THURSDAY 29 March 2012 BERG EN DAL TO SKUKUZA
The phone alarm disturbed my peaceful dreams and got me out of bed at 4:30 a.m. Once everything was ready for packing, we woke the kids, gave them breakfast, made sure nothing was left behind and got them into the car. The weather was warm but overcast and it had rained in the night. We had some drizzle during the day but it was still hot!
Our first interesting bird sighting was of a pair of crested francolin.
Crossing a low-level bridge we found a common sandpiper and a water thick-knee.
Dwarf mongoose often take over abandoned anthills and our cutest sighting got everyone going – ooh – how sweet!
Things were becoming a little boring as we passed bush after bush and strained our eyes searching into the long glass for some sort of creature to appear. Then I saw across the river a load of elephants storming down to drink and swim. We watched them through the trees then realised that they were going to cross the river and come up onto the road in front of us. It was an enormous herd of about 60 jumbos and they raised their trunks and trumpeted as they came stumbling up the bank towards us. Simon was suddenly frozen into silence on my lap. Shannon beseeched them – please don’t hurt us – we just want to look at you! They just stared at us, waved their trunks and then trundled past in front and behind the car. The children were awed and when they were gone, Simon said, “That really freaked me out!” It was awesome to see such a big herd with ellies of all ages from tiny babies to great big mommies.
The excitement of that awesome sighting stayed with us for a while. Then Joshua spotted and Shannon identified an immature bateleur. (The competition for being the first to spot and name the birds is great!)
After the recent flooding in the Kruger National Park, some bridges were damaged and to our horror we found the one we wanted to cross still not repaired. Our choice was to retrace our route or take a road that is only open to visitors to Biyamati Bush Lodge. Another car was in the same predicament so jointly we decided to take the out of bounds road. We would not usually do this but there were not warnings that the road was closed so this would be our excuse if caught. (We weren’t)
On the way we found buffalo, rhino, kudu, impala, some birds but nothing else.
We stopped at Afsaal for brunch and then continued to Skukuza. We found warthog, giraffe and zebra, more kudu and impala, a kori bustard – but not good enough for a photograph and of course many birds.
We checked into family cottage 229 which consisted of two en suite bedrooms and a spacious living area. We moved the extra bed in our room to the second bedroom so the cousins could all be together.
After settling in, lunch and a nap we took a walk next to the river and found a few birds, then went to the shop.
Simon said the best part of his day was having an ice-cream and moving into the cottage!