Travel Blog:Kruger National Park Trip Report Part 5

Olifants Camp to Letaba

We decided to take a leisurely drive to Letaba as we only had a short
way to drive to Satara today.   In 2006
as we crossed a ford a group of turtles came rushing out of the water to greet
us looking like aliens demanding to be taken to our leader and this time at the
same spot the same thing happened.  Only
this time there was a baby crocodile with them.   The croc was ever so tolerant of the turtles
clambering over his back and seemed unfazed by people too.  We believe that people have been feeding
these creatures and that is why they mass out of the water to beg for
titbits.  

At Letaba, we looked for the pearl-spotted owls but
they don’t seem to be there anymore.  The
bushbucks were grazing in the camp but the redheaded weavers were conspicuous
by their absence.  The one interesting
creature we observed was a leguaan. He was digging in the leaf litter and
relishing some delicacy – possibly a beetle of some sort.  

On a bridge en route home, we stopped to observe
peregrine falcons fighting with yellow-billed kites.  It was quite exciting. We are not sure what
the conflict was about.

Soldier Ants are fascinating creatures – they march
like a regiment and nothing seems to stop their set path.  Today we observed a line of them crossing the
road and as it was a small regiment, we could see where the line began and
where it ended.  Yes – even ants are
fascinating and worth stopping for.

Interesting birds we saw today were wattled
starling – hundreds of them – southern black tits and arrow-marked
babblers.   Little swifts, white-rumped
swifts and Horus swifts were flying under the bridge and out again.  At our camp at Satara, Little Swifts were
nesting in deserted swallow nests under the eaves of all the units.

Just before we entered Satara, we observed a
spotted hyena slinking along away from us. 
He then changed direction and headed toward the camp fence.  There was a herd of impala grazing nearby and
they did not like his intrusion.  When he
got too close they scarpered and pronked off to a safer distance.

Friday
16th January 2009

Satara to Skukuza

We left Satara and 20 past six and made our way to Skukuza. We followed
a route that took us to Orpen Dam and on the way; we saw buffalo, waterbuck,
kudu, giraffe and many interesting birds including large flocks of white
storks, which are more plentiful than I’ve ever observed in Kruger before.

Today we saw Ground Hornbill on two separate
occasions but quite soon after each other. 
The first observation at 9:20 a.m. on the H1-2, about 45 km from Skukuza
we saw two adults with juvenile.  They
were quite a way from the road and the long grass prevented us from taking good
photographs but we saw them beautifully.  
Then at 9:50, 19km from Skukuza we saw another ground hornbill very
close to the road and got lovely photographs.

We arrived at Skukuza at 11 and had breakfast there.

Our highlight bird of
the day was a dark capped yellow warbler at 14h55.  We saw it clearly but it flew off before we
could get photographs.

We arrived at
Berg and Dal at 15: 30. We checked into our family cottage number 19 and then
went for a sunset drive with Lourens Botha.

Berg and Dal – Sunset Drive

Our young guide,
Lourens, was fantastic.  He clearly loved
his job and made the drive interesting and fun. 
He gave titbits of information all the time and we learned that you only
need worry when an elephant stops flapping his ears and stares at you and that
when he is stressed he will become wet on the side of his face where he has a
sweat gland.   He stopped the van next to
a tree and showed us where a hornbill nest was. 
We observed it for a while and saw how the female, holed up inside,
pushed out a wing of an insect and other scraps she needed to discard.  We hoped the male would appear but after 10
minutes, he did not so we moved on.   The
daytime animals and birds that we saw were giraffe, zebra, rhino, elephant,
violet-backed starlings, dung beetle, hamerkop, malachite kingfisher,
green-backed heron and black crake.  The
latter we saw when Priscilla looked down from the top of the new bridge to see
the old bridge and there on said bridge walked a little black crake!

When it became
dark, we saw scrub hare, water thick-knees, spotted thick-knees and spotted
eagle owls on the road.  The owls were
fascinating and we observed them catching insects.   We also saw a Eurasian nightjar but it had
been knocked by a car and had an injured wing. 
Lourens picked it up and showed us its colours and its wide gape.  He was clearly upset that a careless motorist
had been too unobservant to watch out for nightlife on the roads.  It would have been a staff car.

The sunset drive
was a lovely end to our holiday in the Kruger National Park.  

 

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