Monday we drove all the way from Letaba to Berg en Dal. I needed to go to Nelspruit on Tuesday for the renewal of my spousal visa and Steven needs to go on trail today. He has been transferred to Wolhuter trail and until they fix the house up at Malelane Gate, he is driving all the way down to Berg en Dal for two trails and then all the way up to Letaba again for his week off. The house at the gate is in a bad state. The termites have climbed in there and have eaten most of the skirting. Now that those are almost finished they have started eating the kitchen cupboards and a few have actually come off the walls. But it is a beautiful house and I think we will be extremely happy there once it has been renovated. We have been waiting for 3 months, but nothing has happened to the house so far, which had been frustrating to say the least, but we try to make to most of it, so we all drove together on Monday and we get to spend some time in Berg en Dal, which feels a bit like a mini vacation in our own back yard!

 

It was a long drive down. About 240 kilometres, so we didn’t stop for much. We saw a lone lioness on the other side of the Olifants River where the road hugs the banks for a kilometre or two and the hippos a bit further up were sunning themselves on a big stretch of sand that got left there after the floods of 2013. It looks like Miami Beach! Those hippos must also feel like they are on holiday!

Alex had us in stitches when we drove past a few giraffe. His flavour of the month movie at the moment is Madagascar and when we stopped next to this big giraffe, he just pointed at it and said “Melman!” Clever boy!

 

We also spent 9 days in Berg en Dal two months ago just after Alex had malaria, and we saw such a lot of animals. We saw leopard almost every day, which is always lekker. But the most special of them all to me at the moment are rhino. We don’t see rhino’s in the north at all. So seeing active dung middens and rhino’s peacefully sleeping under trees is such a special treat to all of us! Another thing I really enjoy about the south is that people are so friendly! They greet each other in passing and patiently share information about sightings. I think I am going to love spending more time here!

 

Stunning mountains around berg en dal
The road from Berg en Dal

So this morning was the first morning we did not have to pack up and rush anywhere, so I took the boys for a bit of a drive. We left shortly after seven. It was such a stunning winter morning. Nice and crisp cool air, stunning blue skies, the grasses all tawny coloured and dry, the leaves changing colour now that winter is here. And then there are the koppies and the hills surrounding the camp. It is so beautiful down here!

 

I drove the winding tar road that leads from Berg en Dal camp back to the main road where you can go either left to Skukuza or right towards Malelane gate. We had nowhere to be in a hurry, so I took my time admiring the hills and the beautiful landscape. I saw a bit of a traffic jam up ahead. A bakkie with an elderly couple was a little closer to me so I quietly asked them what it is they were looking at. There are three leopards down there. The gentleman behind the steering wheel said in Afrikaans. And he pointed towards a drainage ditch towards the right. Three leopards? I thought he meant cheetah, because in Afrikaans they are called ‘jagluiperd’ and male cheetah form coalitions and are often seen together. But no he actually meant leopard. Now leopard are very elusive, solitary animals that are usually only seen together when they mate or when it is a female with a cub. So this was a sighting definitely worth stopping for and trying to see where they were.

 

I stopped a bit closer to the traffic jam and saw a cat on my right. At first glance it did look like a cheetah, but upon closer inspection through my binoculars, I could see clearly it was a leopard!! Then I saw movement a bit further up ahead through some magic guarris. Another leopard! Then all of a sudden I saw some movement on an open field at the bottom on one of the hills and there was the third leopard that just went to lie down. The sun had just come over the hill and made the field he was in this beautiful golden colour, the leopard showing in silhouette with the sun behind him.

The next time we go on a trip like this, I definitely need to bring my good camera with my big lens, because trying to take a picture with my phone was just impossible.

 

The other two leopards crossed the road and were now also in this golden field. It was a female with her cub. The cub was a decent size already and I just sat there in my car with my jaw on my lap utter astonishment. I have never seen anything like this ever before. It was such an amazing and special sighting! Jack was on the wrong side of the car and fast asleep, and even though the leopards were a bit of a distance away, Alex saw them and made a few meowing sounds. He really loves his animals!

 

Leopard in a tree with a pocupine kill in KNP
Leopard in a tree with a porcupine

The male leopard got up and through my binoculars I could see just what a beautiful animal he was. In the prime of his life, with that big head and thick neck typical of a tomcat; his rosetted coat shiny and beautiful. No wonder this lady was following him!

 

The three of them slowly walked away and disappeared in the valley between two hills, leaving each and every person in that traffic jam that saw them with big smiles on their faces! Day made!

 

I don’t have any photos of these stunning leopard so close to Berg en Dal unfortunately, so the pictures featured here are some pics I have taken through the years.

 

26 thoughts on “Berg en Dal

  1. Great story, so loverly to hear your daily trials and tribulations, it is great that you will be moving south as it’s a lovely part of the park, I lived and worked in Malelane before moving to the UK, you will love the people there as they are very friendly and kind

    1. Ah thanks Sean! We are really looking forward to the move! Glad to hear there are such lovely people around our new area!

  2. Wow, Linda! I just love your blogs. Got a few days behind, so I just had a real treat. Three stories in a row. Super writing, and very interesting. If you are moving to the Malelane area, life would surely be easier re schools when your boys is bigger. Glad for you.

  3. Well we are back from Kruger, and I am insanely envious of your three leopards! We were in Berg-en-Dal for the last four nights of our stay and left on Saturday morning. Didn’t see a single leopard (let alone three!) the entire time we were there! To make up for it, we did see the Egyptian Vulture that is currently creating much excitement in the birding world . . . .
    Whilst in Kruger I did manage to read your blogs and have been enjoying them greatly. Thanks for taking the time and making the effort to put them out here; it is wonderful to get a picture of Kruger from the other side of the fence so to speak and I really enjoy the fact that I never know what you are going to write about next!

    1. Hi Sal! Oh wow so you got to see that Egyptian Vulture! Is he in his adult plumage yet? Steven has seen him a few times. Still very high on my bucket list! Very lucky!

      1. It is moving in that direction Linda; still dark feathers but the bare facial area is now yellow and in flight you can see paler feathers coming in. We were so lucky. the first time we went – not a sign of it, but the second time we arrived just as it was making a low flight from what seemed to be a collection of a breakfast snack as it flew down onto the ground behind some bushes then flew into a tree by the dam and started to pull at something. Later it took off and began circling with the thermals so we had a really good view.

          1. The last message I got from Rare Birds was that it was still in the vicinity of transport dam at the junction of the H1-1 and the S65, which means that it probably still uses the big tree on the left of the carpark (as you face the dam) at transport dam at night. You need to get there before nine in the morning as it picks up the thermals once the morning warms up. Good luck!

          2. Ok cool! I will definetely go have a look when we are in the area again! Have a lekker weekend Sal!

  4. I am so enjoying your blogs. I sometimes feel like I am inside the car with you. Keep up the excellent work. Looking forward to the next one Regards. Marcia

  5. I spent most of my young life in a town near Kruger. We often went to Kruger over weekends. As I read and enjoy your blog, I close my eyes and I am there ! Now I make my hometown in the USA but Kruger is in my heart. Thank you for your blog.

  6. Good luck with the renovations. We love camping at Malelane Satellite Camp. So peaceful and such a lovely area to see game. Love the hills and have always been very lucky in spotting animals in that area. Leopard in particular and 4 cheetah last year.
    Love reading your blog as it takes me to a little peace of heaven each time. You are privileged to be staying in such a lovely place. Good luck

  7. You are going to miss Letaba. South very busy. Lots and lots of game drive vehicles, all blocking sightings.

    1. There are definetely things about Letaba I am going to miss! But also looking forward to being a bit closer to civilisation;-)

  8. I love reading about your experiences in Kruger. I fell in love with Kruger from my first visit in 1969. I have visited almost every year since then. My daughter and her family who live in the Netherlands come back every two years to join us for a week in Kruger. Once Kruger is in your blood, it’s there for life.

  9. Thanks for sharing your adventures with us, you are so lucky living in the Best place on earth!
    When back in the Netherlands, your stories are the best curee for my home sicknes which I suffer from as soon as
    I have left our home in Marloth Park. Can’t wait to be back in November and will certainly visit the Berg and Dal area again! Dank je wel!

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