Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Kruger : The sun comes out!

Yellow Billed Stork at sunset

Another couple of days in this beautiful park have come to an end, and sometimes it feel as though 6 weeks will be far too short. Other times I get so lonely as I drive, that I think perhaps I was crazy and it’s far too long. The gate opens at 4.30am, so when I wake at 4, I always wonder if I should even get out of bed. But then I think of my cameras, and how all they need is me to hold them, and suddenly I am wide-awake and as excited as can be. 4 am is quite an early start to keep up, but there’s nothing better than driving out of that gate, coffee in hand, and every morning that feeling gets me up and out of bed.

Yesterday started with lovely clear skies, and all I wanted to do was get straight down to the hyena den. A few wrong turns, and I realized I wasn’t going to make it. By the time I did get there, there was only one adult sleeping off to the side. Later that morning I again got lost, and had to back-track a lot. I don’t know what it is with girls (maybe not all, but many) but we have some serious problems with distance, directions and maps!! I then decided that I would no longer take a turning without first checking my guide book, as I only got to a place for ‘breakfast’ at 2pm!

Elephant Drinking at Biyamiti Weir

I did find some great kingfishers, in particular a pair of Giant Kingfishers, one of which I watched catch and eat a crab. As she swallowed it, she had to pause in a very uncomfortable position, as though waiting for it to squeeze through a narrow gap, before again relaxing. She did first smash it on some rocks, which broke most of the legs off, and after the body was finished, she picked up the remnants before diving back into the water for a cleaning dip. The different between a male and female giant, is that a male wears a ‘t-shirt’ and the female wears a ‘g-string’, both of these clothing items being chestnut in colour.

Male, watching a pair of Fish eagles.

Female Giant Kingfisher and crab

Sleeping Lioness

I also had 2 lion sightings, one a pride of seven, who were resting right next to the road, and the other two very fat  females who were sleeping off a large meal. Another highlight of the day was a pretty relaxed black rhino. I also saw another at a waterhole a few days ago, and as I know how elusive they are in Kruger, feel very privileged to have seen two of them! (Black Rhino is a Kruger first for me…)

Tree Squirrel

Elephant Trunk

Displaying Woodlands Kingfisher

This morning I planned my route very carefully so that there were no mistakes on the way to the hyena den. When I arrived, at least 14 individuals were in attendance, with the cubs all eagerly suckling, and the adults fairly relaxed. One had brought an animal's backbone home, which caused quite a bit of excitement, as did a stray warthog who spent some time chasing a couple of far-too-curious youngsters. Once everyone had settled down, and I had rescued my car from some over curious mouths, I decided to drive on and see what the rest of the morning had on offer.

I had a pleasant surprise in the form of two leopards, walking in the bushes along side the main road outside Lower Sabie, presumably the mother and subadult from the kill a few nights ago. Driving a vehicle when thronged by a crowd of curious vehicles, and photographing at the same time is virtually impossible, so I eventually left. Sometimes, even a leopard sighting is a bit too difficult to manage when it's on a busy road like that. I couldn’t get ‘through’ the crowd of cars, so decided to end my drive and finally get round to some laundry! Laundry is boring, waiting for things to wash and dry is a real waste of time. It was also really hot! I had quite a long afternoon drive, although other than some very relaxed elephant herds, nothing too much occurred!

Tonight I’ll be eating noodles again: The problem is that while I love cooking, there is no joy in cooking for one, or eating alone, so I much prefer to spend my time in other ways. I only eat because I’m scared that if I don’t, I will pass out and there will be no one to wake me!!  That said, there is something magical about sitting listening to the happy chatter of people all around, smelling braai as its scent wafts through the air, the odd hyena ‘whoop’ punctuating the night. It's moments like these that remind me how lucky I am to be where I am.

Self Portrait while stuck in leopard sighting!


  1. Very beautiful photos Laura. Especially the drinking elephant!
    Like to read your blog and a little jealous. You are very lucky there.
    Will follow your blog!
    Kind regards, Patrick

  2. Hi Laura

    Enjoying the blog! Looks like a fun trip to do, may have to plan something similar in the future. Good luck with the rest of the journey.

    Brendon (ODP-Bushies)

  3. Enjoying my second-hand journey! Thank you ...
    In this batch apart from the spectacular, I enjoyed the squirrel; I love what I think of as "the little guys".

  4. Hi Laura
    I laughed out loud at your getting lost I do it all the time.
    I am loving your journey and your pics are just so unique, very special.


  5. If you can find a pangolin (aka ietermagog), then perhaps there is hope that CERN will turn up a Higgs Boson?