So a lovely stay at Sirheni. The next morning we were off to go to Shingwedzi - another first for us. We've heard so many people talking about this camp as their favourite in Kruger, so we were really keen to now go and experience it for ourselves. It would also be the first time we would be staying in the same accomodation for 2 nights in a row - and I was looking forward to less packing and unpacking!
We were not too impressed with the H1-6 after the previous day's drive on it (those Mopani's get a bit much...
- not too many sightings), so we decided to drive down the Mphongolo Loop again. It is a very scenic drive! Now somewhere along this drive we came to a little offramp that lead to a collection of water in the riverbed. It was still early in the morning (that's right cheetah2111 - we are also early birds
), but the area was teaming with birdlife. It was so beautiful and peaceful. We parked our car, switched off the engine and just enjoyed the scene.
In one tree a Fish Eagle was sitting - looking for breakfast. To the left we there were about 4 Hammerkoppe calling and flying from one spot to the next. Only after some time we realised the rocks we thought they were sitting on were actually hippo heads!
The African Pied Wagtails (Bontkwikkies) were wagging their tails to one side of the dam, while the Pied Kingfisher (Bontvisvanger) was trying his luck in catching some fish on the other side. Right in front of us, the Blacksmith Lapwing (Bontkiewiet) was begging for some attention.
Then there was also this immature Wooly Necked Stork (Wolnekooievaar) with his wooly scarf protecting him from the cold (EDIT - actually an immature Saddle-billed Stork (Saalbekooievaar) - thanks Lionspoon
And this Grey Heron (Bloureier) strutting his stuff:
Now before we came to Kruger, I had a chat with someone I knew about this area. He reckoned the Mphongolo route was a route to be avoided. Apparently the ellies on it could get very rude, and you could get yourself in a corner. Well, we had never had bad experiences with ellies - so why would that start now? We did, however, decide beforehand that if we were to meet an ellie on this road - we'd give them their space!
So we did exactly that when our next sighting came up:
See - enough space!
But before I knew it - while I was still taking pictures of this cow, my SO shouted at me to look out and he started reversing. An elephant suddenly appeared (out of nowhere...) and trumpeted and mock charged us right next to the road. The one in front heard it and joined in. Blurry photo - but proof that these ellies have no respect for yellow and red ribbons!
So our first bad experience with the North - they have very RUDE ellies!
Never had this kind of experience with their Southern counterparts...
After our adrenaline rush of the morning, we got another lovely sighting of a Sharpes Grysbok - and a
opportunity with it!
Cute little face...
Next up was a whole group of Banded Mongoose - but only one gave me a quick photo opportunity:
Another Northern lady:
And that was the morning sightings on the Mphongolo Loop. We turned right towards Shingwedzi. The tar road has got sand on it in this area - does anybody know why they do this? :huh:
Anyhow - we saw a car parked in the distance. We drove up to the guy and asked him what he was looking at? "Well," he said, "I was actually just looking at some old buffalo, when all of a sudden I looked up this big maned lion walked right across the road in front here. But now I can't find him..."
Words that my SO did not want to hear. You can't mention to him you saw a lion and he just missed it - it gets him a bit worked up, you see...
So we drove up and down a few times, but no lion...
We stopped off at the Lamont Waterhole to see this interesting site. It was about 9:00 in the morning and still very cold. This old buff had decided it was a good time to go and lie right smack in the middle of the waterhole!
At first we thought he was dead. He lied that still. And which buff in it's right mind would lie in icy water in the early and cold morning hours! :huh: But he did breath, and now and then close his eyes...
After a while, we drove on and decided to have breakfast at Shingwedzi's restaurant. It was still WAY to early for check-in, but a great time for breakfast, and with that a look around camp. Really found it quite a lovely camp! The restaurant is built on the riverbed with a lovely view. And in the camp gardens - lot's of aloes attracting some beautiful sunbirds:
White-Bellied Sunbird (Witpenssuikerbekkie)
And another lovely flower in the garden - my favourite: