Skukuza South via Shirimantanga & Mpondo Dam | S114, H5, S26, S113, S102, S108, S23, S113, H3

Map Skukuza South and South East Drives | Kruger National Park The drive today would see me complete 3 large loops in a southerly and south easterly direction from Skukuza. If you enlarge the map below by clicking on it you will see the loops are in a triangular kind of pattern. I would pass the Stevenson-Hamilton memorial at Shirimantanga Hill or Koppie 12 kms south of Skukuza. It was here where his ashes and those of his wife were scattered. The hill and boulders from which it seems to be made are very impressive. Stevenson-Hamilton had a grave made here although it was never used.
So much of what Kruger is today was due to the courage, foresight and single-mindedness with which the “man who sweeps clean” tackled his job over some 42 years.
Skukuza is the main camp and administrative centre of the Kruger National Park. Skukuza was the nickname of Stevenson-Hamilton and literally means “he who sweeps clean” which was a Tsonga peoples reference to his policy of removing people from the Park and Game Reserve in the early days of its establishment. Today the term has more of an endearing meaning.
Shirimantanga Koppie Grey-Brown Coloured Boulders | Kruger National Park At waypoint 572 I left the main H1-1 and drove down the S114 for about 5 kms before passing Shirimantanga Koppie which I would drive up tomorrow and at waypoint 573
Renosterkoppies Rhino Hills Green-grey Lichen Covered Boulders | Kruger National Park I took a few photographs of the brown, green and grey-coloured lichen covered boulders of Renosterkoppies (Rhino Hills). The potential for animals to hide in the nooks and crevices created by the boulders was enormous. I shudder to think what spending a night alone on those rocks might turn up. They were impressive for sure but eerie also.
Selati Railway Halt Kemp's Cottage | Kruger National Park Steenbok, Giraffe and Impala were seen along the road.
Waypoint 574 marked the junction of the S114 with the H5 and at this point also there used to be a well known Selati Railway Halt known as Kemp’s Cottage … the line was closed in 1973 and the cottage got its name from the occupant of the house before 1927, a rail foreman called Kemp. Giraffe Grazing Close To Mpondo Dam | Kruger National Park
Grass-covered Dam Wall | Kruger National Park I took the H5 heading south east to complete the first loop. I noticed fairly soon an unusual landscape feature which looked like a man-made grass-covered dam wall that carried on although intermittently for quite some distance. At waypoint 575 I marked just one of these points.
Looking at a detailed map indicates that these are ridges or terraces marking the upper level of the contoured landscape in the area. Occasional glimpses “over the wall” showed the fall off into the valleys below. The road was around 360 metres above sea level and it dropped off to 300 metres in a south easterly direction from this waypoint. Tortoise Ambling Along In The Kruger | Kruger National Park
Impala And Zebra Drinking Water At Mpondo Dam | Kruger National Park In this valley was the Mpondo Dam (look at the map) and I would later stop there to admire a small herd of Zebra that came to drink. Having a good topographical map makes a visit to the Kruger so much more interesting. It’s easy to forget as you drive along a road that so much more is “hidden” from view and that the valleys and hills are quite special. The hills are well wooded in the area.
Waypoint 576 marked the road, S102, I would take past the Mpondo Dam to the intersection with the S26 (the Bume Road) at which point I would turn round (waypoint 581) and come back to this point to continue the drive along the H5. These intersecting roads add considerable distances to the loops since it always involves a doubling back in order to complete the whole loop drive. This is no hardship however in this pristine wilderness and Game Reserve.
As I approached this turn off I was met by a lone Warthog running from the southerly direction as though its life was in danger. I stayed a while but saw nothing following it. A few metres down the road however I saw a Tortoise ambling along and reflected upon that children's story of the race between Brer Rabbit and the Tortoise … in this case surely it was not a repeat, not a race between the Warthog and the Tortoise. The Kruger does strange things to the mind, you know.
I covered the next few kms in expectation of seeing maybe a predator of some kind but this did not materialize. A beautiful Giraffe was grazing at the roadside and I managed to get one of those “could only be in The Kruger photos”.
Impala And Zebra Drinking Water At Mpondo Dam | Kruger National Park Mpondo Dam at waypoint 578 (and 577) is quite a large body of water. A number of dead trees protrude from the dam surface. Impala and Zebra accompanied by foals were plentiful and a small group of Zebra enjoyed a drink together. There are 2 view points where it’s possible to stop, relax and enjoy the scenery and passing wildlife.
A herd of waterbuck ran away from the dam wall as I approached the second view point. After a while they stopped turned round and continued to look back in the direction they had ran from. They were not looking at me. Maybe they had also been alerted to the presence of a predator but on the other hand the Zebra didn’t seem to be too concerned.
Dry Bume River Bed | Kruger National Park I crossed the Bume River at waypoint 579 and took an interesting photograph. The river bed was completely dry. However a few small excavations had been scraped out of the sand to expose the underlying water table … probably about 6 inches below the sand surface. The holes would have been made by an animal (Elephant?) seeking water in the river bed. This drive along the short S102 had been a pleasure.
Back at the H5 I continued east down the Sandspruit Road to the very short S108 at waypoint 582. I turned towards Malelane and started the Bume Road drive. I crossed the Bume River at 583 and shortly after this point reached the intersection with the S26 and I turned right and headed north west to waypoint 584 where 3 roads joined: the S26, S114 and S113
With the exception of the Mpondo Dam drive the loop had been quite unspectacular … as I described the event at the time (I use a small Sony digital voice recorder to ensure accuracy and to remind me of what I saw during the drives).
I highly recommend such a device for those interested in taking comprehensive notes. In fact a camera, recorder and GPS just about create a perfect system to accompany anybody on a drive in the wild. The recorder details for the Sony model I use are “Sony IC Recorder ICD-SX25 VOR”.
With a little backtracking I completed the loop and then took the S23 and S113 short stretch to the main tar road going south to Afsaal Picnic Spot. At waypoint 585 was the borehole Muhlambamadvube named after the stream that goes on to join the Biyamiti. The word means a Zebra bathing place in Siswati language. Note however that a Zebra does not bathe in water, it keeps itself clean by rolling in dust and this is a very common sighting amongst Zebra herds. Zebra, like Buffalo, are rarely very far from water since they need to drink about 14 litres per day. 
Pink Waterlilies Growing Around A Borehole | Kruger National Park The area around the borehole was badly trampled. Pink waterlilies were growing in the water pool not far from the artificial concrete drinking point. There was also a very large herd of Impala present.
I carried on to the S113 junction at waypoint 586, drove 3 kms or so to the H3 main road (waypoint 587) that took me down to Afsaal where I stretched my legs. On the way I crossed the Biyamiti Road bridge at waypoint 588 and apart from a few pools the river was dry.
Waypoint 589 just before Afsaal is where the road winds its way through a series of koppies on both sides of the road that are most impressive and which rise to 400 metres. The name of the fairly long koppie ridge is Makhutlwanini meaning “at the frogs” in Tsonga.
This drive is continued here