Part of a 2 week trip organised by SunSafaris.
The morning was overcast and fairly cool, and the first part of the drive across the wooded hills felt more like Wales than Africa. After driving across the mountains, and descending into Mababane, I got snarled up in the traffic caused by the construction of a new motorway from the South African border to Mababane.
Although it was nice to drive on well surfaced, well constructed roads, I couldn't help wondering if building what looked like a difficult to build motorway across a mountainous country was a good use of scarce resources. Still, best to enjoy the easy driving whilst it lasted. The road to Piggs Peak climbs up into the now familar hills, with the odd descent to cross rivers. Piggs Peak wasn't much to look at but would be a useful stop, if you needed it. The combination of cooler temperatures, hills and mountains in the area made a nice contrast with the hotter, drier climate of earlier in the week, so the drive was enjoyable.
After filling the car with petrol, it was time to cross back into South Africa. The contrast between the Swazi border post and the South African border post once again reminded me that Swaziland was more like the rest of the African continent, and South Africa was something of an anomoly. After crossing the border, the landscape changed to big sugar cane fields, and a low flat landscape. After what seemed like a short drive down the N4 tollroad I was turning off the main road to reach Komatipoort, the last town before the Kruger. Komatipoort felt like an odd place. Lush suburbia, and modern shops on the very edge of both South Africa (Mozambique was only a few KM away), and the Kruger.
After leaving Komatipoort, you soon reach the gate to the park, and the bridge over the Crocodile river. Once past the very friendly staff at the gate, I was in the Kruger. This part of the Kruger is fantastically rich in game, and within minutes I saw elephant. At first you find yourself stopping and gawping at every animal. After a while, you start to become more discerning and only stop when you think you can get a decent photo. The drive up to Sabie Bridge was fantastic: game everywhere. The experience was slightly surreal, as this part of the park is crowded with people as well as game, and you could tell where the animals were from the cluster of stopped cars.
At Sabie Bridge I saw my first hippo. Funny looking creatures. Big, ungainly and appearently pretty bad tempered. The drive back down to the entrance to the private concession I was staying in, down the S28 was on a dirt road. This somehow felt more real. The game was just as good. I missed the unsigned entrance to the concession the first time before doubling back and heading down the very rough road to Sishangani lodge, and the start of another part of the trip.