May we wish you all a very warm welcome to our decidedly tardy TR. Oh where would we be without all our notes painstakingly written up each day as we never thought it would be such a long wait to get it all completed and added to the Travel Tales. So, if some sections are rather lightweight with text, we hope our photos will make up for any omissions. This was a trip we optimistically thought we could undertake once SO (WildImage) had recovered from major surgery...somehow things did not go as planned and, looking back, I can almost find a funny side to sitting by his bed in Critical Care as he lay wired, plumbed and ventilated and I begged the Intensive Care Consultant to do everything they could for him to recover so that we could both be back in the Kruger Park. The fact that he was an African and had indeed spent his own honeymoon in the Kruger Park was a coincidence one could never have envisaged. As the weeks passed, our desperately wanted trip began to feel an almost unattainable dream but with considerable back up from all the medical team and the final piece of the safeguard provided by the wonderful Crested Val we finally landed at Jo’burg Airport on 18th November. Although we would normally have made a desperate dash to Malelane Gate to make sure we were in the Park as quickly as possible, this trip we opted to spend the first night at Hazyview where an establishment which must be nameless for this report is the closest place we will ever have to a ‘second home’ in RSA. It meant SO could just rest and sleep as soon as we arrived, I could rearrange all the medical kit which had been split between bags for the flight just in case something went missing and I could do a big shop after a restful breakfast, pack up the car which was by now filled to the gunwales and off we went to Numbi Gate.
There is absolutely nothing which can beat that sheer joy, relief, excitement as the barrier is lifted and you are finally back in Kruger. So many people have made the same comment in their own trip reports so I am sure this is a universal experience for everyone. Our first spot were waterbuck, quickly followed by warthogs and rhinos. Since we had only driven to Pretoriuskop for an early lunch, this was a pretty good start. Watched over by a sleeping bat (no light for any photos) we had a quick meal and were soon back on the road. I can never pass the turn off to Shitlhave where we were joined by a breeding herd of ellies,
waterbuck, grey heron, plovers, egrets and zebras. Over the years we have seen amazing wildlife at this dam. It has crossed my mind one day to spend the whole day there without moving and just see what a variety of birds and animals pass by...just need a simple solution for the ‘comfort break’ though. These days I know I couldn’t last all day!!
Back to the tarmac we spotted wildebeest, zebra, a slender mongoose and another rhino before turning down to check on Transport Dam. Today it was fairly quiet – hippo in the water, a grey heron fishing and the buffalo weavers busy around their nests. The water level was high we noted so we would be interested to see if this would be the case all through the Park.
Just before the H3 turn off we always stop to look out for the klipspringer and we were not disappointed as a pair were perched on their koppje.
It was very quiet along the main road but we soon turned off towards Biyamiti Weir, spotting another slender mongoose and a giraffe
along the way as well as an injured hyena. Just before the weir we found ourselves caught amidst a large ellie herd. Despite driving slowly along this narrow road and stopping as soon as we spotted the first elephant, the herd were making their way down to the riverbed for an afternoon drink and we were quickly surrounded. These gentle giants (on this occasion) did not seem to have concerns about us and they continued down to their destination. At the weir itself we watched a small pod of hippo
along with plovers, sandpipers,
and lesser striped swallows. Time was passing quickly though and we did not want to find ourselves racing to camp. Leaving the weir road and turning onto the private road down to Biyamiti we were delighted to see two more rhinos.
This road was also quiet but we kept stopping for several other cars who all halted to ask us if we were birders but when we replied that we enjoyed whatever the Park had to show us, all quickly drove on. Two things puzzled us about all these visitors – we assumed they were looking for a particular bird, although none of them offered any explanation as to what it might have been. Also, we began to think they could not all have been Biyamiti guests so what were they doing driving down this ‘private’ road anyway. The following day we did meet a lady who explained what they were all doing however. On our previous trip we had finished our stay at Biyamiti but this time it was to be our first camp. It is one of our favourites and, being small, is so peaceful. As SO lay down for a rest, I unpacked the car, prepared things for dinner and poured us both a gin and tonic which we enjoyed whilst soaking up the atmosphere of the bush. It was just amazing to be back in Kruger and we slept like logs.