Day 12 and 13 – Inside Kruger

We woke up early eager to get out of the grotty, dirty hovel that passed for accommodation at Sabie.  The Sabie bathroom ceiling was caked with layers of black mildew – I thought they may have been cultivating it for some kind of perverse harvest. The rest of the chalet was falling apart, rusting broken aircon, rusting window frames, peeling paint, broken hooks, stained carpets and tired old-looking bedding.  The toilet must have been transplanted from Noah’s Ark after he got stuck on Mount Ararat. All this for only R640 per night!
Heather complained to Camp Management and arranged for all of our subsequent accommodation units to be checked and double-checked for cleanliness and especially mildew. Kruger Management take this seriously and we were assured that each of the rest camps the head cleaning supervisor would personally inspect our accommodation.
Our first game drive from Sabie towards Skukuza was filled with sightings. Just 20 minutes in we came across a dead rhino in a watering hole with some very happy vultures competing with pot bellied hyena, spent an awesome hour watching and taking  pics before heading on.

Got nice and close to rhino, some more giraffe and the staple diet of all predators here, the impala (about 130,000 of them in the park, so plenty of fast food for lions! The game rangers say the little white M on their behinds stands for MacDonalds, and if you turn it over the W is for Wimpy!). Also saw Zebra, kudu and waterbuck. Heather and Erica went for a walk around camp in Skukuza and watched buffalo munching on river weed about 30 meters from the fence. Skukuza is the main camp in Kruger, with a bank, two restaurants, a shop, a museum and a filling station.  It’s like a little town.
Anyway, Heather must have said something that hit a nerve with Management because our  accommodation at Skukuza was polished perfection. Brand new thatch, totally refurbed and painted rondawel, newly varnished with painted edgings. This was everything that the Sabie hovel was not. We were very pleased and spent a very good night here. If we come again then Skukuza will be first on our list of overnight stops.
We spotted many of the large herbivores on the drive from Sabie to Skukuza. Only on our third day in the Park we spotted Lion. It pays to look at the daily sightings map at each camp office, where people mark which animals they have spotted.  This led us to travel on a 60km dirt road which we were planning to skip, and we finally spotted Lions! The big cats were resting in what felt like 40 degree heat – can’t blame them really.  Just as we got there they lioned about a bit and we managed to get some good pics.  Also on this little detour, we spotted swimming turtles and a crocodile, making the long drive well worth it.
During the morning we had seen loads of ellies, giraffe, wildebeest, impala and most noteworthy, the Southern Yellow Billed Horn Bill (who thinks up these names?), which seem to be as prolific as our seagulls at home. These birds have a lot of attitude and can be seen pushing their way in front of other birds and even squirrels on the lush green lawns at Skukuza. They sit right next to you at your table and train one beady eye on you, as if to say “you better hand over some food, pal, or else”. These birds are clearly the mafia of the bushveld.

Thanks to the sighting of the lions we put this down as a very successful day. We were not looking forward to going home without seeing lions – I’m sure it happens to a lot of people as they can be very difficult to spot in the bush even when close to the road. We may have already driven past a few times without spotting them!