Birding the easy way at Lake Panic

Lake Panic bird hide near Skukuza provides secret views of a hippo- and croc-filled dam which is a magnet for birds of all stripes. Big raptors, herons, jacanas, thick-knees, kingfishers, ducks and many more inhabit the convenient dead leadwoods and thick surrounding bush, or dart around on the lily pads. Best sightings are early morning or sunset. One story is that Lake Panic got its name from a year in which the river feeding it flooded and threatened to break the wall. If it had, that would have been the end of the golf course and staff village.

Leopard Sighting - Southern Kruger National Park - NHLAMBANYATHI HIDE

There's nothing quite like the thrill of the first leopard sighting. Nocturnal, secretive and with a distaste for humans, leopards are the megatick encounter in Kruger. Mine was a big male snoozing on an outstretched limb of a large leadwood on the S28 just near Nhlambanyathi Hide. It was picture perfect but seemed disinclined to move. I watched and waited. Other drivers got bored and left. Then sky behind it darkened and the first spatters of rain hit the windscreen. The leopard sat up, clearly irritated, its ears flat. Then it picked its way along the branch and leapt down the tree.

Off-roading Pretorius Camp -Southern Kruger National Park

After riding Kruger's road network for a while and staring sideways into the bush looking for beasties, a desire starts growing to get out there into the wilderness. Near Pretoriuskop, there's a 4x4 trail that does just that. The Madlabantu (Man-eater) Trail circles the camp, using a combination of visitor roads and off-road paths, beginning at the Fayi Loop. For me, the highlights were the huge bushveld trees and looming granite whalebacks that seemed to attract kudus, buffaloes and perky klipspringers. The trail can be booked at Pretoriuskop reception.

From Brave Beginnings - Southern Kruger National Park

The park was opened to visitors in 1927. A few cars visited that year and they all headed for Numbi Gate and Pretoriuskop, the first rest camp. Black-and-white prints in the reception give you an idea what a trip to the park used to be like: no luxuries, shops or petrol stations; in fact not much but cold water tanks and camp sites. Today you'll get a smile and free glass of chilled fruit juice at reception.

Garden Route Tours from Port Elizabeth

This tour runs parallel to the southern most coastline of Africa, famous for its unique diversity of lakes, mountains, golden beaches, cliffs and dense indigenous forests. Its extraordinary beauty complements the adjacent semi-arid valley, called the Little Karoo. The Garden Route also offers natural wonders such as the Cango Caves. The town of Oudtshoorn has the ideal habitat for ostrich farming making it the ostrich Mecca of the world. This is one of our most popular tours due to its diversity of scenery.

The British and Voortrekkers (Settlers)

Then the British annexed the Cape. The process continued (it culminated in nine frontier wars), and the 1820 the British Settlers arrived. The community in the Cape became progressively unhappy with British rule. Taxes and the abolishment of slavery in 1834 were some of the main reasons why some of them packed their oxwagons and ventured into the unknown inland just to get away from the British (the Great Trek).

More Clashes

After the Battle of Blood River in 1836 where the Voortrekkers broke the back of the Zulu army, and the death of Dingaan, the area south of the Tugela River became the Boer Republic of Natalia, and the area north of the river was Zululand.

Indians Arrive

In the meantime, in 1860/61, the British in Natal brought 600 Indian families to the area as indentured workers on the sugar cane fields. They were rather severely discriminated against, and they even had to carry passes to keep control of their movements. That led to Muhatma Gandhi staying on in the country till 1914, fighting discrimination.

Today, South Africa (more specifically Durban) has what is described as the largest Indian population outside of India. The Indian community renders a valuable contribution to the economical and political environment of the country.

Anglo-Boer War and Union

In 1899 gold led directly to the Anglo-Boer War that lasted three years. President Paul Kruger of the ZAR and the High Commissioner of the Cape Colony, the imperialist Lord Milner, failed to agree on rights for the "Uitlanders". That induced Kruger to pre-empt a British declaration of war in 1899.

Apartheid and Resistance

After 1948, the National Party bonded itself to the Apartheid ideology. The plan was to fabricate a permanent white political majority by purging the voter's role of all Blacks, and by creating "Homelands" for all Black people where political provision could be made for them leading up to self-government, an option eventually exercised by most of the larger homelands.

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