Kruger National Park, September 2013.

Yes, we’ve been to the Kruger National Park again…

Our Heritage Day long weekend in Kruger started early, on the morning of Friday the 20th of September, waiting at Phalaborwa for the gate to open. Formalities completed, our chosen route took us along some of the less traveled gravel roads in the area to Letaba Rest Camp, where we’d spend our first night in the Park.

We spent the afternoon traversing the roads around the camp, soaking in the peaceful atmosphere and spending some time with our favourite Letaba resident, the big tusker Masthulele, and Hlahleni, one of the pretenders to the throne.

Come Saturday morning, we were on our way to Punda Maria, Kruger’s northern-most rest camp. A cold front was heading for the lowveld, and strong gusts of wind accompanied us all the way. Good sightings of elephants and some of Kruger’s rare antelope species, and a variety of other animals and birds, kept us entertained on the long drive northwards, and we arrived at “Punda”, where we were joined by Marilize’s parents and would be staying for the next three nights, just in time for the 2PM check-in time.

(We’ll dedicate a special post to Punda Maria soon – the camp and the area around it has a rich and fascinating history and plenty to offer nature lovers)

No visit to the north of the Kruger National Park would be complete without a pilgrimage to magical Pafuri. And so, despite the cold front having Kruger now firmly in its cold and wet grasp, this is where we headed on Sunday. Pafuri is a lush tropical paradise next to the Luvuvhu River, a bird watcher’s heaven, with regal nyala antelope around seemingly every corner.

That evening, a herd of elephant spent a lazy hour or two at the floodlit waterhole next to the camp fence. You’ll understand why I blame the waterhole and the hide that overlooks it for losing quite a bit of sleep this weekend – who can sleep when there’s this much action right on your doorstep!

Elephant herd at Punda Maria's waterhole

Elephant herd at Punda Maria’s waterhole

We decided to visit recently re-opened Shingwedzi on our last full day in the Park. Shingwedzi Rest Camp and its immediate surroundings was hard-hit by the January 2013 floods, and we were curious to have a look at how our favourite Kruger camp has bounced back (some photos in our “Shingwedzi after the flood” post). Along the way an extremely aggressive elephant bull showed two buses and several SUV’s exactly who is in charge of this piece of wild Africa!

Elephant roadblock on the way to Shingwedzi

Elephant roadblock on the way to Shingwedzi

The Shingwedzi area is teeming with game at the moment. We had our first ever sighting of an albino impala, and a massive eland bull spending some time in the almost dry Mphongolo River was a welcome surprise, as these large but skittish antelope are rarely seen by visitors to the Kruger Park.

Almost back at Punda Maria that evening we had a thrilling encounter with a young lion walking past a herd of elephant on the Dzundwini Loop (photo here).

See the lion?

See the lion?

Dinner was followed by some more time spent photographing Punda Maria’s nightlife instead of sleeping…

Genet, Punda Maria

Genet, Punda Maria

Milky Way

Milky Way above Punda Maria

But all good things come to an end and Kruger said goodbye with a magic sunrise on our way to Punda Maria Gate and back to Pretoria. Wouldn’t a scene like this also just convince that you need to get back here as soon as possible?Β Yes, we are already planning our next visit to Kruger National Park…

Punda Maria sunrise

Punda Maria sunrise

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30 thoughts on “Kruger National Park, September 2013.

  1. chrisstov

    What a feast of pictures you provided in this post from that rather splendid portrait of an elephant’s head to that picture of that flock of quelea. Then penultimately finishing up with the milky way.
    Beautiful!

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  2. whk139

    Thanks for the post and images. We will be leaving for an almost two stay in the Northern part of the Kruger. Not sure what to expect because I am so spoiled with Kgalagadi which is a photographer’s paradise. But let us see.

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    1. de Wets Wild Post author

      If the sightings we had is any indication you’re sure to enjoy it very much Willem!
      We’re waiting in anticipation to see the beautiful photographs you’ll be coming back with πŸ˜‰

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  3. mjculverphotography

    Wow what an amazingly beautiful collection of photographs Dries. Lovely. What you call Impala lillies we call Sabi Star or Desert Rose. Ours grows in a pot and has a huge root ball in which it stores its water. Unfortunately it’s had too much water with all the recent rains so it has put more effort into putting out foliage and less into flowering. Usually it’s covered in flowers. The Milky Way is just beautiful. It’s hard to chose a favorite among these beauties. The night time shots are very special. Such a richness in nature that you always share with us. Fabulous dear de Wets. πŸ™‚

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