In order to get an early start to the day, we set our alarms for 5:30am. After some snoozing by JT we packed up our safari tent and headed out shortly before 6am. We headed down to the boardwalk near the camp’s restaurant hoping to see some animals at sunrise, but we only saw some ducks. After making some coffee for JT and Med-Lemon and coffee for Katie, we dropped our postcards at the camp’s post office (the only one in the park), dropped the key in the key drop box, and left the park at 6:48am
We had already seen most of the major animals in our first two days, except a leopard. We had seen lots of animals along the roadside we took to camp the night before and there were reports of leopard sightings on this road, so we decided to backtrack to Lower Sabie, stopping at Nkuhla picnic area along the ways. There were some awesome views, pretty birds, monkeys, a tortoise crossing the road, and even a couple of rhinos back in the bush, but no leopards or other large animals.
We sat at the large watering hole close to Lower Sabie for a while, watching the hippos, birds, crocodile, and other animals. Then, we headed into camp for a bathroom break. While there we decided to check out the grocery/gift shop for a bit, finding both food/drink and gifts to be very reasonably priced, especially considering the remoteness of the camp. JT was feeling a bit worn out and we weren’t sure where we would be able to heat water for soup, so we ordered a mocha (R24.9), a club panini (R42.9) for JT and a grilled cheese (R21.9) for Katie for a snack.
After recharging, we headed back up the same road from Lower Sabie to Skukuza and had much better luck with spotting animals! At a turn-off viewpoint over the river, we saw a pack of water buck and then turned to the right to see a pack of elephants. After watching them for a bit, we continued on and saw a group of giraffes at the next turn-off. We enjoyed sitting in the shade and watching them for a bit.
When the giraffes were ready to move onto their next feeding location, we were optimistic that we would get a chance to see them up close as the walked up a trail near our car. But, about this time, a Range Rover and a BWM pulled up with a group of obnoxious seemingly-South Africans, who thought it would be appropriate to yell out the window at the water buck and then giraffes. So, the giraffes hurried away along a further-away trail. Jerks.
We continued past Suzuka to the nearby Lake Panic bird blind, seeing yet another giraffe along the way. We enjoyed watching a few birds, a couple of crocodiles, a few far-away hippos, and a couple sunning turtles. The others in the blind were not very quiet, especially when the crocodiles would make any movement, so this would not be the place for serious birdwatching.
We left a little after 3:20 pm, heading to Skukuza for a final bathroom break before heading towards Berg en Dal camp, which we needed to hurry towards to make the 6:00 pm gate closing. Thankfully there were no notable animals along the road for a while. Because we were able to cover a good bit of mileage quickly, we were able to sit and enjoy the herd of zebras and pack of ~12 elephants we ran into around 4:20 pm.
We continued our drive towards Berg en Dal, with strangely little luck spotting animals during the normally lucrative dusk period. We reached Berg en Dal camp with time to spare, and headed to the camp office to check-in for our bungalow.
After checking in and stopping by the camp store for a postcard, tissues for Katie and a t-shirt for Katie, we headed to our cabin. This was by-far the biggest cabin we had this trip – which was especially nice, as we needed the space to help pack up all our stuff for tomorrow’s flight.
We made dinner from the leftover food we had in the car: soup, bread, can of tuna, peanut butter and crackers. It was nice that the cabin had a full kitchen with plates and glasses.