I must confess that the two-year break from Kruger was just what the doctor ordered for both SO and myself. During our last visit in 2012 the maddening crowds, jeep jockeys and unruly behaviour of certain individuals really got on my nerves and spoiled our visit somewhat. I understand that that is what goes with the territory when visiting Kruger and one simply needs to accept that you are sharing this piece of paradise with a cornucopia of different individuals who feed off different needs and expectations when visiting Kruger. We are also Kalahari junkies and how different the visits to the Kgalagadi and surrounds are - peace and quiet, friendly people and road blocks consist of 3 vehicles! However, the lure of the bushveld and Kruger in particular is so great that one finds it hard to resist so it was with great excitement that we headed to Kruger for our 12th visit to this magical place during August.
We had carefully thought out our itinerary deciding to spend time up north at Shingwedzi and Balule to unwind before finishing off at Berg en Dal where where the beat of the bushveld would no doubt increase its tempo.We also made a conscious decision not to keep watching the sightings boards but to take Kruger on at our own slow pace appreciating "all things bright and beautiful and all things great and small" by not simply hunting down the cats - easier said than done I might add.
We have a long trip of 1500km to get to Kruger from the Eastern Cape so we decided to spend a few days enjoying the southern and northern Drakensberg for a few days as we meandered our way up to Malelane gate. I would like to share (if I may) some of the wonderful scenery that our country is blessed with in this region.
We spent time on a guest farm in the Barkly East area where we explored the Barkly, Lundeans , Naudes Nek and Pitseng passes. This is truly a beautiful area.
This is the view down the Barkly Pass
Once through Barkly East we crossed this river with its beautiful old bridge
The early morning view from our farm cottage was transformed from this misty weather to a beautiful rainbow - we thought to ourselves "I bet Kruger is at the foot of that rainbow!"
We decided to summit Lundean's Pass first before driving a spectacular "private" pass to visit a well known ski resort. The scenery was spectacular and we even found a small patch of snow
En route north a few days later we drove the Naude's Nek Pass which was a wonderful experience
From here it was down the Pitseng Pass and up to the northern berg where we spent a few days that we actually wished away because we so anxious to get to Kruger for our 18-day visit. Well THE DAY dawned and we were away at 04h00 travelling through Ladysmith, Ermelo Barberton before finally reaching Malelane Gate at about 13h00. We actually got lost in all our excitement - turned into Malelane town to get to the gate instead of passing through and turning left a few km later!!!
Checking in went smoothly and we set off to Malelane camp where we would spent the night before heading north the next day.
For the first time in many years the first sighting was not an Impala!
.....to be continued