Limpopo Province, South Africa. 2011 - 2012 - Punda Maria, Kruger National Park

Punda Maria Rest Camp is the most northerly rest camp in the Kruger National Park. I'd originally booked a site at Tshipse Hot Springs Resort for 5 days over the New Year but within half an hour of arriving we decided that it wasn't for us (loud music on the campsite and close to a road) so we just stayed for 2 nights and went to Punda Maria on Dec 31st rather than Jan 3rd as originally intended - we were very lucky to get the last stand for the first 2 days!

Although the campsite was fully booked for the first few days of our stay it didn't seem as full as when we were here back in September. It was lovely to have a pool for cooling off during the day and it was never overcrowded. The ablutions were well maintained. There are only power points in some areas so if you want to camp right by the fence it can get crowded.

Location: S22 41.494 E31 00.957 Cost: R180 per night (excluding Park fees).

Our lovely peaceful site at Punda Maria - we stayed for 8 nights.

A pair of grey-headed sparrows were busy building a nest in the tree behind our tent.

Having the trailer meant that Kevin could stay at the site while I went out for drives, usually around the nearly Mahonie loop. Quite often I would just stop the bakkie and sit and listen to the birds or just watch a group of impala, buffalo or nyalas for a while.

Every day I saw buffalo. There were at least 2 large herds with in excess of 80 animals in each.

I saw this old bull at the same mud hole on several occasions.

This herd held me up for a while as they crossed the track.

The animals are used to vehicles so you can often get quite close to them.

A small group of female kudu stayed here for some time while I sat and watched them.

Sharpe's grysbok are usually shy but I saw several and some weren't bothered by vehicles.

We both had a drive out to the Pafuri section of the park which borders Zimbabwe. It was much drier there apart from a small strip next to the river. We stopped at Crooks Corner , the border between South Africa, Zimbabwe and Mozambique at the confluence of the Luvuvhu and Limpopo rivers.

Punda Maria is renowned for its birding and I saw plenty in the area.

A male masked weaver constructing his nest.

A male paradise-whydah in breeding plumage.

A marabou stork at dusk. When I drove out the next morning it was still perched at the top of this dead tree.

One afternoon I spotted s tiny bat on the side of the kitchen block at the campsite. It was right next to the ground and being attacked by ants. I told our neighbour, Erich, and he used a stick to pick the bat up and re-locate it to the roof of the building. Just as well that he used the stick as it had some sharp teeth!

I was glad of the opportunity to put to use some of the tips that I'd picked up on the photography course that we'd done back in September.

I now often use the AV function with a large aperture to take close-up photos of birds and animals as it reduces the depth of field, blurring the background and giving more focus on the subject.

On a drive down towards Shingwedzi Camp we were held up by this group of male giraffes so saw watching them until they eventually wandered off into the bush.

A little later we were lucky enough to catch sight of this leopard walking along parallel to the road

Even the young impala allowed us to get close without disturbing them.

1. Chelmsford Nature Reserve, KwaZulu-Natal

2. Marakele National Park, Limpopo

3. Mapungubwe National Park, Limpopo

4. Punda Maria, Kruger National Park, Limpopo

Diary (word document)


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