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 night drives).

Kruger National Park Punda Maria to Pafuri Waypoints 009 to 015: This map view here shows the locations of the waypoints relative to the Punda Maria camp. I left the camp and drove eastwards down the H13-1 and turned north at the junction with the H1-7 and H1-8.
Kruger National park road and direction markings This is a typical example of how roads are marked throughout the Kruger National park. I must say at the occasional spot it can seem somewhat confusing but I have yet to find one that is directionally wrong. Some of the distances are out a bit though. I have marked some of the more important turn-offs with waypoints.
African Long Tailed Shrike Waypoint 009 ... I took this photo of an African Long tailed Shrike (on its preferred thornbush habitat) at the spot just to remind me to inform all readers of this site that you will encounter an amazing variety of birds as you drive the roads of the Kruger so make sure you have an excellent pair of binoculars and a bird book with you a all times. Close to this spot were a couple of small waterholes.
Dead yellow billed hornbill At Waypoint 010 there is a small waterhole right next to the road and these nearby waterholes are excellent places to stop for a while and look out for animals and birds as well as admire the amazing plant life that abounds. Just before I reached the waterhole I saw a dead yellow billed hornbill at the side of the road. It was completely unmarked. As happens so many times as I drive the Kruger I am reminded that this is a wild place and death is part and parcel of life. You will probably see more hornbills as you travel the park than any other type of birds ... there are 3 main common species: the yellow billed, red billed and grey hornbill.

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.

Elandskuil water hole and windmill Kruger National Park 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.
Mandadzizi borehole elephant drinking point 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.
Termite mound kruger national park 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