Kruger: Punda Maria Gate to Shingwedzi Camp

Tuesday 23rd: picked up at 6:30 by Dave and Eldie for our trip to the northern Punda Maria gate at Kruger National Park, some 500 Km north east of Pretoria. We arrived at about 1 pm have not seen any wild mammals (well, Eldie did see something). The first of many elephants was about 300m inside the park, blocking the road.

We drove south about 70 Km to the next camp, Shingwedzi, where we had a cabin and met our companions for the next three days. The mega sighting on the way (and mammal sighting of the trip) was a leopard that walked nontionately across the road, then stopped and the neck hairs rose. It charged into the bushes after some duiker, and we drove closer to be met by a cold stare. It watched us for a couple of minutes then departed slowly, crossing the road again and disappeared into the bush. Stunned by this rare sighting we continued to the Shingwedzi camp arriving 15 minutes before the gates closed.

Bbq, or Braai as they are called in Southern Africa are based on wood fires rather than charcoal. We were joined by Alina, Evelyn and Rolf, three postdocs respectively Swiss, Belgian and German from Eldie's former group in microbiology. We could hear the local pygmy owl, Pearl-spotted Owlet, and I spotted a larger owl, an African Wood-Owl, slightly larger than a Tawny Owl. It sat on a post long enough for Dave to take an excellent flash photo. Night sounds included an Eagle Owl, probably Verreaux's, a hyena and we saw a pair of eyes, probably a Genet, sitting outside the electric fence looking in towards the camp.