Northern Kruger continues
The Shipandani overnight hide was our next stopover. Check-in is at Mopani where bedding is collected. The drive to Mopani was on the gravel road past the Kanniedood dam close to the Mozambique border. We saw little on the road but enjoyed a few hours at the Nyawutsi Hide entertained by elephant and a giant kingfisher catching a fish. A juvenile elephant (we named Short Straw) had lost half its trunk. It seemed to cope well enough drinking. Short Straw as opposed to Long Straw. The pictures below explain. Also Dumpster showing us scant respect.
Short Straw: Does a croc have the other bit?
Long Straw: Digestive inadequacy?
Dumpster: No manners at all
The night at the Shipandani Hide was not worth the cost. Being a new moon night, there was no ambient light once the sun had set. Hippos could be heard grunting, but it was all a bit pointless. Choose full moon nights for a sleepover hide.
Wot? Me worry?
Sable Dam Sleepover Hide followed Shipandani. Two sleepover hides in succession was perhaps not the wisest choice but it was all that was available when we booked and the idea of sleepover hides appealed. Bedding is collected at Phalaborwa gate. We had an uneventful drive with no significant sightings from Mopani to Phalaborwa and then Sable Dam. Sable Dam yielded a great deal of elephant action in the dam, some of it almost pornographic. No matter, elephants will do what elephants must do. A huge herd cavorted in the water on the far side of the dam, necessitating binoculars and high camera zoom.
Dam fine fun
Both sleepover hides can accommodate large groups. It was quite eerie for 2 people alone in the hides. An interesting concept but not something we will do again.
After handing back the bedding at Phalaborwa, we took the direct route to Letaba, stopping at the Masorini Archaeological Site for a short guided tour. It is fascinating to see how iron was smelted and hear about the folk lore around the process. For example, no women are allowed near the process of smelting, especially not pregnant woman as it is believed to bring bad luck, causing a poor quality smelt. Nothing of significance was seen on the way to Letaba or on the road back to Mopani to book in for our final 2 nights at Tsendzi. On the way we stopped over at the Matamberi bird hide overlooking the Letabariver for lunch. A sadly neglected hide, dirty with rubbish bins overflowing and the path to the hide overgrown.
The last two nights were at Tsendze. What a terrific camp. Each site well shaded, clearly demarcated, widely spaced and allocated. Not having electricity detracts nothing from the camp. The camp supervisor (Robert?) introduces himself to each arrival, explains the facilities and answers any questions.
Our final game drive took us past Mopani heading north, looping east on the S144 and S143.At the Thihongonyeni water hole we spent a quiet two hours watching a herd of elephant arrive, drink, socialise and move on. The herd included a tuskless female and a very old bull supported by younger askari’s.
He ain't heavy
The road back to camp brought a good sighting of a tawny eagle and old bull with one monstrous tusk, the other seemed to have broken off.
Not a partridge in pear tree
Should make quite a decent toothpick
And finally, some cats, the only cats of the entire Kruger besides the mangy lion near Crooks. A pair of cheetah, either needing directions or offering directions, we were not quite sure. Nevertheless a good end to our last full day in the park. We returned to Tzendze, again delighted with its spaciousness and isolation.
Ah, so this is where we are...
Goodbye, come again soon
The next morning we set off for the long journey back to Johannesburg, with wonderful memories and many photographs from what we fondly refer to as our MMK holiday – Marakele, Mapungubwe and Kruger.