Thank you Pumbaa, Mellory (welcome on board ), Mel and MM for your support and kind comments on the story and pics.
@ Mellory, much welcome for the coming parts. Though not that spectaculair as the first 10 days of this trip there were many encounters to remember.
@ Mel: Maybe I should change the title of this TR in: "Daffy's magic flying circus".
@ MM: so glad you like the pic of the Zebra. With all the big cats around we tend overlook the beauty of the things right in front of our eyes every day we travel in the park.
Next day another early rise. Our plan is to travel north to Pafuri picnick spot and back again. A lot of k's, but very worthwhile for the scenic Mphongolo loop, Nyalaloop and the Luvuvhu area. It proved to be an easy driving this day with not so many sightings on the route, but we enjoyed every mile of it. Should we have had outstanding sightings we sure would have had a big problem to be back before closing time. We arrived back at 15.30 in due time for a memorable encouter and left us plenty time to answer the call of the swimming pool. Yes, it was again very hot, if not the hottest day of our trip.
But let's start by remembering being woken by the roar of a lion last night. We thought not far away. And indeed, 20 meters outside the gate you park on the right side and take a look in the riverbed. Still dark ( and the only car that went out, soon followed by 2 ! more ) we spotted this lovely pair of mating lions. We took a few pics and with a little photoshopping:
We also shot a short video, to dark, but all the same. After we shot this video the pair wandered of in to the bush at the other side of the riverbed. We took the other entrance of the camp to check for the rest of the pride but couldn't find them. As we were having a long trip ahaed we drove off after half an hour.
So we headed north and the Mhpongolo loop. In prior trips we had on this loop lions, leopards, buffel, etc. This trip was quiet, but the scenery was as always. And so quiet, we only met with one other car on the loop.
No animals? there is always ellie on this loop.
And views on the riverbed.
And a beautiful kudu bul.
Temperature is rising quickly and the first clouds appear. Maybe we get a cooling down this day. Very good friends have arrived at Byamiti last night driving from Joburg in the pooring rain. We will meet them in a couple of days in Satara. I wonder if the rain travels with them. We will keep in (SMS) contact.
We stop at a view on a pool we remember as very special and we feel the loss of "our" yellow fever tree worse being at the spot. reading about the lightning struck is something, but the real thing gives you the final blow.
A short stop at Babalala for a coffee and on we go.
We go easy, but see practicly no animals. Nyalaloop looks gorgious as always but empty, but for one bull, half hiding in the bush.
As we arrive on the S 63 we understand why the nyalaloop was empty.
When we arrived at the Picnick spot it was so quiet. Just one car arrived after us. We had hoped to meet with Frank ( and bring him regards form Julius at Sweni ), but he was on strike that day.
We had a late breakfast and enjoyed a quiet saturday in march. I think it was just to hot for dayvisitors.
This bird was trying to join breakfast.
We decide to do a slow drive to Croocs Corner and back just enjoying the scenary, and so we did.
Driving along the Luvuvhu there is always something to see. So we couldn't resist to watch the vervet monkeys for half an hour.
While watching the monkeys we almost missed this monitor lizard.
At croocs corner we stepped out and felt the full heat. Monique walked to the fence on the west side, but the clear cough of a leopard ( we didn't see it but were very sure ) in the bush made her back of quickly. So we took the pic of the eastside of the parking place. It was that hot, we didn't stay out for more than 5 minutes. With former visits we always stay for at least half an hour.
As it was 40 plus we reluctantly closed windows and switched on the airco.
On the way back we opened windows for the saddlebill stork.
As we took the tarroad back to Shingwedzi we had a thunderstorm to our left, but no rain. We shot this baobab with the clouds behind on the left side of the road.
Just after the junction with the H 13-1 to Punda the road is wet and it remains so for 30 k's, marking the path of the thunderstorm. It's a little cooler, but still hot and the animals are hiding.
The swimming pool is calling and as we take the the turn to camp, with our thoughts with the pool, we take a quick look in the riverbed. 2 k's from camp we stop and spot 4 ellie bulls. The pool has to wait for another half an hour, because we think there at least two of the bulls are big tuskers with a name.
After consulting Aat back in the Netherlands, these two were really big tuskers with a name. Yesterday we had Kaleka and now two more.
In detail: this is Nkombo with two beautiful shaped tusks.
And this is almost certain Mpenza, who recently lost it's right tusk.
The third one is not very visible, has only a big right tusk, I couldn't put a name on him.
To memorise this encounter with the tuskers of the Shingwedzi riverbed we shot this video of Mpensa, cooling him self with mud.
And then we couldn't resist the call of the pool and spend the remains of the afternoon relaxing, reading and sleeping a little. The braai and South African wine made us think back of again a very special day in the park. Three big Tuskers and more to come.