It’s heavily overcast and we change our plans this am, instead of the Orpen gate we head up to the Phalaborwa gate, the reason being that, not only is it a nice change but west of the H14 and before you reach the Letaba river there are a number of 4×4 tracks and
we’ve been wanting to try them for some time. First though we take the H9 and pop into Sable dam, we find just a few impala about and the dam pretty low. We back track and join the H14 heading north. Our first port of call is the Nandzana waterhole and we are in time to watch a couple of bull elephant wander into drink, good to see the trough full
to the brim, and they are enjoying themselves, in and out of the trough. This waterhole is close to a river system called Shikumbu and this runs alternately close or further away from the road and is either, just dry sand and then section with large pools of water, of course
plenty of general game around the water. At one point the road rises up and away from the river and then there’s a pull off where you can look down on the river once more, reminds me very of the one on ONGR at the White Cliffs and this morning we are in luck as right below us are a pride of 6 lion, looks to be 2 lioness and 4 S/A, with an old buffalo kill and keeping station on them 8 hyena. It seems the hyena have managed to steel a leg or something and there was a bit of chasing about
amongst them but the lions so full, just lying about for the most apart. We enjoy our breakfast while watching the goings on. A little further down the road we come to the 4×4 turn off, going left we head off in a westerly direction, the road pretty rocky and rough but rather than needing 4×4, a vehicle with good clearance would be fine. Just a few impala about and a herd of elephant some distance from the road, we then arrive at a T junction, turn right and stay on this road till we reach the Letaba river, and as we approach we start to see more and more game, impala, waterbuck, zebra, elephant and buffalo. Here you are supposed to retrace your steps but there’s a concrete weir across the river and it being very low we slip across onto the S141, this crossing joins the road
to the Shimuwini Bushveld Camp, we turn right and head for the H14. Plenty of general game plus elephant and buffalo, plus we spend awhile admiring an absolutely magnificent Baobab, you can drive right around it, they are just awesome trees, notice the ring of stones set to keep the elephant at bay but in places not even those have deterred them from getting to the bark, enjoy the pics. Reaching the tar road, we go right, cross the Letaba and head for Phalaborwa, quick check on the lions, still there and then some great sightings of general game, elephant and another large herd along the river. We enjoy a great lunch at the Bushveld Terrace Hotel, and then back to HWE.
A heavy overcast and light drizzle persuade us to head into the park, where it rained on and off for most of the morning and it was good to see plenty of water about and lots of mud wallows half full but still plenty more needed. With it being so wet, there was little point in staking out a particular waterhole so we went drive about. Soon after leaving
Orpen camp we find impala, wildebeest and a couple of giraffe, we take S106, Rabelais loop finding impala, giraffe, a lone elephant bull and just before we join the H7, a couple
of Lion. All quiet along the timbavati river and we make for Girivana waterhole and again nothing about so we decide to head down to the timbavati picnic sight and enjoy
our breakfast there. On with our drive up the S127 to join the main road H1-4 and head
south, this area is vast open plains and so there are wildebeest, zebra, kudu, giraffe and of course impala dotted about in herds big and small as far as the eyes can see. We turn left and take the S90 for the Gudzani area and once more plenty of general game about.
We pop into the Gudzani waterhole and find a pack of hyena feeding on what was left of an old giraffe, unfortunately the carcass is right in the drinking trough, but it doesn’t faze the hyena though. We continue onto the Gudzani dam and like the other waterholes all
quiet so we head for N’wanetsi picnic sight, for our lunch. It’s time to start for home so we head up the H6, good sightings of wildebeest and zebra. then onto the H7 once more, waterbuck, close to Satara, a great sighting of a brown headed parrot at Nsemani dam, a little further on a bull elephant with good ivory. Thats the drive.
We take a turn around the estate, still very dry here so we have feeding stations dotted about to help supplement the scarcity of browse. Caught these four giraffe in the late afternoon son.
Once more the weather dictates, the alarm pops at 3,30 and on checking on the weather outside I find it dead still with a half moon and plenty of stars, so it’s into Olifants but in the hour or so we take to get ready, a howling gale comes through with low heavy clouds
and even a spit and a spot of rain, so about face and into the park. The recent rains in
the park have made us change our modus operandi, instead of heading for one of the more productive waterholes and then waiting for the game come into drink we now have to travel far more as there are puddles, both big and small where ever we go, so the game very dispersed. Our first sighting this morning was on the way in, inside the Timbavati reserve a pod of 5 Rhino and interestingly, all 5 rhino were carrying their horns. Once clear of boarder control we head along the H7 and already one can see the effect of the rain that has fallen over the past week, some areas more noticeable than others.We feed off onto the S106, finding plenty of impala, wildebeest and zebra. A elephant bull with good ivory is close to the road and further on a bateleur eagle on a dry tree, and close by a couple of immature bateleurs, tucked away in a marula tree, unfortunately pics not great. We stop off at the old rabelais pan, and are in time to catch 3 ground hornbills just moving off. Further along more impala and zebra plus a small herd of elephant. All quiet along the timbavati river, but a little further on plenty of general game, impala, wildebeest, kudu and zebra and another 2 herds of elephant. We go to girivana but not a single animal to be seen and the same applies at the nsemani dam on the H7. We cross the H1-3 and we head down the famous S100 to the Gudzani dam, plenty of game along this road and in particular our first baby impala of the new season.
Gudzani is also quiet so we cross over to N’wanetsi, a quick pit stop then back along the H6, open plains and large areas have been burnt so ideal for masses of plains game, wildebeest, zebra and of course impala, as we get closer to the H1-3 plenty of water buck. We go left down the H1-3 and then take the Sweni road S126, nothing at the Sweni or Welverdiend waterholes but we find more impala, more elephant, waterbuck, kudu wildebeest and zebra the closer we get to the Muzandzeni picnic spot, I must mention that the south side has been burnt and already there’s just green eveywhere. A delicious lunch before heading along the S36 and along here our spot of the morning, a family of Ostrichs’s Mum, Dad and all the kids, special. enjoy the video. Joining H7 and head for Orpen, along the timbavati, in the last small waterhole, right against bank, two crocs await some unwary visitor. Home.
Friday 22, Over the last week or so the Hoedspruit area has enjoyed some wonderful rains, as has the the Park, so plenty of water about and it’s turning green almost over night, Magic! This is the last post for this year, we are away until early 2020. Thank You for all your kind words and support, very much appreciated and we wish You all a Blessed and Merry Christmas and a Happy, Healthy and successful 2020.
Roars & Tumpets, Neil & Morag. 🐘🐘🐘