Kruger Adventure with Grandpa, Gran, Simon and Shan – Day 11

12 January 2018

The weather is once again hot in The Kruger National Park with temperatures reaching the mid thirties.

This morning for our  drive we drove to Crocodile Bridge Camp.  There were lots of the usual animals about and we got four of the Big Five.   Four rhino were quite far away so we didn’t take a photo.  There were a few elephant sightings but as we have many ellie photos we didn’t take of them either.   The same goes for buffalo which we saw from camp and from the bridge.  There is no restaurant at this Gate Camp but you can get coffee from a kiosk and ready made sandwiches, pies, muffins etc from the shop.  In the past we have enjoyed their pies but today there were none available so we settled for sandwiches which were also very good.

These are the highlights from this morning’s drive.


A Bateleur finally posed for a half decent photograph


The veld was littered with Impala – The kids now call them litter!


A wildebeest resting in the shade


Donkeys in striped pajamas everywhere


A flotilla of white-faced ducks with a female knob-billed duck in the foreground


An emerald-spotted wood-dove


Wild Dog about to settle down in the shade for a midday nap


But we disturbed their peace


Such gorgeous creatures


Yes – It’s hot!

When we got back to camp our neighbours told us about lions just three km from the bridge so we went in search of them.


They were asleep under a tree quite far from the road but The King got up and stared at us


Then flopped down again


At the bridge we got this lovely Goliath Heron

We chilled in camp for most of the afternoon and then went out again for a short drive from 4 o’clock to 6 o’clock.  The Amur falcons and  rollers were flocking together and hawking insects which was really interesting to watch.


Rollers hawking insects

Here are the other highlights of our afternoon drive


Southern White-crowned Shrike


Burchell’s Coucal


Snake-eagle with a reptile of some sort – see the tail

When we got back the kids went for a swim with the neighbour’s kids and later Simon went on another night hike and saw hyaena from the restaurant deck.

It was a beautiful evening and we had a braai.    It was after nine before we were ready for bed.


Kruger Adventure with Grandpa, Gran, Simon and Shan – Day 7

8 January 2018

The past three day have been particularly HOT.  Today the mercury reached 43 degrees C.   Even the evenings are hot and we remain scantily dressed even outdoors.  This is a huge contrast to the cold and wet December we had in Kokstad!


Simon, still wet from a swim,  helping Grandpa with dinner last night

It is a 92 km drive from Skukuza to Satara.  We were packed up and ready to leave at 6:30 am and it was already hot.

Meet Roger – he travels everywhere with his friend Simon and keeps us all amused when the outdoor wildlife are hiding from view.


Roger dislikes confined spaces so holds on tightly to the roof and peaks at us through the window. He loves to let the wind blow through his fur.


His baboon cousins enjoy eating the fruit of the sausage tree


This guy has a huge appetite for them

We arrived at Satara around 10 ish and set up as quickly as we could in the heat of the day.  The only thing to do on a day like this is to find aircon or swim!  I took the kids to the pool while Grandpa napped then did the laundry.

We set off for a game drive just after three.  Hooray for modern motorcars with effective climate control.   The S100 is famous in The Kruger Park and usually produces excellent sightings.  We did see lots of plains animals but today the predators evaded us.


The highlight of the day was finding the rare and endangered Painted Snipe.   I spotted him with some other waders while watching bee eaters and kingfishers flying and dipping into the river.


Our camp is right next to the fence and this evening the kids were thrilled to spot a hyena walking past.   We hoped to get sites next to the fence in each camp but at this time of the year that is not easy as the best sites get snapped up very quickly.  We were lucky to get this spot and I’m glad that the kids will experience being closer to the wildlife at night.

Tomorrow, we’re hoping it will be a little cooler – even a thunderstorm to cool things down would be welcome.


Kokstad Christmas – Part 1

Those of you who follow my blog regularly know that we are currently visiting our clan in Kokstad.  We started our Christmas celebrations early.  On Wednesday The Bakers came over for a pre-Christmas dinner. We wore the silly hats and pulled the surprise pack crackers and shared the corny jokes that popped out too.  It really got us all into the Christmas spirit


Nicoline, Shan and Scott


Simon and Robyn


Al, Si, Shan, Scott, Me, Earl, Lauren


Al, Nicoline, Shan, Scott, Si, Robyn, Sean, Me, Lauren

We have had unseasonably cold weather this December so when we saw that the sun would be shining on Thursday we headed off to a dam in the mountains so the ‘boys’ could do some fishing.  What a lovey cottage we had on The Du Plessis farm in the Swartberg.

It was Allan’s birthday on Friday.   He and Simon were out fishing very early on on their return we presented the gifts and had a slap-up breakfast to celebrate his special day.


My Rural Family


Scrumptious Birthday Breakfast

Al is such a great dad and his kids expressed this so well in the cards they made.


Al, Earl and Simon fished and caught a total of nine bass. They kept two which The Earl cooked for lunch when we were back home.

Because of the iffy weather we have not done much outdoorsy stuff but on Sunday at the rude hour of 6:30 am my son-in-law and granddaughter knocked on the door – Hey Gran – do you want to come for a walk.

I thought it would be a gentle stroll along gravel paths suitable for a 65 year old grandmother.


Like this

But no –  they took me on a bundu bashing ramble across farmlands, over barbed wire fences, through long, possibly snake-infested grass while dodging thorny thistles, low overhanging branches and rabbit holes.


Do you see the reed buck and the dog? – No?  That’s how long the grass was!

Cody smelt a reed buck – but it was too clever for him and kept dead still – all we could see were it’s horns sticking up from the long grass.


We bent over to get through the trees


And climbed through many tricky fences

The plan was to cross the river over a bridge and then take the shortcut back to their farm but somehow the it seemed not to be there and so we headed back through the long grass observing many pretty buck and birds before reaching home two hours after we started out!



It was all worth the effort for the pretty scenes we saw


Lovely river – no bridge

Considering that Shan and Al both have much longer legs than I, I think I did okay to keep up with them – Yes my limbs felt like jelly at the end of it but it was great fun.  I think I might join them again.

Today we celebrated Christmas with The Bakers and tomorrow we’re having the Macs over – More about that next time.


Kruger National Park – Day 26

5 December 2017 – Berg en Dal

We are nicely settled here at Berg en Dal at the south end of The Kruger National Park.  Our campsite is right next to the fence and when we arrived yesterday we saw a herd of elephant close by.   Also in front of our site is a tall tree where two yellow-billed kites have built a nest.  It is well hidden but we have seen Mom and Dad in the open a few times – but in poor light.  Hopefully better photos will be possible soon.


The whole of Berg en Dal rest camp is in pristine condition.  The paths are swept and there facilities are kept sparkling clean. In all the other camps we have found there are issues with maintenance. If Berg en Dal can get it right – then so can the others!

The one problem we are having here is with the monkeys.  Oh my – they are so cheeky!  The problem probably began because tourists insisted on feeding them and now thy take the easy way out and try to steal from the campers.   Our neighbours had a whole loaf of bread taken from under their noses and our butter very nearly went Awol but The Earl managed to frighten the culprit and she dropped it.  A bit of dusting off later and it’s now safely secured in a plastic container in the locked fridge.


This baby was right outside our caravan  – I yelled at him and he ran to Mom


“That nasty old lady yelled at me, Mom”  he said.                                                                                                                                         “How could you?!” she looked at me in disgust.

We were out by six this morning and were back for breakfast by ten.   At first we did not see much but then things improved.  Once again today there were more of the biggies and unusual smallies.


Lovely to see a red-breasted swallow

Gardenia Hide is usually stunning but there was very little there today.  We were also disappointed to find that the path to the hide had been neglected, there were poles missing from the fence and there was an overflowing bin at the gate as well as litter on the path.  Not good enough Sanparks!


African Wattled Lapwing


Tree-frog nest built over water so that when the eggs hatch the tadpoles will fall in.  They fend for themselves from birth.


A well camouflaged Water Thick-knee

Kudu, tortoise and buffalo were next on our list.  We also saw a few herds of elephant but they were hiding in the trees.  Four rhino were also some distance off.IMG_8705IMG_8710P1120459

And finally a leopard turned up this morning – not the best sighting ever but good to see him on a rock. He was fast asleep and didn’t stir for anyone!


After the leopard we continued to see some lovely sightings – elephants, kudu, tortoise and buffalo until we returned to camp.  We rested until 3 o’clock and then went out for our afternoon drive.

First we encountered a herd of elephants. The babies were adorable


A ground hornbill crossed our path


A wainterhole we visited proved to be absolutely stunning.  We found a rhino having a wonderful, wallowing time and when the elephants came down they gave him a wide berth.  I wonder what it was that made them nervous of a rhino – his lovely long horn perhaps?


Blissfully wallowing in the cool water


Elephant giving a wide berth

Eventually the elephants left with a great deal of trumpeting.  They chased the poor impala from the scene.   We stayed to watch the rhinoceros complete his beauty treatment. He had a few itches to scratch  and amused us with the solution to his problems!


Emerging after a lovely muddy bath


Oooh what a lovely scratch


Well, nobody’s going to do it for me, you know!

Finally he trundled off to his midden quite a way off but which we could still see.  He sprayed liberally into the midden and then wandered off.

We continued on our way too and enjoyed these other creatures along the way


A common duiker peeked at us


A hyena on a mission



A red-breasted swallow


And another rhino having a mud bath somewhere else!

It was another perfect evening and we braaied chicken kebabs for dinner.


Only one more full day left in Kruger – how time flies.






Kruger National Park – Day 23

2 December 2017 –

We haven’t seen cats for a few days and were feeling a little restless about it as it’s Tony and Pat’s last full day in The Park.   It would be nice to get one last sighting of a predator for them.

I suggested we drive to Tshokwane for breakfast because lions and leopard had been seen in that area.   Everybody agreed.

Before we left camp we found this chap foraging on the neighboring campsite.


White-throated Robin-Chat

We drove the scenic route along the river and took all the loops we could.


Frisky male impala were butting heads and interlocking horns – it seemed more play than serious rivalry


A hippo still out grazing before going back into the water for the day


The Earl aways gets a fright when these giants suddenly appear and cross in front of him


These gentle waterbuck said a cheery good morning

There was a lull in sightings when all of a sudden we jerked to attention.  Something was crossing the road ahead of us.  Leopard, cheetah – No LION!   We all got an eyeful of her and then she was gone.  Maybe some more would follow and cross over too.  We waited a few minutes but nobody came.  Just a little ahead we saw a stationary car.  As we approached I saw them – lion lying under a tree.  A farewell gift for our friends,


The other car left and we had them to ourselves for a while. Suddenly another lion appeared and then two of them got up together to change position and flop down again


What an awesome sighting.  But wait – there’s more.  We drove on a little further and spotted two more lionesses lying on a log. There was a lot of foliage blocking them so we didn’t get photos but enjoyed seeing them get up and stretch before settling back down again.

We were thrilled at this sighting which was just before we got to our breakfast stop.  At Tshokwane we were amused when this pied barbet settled on a plate and himself to scraps!  I’ve never seen a barbet do that before.

IMG_8272On our return we concentrated on bird watching and enjoyed seeing a common duiker, giraffe and zebra.   As we approached the lion spot a car stopped us and said there were male lions up ahead.   Our females had left but these boys had settled in close by to where they had been. The one remained asleep but the other gave us a bit of entertainment.


Why did you wake me up?


Oh how tiresome – yawn, yawn!


Don’t you know a lion needs 20 hours of sleep per day?


Oh well – while I’m up i might as well have a scratch

When we came to the place where we expected to find a leopard on the rocks, we got a klipspringer instead!


We decided to take a long midday break as it was really hot again today.  We swam in the pool a few times and only went to Lake Panic later in the afternoon for an hour.  I would be quite happy to spend an entire day in this hide as even on a slow day interesting things happen.  You have to sit very quietly in a hide and at first you might think there is nothing there but when you really look you start to see things. It took a while for us to notice that a Jacana at the far end of the pond had four chicks that must have been just out of their eggs.  Father Jacana looks after the kids while Mom goes off to find another mate and another nest in which to lay her eggs.


Father Jacana wtching his young


Squacco Heron fishing


Pied Kingfisher with is prey


We heard the Water Thick-knees before we them

Once again it was a perfect evening and just as we were enjoying Magnum Ice-creams for dessert I heard a rustle at the paper packet that we use for a bin. I yelled and it ran away. I suspected it was a honey badger but I caught sight of something smaller.  African wild cat perhaps?  The cheeky creature came back again and Pat said – shine your torch on it which I did and saw it was a bushbaby!.  At that moment Pat and Tony’s daughter was Skyping from New Zealand.  Chaos ensued as we raced to see if we could find the intruder.  We found him behind the caravan on the branch of a tree.  He wasn’t at all concerned and just stared at us from his safe vantage point.  Tony was able to show his daughter, Maria, the naughty creature.


Sorry Bushbaby – We’re not the type of campers who hand out leftovers! Go find your own food!

Sadly tonight is the last one in the park for P&T as tomorrow they will make their way back home.  We still have a few more days before heading back to Kokstad.


Kruger National Park – Day 22

1 December 2017 – Transport Dam and Lake Panic

What is it that brings one back to the Kruger National Park time and time again?  For many it’s the thrill of seeing the Big Five – Lion, Leopard, Elephant, Buffalo and Rhino.  And yes – there’s not doubt that these creatures as well as hyena, jackal, wild dog and cheetah give one an enormous thrill.  But that’s not what brings me back for more.  It’s more than that – it’s being in the bush, communing with nature, the trees, the peace the whole vibe of the place and especially the birds.   I love to sit at a waterhole or dam and observe the activity of the waders, the weavers, herons and kingfishers.  I can’t put into words how awesome it is. I know that some people raise their eyebrows and shake their heads and wonder what I’m on about – but I can’t help it.  Put me in a hide for three hours and I will be content to just sit and watch and take in the peace and tranquility of it all.

Today was awesome.  Let me tell you about it.  But if your eyes have already glazed over -don’t worry – I won’t be offended if you do not read – this blog is for those who are as bird nerdy as I am!

Omigosh – as I sit here outside my caravan at 21:06 on the balmiest if evenings I hear the distant sound of a hyena calling.  This is what it’s like in the middle of the African Bush!  But back to today’s story.

I woke to the sound of the “Piet my Vrou” at 5:00 am this morning.   This cuckoo – the red-chested cuckoo to be precise calls incessantly in the summertime but is almost impossible to find as he hides so well in the foliage of the trees.  However, as I emerged from my caravan to go to the showers, wrapped in nothing but my sarong I spotted said cuckoo atop a dead tree in full view and full song!   The early morning light is not good for photography and I thought – No – I don’t think this is worth a photograph but when I got to the ablutions I dumped my vanity bag, clothes and towel and dashed back to the caravan for the camera.  “Patricia, ”  I called outside my friend’s tent.  “The Piet my Vrou  is in full view.  Come quickly and you will see her.”  I then took several photographs, put my binoculars outside her tent as she couldn’t find hers and headed to the showers.


An early morning shot of a Red Chested Cuckoo – “Piet my Vrou”

When I was done I found a forlorn Patricia Mary.  “I missed it by a second,” said she. “As i raised the binoculars to see him he flew away!”  The problem was that P.M. had dallied over putting on some clothes instead of coming out half naked to see the elusive bird!  But me?  I have no pride!  And if anybody saw a mad old woman in a sarong taking photos of an irritating bird calling at some ungodly hour and they didn’t like it – tough – I got my shot and that is all I wanted.  For those of you reading who do not know the South African Birds – The call of the red-chested cuckoo sounds like the Afrikaans words – Piet my vrou meaning  Pete my wife.   Yes, I know it makes no sense at all.

Before we left for our morning drive we watched some little birds flitting about in the trees and were pleased to add bronze manikin to our list although the photograph is not worth publishing!

Choosing which bird is my favourite is very difficult because there are so many that I just love to see.  But I definitely get a huge thrill every time I see a Saddle-Billed Stork so if pressed I would have to say that this is my favourite bird.  Usually we spot them at some distance away in a pond or river but today we were hugely surprised to find on on the side of the road.   She was alone, clicking her bill and hunting morsels to eat.  She was not at all bothered by our presence and we were able to observe her for quite some time, first on the right side of the road and then crossing to the left where there was a midden.  A dung beetle was busy doing his cleaning up job when his life came to a sudden end as Mrs SBS gobbled him up!


Our route took us to Afsaal Picnic Site where we stopped for breakfast.  On the way we spotted some of our favourite creatures


What big tusks you have


This carnivorous snail is a big chap 


Pearl breasted Swallow at the Afsaal


A lovely welcome from Tindlovu Rustic Kitchen at Afsaal

Afsaal is a busy stop but we were impressed with its efficiency.  You can queue for take-aways or sit at a table and a waitron will take your order.  We chose the latter and were highly impressed with our waitress.  We dithered over our order and she treated us with patience and humour.   The Earl said something annoying and I smacked him playfully.  She looked at me in horror and rubbed his hand.  Then we all burst out laughing.   Finally she sorted out our whims and fancies and brought us a most enjoyable breakfast.


Our sassy waitress, Mpumi

Feeling fortified with food and content with our experience we continued on to Transport Dam.  On the way we saw buffalo


And stopped for a loo break at Pretoriouskop


Beautiful Coral Tree


Ellie cooling off at Transport Dam


White-faced ducks


Wood Sandpiper

On our way to Skukuza we spotted a few regulars





It was very hot today and so we swam in the pool during our rest time and then Pat and I did a load of washing at the laundrette before we all went off to Lake Panic for our afternoon outing.  This hide never disappoints.  We spent an hour or so enjoying the business of nature going on before our eyes.


Nyala Males were having a drink and a play-fight – or were they serious?


A three-banded plover popped in for a while


There was great entertainment from green-backed herons


And Squacco Herons


Terrapins sunned themselves


Mr (below) and Mrs Pied Kingfisher fished



A paradise fly-catcher dipped in and out of the water for a bath and a drink.


Hippos conversed


A shy female nyala or three came down for a quick drink too


And two fish eagles loudly declared their love for each other

This was the best part of our day but reluctantly we had to leave.

Just before returning to camp we spotted this guy crossing the road.  He scuttle off into the bush but not before turning around to say good evening.


Spotted Hyena ended our day

This evening we treated ourselves to an evening out to dinner at The Cattle Baron and it was awesome. Once again we had a smart, sassy waitress who took excellent care of our needs.  It was a perfect ending to a stunning day.











Kruger National Park – Day 21

30 November 2017 Lower Sabie to Skukuza

It’s hard to believe that we have been in the park for three weeks now.  Each day has had something special and we are still loving every moment.   We now have the pack up and go routine totally sussed and everything went smoothly for our departure to Skukza this morning.  Pat’s hand is very much better and she felt that she could cope helping Tony with their tent but The Earl insisted on giving a hand – we don’t want her using her wrist too much and causing it more damage!

We hit the tar road at 6:45 and Pat and Tony took the scenic route.   Our first road block – elephants of course.  This photograph is taken through the windscreen but I couldn’t resist the cuteness of the baby rolling on the tar.


Skukuza is only 35 km from Lower Sabie on the tar road and we did not stop for much as we just wanted to get to camp to set up.  We were just done when Tony phoned to say they had arrived. We met them at reception and took them to our site.  They decided not to join us for brekkie as it looked like rain and they wanted to set up before it came.

The Earl and I went to The Cattle Baron and sat under the Sycamore Fig enjoying the ambience. The service today was slow but when you’re in Africa you don’t really care.  When we finally got our eggs and bacon it was delicious – and the coffee was good.   While we were waiting we watched the starlings, weavers and sparrows in the tree and then The Earl said, “Hey there’s a green pigeon.”  Our first for this trip!  Where had they been hinding?


This elusibe Green Pigeon and three others posed beautifully for us


The spectacled weaver has a quizical look

Today was more of a rest day as it turned out to be quite hot – the rain never came.  We took a short afternoon drive and these were the highlights.


Golden Breasted Bunting – he sang beautifully


Trumpeter Hornbill


Dung Beetle cleaning up the bush – such an amazingly hard worker


Dark form Wahberg’s Eagle – I think


A useful tool is the elephant’s trunk


Can’t resist the cuteness


What was he thinking getting right into the tree


Yellow-billed hornbill

This might sound repetitive – but it was a braai again tonight.  Honestly there’s no better way to eat in the bush!