Letaba to Skukuza

160 km to travel and it was predicted to get to 36 degrees C so we decided to head out early. We left by just after 6am. About 5 kms outside Letaba our 3 day elephant curse was finally broken and the rest of the day yielded 100s of elephants (literally). They must have gone on a conference or something and came back today. We saw a reasonable amount of game and birds from Letaba to Satara when it was still relatively cool (we classify anything under 25 degrees C as cool). Some interesting sightings like a warthog family (mom, dad and 6 youngsters), a field full of maribou and white storks (no idea why they were altogether and nowhere near water – must have been 100 or more) etc.

The most interesting thing we witnessed was a KNP helicopter trying to chase a giraffe.  The giraffe had gotten itself stuck on an island in the middle of the Letaba river. It was apparently there for 3 days already and they were trying to use the helicopter to scare it off the island across the river and onto the bank. But even though they got very close to the giraffe it wasn’t going to be forced across the river. They even tried shooting into the bank to try to scare it and that didn’t work either. Eventually they landed the helicopter and were obviously going to try something else.  We guess that if it didn’t get off soon it would start to die from starvation as there was definitely no food for it on the small sandbank it found itself on. What I did find amusing was the Section Ranger from the region had his dog along for the trip. You can see he was well trained though!

We stopped at Satara for breakfast and then at Tshokwane to use the bathrooms and buy some drinks. Helen saw the notice about the coffee availability … one of those classic signs! We then drove to Skukuza and arrived at 1:15pm and fortunately were able to get into our hut immediately. It has a beautiful view over the river and while neither Helen nor I generally like Skukuza (it is very big and busy), this accommodation might be worth repeating.

We only added one new bird to the trip list today (taking us to 150 birds) and we only added Grey Duiker to the animals list (which we saw from the bench in front of our hut at Skukuza!). The drive from Tshokwane to Skukuza was particularly poor – we hardly saw any game as I think it was just too hot already at that point (33 degrees C).

We had dinner at the Cattle Baron at Skukuza (moved our anniversary dinner until tonight). That was a good decision.  The food was good and it was a beautiful evening to sit outside. It has struck us that above Satara you don’t find any tourists – all the visitors are South African – but below Satara the majority of the people seem to be foreigners. Besides the ranger at one table with his guests, Helen and I reckon we were the only locals at the restaurant tonight.

Unfortunately only tomorrow AM left of our 2 weeks …

P & H

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