We left the lovely Ben Lavin Nature Reserve on Tuesday morning. We drove off at about eight o' clock, heading for Punda Maria gate. We were having a great time, admiring the scenery when we suddenly arrived at a fork in the road. Unfortunately they both seemed to go in a direction other than Punda Maria. We must have missed one of those cleverly hidden signs with our turnoff to Punda. Oh well, it was still early, so after a glimpse on the map I decided to aim for Parfuri instead. After a few kilos the road turned from tar to very bumpy dirt. So we and the entire inventory of the campervan jostled along at 25 kmph. After half an hour I had a better look at the map and sighed. After 2 hours of kidney juggling we finally hit tar again at Masisi. Yay! Finally, on our way to the gate.
At Parfuri my first purchase was a Wild Card, followed by the much used Mapstudio's "Official Visitor's Guide to THE KRUGER NATIONAL PARK" and the totally unused little "Souvenir Map". At half past one, we entered Kruger with rumbling stomachs. We stopped on the bridge over the Luvuvhu River to admire the view and saw Ellies, Nyala and one of my favourites: Warthogs. We drove to Punda where we collapsed on the little terrace under the beautiful Baobab tree and worked ourselves through a plate of Jumbo chips and multiple glasses of Beer.
After a good sleep and lots of coffee to wake up, we left for our not so early morning drive and decided to do the Mahonie Loop. This turned out to be a good decision. Not only were we the only ones there, but we got to see lots too. We saw Dwarf Mongoose, Crested Guinea fowl (Yay), Sharpe's Grysbok, Nyala, Squirrels, a Leopard Tortoise, a big herd of Buffalo crossing the road in front of us (gulp), Large Grey Mongoose and a Brown Hooded Kingfisher.
We turned into washboard S60 where we cruised at 10 kmph and saw a Nyala bull and a Red Horned Hornbill. Zigzagging around elliepoo on the H1-8 we saw a Martial Eagle in a tree, a Brown Snake Eagle flew over us, and we saw Zebra, Baboons and Helmeted Guinea fowl. On the S63 on our way to Pafuri Picnic Spot we saw Vervet Monkeys, lots of Impala and Yellow Billed Hornbills. On our way back to Punda we saw a Steenbok ram on the H13-1 and another Sharpe's Grysbok.
It's quite amazing we didn't see any elephants. The roads were covered in poo. We saw quite a lot of birds up north, but I wasn't able to ID them yet, so they remain unmentioned.
On Thursday we got up early for the drive to Shingwedzi. Quite near Punda camp, on the H13-2, we saw an African Grey Hornbill. Further on we saw more Sharpe's Grysbok, Zebra, a Common Duiker and lots of little Francolins. We took the Mphongolo Loop, the S56 and I thought I saw a leopard flash up a tree. We stared and stared into the tree, but it was too far away and the leopard was too well hidden. Or was my imagination playing tricks on me?
We did see Giraffe, Impala, Nyala, Hornbills, Elephant, Mongoose and a female Bateleur in flight. Then we came upon a roadblock near the end of the loop. A tree had been pushed over by an ellie. We managed to drive around it without getting stuck. I mentioned it at reception when we arrived at Shingwedzi.
We got a nice quiet spot at the fence. Time for some beer & braai.
We got up early for a change to do what one does in Kruger. Spot them animals. We drove to Kanniedood Dam and saw Yellow Billed Stork, Waterbuck, Baboons, Sharpe's Grysbok and Impala. Rather hungrily we drove back to camp for breakfast and lots of coffee. This is also when we discovered the boiling water boilers in the camps. :-) Around 10 we left for the S52, the Shingwedzi North Loop. We were driving along for 15 minutes when we were flagged down by a car. A leopard! A beautiful female was sitting in the shade, close to the road. We watched her for a minute or 5 and then she moved off, out of sight.
We had just turned into the S52 when we saw 3 Ground Hornbill. We drove down to Bateleur and saw more Impala, Ground Squirrels, Giraffe with Oxpeckers on them, a Fish Eagle, a Kudu herd which seemed to have adopted a baby zebra, Francolins, Warthogs, Ellies and two men. Land measuring by the looks of it. On the way back on the H1-6, we saw Zebra, Impala and Giraffe. We had a quick bite at camp and were off for our Sunset Drive at 16.15. We had a lovely drive and saw Elephant (breeding herd), Steenbok, Giraffe, a Goliath Heron, a Grey Heron, Vultures (too far away to ID), a Genet, Hyena with pups, Scrub hares, Crocodiles, Hippo's and a pair of Jackals. A very rewarding drive. We had a lovely dinner in the restaurant when we came back.
To be continued...