Punda Maria to Pafuri Gate Drive, Kruger National Park South Africa
Drive to Pafuri Gate Northernmost Park Entrance
The maps include waypoint symbols indicating interesting locations and/or events that visitors to the Kruger National park may want to explore further for themselves. Co-ordinates these are based upon a decimal system rather than degrees, minutes and seconds.
Many images on this Kruger Park GPS (global positioning system) and map-based site will be in thumbnail view so click these to see the enlarged image.
A good short description that sums up this wonderful and at times spectacular drive is ... The Elephant, Baobab, Fever Tree and Nyala Route
On the way back to Punda Maria I was charged by 2 elephants and found this experience unnerving to say the least ... but I lived to tell the tale. The event is described below.
Before leaving the camp I took some tree photographs which will be shown in the photographic section later. The one tree that impressed me was the "White Syringa" which was in autumn colours of reds, golds and yellows.
I never got around to walking "The Flycatcher Trail" inside the Punda Maria camp area itself ... but will when my family and I visit the Punda camp again later this year. The sightings of 6 cheetah and lions were some of the highlights recorded in the camp events book for the previous day. In fact cheetah were seen on more than one occasion and lions spiced up a night time drive (only able to be done on Park organised nightdrives).
At waypoint 011 coinciding with the junction of the H1-7 and H1-8 main roads the landscape changes dramatically. What was an attractive, somewhat closed and forested area suddenly opens up. As you drive the Kruger you will see such changes in landscape many many times. The Kruger National park is far more that just a wild animal paradise it is a mixture of numerous geological and ecological regions each with their own unique habitats that suit all different sorts of plants, insects, birds and animal life in general
The northern section of the Kruger National Park has vast stretches of Mopane shrub and Mopane Trees (it is quite amazing that in some areas the Mopane is in shrub form while in others the tree form predominates). Mopane is an important source of food for numerous animals including elephants. The Mopane is easily recognized because the leaves have a very distinct butterfly shape.
Stop a while at waypoint 012 and savour some of the landscape differences at this point.
Waypoint 013 looking west shows a very common sight throughout the national
park. Many parts of the Kruger do not have a natural source of water and
consequently water holes have been created to sustain larger concentrations of
wild life by boring down into the ground. Water is then pumped up from the
underground reservoir via a borehole shaft and into a concrete dam. Water is
then allowed to run into rectangular concrete troughs at which animals come to
drink. In the foreground of this picture are examples of Mopane scrub. Notice
the colour of the grass ... looking quite parched yet this is the normal
situation in the dry season. This waterhole is called Elandskuil.
While not easy to see on the photograph there is a very well beaten path
down to the drinking place. The trampling is almost certainly the work of
elephants that like travel down the same paths to water sources. Waypoint 014 ... the Mandadzizi borehole is 14 kms east of Punda Maria on
the plains. Mandadzizi means honey badger footprint. At this waypoint I
could see 3 elephants drinking at the borehole (see photo with Punda Maria hills
and Mopane forest in the background). At this point power transmission cables cross the plains bringing electricity
into South Africa from the Cahora Bassa dam hydro-electric scheme in Mozambique.
At this very point on the way back to Punda Maria late in the afternoon I
encountered 2 elephants. Both of these elephants charged me in turn. Read the
story of the
elephant run here.
|Throughout the Kruger you will see large numbers of termite mounds. Many will be pale yellow, others grey, yet others will be grass covered, and others will seem to have trees growing out of them ... the trunk is a place against which the mound with all its different chambers and passageways would have been constructed and not the other way around. Termite mounds are permanent reminders of what is happening beneath the ground. Waypoint 15 was an area where a new mound was being formed or so it seemed from the colour that showed an apparent dampness still. The mounds are built one "spit ball" at a time by blind worker termites, as I've seen the mound building process described.|
Please click this link to go to the next set of waypoints as we continue the drive to Pafuri