Kruger was on fire…Charred bush on both sides of the tar road …What’s going on?…

Upon entering Kruger National Park from the Crocodile Bridge, we encounter the devastation from fires on both sides of the tar road for many kilometers. Many downed trees were still smoldering as shown in this photo.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Vervet monkey drinking water off the roadway.

In order to provide our readers with new photos in each day’s post, we often have to consider our inventory of new photos. Posting each day often leaves us short of new and/or different photos. When this happens every so often, we make a special effort, rain or shine to get out in search of more shots.

Yesterday, was such a day. Recently, preoccupied with immigration issues we hadn’t taken the time to go into Kruger since we returned from Zambia and Botswana on August 23rd.  
We hadn’t been to Kruger since August 1st, based on crowds during the holiday season. Plus, we were away and when we returned we were preoccupied with the visa situation. Finally, we went to the park to find this, burnt bush along both sides of the road during a one-hour drive along the tar road.

We hadn’t been to Kruger since August 1st due to the crowds during the holiday season which still continues, although less at the moment. It will begin to ramp up again by September 21st, the first day of spring in this part of the world.  Also, school holidays begin on September 24th and will continue well into October.

The peace and quiet we’re enjoying now will change entirely during the above period. We must remain patient while we focus on enjoying the wild animals that do come to visit during this time and the exquisite scenes that will continue on the Crocodile River which we can see from the Marloth Park side of the fence between the two parks. The crowds have no bearing on wildlife visiting the river.

The terrain was now hostile for wildlife and there had been reports from tourists seeing dead animals, burned to death in the fires. Heartbreaking.

Our expectations weren’t high when we crossed the Crocodile Bridge into the park where there was no wait at the entrance gate. We showed our passports, the completed entry form and our WildCard (yearlong) pass to gain entrance.

It was raining when we entered. In essence, we were happy it was raining when it’s so good for the wildlife to have better sources of water and the greening of the vegetation providing abundant food sources.  

Baboons drinking and playing in the rainwater on the tar road in Kruger.

As dry as it has been these past many months, rain is certainly welcomed as a valuable resource of regeneration for the bushveld and its wildlife. We’ve never heard any locals complaining about any rainy weather, nor do we. And soon, the rainy season will begin in full force, the closer we get to spring.

As we began the drive along the tar road, our preferred route in the little cars, knowing full well wildlife can be anywhere whether it’s on the tar road or the many dirt roads since they are always on the move regardless of the road surface, we couldn’t help but notice the bush looking more and more charred as we continued on.

Bird of prey in a tree.

Within about 10 minutes we were surrounded on both sides of the road by smoldering trees with smoke wafting through the air. It even smelled of smoke in the car with the windows closed and I found myself choking. from time to time.  Tom, a former smoker and fireman, didn’t seem to notice it as much as I did.

For more information on fires in Kruger National Park, please click here.

After the sad drive along the tar road and choking from the smoke, we decided to take the dirt road loop back to the Crocodile Bridge, another hour-long drive.  

The further we drove the worse it became. We spotted a few animals drinking rainwater out of the puddles and ruts in the road and literally none in the bush.  

After driving for over an hour, aghast by what we were seeing and anxious to see at least a little wildlife, we took the loop turnoff back to the Crocodile Bridge.  There was no way we were interested in seeing more of the burnt bush.

Once we took the turnoff onto the dirt road, we no longer were driving through the burnt area of the bush and were able to spot a few animals.

After some online research and asking friends, we discovered most likely it was a controlled burn meant to ultimately replenish the vegetation for the benefit of the park and its wildlife.

We couldn’t help but wonder how many animals may have died during the controlled fires. Most animals would flee to safer areas during a fire regardless of its source or intention. From time to time there are fires during the dry season from human carelessness and lightening.

We were thrilled to see a few giraffes wandering through the bush.

Apparently, this recent vast fire was set by the Rangers on both sides of Gomondwane Road (the paved road) and burned for many, many days and kilometers. Since we hadn’t been to Kruger in over a month, we had no idea.

Once on the dirt road, we encountered wildlife but in the rain, very little.  For the first time, we didn’t see a single elephant, a rarity. Next time we go to Kruger once the holidaymakers are reduced in numbers, we won’t bother to travel along the tar road, instead, we’ll follow other routes, of which there are many in the huge national park.

Generally, when it’s raining, the animals take cover in dense bush and under trees. As a result, we only spotted a few animals even after we left the burnt area.

Over the next few days, we share more photos. Today, we’re busy getting ready for tonight’s small dinner party with friend Don (of Kathy and Don…she’s in California right now) and his visiting brother Keith. No doubt, as always, it will be an enjoyable evening.

Last night we had a fabulous evening at Jabula Lodge & Restaurant.  The food was superb, the ambiance ideal and we had an opportunity to meet new people, two of whom joined us at our table for four during dinner. The place is lively and often filled with friendly South Africans who never fail to engage in great conversation.

Male impala drinking rainwater from the road during the downpour.

The same theme reverberates through the restaurant each time we visit.  Everyone in attendance, whether tourists or locals are enthralled to be among the divine abundance of nature and wildlife in the bush.

Enjoy the day!Photo from one year ago today, September 9, 2017:

Gabriel, the owner of El Toledo Coffee Factory in Costa Rica, explained the different roasts which attribute to the varying degrees of flavor and caffeine.  Again, we were shocked to discover that dark roast, although possessing a stronger taste has the least caffeine, contrary to what most of us believe. For more on the coffee factory, please click here.

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