Today we were leaving Kruger, but in no particular hurry to do so. While I was sitting outside our neighbour popped round to tell me that his kids had been out early and spotted both hyena and wild dogs on the Orpen road. I immediately jumped in the car, and 21km further found a pack of wild dog next to the road. For me this was the highlight of Kruger and I’m very glad I went to see them as they moved on further in from the road as I watched on, and if we came round any later I would have missed them completely. The leaders of the pack were not bothered about the vehicles at all, and the female especially sniffed around the cars and tried poking her nose into people’s windows, before trotting off into the longer grass.
I drove back to Satara and we got on the road a bit later than planned, but still made good time to Orpen gate. My original plan was to do the Panorama Route the next day, but I checked the weather report and it appeared that the next day would be cloudy with rain, which made it a better idea to leave Kruger early and see the sights on the Panorama Route while it was sunny – plus I don’t think we would have seen anything much based on the preceding couple of days’ experience!
We left Kruger around 11am and made our way to the Panorama Route, stopping first at the Three Rondavels. We then realised we’d have to get a move on in order to see everything we wanted to see, and sped on. We did Bourke’s Luck Potholes and God’s Window in rapid succession before heading back north to the area near Hoedspruit where we were staying for the night. The views along the Panorama Route are amazing, even though it was a little bit hazy over God’s Window and quite busy with tourists. At each lookout point you’ll also find stalls selling African art, carvings, jewellery and fabric.
Accommodation in the area can be quite expensive as pretty much everything is some kind of fancypants lodge or safari something or other, so I was very happy with the lodge I found for under R1,000/night. The place is called Blyde River Wilderness Lodge, and though it is a bit off the beaten track (including a gravel road that carries on much further than you think it will) it is very good value for money and a true oasis. We got to the lodge at exactly 6pm, which is a shame as it was pretty much dark already and it would have been nice to spend some time at the property, but that’s just the way things work out sometimes! We were staying in Kingfisher cottage, which is a self contained, self catering unit, kitted out with everything you need, including its own braai area. The cottage had a separate bedroom, bathroom and kitchen and was very nicely furnished and laid out and I was immediately regretting not being able to spend more time there.
We unloaded the car before popping over to the restaurant for a couple of well deserved beers on their deck – it was a bloody long day! We opted to cook our steak on the hotplate instead of bothering with a fire for a braai – and the steak was great! I think I’ve eaten more steak and potatoes in the last three weeks than in the last three years, and it is definitely showing!!