Monday 02 September 2019.
A really cold morning, winter having a last gasp before summer arrives. We arrive at our cutline with Venice 5,45 and being so cold we find not one animal in the sable/ rhino area, absolutely dead quiet, we check out along the 4 pylons and from an advantage point, with our bino’s, looking north, can’t see any movement or sign of any game. Decide to return to rhino, park off for awhile and let things warm up a bit. From rhino along zebra drive for the buff plains area, and being warmer our first herd of impala, a family of 7 warthog and 2 jackal, all on buff plains 3, we continue around 2 and then down 1 for nkhonkoni dam, and as I’m coming to a stop, Morag says, there’s a leopard lying on the bank, can’t remember when we last saw one, sorry I can’t tell you who it is. We call in Brian & Claire, who are leaving later in the morning, but as they arrive he disappears, behind the wall, they go in search, no luck. We decide to enjoy our breakfast here in the hope that said leopard would reappear. After sometime Brian suddenly spots him walking along up from dam near the road, carrying something in his mouth, we thought at first a cub, but decided a squirrel. Brian and Claire shoot round and get a brief glimpse of him. It’s getting late for them so after good-byes etc they leave, they haven’t gone very far when he suddenly appears and lies down at the waters edge, Back come Brian and Claire and he ducks off again but they manage to get a better view of him, on the far side again. So time to make for home and we take the single pylons. passing a large herd of impala and then going right down the short cut for hyena and just at the palm loop crossing herd of elephant, we go left along molope way and find plenty of impala on the hyena plains, right up single pylons and then onto the RWLR, before we get to the sliding gate, a herd of elephant, couple of kudu, plenty of impala and a troop of baboon plus a pair of Hawk eagles in one of the single pylons. A good busy morning, sad to say cheers to Brian & Claire, see you in the new year.
Into the Park this am, after clearing, boarder control at Orpen Gate, with our Wild Card, we head along the H7 for Satara we soon pick up impala, zebra and wildebeest, a couple of kudu bulls and a lone hyena, who leaves the road and disappears into a culvert under the road Along the timbavati river just the odd impala and a couple of giraffe are along the river
bed. We turn left onto the S12 for Girivana waterhole. One can do two things when game viewing in Kruger, either driving around on the many excellent roads, checking out the various waterholes or do what we are doing at the moment, driving to a good waterhole, that’s being heavily utilised and just sit and wait for the game to come into drink, and that’s been very rewarding at this time because it’s so very dry, some days of course it’s busier than other day’s, today was not as busy as the last time we were there but still well worth the morning. As we arrive, we catch the lioness with her 3 cubs walking down the road, before moving off south into thick bush. We get ourselves settled in our usual spot and wait for the action. As it begins to warm up the first herd of impala wander into drink and they are soon followed by a small herd of zebra. A troop of baboons, once satisfied that the lioness and her cubs have moved off to a safe distance, come into drink, before moving off to the east. Things go quiet for awhile until a herd of 34 zebra, we count them, coming into drink in single file, suddenly the leader stops, just short of the trough and the entire herd bunches up behind him and then as one they turn and are
gone in a flash and a cloud of dust. So what frightened them and after some careful searching and luck, we find, lying in the shade of the water reservoir, all of 300 metres away, are two male lions, the reason we saw them was they got up to move round the tank to keep out of the sun, and that was the reason so little game was coming into drink. So we leave a little earlier for home. The picture of the 2 hornbills, always keep close so they can pick up the odd rusk crumb that comes their way. On the way home elephant and a nyala bull plus impala at the timbavati river. A most enjoyable morning.
A gale force wind comes through during the night bringing with it some light rains. We decide to pop into the Kruger in a warm dry car rather than an open wet landy into Olifants. Turning onto the Orpen road it’s obvious that there’s been plenty of rain in this area. Clearing Orpen gate a light drizzle starts to fall and this continues through out the
morning, mostly light to heavy drizzle but around Satara some really heavy rain,
fantastic. WE haven’t gone far when we come upon a couple of cars, watching some thing off to our right, your natural instinct is to search the bush not look at the top of a dry tree, and find a sub adult lion, perched in amongst the branches. Why he climbed all the way to the top? having fun or chasing something or maybe chased by the pride male, he took refuge in the tree. He calls for sometime before coming down back wards and setting off after what we presume is the rest off the pride.
We continue onto Girivana water hole, and just before the turn off spot a couple of ground hornbill, feeding along side the road, it’s raining hard when we get to Girivana and there’s nothing about, so decide to have our breakfast before moving on, a small herd of elephant come in for a quick drink. We join the H7 and continue on for Satara, finding impala, zebra, wildebeest and waterbuck. A pit stop at Satara before heading south down the H1-3, turning right onto the S126 or Sweni Road, steady rain all the way along here and very little to see, impala of course a small herd of zebra and a herd of 4 kudu. Turning right on S36 we head back towards the tarmac road H7, about 4 ks past the Rockvale water hole we are met by a magnificent bull elephant, strolling down the
middle of the road and with no intention of moving off it. He backs us up for the next 20 minutes or so, in fact nearly all the way back to Rockvale where he finally heads for the water tank, just nothing more awesome than these impressive bulls, wonderful encounter. So finally we can get going right? ‘wrong’ cause just over the rise, comes a
second large bull, not as large but still impressive, he backs us up for about 5 minutes before leaving the road and we continue onto the H7 and back to Orpen gate and home. Great morning and of course the rain just so great this early in spring.
A beautiful clear morning with the promise of it turning into a hot one. We zip through border control and are soon on our way down the H7, at 6,30, there’s still a nip in the air so not to much about, impala here and there, along the timbavati, all quiet. We go left along the S12 for Girivana, as we approach the water hole we spot a number of vultures,
hanging about and we soon discover why, a impala carcass, hanging in a tree, with a tawny eagle feeding on it. Another vehicle arrives and we learn that the day before a leopard hoisted the kill up into the tree and was then chased away by a pride of lion, who tried unsuccessfully to get to it. No sign of leopard or lion this morning. We move onto the waterhole itself and shortly after a herd of elephant arrive but it’s obvious there’s little or no water in the trough and they immediately head south. A short while later a parks bakkie arrives, a couple of guys fiddle around at the head of the trough then leave. Another herd of elephant arrive but just walk straight through and head in the same direction as the first lot, their line of travel will bring them to the Nsemani dam, which is on the N7. We move down to the dam, no sign of the elephant yet but plenty of general game, impala, zebra, wildebeest, giraffe a couple buff bulls. There’s no shade of any description at the dam and its getting pretty hot so we decide to return along the H7
and take the S36 for the Rockvale water hole were there is some shade. There’s plenty of water there and we find it’s being dominated by a group of elephant bulls of various ages and size, and when they can plenty of zebra, warthog, wildebeest and impala slip in a get a drink, even an African hawk eagle gets a quick sip. Around 12, 30 or so, most of the game has drifted off and we head for home, plenty of general game along our route to the gate.
It’s heavily overcast and warm as we set off for Olifants this morning, but this only temporary as the low cloud burns off and by midday there’s only some puffy white cloud about. We take the turn off for members way and we haven’t gone far when we find our
first impala herd, a little further on a lone hyena, we head up to wild dog, finding only the odd impala about so we back track and cross over for the sable plains and rhino, a couple of small herds of impala. So onto the 4 pylons and then left along the cutline for wildebeest dr, we hear and see impala, alarming and running every which way but we
are unable to find what frightened them. Over the radio, Hans (59) calls in wild dog at big dam, so away we go and find Hans and Lawrence (12) watching 7 dogs who have a impala, trapped in the middle of the dam and here is where we stay for the rest of the
morning, a short while later we are joined by Martin and Jane (81) and Steve (80) and later still Willem, Leane and friends (48) and unit 18. I’m not going to go into a long description of what happened in the next 3 and a half hours or so, let the photo’s and video’s do that but in the end only Martin & Jane are there to see the impala finally make it to the edge of the dam and of course the dogs finally get their meal.
A strong wind blows through out the night and when we leave for the Park, there’s a billion stars overhead but by the time it takes us to get to the gate, 40 minutes or so, there’s already low cloud moving in from the south east, at first completely overcast but by mid day it virtually clear. We clear border control and are soon onto the H7, and within a K, we find a herd of buffalo, lying up and a little further a small herd of elephant, plus of course impala, here, there and everywhere. Today a change of plan, we
go right onto S106 and then right once more onto the S140, this road takes you past Talamati Bushveld Camp, pretty quiet actually, impala a herd of zebra and the odd kudu bull. At Talamati the road changes to the S145, spot nothing along here, we go left on the S36, heading for the Muzandzeni Picnic Site, pretty quiet along here too but at the turn off
for the picnic site we find a lone car and they are watching a cheetah, feeding on it’s kill, unfortunately the long grass makes it impossible to see. She is finally chased off by the arrival of some vultures and dashes off. We pop into Muzandzeni for our breakfast,
before continueing on the S36 for the H7, all quiet around Rock Vale waterhole this morning, then right onto the H7, along the timbavati river , just the odd impala, we turn in for Girivana, no game about, looks pretty much as though the water has been cut off so we decide to head down to the Nsemani Dam, but just before we join the H7, a mass of cars, and about a hundred metres from the road a pride of lion, all lying up, it’s around 11 or so and much warmer. Manage to get some shots of some of them, we count 15 in all. Then it’s down to the dam, find ourselves a good possy and enjoy the passing parade of game coming into drink. Enjoy the pics. Around 13.00 we head up the H7 for Orpen gate and home. On the way plenty of game, and the scramble egg bushes are in full bloom, the bright yellow flowers making a beautiful and striking contrast to the overall dry and dull grey of the rest of the bush. Need rain so desperately.
To the south of Olifants lies Drifters, it’s camp Green Fire Lodge , is situated on the Mahlabetzi river. Adrian is the manager and besides his duties around camp, he is often out on patrol helping with the on going war against poachers and in particular rhino poachers, with him is his faithful companion and friend Pepper.
This is Pepper, ready to go out on patrol with Adrian and do his bit for the anti rhino poaching. You can find Pepper on Facebook, under. ‘Pepper on Patrol’ if you would like to follow and keep in touch with his adventures. Incidentally he already has over 5000 followers. So click on and enjoy.
Sunday 22, Finally you will note the slight change in the name of The Game Drive, the reason being that we are now living in the Hoedspruit Wildlife Estate which means we are much closer to the Park, which we are going into more often, in fact it takes us the same amount of time to get to the Orpen gate as it does to the top of the airstrip on ORGR. I have been asked, by my regular readers, to included our sightings and pics/videos of what we see in the Park and on our Estate and of course Olifants. Hope you enjoy.
That’s the lot for this month, will be away next Sunday, so till next time, You all take care now, R&T, N&M.🐘🐘🐘