2 days at Shingwedzi - 12 and 13 July
We spotted a Black-backed jackal on the H1-7 en route to Shingwedzi and I had to reverse somewhat. I can clearly see next to the caravan but not behind it so reversing is quite interesting. As the Jackal disappeared my youngest told me to reverse even further as she was sure she saw an African Wild Cat. Well there were no cars on the road, reversing the rig was no problem and indeed an AWC in front of some small palms!!
Kitty was around for about a minute (no photo's though
), looking in the direction of where the Jackal was, before it also disappeared - lucky AWC not to fall prey to the Jackal this time.
Check in at Shingwedzi was smooth but the folks in front of me were looking for 2 nights accommodation and was told that the camp is fully booked. We spoke to some folks at Crooks corner at around 12 the previous afternoon. They entered as day visitors and were on their way to Satara also looking for a campsite for a day or two without reservation in peak time!
Its about a 5 hours drive so I cannot see how it would have been possible for them to exit the park before gate closing time. I am sure they purposefully get to camp late leaving the admin staff no alternative but to offer them a site for the night.
It was also our first visit to this camp and we loved it. Stands are even, power points are close by, there is enough taps and the ablution block is superb. There is even a separate area for emptying the porta potti - even though its just blue water.
The camp's back entrance is a super alternative to get to the Kanniedood dam and the day visitor's area is spotless!
A regular visitor to our site was a very tame Tree squirrel walking around amongst us. It nibbled on some leaves and bark and even buried some food. My daughter was overwhelmed by seeing how it dug a hole and then neatly covered it with its front paws.
The Red Rocks road was very rocky with sharp stones and we found lots of Ellies at a lookout point on the dirt road that heads back to the H1-6. Most of them were standing on the rocks so I guess there must have been some water between the rocks.
One was very close to us down below in the riverbed with a nervous looking Saddle-billed stork right next to him on a smallish grassy island. On returning to camp, while at the garage, I realised that the right front tyre was almost flat! The puncture was fixed in no time at the workshop – this was no surprise to the guys as they believe the Red Rocks road is known for causing punctures.
We did a sunset drive with Matthew and noticed the trucks are brand new. With us on the truck were some folks that were on their 3rd drive in a row – seriously looking for Leopard. A young couple was serious birders and even had their bird book with them. Amongst the animals we saw were Ellies, a big Buffalo herd settling next to the road for the night, Saddle-billed stork, Hyaena’s, Giant Eagle Owl and Sharpe's grysbok.
I had a difficult time in cleaning the car windows (left the chamois at home
) and could not find one at Punda Maria or Shingwedzi. Luckily found one at Mopani but at R60 was way overpriced and was worn out by the end of the trip!
We took the S50, from the H1-6 and saw Ellies at all the Nshawu waterholes – lots and lots of Ellies. Then we turned left into the S143 and headed for the Tihongonyeni waterhole hoping to see the elusive Roan and Eland. It was very dry around the waterhole with a slight wind blowing easing off the heat. We sat there for an hour and saw Ellies drinking, Tsessebe, lots of Zebra, lots of Ngu and a Black-backed jackal - no other cars on this road while we were there and no Roan or Eland.
On the way back to Shingwedzi we saw a small group of 6 Sable mostly in the shade.
What a stunning sighting as our previous Sable sighting was 2 years ago. They were hesitant to move out into the open as we shared the sighting with only two other cars.
We enjoyed the North and already booked for June 2010. It’s tiring and somewhat time wasting to move camp every 2 days so we settled for 4 days at Shingwedzi. From here one can easily travel North to Pafuri and South to Mopani.