DAY 2 – 02 April 2011 Skukuza
My neighbours had told me that the camp gates actually open at 5.30am but that the world and his wife would be there queuing, eager to be the first into the park. It was still really dark at 5.30am anyway, so it was just after 6am when I left camp.
I’d heard all about “Penny’s Leopard” from my neighbours – the one she told me about when we met in October. Apparently it was still around and was being seen every day around the junction with the S1 and the H11 so I decided I’d head that way. I slowly drove to the junction with the H11 and sat there for a while; I drove a couple of kms down the H11 and back … nothing. Oh well, maybe another day …
I headed back towards Skukuza and down the H1-1 where I had my first sighting for the day …
Actually, there were loads of these giant snails in the park this time. Shortly afterwards, a hyena appeared out of the thick bush at the side of the road, crossed over and disappeared again within a few seconds.
There were lots of helmeted guineafowl around with their youngsters who I think look so funny …
… lots of baby francolins around too …
I also saw dwarf mongooses with their young ones who were so small they looked like little mice – they were so quick though I couldn’t get a photo.
At the junction with the S112 there was a bakkie stopped. Hmmm … what could it be? Next thing I saw them – my worst nightmare … baboons were ALL OVER this bakkie. The occupants were just sitting there enjoying their morning coffee and rusks, laughing at the baboons’ antics … I drove past praying that the baboons would stay well away from me and thank goodness they did.
I took the S112 and S21 and added elephant, Whalberg’s eagle, impala, kudu, wildebeest, waterbuck, tree squirrel, giraffe and leopard tortoise to my sightings list for that day.
At the H4-1 I headed towards Sunset Dam where there were the usual hippos wallowing, a family of warthogs having a drink, grey heron, a couple of crocs and a couple of Marabou storks.
After a quick stop at Lower Sabie, I continued on my way. I drove over the bridge – all was quiet, there was nothing around. I took the H10 to Tshokwane; a few more ellies and giraffe were around. I added vervets to my sightings list, and also came across a huge herd of buffalo.
From the viewpoint at Nkumbe I spotted a large herd of zebra in the distance. After a quick stop at Tshokwane, I took the H1-2 towards Skukuza. Siloweni was still closed – if I remember correctly I think there was a sign saying it is going to remain closed. At Leeupan there were a couple of impala herds having a drink; at Olifants, there was a solitary giraffe. Of course I stopped at the point in the road where last year I watched 2 huge herds of sable drinking at Mantimahle dam … I couldn’t believe the difference, you could hardly see the dam because the bush was so thick!
I took the H12 over the Sabie River and the H4-1 back to Skukuza. The last sighting for the day was bushbuck!
I got back to camp and wouldn’t you know it … my neighbours had seen leopard on the road practically right outside the camp at 5.30am and they’d seen “Penny’s Leopard” by the turn off to Paul Kruger Gate shortly afterwards! That was it, I was joining the masses at 5.30am the following morning!