June 9th, First day, Coming home . . ., Saturday,
Early in the morning we are approaching Johannesburg and there it is again. Lost for more than a year - even if I know it is still burning inside - this very special feeling of satisfaction and coming home. Enforcing the longing for Southern Africa and bringing to mind it is still there: African Fever.
On the road, more than four hundred kilometres ahead I see all this familiar scenery passing by.
In the past I used to drive quite fast to my eastern destination, establishing a speed record once which will last for long time or even for ever. But today I drive exactly the speed allowed (thank you Anja for your several radar warnings in your KNP-report 2006! Saved me a lot of money this time!).
After I have been overtaken by some cars I change to the right side following one of these fast cars for more than hundred kilometres. Once there is a speed check but the car in front of me decelerates and after passing it we are on the run again.
Then, unfortunately the fast lady angles off, I wave her my thanks and goodbye, she waves back and I am on my own again.
Witbank, Middleburg already behind. But still more than two hundred kilometres to Malelane Gate. Another two hours to go.
A few minutes later another fast car approaches and the run starts again. We are lucky at the next speed control.
Belfast, Waterval Boven, Nelspruit, the shadowed street along the Crocodile River, heading for Malelane Gate. On the left hand side I can see the rugged granite koppies, bringing back memories of the area around Berg-en-Dal.
The crossing, left turn, only three kilometres to go.
Then here it is! The bridge crossing the Crocodile River, the gate: I have arrived.
Arrived after less than three and a half hours drive.
No, not only arrived - there is more. It's more intensive than the feeling I had during landing in Jo'burg. Feeling to be at home, now really being back home
After passing the gate it starts all over: Which will be the first animal to catch sight of? Impala, buffalo, elephant, . . . . . ?
Everything is possible. The first animal I saw was a leopard just at the junction to S110 some years ago.
Today it is two impalas, browsing a little bit away from the road.
I stop the car watching them for a while, realising I’m alone this time, then carry on, leaving the junction to Berg-en-Dal unconsidered behind me, crossing the Matjulu River.
On the way to drive into the S110, I still remember this historian leopard as I see an elephant walking along the H-3.
I follow him for a while till he disappears into the mixed woodland and thorn thickets in the east.
Back to the crossing and driving along the Matjulu River I meet a giraffe, browsing on a knob thorn acacia tree and taking less or no notice of me.
Sorry, no good pic but there is a special reason why I took and placed it
I drive on for some time. Despite the fact that it is Saturday, there are no other cars. Even if there are no animals to see I enjoy the drive along these impressive koppies, take some pictures.
A group of kudus is waiting for me at the crossing of the dry Matjulu River and after some meters there are four rhinos close to the road.
Fail to get the best position because of some other cars. Once they leave the rhinos are already moving into the wrong direction.
Checking-in at Berg-en-Dal, at Bungalow #44 (6 beds, much too big only for me).
Within minutes I am back on the Matjulu Loop meeting a big rhino bull. But he is too fast for me. By the time I have my camera ready he heads for his direction, leaving me behind with an unimpressive picture.
Driving along the whole loop and back via the main road I see some giraffes and miss something. I still don’t know what it is. I only see many cars leaving a spot about one kilometre ahead of the camp.
After nightfall I walk trough the camp looking for birds in the trees but cannot see any. It's weekend, maybe they went to a disco and spent the night there!
While I am writing my diary outside the bungalow it’s getting quite cold.
The Bungalow, you can't see the coldness
I can hear lions roaring. Sound of Africa!
Go to bed very early and take an additional blanket because it’s so cold inside.
The lions roar again. Hope to meet them tomorrow, unless I freeze to death this night.
My favorite picture of the day: