Kruger National Park (Central Section)

Well, what a change in the weather! From scorching hot and sunny to a deluge of rain and temperatures that left me reaching for my fleece….

Overview: 4.5 days, 637 km

Monday 11 February (afternoon)

Route: H7 tarred road from Orpen Gate to Satara, then the S100 as far as Shibotwana before turning back

A scorching hot afternoon – we later heard that the temperature had hit 38 degrees Celsius. Lots of dry river beds:

A steenbok:

The small antelope are always difficult to take photos of. They’re very skittish, and have a habit of turning to look at the camera for a second or two then disappearing into the undergrowth at great speed.

Elephants….

Overnight at Satara. Our very friendly (South African) camp site neighbours presented Mark with cupcakes; they had a big box full and reckoned they were suffering in the heat and needed to be eaten. Mark didn’t need to be told twice!

Tuesday 12 February

Route: S100 from Satara, then right onto the S41. A short stop at N’wanetsi then down the S37 and left onto the S35 to Orpen Dam. Continued on to Tshokwane for lunch, then back to Satara on the H1-3

Another absolutely scorching hot day….

Waterbuck (male and two females):

A young male lion:

Yellow-billed stork:

Baboon hugs:

Giddyup Mum!

Lots of elephants:

This baby elephant was absolutely tiny (it doesn’t come out on the photo as his mum was very small herself. He was about the size of a large labrador):

He’s learning young, though – already practising his trunk motor skills and trying to grab grass:

Yaaawwwwnnnnnn!

Overnight at Satara.

Wednesday 13 February

Route: H7 from Satara, right onto the S40. A short stop at Timbavati then continuing via the S39, S89, S90, S92 and H8 to Olifants for lunch. Then the S44 and S 46 to Letaba

Mark got one of his main wildlife-viewing wishes this morning: wild dogs in action…..

,

One minute they were trotting down the road then seemed to be settling down in the grass – and then suddenly, they were off…. Dogs in one direction…

Panicking impala in all directions:

Boinging their bums that far in the air can’t do much for their ground speed, but maybe it makes it that much harder for a predator to grab them from behind? A hoof in the face would definitely hurt….

Within seconds, it was all over….

The method here is that the dogs sharing the impala all grab it and basically rip it apart…. Interestingly, there was no attempt to muscle in by dogs who were not sharing the meal, or any squabbling between those that were. The meal was accompanied by the kind of squeaking you’d normally associate with an overexcited puppy…..

Tell-tale pink face:

We added a few more birds to our collection for the trip.

Marabou stork:

Woodland kingfisher:

Red-billed quelea:

Long-tailed paradise whydah:

Red-billed hornbill with (seemingly) tasty bug:

Hamerkop:

We heard the first rumbles of distant thunder at lunchtime. It wasn’t long before the rain arrived…..

Baobab tree in the rain:

Weather for hippos:

Overnight at Letaba.

Thursday 14 February

Route: H9 from Letaba to Phalaborwa Gate. Exited the park to buy fuel and food, then back to Letaba via the H9, H14, and S131

A rainy, much cooler day. We didn’t see much at all whilst it was actually raining, but luckily there were some dry spells….

Hyena just outside Letaba:

The elephants didn’t seem to mind the rain:

A hinged tortoise puts on a burst of speed:

Young baboons up to mischief:

Southern ground hornbill:

Overnight at Letaba.

Friday 15 February

More rain….. We struggled a bit in terms of route as most of the untarred roads we’d planned to use had now been closed.

Route: H1-6 north from Letaba, H15 to a short stop at Makhadzi, then back to the H1-6.Continuing north, right onto the S50, left ontothe S143, left onto the S144 then south on the H1-6 to Mopani for lunch. Then south on the S49 and back north on the H1-6 to Tsendze Rustic Camp

Crocodile on the move:

Finally – our first Kruger ostrich and jackal!

A new antelope – a tsessebe:

A korhaan:

The weather really was like a wet weekend in the Lake District for much of the day….

Overnight at Tsendze Rustic Camp.

Overall, we had a great few days in the central section of Kruger National Park. We didn’t feel that we’d seen as much as we did in the south, but looking back at the photos we did OK!

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