This wasn’t planned but I needed a week off before the end of the year and so I decided to fit in a quick weeks break in the Kruger Park. Company was restricted because of other family members’ commitments but Michael (kindly, sacrificially or maybe just with glee and rubbing his hands together) agreed to come with me for the week.
We left this morning from Cape Town on the direct flight into Skukuza. Slightly late departure because they were adding water for the toilet (I swear they should get the water from somewhere else on their flights and not from drought stricken Cape Town). My mood changes immediately you touch down inside the Kruger Park – such a great thing that there is an airport inside the Park with scheduled flights.
Michael and I were so organized in getting the rental car and park permit sorted out when we arrived that we had to wait about 10 minutes for the bags to arrive. Getting the luggage off the plane isn’t done at a fast pace but then again you’re in the Kruger so who really cares.
We headed into Skukuza camp to do some food shopping for next 2 days … essential items like biltong, droewors, beers, crisps etc (and some vegetables of course). On the way into the camp (which is only 4 kms) we saw two of the big 5 (elephant and buffalo) and added some birds and other game to the trip list. After the shopping was done we headed out to our first overnight stay which was at Satara camp. About 90 kms drive which usually takes around 3-4 hours (allowing for stopping for game). As it was just past 2pm and the camp gates close at 6pm it was just the perfect amount of time not to have to rush.
The game park is very dry still as the summer rains don’t seem to have arrived yet. It makes game viewing very easy and the game viewing was prolific on the drive up. Massive herds of impala, more kudu than I have ever seen on one game drive, giraffe … journeys of them on the journey, wildebeest, elephant, buffalo, hippo (outside of the water), baboon, vervet monkey, warthog, waterbuck, steenbok, grey duicker, bushbuck and numerous birds. The birds included a pearl spotted owlet which I have no idea how I spotted it because it was blending in to a grey tree. Two other cars stopped and one had foreigners in it and they just say ‘oh’ and drove off. The other guys were clearly birders and they were more excited than we were and congratulated me on spotting it. Still not sure how I saw it – it really was blending in. 32 trippers on the bird list so far without really looking much.
About 20 kms before we arrived at Satara we saw a den of hyena’s including some cubs. One of the cubs was very small still and suckling on the mother. Two were slightly older (like young children). There were at least 3 adults and at least 4 cubs that we could see. And they were right on the side of the road.
The game viewing was incredibly good for our first drive and has set my expectations high for the rest of our time here. The lack of water must be driving the animals to the waterholes and that is a good thing for game viewing. Dinner was the obligatory braai (chickens wings, beef strips, gem squash, corn on cob, veg skewers) and now we are both in bed already (we are both pretty tired). I am going to post this and then go to sleep (it is 9pm).
Until tomorrow …
P & M
PS: That sunset was for you Helen (we stopped to take it especially since we knew you would have insisted we stop if you had been here)