MONDAY 31 OCTOBER 2011 SKUKUZA
We leave at 6 o’clock to go to the hide. The weather is disappointing – it is dull and overcast and even a tad chilly. But our spirits are high as we enter the newly thatched and varnished hide. To our relief the birdlife seems not to have been disturbed and the usual Lake Panic activity is happening. Jim and Maureen are already there and the hide is not crowded at all. We settle down and stay for two hours. We watch a malachite kingfisher angling for tiny tilapia,
a green backed heron is in his favourite place at the end of a log jutting into the water, a grey heron is perched on a nest,
the village weavers are noisily building new nests or taking morsels to babies already hatched
and jacanas miraculously walk upon water, their long, widely spaced toes spreading their weight on the water lilies
And a water dikkop is always lovely to see.
A crocodile lies silently nearby – what a scary creature
We hear the hippos grunting but they are a fair distance off from the hide. A goliath flies in and settles at the far end of the lake and we watch as he gathers nesting material before flying off again.
We return to Skukuza for breakfast. H2 decides to stay back and do laundry and rest while the rest of us go for drive promising to return by 3:00 p.m.
It is 9:15 when we start off on the H1 and the roads we follow are the S112, S114, H2-2 and H3 stopping at Afsaal for lunch.
At the Stevenson Hamilton Historical Site we find a dwarf mongoose sitting perfectly still on a rock.
Another species – the slender also makes and appearance and then disappears.
Eec finds a woodpecker and a red-headed weaver in a tree.
On the Biyamati Loop we find elephant and finally a rhino crossing our path. Later we see another rhino across the river.
Afsaal is not my favourite picnic site but today it is quiet and we opt to partake of the wildlife again – this time in the form of kuduwors rolls which are quite delicious. The coffee, too, is drinkable and definitely contains the required amount of caffeine
The H3 offers up a heap of lions sleeping peacefully so we don’t even bother to take pictures – after all – we’ve seen enough lions this trip haven’t we? More interesting is the brown snake-eagle perched in a tree.
Of course we see and enjoy all the usual kudu, giraffe, waterbuck, monkeys
and the cutest family of Egyptian Goslings ever
We get back as promised just before 3. In front of our bungalow we enjoy a bit of bird watching and are delighted to get shots of violet backed starlings
and a black collared barbet.
In the evening our friends come for drinks but decline to join us at Skukuza restaurant. We do not book and when we arrive find that there is a tour group of 20 who have booked still waiting to be seated. The organisation seems to be poor and we have our doubts about staying – but I find a waiter and say, “Do you have a table for four – yes or no?” He says he’ll check and comes straight back and shows us to a table in a fairly busy restaurant. “What do you notice?” Earlybird asks. “Nobody’s eating,” I reply – a sure sign that we will be in for a long wait if we’re not served quickly. A waitress instantly appears and we give her our food order – all the same – kudu steaks. She returns 10 minutes later and says, “I am sorry what you’ve ordered is not available.
Thank you, I say, we will make other arrangements for dinner. Clearly this is not going to work out well so lets not spoil our evening. “I can defrost and cook up some curried mince and rice,” I offer but we opt instead to go back to Silati. This proves to be a good move although nobody is there to receive us and show us to a table. The kitchen is visible from the platform and we ask a chef if there are table available – she immediately calls a waitress and in no time we’re seated with menus in front of us. Earlybird and I have burgers, H2 a salad and Eec a steak with medley of vegetables. We wait about 20 minutes and are all perfectly satisfied with the quality of the food and friendliness of the service. When in Skukuza if you’re not self catering this is the place to have your evening meal.