26 April 2010
Times just flies too quickly. The two nights in Shimuwini were something of the past and it was time to pack for the next two in Letaba. On the way out from Shimuwini, we saw the usual namely, impala, giraffe, waterbuck & hippo. And this fellow (Brownheaded Parrot) – high up in the huge Baobab tree along the loop on the S141.
We turned south on the H14 with a lot of expectancy what to find at the buffalo carcass. Not far from the Letaba River we stopped for a group of giraffe, and the next moment a hyena came in our direction with their typical slow jog. The giraffe were a bit uncomfortable with its presence, but just stared down on it.
Being quite near to the river, we were certain that the hyena was coming back from the festive spread we have been waiting to happen around the buffalo carcass. The excitement grew! What would we find? To be honest – we were a bit disappointed to see the following (on the photo), but no sign of anything that took part in the feast. Oh well, with the smell of rotten flesh coming from the carcass by then, I would have packed my things and left as well.
My apologies to those who expected a report of some or other spectacular scene we might have experienced. Unfortunately it was not the case, but we were full of hope everyday when we passed over the bridge.
I reckon that this crossing of the Letaba is one of the park’s fantastic birding sites. With the right equipment (not the basic stuff like mine) birding photographers should find this spot exciting.
And our Nile Monitor was back on its place again.
My aim (since I started keeping record of all my trips in 1987) is to travel each tourist road in Kruger at least three times. Of the 2 627.3 km of tourist roads in the park, I have done more than 968.1 km (36.8%) three times or more. 416.5 km (15.9%) was driven twice, 683.2 km (26.0%) only once and 559.5 km (21.3%) I still have to do for the first time. I have done more than 12 000 km in the park since 1987.
For this reason I opted for the “new” S133 again as I travelled this road for the first time the previous day. Once again it was a bit of a poor experience on this road – seeing only 2 impala and a steenbok (over the total distance of 9.1 km). But my days of just focusing on the Big 5 are something of the past long ago. Therefore the lush green of the mopani veld along the S133 was a bonus of its own kind.
We turned left on the S131 and found very little to see until we turned off onto the S96. For quite a few hundred metres we could see the “evidence” of a herd of buffalo in the road. Just before we got to Shilawuri we found them. Although I believe it was a much bigger herd hidden amongst the dense vegetation, we could at least see about 50 of these magnificent animals.
Apart from the Nhlanganini Dam (also known as the Winkelhaak Dam on older maps) with quite a few hippos and some waterbuck, we saw very little on the rest of the road to Letaba.
We arrived in Letaba around 12:30, which was too early for the new check-in time of 14:00. We decided to go and have something to eat on the cafeteria stoep. What a disappointment!! The service was poor and the pies were horrible. We thought it would have improved since our last stay in Letaba in 2006, but it was indeed not the case. Letaba cafeteria is now known to us as the place with the magnificent view, terrible service and awful meat pies. I cannot help to think back with nostalgic memories to the magnificent pies that were once served in the various camps’ cafeterias.
In my opinion Letaba is one of the most beautiful camps in Kruger. I would describe the area as “fair” (below average) when it comes to game viewing, but it is one of the camps where I am happy just to stay in the camp the whole day. I love Letaba (but will not visit its cafeteria again).
My granddaughter (living in Romania) was not put off by the swimming pool’s cold water. She enjoyed every moment of it while her mother and grandmother attended to the laundry at the nearby launderette.
Our afternoon drive took us on the S47 past the Mingerhoutdam. On our way back we took the S95 Loop. Just before we joined up with the H1-6 again we saw our first ever scrub hare in Kruger while driving in our own vehicle. I have seen them on a night drive before (the only one I have ever taken – at Talamati) and also one in Berg-en-Dal one night while walking in the camp.
On the last few kilometres back to the camp we saw a huge troop of baboons, a very big herd of impala, lots of hippo and 3 elephants who really tried their best to let us miss gate closing time.
To be continued.