South Africa Day 15

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Today, I'm leaving the park. The flight isn't until 1500, and so I've plenty of time. I decide to do an early morning drive, and then get back by about 0800 to do the packing, and then set of for the airport doing a drive on the way to the gate. I'm going to leave by Malelane Gate, the gate by which I entered the park.

The plan for the drive is in three bits: first, look around the roads near the H10, the place where people have seen wild dogs and a cheetah. Then, drive a bit along the road to Skukuza to see if there are any cats on this road. Finally, do the drive to the S28 dam, and back via Duke's waterhole.

I leave the rest camp at 0427. I see nothing on the S29 (which is where the cheetah should be). I try the adjacent H10, and come across a hyaena. It's only 0447, and so it's dark to take photos. The best ones have the hyaena lit up by the car's headlights. I try driving up the adjacent S128 for a bit but again fail to see anything exciting.

On the way back, I have to cross the river. There I see a goliath heron and some hippos.

Now to check the first part of the road to Skukuza. It passes Sunset Dam, where I see a grey heron and the usual hippos. The gry heron is very close to where I park, and so it makes a good photo. However, there is nothing much on the road to Skukuza.

I return to do the route to the S28 dam. On the way, I see 3 warthogs and 2 fish eagles. Just before reaching the dam, the weather dramatically changes and it becomes very foggy. So at the dam I can't really see the far side of the water.

There's nothing exciting on the trip back.

Now for the trip from Lower Sabie to Malelane Gate. It's about 90K. The Berg-en-dal restcamp is not far from Malelane Gate, and as I revisit areas that were fruitful last time. Such as the Gardenia bird hide, but there is nothing there today. However, when I gate to the main road that runs south to Malellane gate, I come across three large groups of elephants.

Although I came across lots of elephants on my first day's visit to Lower Sabie, I was disappointed to see very few during the last couple of days. Now I'm in the Berg-en-dal area, I'm see lots. My guess is that the recent rains has made the river near Lower Sabie difficult for them and so they have moved elsewhere. But I'm no expert, and all of that may be nonsense!

I get to the turn-off for the airport, but drive past it as I need to fill the car up with petrol. There's a convenient petrol station about 3K away in the opposite direction. I return, and go to the airport. I arrive early, and the person at the check-in desk asks me if I want to get on an earlier flight (which leaves at 1415). And this is what I do. The rest of the trip home is uneventful.

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