A big thanks to Mama Fariu, Meerkitty, Sparrow, Hilda, Wendy, MM, Jock, Foxy, saraf, vlakvarkvrou, vinkie, Cheetah, Aat, Sharifa, Val, & Pumbaa
Again sorry for the long delays between episodes,
I am not sure what happens to the time and here it is almost time for our next trip and I still am dithering on but I will definitely complete this one sooner or later!
After leaving Mopani our next port of call for 2 nights was another of my favourite camps in the north Punda Maria
So we packed up and with a sort of sad heart took our leave of Mopani and our wonderful view and sightings, but still excited knowing that more adventures awaited us.
It was a fairly quiet drive up the H1-6 to Shingwedzi as we had found the day before as well but we enjoyed the lovely scenery of the area and some of the trees which to my mind are all part of the big picture.
I think these are the Lowveld Cluster Leaf but if anyone else has a positive ID then more than happy. LargeLarge
After a short break at Shingwedzi we carried on ever further north and I had hardly got the words out when Debs said, "Look" Huh, I see a herd of Zebra?
but sure enough mingled in with the Zebra were 3 of the species we were hoping to see again Roan Antelope
but these ones were for some reason extremely nervous and as soon as we slowed down they bolted, trying to cross the road until another car thwarted them so they dashed off in the opposite direction.
Very different to the ones we saw a few years back with Jock who were very relaxed and happy to stand for pics.
Sorry the pics aren't great at all but I post them for proof!LargeLarge
After arriving and settling into our bungalow in Punda Maria, we decided we just had to do a drive on the S99 Mahonie Loop
a road we just love, for very good reason and many of you will remember where we had our very special sighting of 2 Caracal kittens a couple of years ago.
We hadn't gone very far around when the sunset drive vehicle caught up with us.
A short distance on and driving at snails pace, we suddenly noticed a very strange sight,
first a dog running at full tilt through the bush and which appeared to be chasing a small animal/antelope and followed by first one then another person dressed in orange overalls I think it was.
We were still puzzling at this strange sight when we noticed the guide on the SANparks vehicle has also seen them and had got out and was scanning through binoculars.
We then realised that these were poachers, most likely poaching for the pot type poachers but poachers all the same and I am not going to comment much further on the subject as I think we all have our own feelings and thoughts on the subject.
I was going to post a link to the topic that was posted on the forum at the time but can't seem to find it any more?
Anyway, we carried on and lo and behold a few kms further on more of them!
These ones were dressed in white, so fairly easy to spot but once they realised they had been seen, ducked behind a tree and stayed well hidden.
This was not the Mahonie loop we knew, and we continued the drive with mixed emotions.
We did find some Lions right near the end of the drive but well back and only just visible through binocs so no pics of them.
Klystron did go and chat to the guide afterwards and he told him that he was going to shoot the dogs but they had pulled them down and out of sight.
and also confirmed that it was a regular occurrence in that area due to the fence being only a few kilometres away.
He also said that he would report it but only in the morning which we found a little odd!
After a nice braai down at the communal area with nice chats to the others visitors and a visit by the local Genet it was time for bed.
The next day 1st March
we planned on driving up to Crooks Corner, an area we just love and never fail to visit when there.
but we awoke to a grey and rainy day!
So it was off onto a very wet S66
and then onto the Klopperfontein Loop
with the rain coming down intermittently resulting the windows having to be and down constantly.
A little way along and just before the Klopperfontein waterhole we had stopped to watch as a herd of Giraffe slowly made their way along browsing from tree to tree when we spied some ears twitching in the long wet grass and there lay a small pride of Lions
we think around eight all together who were also watching the Giraffe coming closer and closer with a lot of interest!LargeLargeLarge
After sitting there for ages hoping for some action the giraffe seemed to change course and meander a bit further away so we decided to move on as well as by now the rain seemed to becoming a bit heavier.
A stop off at the Klopperfontein Dam is always on the agenda but this time all was quiet and nothing moved, not even a bird!
Altho we did see a bird a bit later, I think this is a Juv Red-backed Shrike!Large
We finally made it to the S63
Pafuri Border Gate road and as we hadn't somehow ever done the little 1.8km piece that cuts across to the Nyala Drive side we thought we would give it a go then drive to Crooks after that.
We squelched slowly along and as we had to have the windows all firmly closed at this point, spotting was pretty difficult, I was peering though the rain speckled glass when I thought I saw some dark things and it was only when we had gone on about 50 meters or so I decided I wanted to go back, you know that funny feeling, (if we hadn't it would have worried me for ages type of feeling,) so we squelched backwards and there under the trees was a small group of our first ever in Kruger Crested Guineafowl
I could hardly believe it and I have the rain smeared pic through the glass pic to prove it! Large
Unfortunately they also wouldn't hang around and dashed off at speed as soon as they knew they had been spotted.
As we drove along the little narrow road leading to Crook's Corner the trees were dripping large drops onto the roof of the car and everything looked totally soaked.
At Crook's corner the rain had eased off a bit so out I jumped, right into a large mud puddle which nearly came up to my ankles making it very difficult to extricate my foot and almost leaving my sandal behind.
but I persevered on and even got you a few pics!
A bit gloomy I'm afraid!Large
I'm not sure but I think this was a Fish Eagle
flying down the Limpopo River.Large
and a White-fronted Bee-eater
sitting on the railing. altho I seem to have focussed more on the grass than on the bird! Large
and a very bedraggled looking Cuckoo Large
The S63 was by now really very wet and muddy and there were times when I honestly was not sure a "normal" car would have made it through parts of the road.
We love doing all the little detours and twists and turns as the road winds along the Luvuvhu River as its so picturesque and there were pods of Hippos
in many parts of the river something we had not seen beforeLarge
Some of the roads namesakes!LargeLarge
Some White-backed Vultures
at the junction of the S63 and the little cross road.
not sure what they up to, seemed something was there to eat but we couldn't make it out.Large
and then a Hooded Vulture
We made our way along to Pafuri Picnic Spot
planning on having some Boerie Rolls but honestly by the time we got there it was teeming down again and we would have had to be huddled underneath the shelter and got thoroughly wet just getting there so we settled for a quick toilet stop and decided instead to go and sit on the bridge over the Luvuvhu River
and have some cheese and biscuits that we had fortunately thought to bring as a back up.
A little Wire-tailed Swallow
also enjoying the view.Large
We then decided to take a drive along the S643
in the direction of Thulamela, very scenic road indeed and when you get to the end you can turn around and do it all the way again!
A new tick for me in the form of a Tambourine Dove Large
Some of the scenery.Large
Then it was the long road back to camp.Chameleon
crossing the wet road.Large
and by the time we got back it was clearing up again and becoming very warm and muggy.
We always enjoy a visit to the hide in the camp and today was no different.
We were please to see they have enlarged the water hole as well. Large