Thursday, 8 December 2011

Sabie & Kruger Parks in November.

The view from our house,  looking into Kruger National Park.

Carol & I had a very stressful September/October, we needed a break.  We flew out to our place, in Sabie Park, just for a peaceful week away from it all. It was the Eid holiday here in the UAE, so travelling proved to be very congested, but once we arrived in South Africa, it is like entering a different world.
Carol & I, at the pool.
This is just so African!
We picked up our hire car and headed east, only stopping for provisions, so we arrived at our house in good time. After unloading all our gear, we were ready for sundowners on the veranda. This was to set the tone for the rest of the week!
Our good friends Jon & Sheila Mayo arrived later. They had driven from Swaziland, where they have volunteer jobs, working for a charity. Carol & I know Jon & Sheila from their time in the UAE, where both of them worked with me at Zayed University. An entertaining evening followed, as we all had to catch up on our news.

Jon & Sheila, of the Mayo Leisure Foundation!
The days just flew by. Our normal routine was to get up early, go into Kruger National Park for a game drive, then either, come home for lunch, or lunch in the park at a camp, or the golf club. Nothing too stressful, nothing too difficult! The park was very green as recent rains had been heavy. Game viewing was quite difficult in the thick bush, but over the week we had some great sightings.

Phabeni creek.
Some afternoons we would wander down to the picnic site in Sabie Park, & view from the new & unbelievably good hide, set high above the Sabie River. The views from here are excellent, for both birds & mammal sightings. One afternoon, we saw a young male Lion from here, lazing on the far bank, unaware of our presence. Another afternoon a herd of Cape Buffalo kept us entertained, while Hippos & Elephants were ever present.

Hippo, at Lake Panic.

Male Elephant showing interest!
One of the nicest aspects of our house is sitting outside at night, looking at the night sky, talking, drinking and hearing the nocturnal sounds. Occasionally, a Spotted Hyena will drop by, always a talking point among our guests, that one! We often hear Lions and sometimes Thick-tailed Bush babies giving their eerie cry.

Spotted Hyenas, at the roadside.
A young one, anticipating a drink of milk!
Having a comforting drink, but keeping an eye on us!
There is however, one morning that stands out, above all others on this trip. That was the morning we made an effort to look for Black Rhino, which is unbelievably hard to see in Kruger. A few kilometres after entering the park, a pack of very lively Wild Dogs were on the main road. Slowly, more & more revealed themselves, as they came out of the thick bush. In the end, they totalled eighteen! This is a very large & successful pack, which hunts over a huge area, so they are not often encountered on the public roads.
Wild Dog - notice the all white tail of this animal.

Wonderful, Wild Dogs.

Very inquisative.

 A short drive later, along a little used loop road, provided no Rhino sightings, but fantastic views of a male Leopard, just by the side of the track. He stayed for a couple of minutes, before ambling off into the bush. Carol & I had the sighting all to ourselves, a truly great experience with this very secretive cat. Certainly, a morning to remember and savour.

Male Leopard - very cool!

Calm as you like!

Close enough for you?

After what seemed to be a blink of an eye, it was time to pack up & leave, which is always tinged with sadness, as neither of us were in a hurry to get back home! After a last night at the Bundu Lodge in Nelspruit, where we saw a great sunset over the surrounding hills, it was time to head for the airport and home.
Carol & I had a lovely week and thanks to our friends, Jon & Sheila, for sharing part of it with us.
Until the next time.....

Dwarf Mongoose posing.

A lone bull Elephant crossing the Sabie River.
One of a record breaking 23 White Rhinos for the day!

A family herd of Elephants crossing the Sabie River.

Young male Lions, feeding on a Giraffe.

Just for the camera!

Burchell's Zebras, in our driveway.
A female Kudu, looking very regal.

Giraffe, standing tall.
Brown Snake Eagle - Clare's best friend!

A rather large spider inside the house!

Sheila, Jon & Carol - notice the sign!

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