Shingwedzi to Punda Maria
February 4, 2020

We changed camps today as we went from Shingwedzi to Punda Maria. It is only about 70 kms away and as you can only check in at 2pm (usually) we decided to take a slow drive to get there. The problem is that the best game viewing is definitely early morning so we didn’t want to leave too late either. We compromised slightly and got up at 5:30am and packed up and left just after 6am. As our favourite road heads north (the direction we were going) we took that.

Not far in at one of the sections along the river with a reasonable amount of water, we spotted 4 hyena (the spotted hyena variety in case you never got that). A lot was going on so we stopped for our morning coffee and watched them for awhile. There were clearly a few youngsters among them as they were incredibly curious about everything including of the crocodile. They at least were sensible enough to jump back when it moved its tail but it did get annoyed by the harassment and slipped into the water. They also tried to get closer to some Egyptian Geese (and their youngsters) but they just waddle away and also went into the water. It was some good entertainment while we drank our coffee.

We saw quite a bit of other game on that section of the road (as we always do) including numerous birds. We are now over 110 birds for the trip and tomorrow we are heading for Pafuri which is meant to be the best birding in the Kruger. Time will tell!

We did get close to Punda Maria quite early (and well before 2pm) so we decided to do some of the loops that a bird book I own had recommended. They give specific birds on specific routes and sure enough the first one we took said we should White Crested Helmetshrike and that is exactly what we saw. The book is one of the best gifts I have been given by H. It also was the book we used on the recent road trip we did and again it was pretty accurate about what to see on which roads. Once we had finished that first road we still had more time to kill so we headed north to Pafuri with the plan to loop another road back down to Punda Maria (again which was recommended by the book). On the way up, we managed to see two cheetah just lying right next to the road!

We got to Punda Maria at 12:30pm and tried to check in but they said come back at 1:30pm. We went to have some lunch at the restaurant and then the manager came to say it was fine we could check in actually. We still had the lunch though and then got our accommodation. It turns out the place we have is actually outside the camp gates! The manager said exit the camp and turn left and you will see a white house – that is where you are staying. Of course while we were braaiing tonight we could hear a lion roaring! Definitely didn’t sound too far away either. First time I have stayed in the Kruger Park with accommodation outside the main camp gates. Does seem a little surreal.

Our house we are staying at in Punda Maria

We did go out for an evening drive. It was 38 degrees C still so not many animals doing too much. The road we took was meant to be excellent for birding but we only managed to add one new bird to our list for the trip. It is incredibly green and lush though around Punda Maria. H says it looks like what she would imagine the Garden of Eden to have been – without the dead trees!

Until tomorrow!

P & H

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