I woke up to the sound of hyaenas calling this morning. 🙂
I quickly made a bowl of cereal and a cup of coffee to have for breakfast and at 6:04, I was out the gate and into the wilds again.
Although I had seen a sign indicating that a bridge on the road along the river which lead to Crocodile Bridge was closed, I decided to drive to see the bridge and to see how far I could go. The road itself was not closed. I picked a really slow speed (between 10 & 15 km and I drove for 3 hours until I reached the bridge.
Along the way, I saw lots of Giraffes (their numbers were only exceeded by the Impala). I watched a couple of male Giraffes having what I think was a practice fight or necking. I saw Elephants and a Leopard. The Leopard sighting was too quick to get a picture. He walked out in front of my car, just as I hit a stretch of washboard type road. He looked towards me when he heard the car bumping along and he was gone.
The rest of my sightings for the day are: Sun rise, Crocodile River with the broken bridge, my bungalow, African Fish Eagle, Grey Go-Away Bird, Yellow Hornbill, Waterbuck, Quelea, Kudu, Duiker, Crested Francolin, Blacksmith Lapwing, Hadeda Ibis, Cape Glossy Starling,Cattle Egret, Hamerkop, Hadeda Ibis, Helmeted Guinea Fowl and Magpie (or African Long-tail) Shrike.
On the way back along the very dusty sand road, my lovely little car got a flat. In Kruger National Park, you are not allowed to get out of your car. It really isn’t safe. The critters are used to cars, but not used to people outside of cars and some of these critters can be dangerous. I found out later, that it is ok to get out for car repairs, but I’m not sure I would have changed it by myself anyway.
I wasn’t even 100% sure exactly where I was. I knew what road I was on, but no idea of how much further it was to the tar road. I phoned Avis and told them my problem. The guy who answered the phone was very helpful, and he got my phone number and said he would get someone to phone and head out to meet me and that he would phone me back. The guy who phoned me said that he could not make it there today and that I should drive slowly back to camp. I repeated – “do you want me to drive on the flat tyre” and he replied yes, to drive slowly. So, I started driving at about 10 km, not knowing how much further to the tar road. I knew it was about 20 km back to Berg-en-Dal once I hit the tar road. I’m sure glad I took the extra tyre insurance when I rented the car.
The original Avis guy called me back a few minutes later and I told him what the other guy had said and that I was driving. He said he was going to call the other guy again and that he would get back to me again. By this time another driver had noticed me limping along (I was surprised no one else noticed before then). He said he would change the tire for me if I had a spare, but I reminded him that we are not allowed out of our cars. He got out and looked at it anyway and then decided that he would go to find some help, since he had seen a rangers truck parked not too far down the tar road. He hold me I had almost made it to the tar road, so I was relieved to hear that.
While I was driving slow, I beautiful Kudu bull walked along the side of the road. I had to stop and take his picture. 🙂
I gave the man my phone number and just as I reached the tar road he phoned and said he would be there with a ranger in about 2 minutes. He did as promised and between him and the rangers (another 2 joined us in progress), the tire was soon changed. When they were almost finished, the 2nd guy from Avis called me back and when I told him the tyre was almost changed, he said he would be at Berg-en-Dal around 9am to give me a new tyre. I tried to get him to come sooner, but he wants me to phone him at 9am, which I think means that is when he starts working, so he will leave at 9am to come here. Sure hope he isn’t too far away.
On the drive back to Berg-en-Dal, there were several Cape Buffalo taking a break near the road – behind some bushes and tall grass of course, but I snapped a couple of pictures anyway.
Once I got back to my bungalow, the first Avis guy called again to make sure things were ok. I told him the other guy would be here in the morning and that the tire was had been changed.
After I got some fish and chips at the restaurant here, I went for a walk on the rhino walk. There were several Cape Buffalo having a drink, playing around and having a play fight just on the other side of the fence. I suspect it was the same group of dagga boys that I had seen on my way back here, since they weren’t far from the camp.
My next concern was how to get to Crocodile Bridge since that bridge is gone on the road I would have taken. I asked at reception, only to be told that I would have to drive up to Skukuza and then over and down the next road. That looks way too long and when I went back to my bungalow, I checked the mileage to find that it is about 150 km – the book says that would be an average of 6 hours of driving and I am going to have a late start while waiting for the Avis guy. If I just drove the speed limit, the time would be 3 hours – but I would have to pass by sightings. After I figured out how far it was, I went back to reception and got another girl, who had a much better suggestion. This camp is very close to a gate and there is another gate at Crocodile Bridge. The easiest and fastest way is to go out this gate and enter again at the next one. As soon as she said that, I realized that she was absolutely right and I breathed a sigh of relief. It would only be about 2 hours to drive that stretch of road (if that). Of course, I don’t have a map of that road. Hopefully, they can help me out at the gate with that.
Here is a video of the Giraffes
Click here to start at the beginning of the trip instead of reading backwards. 🙂