This was our first leopard sighting for the 2019 trip that my wife and I did to the Kruger National Park in South Africa. We started the day early because we had a long drive ahead of us as we were driving from Satara to Shingwedzi. So we were at the gate before it opened and as soon as it opens we started our trip. We turned left on the H1–4 and shortly after leaving we came across a lone lioness. We spent a bit of time with her and as more cars started to arrive we decided to move on.
One of the roads and I was really keen to have a look at was Ngotso Road as I had seen many reports on how great it was. The road is one way and a sand road. We had quite a lot of time as we had left early and had made plans to stop for lunch in Letaba and Mopani so we decided to give it ago. Initially as we were heading up the H1–4 a car had passed us whilst driving and as we started the Ngotso road we came up to the vehicle that had passed us. They had stopped on the side of the road and as we got closer to then we asked them what they were looking at. They explained that as they had driven up to this point they have been a leopard that was lying on the top of a branch and when they arrived the leopard had retreated to the long grass. They pointed out where they thought the leopard had gone to and we decide to position ourselves where we could see up and down the dry riverbed.
The branch that the couple had described was overhanging a dry riverbed so we figured that the leopard would either go up or down the river bed. We sat there for quite awhile and there was not much going on. While my wife and I were sitting there we decided to have a bite to eat and a drink as there was not much going on. During the time there were many cars that came and went but as they saw nothing or were unable to see anything had often continued on with their travels. Whilst we were sitting there there were occasions where we had seen glimpses of the leopard in the bush and whilst we were pretty comfortable it was the leopard until you actually see the full animal it’s very hard to say for sure.
One of the cars that had pulled up had stopped to wait. After a short period of time they had decided that they were no longer keen to wait and decided to continue. The only problem they had was that the vehicle wouldn’t start so they were having difficulty continuing on their travel. A couple of cars had pulled up and attempted to help the couple restart the car, but unfortunately this did not work. Whilst all of this was happening we kept an eye on where we thought the leopard was and after a while I think the noise and commotion got to the leopard and it decided to move on. We were lucky enough to position ourselves perfectly as the leopard walked straight down the embankment towards us and we were able to get a good view.
Unfortunately with all the waiting we had not been properly prepared for photos and therefore were only able to take a few quick snaps. The leopard was moving pretty quickly and just like that the leopard had gone. It was such a great starting to start our trip off as we really were keen to see some leopards on the trip. We could not believe our luck.We followed, or tried to follow, the leopard down the river bed but after our initial sighting we were unable to see the leopard again. So we continued on our travels as we had a long day of driving ahead of us.