Day 15 – Kruger Mopani Camp

The next day was overcast and cool, a refreshing break from the heat wave. The Kruger Park says Winter is up until 31 Aug but since we’ve been here it has been scorching. Took a leisurely drive through the Western middle of the park and saw nothing remarkable except a lone elephant bull and a herd of Hippo sunning themselves by a pan. Animal sightings seem to be scarce during the late morning and early afternoon. Later on we spotted crocs and turtles. We took lunch at Letaba Camp, which overlooks the Letaba River. A herd of 6 giraffe, some zebra and many types of buck were coming and going while we ate.  A very worthwhile stop to see the game, but the food is not great at this camp.
The next few hours of game driving was uneventful. Our eyes started playing tricks on us with the way the vegetation seems to form animals. Must be from all the days of scanning the brush for animals!  We spotted two saddle-billed storks, a rare sighting since according to Kruger there are only about a hundred left in the world.
Much later around 5pm at a lookout point just before our final camp (Mopani), Heather spotted two female lions camouflaged on an opposite river bank. We watched them until Erica became restless then we headed for camp. Just before the turn for Mopani Camp we saw a large grouping of vehicles. This turned out to be our best sighting of lions yet! Two female lions and four cubs were systematically stripping a buffalo carcass.  The cubs were at time crawling on top of the carcass while the females were pulling on it, very entertaining to see the cubs keep their balance.  We especially enjoyed the juvenile mock-roars of the cubs while playing with each other.
We reluctantly left the scene so that we could make the 6pm curfew at Mopani. Arrived at our accommodation which was spotlessly cleaned. The manager from Sabie had called ahead and ensured that things were spick and span.  The duty manager for Mopani, Winslow, popped in to make sure we were satisfied. Turns out despite their best efforts, fresh bat droppings on our bed meant that we would be sleeping under their toilet area. This earned us an upgrade to a full luxury bush-lodge house with 3 bedrooms and two bathrooms, pristinely positioned on a large lake chock-full of hippo.

The worst part was packing up again and unpacking at our new digs, but once settled we were chilling in style!  At R1200 per night in off-season these houses cost about double the amount for regular chalets, but with a group of 6 people you can actually save money and benefit from better quality accommodation, furnishings, and appliances (we had a brand-new high-spec microwave, full stove and refrigerator).