Cheetah on a game drivve in KNP

Game drive in our pyjama’s – Cheetahs in the mist

It is supper chilly this morning and a little mist is hanging in the riverbed of the Nhlanganini stream that runs past the staff village. We don’t get these misty mornings here in Letaba very often. They remind me of Holland… Around this time last year, it was super misty and cold the one morning, so I bundled the boys up was soon as we were all awake and we went for a lekker game drive in our pyjama’s. Early mornings are the best time to go for a game drive and since our boys are always up early, I thought I would seize the moment!


I decided to drive north towards Mopani and have a look what the view was like from the high water bridge over the Letaba. Just before the road goes down towards the Letaba high water bridge, you have a nice view of the area north of the river. It looked like the whole area was covered in a thick white woolly blanket, with only the tallest trees sticking out! I had never seen anything like it here up in the north of Kruger.


Zebra's in the mist in Kruger National Park
Zebra’s on a misty morning in Kruger

Just north of the bridge is an open area on the right hand side. It is usually quite good for game viewing. I have found elephant there; zebra, wildebeest, ostriches and the elusive tsessebe hang out there from time to time as well. Obviously with the fog, we could not see far into the open area, but as I slowly drove past, a few zebra emerged out of the mist. It almost looked like the world had changed into black and white! Further up ahead a lone elephant bull was also visible in the monochrome world on our right.


I didn’t want to game drive all the way up the Mopani rest camp and there was a little loop I was planning on turning around coming up. I overtook a vehicle that was driving very slowly. I greeted the people inside, but they were looking into the bush on the left intently. I wondered if they were actually seeing something… I checked in my rear view mirror and all of a sudden saw three shapes emerge from the mist and wondered onto the road. Cheetah!!! I had not seen cheetah in ages! I actually think it was about a year and a half or more ago! These cats are so special! At sightings like this my heart always skips a beat and then races in excitement! I quickly turned my car around. Three cheetah males had come out of the Mopani veld and into the road. They were walking in the direction of the Letaba bridge. The presence of our cars did not seem to bother them very much so we got to spend some amazing quality time with these magnificent animals!


three male cheetahs in Kruger Park
Cheetah’s in the mist

Jack was still very young at the time and had absolutely no clue as to how special this was, but Alex was looking at these beautiful cats in utter fascination. He actually called them by the Dutch word for cat, which I really should not spell out here, because it happens to be a horrible swearword in Afrikaans. I speak Dutch to the kids and this particular word has caused us some embarrassing moments in public…



Cheetah Kruger National Park during a game drive
looking for his brothers

Further up ahead, I could make out the shapes of some impala’s in the mist. Wow these cheetahs were so clever! They were using the poor visibility in the fog and our cars as a cover to sneak up to these impala. They started trotting… I think it was myself and another two cars that were keeping up with them as they started to gather speed. Then all of a sudden they dashed off at full speed and deeper into the bush so we lost sight of them.


I don’t think they made a kill, because after a few minutes two of them came back to the road softly chirping to reunite with their brother, who joined them a bit later.

Not long afterwards, they disappeared into the mist again and we lost sight of them completely. But wow, this was the best pyjama game drive ever!



11 thoughts on “Game drive in our pyjama’s – Cheetahs in the mist

  1. I have seen cheetah quite a few times but mostly obscured and at a distance. My best sighting was in 1987 near Kruger rocks when one walked across in front of me with a small buck. Stopped about 25 m or so in and then chirped. Another joined him and the sound of cracking bones could be heard as they feasted. They then got up and moved a metre or two away and showed their gory faces and hands which they proceeded to clean in exactly the way a domestic cat does!! The camera I had at the time was clumsy, the bush a bit bothersome so my pics are not the best memory but the pictures in my mind – they will never go away.
    I notice many people are seeing a lot of cheetah and wild dog of late – only seen wild dog once – oddly that was while on business in the Okavango!!

    1. Cheetah sightings are so special to me too! We don’t get to see them often at all!
      I saw wild dogs just outside Berg en Dal camp as we left yesterday and we do see them regularly around Letaba/Phalaborwa. Four of them even came running past the house the one morning! Very special!
      Not bad to have to go to the Delta on business;-)

  2. I am going to read your post again because when I read the part about the cheetahs and yourbsons speaking Dutch, I laughed so much, I had to stop reading. I can imagine it can cause a lot of confusion in an Afrikaans community! ???
    Will comment on your beautiful photos and writing later. ??

    1. Haha Marietjie, we have had some very strange looks from people…
      I have an app on my IPad with all the farm animals and their sounds. Also in Dutch. Can you imagine us sitting in the restaurant here in Letaba and Alex playing on his IPad when the app says “Cat” in Dutch?? I nearly died!!:-)))))

      1. Hahaha! I can just imagine. I have just finished reading the blog. Super writing. Your description of the animals and trees in the mist is so pretty, I can see it. Love your blog.

  3. Thanks for the pyjama game-drive story. It took me straight back to Kruger because we also had one of those amazing misty days, just as you described when we were in Kruger recently. The landscape looks quite surreal and as the sun comes up and highlights the vegetation it is just too beautiful. Your children are very lucky to be brought up by someone who loves the bush as you and your husband do.

    1. Ah Thanks Sal! One of the reasons I started this blog is so the children can read back all these stories when they are bigger and perhaps in the big city. And by doing this, it has made me extra aware of the extraordinary and special place they get to grow up in!

  4. Just love your blog Linda. In winter we also do the early pajama drive. Saw 4 cheetah killed an impala just outside Letaba camp next to the river last December. I love how they take turns to eat…

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