Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Canyons to Kruger Biosphere Reserve.

After crossing back into South Africa we headed for Phalaborwa, a town on the edge of Kruger, but much further north than I usually venture. We had to do this as all available accommodation inside Kruger was taken, as it was the school holidays! We managed to book three nights at the last camping site inside Kruger at Tsendze Rustic Camp. I had stayed there before in February this year & it is a wonderful location for those who are suitably equipped.

Tsendze Rustic Camp.

Anne & Robin in camp.

African Scops Owl.

Young Giraffes in the dry river bed.




We arrived just after noon on 17th July & ventured onto the Tropic of Capricorn Loop Road. The waterhole here was full of activity & we saw a nice herd of Eland, which is a rarity here inside Kruger.

On the 18th July we set off at dawn down the Tsendze Loop Road, seeing a very watchful male Lion, but little else of interest. We then turned onto the Olifants River Drive (S93), which proved to be superb both for scenery & wildlife.

 The superb Olifants River.

Red-winged Starling

Hippos doing what they do, in the middle of the day!

Quite a large Croc!

A late breakfast/lunch at the rest camp was memorable for the views in tremendous light. 

Smith's Bush Squirrel.

We returned to camp via the main tarred road after having a brief stop at Letaba Restcamp.

Stoffel, on the S50 road.

Sharpe's Grysbok.

An old male Cape Buffalo

Pearl Spotted Owlet.

Greater Blue-eared Glossy Starling

Arrow-marked Babbler

The 19th July was another very early start. This time we drove the eastern S 50 road which skirts the Lebombo Mountains on the Mozambique border. We started out in thick fog, but this slowly cleared & drove as far a Dipeni Waterhole.  Sightings of game were sparse, but the scenery was yet again quite good.

Male Lion

Notice the blood!

Mum with food!


The 20th July was a day for leaving Kruger & we headed down the H14 road, making some little detours en route. A Spotted Hyena with remains of prey was quite fun.


Pied Kingfisher

The light was wonderful for photography & we spent some time photographing both Klipspringer & Pied Kingfisher.

 The road to Swedini is a very scenic one.

We then drove to the Northern Drakensburg at Swedini & booked for three nights camping at the wonderful Moholoholo Ya Mati. I had stayed there once before & was impressed. The campsite is very private with stunning scenery all around.

The happy couple in my rooftop tent!

Me & my little home.

That is where we are going!
I mean the distant bit!

The start of it all!

The walk is not technically difficult, 
but requires a reasonable level of fitness. 

At the half way point of the hike.

The 21st July was the day chosen for the Hippo Valley walk. This is a 12 kilometer round trip through wonderful scenery around the edge of the dam. The day was simply superb!

Sharing a moment.

 The afternoon boat trip.

 It was dark & broody when we set off.

 But, slowly the weather got brighter.

Half-collared Kingfisher

African Finfoot

Giant Kingfisher
The next day we stayed in & around the camp & in the afternoon went on the boat trip across the dam. The scenery was staggeringly beautiful in the late afternoon light. I managed to get shots of the very uncommon Half-collared Kingfisher & African Finfoot.

 It was fantastic to see the canyon
 from another angle.

Blydepoort Resort.

The increasingly threatened Cape Vulture

Some of the roads here were not great!

23rd July drove to Blydepoort & viewed the canyon from the rim. It was amazing to see the route of our hike all laid out beneath us!

Bourke's Luck Potholes

White-necked Raven

Mocking Chat

Moved south to Bourke's Luck Pot Holes & had a nice stroll around. The light was superb, a beautiful winter's day.

 That is us!

The wonderful Berlin Falls, near Graskop.

Southern Bald Ibis

The wonderful Cape Robin

African Stonechat

Ended the day at Graskop, where we stayed at the local resort. Robin & I did a little birding in the resort grounds, before heading into town for breakfast & for Anne to do some shopping!!!

Spent the afternoon at the nearby old mining town of Pilgrim's Rest.  I was quite keen to show Robin & Anne the place as Robin likes old mechanical things & Anne likes old quaint shops & houses. The whole town is a heritage site & we had several interesting hours there looking around.

 The olde worldy Vine Restaurant.



They are still doing some mining here.

Robin, in his element!

Got home to Sabie Park in late afternoon & it was great to be home & staying in a familiar place!

25th July was a day  for us all to go shopping in Nelspruit. I needed some stuff for my truck, but the day was cut short by the dreaded South African load shedding! So we didn't accomplish everything we would have wanted.

White-backed Vulture

African Fish Eagle

26th July, up before dawn for a day trip into Kruger. Drove to Lower Sabie Camp & back all along the tar road. Two different sightings of Lions, but missed three different Leopards & a Cheetah along the way! Some sightings missed by minutes!

It was a very enjoyable day with lovely weather.

White-bellied Sunbird

27th July was spent mainly around the house, although I had a run to Hazyview & back, leaving Robin & Anne at home.

Lion & Hyena heard from the garden & a large breeding herd of Cape Buffalo came by late afternoon.

28th July was a last morning in Kruger for the guys.

The big gun on The Long Tom Pass.

Wonderful highveld grassland surrounds Dullstroom.

Our comfortable accommodation for the next two nights.

The view from the chalet.

Mocking Chats were common around the chalet.

Purple Heron

Cape Wagtail

Levaillant's Cisticola


A sign of in-breeding?

One of the waterfalls on this property.

Robin & Anne

Buff-streaked Chat

Cape Rock Thrush

29th July was the day for driving towards Dullstroom, where we had decided to spend a couple of nights before Anne & Robin jump on the plane. We took the scenic route over the Long Tom Pass.

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