Thanks so much for your lovely welcome back wishes we do appreciate them all Friday, 11. February 2011 – Arrival At Berg-en-Dal
I think you all know the feeling at least those who will arrive via airplane at O.R. Tambo after a nearly sleepless night in the tight seats squeezed in any economy class. The minute the airplane will touch the ground and the closer you will come to Kruger nearly everything is forgotten. For us everything went well until we got lost somewhere in Boksburg – I know not very far from the airport but we must have somehow missed an exit as there were a couple of exists closed due to maintenance but with the help of the friendly people in South Africa it was no problem to get back on track until we reached after only some short stops in the afternoon Malelane. We just realized a pick-n-pay and only wanted to refuel but when Timon wanted to start the car after refueling nothing happened. So close to Kruger and still so far away.
Gladly Timon, as car mechanic, already noticed that only the car battery died and maybe a cell inside the battery broke but needless to say that we needed a new battery. I tried to phone nearly half an hour the car rental company but got always an occupied signal it was meanwhile 4 o’clock in the afternoon and I finally decided to buy a new car battery at my costs and try to get the money back when returning the car. To our great luck the Fuel station was situated right in front of a huge car workshop and I walked in and even not 10 minutes later we had a brand new car battery in our car. What a fantastic and efficient service and I also must mention that I never saw a much cleaner car workshop ever before.
As we then still had enough time to invade the pick-and-pay and after also a short stop at those delicious fruit and here especially mango stalls right outside the gate we were standing finally again on the bridge over the Crocodile river and were back to the place that we both love soooooooooo much.
Whilst I was doing the paperwork Timon just had a quick check whether the cameras are ready for a 2 ½ weeks photographing marathon and they were. This is only one of the quick check pictures he took but I just wanted to share it with you
And we already saw our very first animals already whilst standing still outside the park – a family of warthogs crossed the street and disappeared so this year no impala as first animal. The paperwork was as usually done in no minute and after a visit to the loo I nearly crashed into ecojunkie. She was in a hurry and we too so only a quick hand shack and off we were.
We already decided prior that we will today only drive up to Berg-en-Dal camp and skip the later evening drive as we both were exhausted from the drive, the flight and the battery fright. So we easily took the S110 and drove slowly into the park. Not very far we met already the first impalas – yieppieeee – we are finally back and also noticed that the grass is this year extremely high. It is always high at this time of the year but this year it was extreme high, partly elephant high – I will later include some pictures of the thickness of the bush so you can imagine how difficult it would be to trace animals but as you also can imagine with nearly four months without any leaves at our trees and bushes, greyness, snow and darkness it is always a pleasure to visit Kruger in her summer dress – it definitely is always looking good.
Suddenly as silently as always an elephant herd crossed the road right in front of us and also many mini jumbos followed
and even more
Trumpeting all over in one minute and after the thick bush swallowed them it was quiet again.
Gladly also some zebras came across and welcome us too
Besides the calls of the Woodland kingfisher – a call which we missed desperately – and which I still miss now again – the birds kept hidden and stayed quiet but as already mentioned the birdies were good to us this year and I am sure you will get bored from all the woodies, banana birds, European rollers, Ground hornbills and, and, and Timon took.
The check in at Berg-en-Dal as well as the wild card renewal had been also done quickly so that we could move into our home for the next 2 nights into bungalow No. 23. Same was located close to the dam and fence and after we brought everything into the bungalow, repacked and changed cloths we walked a bit on the Rhino Trail and enjoyed the sounds of the hippos inside the dam and from all the waterbirds.
The darkness falls and from the dam the chorus of the frogs was to be heard and it was just indescribable how we felt this very first evening after a one year drought under the African stars. Okay it was nearly full moon so not so many stars to be seen but the moon, the atmosphere, the smells of the braai and the night sounds were just - sigh. Suddenly from behind the corner of our bungalow I noticed that also this year we had a dinner guest, the large-spotted genet welcomed us again.
Now we were totally satisfied and it was time for the bed but we were also so excited that we hardly could sleep but somehow we were just too tired and drifted off into dreamland.
Saturday, 12. February 2011 – Berg-end-Dal
Needless to say that we already awoke prior to the alarm clock and after a hot coffee with the frog concert in the background on the verandah finally our first full day in the park started. Whenever staying at Berg-en-Dal Matjulu Waterhole is always our first drive, however, this year same was very quiet besides the obligatory impala road blocks. We also spotted a large number of foam frog nest whenever a remaining puddle appears.
On the crossing Matjulu and S110 another road blocker was already up our very first giraffe this year.
He was definitely not willing in letting us pass. I also like the landscape in the background and the thickness of the bush surrounding him.
At Matjulu nothing to be seen and whilst driving back Mr. Giraffe started to feed on a yummy green bush. He enjoyed his breakfast even with closed eyes.
Our decision was to drive via the Steilberg road and then via the tar road to Afsaal and maybe try also the Voortrekker road.
The Steilberg option is always allowing great views into the landscape but unfortunately today it was still extreme cloudy and this impala landscape shot was the only one we took
The number of Golden Orb Web spiders we saw this year was uncountable spread all over the park their artful built webs came across and gladly this one built her web so close to the road so that we could take a picture of Mrs. Spider herself
Meanwhile also the birds woke up and we were already successful in spotting lilac breasted rollers, a hoopoe, even a crested barbet and not to mention the ever present woodland kingfishers.
This grey hornbill was the born poser and allows us some nice shots. Due to the yellow and red colour of its bill we renamed the bird into Kiba bird as Kiba means (= Kirsch-Banane = cherry – banana in English). Kiba is a famous juice mix here in Germany which will be offered as non alcoholic aperitif and served with ice. Due to the colour mix and due to the fact that the yellow billed hornbill is also known as Banana bird we named this bird now into Kiba bird.
The yellow spots on the acacia were just too beautiful.
Also this cute posing grey lourie deserved it to be photograph and how loud they greeted us again.
A huge herd of zebras crossed our way with so many little ones in between of which the mothers were taking a special care
and even this grey duiker did not hide but first crossed slowly the path in front of us suspiciously and whilst same reached the other side of the road only flew then.
More and more banana birds appeared and were searching for their breakfast and in a bush we spotted this strange looking nest of which we think same must be a wasp nest although same looks abandoned
Finally we reached the tar road and somewhere between the S118 turn offer and the road leading to Renosterpan it happened suddenly. As a welcome gesture the most powerful, the most beautiful and the fatest leopard we have even seen popped out of the bush.
To be continued with more spotted pictures……..