Kruger Part 5 Shingwedzi

Kruger Part 5


Report by Paul and Sally Bartho

21 to 23 November 2018

Shingwedzi Campsite – empty

We only planned to have one full day here – and it was enough. Temperatures had climbed reaching over 420 C at times. Thankfully there was a swimming pool to cool us down each afternoon.

On the way to Shingwedzi from Balule we stopped at Letaba for breakfast – hoping to see the mad woodpecker again – not this time.

Bearded Woodpecker sorry wrong tree

We had tea and some birding at Mooiplaas picnic site. A must as it is an interesting birding site with tall trees by the river and next to the wild rustic Tsendze campsite.

At the Tropic of Capricorn both Splat and Rocky took a starring role.

Splat and Rocky enjoying being in the Tropics

Tsessebe appeared out of nowhere and Zebra and Buffalo gave us a crossed legged display of how to get down to the water at one of the waterholes.


We eventually arrived at midday at the camp.

The tree beside our chosen site was visited by three different types of Woodpecker as we set up in the deserted camp.

Our time at Shingwedzi was spent dawdling down to the hide and Kanniedood Dam as well as taking the loop road to Bateleur Bushcamp and back along the Redrocks Road.

It is a good time of the year to visit this far north because few people venture even as far north as Letaba.

The hide was not worth the visit as there was no water in sight. However on the last loop road before the hide Sally spotted movement – a skulking Leopard below us alongside the river bed.


Everything was quiet further down towards the Kanniedood dam. Lack of water and damn hot.

That first evening we noticed three Little Swifts flying madly around inside the nearest kitchenette building to us. They were flying up and down, round and round and bashing into the wall. Eventually one fell to ground. I picked it up and released it outside but it went straight back in and it was soon on the floor again. This time we took it to our campsite and put it in a cool bag to settle down – planning to release it in daylight. Back at the kitchinette another Little Swift collapsed. Again I took it back to our site and Sally suggested releasing it away from the light. We did and it flew off into the night so we released the other as well. Peace and calm in the kitchenette and two happy birds we hope.

What was interesting was not only the very soft feel of the birds but also it gave us an opportunity to see their real size with wings extended.

On our one full day there, we headed down the road to the Bateleur Bushcamp. Very quiet most of the way. Anthills had silly expressions – as this one pointing us skyward.

Pointed Anthill

But we did have a couple of great sightings. The most exciting and least expected was that of a Allen’s Gallinule. It was on its own in a small stretch of water in the river.

The other sighting was that of two White-headed Vultures doing a fly-over for us.

The road from the camp to the bridge is always interesting as it overlooks the river and has numerous large trees to investigate for Owls and other birds. At the bridge our first Broad-billed Roller was spotted.

Broad-billed Roller

A Martial Eagle flew over and another sat close for a photo.

A Goliath Heron had a Mad Hair Day in the river among other sightings.

Southern Ground Hornbills appeared on our travels round the camp – none had been ringed – much like those we had seen previously.

Despite our short visit we did manage to identify 97 different bird species. See list by clicking here.

From Shingwedzi we headed north to Punda Maria stopping at Babalala Picnic site for breakfast.

Breakfast at Babalala on way to Punda Maria

Our time at Punda Maria forms the next instalment. Kruger Part 6 – Punda Maria

Paul and Sally Bartho

Zululand and the Kruger – Part 6

Shingwedzi 9 to 11 November

Paul and Sally Bartho

Shingwedzi was our next place to visit in the Kruger. Effectively we only had one full day there. On arrival, the day began to cook and the next day it was boiling – both days got up to 45 degrees C. Much of both afternoons were spent in the rather grand swimming pool under the shade of a densely leafed tree or in the water. Fortunately we had taken our loungers with us so we were quite comfortable in the shade.

The birds loved the tree as well. And many came down to the area where water gathered as it was being recirculated into the pool. Green-winged Pitylias, Firefinches, Waxbills and Weavers all came to bathe and it was possible to get close if you were in the water.

With the air-conditioning full blast it was more pleasant to be in the car than the camp. Both afternoons we drove down along the river to visit the hide. There was some water in the river and at one point we observed the carcass of a buffalo near the water’s edge – being guarded by a number of crocodiles whilst vultures hung around waiting for their chance.

The first morning we were there was spent driving around the Red Rocks Loop – the R52.

Along the way we observed an elephant resting lying down against the bank of a river.

Elephant resting on the side of the bank
Elephant resting on the side of the bank

The bird we most enjoyed seeing was the Grey-rumped Swallow

In all we observed 119 different species in the short time we were there. Here are some other photos of what we saw.

And then we were off to the rustic camp Balule near Olifants – continued in Part 7.