The second trip I did to Kruger last week couldn't have been more different from the first! The first major cold front of the winter swept north eastwards across South Africa from the Southern Ocean, bringing rain and a major drop in temperatures.
So from a sunny, balmy start to the week, by Thursday the skies were gloomy and everywhere damp.
Big changes in weather make the animal sightings even more unpredictable, and this time it was to produce for me (and my guests) an unforgettable 2 days.
I had had a very early start in Johannesburg, picking up guests from 3 distant points across the city, but we were on our way eastwards eventually. After a quick lunch outside Kruger we did the "short" game drive in to camp so the guests could catch the afternoon drive in the open landrover. We were almost too late! The usual 30 minute drive in turned into an hour, as we stopped for excellent sightings of giraffe, zebra and then a huge old elephant bull, in musth, who was finding the cars passing on the road extremely annoying and kept on shaking his head and giving us short warning charges. We reluctantly left him eventually and rushed to check in at camp.
An hour later, after seeing our guests on to their game drives, tired as I was after 10 hours of driving, I decided to visit a small waterhole a few k's from camp, to just sit, relax and enjoy the silence of the bush for half an hour or so. I was the only vehicle there and it was beautifully quiet, except for the birdsong................ when enter stage left, a long, lean, tawny shadow, with a flick of a white tipped tail, stole through the long thick grass down towards the water.
She disappeared into the long grass by the water's edge for 5 minutes, but my patience was rewarded when she reappeared and walked across the open area in front of me. For the next 20 minutes I followed, watching this beautiful young female leopard go about her business of getting ready for the night's hunting.