Taking the Kids to Kruger – Skukuza to Pretoriuskop

1 April 2012 – Skukuza to Pretoriuskop

If you are a member of the Sanparks Forums as I am, you always tie a yellow ribbon around the drivers mirror so that if other members are in the park at the same time you can stop and chat.  “Bushcraft” a fellow forum member and his family were staying near us at Skukuza last night and so we got together for a braai last night.  It was great meeting them and their three girls got on very well with our four grandchildren – a nice opportunity for Shan to have some girl company! But bed-time was somewhat later than is wise when  you’re rising early in the park!    In spite of this we managed to get completely packed up and out the gate by 6:15.  From 1 April, gate opening is only at 6.

We have found that finding game is a challenge at this time of the year and there have been long stretches of nothing between sightings.  With hyper-active kids this can be trying – for them and for us but besides getting a bit noisy and the odd jibe at each other the kids have been fantastic.  And what we have managed to find has been super rewarding but we have not always managed to get photographs.   It has been a learning curve for the kids to just appreciate with their eyes and not to be too fussed about capturing the moment digitally.

Shannon is excellent at remembering the names of the birds but the boys  – well – the boys are boys and make up their own hilarious names and mock their cousin when she’s so perfect and say – “No its a jackal striped horned kingfisher” and they all laugh uproariously.

There were some special moments today.  We came upon a traffic jam and were told that a cheetah had been sighted but was now lying in the long grass.   Nobody wanted to move out of the way so Earl politely asked an offending ‘jeep jockey’ to move her vehicle from the middle of the road.  She obliged and we then managed to get through the mess of cars blocking the way.   There is really little point of boring a car load of children with a non-event.  They desperately wanted to see the creature but understood why we would not wait among a crowd of sillies.   And they were rewarded because later in the day we got a beauty, in full view standing on a rock.   The grass was long and made unblurred photography difficult but Earl and  Jay managed to get reasonable shots.

Cheetah on rock by Earl

Cheetah by Jay

We just managed a glimpse of a hyena this morning and then later got a good sighting.   This is one of a pair we saw walking down the road towards us before slipping into the long grass.

We had told the children about green pigeons but not until today did we mange to find any.   A whole treeful appeared before us but they did not feel like posing for the paparazzi.   But Jay kept trying and got a lovely shot.

Another highlight was this little Lizzard Buzzard.  Jay was proud to be able to correctly identify it himself by comparing his pic with the one in the book.

Lizzard Buzzard

Bats used to live under the thatch of the lapas at Skukuza but when we tried to show them to the kids there were none to be found.  The restaurant manager told us they’d all left but he did not know why – they’d been there for years.   Well today when we had breakfast at Pretoriouskop, Shan looked up and saw bat eyes staring down at her.   She insisted on swapping places with me!

We have spotted the buck with target bums from time to time but photography has been difficult.  Today we were determined to at least have a memory shot.

We checked into our Pretoriouskop family cottage 111 at 2:00 p.m.  It is on the perimeter and we hope to spot game at the fence later on.  It is cooler today but the children went to the pool for a swim and are now playing cards and downloading photos.   It will be an early night tonight.

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