Albasini Ruins at Phabeni Gate | H11 and S1 from Kruger Gate
This was my first day of a planned 7 nights stay in the Kruger. I was aiming to complete the remaining
drives within the Game Reserve … I’d started the project which involved my driving every publicly accessible road in May this year. After 4 previous visits I completed all roads to a point south of Satara.
Today I entered via Kruger Gate after driving some 450 kms from my home in Johannesburg. On arrival temperature was 37 degrees C … warm sunny and beautiful. On the way I’d made a short detour to Shaw’s gate to meet James Kydd the son of a friend of mine who is a game ranger at Londolozi in the Sabie Sands area of Kruger.
The plan for this first day in view of time constraints was to drive along the S1 road towards Phabeni Gate where the Albasini Ruins are located. The to turn around and head back to Skukuza where I would be based for the next 3 nights.
In the section that follows images referred to will be added a little later.
Waypoint 543 is the turn off to the S1 going directly west to Phabeni, 12 kms from Hazyview and 12 kms also from Pretoriuskop. Phabeni Gate is named after the stream of the same name. This gate was only opened in December 2002.
The first animals of the day was a family of Warthogs, really wonderful and amusing animals to watch especially as they start to run in a line with tails perfectly erect and showing above the grass so that youngsters can follow. Warthog are quite formidable creatures for their size when tackled by predators like Leopards. And Leopards are aware that Warthog like to live in burrows on the side of disused termite mounds. They are known to wait patiently at the entrance to the burrows knowing sooner or later the Warthog must leave.
Lots of Impala and occasional Zebra lined the roads eating the short new green grass shoots. The trees where still only showing occasional signs of new springtime leaves yet the Giraffe were already busy browsing on the small leaves.
Waypoint 544 is the Nyamundwa Dam some 18 kms from Pretoriuskop. It is a Dam that fails to hold water for any long period of time. 2 very large crocodiles were lying on the far bank, Hippos were in the water and at some distance were 2 Storks that appeared to me to be Open-billed Storks, but it was difficult to tell for sure.
Waypoint 545 is the crossing of the Mtshawu River which is a tributary of the Sabie River … talking of the Sabie reminds me to let you know that we’ve recently published an Afrikaans site about Sabie Park, a private complex on the banks of the Sabie River just outside the Kruger Gate … Sabie Park has no fences and is essentially part of the Kruger itself. Hennie Van Deventer tells the story of Sabie Park and its development.
At waypoint 546 I crossed the Phabeni River, watched a lone Hamerkop for a while before driving off the bridge onto the Phabeni Gate and the Albasini Ruins. The ruins are what is left of the house that belonged to Jiwaw (Joao) Albasini who was born in Lisbon, Portugal in 1813. He was the first known white person to live in the Lowveld area of the then Transvaal (Mpumalanga now). He was a trader who established a number of posts along what became known as the Albasini Route to Delagoa Bay. He died in the Soutpansberg region in 1888.
There is a small exhibit at the ruins (restored from a pile of rubble in 1958) showing the implements found from digging in the area.
At the site, waypoint 547, are 2 graves … Mavundla Nkayinkayi Samuel, 1928 to 2000 and Mothasi Mavundla “who lived all her years in the Kruger National Park” and died in 1965. Lest we forget that it was not that long ago that the Game Reserve was just another part of our country with villages and inhabitants.
I parked at the Phabeni Gate entrance and stretched my legs and had a very interesting encounter with an African Wattled Lapwing (Plover). As soon as I got out of the car the bird flew towards me and started to shriek at me. I immediately knew the Lapwing must have a nest close by since this was typical behaviour when a close approach to a nest was made. At times the bird “dive-bombed” me and also walked so close (no doubt waiting for an opportunity to stab me with its bill) that I was able to get a spectacular shot of it.
The bird also pretended to be injured with a broken wing in order to lure me away from the immediate nest area.
It was joined by a mate that also dive-bombed me. At this stage I hadn’t seen the nest but had a good idea where it was. As I drove away from the parking lot I saw the nest hidden behind a boulder … it had 4 speckled eggs in it.
On the way back along the road I saw some
Wildebeest and an entertaining
Baboon family with lots of babies.
Waypoint 548 is the turn off from the H11 to the Indigenous plants nursery at Skukuza, Lake Panic Bird Hide as well as the Golf Club for Skukuza staff.
Just a couple of days before my visit there had been the official opening, by Dr Bandile Mkhize, of a wetlands project close to the nursery and Lake Panic Dam wall.
This wetlands area comprised of a 300 metre elevated boardwalk through the artificially created wetland and through a range of indigenous
trees … what an amazing variety there were in the secluded and peaceful spot. It was waypoint 549. It also marks the tree nursery as well.
Read this short article about wetlands described at the exhibit.
I was late getting back to the camp (I thought closing time was 18.30 and in fact was 18.00hrs) … I was let off with a warning. However it was worth the warning to stay a while and watch a lone Wild Dog lying next to the H11. It was the only sighting I’d seen (and would see) in my entire 5000kms + driving through the Game Reserve. .Wild Dogs are an endangered species in Kruger and also Africa as a whole