21st to 24th October 2020
It is a two kms drive to the Shingwedzi gate once you exit the H1-6. You drive alongside the river bed with many tall trees either side. When we were there the river bed had a number of pools in it. The water was not flowing. It is difficult to imagine that the river sometimes overflows its banks. The volume of water would be immense.
Our friends had arrived before us and were in the process of putting up their camp by a spot along the fence. When we had checked-in they told us not to do so as one has to book those sites in advance and all were booked. We mentioned that to our friends and they told us that they had not been told. After much hoohah with check-in they decided to move. Shame.
The campsite was far from full.
After all our travels it was time to do some washing – except the camp’s laundry machines had broken down so the staff were using the one laundry machine to wash hutted guest towels – piling them in to fill the machine completely.
We had a friendly Dwarf Mongoose visit us one day looking for food no doubt. Bird wise the camp was very quiet. Not surprising after 6 months of lockdown they went elsewhere to find food.
Some typical habitat in the area.
A Lion kill had been reported. A Waterbuck lying in the riverbed along the S50 heading south. We took a drive out to see what was left. We passed the breached Kanniedood Dam passing a number of good water bird pools- even coming across a Saddle-billed Stork in the bush and a pair of Verreaux’s Eagle Owls.
Just before reaching the Lion kill we spotted 5 male Lions clambering away from us on the opposite side of the dry river bed. Eventually we reached the spot. The poor waterbuck was lying close to our edge of the river bed – just visible through the foliage. Vultures were everywhere but on the carcass – a lioness was lying on the sand close by – perhaps that was the reason. Suddenly the vultures all piled in one on top of another. The stomach was pulled out and carried away much agro as to who will keep it. However once open it looked a soggy mess and most vultures gave up on it. There was a goodly variety of Vultures – Lappet-faced, White-backed, White-headed and Hooded. And then the hyenas arrived,
And when Hyenas arrive then chaos.
Further along the S50 you pass Dipene Outpost monument on the way to the Nyawutsi Hide. Elephant were there and so was an African Fish-Eagle. The Eagle was fluttering between branches and posing for photos.
The R52 – SW of the camp is a double loop road either side of a (usually) dryish river. The Red Rocks lookout is found on the first loop. The second loop goes further to the Tshanga Lookout. The second loop is well vegetated with large trees following the both sides of the river. It was along this loop that we saw some interesting birds. One such was a raptor which challenged us to recognise. Eventually we decided it was a Booted Eagle with an unusual lump on its chest..
Other birds seen along this loop:
We visited Red Rocks on the first loop as well and saw a small herd of Elephants walking on the rocks.
Just north of Shingwedzi is a dirt road – the S56 – going up to the Babalala Picnic site. For many people this road is considered one of the most scenic in the park. It was certainly that for us, as well as just as exciting.
As we drove along we found Buffalo and Elephant ambling in the river bed. In one area there were over 150 Buffalo enjoying a largish pool of water. Elephants were digging for water.
Further along there were elephant scattered in the dry river bed digging for water. Sally took a video of one Elephant at work and was surprised what she saw. Have a look. And be surprised.
Birds too were lovely to see
We ventured along the S56 several times and came across leopards each time. We found the one in the video several times in the same place and another in the same general but resting on a branch. Our favourite cat.
In the three days we were in Shingwedzi we recorded 112 different bird species. Click on the link to see our list.
From Shingwedzi we headed to Punda Maria which forms Part 6 of our report.