Work has been hectic... And SO has added exam stres...
So we decided it was time to get away and relax. The choice of where to go was easy - to the peace and quiet of KNP. North vs South? Well, seeing as we only had a weekend for this trip, and we did the North earlier this year - we decided on the South. The FAR South. 1 night Lower Sabie, 2 nights Berg-en-Dal.
We left at about 9:00 on Spring Day - 1 September, after SO returned home from night shift. The road was not too busy, and at about 13:45, we entered the park at Malelane gate. We decided to drive via the Crocodile River Road up to Lower Sabie.
A warm welcome was extended to us by this Pearl-spotted Owlet:
The rest of the road was relatively quiet, probably because we were driving it in the heat of the day.
So we decided to take the S108 to get to Lower Sabie. It ended up being a very good decision!
When we got to about 200m from the T-junction with the tar road, we got stopped by another vehicle. "Hi, have you seen leopard today?" was their question. "No", we had just ENTERED the park!
."Well, you just drove passed one..."
"WHAT?" In our defence - it was impossible to spot the leopard from the angle we had come from. Luckily these friendly folks pointed him out to us, and we could get ourselves in a better position to view him well.
He was quite far away, and a real LAZY guy. We stayed with him for over 45 minutes - and he just stayed where he was. So very happy with the sighting, we decided to move on.
A little bit further up the H4-2, we stopped for a pic of this Brown Snake Eagle (Bruinslangarend):
While I was taking photos, SO all of a sudden remarked "did you hear that?". "No, what?", he replied "it sounded like something growling or roaring..." I really tried to hear it, but couldn't hear a thing. He looked through the binoculars, and all of a sudden he shouted "I think it's a leopard!" I grabbed the binoculars and scanned the area. Nothing. I decided SO's imagination was running wild with him again...
This is after all the guy who thought that lions lying in the road was "just dung" on a previous visit, and a lion walking towards us was an impala! He was starting to get quite a reputation in our car...
But then I saw a movement in the bush, and I grabbed the binoculars again - and I SAW it - SPOTS! It was not his imagination. Shortly afterwards, the leopard gave a louder much more audible growl / roar. But it kept on playing hide and seek with us behind the bushes. It seemed very agitated. We saw glimpses of it again - but never got a good sighting of it. Thus also no photographic proof.
I had to eat some humble pie...
I mean really - who can say that while they were at a bird sighting - they HEARD a leopard, started looking for it and found it behind the bushes? BRILLIANT spotting, my Love!
Next up - another lovely bird sighting - immature Martial Eagle (Breekoparend). While I was taking the pics, SO was keeping an ear out for some predators...
By now it was becoming quite late - with us stopping a while at both leopard sightings. We still had 5 minutes before the gate closed, so we did a quick drive across the bridge and back. Got a nice sighting of a Wire-tailed Swallow (Draadstertswael):
And an African Pied Wagtail (Bontkwikkie) singing at the top of his voice:
We booked into our perimeter tent. I scanned the forums before this trip, and heard about the wonderful "tent 27". So I managed to get this tent for us - and man, what a view - a GREAT unit to have!