Day1… and so it starts
Ok, to set things straight, I didn’t only go to Kruger for 18 days, I asked my family what their plans was for Dec and if they maybe wanted to go to Kruger, and after a lot of nagging and persistence they agreed to 10 days (1 Jan-10 Jan) so I added another 13 days to my trip. SO in total I would be in the Park for a month, basically the whole school summer holidays and I was elated.
7 nights Satara
6 nights Lower Sbie
The morning came of 10 Dec and I was excited, a new adventure would start today. The only drawback for the start of my trip was rain (how I would regret wishing the rain away so early in my trip). I had to pack my car in the rain and the rain followed me all the way to Sabie, by the look of the red muddy road I had to drive to my friend’s house, it had been raining for days. But I was in contact with Leachy and he said that Kruger had seen no rain so far, so I was glad knowing that I won’t be pitching up tent in any wet condition. I arrived at my friends place and it was pouring, we parked underneath this outside garage at least next to the front door and the first thing I saw was their cat… Aaaaaw what a beaut they had, it was an AWC-feral-cat cross and the biggest darling ever.
We soon opened a bottle of red wine and caught up on what has happened in our lives the past few weeks. I was informed that it had rained 70mm the last few days and it didn’t look like it would stop soon. I made some chili chicken livers at home which we heated up and had with melted-butter toast (the food of kings).
We went to bed early as I had to wake up at 3:30 the3 next morning and the as I was tucked in the rain lulled me to sleep. You know those nights when it feels that you just closed your eyes and then the alarm screeches you awake, well that morning I felt like I had no sleep at all but I still had to drag my body out of bed and freshened up with a hot shower.
My friend told me and made me repeat how I should get back to the tar road (left, then left, then straight) uhm ok… so came Heksie blunder #1 at 4:00 in the morning on a rainy, muddy plantation:
I turn left, then left again and then I get to the spot that has a fork on the left hand side or I can turn right so I turn into the most left road. And I drive, and it is just mud everywhere… after a few km’s I just see grass towering over me and I start to get worried. I stop and phone my friend and also turn around and start to make my way back to where I turned unto this road. All I’m thinking is that I took the wrong turn and some cannibalistic inbred monsters are going to eat me (I have the most amazing imagination). Now I face my next obstacle, it was downhill all the way and my car is packed heavy with the freezer and camping equipment and alcohol… My car kept on slipping and after a few metres it just didn’t want to move, I couldn’t go forward, so I let my car go a bit back and then I try again but to no avail. With all of this I’m still on the phone with my friend, he said it is best to turn around as there is another way back to his house… he directed me to his house and I had a few close call again with uphill’s but I made it out safe and he climbed into his car and escorted me to the tar. My knight in shining armour I say…
So I was back on the tar and on my way to Kruger at last, it was so foggy and it drizzled so it was a slow drive but I still managed to get to Phabeni gate by 6:00. Before I entered I put on my ribbons and got my cameras and binocs ready for action. It was drizzling still and my towel was on my lap as I hate driving with a closed window.
On that note: Have you guys seen those people that no matter what, scorching hot, raining or cold they always have their windows up… how can they enjoy the park if they are all boxed up in their car?
I wanted to take my time but I also wanted to pitch up camp as I didn’t know if the rain would get worse or get a bad camping spot.
The first good sighting was my favourite bird, the hamerkop
I also had a run in with baboons
And got a nice close up of a common sandpiper
Then I came upon a strange and very sad sighting, first I saw this and I thought this oke in the Volkswagen was very brave as I’m more afraid of a hippo than an elephant and he is right next to him.
But the car turned around as I didn’t want to go closer and stopped next to me informing me that the hippo is dead. Now I could investigate on this matter…
The evidence made me think of two theories but I’m leaning more to the latter: Either a family of black mambas was gatvol being squished by these seacows and decided to bite him enough times so their venom would be effective or it was a hit and run… But if a car, bakkie, combi or the smaller versions would hit such a massive beast then there would be a massive dented car next to him. So what transport vehicle was big enough not to smashed up?
I didn’t stay long and left this mystery death still fresh on the road. The last thing I saw before entering the camp was Leachy, we had a brief chat as you know that during holidays 2 cars can make a helluva roadblock.
I arrived at Lower Sabie at 9:30 and started with setting up camp, it was drizzling but not that hard that I was bothered. After being happy with what I did, I made a MMC and sat in camp. Whilst drinking my coffee I received a message from Wendy informing me that she just stopped at Milly’s and was putting in some petrol. I decided then that I had enough time to do another drive before she would arrive and I packed everything in my car and left. Now I’m telling you that a MMC is magical because I was still sipping on it, about 1.2km from Lower Sabie when I saw a small road block and a male lion crossing the road. It was too fast for me to take a pic but still a sighting. And as I stopped about 50m from there because I didn’t want to be part of the chaos, I heard next to me ‘Heksie’ I saw that it was one of my Kruger friends (Since last year Dec I have seen him and his family almost with every trip in Kruger, his name is Yusuf). He told me that there was an ingwe across the river, although I have a bad pic it is still proof… and yes I’m still only a km from the camp.
We had a lekker chat, he making my jaw drop as they have only been in the park for a week but he has had 21 sightings of leopard, he showed me some pics and he had a pangolin… very lucky indeed. The cars started to pile up so I moved on. I drove to the H12 highwater bridge then Salitjie towards Lower Sabie again. It wasn’t a productive drive but I think it was the most enjoyable drive the whole trip.
A beautiful bushbuck lady
Bobbies having a ball
Juvenile Blacksmith plover
I had such a laugh with this ellie, he was trumpeting at every passerby and made some people very nervous but he was young and just showing off
And a giraffe
Now something that has been very interesting to me, I always stop and take pics of them is the pooh-shrooms, so bear with me.
And then I also got a juvenile Bateleur in flight
I got at camp just before Wendy arrived and helped her set up. Then Leach joined us, we arranged with him that tonight we would be making a fire and he is obliged to join us for dinner so he went and fetched his meat and drinks. So I wanted to get the fire going and here comes Heksie blunder #2:
I take out our charcoal started and pour the charcoal in there, put her teabags underneath it and ask her where is the lighter, she tell me that there was one in the bag with the goodies but I can’t find it so I get mine out of the car and light the fire. She pumps up her matrass and I’m in my tent as well when we hear this big BANG
Wendy immediately thinks that her matrass has blown and I hear the neighbours saying that kids are busy with crackers so I’m chilled , open a KPA and go check out the fire. But nothing is going on there, I tell Wendy that here teabags are faulty as they have totally disintegrated and go fetch mine. Just as I put mine on the fire I see pieces of plastic on the braai and it dawns upon me… ‘Wendy I know where your lighter is…’ I had put all the charcoal on top of it and it exploded. Whooops…
Leachy arrived and the story had to be shared with a lot of laughter. We had some corn in foil and chicken sosaties and it was delicious, together with great conversation and dear friends this would be an amazing start to our Kruger adventure.
To be continued…