Leopard Kill, Crocodile Bridge to Berg-en-Dal | Kruger Roads: S25, S26, S11, S121, S110, S119, S120, S118
Today is October 6th 2006. It’s a special day since it marks the last full driving day since I started my Kruger Drives project in May 2006. If you click the map below to enlarge it you will see the route from east at Crocodile Bridge to the west of the Park at Berg-en-Dal.
You can plainly see the Kruger boundary with the
“outside world.” And believe me when you leave the sanctuary of the real Kruger
National Park it brings home very clearly the immediate and obvious pressures
imposed upon us in this other real world we have to embrace in order to earn a
living and survive. What a difference in reality.
Tonight I would spend the last night of the trip at Berg-en-Dal Rest Camp (visited for first time ever) in the splendid landscapes of the Malelane Mountains. Today I would see 3 different Leopard sightings and get close to White Rhino on 4 or five occasions. I’d also miss a pack of Wild Dogs by minutes on the Crocodile River road not far from Crocodile Bridge.
Waypoint 663 is the low level crossing of the Bume River showing in the upstream direction cliff faces worn away by rushing waters in time gone by. This was also the junction with the S26 … I took the short drive north to the intersection with the S108, a road I’d driven a couple of days earlier. There were a number of Elephants with babies in the region.
Driving along the S25 it was possible at times to see the orchards and farms on the “other” side of the Crocodile River … spoiled the view as beautiful as it was.
Waypoint 664 is the crossing of the Biyamiti at a
very wide point. There was a juvenile Saddle-billed Stork
foraging in the river bed close to a pool.
On the far bank, in a sand cliff face was a small colony of nesting White-fronted Bee Eaters. The Biyamiti River enters the Crocodile about 500 metres from here.
Waypoint 665 is the S139 turnoff to the “private” Biyamiti Bush Camp. I’d seen quite a few Giraffe on the drive so far this morning.
Waypoint 666 … Is the site of the Trading post operated in the 1880’s by Alf Roberts “for the benefit of the old transport riders” and called “Tengamanzi” . A Jock of the Bushveld monument was also close by.
There was another monument “Mellmapus Ford” which was inscribed as follows … Here the old transport road between Lydenburg and Delgoa Bay crossed the Crocodile River. It operated between 1874 to 1892 and closed in 1892 after the opening of the railway line to Delagoa Bay made it redundant.
Waypoint 667 … another monument. “At this point on 16th September 1900 on the south bank of the Crocodile River the Boer forces under the command of General Ben Viljoen spiked and destroyed most of their artillery pieces and ammunition to save them from falling into the hands of the approaching British army under the commend of General Pole-Carew.”
Waypoint 668 is the turn-off to the private Safari Lodge named Lukimbi and waypoint 669 is the crossing of the dry Mpambane River bed.
Waypoint 670 is the turn off to the S119 which leads to the S114 further north on the main tar road which it joins at 676. I continued along the S25 to join the S114 at waypoint 671. Malalane is 11 kms south from this point.
Waypoint 672 is the junction with the Timfenheni Loop road, the S121.
Waypoint 673 is the junction of the S25 with the main tar road to Malelane 4 kms away.
Shortly after turning left to go to Malelane I crossed the Matjulu river where a few years ago a Leopard attacked and killed a Ranger operating a night drive. The Ranger’s name was Charles Swart.
He was guiding 12 visitors (August 21st 1998) when he stopped the vehicle on the Matjulu bridge. Charles Swart (was still in training as a junior ranger) was standing a short distance behind the vehicle when the leopard attacked and killed him. He had a rifle in his possession but was not able to use it.
The Matjulu River flows past the Berg-en-dal Rest Camp where I would stay tonight and I looked forward to seeing this camp so well described below.
|Waypoint 674: Close to Malelane gate was a leopard
lying close to its kill. The Leopard only 25 metres from the
roadside was resting in the shade of a tree about 15 metres from
the tree into which it had hauled an Impala kill sometime
earlier that day.
I watched for quite some time and my eye caught movements in the dense bush to the left of the Leopard. It took me a while to recognize that I was seeing a second Leopard that turned out to be the juvenile cub of the first Leopard.
a while the young Leopard joined its mother played for a few
moments before climbing the tree with the prey lodged in it. For
quite a while it tugged and heaved at the Impala carcass to try
and lift it higher into the tree. The inevitable happened … it
dropped the dead animal out of the tree.
|In a flash the mother was up and at the side of the
prey. After a couple of minutes it took hold of the prey and for
a second time climbed the tree with the heavy Impala in its
mouth. What a fascinating insight into true wild animal
After about 30 minutes I made my way to the Malalane gate bought a cold drink and resumed my drive.
At waypoint 675 I turned right to complete the
Timfenheni Loop, S121, and almost immediately spooked 2 White Rhino that quickly
disappeared into the bush along the Timfenheni Creek.
At the end of the S121 I turned left and drove
along the S114 up to the waypoint 676 that is the S119 intersection.
Here I turned right along the S119 after admiring a beautiful Gardenia tree at the intersection. It was in full fragrant blossom.
I drove down to the “missed” Mpambane Loop section as far as the S25 junction. From here I doubled back along this S119 Mpambane drive to waypoint 676 again.
The Sasol Gardenia Pan Bird hide is shown at
waypoint 678 on this drive section (677 waypoint deleted) and the Bird Hide is
aptly named after a glorious display of wild Gardenia Shrubs situated on the far
side of the water pool and one right next to the hide itself.
As I left the hide I came across another veld Monitor Lizard crossing the road in its normal stealthy fashion.
Back at waypoint 676 I turned right and drove across the Mpambane River to drive up to the H2-2 intersection … I turned around here and drove back across the Mpambane River and then turned right at waypoint 679 to head west along the S118. The river crossing on the S114 close to this junction provided me with my only sighting of Black Storks I’ve ever had and I even managed to get a photo of one flying over the head of an Elephant in the Mpambane River bed. This Mpabmane drive was a very interesting one and well worth doing.
680 was a lone White Rhino very close to the road at Ampie se
Boorgat drinking point. There was also a large herd of Elephant
in the immediate vicinity and one of these approached me very
closely while I was taking photos of the Rhino (and I hadn’t
noticed this encroachment). The Elephant just stood looking at
me in a non-menacing way but I still slowly put the car into
gear and drove past it just 9 or 10 metres away. I was ready to
accelerate just in case …
Waypoint 681 is the junction with the H3 where I turned right and drove to the Renoster Pan (waypoint 682) lookout and watering point about 3kms off the main road. There was a lone Elephant Bull at the waterhole drinking contentedly.
683 is the right turn onto the S120 Steilberg Koppie route 8kms away. No
caravans are allowed on this route because of numerous and fairly steep turns.
At waypoint 684 is a look-out point overlooking the road to the west from some
460 metres above sea level.
From here the descent started and I saw some rather beautiful red flowers I hadn’t seen before. I also took a nice shot of a tree mix which speaks for itself … see the mixture of colours, shapes, textures and leaflessness all in the same frame. Such is the variety to be seen in this section of Kruger.
Add this kind of scenic variety to roaming and
twisting roads, mountains, valleys and grassy plains and you’ll
get an impression of the beauty this area conceals.
Waypoint 685 is the T junction with the S110. I
turned left and completed the short drive to the main H3 again before turning
around to return to this point. I passed a couple of Tree Wisterias in blossom,
saw a lone Buffalo, Elephant and Wildebeest.
Waypoint 686 is the Matjubu watering point and is
as far as you can go in this direction. Heading back down
towards Berg-en-Dal along the S110 I was able to watch 2 more
White Rhino up close and shortly after that saw a leopard some
distance from the road lying in a tree branch. Elephants were
also in the area.
|Waypoint 687 is the entrance to Berg-en-Dal Rest
Camp and only 100 metres away was a wonderful Leopard close to
the road just lying peacefully.
|What a way to end a most marvelous final day in the Kruger National Park|
Berg-en-Dal … as seen by the BBC and is an excellent description of this beautiful camp and location.
Nestling among the Khandizwe mountain bushveld at the southern end of South Africa’s Kruger National Park, Berg-en-dal Rest Camp is one of the more accessible and arguably one of the most attractive public camps in the Kruger Park.
Situated on the bank of the Matjulu River, Berg-en-dal was constructed by South Africa’s National Parks Board in the 1980s under the supervision of architect Johan Jordaan, whose vision was to create a camp that blended in seamlessly with its environment. In this way, Berg-en-dal is certainly unique in the Kruger Park - instead of row upon row of the more traditional Park-favoured rondavel, the accommodation units (cottages) at Berg-en-dal are all oblong in plan, constructed in face-brick (flame-grilled terracotta might adequately convey the colour) with a thatched roof. Moreover, they have been sited and constructed with absolute care to minimise disruption to the original trees and plants, which means the camp seems shadier and more accommodating than some of its older and more established counterparts.