So now we begin the second part of our Kruger trip. We left Satara hot and praying for some reprieve in the heat. Optimistic we would have some relief as some rain was forecast we journeyed on. On route we stopped at one of our favourite picnic stops, Mooiplaas. This was our breakfast stop. It is situated near Mopani and Tzendzi rest camp. Its beautiful, often visited by elephants which lend to close encounters. When visiting the parks, remember that you are in the wild. A picnic site does not mean dangerous animals are not present. Just two years ago I walked out a bathroom at a picnic site to be greeted 2m away by a hyena. I was terrified. So if you are stopping over, please DO NOT let your kids out your site. These sites are open to all kinds of visitors. At Mooiplaas this day we had elephants within a few meters, these are not as comfortable with humans as in Addo, so it was horrifying to see little kids running around unattended.
After breakfast (consisting of the previous nights supper), we continued on to Shingwedzi. This was our first visit this north of Kruger. We have preferred to slowly work our way up, especially with little kids and less resources up north. We have also slowly become more confident in the wild. We are more naturally cautious parents and feel we – and our kids – need to earn the right to explore more wild areas, especially because we camp and do not usually have the luxury of more formal accommodation. This is the trade off we make in order to afford our lifestyle.
Shingwedzi was all it promised. It was hot and sunny on arrival but the promise of rain was in the air. We enjoyed the large pool and camp was set. We went scorpion hunting with our uv light and got our first large tail scorpion, on the way to the bathroom – and the same colour as the ground… For your info – the bigger the tail the more scared you should be. Our kids were reminded not to walk anywhere without closed shoes..
My awesome Sister (in law) and I enjoyed our sundowner in perfect conditions. We started the braai, on a perfect fence site, spectacular. Well… so we thought. Our moment of perfection was very quickly turned into serious panic and madness. We will forever remember this night. Wow. It was a lesson in summer storms and rain. First we had the wind – a sure sign the rain was coming. The scary thing was the open fire on a typical Kruger tripod fire stand, well, it blew over…. into the bush a few centimetres from the fence. Jason burned his hand badly trying to grab the stand, while the rest of us rushed around for a combination of sand and water to extinguish it. All this whilst the wind continued at gale force, blowing our neighbours shelters over – threatening serious damage if blown onto a person. So with sparks flying and craziness abound we managed to safely kill the fire. In desperation we took the larger pieces of burnt wood to restart a MUCH SMALLER fire for the quickest braai in history – out of harms (and bush) way. It was one of our craziest camping moments, but more beckoned.
It started to rain… and we were preoccupied with food and wine and togetherness. After a few glasses, settling the nerves, lots of laughter at what happened, and general camping banter we looked down to discover our shoes in water. The water level had risen at a crazy rate. We have heard about sudden weather changes and giggled at other campers in Satara that had dug a moat around their camp site, wondering how this would be necessary? Oh Lord did we learn the hard way. Very quickly Jay got his spade out to start digging as our tents started to float. It was crazy, and I was so glad I was able to capture it on film. Granted it is edited to make it child friendly 😊
Our kids slept through most of it. While My brother and Jay work tirelessly – burnt hand and all – digging our trench. Jayne frantically saved her tent content and I filmed. Our tent proved to be water tight (thank you Ivan and Gerry). It was a moment to remember.
The next day we cautiously got out to see what the damage was. It was a long night. All was safe. We could exhale.
We prepared for our long day trip to Pafuri, the most northern region of Kruger and a must do. It was a long drive. Car snack and picnic stops essential. Babalala Picnic spot was great for breakfast and we continued to Pafuri for lunch. The rain had stopped in the early hours so the ground was mostly drained. We were in awe of the place, a garden of Eden. It is a mystical place, truly enchanting. Please look at the video and pictures attached – our favourites. In one word, enchanting.
On our drive out we discovered the entry gate to Pafuri had been closed (the same one that was open when we arrived) and we nervously had to drive a few deep puddles on the S63 on our way to crooks corner and then out. Fortunately we there were a few cars trapped with us so we knew we would find a way out eventually.
To explain our labelling on our videos, Kruger roads are marked by letters and numbers. We have tried to label our videos so you can reference where we were. The Tinkers guide is the best, short reference guide. They are photographers and the guide is great for tips on sightings and photography (www.tinkers.co.za). The Kruger Self Drive, by the Van den Berg’s. is a more detailed account, we have both and others 😊
When planning your trip I normally look at the number of routes from a rest camp and book a likewise number of days. This is always too little. One day we will travel for months on end in Africa… one day…
Shingwedzi proved to be amazing for the summer bird life. We had amazing experiences with excellent photography. It has all predators, but more antelope and bird life, so odds are not with you if you want cats.
On the next day we enjoyed exploring the Shingwedzi region, including Redrocks. It is scenic and beautiful.
We only spent 3 nights here, with only two full days in the area. We will be back…