Thursday, 17 December 2015


I have posted this as a separate blog from Kruger in December. Reason so many photos to show! 

Immature Bateleur.
I was up at the crack of dawn on the 13th December. I was to drive to Pretoriouskop for a three night stay. But being me, I decided to drive a rather circuitous  route! It was a dank grey morning, which soon turned to rain, as I started the drive along the S3.

 I then drove along the Vortrekker Road to Pretoriouskop Camp, arriving around 2.30 pm. It turned out to be quite a day!

Initially game viewing was quiet as the persistent rain kept animals in hiding. I was photographing a Wahlberg’s Eagle when I noticed a Rhino emerging from a nearby thicket. It was a bloody Black Rhino, but it saw me & turned tail, running into the bush. I didn't get a shot! My first Black Rhino in Kruger after all these years! I was elated.

Immature Gymnogene
On the look out for prey.

Male Red-crested Korhaan calling.
Starting up again!
It is quite loud!
All over now!
White-backed Vultures having a drink & a bathe at
Renosterkoppies Waterhole.
A Cape Vulture was sat apart from the rest.
This Lappet-faced Vulture was nearby as well.
This male Lion was 2 kms. away.

Back to sleep then!

 I then drove the S4 & on to the Waterhole Road & had a break at Stevenson Hamilton Memorial.
 I spotted two immense male sleeping Lions close to Renosterkoppies. One even deemed to wake up for a couple of minutes before hitting the sack again!

Further down the S114 I found another two male Lions yet again sleeping under a bush. It wasn't worth taking a photo, as there was little to see. They didn't move an inch!

Elephants were common along the river.
I saw a couple of big herds of Buffalo 
along this part of the route.

Blacksmith Plover

The Biyitmati River Loop was both scenic & productive with three herds of Cape Buffalo, nine White Rhino & plenty of Elephants. I continued south on the S114 & the Biyimati River Loop having a late breakfast at Afsaal. How this place has gone downhill! The food is bland & there are only a few items on the menu! The service if one can call it that, is incredibly poor. It must be a change of management, because it used to have the best food in the entire park! Those brilliant pancakes are now a thing of the past!

Found this beauty fast asleep
 quite close to the camp gates.

I just needed Leopard now to complete the Big 5! I found a sleeping male up a tree close to Pretoriouskop Camp gates. I waited a while, but he was really sleeping & snoring just a little!

A little further down the road was this!
Very frustrating! I was looking forward to this route.

Spent a couple of hours in camp & learnt that the 4 x 4 route was closed, because of the track conditions! That was the reason I was here! Just before dark, I drove the Fayi Route. Didn't see much until I came across the same Leopard, this time on the prowl in the bush!

Pretoriouskop Camp.
It is a lovely place to be based, with a great camp-site
 & good birding within the grounds.
A great natural rock swimming pool!

Helmeted Guineafowl looking for titbits
 around my camp.

Natal Francolin

Spent a couple of hours in camp & learnt that the 4 x 4 route was closed, because of the track conditions! That was the reason I was here! Just before dark, I drove the Fayi Route. Didn't see much until I came across the same Leopard, this time on the prowl in the bush!

The heavens opened as darkness approached, & all thoughts of cooking vanished. Instead a meal in the restaurant beckoned. It was a wet night camping. A great day though: the Big 5 & two species of Rhino! Hard to beat that!
Taken through my windscreen at dawn!
I was up at 3.30 am. Quickly had breakfast & then on the road. It was pitch black! But picked up a male Lion close to the camp gates. He had his eye on a herd of Buffalo & kept calling for others of the pride to come to him. But none came & he was eventually seen off by the herd. A cracking start to the day though!

Ship Mountain
Side striped Jackal

A little further down the road a Side striped Jackal stepped into view. This is quite a rare species in Kruger & this south-western corner of the park is a good place to get it. Saw another at dusk on the way home.
The gang!

Very impressive for one so young!

I drove down the Vortrekker Road to Afsaal, where I went south on the H3. Came across 17 Spotted Hyenas denning under the road. They were in playful mood & at least three females had puppies of different ages, including an incredibly young one!

Long tailed Shrike
(Magpie Shrike)

Took the loop roads which pass by Gardenia Hide, had a chat with a couple of birders there. Then pressed on to Berg en Dal Camp where I did a little birding, but didn't see much.

Biyimati River

Little Bee-eater

Woolly necked Stork

Drove north past Afsaal & took the Biyimiti River Loop again. A Lesser Spotted Eagle flew over (my first of the summer).

Immature African Fish Eagle
A pair of Knob-billed Ducks.
Unusual shot of a Ground Hornbill

Ground Squirrel
Southern Masked Weaver

Spent a couple of hours in the heat of the day at Berg-en dal Camp.


Very close to the guy who had broken down!

I kept bumping into plenty of White Rhino, totalling 113 for the day. Met a guy with a radiator leak, gave him some water & he was on his way again. He had been there for around three hours without a car passing by!

Pretty chilled out!

Saw a couple of Lionesses with two cubs in the river.

Young ones, just playing.

A pair of Klipspringer

Kept moving north & took the main road back to camp. Another 10 Spotted Hyenas were denning by the roadside & out to play in the gloom. Further down the road saw 2 more chasing a Giraffe! Ambitious or what?

A pair of Little Grebes
A group of about 40 White Storks
had recently arrived.

They were stood atop of termite mounds 
catching the winged insects
 as soon as they emerged from the holes!
Common Sandpiper
The newly arrived, Lesser Grey Shrike

Got back to camp in the pouring rain to find people had knicked my camp-site despite me leaving a table & chair there! This always happens when you are using the rooftop tent. Heavy rain for most of the night.

Shabeni Hill
View from the top of the hill.
Dawn revealed a Giant Eagle Owl

Black bellied Korhaan calling

White faced Whistling Duck
Blacksmith Plover
They get quite big around here!

White Rhinos looking menacing!
This old bull is at a decided disadvantage!
Female Common Reedbuck
Dwarf Mongoose
Always obliging!

The next day was a bit of a flop! It was a dreary grey day & nothing seemed to be moving at all! A got back home feeling a little let down by the lack of action during the day. Maybe I am setting the bar too high?

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