We visited the Kruger National Park at the end of September for 5 wonderful days, since it was a long weekend in South Africa we decided to take advantage of that and make a trip to our favourite place.
We stayed at Skukuza, because going for such a short time period we prefer staying in the south of the park because we do have more opportunities for game viewing.
We left Johannesburg around 11 in the morning and due to traffic only arrived at Malelane Gate at around 4:30, we decided to take the sand road north to Skukuza hoping for less cars, we came across our first cat sighting on the S23 close to Biyamiti Weir, it was a pride of lions, it was the Biyamiti pride which is reigned by the Eastern Bank Males, the pride had a few young males.
We didn’t have all the time in the world so we carried on with our drive and came across one car stopped by a collection of rocks, after a few minutes of trying to find our subject we realized it was a big male leopard sitting on the floor, while taking photos of him, we noticed that he kept looking up at the tree and only then did we realize that there was a female leopard in the tree.
We were undeniably shocked and at the same time irate that all our best sighting always occur when we are under a time crunch. We were hoping that he female was going to jump down and we were going to witness them mating but that never happened and we had to leave the two lovers and make our way to camp.
When we visited in August we came across a coalition of 4 male lions on the S26 (watch the video here) and on this trip we decided to try find them again, while we were at Mpondo Dam, a car approached us and let us know that there was a mating pair of lions a kilometer from where we were, we obviously made or way there and we found the male lion, which was one of the four lions from the coalition.
We couldn’t see the female but it was only because she was lying flat and was camouflaged with the bushes. We spent about four hours at this sighting because we wanted to see them mate, the female did eventually get up and they mated twice before disappearing into the bushes.
On our way back to camp we decided to drive on the H3, we saw the Mpondo males as well as the Josekhulu/Thompson male lions, both sightings the lions were lying under shady spots because it was relatively hot.
In the afternoon we went down to Lower Sabie and we saw the resident leopard who is often seen by the Lubyelubye rocks but he was across the riverbed.
On our third day we headed towards Satara just to have a different scenery, on the H1-3 after Tshokwane, we found a pride of lions with two male lions, one of the males was still on the road, after a couple of minutes he joined the rest of the pride for his early morning nap.
We carried on driving and after the S125 turn off we found two male lions with one lioness, but they were already sleeping under some trees, it’s that that time of year that it gets hot fairly quickly therefore you only have a small window to find big cats being active.
Since we were around Satara we made our way on the H7 hoping to spot the Leeubron males, we didn’t find them but we did find a pride of lions across a riverbed.
Instead of going back south using the same road we went on the S36, while driving we stopped at one of the waterholes and we came upon a large herd of elephants but before driving off we heard one of them make a sound and on closer inspection realized that there was two lionesses which had just killed a kudu, the lionesses where catching their breath in the shade so we moved on.
Just before Jones Dam on the S36 we saw a pack of wild dogs which was moving from tree to tree trying to find shade.
That afternoon we decided to go back on the S23 hoping to see the two leopards we found mating, we found one leopard sitting under a tree across the riverbed, happy that we saw a leopard we made our way towards Biyamiti Weir, this area is quiet open and on one of the rocks we spotted a leopard, thrilled to have found another one of the elusive cats, we found a good spot to park to enjoy the sighting, a while later the leopard got up and looked like it was ready to stalk something, we aren’t sure if it saw something behind us. We were once again under a time crunch and we had to leave the leopard and head back to camp.
On our last full day the morning started off really slow since the weather was overcast, animals tend to not move looking for shade when it’s cloudy.
We saw that on Latest Sightings that a pride of lions was spotted on one of our favorite roads, the S21, we made our way there, and we found about 5 lionesses and 1 male lion resting, by the looks of it the lions looked like they had just eaten, we decided to stick around and fortunately for us, a herd of elephants appeared and all of a sudden the male lion abruptly stood up and started running away from the herd, a young lioness followed him but the rest stayed put.
Wanting to get a better view of the male lion we hoped that he would head back to where the rest of the pride was and opportunely a couple of minute later he did follow the lioness back to where we found them.
The H4-1 is the busiest road in the whole park, and there is a lot spotted on it but it also causes a lot of congestion when something is seen, so on our way back to camp we stopped at a lion sighting and leopard sighting but the visual for both sightings wasn’t the best and the amount of cars wasn’t making it better.
In the afternoon we went to Lower Sabie using the S30, and we found a herd of Sables, we hadn’t seen this type of antelope in a while and we were happy to have found them, this was the second time we found them on this particular road.
Once we reached Lower Sabie we used the tar road to head back north, and we saw the Mazithi male lion with his cubs on the Lubyelubye rocks.
The whole trip we were hoping for a Mantimhale males sightings and on our fourth day we finally got blessed because one of them just darted into the road and we were the only car for the first 15 minutes, he was calling obviously looking for his brothers or the pride.
On our last day we were set to go out at Malelane Gate but before leaving we wanted to head down towards Lower Sabie hoping to get a sight of the Mantimhale males and pride, sadly we didn’t find them so we decided to try locate a kill we had seen in the tree the day before hoping to find the leopard, and to our disbelieve and shock we actually found the leopard, by the looks of it was a female leopard, it quickly jumped down the tree and we lost visual of it, while driving back and forth trying to locate where it went it appeared in front of us before crossing the road, being a leopard the sighting was very brief.
Satisfied with our morning already we decided to stop to grab a coffee at Lower Sabie, but just before we saw a whole lot of cars stopped at Lubyelubye rocks , and it was the lion cubs and the lionesses.
On the way to the gate we saw a lot of cars stopped on the H3 and as expected by the congestion it could only be a leopard in the tree with a kill, the leopard was sleeping and it wasn’t like we could really see its face so we moved on, but just before the gate a sighting was tinged on Latest Sighting of two leopards in the tree.
When we arrived we couldn’t see anything but a ranger in a safari vehicle let us know that there was a lion in the area but he had lost visual of it, not even two minutes later we saw a leopard sprinting across the road followed by a second leopard, lucky for us one of them climbed the tree closes to us. The lion must have chased them off and by the looks of the size of the leopard it looked like cubs.
We were truly so surprised with all the leopard sightings on this trip because the last few times we were in the park we hardly saw any.
We will be back in December for 9 days and we already can’t wait to be back.