Staying overnight in the camp allowed us the advantage of an early gate opening at 0430. In reality, this ended up being just a bit too early. It was still too dark for photos as we drove out of the gate. No matter … we took our time, stopped for tea and rusks at a little lay-by and watched the sun come up.
We were taking a northern route today crossing into several different eco-zones of savanna, thickets and bushveld. The causeway across the Sabie River was busy with Chacma baboons. Baboons can be a real nuisance, but these guys were just waking up like us and though they impeded traffic a bit, they were fun to watch.
We hadn't gone too far when we spotted buffalos in a mudhole. They, too, were having problems keeping their eyes open. It must have been a rough night.
We purchased a paperback book, Find It, at the Skukuza camp store and it proved to be quite helpful. It described all the eco-zones in the park, as well as indicating what animals we were apt to find in each one. It also provided several color photos of the area and identified animals and plants ... from umbrella acacia to jacanas to jackals. We had an African bird book and our Lonely Planet South Africa along with us, too.
It was an exceptionally good day for birds. We saw dozens of them with several new species. Here's a sampling …
We stopped for a picnic lunch and an elephant joined us, munching on a nearby tree.
The thickets were a fine place for rhinos. We saw a pair taking a leisurely walk some distance away from us.
The open savanna offered great grazing for zebra.
Giraffes weren't far away. We saw several munching on tall trees and shrubs. A lone male traveled across the bush, apparently uninterested in the others.
By 4pm, we were hot and tired and tuckered out. We headed back to Skukuza Camp for showers, a light dinner in our hut and a walk around the pretty campgrounds.
We ended the evening with a nightcap of Amarula, South Africa's primo cream liqueur. When in Rome ...