18 March 2014
We always do our planning and bookings to visit the Parks a year in advance.
When the announcement of the cricket on the 7 – 8 march 2014 was posted on the forums, we already had trips booked and paid for, for January and April 2014.
We decided that a third trip during March 2014 will not be feasible because the four-legged kids cannot stay in the kennels again after such a short time back home.
I was thinking back at the time when both of us were still working and drove to Nelspruit for a 2- hour meeting and suggested to Hilda that we can do the same for the cricket on the 8th of March 2014. She did not even think about it twice, because the 4-legged kids will think we are off to work as always with them staying at home.
We also agreed that we will keep the decision between us as a surprise for the ‘mites attending the cricket, just in case something comes up to prevent us from going. Although we had various mini-meets with fellow ‘mites during the 8 months till the D-date, the secret was kept
With all the rain during the week and the closure of roads in the park, we thought that everything was in vain and we will miss the cricket again
. I did send a general PM to ecojunkie to make sure that the tar road from Malelane to Skukuza will be open on Saturday and when she confirmed, the plan was put into action.Of course the first item I packed was Hilda’s 500mm lens.
We were up at 02:00 and were on our way by 03:30 with coffee and homemade pies for the road. I had to stop along the way to take some pictures of the sunrise we encountered on our way to Nelspruit.
The pictures showed me that there was still a lot of water in the clouds and that we will have a very hot day at the cricket.
This is the sunrise pictures that we captured along the road.
This was a close-up of the clouds.
We were lucky to arrive at the stop and go at Nelspruit with only 5 minutes to wait before the convoy started moving
With 400km of driving behind us we arrived at Malelane gate. It felt really strange to submit our paperwork that gave us permission to enter the park as day visitors for the first time ever.
Due to time constraints we could not drive our normal speed of 15 kilometers per hour as we normally do, but still had some great sightings along the way.
Our first sighting of the day was some impala deep into the bush with no chance of a picture.
Our first birdie of the trip was this Lilac-breasted roller.
We did not even have time to stop at Afsaal this time around.
At Kwaggaspan we came across a lonely Saddle-billed Stork that was so busy fiddling with its feathers that we only had time to take the following picture before we had to leave.
As we neared the crossing with the H1-1, we could see the road was closed and a car was parked with its nose towards Pretoriuskop. My first thought was that the occupants took pictures of the resident klipspringers in the koppie to their right.
As we arrived at the T-junction, Hilda shouted “lions in the road to the left”. It was two lionesses walking towards us in the road. The first lioness stopped in the middle of the road because she was not sure which way to go.
She turned around and started walking towards us.
Here is a picture where she got closer with the second lioness following her.
Here she is a bit closer.
Here she got so close that Hilda had to close the window.
I decided to back up a bit to give her some room and for the other car to get some great pictures of her as she crossed the road in front of us. It did not seem that she took any notice of us as this was the only picture I could get of her passing my door.
This is a picture of the second lioness passing on Hilda’s side of the bakkie.
Chuffed with our sighting we were on our way again.
The next sighting we had was this ellie that seem to be fast asleep.
It was getting hotter by the minute and came across two secretary birds hunting with their beaks wide open as a result of the heat.
As we crossed the Msimuku River we were greeted by some buffalo in the river. In a nearby tree was a Brown Snake Eagle and busy crossing the road was a terrapin that rushed to cross the warm sand on the bridge.
We quickly had a body break at reception and were off to the cricket. We arrived at the cricket field by 10:00 after a 470km drive.
Needless to say that everybody that we met was very surprised to see us at the cricket. It was great to see and chatted to all the ‘mites known to us as well as being able to meet so many new ‘mites, fellow moderators and SANparks management that we met for the first time
Time flew by and before we could settle in it was already 13:30 and we had to leave for home
Although we were only at the cricket for 3.5 hours, every minute was worth it
After bidding everybody farewell it was time to leave for home. I had to stop at Milly’s for Hilda to do some shopping. She cannot pass Milly’s without buying jams and preserves!
We arrived back home at 18:30 and another 466 km drive. A total drive of 936km to be at the cricket for 3.5 hours seems hilarious, but we can promise you it was awesome
Till next time. See everybody on the forums!