We had a relatively long travel from Olifants to Shingwedzi (over 100 kms) which at Kruger speeds is about a 4-5 hour drive. We decided to have breakfast and leave and we were on the road around 8am. We did a stop at Letaba for toilet and coffee and then headed further north to Mopani. We saw all the standard game but unfortunately still no more predators. We arrived at Mopani just before midday and decided to get some takeaway meals for lunch.
Mopani’s restaurant is situated right over a lake and has some good birding. It also regularly has elephants drinking and bathing and this time was no exception. A sizeable herd was drinking and a few were fighting in the water (or so it seemed though some people around said they could just be playing). We got our takeaways and ate them at the lookout. The temperature was rising quickly and we were already into the 30 degrees and still rising. The further north we went the hotter it became.
After lunch we continued heading north toward Shingwedzi. The game viewing was a bit more sparse as the temperature rose the animals are definitely less active. Finding shelter from the sun was the order of the day and a lot of game were under the trees. We did see a small herd of tsessebe which are very rare in the park. In fact there are only an estimated 220 so it is quite difficult to see them. Often people drive past these sort of sightings and don’t appreciate that they are actually much harder to see than lion or leopard in the park.
Just as we were approaching Shingwedzi, we saw a giraffe carcass on the side of the road. At first we were confused as to why it was there as it was just lying there. Then we reversed a bit and saw the 3 lionesses lying under a bush in the shade. They had clearly recently managed to kill the giraffe and had eaten their fill but clearly weren’t finished with it. We watched for awhile and then a ranger drove up and got out of his vehicle to take a photo of the giraffe carcass! We tried to get his attention to point out that there were lion lying there and he just nodded and took the photo and then hopped back into his car and drove off. No idea why he did that! We purposed to come back later again and do another check in.
We checked in at the camp and had some down time until about 4pm when we decided to go out again. 2 cars went for a quick loop around the camp and then to the lions while one went straight to the lion kill. They messaged to say that the lionesses were eating and so we all headed over. Unfortunately everyone in the camp had the same idea and so there were tons of cars and really not a great view. We stayed for some time and managed to edge into a better view until some inconsiderate driver decided to park right in front of us and almost rolled her car into the lions and carcass! It is incredible how selfish people are at these sort of sightings and really annoys me as it spoils the Kruger experience.
We got back into camp just before the gates closed. We had chicken schnitzel for dinner accompanied by some very good wine courtesy of my birthday present which now had to get finished before we left the park thanks to the alcohol ban that is now in force.
It was a long and hot day but an enjoyable one with a great sighting of lion on a giraffe kill very close to the road.
Until later …
P, H, S, K, J, R, J, B, S, B, C