Sightings report - 19/03/2005 - 27/03/2005
Thu Mar 31, 2005 10:47 am
Hubby Craig & I visited Kruger from 19 March to 28 March (last day spent driving back home from an overnight spot outside the park, so no sightings for that day unfortunately). We stayed inside the park for most of our visit - first 2 nights at Crocodile Bridge, then 4 nights at Lower Sabie, then 2 nights at Berg-en-Dal, with our final night at Ngwenya Lodge just outside.
We found the bush very thick this time around - last visit was in late September before good rains had really started, and it was much easier to see through the bush then! Heat was comparable though ... perhaps even hotter now. During our visit there was some good rain, which helped cool things down a bit, but we found that even going out at 3pm was too early for good sightings as it was still very very hot.
We mostly drove around ourselves, but always like to do at least one night drive - this time we went from Lower Sabie on 22/03. This was one of the most dismal night drives we've ever been on ... we saw ellies and some hippo's out of the water, but really not much else. There was a lot of after hours traffic, apparently there had been a section soccer game on, and our ranger seemed very bothered by the traffic and lack of sightings. We decided then to do a morning drive on 24/03 from Lower Sabie, which turned out to be so successful that we booked another one from Berg-en-Dal for the following day, which was also successful. I'm a new convert to the morning drives!
Overall we saw:
Lots of the usual impala, zebra, wildebeest, giraffe.
Quite a few warthogs, which was a huge contrast to our September visit where we hardly saw any.
Also many kudu and waterbuck ... all buck looking really strong and healthy, you can see it has been a good summer. Lots of babies around too.
Other buck we saw were: common duiker, bushbuck (2 beautiful males, one with a female), steenbok, reedbuck, and reported nyala seen by car next to us, but we didn't stop to look closely as we see them in Hluhluwe regularly.
Plenty of white rhino - and all over the place too. At least 6 separate sightings, but perhaps more. On Croc Bridge - Lower Sabie road, near Berg-en-Dal, near Biyamiti, up by Pretoriuskop, etc.
A few big herds of buffalo with lots of babies. On the first morning drive, another couple told us they had witnessed buffalo giving birth on the night drive the night before (our bad luck to pick the wrong night!), and we found the same herd in the morning in the bush surrounded by lions. It seemed unlikely the lions would be successful, the buffalo knew they were there and were constantly chasing them off.
Lots and lots of hippos and crocodiles ... many hours spent at Sunset Dam enjoying the antics of the hippos. The main road to Lower Sabie from Croc Bridge or Skukuza is a dangerous place to be near gate closing time - hippos and ellies like to cross in front of you when you least expect them to!
Plenty of elephant ... a few big herds with varying sizes of babies, twice crossing calmly right in front of us allowing good photographs. Being Hluhluwe regulars, we're used to ill tempered ellies, and it was a real pleasure being able to watch such calm ellies. We also had the lovely sight of two big ellies swimming in the river right in front of the deck at Lower Sabie one day. The ellie carcass on the S114 has also been discussed already - it's not every day you see that.
A few good hyaena sightings, all loners. In September we had found a hyaena den near Balule that made for lovely viewing of adults and babies.
Quite a few lions, after a slow start ... the first morning drive from Lower Sabie produced no less that 3 separate prides along the S28. The first pride looked very hungry! We got to them early on before other cars were out of the camps which was very special, because once the crowd caught up, it turned into the usual traffic jam. One of the lions was actively harrassing one car in front of us ... truly amazing how few people heeded the ranger's warning to close their windows.
We also found a lone female (or young male) lion along the road to Orpen Dam, close to the road, in perfect photography light, and we had the sighting all to ourselves for 10 minutes.
One miserable leopard sighting - it was just disappearing into the bush along the Croc Bridge - Lower Sabie road as we approached, so we only saw the back end and tail. Previously we've had very good leopard sightings. There was also a leopard in a tree about 8km from Lower Sabie towards Skukuza, but the traffic was so bad, and tempers flaring, that we just moved on as soon as possible.
On the Lower Sabie morning drive we also saw a young serval on the roadside, but it disappeared quickly into the bush.
The Lower Sabie night drive did yield one nice sighting - an adult bushbaby with two babies leaping around a tree having a wonderful time playing.
Finally, on our Berg-en-Dal morning drive we saw wild dogs along the S114 ... shortly before the ellie carcass. This is the first time I've seen them in the Kruger Park in recent years, they are my absolute favourite, so this was my prime sighting of the trip. Unfortunately a few cars around, but we still got a decent sighting as they walked right past us.
Birds were prolific ... the colours of the lilac breasted rollers, European rollers and bee-eaters are just fantastic at this time of year. We saw so many Burchell's coucals out and about as well, really lovely birds. Crocodile Bridge is a lovely setting for bird watching from the verandah of your chalet.
Lots of the little things too, like chameleons, tortoises and all types of mongoose. Many more sightings of vervet monkeys and baboons than we've had in the past too.
The major disappointment was not finding cheetah anywhere - sightings were reported on every board we checked, and along roads we travelled, but not to be for us this time. That's what keeps you going back for more again and again, I guess!
Thu Mar 31, 2005 12:50 pm
Yes, a lovely trip indeed! (but, are any trips to KNP not great?!)
I hope to get around to posting some pics - we're usually terribly slow with going through them all though, so please don't hold your breath waiting for me. We photograph on slide film as well as digital, so we have to scan the slides in to complete the whole collection ... still not done with this from our last trip in September.
In September we did the whole length of the park - we stayed for 14 nights, starting at Berg-en-Dal and then moving on to Skukuza, Lower Sabie, Olifants, Mopani, Punda Maria, Letaba, Tamboti and finally Pretoriuskop. Also a great trip, but we vowed not to do the north again for a while because it's really a long way for us. (8-9 hours just to get to Berg-en-Dal or Crocodile Bridge from home, then to add so much travelling within the park before heading home again is heavy) Just past Mopani, early one morning, we had our rarest sighting, a caracal mom with two kittens crossing the road. Not another car in sight ... the kittens got separated and mom was panicking a bit, so we drove on and looked back to watch her reunite them and continue on her way.