Kruger 2020 diary – day 10

Notes for readers:

  • Diary entries are written in first person as they were composed in real time.
  • The “we” refers to me and a lifelong friend, Razz Rasberry, who has always wanted to see African wildlife.
  • This is one of a series of posts chronicling my March, 2020 visit to the Kruger over 11 days and 10 nights.
  • For reference, I posted the below map of Kruger National Park

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We hit the jackpot this morning with lions and hyenas not far south of Skukuza: first, a lone male lion on the road, then a big family of hyenas loafing in and by the road, and finally a small pride of three female and one male lion.

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A lion marks its territory
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Lion pride on the road south from Skukuza to Berg-en-Dal; not early morning long shadows
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Lions completely ignore us and the car passing by, even when brushing the side of the vehicle
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Hyena family

Turning onto the road to Berg-en-Dal Camp, we finally saw a rhino, albeit just disappearing into the Lowveld bush. But even a fleeting look confirmed unmistakably a White Rhinoceros, though not even Razz’s fast reflexes yielded a good photo.

And that wrapped up Razz’s photo safari checklist of the Big Five (buffalo, lion, leopard, elephant, and rhino) as well as every other major predator (cheetah, hyena, wild dog) and most every large mammal. I am very happy for Razz that his trip was so richly rewarding! Wildlife drives are exercises in reconnaissance, never guaranteed to actually see the great variety we have witnessed.

So the complete list of species seen today so far includes:

  • Lion
  • Hyena
  • Warthog
  • Zebra
  • Elephant
  • Mongoose
  • Impala
  • Wildebeest
  • Rhinoceros
  • Bushbuck
  • Buffalo
  • Waterbuck

The drive today took us through some gorgeous landscapes, such as this one looking southeast from Berg-en-Dal towards Mozambique:

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Today is our last full day of looking for animals. We return the Avis car tomorrow at noon to the Skukuza airport and fly to Johannesburg to connect to our nonstop Delta flight to Atlanta, then RDU.

We have driven 2,041 kilometers so far, or about 1,265 miles in 10 days. That’s 126.5 miles per day at a max of 30 mph on tarred roads and legal max of 25 mph on unimproved roads. Plus ample time stopping, of course, to watch the wildlife. In time, most days we drove 530am until 230pm, or 9 hours per day. It was very productive.

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Skukuza’s Cattle Baron pavilion overhanging the Sabie River, a 3-minute walk from our riverside rondavels
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The famous Selati Railway bridge over the Sabie River is being made into an overwater hotel
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Our riverside table at the Cattle Baron Restaurant hangs over the Sabie River

And very cheap. With the South African Rand at 15 to the US dollar, the fabulous blackened pepper fillet flambe on the fancy Cattle Baron menu (see menu photo), which comes with roasted potatoes, pureed sweet potatoes, and creamed African spinach, was R175 for the 200g “small” (.4 lbs).

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Part of the Cattle Baron menu at Skukuza
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Blackened pepper filet flambe at the Cattle Baron was phenomenally delicious!

That’s $11.67 for a meal to die for. The steak was cooked to perfection, tender, among the best cut of beef I’ve ever enjoyed anywhere on earth. An ideal way to end this ideal visit to the Kruger.

But this isn’t the end of our Kruger wildlife adventure.  Tomorrow morning we will drive south again to Berg-en-Dal for breakfast, along the way hoping to see a rhino or two a bit closer.  Then we head back to the Skukuza Airport at noon.

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