Joined: Fri Jan 18, 2013 1:17 pm
This is my tale about my visit to the Kruger during the December holiday.
It was during the dates 14-31 Dec and I will gladly share it with you.
I would like to mention that I am Afrikaans speaking so mind the spelling.
I started planning this trip 6 months before, as you can imagine six months of excitement is a very long time. It was tuff sitting at work and dreaming of my holiday to come, all I could think was nature and the Kruger feeling, the history,all the animals in their natural habitat, braaivleis and sounds. I was reading books of the Game Rangers and their stories at night before I went to sleep.
The six months gave me ample time to prepare. Thats when I started to visit this Forum and I studied it, I read all the travel tales for Decembers before just to find out what I might see and how the bush would be like South and up North. I read the Camps and roads topic to see wich roads was best and what I should expect at which camps. I read all about the animals I would like to see under the animals topic and studied there patterns, like example where the wild dogs was seen.
I planned the routes out of a Kruger guide/map book you buy from the shops from a previous visit. I calculated all the km and what time I should leave the camp and be at the picnic site to when I will arrive and check in again.
I planned with a budget in mind and I worked out the menu for the almost 3 weeks.
I have been to Kruger before,but never so prepared.
Every spare bit of time I had I spent dreaming en reading up and planning for this was going to be my dream Kruger visit..Join me and I will tel you all about my journey…..
13 December 2012
All the shopping was done and the car was loaded to the brim, and as I departed my home in Pretoria I gave a sigh of relief because the holiday I was waiting for all 6 months was actually here. I drove on the N4 and made a stop at the Alzu petro port where I bought a cappuchino and sat down to look at the game they have there. There was Eland, and I thought to myself “I will be looking for your brothers in the Kruger” (Its just not the same to see Eland on a relative small game farm). As I sipped on my drink I was thinking in excite about the time that laid ahead. I took the scenic route through Waterval boven and at Ngodwana I turned right past Kaapschehoop to Nelspruit where I stayed the night with the Krieke wich is good friends of mine. As I stopped at there home the engine light came on and my mood went from great to zero. My friends tried to cheer me up and we had a great evening,but in the back of my mind all I could think about was ENGINE LIGHT WHY NOW………..
Needless to say I did not have a good nights rest for the engine light in the car was haunting me. I took the car to the VW dealer where a guy that was trying to be very smart said a lot of stuff wich was far from true, I know that because I have been around the block and can help myself if need be. Went home and popped the hood. Being far from home and my garage I had no tools and the cars now a days does not let you just work on them, everything is hidden behind plastic panels. I looked for something that was making a air leaking noise when I drove. The time was ticking past for I was on my way to Kruger. There was no time to take is to a workshop that day and my vriend offered his car to me,and he will take my car to a workshop the next day. I was very grateful and it was some reliëf, but could stop myself from thinking on my way through Malelane that this was not how I intended my first day of the holiday I planned for so long. Soon I was trough Komatipoort and on my way to Crocodile bridge gate at about 14:00
I went into the office to get my permit and I was in Paradise. I gave a glance at the Crocodilebrige camp on the left at the junction and said to myself “I will get you next time” then my holiday started. The first animal I saw was not Impala as one might imagine but a Blouwildebeest. I then discoverded that it is not that easy to look for game when you are alone and have to look both sides,but I knew that in the next 3 weeks I will learn how to do it. I was on my way North on the H4-2 to Lower Sabie. Saw some general game and among them a group op Kudu bulls
For my first day and I was lucky to see this character taking a nap.
There was not much movement so I took the picture and head up further. And not very long after the leopard there was these two taking a nap
It was a breeding pair of lion. There was not any movement either so I just took the picture and moved on.
I saw some birds as well, this Fisant
And where the road meets up along the Sabie river I first heard the saw the king of the fishers.
I was very lucky to see four of the big five in the heat of day and on such a short drive. The fourth being Rhino
(Just for further use I wil just post photos of the rhino I saw and no description on where I have seen them)
I got to Lower Sabie camp and went to the office to check in. I was staying in a Safari tent.
With this view over the Sabie river
And what did I see on the other side of the river?
Number 5 of the big five on my first day.
My Friends Yolani and J.C. Kriek joined me that evening for a braaivleis en potbread dinner. It went down good as we discussed the bigfive day we had.
We had a visitor crawling around on the tent sides looking for dinner
As I laid my head on the pillow that evening listening to the night sounds I was gratefull for a great day that started off wild and ended up seeing a lot of wild. O this is going to be a great trip……..
I woke up this morning very refreshed, after a good nights rest in the Kruger Park with all the sounds close to the river, how can it be beter? I woke up to this view
Packed everything up and we where off. We saw a leopard at the Mosehla bridge but he did not stand still for a picture We opted to go back South via the S28 but had no luck finding any Cheetah.
We saw some Giraffe
And the biggest birds in the park among Zebra
And some European visitors
We went West on the S25 where we saw very little because it was very lush after the amount of rain that fell in the weeks before.
Wê stopped at Afsaal for brunch,having some leftovers of the potbread
After watching the squirils and birds at the picnic site I went up the Voortrekker road wich was very quit with very little animal sitings.
I did read up on Shipmountain and here it is looking like a upside down ship
Interesting how it looks like somone piled that rocks to form a mountain
Where I would be staying 3 nights for my friends will soon be departing and it will be me and the Kruger.
After booking in at reception I made my way to the hut.
My friends and I had some cheese and wine and a very interesting onion marmelade.
We had some braaivleis and mielies and we had a great evening. It was a very slow day with very little sightings, was it because of the lush area I where in or just bad luck?
Off to bed because I had to get up early tomorrow………..
It was Gelofte dag today as I woke up. It was overcast and cool,wich was nice because it can get very hot in this park, although I was in die coolest camp. I greeted my friends and the were off. I was alone. It was just me and the whole Kruger Park.
I decided not to do allot of driving today because of the bad luck of yesterday and it looked like rain. I did drive to Shitlhave dam and spotted some buck there
I spent some time there just relaxing.
I went back to camp and decided to try the Sable trail wich is there somewhere. I asked the woman at reception about a map but she didnt even know what I was talking about. I also asked about any films that should be shown during the holidays there, but a snotty comment told me that the projector was broken and they will not show any films, nice one Sanparks.
I started the Sable trail where the game drive vehicles is parked. There is arrows on the ground pointing you in a general direction. It is sad to see something that was built by the Honorary Rangers being in such a state it is in. 40% of the info boards on the trail is missing and you need a panga to hack through the bushes to see the board at some places.
Along the way I saw this guy watching me
The trail makes a turn at the swimming pool
Before it heads up back to the middle of the camp where the Wolhuter hut is
It was one of the first huts in the park. As I stood and looked at the hut I wondered how it must have been like in those days.
Again I was pointed in a general direction through the huts where I struggled to find the trail. I ended up going past one of the guesthouses to find the lonely info board. It said that I must look at a hill in the distance. That was where Albasini had a trade post
I finished the trail but I am certain that I might have missed a few boards.
It started raining and I went back to the hut. I had a Sunset drive that afternoon but it was raining and the game drive vehicles was wet
We dried it and of we went hoping the rain wil give us a gap, and surely it did. We did not see much on this drive. We did see Klipspringers and Baboons on the big rock on the S10 loop. When it got dark the owls came out
I got back at camp and made a light dinner. It was nice and kief that evening. I went to bed early because tomorrow I wil be up very early.
4:15 my alarm went off and I jumped out of bed because I wanted to get up and get out of camp to go and search for the animals. Got up made some coffee for the road and by 4:35 I was out of Pretoriuskop for my day. My plan was to go down the H1-1 and up the Watergat pad (S65). West on the S1 to Albasini picnic site for brunch and down the S3 back to Pretoriuskop.
The H1-1 was quiet and I did not see much, I did see a beautiful bird that I could tick of my list
Went on the S65 and still quiet. I did spot a nice big warthog though
While driving with your windows open you can clearly hear the Korhaan calling with the loud click click sound
Another bird I checked off my list
At the S65 and Nwaswitshaka river crossing I stopped next to a car, the driver asked if I have seen anything where I came from, I told him that it was quiet, but he had great news hê told me that on the S4 there was a pack of Wilddogs. I thanked him and I was off.
On the S4 I started looking and surely under the trees hiding from the sun the (what I think) the Skukuza pack was hiding from the sun
I spent about aan hour there for they were hiding in the bush and only now and again some stood up to find a beter place in the shade, thats when you have to be quick with the camera
What a great sighting and I would have missed it if it weren’t for the friendly people sharing the sighting.
Back on the S1 with general game sightings I saw this Zebra, firstly one would think that it is giving birth but it looks like some predator might have got its tail…
I arrived at Albasini and was the only one there. The peace and quiet is so wonderful.
It is very lush and green
South on the S3 I saw mommy Boskorhaan
At the Kwamfamehlo stream crossing there was a Hamerkop waiting to catch some fish
I stopped at the Mestel dam but there was nothing to be seen. With all the rain there was enough water to drink in the veld like in this picture
I was back in camp to take a nap and hide from the heat of day. When I woke up it had rained and it was time for a sunset drive. The clouds moved away for a beautiful Kruger sunset.
Normally the S10 loop has been unkind to me but this evening it was very good, because we so 4 of the big 5 there in a time span of 20 minutes, even the guide was surprises by this.
I don’t want to brag but I am claiming this one, while the guide was explaining something about the Elephant to some German tourists I was looking through my binoculars at the big rock wich the S10 loop goes around, I spotted something faint on top. And would you believe what it was, I never would imagine that this predator would climb up there
She was calling faintly and the guide reckon that she might have a liter somewhere near. We followed her down
The grass was so long that she disappeared right in front of us.
It was getting dark and we did not see much further on the drive. The guide spotted a Boomslang in a tree. Here is a poor photo
This was a good day for me. Tomorrow I am packing up and heading for Skukuza.
It was an early start today, got up packed everything, got my mug for coffee, dropped the key in the key box and I was out of camp at about 5:00.
I took the Voortrekker road and again I did not see any animals. Stopped at Afsaal to refill my mug and have some rusks.
Then I took the S118 and just at the turn I saw this fellow on mission to somewhere
I drove onto the S119 to the Gardenia bird hide
There was not allot going on just peace and quiet. Did see this guy
And some water tortoise
Along the road at a stream I took this picture just to show why the call it a Hamerkop
Some beautiful rhino
One of the many tortoises crossing the road
I traveled up the S114, S23, S113 then North on the H3. I was to early to book in at Skukuza so I went to the Lake panic hide and saw this resident Darter
bit further up the road is the Skukuza gholf club
It was getting hot and it was time to book in at Skukuza, I stayed in Hut no 82
Very nice. It seems like these huts is the most new ones and it is most likely the best accommodation of my trip.
I went for a walk and a cool down at the quieter pool
I booked a sunset drive for this evening. It was a very bad experience and I am very disappointed in the guide. What happend was that the drive was rushed. We had to pick up people at Kruger gate so he drove well over the speed limit to get there, we did not see much on the way. We drove on the S65 and the older people was uncomfortable with the hopping due to the bad road.
We dis see some animals
When we met the H3 it was speeding time again because the people had to get back to Kruger gate. We then saw these Wilddogs
I was so amazed in seeing these dogs, but the driver told us that we can not stop due to time. I was stunned. There was German tourists WHO never have seen wilddogs and we could not stop!
Well needless to say we did not see any animals again because he was speeding to Kruger gate and even faster back to Skukuza. I reckon he was doing 100kmh at times. What example is that and what a waste of my money.
When I got back at camp I sat at the fire to reflect on the day,but I just couldn’t get this bad experience out of my head.
This was going to be a great day and it was. I got up bright and early and left Skukuza to go to Tamboti. As I stopped at the crossing I looked at this board and saw just how many place there is to visit in the park.
Just at the H4-1 and H1-2 crossing I saw this brandwag baboon that was in a fight moments earlier. He sat there and it seems like he was crying, I did not see tears but he was definitely sobbing. Well I can understand it must have been hurting like mad
As I crossed the Sabie river I took this picture of a beautiful morning on the river
A monster snail crossing the road
I have counted all the Ground Hornbills and saw a total of 25 during my trip even one as high as Crooks corner. This was part of a family of 6
Majestic Fish eagle calling
Then just before the Mantimahle dam turn off there was a great sighting. I first saw a Hiena walking around a tree then saw this Leopard in the tree feasting on his kill.
It was a bit far for my camera but I could get one or two nice pictures. What a beautiful leopard.
After spending a while there I decided to move on to the S36. Now I would just like to give you some background. Each and every one of us has a list of animals you would like to see, even if it is just once, and not in the zoo or a private game lodge but in the Kruger. I have a list and it has got a few rear animals on it. One of them is the Sable. Now I have mentioned that I did my research and I read through this forum to see where the best places is to find these majestic Antelope. My research found that it is the S36 South and North as well as the S39. So I was focused and in the zone of looking for Sable.
Here I go……
I drove slowly and I searched. I stopped at Jones dam wich they are seen regularly but all I saw was this beautiful Nimmersat
And a Sadlebill Stork. I have counted a total of 10 during my trip wich I think is realy great if you think that the park reckons there are only 90 left.
I moved on and searched….
I stopped at the Lugmag dam
Its a shame that it is not fixed, it is just in the same state as it was when I was here in July.
I stopped at Nhlanguleni picnic site and asked the fellow working there about the Lugmag dam. He said that the park is waiting for a sponsor to come up with the money to fix it.
I went further North on the S36 and did not see much animals let alone Sable. And I was starting to think like previous times that I will never see a Sable here. You can do tons of research but if your luck is out its out.But would you believe me if I said the just about between the S145 and Muzandzeni picnic site there in the road tight in front of me walked ’n Sable bull
I was so amazed that I could not stop shaking I struggled to get the camera to focus
I spoke to him and asked if he would please stand still for a photo. It was like he heard what I said. He ran along the road then stopped as if prancing and going at the bushes with his horns then posed
Then he ran off again me following alongside him. He stopped and posed
I looked for the other but he was all alone just me and him, no cars for miles. Just the two of us
He posed for one more photo and he calmly walked into the thick Mopani bush. I thanked him. And with my hearth thumping I drove off.
I turned left on the H7 on my way to Orpen gate. And there are big shady trees at the bridge where the road cross the Phelwana river. On one of the branches sat a Hooded Vulture.
It was very hot as I booked in at Orpen and made my way to Tamboti for my first visit there.
My tent no 16 was hot inside as it baked in the sun
The van was not helping it was just blowing the hot air around.
That afternoon I drove the S106 past Rabelais hut and back on te H7
As I got to the Tamboti turn off at about 18:25 there was a few young Jackal playing as the harsh sun was slowly fading into darkness
I kept the tent flaps down through the night to hear all the night sounds. At about midnight there was ’n racket. The brandwag baboons shouted and I could hear Zebra making there distress call. There was a predator lurking.
What a day……..
Early rise, stopped at the kitchen for boiling water to make coffee and I was off. I saw the same Jackal playing there this morning. Got onto the H7 Going East until the S39 Timbavati road.
Got to see a Hiena running along the road.
Some general game.
There was a big gang of Baboons walking along the road.
Somewhere on the S39 at a little waterhole I saw this beautiful male Comb duck. Its a first for me. Great one.
I was starting to see Boabab trees
I made a stop at Timbavati picnic site. The river was bone dry and you can see animal tracks in the sand. It was getting hot early in the morning.
I went further North on the S39 and near the Goedgegun waterhole there is a road going left. It a badly corroded road, but it leads to a secluded spot with a water hole. Nice piece and quiet.
Crossing the Olifants
After that I got on the H1-5 North to Olifants. Made a stop at Nwamanzi lookout point. It was very hot. Stopped at Olifants for something cold for the throat. Glad to see the little elephant fountain is working.
Slowly drove North on the H1-6 in the heat of the day and with that said I did not see much. Got at Letaba aan hour before check in. Went to cool down at the swimming pool.
Stayed in one of the EA3U huts with a lovely river view
Took a nap this afternoon, when I woke a took a strole through the camp. Got back and made myself a chicken braai dinner.
At 20:00 it was time for the night drive. We did not see much, not even elephants. But some hippos grazing, some hares. But this sighting of aan Africa Wildcat was one of those animals on my to see list.
It was really nice to see one of these nocturnal animals, and they look just like a house cat. This one was on the thin side, and we left him hoping that hê would find some food soon.
What a pretty cat.
As I laid my head to rest that night I was glad to have seen what I did that day. I was in the Northern part of the park and I was happy to be here….
Early rise to beat the sun, because the sun in this part of the Kruger is blerrie hot.
From Letaba I took the S131 gravel road West. And the first animal I saw for the day was Buffalo. Look at the interesting horns on the one in the back ground.
I drove a long way without seeing any animal. South on the S132 and to the Marhunbyeni dam where there was only elephant bones. Just before the H9 tar road I met the Sebra.
I turned West to Phalaborwa gate. Turned left on a road wich is not indicated on my map and is actually for 4x4 vehicles. I was on a adventure. I saw Cheetah tracks in the road wich I thought might have been from the night before but they where going in the wrong direction. This Climax pump was aan interesting site
I wondered what this windpump have seen in the years that it stood here.
I came up toe Masorini picnic site.
There was no one there for it was too early. While I waited for the Sanparks staff to come I made some coffee and watched two Impala fighting. When they arrived I asked if I could go and look at the ruins there on the koppie. Very interesting.
I took the S51 to the Sable dam
I would like to stay over here one night
I took the right turn on the H14 to go North. A lookout point along the way
There where a little cloud cover bur it was hot. Lots of Mopani worms crossing the road but not much luck with animals.
Buffalo cooling down
Headed North on the H1-6 and turned of at the Mopani camp sign. This would be my first time in Mopani camp. I would like to come and stay here one night.
The camp looks out on the Pioneer dam
I found an eagle feasting on its prey
At one of the waterhole along the road I saw a couple of Open Bill Stork
At one of the cement dams this Vulture was sitting around. They are big birds with big wing span
The further I headed North you could see that it was dry. There were no grass and even the Mopani trees was pale.
I came up to a familiar face, the white gate of Shingwedzi. Booked in at reception
It was very hot that day, and the van did not help it was just blowing the hot air around.
I went for a afternoon drive.
Maraboe the old undertaker
I stopped on the bridge over the Shingwedzi river. Its hard to believe that this dry river bed could have a flood running down it destroying the beautiful Shingwedzi camp. My heart goes out.
Later that evening I downloaded the photos of the day and searched the animals and birds in books.
I went for a cool down at the pool. And when I was inbed I tried to hear the Shingwedzi pride, but they where silent.
Last edited by Wildkyker on Mon Feb 04, 2013 1:05 pm, edited 5 times in total.