7. PUNDA MARIA REST CAMP

Getaway (South Africa) - - Travel -

CLOS­EST GATE Punda Maria SITES 61 BEST FEA­TURE The flood­lit wa­ter­hole and hide SPE­CIAL SIGHT­INGS Ele­phants, nyalas, thick-tailed bush­ba­bies

Shing­wedzi rest camp in the north­east is also won­der­ful, but the flood­lit hide re­ally sets Punda Maria’s camp­site apart. It’s the only camp­ing op­tion in the far north of the park, and also Kruger’s cheap­est. Game can prove sparse here but nyalas, kudus, buf­falo and ele­phants (par­tic­u­larly the big tuskers) love this re­gion. It’s also one of the best ar­eas to search for yel­low­billed ox­peck­ers (once thought ex­tinct in South Africa, but re­turned to the park in the 1980s). There’s a walk­ing trail through the camp, a swim­ming pool and el­lies are fre­quent vis­i­tors to the wa­ter­hole right in front of the camp­site. It’s lit up at night, which is how my neigh­bour man­aged to spot a slink­ing leop­ard who came for a drink just af­ter sun­down. The best sites to the left of the hide have views of this wa­ter­hole but get snapped up quickly. Luck­ily, ev­ery­one has ac­cess to the hide to en­joy the game that comes to visit. There are res­i­dent ba­boons and vervet mon­keys, and ev­ery­one will warn you about their mis­chief. The thick-tailed bush­ba­bies pro­vide no respite, ei­ther, as they or­ches­trate the chaos at night. DO THIS Drive north when the gates open at sun­rise and spend the morn­ing at Lu­vu­vhu Bridge for the best bird­ing. Have break­fast at nearby Pa­furi pic­nic site and drive through the fever-tree for­est to Crooks’ Cor­ner, where three coun­tries meet. One can spend sev­eral hours in the pic­nic area with pur­ple­crested tu­ra­cos, trop­i­cal boubous, trum­peter horn­bills, Meves’ star­lings, Na­rina tro­gons and sev­eral dif­fer­ent species of sun­bird and fire­finch to en­ter­tain you. The Ma­honie Loop just out­side camp is also the best in Kruger to see the diminu­tive suni an­te­lope.

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