Thursday, March 3

A hot summer afternoon

After a gap of almost 3 months I got back to Kruger National Park last Thursday. My drive down was “empty” i.e. no clients, so with no pressing time commitments I decided to enter the Park in the south and take a leisurely game drive north to Skukuza, keeping to the dirt roads most of the way.

At this time of the year the weather is glorious with deep blue summer skies scattered with white puffy clouds, hot, hot sun tempered by cooling breezes, the long, green-gold grasses shimmying on the roadsides. After the good rains this year the vegetation is thick and verdant, a dramatic change from the scorched, bare earth and blackened twigs of the winter fires.

Looking south to the hills across the Crocodile River


Having entered the park during the heat of the early afternoon I was not expecting to see too much animal life so spent a little while trying to photograph impala shading themselves under the magic guarri of the Crocodile River plains. No matter how common they are, I find it difficult to take really good photos of them. This is mostly because they are so confused by any vehicle actually stopping for them that as soon as you switch the engine off they turn their backs and move away from you – great for butt shots!!

Once I turned away from the river and started heading north this huge elephant bull burst out ahead of me and headed straight down the road towards me. He was too covered in mud for me to see any of the visual signs of musth but he was so big and so purposeful on that road that I decided to take no chances and started reversing!

Well…… I must have reversed for almost 2 kilometres, stopping a couple of times to take photos. I was in no rush and knew that there were a couple of road junctions coming up behind me so I was hopeful that I wouldn’t have to turn around and retrace my route. One of the game viewing vehicles behind the elephant (the one in the picture) was not so patient and after revving his engine a few times he succeed in driving the old boy slightly off the road so he could overtake him. Really!!!!

The animals in Kruger are supposed to have right of way and that guide just gave all of us a bad reputation!

If he had had the patience to wait for another 15 minutes the elephant did move off at the next road junction and we were all able to carry on with our drives – all the more richer for such a wonderful sighting.

The rest of my drive was just as good......

The giraffes ruminating in the shade of a roadside tree, a large rhino and almost grown calf close to the road, and then after my camera battery died on me I spent a fascinating 15 minutes watching Dwarf Mongoose relaxing on the shady sand of the road around me.

 I was back in Kruger, and it felt as if no time had passed at all since my last trip here………..

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