7 Weeks in Kruger: Serendipitous Shingwedzi
The second rest camp in my epic Kruger National Park trip was Shingwedzi - and some wonderful fortune turned bad news into amazing sightings…!
Late on my first day in the area, I got a puncture on the low concrete causeway across the Shingwedzi River. Rather typically, I was surrounded by crocodiles so had to soldier on across the bridge and up the other side before I could change it. Dusty and covered in grease, I contacted the rental company and, after much negotiation, we agreed I would travel to Phalaborwa Gate to meet them and switch vehicles - quite why they don’t just bring a new wheel I have no idea!
I was quite frustrated with all this - it was a 350km round trip for me and at least half would be on main tarred roads where sightings aren’t always that common, so a potentially wasted day beckoned.
Wow was I wrong!! Serendipity struck and some of the best sightings I’ve had so far happened on this journey. Check this out...
Wild dogs are an endangered species and any sighting in Kruger is always a highlight. I encountered this lone dog on the H1-6. He appeared to have lost his pack as he was just trotting along the road, occasionally stopping to sniff around and making incredibly loud whining noises. I tracked him like this for over 2km before he finally seemed to catch a scent of the pack, his tail up and barking excitedly before sprinting off into the bush and scaring a herd of zebra into a panic!
Such a wonderful sighting.
On the return journey from Phalaborwa Gate, I achieved something I’ve tried many times in Kruger but without success - finding the roan antelope! I spotted a herd of about ten individuals in the mopane bush near the Tsendze Bush Camp area.
My feelings were summed up by an older South Africa man who stopped to ask what I was looking at - after showing him where to look he got visibly emotional and said that he’d been coming to Kruger for 40-years and had never seen them, thanking me profusely! Wonderful stuff and the community aspect of being in place like this can be really special too.
40-years and had never seen roan antelope... I drove away pretty happy with myself, turning onto the nearby S50 and encountering… a second herd of roan!! Sheer disbelief - two herds of roan in less than 45-minutes is just beyond belief. And this time I was able to see them in the open and get a superb photo of one of the adults.
So what else has Shingwedzi thrown up? I hope you’ve read the Elephant School blog post I posted earlier this week, plus there has been countless more interesting sightings…
This gallery shows...
- A beautiful kudu taken on the causeway over the Shingwedzi River (seconds before getting a puncture!)
- The spotted hyena was a nice finish to my big drive back from changing the vehicle - what a day!
- Dry season brings incredible water pressure for the animals, as shown by these impala desperately sipping water from the tiniest of water sources.
- Rains did finally arrive and this vervet monkey had to keep her little one warm.
- The rains also meant the hippos emerged from the rivers to graze during the day and fall asleep wherever they pleased!
It’s been excellent in Shingwedzi - it’s a beautiful part of the park and I’ve seen a huge amount of wildlife. Next stop is Mopani Rest Camp and its stunning views over the Pioneer Dam.
That means taking the wonderful S50 to get there - one of my favourite roads in Kruger… check in on the next blog post for the photos from what was an incredible day’s viewing!
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