Phalaborwa…in search of cats.

Phalaborwa is a town in the Mopani District municipality , Limpopo Provence, South Africa, located at the confluence of the GA-Selati and Olifants rivers, halfway along the western boarder of Kruger National Park. The Name means “Better than the South”and was called that because the Nguni tribes returned here after exploring the south. It is said that it never gets cold and is described as the town of two summers.

This year, 2022, I decided to stay in Phalaborwa two different times during the three months I am staying in South Africa. My main reason for doing this is that the gate at Phalaborwa gives immediate access to the Hard roads H14 and H9 and several soft roads including s131 which are know for their numerous cat sightings including Leopard, Lion and Cheetah.

I booked two separate time slots for two separate groups that would be joining me in South Africa. The first was from May 17-23, staying at a large house in Bush villas. The house was quite large and when the couple who were to join me for the month of May had to cancel at the last minute I was left to wander around this large house by myself. I asked the owner of the house in Marloth Park if he and his wife would like to join me and they agreed to come up for a long weekend which made the stay more enjoyable.

Unfortunately Phalaborwa did not live up to its reputation as the town of two summers as it was rainy and cold most of the time I was there and because there was so much rain everything was very green and lush making it difficult to see animals unless they were directly next to the road. We were luck one day to find a pair a mating lions next to the road and there were very few cars at the sighting so we were able to get a lot of nice pictures of the pair. I also saw one fleeting leopard before he moved quickly into the bush but that was the extent of the cats. I was lucky to also see a pair of Hyaena next to the road and being the only car there got some nice photos.

The drives were lovely and very picturesque with the Mopani trees being bright green…I had only ever seen them in their fall colors or rich oranges and browns. The Koppies in the area are quite impressive and numerous. WE were able to drive up to Mopani Camp and Shingwedzi and as far north as the Babalata picnic site where we went for brunch one day. Maybe on my second visit from June 29-July 4 we will be able to get as far north as Punda Maria. I am also hopeful that on this second trip with my other friends we will be more lucky with spotting cats along the H-9 and H-14. I know they are there as several people regularly post pictures of their sightings in the area.

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