Day 4 – Thursday 18th June 2009
We were up bright early this morning and were one of the first to leave camp for the opening of the gate at 6am. We started our journey on a very misty morning towards Pretoriuskop taking the H1-1, S1, S7 and S3 route.
We must have driven for nearly 2 hours without seeing a single animal, not even an Impala! I knew our luck would come soon and as the mist started to lift on the S1 we spotted a huge male Leopard trying to cross the road in front of us. He disappeared very quickly back into the bush when he spotted us and we sat eyes peeled expecting to see him…until he darted in front of our car to cross the road! It was an awesome sight, the biggest Leopard I have ever seen and he moved so quickly I couldn’t get a pic.
Further along the S1 we were also treated to this great Rhino. The only other sightings on this route was Zebra and Warthog
On the S3, I was driving to the speed limit on a gravel road when approaching a corner I had the strange feeling that there was something waiting for us! My gut feeling was right and a White Rhino was running along the road right in front of us! Obviously my initial reaction was to slam on the brakes, our car locked up and scared the living daylights out of the Rhino and he run even faster to cross the road in front of our car and disappeared into the bush! I’m sure if the Rhino knew it was only a Nissan X-Trail he was up against, he wouldn’t have been so scared
Further along the S-3 we were treated to another Rhino sighting but this time in the distance and not too close for comfort!
Pretoriuskop was very quiet when we arrived there and we had a nice breakfast there alone before heading out to take the Voortrekker road (H2-2). At the start of this road we begun to see what looked like some game capture trucks parked at the side of the road, we carried on further and then I noticed a convoy of game capture teams in my mirror. I pulled over to let the full convoy pass and follow their dust. Firstly I thought this huge convoy would spoil our chances of seeing any game on this road but I wasn’t to know what lay ahead
It was further along the Voortrekker road that I noticed that the convoy had stopped in the road ahead and wait for it….one of the Kruger Park’s game capture helicopters hovering in the air above!
The way the helicopter was flying appeared that it had just darted an animal and then it landed nearby.
We right amongst the convoy and we could even see the feet of appeared to be Rhino or elephant in one of the crates on the back of a flatbed game capture lorry. A ranger was stood next to this and we asked him what was going on, he told us that they were relocating Rhino to another game reserve in Pietersburg. As you can imagine we wondered if we were OK to stay in the area and watch this? So we parked up far away not to get in their way but close enough to watch them bring the Rhino that they had just darted to one of the empty crated that had just been taken off a flatbed.
So we sat waiting until we saw some activity in the bush where it seemed obvious that the Rhino was. The next thing to our amazement, one of the Ranger’s was calling us to get out of the car and walk towards the empty crate! We looked at each other in awe first feeling like that we should pinch ourselves, but this was real and we got out of our car to walk over to where they would bring the Rhino to the crate.
The helicopter pilot told us what was happening and where to safely stand before watching the game capture team walk towards us!
As if this amazing experience could not get any better, the guy at the front of the Rhino with the yellow stun gun who appeared to be the head ranger here shouted at us to come over and touch the Rhino! Again, we were in total awe and I apprehensively walked over to the Rhino to touch its side! We had spent all morning looking for Rhino’s and then we almost run out X-Trail into one and now I was going to touch one. I did not expect this! It felt like for what I can only describe as hard, dry and slightly hairy mud!
Onwards for the rest of our long journey back to Skukuza to then stop at Afsaal for some deserved refreshment. We then took the H3, S112, S22, S114 and back onto the H3 to get back to camp. Sightings included Warthog, Banded Mongoose, Dwarf Mongoose
For the drive we took in the evening, we had an objective; To complete the big 5 in one day. So we needed to see elephant, Buffalo and Lions on our late afternoon drive before the camp gates shut. No problem
We travelled out on the H11, to take the H4-1 where we came across these two buffs
One down and two to go, so it was a good job we spotted this Elephant across the riverbed
We travelled about another kilometre down the H4-1 and hit a traffic jam. This was to be our missing link for the big 5 in one day. We spent about half hour with a pride of 9 lions that were lying close to the road
Some of them started to get up as they probably got fed up of the growing number of admirers blocking the road nearby.
He even found time to stop and pose for the camera
After the remainder of the pride moved away from the road, we made our way further down the H4-1 to take the H12 and loop back round on the H1-2 to get back to Skukuza. We spotted more elephant, vervet monkeys and giraffe. Also this giant kingfisher on the H12 bridge over the Sabie
And not forgetting another nice Giraffe pic
More to follow…