Tuesday, June 7

From crocodile to elephant, vulture to zebra……

Not untypically for May, we had a mixed bag of a safari. Clear sunny days to cool cloudy skies, amazing sightings and a few empty hours…….

Five days in Kruger, we covered a lot of territory, stayed in three camps, saw landscapes ranging from the Mopani veld of the north, the open grass savannah of the central plains to the cool riverine thickets of the Sabie River.

One of the most amazing experiences we had, we couldn’t even capture on camera – too dark, too far away, so instead we could only sit and absorb the drama……


Spending our last half hour at the big waterhole before returning to camp, we were watching the hippo cavorting in the distance, waterbuck leisurely grazing, a large crocodile absorbing the last warmth of the day from the mud bank and the curious behaviour of two hippos with a very, very young calf, when out of the corner of my eye I saw a strange movement on the surface of the water, a double take, yes, it was a snake swimming, the long way, across the waterhole. 

Now, we don’t have water snakes, but yes, some of our snakes do swim.

This one didn’t for long though……..

Amazingly quickly, for such a large “lizard”, the huge croc slid into the water, and before we could blink it had snapped his jaws on the snake.  Ten minutes later, the crocodile was still champing on that snake, in the shallows, and all we could see was the occasional curl of the snake’s tail up over the top jaw of the croc. It didn’t seem a very large meal for the croc, but it had certainly been an easy catch!

Another wonderful experience, for me anyway, was seeing two different pairs of rarely seen White headed vulture, on two successive days. The second pair was precariously perched in a small Mopani tree (for a lack of any suitable taller alternatives) not far from the road, so I was able to get reasonable photos….


 Then there was those five, sub-adult lions, huddling close, trying, in vain to keep in the ever diminishing shade of a spike-thorn. We waited patiently for them to give up on that frustratingly small bush, the day was heating up, and we were wonderfully rewarded when they decided to cross the road right in front of us, pausing for a little while to pose photogenically, before finding deeper shade on the other side.


Just a little further on, we entered elephant country, well, on that morning it certainly was. Elephants of all shapes and sizes were converging on a small water course, crossing the road in front of us, eating the bushes next to us, and then, best of all, having some fun in the mud…….


And of course, we must have seen most of the zebra and giraffe populations of Kruger. Well that’s what it felt like!

 By our last full day, we were still looking for leopard, and as we drove along the Sabie River, one just walked out onto the road in front of us, for a little way, before disappearing up the bank. How incredible!

That last, long drive to our final camp was full of close encounters with elephant, buffalo, monkeys, baboons, some lion deep in the grass and a great view of a Brown Snake-Eagle.

It was a great end to our time in Kruger.

Brown Snake Eagle

(thanks to Britta & Sascha for their company and great photos)

Thursday, June 2

Going slowly in the Lowveld

At least the sun shines, most of the time, up here in the icy climate of a Johannesburg winter. This means that for a couple of hours during the middle of the day one can huddle in a sheltered, sunny spot and thaw out naturally without having to use electricity, gas or any other “bad” form of fossil fuelled power!

As you can guess from the few words above, I am not in the bush or anywhere else warmer at the moment. I am planning to go to Mozambique again in mid-June, but for now I am getting some long needed maintenance done at my home in Jo’burg, including repairing the damage that lightning strike did a couple of months ago.

So while I am being kept “busy” tidying stuff away, making tea for the builder, and shivering, I will also give you a partial update on the lowveld trip I returned from last week.

I was away for 11 days in total, which included 6 days with clients on safari in Kruger and 2 weekends staying with an old friend Jackie, who now lives in the lowveld, not far from Kruger.

She has a wonderful blog The Slowvelder through which she chronicles her family’s downsized life on a small private game reserve near Hoedspruit, South Africa. Visit it sometime for postings on everything from making Marula beer and jam, to amusing descriptions of the various wild life which visit her cottage.

The Blyde River

Like me, she once worked in the hectic rat race of Johannesburg, but has now chosen to live permanently, and in a simple, sustainable way in the far north eastern corner of South Africa.

Velvet Corkwood next to the patio

The summers can be unbearably hot there, but at this time of the year, the sunny days are mild and pleasant, though the nights get quite cold.

In this tranquil, balmy setting, under the dappled shade of a large marula tree, with the cry of the fish eagle high in the deep blue sky, I spent a few days relaxing before, and resting after, my safari. I couldn’t have wished for a more peaceful setting, asked for better company or wanted more perfect weather.

I will definitely be visiting Jackie again, and as she loves visitors, why don’t you think about visiting her as well? In addition to the wildlife you can find on her reserve, she is less than an hour’s drive from Kruger, and even closer to the Blyde River Canyon, Mariepskop and other natural wonders of the area.

In my next blog posting I will show you some photos from the safari I did inbetween, so until then…….

The Mpumulanga Drakensberg, seen from a high point on the reserve

Looking west