Lower Sabie Rest Camp
Kruger National Park
Kruger National Park
Yesterday, we went north from Olifants on a game drive, so today we went south. We left when the gate opened at 5:30 a.m. and headed toward the Timbavati Picnic Site. We packed our breakfast to prepare there.
On the Olifants River Bridge, we spotted a hippo in the very early morning light walking through the vegetation. They spend their days in the rivers and ponds, and then feed on grasses overnight. This one was probably finished feeding and heading back to its pool.
This morning, we also saw our first Red-Crested Korhaan. We saw another one later in the day.
We then found a male Steenbok. It's hard to get perspective, but these are tiny antelope. They are only two to three feet (60 - 90 cm) tall and they only weigh 20 - 30 pounds (9 - 14kg) with the heaviest being around 35 pounds (16 kg).
Next, we got our best look yet at a Saddle-billed Stork with its beautifully colored bill. In the photos below, you can see how it gets its name.
In the trees, we saw this not-so-colorful Lappet-faced Vulture.
Before I go on, those last two birds are part of the "Big Six" birds to look for in Kruger according to the park map booklet I've spoken about before.
That guide is the Andy and Lorrain Tinker's Kruger National Park Map which also includes animal, bird, and snake identification pages and an animal and bird sighting checklist as well as much more. As I mentioned the first day, they were sold out of these at the entrance gate, but we got one at the store in the camp that evening. I think it was about $8 USD and well worth every penny.
Note: Credit to Andy & Lorrain Tinker's website for the above images.
Okay, so the "Big Six" birds are the Lappet-faced Vulture (above), the Saddle-billed Stork (above), the Southern Ground Hornbill, the Pel's Fishing Owl, the Martial Eagle, and the Kori Bustard (see yesterday's post). We have three of the six, and ended up with two more by the time the trip was done. See which two in our later posts.
Okay, continuing our drive. Turning on a gravel road, we had Zebras, Wildebeest, and Impala in the same spot.
This Wildebeest bull stared us down.
Not far from our picnic site, we spotted a half dozen or so lionesses, one of which was missing an eye.
Eventually, we made it to the Timbavati Picnic Site where we rented a gas skottel (a mobile frying pan on a stand connected to a propane cylinder) to cook breakfast. Most picnic sites rent them for a nominal fee, and we took advantage a few times during our stay.
The ladies had breakfast well under control, so I wandered around with the camera.
First was a Yellow-billed Hornbill, a common sight in the picnic areas.
And then I took several photos of a Bushbuck family that was hanging around. The ram stayed a little farther away, ....
but the ewe and her little one were close and curious and extremely sweet together.
I didn't have to move as the fawn came in for a closer look. Adorable.
After breakfast, we slowly made our way back to Olifants, and our first sighting was an elephant at a water pan.
Just before we crossed the Olifants River Bridge, we happened upon a troop of Vervet Monkeys on the road. We stopped and watched, and they kept us entertained for several minutes.
At the same location, I got a nice shot of this White-faced Bee-eater.
Also, in that area, we saw a pair of Egyptian Geese.
Our next is one the Kruger map booklet shows as one of its "Little Five" animals to look for. This is a Leopard Tortoise, one of the "Little Five".
The remaining "Little Five" are the Elephant Shrew, the Ant Lion, the Red-billed Buffalo Weaver, and the Rhinoceros Beetle. These were not on our "must see" list, but now that we have one of them, we'll keep an eye out for the others .
After the tortoise, we found this elephant munching on acacia.
We stopped at the N'wamanzi Lookout for a wide view to see if we could spot anything. It was pretty, and we scanned with our binoculars, but there were no animals to be seen.
Leaving there, we had one more sighting before getting back to camp - a tusky Warthog boar.
Back at camp, we had lunch and the others rested up for an afternoon drive while I walked around.
I got photos of a squirrel and a Red-winged Starling that were worth posting, but there was a Duiker by the fence and a mongoose in the brush I didn't get.
I refrained from taking more photos of the hippos in the river from behind our friends' bungalows as I didn't want to disturb their naps.
In the late afternoon, we took a short game drive heading east of camp stopping first at the Olifants River Lookout. The setting sun lit up the bluffs and the river in one direction and backlit the view in the other direction where a large herd of elephants was drinking.
We also saw a few crocodiles on the river.
Moving away from the river we encountered this noble Waterbuck.
Next on our drive were a couple of Giraffes.
Back at Olifants Camp, it was our usual of evening of Happy Hour, and Tony cooking on the braai. Tonight was lamb chops and boerewors.
I don't drink much alcohol at all, but I make up for it as a carnivore.
Though we have our routines, what we see every day is different. It's like a treasure hunt, and we just never know how it's going to turn out .... and it doesn't really matter. I can't think of much I'd rather do than watch wildlife with Linda and take lots of pictures to enjoy and share later.
Thank you Kruger National Park for all that you offer - it's an experience unlike any we've ever had before.