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Kruger National Park -a visit in Spring 2015
Kruger National Park –a typical visit in Spring 2015.
Firstly it must be stated that no visit to the Kruger National Park in South Africa is typical. There is always lurking around the corner a surprise or two. This short four night sojourn was no exception.
Berg-en Dal (literally mountain and vale) Rest Camp in the South Western corner was our choice by default as it was the only camp with camping spots available. Yet it has become a favourite place to pitch our tent for many reasons. One reason being the excellent game in this area and a second, the pleasant swimming pool that allows us to cool down after a morning game viewing. It is also only ten minutes to the town of Malelane outside the park for essential shopping. The camps have shops, but the supermarket at Malelane is cheaper and has a larger choice.
Yesterday we did our normal Big Day trip, starting along the Crocodile River to the camp in the South Eastern corner and then up to Lower Sabie for breakfast. We began our bird list and also our search for the so called “Big Five”. It is always an achievement to see Lion, Elephant, Leopard, Rhino and Buffalo on a trip and especially in a day. We saw all of them plus Cheetah to make this a very special one. When we ticked off our 66th bird we again realised that Spring is a good time to visit Kruger.
From Lower Sabie we continued to the main camp in Kruger called Skukuza for lunch and then completed our 150km round trip on the road south past the Afsaal Picnic spot back to Berg-en Dal, rather exhausted but satisfied that it had been another special day in this great Game Reserve.
While the “Big Five” are always special it is sometimes the smaller and “ordinary” animals and even flowers and trees that catch the eye. A troop of Baboon playing next to the road with mothers de- fleaing their babies and young Baboons wrestling in the dust bring smiles to our faces. A troop of wild dogs walking along the road again convinced us that they must get the prize for the ugliest creatures in the park but had our cameras clicking. Some Barberton Daisies flowering under
Sitting around the camp fire with a steak sizzling over the coals, lying in the tent and hearing the wailing call of a Hyena, admiring the beauty of a Purple-crested Turaco above out tent are just a few of the things that make every visit to Kruger special. The early morning chorus invites the beginning of a new day with the sound of familiar and not so familiar songs indicating that the African Sun is about to usher in a new day in the wilderness. A Chorister Robin- chat leads the song, living up to its name.
Choosing daily highlights becomes quite difficult because there are so many. Today we saw the biggest herd of Buffalo that we have seen in many a year coming down to a river to drink water and just laze in the cool river. All the animals have young because this is breeding season. The grass and trees are sprouting new green leaves. A Giraffe holds up traffic as it stands in the middle of the road proclaiming in no uncertain terms that this is his space. Two huge Rhino do the same later on and who is going to argue with them?
A Scorpion on the ground on the way to the ablution block and a report that a dangerous Night-Adder had been caught near the garbage bins and returned to the bush reminds us that we are indeed in the wilderness. Perhaps we need to wear our boots rather that our slip-slops around the camp at night. A torch is recommended by the camp authorities if you leave your tent at night and any Baboons seen in the camp must be reported to the “Baboon Hotline”. When the camp is quiet during the day a troop of monkeys join some mongoose to search the tent areas for food left out in the camping areas by careless campers. The authorities warn campers on arrival to lock food away carefully in trailers or cars during the day.
In the kitchen as I wash the dishes after a great meal of steak, potatoes and salad I compare our days sightings with a women from Vereeniging who confesses to me that they love coming to Kruger on a regular basis, and I can only agree.