We got up at 5:40am this morning so that we be out of the camp for an early morning sunrise drive. We went to a bird hide called the Lake Panic Hide. I am not sure if it is the birdlife or the viewers who should be panicking. There was only one car when we arrived and 8 when we left. We definitely got the most peaceful viewing for about 10 minutes before the hordes arrived. There was a Black-headed Heron in it’s nest with at least 2 young ones. They were making an awful racket but did eventually calm down. Numerous hippo’s and quite a lot of other bird life to be seen as well. After the mandatory coffee & rusks (and hot chocolate) it was back to Skukuza for breakfast.
We then packed up as we had to be out of our accommodation by 9am and made our way to our next camp – Pretoriuskop. As you can only check in at 2pm we took the long road to get there by heading south-east to Lower Sabie first. It turned out to be an excellent decision because the Skukuza-Lower Sabie is famed to be the best for game viewing the Kruger Park and it lived up to it’s reputation. It was teaming with game of all sorts – impala by the thousands, kudu, nyala, giraffe, elephant, huge herd of buffalo, zebra, steenbok, waterbuck, warthog. We also saw another hyena (that is now three sightings). Add to that 2 lionesses lying on a rock and our first 2 hours out of Skukuza was pretty impressive.
We then turned west onto a gravel road to cut through to Pretoriuskop camp. The road was very rutted and was about 30 kms so everyone took a bit of a hammering on the road. Chloe kept asking ‘How much longer on this road?’ I think it was worse the further back you sat but my hands felt like they were shaken to pieces as well from holding the steering wheel. We were rewarded though with another sighting of Lion – this time a very large male (with a beautiful mane) and his female companion. It was midday and around 30 degrees though so they weren’t doing anything but lying around. There were also numerous Rhino middens (their piles of ….) and we hoped we would add one of them to our sighting list. We were eventually rewarded when we got to Renosterpan (for those who don’t understand Afrikaans that means Rhino pan). You would hope to see Rhino there and we were suitably rewarded.
We stopped briefing at another dam for lunch (this time inside the car as we couldn’t get out) and then on to Pretoriuskop. We arrived at 2pm exactly so that we could immediately check in and unpack into our chalet. We are here for two nights. We all loafed for the afternoon though Michael was impressively studying for his Maths exam which he will do shortly after we get back. He even tried to study for some time in the car on the dirt road!
Michael and I went out for a late afternoon drive and we managed to see three of the big five in just over an hour. We saw three Rhino (including a baby), Elephant and Buffalo (right on the side of the road). Add to that some more birding trippers and we are now at 44 trippers. Still missing Stephen in this regard because we definitely don’t stop as often for bird sightings and so the birding is almost incidental when we stop for something else. Of course with only Michael and I in the car it would have been an ideal time for him to practice driving a manual but I would never allow that in a rental car and in a game park (with things like elephants around).
Back to the camp where Brian already had the fire going for the mandatory evening braai. Michael and Chloe both now were impressively studying in the fading light with the LED torches. By 7:30pm the dinner was finished and Chloe and Michael were braaiing marshmallows on the fire.
Another early night as the early morning and fresh air has caught up with everyone. It is now 9:30pm and everyone except me is in bed.
P, M (because he came out with me this evening), H & C (and the in laws)