Kruger National Park Day 1

10 November  2017 – Tsendze

We left Haenertzburg, with new caravan in tow at 8:30 this morning. We stopped at Tzaneen Lifestyle Centre for breakfast and to do some last minute shopping and then we were finally off to my most favourite place in the world – The Kruger National Park.

When I saw the familiar road sign indicating the direction of the park I really started to get excited.  Two and half hours later we were there – Phalaborwa Gate welcomed us and check in was quick and smooth.

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Our Home on Wheels

Once on the road to Mopani 77 km further on I breathed in the sweet air of the bushveld and sat back to enjoy the three hour ride.  Yes – that’s how long you take to travel distances in the park as the speed limit is 40km on dirt and 50km on tar – but you hardly ever go that fast as you travel slowly while searching the bush for life.

And what do you think our first mammal was?  No not an impala which is the most common creature in the park

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It was an elephant!

The impala, of course,  did appear as did many zebra and as we  travelling near the river there were lots of buffalo too.

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Very common, but very pretty

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Mommy and Baby

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Who do you think you’re looking at!

At the bridge we spotted a pied kingfisher looking for lunch while further up the river a herd of elephants crossed over.   Water buck were about too.

Sometimes the ride becomes quiet and for a while you don’t see anything and then just when you’re about to fall asleep with boredom something crops up to excite you.  Today a shape appeared at the side of the road and I yelled out to the Earl to slow down.

“What?” he said

“A puppy,” I squealed

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and there al by itself lay the tiniest hyena cub you could ever wish to see.

“Where is your mommy?”  I asked him and he just stared sleepily at  me.

“Hey!  Here she is on my side!” noticed the earl after 3 whole minutes of  looking through my window.

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And sure enough there was mom with another little pup – just off the road.

Hyenas tend to make their dens in culverts under the road so they surely must have had one just there.

Korhaans often appear and sometimes very photogenic.

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But today the fronds of grass kept preventing me from getting good shots.

A tortoise crossed our path

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After checking in at Mopani Camp – there’s no check in office at Tsenze Rustic Camp 6km from there – we went to the restaurant for a bite to eat.  The restaurant overlooks the river and there were many interesting things to watch.

We then made our way Tsendze Rustic Camp where there is no electricity and just two camp attendants ensuring that the campers are happy.  The facilities are in pristine condition, it is quiet and the camp is full of birdlife – it’s really back to nature.   When you enter and leave you have to open and close the gate, looking around for dangerous wildlife as you do so!   As we drove around looking for campsite number 22 we spotted the barred owlet – this is really a special find.

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Then began the set up process.  Now remember this was the first time with the new caravan.  And The Earl suffers from anxiety and I am not the most patient psychiatric nurse.   I steeled myself for half an hour of stress and panic.  We unpacked to perfectly colour labelled tent poles and studied the perfectly clear diagram.  It was all very straightforward but The Earl wanted to beat the clock – and every time he encountered a problem like forgetting where he put the mallet his stress levels rose.  At least 10 times I had to remind him to breath and take it slowly. “It will all come together in the fullness of time.”  And of course it did and it was so much easier than our previous caravan’s set-up process!

We spent the rest of the afternoon sorting out where we would put things while in camp so that we didn’t have to do too much digging into bags and boxes.

Then we poured ourselves a drink and went over to chat to the neighbours who coincidently we’d met during check in at Mopani.  They are from Louis Trichardt and have a really smart fold out caravan.   Once it’s set up it is bigger and more luxurious than our one.  The bedroom has an island bed.  There are three times as many cupboards and they have a lovely seating area inside as well as out.   Their  bathroom is also twice the size as ours.  But I love our compact little set up and would not swap it now!

The weather has been stunning – overcast but no rain, no wind and it is warm.  We had a wonderful braai this evening and were in our brand new king size bed by 9 pm!   It was too warm for under the duvet so we slept with just a sheet.

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