We are back from another amazing sojourn in The Kruger National Park. I have hundreds of photographs providing wonderful memories and will be going through them and posting some on this blog in the week or so.
Sunday 29 June 2014 Bloemfontein to Numbi Gate and Pretriouskop Rest Camp
We left Bloemfontein at 5 a.m. after a very comfortable night at Duinerus. Thanks to Magriet for her fantastic hospitality. The weather was clear and sunny though a little chilly for the first few hours. We stopped at Grasmere for breakfast and met some people with a CS number plate. They were from Bredasdorp and on their way to Kruger and Mozambique.
We decided to do our shopping at Middleberg Mall just off the freeway instead of Nelspruit and that proved to be a good idea as it had Woolworths and we were done in no time! The arrival at Numbi at 3:00 went smoothly. We had to fill out an indemnity at the gate and then went through reception very quickly. We then travelled the S3 and our first sighting was a fork-tailed drongo – very common in the park. Shortly after we stopped off at Mestel Dam. There was a pod of hippo basking in the sun. Earl wanted to leave straight away but I insisted he turn off the engine and watch and wait. Within minutes we found a fish eagle, darter, pied king fisher, giant kingfisher, jacana, and black crake. The thing about waterholes is that things can change so quickly. We even got to hear the fish eagles iconic African call.
We were quite tired after our two days of travelling so did not do a long game drive. We found grey hornbills and then Peter alerted us to waterbuck and kudu in the bush.
We then turned onto the S7 and Heather called Stop when she spotted a burchels coucal posing in a tree. Shortly after that we found some glossy starlings and more drongos.
On the H 1 Earl spotted a single warthog grazing in the dry grass. At the Pretoriouskop day visitor picnic site we found impala with oxpeckers giving them a beauty treatment.
Three lovely waterbuck appeared just before Pretoriouskop entrance and a group of 4 dwarf mongoose darted across the road before we finally entered the gate at 4:30 Checking in went smoothly and we were delighted to move into to Huts 130 and 131 . We dined on braaied chops, sweet potatoes and salad an spent the evening outdoors in beautiful weather. It only got cold at around 9 pm
Monday 30 June 2014 Pretoriouskop
We made an early start this morning and exited the gate just after 06h00. It was still dark but it was not as chilly as we’d anticipated. It gets light suddenly here and the sunrises are magnificent.
This sunrise with a giraffe silhouetted in the foreground typifies Africa for me.
The first leg of our journey took us along the H1-1. We turned off onto the s71 to Shithave Dam where there was very little besides a grey heron and a pied kingfisher.
Back on the H1-1 we found giraffe, zebra and kudu. The highlight of the morning was a beautiful brown snake eagle perched atop a tee. Snake Eagles are not true eagles as their feathers do not go down to their feet – only to the knees. Most snake eagles have yellow eyes.
We also spent ages observing a party of birds flitting about in the bushes. Seeing us stopped and staring into the bush caused a number of cars to enquire as to what exciting creature we had seen. They tore off in a puff of dust when we tried to point out an interesting bird or 2. Many people visit the park for the Big 5 and other predators and as excting as it is to see them I get more of a thrill out of the small things in Kruger. One can travel the roads for hours and not see a thing if you don’t take note of the birds and other small things.
At 9 we arrived at Transport Dam where a pod of hippos were frolicking, a few jacanas were walking in the water plants, a crake made an appearance, water dikkop sunned themselves and hornbills and lapwings begged tidbits from the tourists!
Continuing further were shaken from a reverie when we spotted a roadblock up ahead. A herd of elephants were refusing to allow the cars to pass. One mock charged a car and then swerved into the bush probably giggling and elephant laugh as the occupants breathed a sigh of relief.
A special sighting thereafter was a little Klipspringer staring at us silently from his rocky perch.
We stopped at Afsaal for breakfast at about 11. It was quite warm now and we sat in the shade to enjoy our toasted sandwiches and coffee. Afsaal is one of the larger picnic sites which has a kiosk providing meals and good coffee can be obtained. We prefer the smaller picnic sites where they do not have shops etc but Kruger draws thousands of tourists and they must be fed!
We went a little further past Afsaal before turning back to Pretoriouskop. A pile of cars were staring into the bush where leopard had been seen but we didn’t bother to wait for the phantom to appear. We enjoyed sightings of giraffe, zebra, warthog and a few more bird parties and arrived back at camp at 3.
After shopping, getting and ice cream and resting for a while we explored the camp and found some lovely birds in the pool area.
We were delighted to find a crested barbet, black headed oriole and red-billed woodhoepoe. In front of our hut we also found a Kurrichane Thrush.
Supper was an early braai. Earl went to be very early and the rest of us chatted outdoors for a while before turning in for the night. We do not keep late hours in Kruger!