It is so good to be back in Kruger! I love this place so much. I was here just a few weeks ago but there is always room for more 🙂
I came here to document what places look like after last week’s floods and to be honest I wasn’t sure that I would have enough content for the story, fearing I had missed out. Sure, the water has largely receded but there is a lot of change.
I drove in at Crocodile Bridge gate, which only reopened on Saturday (21 Jan 2012), and headed up the H4-2 towards Lower Sabie. I took that initial stretch nice and slowly just enjoying what I saw and stopping for everything. I got elephants and rhino early on as well as most of the general game – zebra, giraffe, wildebeest, impala.
The first change is at the Gasanftombi dam which is on the Vurhami river just before the turn onto the S28 – the one with the stepped dam wall on the left hand side. I was last here in October 2011 and it was horrible to see how dry it was then – probably the driest I’ve seen it in many years. But now it is probably at the fullest I’ve ever seen it with water flowing over the dam wall. So lovely to see hippos enjoying themselves in the water and two fish eagles (an adult and sub-adult) taking a drink further downstream.
My next pleasant surprise was when I took a small loop road off the H4-2 that overlooks a normally dry Vurhami riverbed, and for the first time I saw a stream flowing! This is so exciting because that little spot is beautiful and now even more so with water and the prospect of seeing some awesome game there (i.e. leopard!)..
I could hardly contain my joy when I pulled onto the H5 and saw water trickliing over the road and big pools of water on both sides! So greatl!
Not from the floods, but a famous landmark in Kruger, the blue gums just on the left on the H5 seem to now all be gone. See the picture of the last one now fallen on it’s side…
There are pools of water all the way up the H4-2 and I was glad to see a lot of game even in the heat of the day.
The road before Lower Sabie along the river was quite the sight. There is debris strewn along both banks and the river is flowing wider than normal. The river over the weir is flowing very strongly. The biggest shock was seeing what I thought initially must be another weir although I never remembered a weir in that place… It turned out to be the Lower Sabie bridge – the H10 road over the river. The river is flowing over the bridge and obviously the road across is closed. This stumped my plans a little as I was hoping to use that bridge at least a couple of times this trip. But all the sides are gone! What a force that river must have been!
The view from the Lower Sabie deck is quite surreal.. There are no small islands where the hippo usually lie, just one flowing river.. Last week this river must have been quite amazing to witness with it touching the deck, which is about 5 metres above ground level. Most of the reeds and if memory serves me correct, some trees have gone.
I chatted to a very friendly lady at reception about the floods. Apparently it was quite the scary time. They were stranded in camp for 2 days… Eventually the river subsided and a lot of people left. Some of the riverview safari tents were surrounded by water, but other than that, the camp was fine.
I had to kill some time at Lower Sabie as I made a rookie error of not charging my camera battery the night before! I caught up on some blogging and did a bit of shopping for supplies.
By the time I left it was 4.20pm and I had left it a bit tight to do the stretch up to Skukuza justice. I was completely amazed as I drove up this road (H4-1).. There are a lot of trees gone and a lot lying on their sides. I did take some photos but will leave this story for the next day or two when I have a chance to take a good chunk of time and fully explore the road. Most of the dirt roads off the H4-1 are still closed including my favourite causeway right at the end just before you turn off to Skukuza. I hope it is not too badly damaged and is reopened soon.
Arrived at Skukuza for my first night of camping on my own. Thankfully, a man from housekeeping kindly came and helped me set up my two big awnings – I love the staff at Kruger. Note to others – you need a special adapter at camping sites to be able to plug in an extension cord… Realising this at 7pm just as the shop closes is not great! My friendly neighbours let me use their air-pump to blow up my mattress – that could have been a disaster.. It took about 2 hours to set everything up and I was completely finished by the end – the heat hadn’t let up by that time still either. A light snack and off to bed it was for me, although I had set up camp rather close to a city of bullfrogs which took some getting used to.. And then just as I drifted off to sleep at midnight, a couple across the road had a screaming match for close to an hour. Another side-note – ear-plugs are probably a good idea when camping! Woke up this morning on the floor on a rather flat mattress… *sigh* Tonight will be better!
I’m off for a quick nap (short sleep) and then off to go find some more stories. I will catch up with you later.
Some more pics I took:
Herd of elephants crossing the road
Male (Bull) Elephant
Debris along Sabie river
Sabie Weir below Lower Sabie
Red-billed Quelea – huge flocks out in force during summer