31 March 2012 – SKUKUZA
It continued to storm during the night and when I woke up at 4:30 it was still raining. We decided not to wake the kids till 5:30 and by 6 the sky was beginning to clear. We managed to get away by 6:15. In summer this would be quite late but from 1 April the gate only opens at 6 as it is getting light later and later. Today would really have been the last day one could have made a very early start.
It turned out to be quite a long day and we only got back to Skukuza at 3 p.m. We did, however, make a few stops at hides and look out points to stretch legs and get rid of wriggles etc. As you can imagine four children cooped up together in a small space can become somewhat noisy when there’s a lull in the sightings. We try to keep them entertained and interested but usually its they who keep us in fits of laughter with their sayings and antics.
“I want to see a cheetah,” declares Shannon. “I can see one right now,” says Jay touching her on the shoulder. “Hey – you’re not supposed to touch the animals,” comes her quick retort.
We stop at to see a beautiful Verreaux’s Eagle-Owl and take many photographs. “He looks cross,” says Jay – “probably sick of the paparazzi hassling. Don’t tell the next car where he is – he needs some privacy.”
We self-cater all our meals except brunch and find the service at picnic spot and rest camp restaurant varies from time to time and place to place. But Lower Sabie is consistently bad and today we made the mistake of arriving there at midday when they’re at their busiest. We put in our order, waited an age and were then told that they’d run out of pizza. Another long wait before our meal finally arrived. A small price to pay for being in a beautiful setting where hippo and buffalo lazed on the river bank.
We have not seen large herds of plains animals so when we see zebra, wildebeest and giraffe we get quite excited. Today we found them in patches. The giraffe in particular have been difficult to photograph as they hide behind tall trees or keep their distance from the road. “Droff’ yelled Jay when he saw a small journey of them this afternoon. “What the heck is ‘droff’ ? “A quick way of saying giraffe, silly.” I’ll never call them anything else again!
Some other highlights of the day.
Sadly there are people both tourists and tradesmen who visit the park who do not take enough care on the roads and animals and birds get knocked down. Our little group of kids get mad when they see speeding or careless behaviour on the part of others and today Shannon was close to tears when we found a bateleur on the body of a very young monkey that had been run over. We explained that the bateleur had found an easy meal and soon it had competition from a white-headed vulture. The former had already flown up into a nearby tree to keep watch on his potential meal when the latter appeared on the scene. Neither of them attempted to eat the monkey while we watched.
The kids have been looking at things on offer in the park shops and Simon finally decided to get himself a monkey. Here he is at Lower Sabie with his new friend.