Exploring the Mpumalanga Lowveld

Posted on Sep 11, 2015

Exploring the Mpumalanga Lowveld

After our adventures in Swaziland we travelled back towards the Kruger National Park. We ‘promised’ our grandparents to find lions and leopards and Kruger is the best place to try this if you are on a self drive safari like us. The first few nights we stayed in Marloth park, one of the residential areas bordering Kruger, where you can rent a holiday home complete with animals like zebra and giraffe wandering around your house. Thereafter we drove for four days through the southern section of Kruger where we stayed in Lower Sabie, Skukuza and Berg & Dal.

It was good to be back again in Kruger. This time we were with 6 people so we had more flexibility and could relax a bit more as well. Sometimes we went on a game drive with all of us, but other times one or two of us stayed behind with the kids and took them to the pool or playground, while the others went on a drive. It is still very dry in Kruger and all the animals congregate around the rivers so game viewing is still very good and relatively easy. There was plenty of plains game and we did see lions, elephants and buffalo already while we were in Marloth park and we did see them several times while we were in the Kruger park. One morning while we were out early we did not see much for the first hour: one lone hyena and a few impala and that’s all. We were a bit disappointed as we were driving the H4-1 between Lower Sabie and Skukuza, one of the hotspot areas for viewing the Big Five. But when we returned back to camp our fortune changed and we came across a large pride of at least ten lions who were crossing the road and walking in front of us. By far the best lion sighting we had this year.

We also had cheetah and leopard high on our wish list, but somehow we always seemed to miss them. When we choose to drive a certain route we saw later on the sighting board that they had been seen on the alternative road. Very frustrating. Until the last day in the park when we first saw cheetah and the morning after we found a leopard. The cheetah sighting was not that good. It was around noon in the hot sun and there were three cheetah’s resting under a tree close to the Afsaal picnic spot, but they were about 250 metres away from the road and therefore difficult to see with binoculars and even more difficult to get a decent picture. So we definitely need to come back once again and try even harder to get a good cheetah sighting. But the leopard was much better. In our last camp in Berg & Dal we didn’t want to self drive anymore (we had spent too much time together in our minivan) so we decided to do an organised activity and some of us took a sunset drive, some went walking in the morning and Taco booked a sunrise drive (which meant getting up at 4:30am – ouch). Taco was very lucky on the sunrise drive as they spotted a female leopard with a cub eating their Nyala kill in a tree. After breakfast we decided to drive back to the same spot and see if the leopard was still there so we all could see her. And yes the leopard was still resting in the tree, but we could not see the cub anymore, he was probably hiding somewhere. This last sighting was a good end to the Kruger adventures and we all left the Park very satisfied.

We celebrated the end of the trip with our grandparents with some souvenir shopping and a farewell dinner in White River before we dropped them off at the Kruger Mpumalanga airport for their flight back to Joburg and onwards to the Netherlands. But we did not want to go home yet and decided to stay in this area. As we had seen enough wildlife we opted to stay a few nights in White River in the beautiful Nut Grove Manor lodge and a week in a holiday home in the Kruger Park Lodge golf estate. Not that we are interested in playing golf, but they offered nice spacious homes and lots of entertainment for the kids. A large pool, trampolines, a jungle gym, mini-golf, table tennis and kiddies carts. No need to say that the kids very much enjoyed our stay there. We went souvenir shopping in Sabie, Whiteriver and Hazyview, but had no interest to visit any of the other tourist attractions in this area. Maybe we have travelled to long, but we just liked to stay in our home or enjoy the pool on sunny days. Today we have moved to our last lodge in this area. We booked the bush cottage at Tomjachu Buh Lodge half an hour out of Nelspruit in the Crocodile Valley Nature Conservancy. We have our own splashing pool and hammocks and great views over the conservancy, but other than that it is very remote here. The motto of this place is “How beautiful it is to do nothing and rest afterwards” and that is exactly what we plan to do the last week of our travels before we drive back to Joburg and then fly back home.

More pictures here.