Tag Archives: Mopani Rest Camp

Wrapping up the “Dads Trip to Mopani”

Middle-May presented an opportunity to visit one of my favourite corners of the Kruger National Park with three very good friends. We set off early on the Friday morning and returned the following Monday, having had a thoroughly enjoyable time exploring the wilds around Mopani Rest Camp. I’ve already shared with you some of what we saw – the exhilarating waterbuck fight, a towering elephant bull owning the road and the love of a mother hyena for her cubs – but of course in a paradise like Kruger there’s still much more to be seen, and shared!

When going to northern Kruger, apart from Impalas, there are three things you just KNOW you are going to see: Elephants, Buffaloes and Hippos!

Among all the beautiful elephants we saw, our most prized sightings were of Masasana and Ndlovane, two of the big tuskers that call the Kruger National Park home.

Early on the Saturday morning we thought we were going to be extremely lucky and see a pride of Lions take down a Blue Wildebeest at Tinhongonyeni waterhole. A passing rain shower however dampened the lions’ appetites and they went off to search for a drier spot among the dense mopane trees close-by.

Apart from the lions there were several predators in evidence around Mopani on this visit, with Black-backed Jackals and Spotted Hyenas being especially common.

And of course all those hungry meat-eater mouths rely on a steady supply of herbivores, which Mopani has no shortage of, especially around Tinhongonyeni and Mooiplaas Waterholes and in the marshland along the course of the Nshawu stream.

Kruger is always a paradise to birdwatchers, even now that most of the summer migrants have departed for warmer climes.

We always try to pay special attention to the interesting world of smaller creatures so often overlooked in a wild place like Kruger.

And then on the other side of the scale is the Park’s magnificent scenery!

The Kruger National Park is such a special place, and what a wonderful experience it was to share a piece of it with good friends!

 

Even hyenas need a loving family

These tender moments shared by a Spotted Hyena female and her two small cubs, seen on a recent weekend visit to the Mopani region of the Kruger National Park, is another one of the reasons why we keep going back to the Park as often as we can. It also made the four dads in the car really miss their own “cubs” back home…

Elephants have right of way. Are you going to argue?

Just after sunrise last Sunday, while driving in the Mopani area of the Kruger National Park, we encountered this enormous Elephant bull in musth staking his claim to the narrow road. He was on his way to Mooiplaas waterhole and did not have any intention of letting four humans in a tiny (by his standards) metal cocoon derail his plans. In the end he made us reverse for over a kilometer before veering off towards the water.

Waterbuck Duel at Dusk

While visiting the Mopani area of the Kruger National Park this past weekend, we (myself and three very good friends) came across these waterbuck bulls involved in a massive fight about a patch of the Nshawu Vlei (marsh) and the eligible cows that inhabit it. As is the case with several antelope species in the Park, their rutting season will be coming to an end soon and these bulls are quite desperate to sire their share of the calves that will be born towards the end of the year.

Easter in Kruger

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.

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!

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!

The Mopani area is well-known for prized sightings of the rarer antelope species, and we weren’t disappointed on that score either, ticking bushbucknyalaeland, tsessebe, reedbuck and roan antelope on our list.

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.

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.

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.

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.

 

Our 2016 in pictures

Looking back on another year of enjoying South Africa’s beautiful wild places!