Lionesses on our Kruger Lock-Dowb road trip

Locked-down in Kruger National Park – Day 32

A Lock-Down Kruger road-trip to Skukuza

Steven’s two older children live in Skukuza with their mother. Like the rest of South Africa in lock-down, we are not allowed to drive anywhere except for ‘essential’ things. But luckily divorced parents are allowed to go and fetch their children. Which meant a lock-down road-trip to Skukuza for us! Exciting? Yes!!


It felt like we were venturing into no-mans-land: into the realm of the animals. Where they had been free to roam the tar road for the past 32 days, undisturbed by humans. What a fantastic opportunity! A Kruger lock-down road trip!


The drive to Skukuza from Malelane Gate is a beautiful one with a constantly changing landscape. From the hills around Berg en Dal to the open flat area before Afsaal and from driving over several streams to the big Mathekenyane lookout point.


I was so pleased to see that the Matjulu still had some water in it, which is great for this time of the year. Even Kwaggaspan, not far before the T-junction where you turn left for Pretoriuskop and right to Skukuza had lots of water. And the veld was really looking good.


The tar road itself was pretty much what we expected: some stretches were full of poop. Hippo dung, elephant dung, rhino dung, giraffe pellets and a big black heap of lion poop too. Poop and branches left there by the elephants as reminders for us humans that they had now taken over the roads. Just before the Jock-safari Lodge turn-off there even was the crown of a whole fallen Marula tree in the road. And the elephants had made short work of the foliage.


The animal sightings were relatively quiet on our 70 odd kilometre drive north. In the Skukuza staff village, we found a troop of banded mongoose. Their heads kept popping up and down out of the tall grass. They are such cute animals!

Banded Mongoos in the Skukuza Staff Village
The banded mongoose kept popping up out of the tall grass.

The drive back to Malalane Gate from Skukuza was a lot more eventful than the trip up. Maybe because it was a bit later in the afternoon. We had a big herd of impala in the middle of the road. They were so chilled out and we didn’t really want to drive them off the road so we just waited and enjoyed watching them as they slowly left the tar.


Once Kruger opens again for tourists, we need to keep in mind that the animals have gotten used to the fact that there are no cars. And that they need time to adjust to having vehicles encroach on their space again. I am worried we might see quite a few animals hit by cars if we don’t.


An elephant herd also enjoyed the open road on our way home. Some of the females were feeding on either side of the tar, while a young male was resting smack-bang in the middle of the road. One of the younger females was a bit unsure of what to make of our presence. She picked up a long twig without bark on it and started fiddling with it; putting it in her mouth and on her head, rubbing it against her face. At one point I thought she was going to throw it at us, but eventually, she dropped it and stepped off the road.


It took a while before there was enough space for us to pass. But we did not mind one bit. The road is theirs now to enjoy without us humans. They might as well enjoy it while it lasts.


Not too far before Afsaal, there is a tall koppie where the road makes a big wide turn to the right and down into the flatlands. There, we found two beautiful lionesses! The bigger lioness had a collar on and both of them were clearly lactating. Their cubs were probably hidden somewhere on the koppie. What a lovely sighting…! The ladies walked right past our car!! Once they passed us they stopped and turned back to look at us with those beautiful yellow cat eyes that seem to see straight through you…

Our Kruger lock-down roadtrip
“Those yellow eyes…”
After Afsaal, where the open lands climb up into an area with more trees, was the hyena den where I sometimes take the boys on weekends. The resident clan really loves this particular culvert and we are blessed to find hyenas there quite often. They were home this afternoon. Two females were on the left in the opening of the culvert in the shade cast by a dense bush.


We stopped and switched off the engine. Before long two tiny hyena pups came out, still black in colour – their mothers softly vocalising. Hyena pups are such inquisitive little cuties, and one of the babies came a bit closer and had a good look at us before starting to suckle on its mom.

Hello, inquisitive cutie!!

Animal encounters like the ones we had during our lock-down road trip to Skukuza, make us realize once again how lucky we are that we get to call Kruger National Park home. And that we are locked-down in the safest place possible. We are truly blessed.


Stay safe everyone!



Xxx, Linda

21 thoughts on “Locked-down in Kruger National Park – Day 32

  1. I absolutely love your stories. I was supposed to be there with my family this week. So sad!

  2. It is so wonderful to be swept away to Kruger from lock down in UK. Memories come flooding back. The smell of elephant pop. My sister was not making paper at the time and strongly parked by some dumb so she could sweep it into a plastic bag. ‘An’ she murmured ‘perfect for paper’. The day got hotter. The smell stronger…. We carried that smelly bag for 4 more days in Kruger before taking it back toZKZN! Thanks so much Linda and Steve.. You are indeed blessed but still keep safe.

  3. Thank you once again for taking me on your trip through the Kruger. It is such a joy to read of your trips and what you see. Stay safe

  4. Thank you Linda. I so enjoy you stories. Am also worried about the re opening. Perhaps it’s not so much the tourists but delivery vehicles. Maybe Parks board can put patrol cars on the roads, especially near the entrance gates. Just saying?

  5. Thank you Linda. I so enjoy you stories. Am also worried about the re opening. Perhaps it’s not so much the tourists but delivery vehicles. Maybe Parks board can put patrol cars on the roads, especially near the entrance gates. Just saying?

  6. What a lucky break, and how all the kids must have enjoyed that road trip . . . . I love your descriptions, and telling us where you saw the sightings brought those places right into my mind – I know that road pretty well so i could work out exactly where you were. Thanks for giving me a little wild safari trip . The roads sound so comfortably taken over by the animals and I hope everyone heeds your plea for a gentle introduction that the humans are back in their usual noisy, smelly way! I have to wonder if the more sentient animals, such as the elephants, who must be aware of the change, actually wonder where we all are! Keep well all of you.

    1. Hi Sal!! I am sure that the elephants are very well aware that we all left! Animals habituate quickly to any situation! Keep well too! Hope we can meet again on your next Kruger visit!?

  7. Hi Linda, we continue to love your descriptions of the landscape, roaming animals and excitement during this time of freedom for them. It is truly “our” turn to be better humans when the lock-downs are over …. not just in Kruger for the animals’ sake, but in every walk of life, everywhere. When we visited Kruger, our amazing drive guide took us to quite a remote area early in our journey to avoid people / vehicles. Yet, an impala had been hit by a vehicle (freshly) just before our tour guide approached, although we didn’t see any vehicle in front of us nor did we pass any vehicle at dawn. The only thing that this unfortunate accident provided us was to see from 20 feet away, how the vultures clean up the mess. They were magnificent in their macabre essence. Silent except for wing noises. Cheers,

  8. I really like hyenas and the cubs are so, so cute. We once saw a couple of cubs fighting over a piece skin.

  9. Hi Linda, Thanks to you and the various on line game viewing trips which keep us “bushies” sane.
    Is it not AMAAAZING how quickly nature takes back that what the human race believes belongs to them – remember your garden after your AMS / Netherlands trip. Let’s hope that when we are allowed to return to the various game parks that humans remember to take back home, chip packets (don’t care if they are Simba) plastic of all type and yes parents please take your off springs poo home – human poo and diapers are of no nutritional value.
    We are proud of the staff looking after the game reserves and hope that all future visitors respect our future.
    PS can you imagine how “wild” the game reserves will be after 3 or 6 months of selfish visitors not destroying the habitat. Thanks we waiting for the next “OLIKNP” episode.

  10. thanks, I know every one of those locations you speak about, my heart is crying out to be there, but alas my July trip and 3 x trails are put off for a year I suppose..?
    thank you for these descriptions and photos, you are very very fortunate
    regards to Steve
    Graham Patterson

  11. Dear Linda,
    I just love all the field trips you take us on and especially your descriptions. Perhaps you should write a coffee table book about this time in the Kruget. I know that I would love one for sure. I just pray that everyone who enters our parks will be mindful of the beauty they enter, and all its wildlife residents.
    Thank you for all your precious sharing. Take care and God Bless

  12. How wonderful for you see all the animals and the fact they are enjoying their freedom from tourists.
    Yes agreed it will be very difficult when lockdown is lifted. Maybe a monitored approach to amount of cars going in would be an idea.
    Stay safe .
    Regards Diane

  13. Thanks again Linda. I have been missing Kruger so much, that I now watch Wild Earth every morning and afternoon. Here too you can see the animals have taken over the roads. And as you say, we are going to have to be very careful driving once the park reopens.

  14. Linda I so love laundry day that I think you need to do laundry every day. Anything to keep me in Kruger . Love the blog and can’t wait to come back to Kruger. Thank you for keeping me sane.

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