We said goodbye to our little rondavel, moved the table so we could retrieve our biltong and drinks for the cooler for the day, and at 5:45 we were waiting at the gate so we could get good seats in the Lake Panic hide and watch the morning activities there. It was wonderful again, so much going on, but the whole rest of the park was out there waiting for us, and so we took our last photos and headed back out onto the roads.
No big cats again today, but plenty of other animals, and loads and loads of elephants, many of them crossing the road. We saw the cutest young zebras, and some male kudus with the most beautiful horns. We came across some terrapins sunning themselves on a hippo, and lots of very elegant giraffes.
The roads are certainly crowded, and for the most part the drivers are courteous and respectful of the animals. However, not everyone is well behaved. We were down to 3 cars at that stage, and the 3 of us came across some elephants in the road. We positioned ourselves so that we had a good view of the elephants, but that we gave them enough space not to feel threatened, and also so that other cars could get a good view too. The elephants didn’t seem to be in a hurry to get anywhere fast, and nor were we, so we sat in the car munching on biltong and admiring how amazing elephants are. Suddenly out of nowhere a lady in a blue van sped by us, managing to squeeze between the cars, and positioning herself right at the front, encroaching on the elephants, and totally blocking our view. I though she might be in a hurry to get somewhere, but it became clear that she just felt entitled to get a better view than everyone else. In doing so, she was clearly annoying the elephants, and putting herself and the rest of us in danger should the elephants have decided to retaliate.
The largest elephant did some head shaking and ear flapping at her car, but luckily was not inclined to go any further in expressing his dislike of her behavior. However, Kevin didn’t waste any time telling her what he thought of her behavior. I was so proud of him. He has such a strong sense of respect for all animals, and is not afraid to take a stand when people are just not acting right.
After the elephant incident it was skottle time again, this time we went to the Nkulu picnic site. This is situated on the Sabie River, and is another lovely spot. The only issue with it is that monkeys tend to hang out there, and if you aren’t careful they will make off with your lunch. Sure enough, just after we arrived and were setting up, a monkey grabbed some fruit from the family next to us.
On the other side of us was another family who we noticed were not supervising their young children who were running all over the place, and being quite intrusive. Suddenly one of the little boys started chasing a monkey with a stick, and his parents were laughing. Suddenly 2 other monkeys joined the monkey and the 3 of them turned around and started chasing the boy. No one was laughing then. Luckily the monkeys soon lost interest, seeing fruit on someone else’s table and grabbed some apples and headed up the nearest tree. The monkeys showed no interest at all in our delicious lunch, I guess scrambled eggs in just not their kind of cuisine.
Although there is patchy cell phone service throughout the park, there is very good coverage in the camps and picnic areas. Usually we turn off our cellular data when we are abroad, trying to avoid horrendous roaming fees. However our brand new and improved data plan includes free international roaming and text messages, so I had been taking advantage of this to check my email when we were in a good coverage area. This was a mistake. There I was having a blissful time over lunch in the bush, and I end up reading an email about issues that have to be dealt with at work. I was so annoyed with myself for being so addicted to technology, and for letting it intrude on my enjoyment of the bush. Free data or not, I resolved that I would not check work emails on my next vacation. I very much doubt whether I will be able to keep that promise.
We spent the afternoon slowly wending our way to the Crocodile Bridge camp, getting there in good time to check in, stock up on supplies at the shop (more wine needed), off load the coolers, and jump back in the car to take a quick drive to a nearby dam to watch the sunset before the gates to the camp close.
Crocodile Bridge was my favorite camp. We had rondavels right near the fence along the Crocodile River, looking at the Crocodile Railway Bridge. The bridge is missing a large section, so hopefully it is not in use anymore, because you would simply plummet into the river if you did.
There were hippos in the river, and they obliged us by making loud snortling hippo noises. I love that sound. I have fond memories of the days when we would go to the game park with overseas visitors, and Dad would scare them by making very loud, realistic hippo sounds outside their tents. Mum thought it was cruel and tried to stop him from doing it, but he couldn’t help himself, and he continued to sneak out of the tent in the middle of the night and harass people.
The rondavels are bigger than the Skukuza ones, and there was a cage around the outside fridge, which ensured that the monkeys could not get inside.
We had another wonderful barbecue, and were joined by a hyena on the other side of the fence. We named him Humphrey, and he clearly decided that instead of scavenging for food in the far reaches of the park, he could entice us to share our feast with him. He was out of luck, and despite making multiple appearances on the other side of the fence he had to go away empty handed, well really empty mouthed.
I fell asleep to the sound of the hippos, hoping that the fence was secure enough to keep them on their side of the fence.
Did we miss Day 4?
I haven’t heard of the skottles before. Looks really interesting. Are these available at all the picnic sites? Do you just show up and rent one (price?, cash, I assume). Is a hot lunch like that a regular thing for most people. Obviously still need to research more on the whole self-drive safari experience.
All of the picnic sites have them, You just show up and rent them form the guy there. I think they cost about R35 – 50 to rent, and the best thing is the guy who rents them cleans them afterward! It’s like a gas wok – we would do chopped onions and mushrooms, sausages and polony, tomatoes, and toast on them. You can also fry eggs. We also had a frying pan for scrambled eggs. As there were from between 10 to 26 of us, we usually rented 2 or 3. It’s fun to cook in the bush – but it does mean taking a cooler and cooking utensils along with you. Both South Sabie and Skukuza have good restaurants, so this is an option if you don’t want to cook. A lot of people do use skittles to make a hot lunch, or else they bring a cold picnic along with them and eat it at the picnic site.