Time to Leave Via Skukza and Pretoriuskop But Not Without a Surprise... Back Soon.

Road to Pretoriuskop Gate on way home Today we would be leaving the Kruger. We decided to take a longish route out rather than go to the nearest gate which would have been Orpen Gate, Theoretically it would take about 3 hours but of course it took more like 5. But that's the Kruger for you ... it holds you back, it is reluctant to let you go.
We would see one of the most remarkable sightings ever as we approached Skukuza very close to the Sabie River. I've written a full article on the incident and I only briefly refer to it below.
 Waypoint 326  we turned left onto the H12 to cross the Sabie River low water bridge (waypoint 327) before proceeding along the H4-1 that tracks the Sabie River downstream of the confluence with the Sand River. The river was flowing well and the Hippos were still in their normal spot west of the bridge at the southern end.
Southern Ground Hornbill kills Monitor Lizard Waypoint 328 is where the remarkable incident I referred to above took place. There were 2 Southern Ground Hornbills not far from the river bank. One was standing motionless as if on sentry duty while the other was continuously and forcibly stabbing something with its long strong bill. At first it wasn't possible to see what as going on and then it was revealed  ... the victim of the stabbing was a water monitor. Read the slaying of the dragon story here ... Hornbill versus Monitor Lizard.  
Waypoint 329 ... is the crossing of the Msimuku river characterised by a few pools with no flow. The literal meaning of Msimuku is "a dumb person" and probably relates to an event involving such a person at some time in the past. I think every visitor finds these river crossings fascinating because they just seem to hold so much promise and mystery. It's as though anything could appear from the side of the steam bed at any time.
Mathekanyane Granite Hill near Skukuza Kruger National Park Just the other side of Skukuza on the H1-1 is the turn off to the Mathekanyane Granite Hill (waypoint 330) and the short drive to the top (331) presents a splendid view looking west. The hill is named after a small insect (sand flea) which penetrates the skin and forms an irritating blister. The road that turns off the H1-1 close to this point here is also called the Napi Road since it leads to the Napi Boulders landmark and monument closer to Pretoriuskop.
Male Kudu Juvenile Kruger National park Waypoints 332 and 333 mark spectacular boulder formations one on each side of the road which are the home of Klipspringers. We didn't see any of these small antelope this time around but these animals are extremely agile and can be enjoyed as they so "boldly" jump from boulder to boulder. Shortly after I got a good close up shot of a juvenile Kudu bull ... take a look at the eyes, ears and white markings around the mouth.
Young Kudu Kruger national Park The outcrops of rocks mentioned above are surrounded by quite flat land. What happened here to create such a massive change and when ....? We're left to wonder and guess.
Transport Dam tree Kruger National park Waypoint 334 is a look out point close to the Transport Dam ... more correctly the Vervoerdam because it was donated by the Department of Transport around 1971. And at 335 a large herd of Waterbuck were at the actual dam. We counted 24.
Hamerkop and Spotted Back Weavers nests Kruger National park A dead tree was standing all alone at the the side of the dam and on it was a large Hamerkop nest (probably abandoned since the bird only uses this intricate nest for one season). And just as though they were paying tenants a group of Spotted Back Weavers have taken tenancy. I think the species is the one described since this bird lives in large colonies and commonly build their nests on trees above water. In addition and typically the spout to the nest can be long short or even absent (Reference Kenneth Newman "Birds of the Kruger National Park") which is certainly the case with this untidy bunch. Maybe that's why the name has been changed to Village Weaver.  There were no birds around to verify this assumption.
Brown headed Parrot eating seed Kruger National park A Brown-headed Parrot parrot close to the Pretoriuskop Gate was our last sighting for this trip. It was 13.15 and we'd covered around 800 kms over the 5 days.

Waypoint 336 marks the Napi Boulder a memorial to Justice J F Ludorf who was a board member of the Kruger and also Chairman. He died in 1978. At waypoint 337 the surrounding bush opens up significantly to provide a view of Shitlhave Hill in the distance. Shitlhave is some 647 metres above sea level and very prominent and is the reason for its other name "Ship Mountain". In fact the name Shitlhave is named after Colonel J Stevenson Hamilton's first park ranger Jafuta Shiltlhave. Waypoint 338 is the dam named after the hill and donated by Fred and Thelma Bornmann. At waypoint 339 is a marker indicating the grave of Willem Pretorius who died and was buried at this point in 1845. He was a member of Carel Trichardt's expedition.