South Africa Day 02

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Although I set the alarm on my mobile to wake me at 0400, it doesn't go off. I wake at about 0500 and wonder why. I have to check out by 0900, and so there are two ways to play this. Either get everything packed now and leave now, or just get what I need ready for a game drive and return before 0900. The night before, I had already decided to do the latter.

I'm out by 0540. Besides having a new PDA, a day before leaving for South Africa, I got a GPS unit (BGT-11). I'm going to log where I go in the park for uploading to As it arrived hours before leaving For South Africa, I've no real idea how to use it yet.

I've put the GPS on the windscreen shelf. I've no idea what it is recording. I know it is not recording everything. It is not recording lat and lon and I wonder whether it is a waste of time. I'll look into how to configure that later.

About 1K from Lower Sabie, I see a pack of mongeese crossing the road. I'm able to get some pictures of them and this is rare for me as they usually dash off too quickly.

Just 2K from Lower Sabie there is a road across the river, and this is a good spot for wildlife. Although it is off my route, it's not far to the river and so I always do the detour. Today, there is a goliath heron, and, as usual, there are lots of hippos.

Another 2K and there are more mongeese. Very strange to see so many mongeese.

One of my favourite spots near to Lower Sabie is the dam off the S28. This is where I'm making for. I often have breakfast here but I'm not yet organised and so I only have coffee and biscuits.

En route to the dam I see a tortoise, an elephant, some wildebeeste and many monkeys.

When I arrive at the dam, there is no-one else there. And I see a jacana, some hippos, a yellow billed stork and a little egret.

As a result of the coffee and biscuits, I have chance to unwind. It's the first time to relax since I arrived. I'm at the dam for about 40 minutes. Whilst I'm there others come and go.

It's not so good as it used to be as the vegetation has grown recently and so there are less prime spots to park. (But I got here first!)

Time's pressing on. I take the route via the Duke waterhole on the way back, but there's nothing there. But on my return trip I see a female steenbok. These are shy, small creatures, and I'm always pleased when I see one because it means I'm not asleep.

I also see a male warthog (twice).

Time to pack. And that's finished before 0900. I pick up some more supplies from the shop including a replacement for the Kruger insulated mug that went walkies on my way to South Africa.

So I leave Lower Sabie at 0912. At the river crossing (visited earlier). I re-see the goliath heron and I also see two hammercop, a darter and a terrapin.

There are two main ways to get to Skukuza, my next rest camp. I ignore the direct route, and instead take the back roads, partly because the sightings board said that people had seen wild dogs in this area earlier. Not that dogs will hang around, i.e., it is unlikely that they will still be there.

Instead, in the area, there is an elephant walking along the road towards my car. He is very annoyed. This is because of the four cars in front of me. They are slowly reversing. One of them decides to give up and does a three point turn. As the cars are getting closer, I also have to reverse. So this silly game continues for a little while and then the elephant leaves the road, and so the traffic jam can continue on its way.

Later there is a layby overlooking the river. Here I see several elephants in the distance and a couple of black storks. I'm pleased to see the black storks as I don't see many of these. A game drive vehicle passes but does not stop. Why not?

1K along the road I discover why as four vehicles including the game drive vehicle are jostling for position as there are three or four lions lying under some trees. The lions are not in a good position to get any decent photos, and it's difficult to get a decent view as the prime position is taken by a car whose occupants look very disinterested. When lions are involved some people occupy the prime spots for hours. Is this oneupmanship? A demonstration of I got here before you. Or are they waiting for something to happen. If that's the case, they are usually in for a long wait for lions are like cats: once they feel sleepy they are often that way for a long time.

The road crosses the river, and I see a crocodile, a hippo and a hammercop (that's a bird).

I get to the Reception at Skukuza at about 1210. (Check in at the rest camps is anytime after 1200.) The person checking me in says that my wild card is not valid. I say that I was helped by the receptionist at Lower Sabie yesterday to contact Infinity and get it renewed for a year. She advises me to ring Infinity. I mull over whether it will get updated by the time I reach the next rest camp but she advises me that Infinity will be on holiday then.

Later I try to buy a phone card at the shop but they don't sell them. I have to go to the Post Office which I find to be closed. So I use coins in the phone box. I expect the phone call to Pretoria to be expensive so I get all my coins out but in the end the phone call only costs 50 cents even though I've put in 1 rand. The person at Liberty says my account has been updated for another year, and that the receptionist needs to press the Update button on their terminal. I go back to Reception but she says she doesn't have an Update button. And she also says that I can get it updated at the gate when I leave the camp.

But I don't intend to leave the park for days. So this story will run and run and run. Later I remember that Malelane Gate is not far off route on my way to the next rest camp. So I'll attempt to update the card when moving to that rest camp. Otherwise I would have to sweet talk Reception at all the remaining rest camps.

I'm at Skukuza for three nights. The restaurant at Skukuza has an expensive menu for Christmas Day which is my last nght. I decide to eat int the restaurant tonight, and then cook for the other two nights. It will be avegetable stew with dome chicken. I go and get the ingredients: a pack of vegetables for making a stew, some potatoes, some onions, some mushrooms, three chicken brests and two chilli chicken stock cubes. I spend the next hour or so cooking. The idea is that will best soaked overnight. Then split in two. And heat up for tomorrow night and the night after. It's a lot of messing around, because I've only got a casserole dish to do the frying and the stock genration and the stew generation. But it all falls together well. I simmer it for about 90 minutes before putting it boloing hot into the fridge.

As it's now time for this afternoon's game drive. I leave Skukuza at 1612. I'm maing my way round a set route I have. First stop will be the waterhole besides the S114. En route I have to reverse back to see an animal and by the time I've done that it's galloped off into the bushes. I get the book out. I think it's a reedbuck which would be good as I rarely see these. Grim that I didn't got to identify it properly.

I get to the waterhole. Here there are lots of wildebeeste including some youngsets dashing around. They are doing this on the road, and so it should be easy to get some photogrsaphs. At the waterhole there are some zebra.

I'm just about thinking of leaving andf going on my set route when someone in another car says Hasve I seen the lions?. I think to myself how foolish of me not to spot them, but it turns out they are just under 5K away on the road to the left. Although this is off my route, you don't ignore this. I rush the 5K. En route I think to myself that it might not be too crowded as it's off the beaten track.

It's just under 5K as the man said, and there are only three cars there. The lions are next to the road. Some are on one side; the others on the other side. They move around from time to time, and so do the cars. It's a photographic dream.

Then a lion and a lioness start fornicating. I don't think she wants to. She seems to want another lion but he runs off and so the lioness is left with the first lion.

Having got some good photos, I leave the other cars to it. People get obsessed with lions and hang around for ages.

I return back to the waterhole and then continue on my set route. Soon after, I see 6 male kudus, two of them rutting, and so I stop to take some photos of that.

Time's running out (as you have to be back in the rest camp before 1830) and so I have to curtail my set route.

I'm developing a sore throat, and I'm pleased that the shop sells Strepsils. I also get a 5 litre container of water for leaving in the car (just in guess I break down).

In the evening I recharge three devices: the GPS, the camera battery and the mobile phone. From my experience in its first few days of use, I'm going to have to recharge the GPS twice a day. This is silly as I thought people said it ran for 30 hours.

The food in the restaurant is up to Skukuza's normal standard. It's 5 self-service courses plus coffee for 120 rand which is about 9 pounds. I think it is good value.

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