Monday, 30 May, 2011
Entering Kruger: Malelane to Talamati Bush Camp

Up before first light, we left Rio Vista Lodge by 5:40 a.m. The gates of Kruger National Park open at 6:00, and we have a long day of driving ahead of us today. Due, again, to the initial flight cancellation, we've missed our first day and night in Kruger, where we were scheduled to stay at Biyamiti Bush Camp, in the southern part of park, so we're now traveling to Talamati Bush Camp, in the central section. Therefore, we need to cover as much of the southern portion of the park today as possible.

Arriving at Malelane Gate just after 6:00, I parked the car, and we went in to complete the necessary paperwork. Our accommodation was all prepaid, including the night we couldn't use, but we still needed to pay our daily conservation fee for each day we'll be in the park. After filling out a form with our names, reservation number, and license tag number, I was handed a flyer with park rules and an overnight visitor permit, and the park employee instructed us we should pay our conservation fees when we check in at our first camp. No problem. Right? We'll see.

Also at the entrance, Linda and I wanted to buy an official Kruger map and guidebook, but none were available in English. We were told the book would be available in any shop in the park. I'd bought a map in advance from Amazon.com and also purchased the Tracks4Africa maps for my GPS, "South Africa: Gauteng, Limpopo, Mpumalanga & Northern Province," which proved very useful, but I wanted the official book, with another set of maps and animal identifications.

#########

Renosterkoppies

Loaded back in the car, we showed our permit at the gate, and the game drive began! Our route today: H3, S118, S114, S23, S6, S102, H5, Renosterkoppies Loop, S21, H4-1, H12, H1-2, S36, S145. In general, the H roads are tar, and the S roads are gravel and/or dirt.

#########

Warthog giving us the eye

#########

Everpresent impala

Great sightings today, especially because everything we saw was the first of its kind of our trip: impalas, elephants, warthogs, a water monitor lizard, vervet monkeys, buffalo, waterbucks, kudus, baboons, a leopard tortoise, zebras, hippos, crocs, blue wildebeests, giraffes, and various birds. We probably saw additional types of antelope other than the ones named above but just couldn't distinguish between them.

#########

Water monitor lizard a/k/a water leguaan

#########

Stupid cows

#########

Waterbucks a/k/a circlebutts

#########

Leopard tortoise

At Kruger you must remain in your vehicle at all times unless in designated areas, such as the camps, picnic areas, and a few scattered lookout points and blinds. As it happened, from 6:30 a.m. when we entered the park, we didn't have another chance to alight from our vehicle until 2:00 p.m., at the Nkuhlu Picnic Site. Thank goodness Rio Vista Lodge had packed us a substantial breakfast that we carried with us in the passenger compartment of the car (boiled eggs, cheese sandwiches, sausage, bacon, fruit, and juice), because we had no access to the trunk until now. Here at Nkuhlu we used the restroom and scarfed down sandwiches while guarding our cooler from baboons.

#########

Planet of the Baboons

#########

Male baboon, in case you couldn't tell

After lunch, we still had a long way to go before reaching Talamati, and the gates close to all camps at 5:30 p.m. It's hard to make time when the speed limit is 50 kph on the tar roads and 40 kph on gravel. Truly, you want to go about 25 kph or below for good game viewing. We made our picnic stop as short as possible and continued on our way.

We saw a multitude of birds, the most omnipresent of which were the southern yellow-billed hornbill (a/k/a flying banana), guineafowl, lilac-breasted rollers, and cape glossy starlings. Other notable birds included a grey go-away-bird, a malachite kingfisher, and a secretarybird.

#########

Flying banana

#########

Lilac-breasted roller

#########

Grey go-away-bird

#########

Malachite kingfisher

#########

Secretarybird

So far we've spotted no cats or rhinos, and the hippos and crocs we've seen have been far in the distance. I really want to see a rhino on this trip, as we never got to see one during our trip to Botswana.

#########

Elephant bull

#########

Burchell's zebras



Road-hog zebras

At 4:30 p.m., after a hot (high of 90 degrees), dusty, fantastic drive, we arrived at Talamati Bush Camp, checked in, and again attempted to pay our daily conservation fees. The receptionist said to come by and pay tomorrow. That's strike two on attempting to pay.

#########

Our first Kruger camp

#########

Used, abused, and dusty

Talamati is a small bush camp of only 15 guest cottages located in the west central region of Kruger, 25 km southeast of Orpen Gate, on the mostly dry Nwaswitsontso River. There is no restaurant or shop. The only items for sale are ice and matches. Very peaceful.

We'll be staying in cottage number 5 for four nights. It has two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a modest kitchen and living room, and a large stoep (Afrikaans for porch). Home away from home! We've been advised that extra precaution must be taken when latching the cottage door to prevent a baboon invasion.

#########

Our cottage at Talamati

It was too late by the time we arrived at Talamati to go for an additional drive, so we made tequila-sunrise sundowners and sat in the hide next to the waterhole for sunset. There were no animals to see, but we're satisfied for today. After the sun went down, we made burgers and baked beans for supper, showered, and planned our route for tomorrow, which will be a much easier day.

Continue to May 31, 2011

Kruger Park, South Africa Journal Main Page

Tom Goetz's Homepage

Sign our guestbook

View our guestbook