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 Post subject: BB & Dad's Kruger golden anniversary trip : KNP : 08/06
Unread postPosted: Tue Aug 15, 2006 10:13 pm 
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In 1956, my father brought my mother, brother and I from the north of England to begin a new life in South Africa. Being a woodworking machine salesman he soon visited the then Eastern Transvaal sawmills and found out about Kruger. Our first visit was that year. Since then my mother has given up life and my brother is earning pounds, but my Dad and I are regular Krugerites. This year is the 50th anniversary and things have changed a bit in the intervening years. Enough of this sentimentality - on with the report.

With a combined age of 140, our eyesight is not as great as it has been, so we rely on others to spot our game often. This has met with enormous success, when the park is busy. When we drive the tar roads, we always ask stopped people what they are looking at after only a cursory glance. It has also brought a few embarrassing moments, like those eating, looking at the map, or who knows what - like the autovilla parked near LS and nobody to be seen!!

I was not able to take our good digital camera, so I had to rely on Dad's 'point and shoot'. We stayed in Marloth Park, as all the accommodation was taken when I found out at short notice the trip was on. I would rather stay in Kruger, because I know what I am getting there. We had a fiasco that meant relocating in the middle of the night (20H30).

Much of the park next to the roads is burnt. I am told this is to prevent runaway fires as the last rainy season was a good one resulting in, now tinder dry, denser foliage than normal.

Day 0

My father picked me up at Joburg International from the cold, wet Cape at 20H30, and after I had set up his email, we left at 23h00 for Orpen gate. We arrived there at 4h15, and the gate was a lovely sight, unobstructed by any other vehicle. We set the alarm for 5h50 and the next thing I remember is this rooster crowing, which stopped when I pressed a button on my mobile.

Please bear with us, as we sat there waiting in the pre dawn, we had no idea that this was to be one of the very best of the combined 70 or so trips we have made.

To be continued........

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Last edited by Bush Baptist on Wed Aug 16, 2006 6:35 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Wed Aug 16, 2006 7:22 pm 
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First some replies.

KDU, the photos from earlier trips were destroyed in a fire in my Dad's house a few years ago, but they were all taken with vastly inferior cameras than are around today. I have posted a few stories from the early years under Campfire Tales thread, and will continue to do so.

We have always seen our good sightings in the first 2 hours of the day, and I wanted to get to Orpen to give us the best chance of that. Also, staying at Marloth, we could only go out and back, instead of a longer one way trip, so we entered at Orpen, along which road I have previously seen the big 5, cheetah and wild dog. It's a good road.

Salva, you will have to eat the main course before we get to the ice cream

Day 1

We cleared the gate procedure at Orpen by 6h07 and followed the H7 to Satara, then the S100 (WTM and all the other unbelievers will be thrilled to know that we did not see lions on that road, :tongue: but they were around the corner on the S41 :D ). From Nwanetzi, we drove back along the H6 to the H1-3 to Tshokwane, had a look at Orpen dam, and then took the H10 to Lower Sabie. Then we drove the S82, joining the h4-2 to Croc Bridge and out of the park.

It was a good day for general game especially plains game like giraffe, zebra and gnu. Excluding impala, we had 78 sightings of 17 species, and 49 bird ids. The further south we travelled the more the veld was burnt and the less we saw.

HIGHLIGHTS

Malachite kingfisher & greenbacked heron together at Msemani dam

1 adult and 4 baby giraffes outside Satara

Image

Little bee-eater hunting on Nwanetzi river loopie

Huge bull with big tusks on H6

Image

Lappet faced vulture drinking from Sonop wh

Image

Blue cheeked bee-eaters in car park at Lower Sabie.

LOWLIGHTS

Chameleon dragging its run over back legs off the H6 :twisted:

Image

Solitary Zebra sighting from Nkumbe lookout and squat else. This must be a 100sq km view, and as I raised in another thread, I think Kruger is underpopulated compared to other Africa game reserves.

GATVOL (fed up) MOMENT

Some poepol raced between be and the LBJ I was trying to photograph :sniper:

We saw about 40% of our total game sightings in this first day, the quantity decreases but the quality goes ballistic!

Look out for the next episode.......

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Unread postPosted: Fri Aug 18, 2006 7:56 am 
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Enough of body parts....

Day 2

This time we cleared Croc Bridge by 6H10, behind 5 cars, the gate staff being very efficient.

We drove the tar roads to LS, Skukuza and Afsaal unless otherwise stated, then did H2-2, S114, S139, S25 back to Croc Bridge and out. The first detour was the S28, a big mistake as in early morning the sun is behind Nhlanganzwani dam rendering any sightings poor, and it was misty. We cut back via S137. We took the causeway (S79), did a trip to Lake Panic and cut out to Muhlambamadvube and back via the S113.

It was a poor day for general game. Excluding impala we had 37 sightings of 18 species, 44 bird ids including 2 first timers (red breasted swallow and house martin), BUT it was my Dad's first BIG 5 DAY!!

HIGHLIGHTS

LIT LIT LIT (leopard in tree) in H4-1. In my excitement I completely mucked up the photos so do your best with this. It is just south east of centre of the pic.

Image

Talking to a guy a Lake Panic who turned out the next day to be PETER PIPER The bird we could not id was a green backed heron, it moved slightly and was visible the next day.

Meeting FREDA and GWEN & SO's in the road, by flying the yellow ribbon

Finding the legendary Scops owls at Afsaal

Image

Image

Bateleur pair in tree on S25

Image

Rhino coming to the party at the end of S25 to make the BIG 5 DAY

Image

LOWLIGHTS

Endless kilometers of burnt veld. Can't they do it away rom the tourist roads.

GATVOL MOMENT

The aggro I received when telling 8 or 9 locals who had alighted on the END of the green bridge over the Sabie river, to get a marginally better view, that it was not a get out site.

HUMOROUS MOMENT

A woman behind me in the queue at Croc Bridge complaining about the staff not opening the outer gate before 6 so that she could get into the park at 6 sharp! I told her that at last I had found someone who moans about red tape more than I do. We shared a laugh together,,,, well I thought it was funny.

DODGY MOMENT

My Dad likes the car heater on his feet in the early morning, and the engine overheated and I had to pour water into the radiator on the causeway while keeping an eye in the buff that was lying down 20 metres away!!

It gets better.....

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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Fri Aug 18, 2006 6:29 pm 
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Don't worry BB - I have amazing software on my computer so I zoomed in on your leopard.

Image




Only kidding!!!!!! :)

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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Fri Aug 18, 2006 7:23 pm 
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Day 3

The day of the forum meet at BergNDal was about to dawn as we cleared CB at 6h08 this time. The complaining woman was again behind me in the queue but this time she just smiled and said nothing. Ain't that great Musketeers?

The route was up the tar roads to LS & Skukuza, then Pkop, Voortrekker road to Afsaal and down to BND. There was great anticipation at meeting the forumites, but we never thought we would have a day like this...

It was a very poor day for general game. 27 sightings of non-impalas in 15 species, 47 bird ids including 1 first timer (purple crested turaco - formerly lourie), BUT

EXTREME HIGHLIGHTS

1km north of the fork with the S82 on the H4-2, we witnessed a WILD DOG KILL, my dad's first EVER wild dogs - what an introduction. We were not first on the scene, but the dogs were in the road and ran off to the right to catch something like a steenbok or duiker. We saw 4 or 5 dogs tearing at it on the ground through the bush, accompanied by the high pitched yelping that accompanies feeding, and it was all over in about a minute, in the gloom, without any chance to photograph it. WOW! What a start to the day!

We popped in at Pkop and renewed acquaintance with Van Rooi, a manager there now, previously of Biyamiti, and saw the PCLs there.

We arrived at BND at 16h30 and my Dad put his seat back and slept until I woke him at 19h00, for the now famous/notorious forum braai, which is well documented in other threads. We made new friends and met previous ones (STEPHEN and JAY). It was great to be there and a privilege to be allowed to exit the park after hours. We were escorted to Malelane gate by Stephen and his entire tribe, no great chore for him, at 22H15, and saw 5 lionesses and 2 cubs on the road. A memorable night indeed!

Image

LOWLIGHTS

Endless kilometres of burnt veld. No leopard today, so incomplete big 5.

CURIOUS MOMENT

About 2km onto the Voortrekker Road, from Pkop, we came across a lone Lichtenstein's hartebeest sitting near to a lone tsessebe, both these animals very uncommon sightings in their own right, but together??? Stephen, the BND camp manager later told me that there is a LH enclosure there and one might have escaped, and being unable to get back in, had possibly found the tsessebe for company. I hope they are not romantically linked!!

Image


Image

FUNNY MOMENT

Reversing to see the buff I had passed on the causeway, probably the one from the overheating yesterday, and stopping a 'safe' distance away, and not realizing he had a pal on the other side of the road, and was 1 metre away from my Dad's face. Dad had not seen my buff and I had not seen his. When I said I was stopping a safe distance away, he told me about the one I had not seen. It just ambled off slowly to join the other one.

Image

What a day an what a night!

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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Fri Aug 18, 2006 7:25 pm 
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Hey PP,

Good to hear from you again, I hope you took my joke ok?

That leopard looks just like the one I saw!

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Unread postPosted: Sat Aug 19, 2006 11:37 am 
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Having hardly slept at Orpen gate, and getting up at 4h45 was now taking it's toll especially after the 11h30 return from BND, so we decided to take a day off.

Marloth Park, where we were staying is separated from Kruger by the Crocodile River. It is a large housing estate in the bushveld with resident wild animals. It has at least 3 places where one can gaze across the river into Kruger.

Day 4

I woke up at 8H30 and went down to one view site, returned and did some birding while my Dad slept until 10h30. We took our breakfast to the view site and then went to visit some of his friends, who told us that there were lions across from another view site. We went there and saw a lioness.

Later that afternoon, we did a tour of all the view sites, and prepared to leave early next morning for home.

We had 13 non-impala sightings of 9 species, including 3 of the big 5, leopard and rhino missing. 33 bird ids including 2 first timers (black cuckoo shrike, long billed crombec)

The finale is still to come.....

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Unread postPosted: Sat Aug 19, 2006 4:03 pm 
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Day 5 - finale

It took longer at CB today - 6h12.

We went up the tar roads to LS Skukuza, took the Doispane road and exited at Phabeni at noon.

Average day for non-impala game, 25 sightings of 15 species, 41 bird ids, but BIG 5 MORNING

HIGHLIGHTS

7km north of Croc Bridge, we finally had the leopard sighting I have waited 50 years for. I knew it would happen one day and it was well worth waiting for. Hallelujah! A jeep jockey was stopped and I saw a photo flash from a pax. To my amazement, a leopard walked out from the side of his vehicle and moved away towards the burnt veld - this time a blessing - towards a herd of impala.

Image

Image

Image

The Leopard stopped and adopted a stalking manner, and I turned the car around and drove towards the impala, which by now were alert to his presence. He stopped all manner of stalking and came to the roadside where I was parked and WALKED ALONGSIDE THE CAR for about a minute. He then sat briefly, crossed over in front of us and calmly walked into the bush. WOW!

Image

Image

7 lionesses in the Sabie river bed

Image

Rhino pair that came to the party just before Phabeni to give us a BIG 5 MORNING

Image

Finally, it was a great thrill for me to be able to visit the My Acre of Africa site and see the brick on the walkway that was laid the week before, that my wife and I purchased last year. It is a privilege to contribute in a small way, to the future of Kruger, and more so because of the enjoyment derived there from om this trip.

FRIGHTENING MOMENT

Yes, the car overheated again at the leopard sighting, so I drove off a bit to where I could see all around before pouring a hasty one and a half litres of water into the radiator, with our eyes on other things!

EMBARRASSING MOMENT

Buff again. In the race to get from the outer gate at CB to reception, the vehicle in front of me almost stopped near to the inner gate. I thought something had gone wrong and pulled out to pass until I found out they were doing 'free' game viewing. A buff was lying right next to the road in the gloom, so I had to swing back.

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Unread postPosted: Sat Aug 19, 2006 10:23 pm 
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I contacted My Acre of Africa and they organised for a ranger to open it up for me at an agreed date and time (Sunday 12th August at 11h00 to be precise)

Immediately after exiting the Phabeni gate checkout parking area, there is an unmarked dirt track off to the left before the railway line. The track goes south along the railway line and after about 2 km you come to the site.

The ranger opened the electrified gate and let me in. I found my brick quite quickly.

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Last edited by Bush Baptist on Sun Aug 20, 2006 1:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Unread postPosted: Tue Aug 22, 2006 9:13 pm 
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Some memories of the 1950s. The facts might be a little off, but I was only in single digit years and it is a long time ago.

There were no tar roads, no rhino, no jeep jockeys, no hides, no walking trails, no day walks, night rides or bush braais.

No consessions, bush camps or private camps.

Some camps came later, only Skukuza, Lower Sabie, Pkop, Satara, Letaba, Shingwedzi & Punda for white people, Balule for blacks I think.

I don't recall Pafuri gate or picnic site.

North of Tshokwane or thereabouts was closed for summer owing to malaria.

People always stopped cars in the other direction to discuss sightings.

Nobody knew what a bird was.

Hardly any eles down south, just the occasional bull, breeding herds were north of Letaba.

Only Pkop & Shing had swimming pools.

At night a worker made a huge bonfire in Skukuza and delivered coals to your campsite for an instant braai. Now they sell charcoal.

Skukuza reception was where the shop is now.

Entrance & nature of LS completely changed.

Tents were army style, circular and lit by hurricane lamps.

No excellent map books, just a fold out map for less than a rand.

AA had a garage in Skukuza that did repairs (to our car).

Old double barrelled hand pump style petrol pumps.

Rondavels at Olifants 25 years ago cost R13 per night.

Black rangers on bicycles with rifles slung over their shoulders.

Thank you for sharing this memorable trip with us. I hope we can carry on for a lot of the next 50 years.

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Unread postPosted: Wed Aug 23, 2006 7:02 pm 
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Elsa wrote:
Dad is a true veteran of Kruger.
I have to wonder what his feelings are when he sees all the changes that have occured over the years, some for the good and others, well, maybe not so great.


Actually he couldn't care less about the sentimentality of the old days, if he sees leopard, wild dog or his favourite, lions.

At least he can sms his girlfriends now..... :twisted:

His only comment when I put it to him was that there were more animals in the south then, with which I agree.

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