Christmas camp 20 – 26 December 2009 in the Kruger National Park
20th December 2009
As we approached the Numbi gate in a shinning Lion hunting machine (Open Safari Vehicle), I had a strange feeling as though I was going to a rugby match. There was a massive long queue of local visitors waiting to obtain the entrance permits and unfortunately I just had to fall in and wait my turn.
Once I was helped with the relevant documents and after my client briefing we were on our way and as we were staying at Skakuza for 2 nights I decided to get off the main roads and travel on the gravel road towards our camp. This proved to be a good decision as most of the cars entering chose to stay on the tar road and very soon we found that we where all alone. Approximately 1.3 Kms from the gate, We drove into a heard of 100 buffaloes and there was our big 5 count starting already. 500 meters on we found 3 White Rino standing in the middle of the road – how majestic.
The general game (zebra, antelope, giraffe and Blue wildebeest) was plentiful on our drive into camp. After booking in at Skakuza we all had some free time to just enjoy being in the bush.
Our afternoon drive gave us 5 Elephant (1 Bull in musth). We were traveling south on Napi and 300m before the H3 junction we came across 3 wild dog playing in the road. This was an awesome way to end our day.
21st December 2009
Early morning rise, out the camp and onto Tshokwane for breakfast. I decided to take marula loop, for a change and 1.4Kms down the road lay a pride of Lions consisting of 1 Male, 2 females and 6 Cubs. All of them still wet from the rain we had during the night. After breakfast we traveled along the H10 towards Lower Sabie and came upon a Fresh water crab on the road – unusual animal sighting I thought as the closest water was approximately 3 Kms from us.
After stopping off at Lower Sabie we drove along Eloff street, hoping to have some animals come across the road towards the water – I was wrong as Eloff proved to be very disappointing. Back into Skakuza just before the gates of the camp closed.
22nd December 2009
After an early morning game drive we cam back to Skakuza for breakfast. Once we were done with a brilliant traditional breakfast we packed our bags and moved on to our following camp Pretoriuskop. In the sothern part of the park, you can tell we have had good rain fall this summer as the vegetation growth is something phenomenal. One thing’s for sure the guides have to work hard for your money as animal sightings especially the cats are hard to find (well hidden in the Yellow thatch grass).
On the main road towards Pretoriuskop from Skukuza (Napi) general sightings were good. Something I decided to do was stop of at Mathekenyane look out point. In the distance we found the Black Rhino enjoying the shade of a common sweet thorn acacia tree. As we drove into Pretoriuskop my guests and I decided that we would leave camp at 4pm as it was incredibly hot. Temperature must have been well over 39 deg Cel.At 4pm I was happy to be informed by Dean that he had picked up two Cheetah’s on the Napi road between Transport dam entrance and Napi Boulders entrance. We all decided that we would move towards Dean and he continuously updated us regarding these two beautiful cats. Just as luck would have it as we got to the sighting, both brothers lay down bringing our visibility to 0/5. Fortunately all the holiday makers decided to leave and soon we were the only car there. As if prompted, both cheetah’s stood up and started walking parallel with the car. What a brilliant sighting, both of them allowed my guests enough time to take photos that would fill a photo album. Thanks for calling us in Dean.
23rd December 2009
We had some late sleepers this morning but those that got up with me moved out of camp and onto Voortrekker Road towards Afsaal picnic spot for Breakfast. I as guide prefer these spots in the park to that of a restaurant. Breakfasts are wholesome and always enjoyable especially with a cup of coffee.
After breakfast we continued south along the H3 towards berg-n-dal and 1.7kms past Mlambane loop entrance we came across 3 Nomadic male Lions lying 5m off the road. After spending some time with them, watching them roar (intimidating). We moved on. What stuck in my mind was the 1 “Older” male +-11 – 13years reminded me of “Scar” in the movie “THE LION KING” as his face was full of scars but a predominant one that stretched right across his right eye. Wonder if “Mafasa” was lying in the grass somewhere watching us.
The morning proved to be good with “Up close and personal” sightings of white rhinos, but back to camp as some of my clients were leaving the Kruger. Once we said our goodbyes we decided to head out in search of the “Illusive Cat with spots” the Leopard.
This proved rather difficult and most of the day was spent driving and searching for this prize. Just before my guests got “square bums” from all the sitting we drove towards Shebeni koppies and I’m sure you know what happened next………. There she lay on top of a granite outcrop just minding her own business. I still say it’s my favorite cat. We spent about 10 – 15 min with her before she moved off into the thicket. Well back onto camp but at lest with precious memories and photo’s of the “cat that didn’t get away”.
24th December 2009
Just goes to show No animal in our Kruger Park has read any manuals on animal behavior, as I could tell today was going to be very quite. Few animal sightings of the big 5 animals and this could have been due to the extreme heat we were experiencing. The “general game” was out but also not in full force. My guests mentioned that they might have been invited to a “Christmas party” and if so it must have been an open invitation as very little was seen for the rest of the day.
25th December 2009
Christmas day in the bush was no different to any other day, apart from the occasional “Ho Ho Ho” on the radio and some Field Guides with father Christmas hats, no luck on any reindeers. My clients also enjoyed the bird life Kruger has to offer and most of our time on the drive was spent Birding. Some of the typical birds seen where lesser striped swallow, palm swift, red collared widowbird, long tailed whydah, black collared barbet, European roller, Lilac Breasted roller, burchell’s coucal, ground hornbill, woodland kingfisher, pied kingfisher, red Crested korhaan, kori Bustard and Common ostrich.
We decided to end the day early and move back to camp to spend a lazy afternoon just relaxing. The restaurant treated us to a traditional South African Braai or barbeque as some of you might know it and with full stomachs and heavy eyelids we retired back to our rooms.
26th December 2009
D-Day arrived and so after an early morning drive we had breakfast at Pretoriuskop and then bid farewell to the Kruger park. I could see my clients were sad to leave and on this, I said to them when they back in their high-rise offices with central heating or air-conditioning and the weather looks gloomy out there and they have a 150 emails to attend to, just sit back and think of Mark, driving looking for the next best animal to appreciate.
With this they climbed into the microbus and off they went to catch their airplane back to the concrete jungle.
After that it was my turn and I greeted the bush with some sadness, but new I will be back with some more Lion Hunters on my Open Safari Vehicle sometime soon.
Goodnight God Bless Goodbye.
Senior Guide Nhongo Safaris
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