The Easter break afforded us the opportunity to visit South Africa’s flagship National Park, and one of our favourite destinations, again, spending first three nights at Skukuza Rest Camp in the south of the Kruger National Park, and then four nights around Mopani Rest Camp in the north. After a summer of apparently good rainfall, the Park’s vegetation is lush and green, with water in ample supply. These conditions make searching for wildlife a bit trickier, but it is wonderful to see the Park transformed from the harrowing effects of the recent drought that is still so fresh in our minds.
Sunset on the Shongololo Loop
Sunrise over a pan near Mopani
Sabie Bridge from Skukuza
Sabie Bridge near Skukuza
Water lilies in Skukuza
Water lily in Skukuza
Sausage Tree Fruit
The Kruger National Park is renowned for its Big-5 sightings. There isn’t very many other places where one can so easily find completely wild lions, leopards, elephants, buffaloes and rhinos from the comfort of your own vehicle, at your own pace and according to your own schedule. And then there’s always a chance that you may cross paths with a magnificent big tusker!
White rhino’s poor attempt at hiding
Lion near Skukuza
Lion with his zebra meal, just outside Satara
Lioness pacing the H4-1 between Skukuza and Lower Sabie
Pride of lions at Kumana Dam
Leopard near Lower Sabie
Leopard in a tree south of Skukuza
Buffalo near Mopani
Buffalo in the rain
Trio of buffalo bulls
Elephant near Mopani
Unknown Kruger Tusker (2018/03/21)
Testing their strength
Just a little irritated
Walking along the Ngwenyeni
Elephants on the way to Phalaborwa Gate
Elephant bull enjoying a puddle near Mopani
Young elephant interactions
Crossing the Letaba River
Tiny baby next to mom
Testing the wind
The deep water in the reservoir is much cooler than that in the trough
On the other side of the scale are those less frequently noticed smaller critters (“creepy crawlies” or “goggas” as we call them), that fairly seldom feature on any of the Kruger visitors’ sightings wish-lists. They may be small and unobtrusive, but they are certainly no less fascinating than the glamorous Big-5. We already shared with your the exciting scenes of a Western Stripe-bellied Sand Snake catching and swallowing a skink in Shingwedzi, but there’s plenty more to see if you bend your knees!
Western Stripe-bellied Sand Snake swallowing a skink in Shingwedzi
Common River Frog in Skukuza
Painted Reed Frog in Skukuza
Plain Grass Frog at Twanana
Cricket perfectly imitating a mopane leaf
Serrated Hinged Terrapin
Juvenile Mozambique Tilapia in the Tsendze River
The Mopani area is well-known for prized sightings of the rarer antelope species, and we weren’t disappointed on that score either, ticking bushbuck, nyala, eland, tsessebe, reedbuck and roan antelope on our list.
Eland near Bowkerskop
Eland at Tinhongonyeni
Roan antelope in the dense mopane near Middelvlei
Southern Reedbuck in the Nshawu Vlei
Tsessebe at Mooiplaas
Tsessebe at Nshawu
Nyala near Skukuza
Bushbuck near Skukuza
Bushbuck mingling with baboons and impala along the Sand River
The lush vegetation made it very challenging to see the smaller antelope species. We managed to photograph steenbok, grey duiker and klipspringer, but unfortunately the grysbok just weren’t willing to pose for a picture this time around.
There’s quite a few herbivore species that you are virtually guaranteed to see when visiting the Kruger National Park. Among these are baboons and vervet monkeys, blue wildebeest, plains zebra, impala, kudu, waterbuck, giraffe, warthog and hippo.
Wet Baboon after a rainstorm
Baboon youngsters at speed!
Hippo eyeing us from the Sabie River
Waterbuck Bull on the bank of the Sabie
Waterbuck cows and calves
Of course, with such a menu there are many predators in attendance. Apart from lions and leopards, on our latest visit we also encountered spotted hyena, side-striped and black-backed jackal, crocodile and large-spotted genet.
Nile crocodile at Sunset Dam
Nile crocodile at Sunset Dam
Large-spotted Genet patrolling outside our bungalow at Skukuza
Spotted Hyena cub
Spotted Hyena cub and mother
Spotted Hyena cubs with a bone
The Kruger National Park is regarded as a paradise for bird-watchers, and that is not without reason. During the warmer months especially, when many summer migrants from northern latitudes enjoy our warm weather, the variety and numbers of bird species to be seen is absolutely prolific, but even in winter feathered life abounds in the Lowveld.
African Mourning Dove on a nest at Satara
White-faced Whistling Ducks
Black-chested Snake Eagle
Ground Hornbill juvenile
Verreaux’s Eagle Owl
Yellow-billed Oxpecker on a festering wound
Long-tailed Paradise Whydah
Lesser Grey Shrike
Male Red-backed Shrike
White-backed Vultures in a tree near a carcass
African Pied wagtail
Greater Painted Snipe
The Kruger National Park is an addictive place. You only need to visit once for it to get under your skin, and stay there. The more you experience of Kruger’s wonders, the more you pine for it. We’ll be back again and again, no question about it.