Back in about October I had a look at the availability of a safari tent at Skukuza for the cricket weekend, then I contacted Meandering Mouse and asked if she would like to share with me and do two nights at Biyamiti after the cricket as well. The answer turned out to be yes, and our trip was booked.
This is not just my TR. As MM and I travelled together it seemed appropriate that we should do a joint TR, so she will be telling the story from her side of the car, too.
We went in my car on Thursday 6 March, and started out in rain, which had been falling in Joburg since the previous Saturday. In fact it had been falling generally over the whole of north-eastern South Africa, and as we drove alongside the Elands River, after passing Waterval Boven, it was a raging torrent in places. The rain had stopped by the time we reached Witbank, nor did we have any mist, which was a real blessing.
I suggested that we could turn off at Ngodwana and go to Nelspruit via Kaapsche Hoop. Never having been there before, MM asked “Oh is that where the wild horses are?”. “Yes,” I replied, not realising what was going on in her head. So we turned off just after the paper mill and started along a road which is almost the same distance as staying on the N4, but a bit slower because of the hills. No traffic, no potholes and the most wonderful views. At one point we saw some horses which got MM bubbling with excitement. I stopped, reversed, and MM leapt out of the car and started taking photos. I don’t think she could have been more excited if it was three LITs with lions and wild dogs sleeping under the tree.
I must add that the N4 to Nelspruit is a good road now. If you go straight, after the Machado toll plaza, you go via Ngodwana and the road is in excellent condition, with lots of passing places. I came back via Schoemanskloof which has also been upgraded and that route, too, is in excellent condition. It is marked as the R539 on some maps, but they are both N4. We were stopped twice by police road blocks but they were checking driver and car licences that day.
We had stopped at Millys and got smoked trout for our supper, stopped again at White River to have tea with a friend of mine and get groceries, but the power was off in the town so we had a quick chat and pressed on to Hazyview via the R40 and got our perishables there in a shopping centre which is as good as Cresta. The R40 is not in bad condition at the moment, but there are some potholes developing as it has a lot of heavy truck traffic. Don’t even think about using the R538 to Numbi Gate.
We entered at Phabeni and that is where MM saw the entry in the visitors’ book which gave me the title of this TR. We had our first “sighting” as we were reversing out of the parking. “Look, a yellow ribbon” I shouted. Viking had just pulled in next to us. They were leaving the Park but we had a short chat. It was so good to meet you guys. What a wonderful start to our visit.
We were soon to discover just how much rain had fallen in Kruger. This is the little low level bridge just outside Phabeni.