Lets continue with the last part of this remarkable saturday. The morning has been fabulous with numerous sightings of special animals
However, the afternoon was also filled with special sightings, and it's a fact: the Crocodile Bridge is cooking, and the s28 was RED HOT, not always but most of the time!
So, the mugs are filled, the brownies close. Climb in the car, think of the rustic surrounding of Lower-Sabie and enjoy. Let's start!Day 3: 10 January 2009 (part 2)
The afternoon, we had 2 choices, whe could go south, or we could thry the area north of Lower-Sabie. However, being in the area for the last day, we would head towards Skukuza and Pretoriuskop the next day anyway, so we decided to explore the s130, s28 and s25 for the last time....
The heat was still exhausting, but with the trip planned all the way down to Croc Bridge we would need our time, so we hit the raod just after 2 o'clock.
The bridge crossing the river just south of the camp was quiet as always. I have not seen much here other than the occasional crocodile and a few hippos. The day before the H10 & surroundings were rather quiet, so once again I opted for the s137 and s28 loop. Down the H4-2, the ever present fish eagles were present, it was as if they were standing there to wave us a final good bye…
The area was lush and green, and every 500m a few impalas were standing close to the road. Although no exceptional sightings next to the tar raod this time, there is soo much to marvel at, so many nice trees, views and skies to admire. When I think back, those are pleasant memories.
As we hit the s130, it was clear from the start that again this road was cooking! Within 1km we had seen wildebeests, a few eagles, saddle billed storks and zebras. Not much further, on our right-hand side, a small pan appeared. It was nice to see it so green, as I had been there in July 2008, back then it was dry! However, now it was filled with life, surrounded by many impala rams, and a rhino + calf! The were posing like they knew all of Hollywood, gently observing the scenery before them. We greeted them with a few flashes, before we continued…
Not even 200m further,on our left we noticed a few warthogs searching the swamps that had formed.. But this wasn’t what amazed me, but the strange sight of another SEVEN (YES SEVEN)
white rhino grazing between the warthogs!! I have seen groups of up to 5 strong, but this time there were 7 grazing together, and another 2 standing 200m across the road a bit back! I tried to put all on one picture, which didn’t work, but atleat I got 6 in one frame, and the one rhino who was ‘hiding’ on the right didn’t want to cooperate. For a moment, the though came to me: maybe I must climb out and ‘push’ the hippo in the frame. However, the idea of being surrounded by a few long horns made me opt for Plan B!
After this record, we turned a lefty onto the 137, or also called the ‘Duke road’ The road has a few potholes, but other than that is pleasant to drive on. I hoped for cheetah, but instead we were rewarded by 2 distant white rhinos (again!), zebra’s and wildebeests… They Kori bustards were hiding….
Duke’s waterhole was peaceful, only a few impies and warthogs standing close to the water, enjoying the absence of predators for the moment. Lucky them, unlucky us. As I thought it’s going to quiet down, we spotted a small white object in the distance.. It turned out to be a Martial eagle, the EAGLE of all eagles. He was sitting in the grass, quietly scanning the surroundings with his exceptional sharp eyes. I wonder what he was doing down there? Wonder if they do that often?
Anyway, after 10km of the Duke road, we turned south onto the s28, and obviously: with high expectations.
Those expectations weren’t too high in the hindsight……
The s28 had animals all over it. From time to time we would see zabras grazing, a group of distant widebeasts, and a lot of kudu's on the 'riverbed side' Warthogs too, were abudant.. Most of the animals were quite far off, but the short grass and lack of bushes makes it a bit easier to spot them. A lone rhino quickly crossed the road, and I had no time to capture him, the only one I couldn't get as evidence to prove the amount of rhino's we saw
Just gotta believe me
Despite the numerous 'potholes' and the spilled coke
we had a excellent drive. Just before the last bend on the raod, we encountered a number of cars. 'Must be a cat' flashed through my mind, and for a change I was right! A lioness was lying deep into the bushes, almost invisible. As we had seen some excellent lion sightings, we were a bit spoiled and made our way forward.. Doesn't happen often that we just drive off from a catsighting like it's impala.
Well, as luck decided we weren't poiled enough, our 'path' crossed that of 8 or 9 lion cubs lying under a big tree. They were very playful, and I don't know who enjoyed it more, the cubs or us! They jumped onto each other, dashed of into bushes, and a one stage even climed a smallish tree
Some were a bit older than others, and I couldn't help to think how big the actual pride must be
I suspect the lionesses were somewhere we couldn't see them, but still very close
Still, it was a lovely sight, and throughout the playing, my camera was doing overtime
We stayed here for 20 min or so, before we had to move on as we still wanted to go to the Hippo pools
The tarroad to Croc-Bridge was quiet for a change, with only 3 warthogs crossing the road.
BE - LIEVE it or not, just as we turned onto the s25, just as the previous time, 2 white rhino's parked on the corner
This meant only on this single afternoon trip we had seen 12 rhino's!!!
Must be a record for me, and the 7 rhino's all together is also a personal record
This pair was nice dark and muddy, and it looks like they had a health mudbath
Meandering along the s25 was great, I love the scenery *sigh* I think it's stunning.... I have to admit, we didn't see much else than zebras and wildebeasts, and a lone giraffe. This 18km was rather quiet. But we had nothing to complain in any way. Just grateful to the there
When driving to Hippo pools, clouds were gathering and the wind started to pick up a little. It soon turned out that we would not be able to outrun the oncoming storm..... If there is one place one can see the destruction of ellies in the south, it's around the corner of the Hippo pools route and the s25. I was there in August last year, and I was amazed how the bush actually recovered. But the hidden damage is still visible to the eye of a thoughful visitor
So, there we were, a last visit to one of my favorite places in southern Kruger, called Giyasenga next to the Bume river along the s108... The clouds and silence, together with the absence of human presence made it the ultimate place to switch off the engine, enjoy the sounds of the bush such as the flowing water, numerous birds and the soft winds gently rustling through the trees. AWESOME!
The storm was coming, and it was coming quick. Thats why we left in a hurry, as we still had 9km to do, and din't want to be caught with a low sedan on a dustroad in the middle of a huge storm
The clouds and light both played an vital role in the breathtaking scenery which was revealed to us. Along the H5, I could not resist but to stop and take a few pictures! The picture is only a frameshot of a beutiful horizon, and can never depict the true beauty of nature back then. Just before the H5 turnoff, a lone daggaboy (old buffalo) was grazing on his own, in the company of a few 'sergants' searching his muscled body for flees and other creepers
The trip home became more of a rush, as the thunder rolled through the lowveld and the wind started picking up. After a few kilometers, the first LARGE drops came down, and within a few seconds it started raining heavy. I still remember the smell of dust and the rushing sounds preceeding the rain!
Its been long since I experienced a proper thunderstorm in Kruger. Staying on the slope of a hill here in Johburg, we are used to the sounds of heavy thunder. However, again as in January 2008, this storm was heavier than normal. We could see much and could drive faster than 40km/h! The road was flooded at some places, and this in maybe 20 minutes of rain! Simply awesome to see and hear the force of nature in the safety of our car. Not much further, we almost bumped into a crossing hippo (literally)
My dad was driving, and didn't see it, as our wipers struggled with the amount of water on the windscreen. Luckily, he saw us and ran across. The hippo then stood for a while, maybe becuase of the fright he had. This pic resulted in a wet G@mespotter, but t's worth it
The rain was so heavy, and I suppose this trees roots were mainly close to the surface, so the tree decided it had enough and collapsed under the force of nature. A strange sight in Kruger I believe...
The rain cancelled out any prospects of sightings for most of the trip back. It was only closer to Lower-Sabie when things started to get less intense and heavy! Two warthogs were standing in the middle of the road, and looked so sad as the rain poured down on them. I suppose they could need a shower
We went to the bridge close to camp, and it was flowing strongly already! We then went to Sunset dam, but not much was going on, except for the black crowned heron next to our car, and a semi-adult yellow billed stork close to the dam.
Again, all in all and extraordnary and remarkable day filled with numerous sightings, probably the best in years. Unfortunately, the pics are limited as I cannot post 50 of them
Fortunately, the excessive heat was gone and this had cooled down to 22 degrees celcius, which we experienced as cold(ish) as we were used to the heat
Yet again, a unbelieveble day has passed, and we were blessed with a few good things in life. The only thing that remained is one word: gratefulness
Being in Kruger is not a right, but a mere privilege..
To be continued........