Thursday 2 October Kruger National Park and Friday 3 October Kruger to Johannesburg

Thursday 2 October Kruger National Park
After a good night’s sleep, we were up at 5.00am to get organised for our early morning Game Drive. After a cuppa, we headed off to see what we could find although we were without our tracker, Omega, as he hurt his knee yesterday.
Allan told us that there had been a brief sighting of some Rhino last night and so he suggested that we set off to see if we could find them in the area they had been seen. We crossed the river on a narrow one lane wooden bridge and before too long, he found some Rhino tracks and we followed them for some time, going in and out of seldom used tracks to try and find them.
We saw some Impala, Bushbuck a Gray Duika, African Fish Eagle, a larger Male Bushbuck and then we found some elephants, including a mother and her baby. We also saw 2 young male elephants, who were lagging at the back of the herd.
We continued to track the rhinos along the river where we saw a large male crocodile basking in the sun on a sandbank in the middle of the river – we watched him for a while and then he slid into the water and glided away.
We continued our search for the elusive rhino and eventually, we spotted them in amongst some trees and rocks, a fair distance of the track – they looked just like big rocks until we got closer. There was a male, a female and a baby White Rhino and we sat with the motor off, watching them while they grazed. We were also fascinated by the Red Billed Oxpeckers who were actually sitting on the face of the mother rhinoceros, eating the insects off her face.
After watching them for a while, Allan suggested that we could continue to look for animals even although it was time to get back for our late breakfast – of course we agreed to this! We met up with our other Tinga Lodge groups near the river as they had spotted a large pod of hippopotamus in the water. We had a cuppa and a snack with them while Allan and one of the other trackers headed off to check the area. By this time is was well after 9.00am and we had been out for three hours, so the men were easily able to “spend a penny” and the two other ladies in our group, Clare and Jan, and Sandy decided that they needed to do likewise so they found a bush nearby.
Allan and the other driver arrived back and announced that we were going to WALK down to the river, in single file, with Allan and one of the other drivers at the front, both with rifles and a tracker at the back. We were told we had be to be extremely quiet as there were s few elephants on our side of the river and also that they needed to be able to hear any lions.
We made our way to the river through long dried grass, small shrubs and trees and found the pod of hippos on the other side of the river. There was a dominant male, several females and a few babies. We watched them for a while and then made our way back to our vehicles and drove further along the track beside the river, when we spotted a breeding herd of elephants on the other side of the river. Allan drove the 4WD down through the bush to the edge of the river along with another of our vehicles and we were all delighted when they all walked down into the river, crossed over to our side and then walked right past the front of our vehicles, disappearing into the bush. There were 5 females and 3 or 4 calves and we got some awesome photos!
Our adventure hadn’t ended yet and we headed off to follow some Black Rhino tracks to see if we could track it down to no avail. We found a big Male Elephant that made threatening gestures and came fairly close to our vehicle – Allan later told us he was not concerned as there was a small ditch between us that would have slowed the elephant if it really been serious about harming us. We got some amazing close up photos.
One of Allan’s associated radioed him to tell him that a lion had been seen in a particular area but had gone bush, so we headed off to find him. After a while, we found him and went off-track again to get closer to him. While we were stopped, he walked around the vehicle, eyeing us off and was less than a metre away from us and then he walked backwards and forwards sniffing at the grass. When he headed into the bush, Allan drove back out and onto the track and explained that this Lion would have been trying to find his brother and they must have gotten separated. As we headed off, we saw the lion’s brother heading back towards him, so we went back to see the two of them greeting each other by nuzzling each other’s faces.
After an awesome morning game drive, we arrived back at Tinga Lodge at 10.15am for a very late scrumptious breakfast in the open dining room. While we were having our breakfast, a couple of bush monkeys came onto the verandah and were trying to steal food but were being chased away by the staff. However, one cheeky monkey managed to quickly jump onto the table next to us and steal a muffin out of the basket before anyone had a chance to stop him – lots of squeals and laughter! A vote was taken and it was decided to skip lunch, making our next meal High Tea at 3.30pm.
We returned to our lovely room at 11.00am and spent the rest of the time relaxing and catching up with our blog as well as sorting through our awesome photos!
While sitting on the lounge, sorting out our photos, we saw a whole herd of elephants walking between our room and the river about 20 metres away!! We quickly grabbed the camera and went out on the deck to take photos. One of them stopped to eat some of the tree that was just outside our fence.
At 3.30pm, we joined the others for High Tea and then headed out on our last Game Drive here at Sabi Sands. Our driver, Allan, advised us that Wantit would be our tracker for this afternoon. We headed off to try and find the Black Rhino that had been reported to be in a specific area, but despite searching for quite a long while, we didn’t get to see this endangered animal or the Buffalo that we tried to find. However, we did see some male Nyalas, Kudus, a Black Breasted Eagle, a Yellow Billed Hornbill and a Male Giraffe. We stopped down by the Sabie River for our last Sundowners here – the colours of the river were beautiful.
At approximately 7.15pm, Allan took us to the Boma area, where we had a lovely African three-course outdoor bush dinner, which was set in natural surroundings. The staff went to a lot of trouble to set up the area – they had tables in a large semi-circle so that each of our 4WD groups and our driver could eat dinner together and the whole area was set up with lanterns, all under the African night sky, a unique taste of Africa.
Our stay at Tinga Lodge at Sabi Sands has been a unique and awesome experience that we will treasure.

Friday 3 October Kruger National Park to Johannesburg
This morning, as there was a slight delay in the arrival of the 4WD to pick up our luggage, our driver took us on a quick trip through one area of the Sabi Sand Game Reserve in the hope that we may see a leopard in the daylight. We saw lots of Nyala, Kudu and some little Grey Daika, but no leopards. We were not disappointed as we have seen so many animals at Sabi Sand and leave there with many special memories. He took us to the transfer area where our luggage was loaded onto our bus and we set off just after 7.00am.
We travelled on the Panorama Route, which starts at Graskop and includes “God’s Window”, the Pinnacle, Blyde River Canyon and Bourke’s Luck Potholes.
The Blyde River Canyon, which is 30 kilometres in length, consists mostly of red sandstone and is approximately 1383 metres deep.
Blyde River Canyon is the third largest in the world and is said to be the largest “Green Canyon” because of its lush subtropical foliage. It has some of the deepest precipitous cliffs of any canyon and is the second largest in Africa, after the Fish River Canyon, and is known as one of the great wonders of nature on the continent.
Unfortunately, we were not able to stop at “God’s Window” to see the spectacular views over Blyde River Canyon because the lookout was shrouded in mist. However, we did still get to see the Canyon later on.
We continued on to Bourke’s Luck Potholes, where centuries of water flowing through the landscape has carved out a dramatic and intricate series of natural rock formations and inter-connected pools. The potholes occur when the Treur River joins the Blyde River at the start of the Blyde River Canyon and the force of the water in these two rivers, together with the particles of sand and rock, wears cylindrical potholes into the sandstone bedrock. We were impressed with this amazing sight as we walked down a path and over some bridges spanning the deep gorges where we were able to get some great photographs, although they wont do it justice as it was overcast and the day was quite dull.
We then drive on to a lookout over the “Three Rondavels”, the deep Blyde River Canyon and the Blyde River. The Three Rondavels are huge natural round rock spirals that rise 700 metres out of the canyon wall. They are thought to be reminiscent of the houses or huts of the indigenous people, known as rondavels. From the lookout the views over part of the Canyon were amazing, but once again, because of the overcast weather, the photos are not vibrant.
We stopped for lunch at Dullstroom and just as we were leaving there, it started to rain quite heavily, which made the journey to Johannesburg a bit slower. We drove through a town called Belfast, which harvests 60 million tulip bulbs and sends them to Holland – interesting!!
Today, we drove through Forestry Pine Plantations, banana and fruit groves and farming communities.
We arrived at Johannesburg at 6. 45pm, having left Sabi Sands at 7.00am.
We checked into our hotel, The D’Oreale Grande, which has Emperors Palace Casino attached to it. We brought our hand luggage up to our room and then went for a wander to the Casino complex, which not only has a Casino, but has a huge Food Court area, with lots of different restaurants and entertainment. The complex also has shops, a big children’s area and even a theatre complex. After wandering around for a while, we decided to go back to our room and just have a light dinner and do our blog and photos.

3 Responses to “Thursday 2 October Kruger National Park and Friday 3 October Kruger to Johannesburg”

  1. Katharine says:

    Stop having so much fun!!

  2. Paul Sutton says:

    Great trip and excellent reporting. Don’t listen to Katharine – have a blast!! Great to see you enjoying the trip so much. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Liana says:

    What an experience! I’m SO glad for you! Excellent sightings and beautiful pics – I’ve never seen a leopard with it’s catch up in a tree. Must have been a special night drive! 😉
    Enjoy the rest of your trip, will catch up later xx

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