Caravelle Cruising in Kruger Day 1 – October 2011

Sunday 16 October 2011

I won’t go into too much detail about the build up to our departure from Cape Town to The Kruger National Park – but “Drama” reared her head and increased the tension and mad rush that always goes along with getting organised for a major trip.   But by 6 ‘clock the day before we left a driver’s window had been fitted, the shopping was done, a back treatment enjoyed, my classroom was ready for take-over and most of the packing ready to be loaded into the vehicle.  Just one thing left for me to do – get to school and Prompt the final performance of Terry Pratchett’s “Maskerade”.   I am delighted to report that it went off superbly and no-one fluffed their lines – or if they did they covered up to perfection.  But did I sleep well? -Of course not – I was like a kid before Christmas and if I got 2 hours shut-eye it was a lot.  I was up and out of bed by 3:15, got the food packed into the cool box, the last minute items into the car and then I woke my darling husband and sister-in-law and we were off to collect Heather an hour later.

It was overcast and cool in Cape Town – we had some rain en route but totally dry from Worcester onward. Lots of stop/goes meant we only arrived at our B&B in Bloemfontein @ 4 o’clock – but what a lovely comfortable place. Heather and I went for stroll, saw many birds in the lovely gardens of Universitas and then returned, sat in our hostess’s garden and watched Orange River Witogies, olive and Karoo thrush,  red-eyed bulbuls and others come to the feeding table and bath in the birdbath.    Mr. Delivery then brought dinner and after a relaxing meal and glass of wine we were all in bed before 9:-)

4:00 a.m. found us back on  road and this time there were fewer delays.  We stopped for breakfast at a One-Stop Wimpy and then again for a leg stretch at a place where you could see buffalo and rhyno at a waterhole  from a lookout behind glass.

Our route took us past Dullstroom and The Blyde River Canyon – which was greatly enjoyed. But when we entered Palaborwa Gate at 2:15 p.m. I was in heaven.   KNP – its my most  favourite place in the world.  I can’t describe the feeling I get when I pass though her gates – but she welcomes me and I am  at peace.

Earl’s sister is our reluctant companion along with Heather (who is not at all reluctant!)   Carrol loves animals and lives on the Mountain-side of Miller’s Point where many creatures visit her fynbos garden and for years we’ve been trying to persuade her and her husband to come with us to Kruger.  This time our fourth couldn’t make it and so we invited Carrol – she refused but Vere persuaded her and so she reluctantly agreed.  I think, today, she’s glad she did.

Its 50km from the gate to Letaba – the speed limit on tar is 50km per hour.  We managed 11km in the first hour due to the many stops we made to see buffalo – our first mammal -even before impala – elephant, warthogs, zebra and also impala.   But it was the birds that kept us stopping most of the time.   We got a beautiful tawny, a Wahlberg’s next to his nest and a martial albeit too far for a decent photograph.  We also saw a bateleur at a distance.   The little birds were everywhere – blue waxbills, golden-breasted buntings, a female indigo bird, lots of glossy starlings, yellow-billed hornbills and go-away birds.

Tawny Eagle

Lilac-breasted Roller

Golden-breasted Bunting

Young Ellie

And these are all the pics I’m going to show you as it takes ages downloading when using your phone as a modem and I need to get out there and see the critters!

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