Tag Archives: Shingwedzi Rest Camp

Western Stripe-bellied Sand Snake

Psammophis subtaeniatus

One of the most exciting and memorable sightings of our Easter trip to the Kruger National Park took place right in front of the reception office at Shingwedzi Rest Camp. We watched as a Western Stripe-bellied Sand Snake (aka Western Yellow-bellied Sand Snake) stalked, caught, killed and swallowed a skink – the whole episode playing out within perhaps ten minutes at the most.

This was a fairly large specimen of this slender species, which grows to around a metre in length. Western Stripe-bellied Sand Snakes are strictly diurnal, equally at home on the ground or in low trees and shrubs, and extremely fast moving. Aside from lizards they will also prey on frogs, small birds and rodents, which they dispatch with a dose of mild venom (not lethal to humans though).

Females lay between 4 and 10 eggs in summer, and probably lives for between 5 and 10 years in the wild.

The Western Stripe-bellied Sand Snake is described as widespread and common by the IUCN, which considers it to be of least concern. It is distributed from southern Angola and northern Namibia through to Swaziland and South Africa (North West, Limpopo, Gauteng, Mpumalanga and possibly northern Kwazulu-Natal), occurring in a variety of savanna types and being especially closely associated with mopane veld (such as which occurs around Shingwedzi).

While visiting Marakele National Park over Easter in 2019, we encountered another Western Stripe-bellied Sand Snake at the Thutong Environmental Education Centre, and watched as it searched, this time unsuccessfully, for a lizard to catch.

 

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Summer heat at Shingwedzi

After three enjoyable nights in Olifants‘ spectacularly situated unit 14, we had only a third of our December holiday in the Kruger National Park left. Happily that didn’t depress our mood too much, as we would be spending the last three nights in our beloved Shingwedzi Rest Camp.

Soon after leaving Olifants, we came across a cantankerous hippo bull blocking the road to the north. While waiting for him to get out of the way, in his own time of course, a rustle in the dry mopane leaves beside the roads alerted us to a hyena that was also waiting for the traffic to clear…

Our plan was to stop at Mopani for brunch, so we only had a quick cup of coffee and a rusk or two at Letaba, no snakes in sight this time! On the way we couldn’t resist making a quick detour to marvelous Mooiplaas waterhole, as there is always something interesting to see there, and were handsomely rewarded with a couple of tsessebe sightings as well as a blue wildebeest that was having far too much fun rolling around in elephant dung to be considered sane…

Mopani was a delight of feathered friends, with there even being a pair of African Paradise Flycatchers nesting in a tree right between the shop and the Tindlovu restaurant (which serves delicious mince-meat jaffles by the way!)

The final stretch to Shingwedzi delivered special sightings of yet more mating lions, unfortunately spoiled by an idiot who got out of his car to try and get a better photo, as well as a beautiful old tusker.

Whenever we stay at Shingwedzi, there’s only one road we take for our first afternoon drive – a slow drive along the S50 gravel road that follows the river, offering ample opportunity to appreciate the diverse and abundant wildlife that congregate on the river bank. That’s exactly where we pointed the Jazz’s nose after checking into our cottage, number 29, donated by the Wildlife Society in the 1950’s.

Around Shingwedzi the best viewing is usually along the watercourses, which is why we decided on the S56-route along the Mphongolo River for our first morning drive from Shingwedzi.

That afternoon, Red Rocks and Tshange viewpoints to the southwest of camp beckoned.

One last guided nightdrive in search of nocturnal wildlife delivered much better sightings than the windy nightdrive we undertook from Lower Sabie a few days earlier.

By the time the sun rose over the horizon on our last full day in the Park, we were already travelling along the S50-route enjoying the Shingwedzi River’s abundant wildlife and awesome scenery before returning to camp and a late breakfast.

Shingwedzi was nice and quiet in the early morning, as most guests were still out on the road searching for game, giving us an excellent opportunity to amble through the camp.

With such a wide variety of bird and animal life around Shingwedzi it was a rather difficult decision which area we’d drive to on our final afternoon. In the end we opted for the Mphongolo Loop (S56) again, and what a great choice that was! We’ve already shown you pictures of the waterhole meeting between large herds of elephants and buffaloes we witnessed that day. Dodging a couple more elephant and buffalo herds along the way, navigating through several herds of antelope and scanning the landscape for new species of birds to add to our ticklist, we were thrilled that our afternoon was concluded with a leopard lying in wait at a small waterhole.

And so, our time at Kruger National Park has come to an end, for this visit at least as, of course, the next trip has already been booked. All that remained was to drive down to Phalaborwa Gate, from where Pretoria lay a hot six-hour drive away.

 

KNP Dec15

 

 

 

 

Our 2015 in pictures

Looking back at the marvelous places we stayed at while exploring South Africa’s wild places in 2015 😀

 

> Glen Reenen, Golden Gate Highlands National Park, January 2015

> Forever Resorts Loskop Dam, Loskop Dam Nature Reserve, April 2015

> Glen Reenen, Golden Gate Highlands National Park, April 2015

> Kamberg Nature Reserve, uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park, May 2015

> Kgaswane Mountain Reserve, May 2015

> Cape Vidal, iSimangaliso Wetland Park, June 2015

> Mpila, Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park, July 2015

> Lower Sabie, Kruger National Park, July 2015

> Sweni Wilderness Trail, Kruger National Park, July 2015

> Thendele, Royal Natal National Park, uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park, August 2015

> Ntshondwe, Ithala Game Reserve, September 2015

> Mopani Rest Camp, Kruger National Park, October 2015

> Pafuri Border Camp, Kruger National Park, October 2015

> Lower Sabie, Olifants and Shingwedzi, Kruger National Park, December 2015 (trip reports to follow soon!)

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Waterhole meeting

There is always something interesting to see along the Mphongolo River, north of Shingwedzi Rest Camp, and the final afternoon of our recent visit to the Kruger National Park delivered another memorable sighting in this area. At one of the few pools remaining in the rived bed, and with temperatures peaking at a sweltering 40°C, a large herd of elephants and an equally sized herd of buffaloes were converging, and jostling for position at the water and mud (with the elephants obviously winning the contest). Hiding in the middle of the pool was a single crocodile, probably hoping and praying that none of the behemoths notice it!

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If you enjoy de Wets Wild as much as we enjoy sharing our love for South Africa’s wild places and their denizens with you, please vote for us in the 2015 South African Blog Awards.

We’ve entered the categories for “Best Travel Blog” and “Best Environmental Blog”, and you are allowed to vote for us in both. Clicking on the badge below will bring you to the voting site.

SA Blog Awards Badge

Thank you very much for your support!

Surprise osprey at Shingwedzi

We were most excited to find an osprey, a rather uncommon bird in South Africa, fishing at a pool in the Shingwedzi River, just a few kilometers north of Dipene along the S50-route, during our recent visit to the Kruger National Park.

Osprey

It was just one of almost 200 bird species we identified on the ten day trip, and we’ll be telling you all about our visit and sharing many of the special wildlife encounters we enjoyed in the days and weeks ahead here at de Wets Wild!

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If you enjoy de Wets Wild as much as we enjoy sharing our love for South Africa’s wild places and their denizens with you, please vote for us in the 2015 South African Blog Awards.

We’ve entered the categories for “Best Travel Blog” and “Best Environmental Blog”, and you are allowed to vote for us in both. Clicking on the badge below will bring you to the voting site.

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Thank you very much for your support!

Getting to Pafuri

Last week, we were so excited to tell you about our time at Kruger National Park’s newest accommodation offering, the Pafuri Border Camp, that we skipped over the part of our visit leading up to our time in the extreme Far North of the Park.

We’ll take this opportunity to rectify that now.

We arrived at Phalaborwa Gate on the Friday, early enough to allow a slow drive along the H14-road up to Mopani Rest Camp, where we were booked for a one-night stopover on the way to Pafuri Border Camp.

A quick afternoon sojourn past Mooiplaas, the Nshawu Vlei and Tinhongonyeni delivered no less than 6 tsessebe sightings, lots of energetic zebras, good numbers of other animals and birds, and a very dramatic storm brewing over the plains…

That evening we enjoyed a lovely meal at Mopani’s restaurant, the howling wind putting an end to any ideas we might have had of braaiing (the traditional South African barbeque) at our bungalow. Afterwards we searched for nocturnal animals among Mopani’s natural vegetation, and were not disappointed.

Leaving Mopani as soon as the gate opened Saturday morning, under heavy skies accompanied by a constant soft drizzle, we anticipated at least one good predator sighting. Sure enough, near Olifantsbadpan, we had a terrific encounter with two big female spotted hyenas and three of the cutest, most playful cubs you could imagine. Only afterwards did I realise that they were so close to our vehicle that I didn’t manage even one full body photo of them!

We expected to have good sightings of elephants around Shingwedzi, and our favourite rest camp delivered the goods just as we had hoped. It was still raining softly as we set of from Shingwedzi after breakfast, heading northward past Babalala Picnic Spot. The north of the Kruger Park is also well known for its exceptional birdlife and all these special sightings made the long road seem much shorter.

After a quick turn in Punda Maria for lunch, fuel and to stock up on some last minute goodies, we could tackle the last stretch of road to the magical paradise that is Pafuri.

Road to Mopani

Happy Place

A selection of photos from Shingwedzi Rest Camp, in the Kruger National Park. As near as you can get to heaven on earth.

Happy Place” is the theme for this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge