Kruger after the floods 2012 – around Skukuza

I spent yesterday morning buying things I needed like an adapter to get electricity and a new mattress.. After sorting things out and having a bite to eat I got on with blogging.

Left around 1 for an afternoon drive. Probably the worst time of day to be heading out but firstly my car has aircon (while the campsite doesn’t) and I was just desperate to get out into the bush after a morning behind my computer. I told you this wasn’t just a holiday!

I decided to head to Paul Kruger Gate (on the H11) to see what that side looked like. There’s a lot more water along the road with some random pools that I have never seen before. Not far outside of the camp there’s a bridge in a dip that goes over the N’waswitshaka river, that normally has water but the bed is so full of reeds that you can hardly see it. Well, that river did some damage to the bridge, so it must have been flowing pretty strongly.. The road was closed for a day or two while the Park did some repairs. It’s open again, with a temporary fix in place.

 

 

 

I found 3 rhinos grazing peacefully (the only way they should be!) – a mom, her calf and a male. A few years ago, my mom and I were in the Hluhluwe/iMfolozi Game Park in Kwa-Zulu Natal and we heard the strangest sound coming from a dip in the distance. It was like someone blowing through a narrow plastic pipe and there were two different pitches. Through binoculars we could spot two rhinos in some sort of interaction. And then we stayed at Ngwenya Lodge, just outside Crocodile Bridge gate, in October last year and at night we heard the same sounds. Well, while I was sitting enjoying watching the rhinos at peace, the male made these same sounds! It was so awesome to actually get to hear it and see the rhino so close at the same time!

I was so keen to drive along the dirt road just before you get to the gate on the left – the Sabie River road (S3) – but was sad to see it too is closed. Stopped at the gate and took a walk to the bridge. It is looking much more open that normal. We have often stayed at Burchell’s Lodge/Protea Hotel just outside the gate and you can’t normally see much of the river.

I stopped in at Lake Panic on the way back to Skukuza – I really need to find out why on earth that peaceful bird hide has that name?!? If anyone can enlighten me, I’d be stoked. Something must have happened there! Enjoyed a few minutes watching some black crakes and listening to their amazing noises.. It’s definitely fuller than normal. The only damage I could see is that the footpath to the hide is slightly eroded.

 

With not much else to see, I headed back towards Skukuza and on to investigate the top loop (H1-2). The low-level bridge held up well during the flood with only very minor damage. There’s a lot of debris though. I was greeted with another No Entry sign at the top of the hill – the loop is closed too! *sigh* Back down to the lower loop (H4-1), I guess!

All the dirt roads along the bottom loop are also closed.. I had a lovely drive down to the bridge. I’d already seen the damage to the riverbed, but it is quite a thing to take in.. I’ll share some more photos when I post more on the road to Lower Sabie tomorrow. The bridge railings took serious strain and both sides look rather different to a few weeks ago. This section of the Sabie seems to be the most affected. On the way back to camp, I saw a couple of buffalo in the riverbed, which was a great way to end the day.

Memorable experiences for the day:

* Monkeys jumped into my car and managed to open a Tupperware that I stupidly forgot to put away in my lock box – they stole some crackers but thankfully the rest of the food was safe.

* During the afternoon drive I got a bit concerned that it may rain so I quickly popped back into camp to put up all the sides on my awnings to at least keep stuff somewhat dry (the joys of camping!). As I got back I saw the tell-tale signs of monkeys having been for a visit! Rubbish was strewn everywhere. I had forgotten to throw away my fruit salad from yesterday so they got that. It seems though that these monkeys like being clean as the only other things they got into we’re my wet wipes, a packet of tissues and my dish scourers! Who would have thought?! I’d be quite happy if I caught them doing the dishes with those scourers!

* While I was cleaning up after the monkeys, I heard a noise right behind me and there was a mom warthog with 4 youngsters coming to investigate and see what leftovers they could find! These animals aren’t really afraid of humans it seems… The mother went right under the awning too, with me standing less than 2 metres away from her 🙂 Was an awesome interaction though.

 

 

 

 

 

 

* Out on my afternoon drive, I heard birds squawking and making a bit of a noise so I stopped to investigate. I saw an eagle being harassed by some drongos so watched them for a bit. Was such a cool sighting. The eagle eventually flew off but I saw there was actually another one in the tree nearby. This one also got dive-bombed by the drongos – haha they really are funny birds these drongos. I love their tenacity and the fact that they are prepared to take on any bird, no matter the size. They rule the bush, I tell you! The eagle then swooped down to the bush where the first eagle had been and it seemed to be grabbing something out the bush. When it flew off it had something in it’s talons! I reckon it could have been a baby drongo.. 🙁 The first eagle joined it but the second was not going to share a scrap. Just when I thought it was all over, a much larger eagle swooped in and claimed the prey for itself, sending the first two eagles flying. I love these kind of sightings! If anyone can help identify the eagle, I’d appreciate it – I still need to get a lot better at identifying raptors 🙂

* When I came back along the high-level bridge below Skukuza, there was a troop of baboons walking along it. The guy in the back, jumped on my car and caught a lift with me all the way to the other side – much to the amusement of others on the bridge! It was too funny! No matter what I did this guy was not getting off the car until he decided he’d had enough. Pity I couldn’t take a pic!

More pics:

Woodland Kingfisher
Steenbok

Pied Kingfisher

Hammerkop

Giraffe

Have a look at the latest update from SANParks about which camps and roads are open/closed (as of 24 January, 5pm) – http://www.sanparks.org/about/news/default.php?id=1794

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