From Kruger we headed south through Swaziland to St.Lucia and iSamangaliso Wetlands Park. This area is well known for having high biodiversity, and several endemic species of birds that specialise in the coastal sand forest that dominate the local dune habitat.
|Crowned hornbill collecting bark for nest|
Unfortunately during our stay the winds were very strong, which put paid to our plans to go snorkelling, and the exorbitant prices of whale-watching trips and nocturnal trips to watch turtles coming up on to the beaches proved to be prohibitive, so instead I focussed my attention on the patch of sand forest to the south of St.Lucia, just behind our accommodation, whilst Cat had a more relaxing period after a series of 4am starts in Kruger.
|Golden-tailed woodpecker and Square-tailed drongos|
|Red-capped robin chat|
We also headed out to Cape Vidal, driving through the game park to get there, seeing more rhino and several species of antelope, but not adding any species of mammal we hadn't seen in Kruger. Birding was again good:
|Male Amur falcon|
|The view towards Lake St.Lucia|
We also went on a very touristy hippo-watching boat cruise, where the highlights were unsurprisingly several large pods of hippos, more woolly-necked storks, a fishing African fish eagle and brown-throated weavers around St.Lucia bridge
|African fish eagle|
Next up was a couple of days in Hluhluwe-Imfolozi game reserve, the reserve where all of South Africa's white rhinos originate from. It was also my last chance to see my main mammal target f the trip, African wild dog, but after not having had a sniff in Kruger, and knowing very little about the pack(s) in Imfolozi, my hopes weren't high.
We arrived at the gate at about 8am, slightly later than planned. When we went to pay for entry, we were greeted with the incredible news that one of the wild dog packs were jogging along the road on the Imfolozi side of the reserve, about 15 km to the south! Needless to say we jumped back in the car, and shot past herds of elephant, family groups of rhino and various antelope to try and get there before the dogs left the road. As we rounded a steep bend we were greeted with this sight:
|Radio-tagged wild dog|
|Collared sunbird, Hilltop camp|
|Little green bee-eater|
|Purple-crested Turaco, Hilltop camp|
|...and showing the lovely colours on the wing|
|One of many white rhinos seen on an evening drive around Hluhluwe|
|Evening view on the way back to Hilltop camp|