in Kruger. Scipio then spotted the fire engine and we had a great char over a beer.
During the night we were vocally entertained by lions, hyena and campers who had been to wood sawing school!
Animals seen: Baboon, buffalo, crocodile, elephant, giraffe, gnu, hippo, hyena, impala, kudu, leopard, lion, mongoose, vervet monkey, nyala, steenbok, tortoise, waterbuck, warthog, zebra.
Best birds seen: Carmine bee-eater, Africa crake (lifer), brown snake & fish & martial & tawny & Wahlberg’s eagle, hamerkop, goliath heron, hoopoe, woodland kingfisher, sdand martin (lifer), pearl spotted & scops owl (back in his tree outside reception at Satara), European, lilac breasted & purple roller, double banded sandgrouse, spoonbill, maribu & saddle billed & woolly necked stork, marico sunbird , paradise whydah, red banded widow, white winged widow, green woodhoopoe
Pictures taken by my wife.