Cat House

Nancy Vandermey, Author
South Africa Trip October/November 2013 part 5

I'm afraid Nov 7 does not get a single picture; we drove from De Aar to Nigel, saw guinea fowl, ostrich, and a few farmed antelope, checked into the Seldre Guesthouse, had a great dinner, a few drinks, and that was it!

Recap of Kruger itinerary:

  • 8 November Berg En Dal
  • 9 November Skukuza
  • 10-12 November "Metsi-Metsi" walking trail (really Nwatimwambu Fly Camp)
  • 13-14 November Lower Sabie safari tent
  • 15-16 November Satara
  • 17-19 November Sweni Trail
  • 20-22 November Olifants
  • 23-24 November Tamboti
  • 25 November Biyamiti

    November 8th was drive to Kruger Park day. We saw rhino at the Alzu gas station, some sort of tourist attraction - it was odd. We hit a few roadworks along the way, the worst stop-n-go only 30 km from Malelane. We shopped at the Super Spar and Tops (liquor store) and then headed to the gate. Coming in over the Crocodile River, we had some great first sightings - elephants and hippos And then in the park proper, impala francolin ( I guess they're spurfowl now, but we called anything similar a francolin, when we weren't calling them ptarmigan) white rhino (I'll drop the "white" from now on as we never saw any black ones) and just outside the Berg En Dal gate, warthog At Berg-En-Dal we had unit #79 We took the S120 Matjulu loop at 15:30, with guinea fowl orange flowers (Lion's eye, (Tricliceras lacerate)) blooming trees kudu, and other general game. The waterhole was quiet. Next up is S118, where we see our only parrot the first of many gray lourie and a first-ever for me, sable antelope! Next is a rhino family A gray duiker that sits still for a photo And another rhino, then 3 more - in total we saw 10 rhino this drive We set up our trail camera along the perimeter fence, catching a genet and bushbuck On November 9th we were up at 4:05 am for the 4:30 gate opening time. It's still pretty dark out at 4:30, so we would use our spotlight for the first 15 minutes or so. We did catch a genet this way. We drove S114/S25, with 5 giraffe, some distant elephant and then - 6 wild dog! Both alphas had radio collars We were the only car there for at least 45 minutes, and as we followed the pack at a respectful distance they got very comfortable with us, playing around our car. KNP Video has 16 short clips, including these dogs, but you'll get ahead of the story if you watch it now!

    At about 6 am two other cars finally came up behind us. We tried to tell them to hang back but they had to zoom right up and surround the dogs, who then promptly left the road. I hope they enjoyed their 30 second sighting, idiots. A spotted hyena was running up the road just before the Mlambane river, but it left the road just after the crossing. We did see two more rhino in the riverbed. Heading up S119 we found two bateleur eagles and a hunting hammerkop Then at the H3 bridge over the Mlambane was a malachite kingfisher and a herd of buffalo at the Matjulu river We headed down S110, catching the buffalo herd again and went to the Matjulu waterhole again - this time, some cars stopped before the turnout gave away a male lion KNP Video has 16 short clips, including this lion, which demonstrates the awesome zoom on the Canon SX50

    Back to Berg En Dal, at least the checkout time here is 10 am, so our normal routine on moving day was to return at 9 to shower and pack. There were some cute zebra near camp Next we took S114 to S25 again, this time with several elephant herds and a crested barbet We were told of two male lion up ahead - they were old boys, and hard to miss The rest of S25 showed us skink Impala fawns and another rhino At the Biyamiti river there were distant waterbuck with elephant and more leopard tortoise, somewhere on the S108 or H5. On the tar road H4-2 to Lower Sabie, the more open fields revealed impala, zebra, warthog, and elephants. We came upon a huge car jam, explained by a distant leopard in a tree, which we dutifully took a picture of A fish eagle was posing better, and closer to the road We had lunch on the deck, watching turtles and hippo and the pesky starlings Heading north, another car jam, it was a difficult-to-see cheetah on the riverbank And with that, we had the Big 7 all in one morning! Too bad it was our only cheetah sighting in Kruger, but dog fans stay tuned. There were plenty more elephant, hippo, bushbuck, birds, and impala There certainly was a lot more to see than in the Kgalagadi park, but we did appreciate the openness of the land there. On the H12 we got a great snake sighting - we thought it was a small black mamba, but it's actually a female boomslang We made sure it didn't get too close to the car. We found banded mongoose near one of the bridges And a family of Egyptian geese in the river We heard about lions on a kill about 20 km away, and decided to check it out first thing in the morning. At Skukuza we got the requested Lion cottage and enjoyed the view On Sunday the 10th we were 3rd in line at 4:15. There was light rain off and on, it had started raining at midnight. On the S1 we saw a lone hyena before reaching the kill site, just vultures around We then drove S3/S1 loop, there were kudu and rhino and other stuff, but no photos that made the cut. We had our first jeep jockey experience with many safari trucks on the S1. Back at the bridge on the H12 we saw a group of male nyala and then looped to the H1-2, with 4 spotted hyena at the junction Seeing many baboon on the road, along with bushbuck and vervet monkeys, we thought there must be lions in the riverbed, but couldn't find any Some male kudu sparring, and then back to shower and check out After packing we went to Lake Panic, and the hide did not disappoint - it felt like the aviary at a zoo, there were so many birds there! Goliath heron with young, Black headed heron, gray heron, squacco heron, darters, black crake, dikkop, black mask weaver, jacana, fish eagle, crocodile Back on the bridge were hadeda ibis With red bill hornbill nearby and pied kingfisher Back to where we saw the baboons earlier - other cars helped point out 4 lions in the riverbed We also saw a martial eagle elephants Bateleur eagle hippo rhino and more baboon

    Part 1 - Planning and Kgalgadi: Twee Rivieren
    Part 2 - Kgalgadi: Urikaruus and Kalahari Tented Camp
    Part 3 - Kgalgadi: Nossob, Grootkolk, Mata Mata
    Part 4 - Kgalgadi: Twee Rivieren and Black Footed Cat group
    Part 5 - Kruger: Berg En Dal and Skukuza
    Part 6 - Kruger: Nwatimwambu Walking Trail and Lower Sabie
    Part 7 - Kruger: Satara
    Part 8 - Kruger: Sweni Wilderness Trail
    Part 9 - Kruger: Olifants
    Part 10 - Kruger: Tamboti and Biyamiti
    Part 11 - Notten's Bush Camp