Well I suppose I better do my report. Have been procrastinating as there have been so many reports of late, all seeing lions leopards etc. and we didn’t see any…sob .. sob… However the point of our trip was to give Dean, our 6 yo grandson his first experience of the park, and for Jan and I to try camping for the first time. So my report will be based around Dean’s experiences, and some of my comments on good and bad things we found. Plus a few photos of the birds and animals we saw.
Arrived Malelane gate 10.00, entered park 10.15. Already saw crocodile from the bridge.
Efficient lady at gate, but why was she on her own? Too much for one person, checking entrance permits, very strict on IDs for Wild Cards, checking exit permits and answering the phone.
What a pleasure to be in the park again! Drove up to Afsaal, saw first rhino, finally saw Scops Owl at Afsaal, now in the big tree left of shop.
The boy at work!
Continued on tar, H3 H1-1 around to Pretoriuskop. Saw lots of birds, Secretary Bird, Wooly necked stork, ground hornbills, plus elephant and buffalo. Highlight was just after Transport dam, 5 or was it 6 cheetah cubs lying under a tree. Unfortunately they were about 25m from the road in the bush. It took us about 30 mins, but eventually Dean spotted them, not easy with the naked eye, and getting him to point the bins in the right direction was a hoot. Too far away for my camera I’m afraid. But did get them on video.
Heading down to Shitlave dam we saw a herd of 30+ elephants walking away. Again too far away for decent photos.
Spent the night in a hut at Pretoriuskop so we could get an early start to Satara for our camping adventure. Saw Purple crested curacou? (lourie) at P’kop – damn these new names are a pain! Although Dean thinks the go-away bird is great!
Left P’kop via S1, sand, no leopard or wild dog this time, and S1 tar , more elephant, zebra, Wildebeest, giraffe and lots of birds, called in at lake panic , quite busy, Jan thinks it was better when the hides weren’t on the maps! Lady was busy explaining to her children that the bird in the shallows was a Dwarf Bittern, didn’t see it, saw a Green backed Heron though and a nice pair of jacanas.
On to Skukuza, Dean wanted to see the bats. Saw the bats, and the vervets raiding the dustbins, and rock music in the shop. And banded mongoose by the fence. Maybe its better when you are staying there!
On to Tshokwane via Maroela loop. Curio shop seems to have closed – prayers answered.
Oops must have upset someone, isn’t being ‘crapped on’ by a bird supposed to be good luck? Got hit on the arm (do you know it feels warm!) then on the shoulder.
Also saw Longbilled Crombec, Natal robin (now something else), red eyed dove and white bellied sunbird. Not many vervets around.
Carried on to Satara along S13, - general game.
Booked in at reception, very pleasant guy pointed us in the right direction.
Now the fun part. Drove around the camp site, very busy, found Bucky who was about to go out, he pointed to a good area. Found a nice site - near to power, could see the fence, not too far from ablutions.
Got the tent out, a bit breezy, tried to look helpless, must have worked as a guy came over and helped us. Turned out he was also from Randburg. Eventually had tent up, beds inflated, power connected, table unfolded. Chairs out- beer break.
Had a good chat with Bucky later, told me all the places they had seen cats. Well when we went they were on holliday!!!!
Interesting first night, did not put enough air in the double mattress, consequently Dean spent the whole night sliding onto me.
Took H14, S90, S 41 via Gudzani to Nwanetsi. Saw nice herds of Zebra, W’beeste. First of many Burchells Coucal. Also Red Crested Korhaan, Quelleas, lovely Kori Bustard – not seen one for a while. Waterbuck with young suckling, and lots of other birds.
Visited Sweni hide. Had it to ourselves. Not much around, but peaceful. Back to Satara along tar.
Evening drive around Nsemani dam area, apart from natal francolins trying to jump in the car, not real excitement.
Put more air in the mattress and slept well.
Off to Olifants along S90 via Balule. You can tell when your look is not in on a trip. It seems that everyone has seen the hyena cubs near Balule. Not us, we hung around the culvert for about 30 mins, no sign! Maybe that was the sign. Did see some nice vultures including one in tree stretching its wings. Saw Elephant, Rhino no 3, namaqua doves, Kori Bustard, Hooded and whitebacked vulture.
Filled up with petrol at Olifants, 7.22 per litre! Saw Chinspot batis and cutthroat finch while waiting.
Had a walk around, sat looking at the view then cooked breakfast.
Back on tar then S39 to timbavati picnic spot. Saw white fronted bee eater on S39 and some game, not very much though.
Bushbuck still at timbavati, two females, no male. As tame as ever. Dean was fascinated, let him stroke them, obviously thought he had food.
Thought we’d try the S100, saw puff adder and buffalo and the usual game. On S41 saw Steenbuck and later a single female nyala with a group of Impala. Quite strange. Purple roller and elephant on H6. Took H7 S36 around to Muzandzeni for late breakfast. Surrounded by Glossy starlings and red and yellow billed hornbills. Lappetfaced vulture flying.
Afternoon drive ending at nsemani dam to watch the sunset.
Had a braai and after Dean wanted to burn some sticks on the fire, great until he nearly picked up a snake. Couldn’t get a photo. Jan didn’t really want to seep in the tent that night.
Slow start, time to pack up the tent. Eventually left about 9.00 and headed for Orpen along the tar. Found an Impala in a tree just after Nsemani dam. No leopard around and unfortunately we had to head out. Had a look around Orpen, bit of a building site, new huts look very nice. Pool was green, and entry/exit a bit chaotic.
Although Jan didn’t get to see her much loved lions, we had a great time. We haven’t been to this part of the park for a number of years and probably suffered because we didn’t know where to go. We did however see almost 100 birds ( the qualification was that Dean had to see them too), good sightings of animals, Giraffe, Zebra, wildebeest, Elephant, Rhino, cheetah, steenbuck, duiker, lovely kudu and waterbuck (Jan’s ‘African reindeer’) and nyala.
Main point of the trip, Dean thoroughly enjoyed himself.
Staff at reception and cafeteria friendly and efficient (again). Accommodation (hut with communal ablutions/communal kitchen excellent. Ablutions excellent. Kitchen had good guyser for filling flask, although one was placed so high that even I battled to see if the flask was full without getting scalded. Still don’t like the new restaurant design(too much of a mall feel).
Staff friendly and efficient. Best moment was when Jan gave Dean his money to pay for something. She held her hand out for the change the lady insisted on giving it back to Dean.
Bit of a ‘mish-mash’ at the moment with the building taking place. Will be interested to see the changes when we call in on our way to Lataba in December. The pool looks quite nice, but the lapa/shelters a lot of space. Also I’m not sure having the play area in the pool area is a good idea.
The camping experience was ok, people generally friendly and helpful. Jan says the guy in the next tent snores louder than me! But I’m working on it.
As Buck said somewhere the ablutions were poor. They have built a new ablution block on the NW side and the old ablutions on this side were closed, presumably for renovations. The new ablutions were too small to cope with the number of people. The site was full for the whole week. If the others reopen it will be fine, but whoever planned their closure at this period!!! The kitchen was also a joke, the flow of hot water was minimal, and only one of the two sinks at a time. People were going into the ablutions to get hot water to wash their dishes. Also no geyser to fill a flask.
They are trying to organize the power points better by building wooden units with dustbins, powerpoints and taps. Once this is complete it will improve things.
Funniest Moment 1 – Being crapped on not once , but twice at Tshokwane,
Funniest Moment 2 – Nearly being ‘peed’ on by a vervet when packing up the car at P’kop. (they were roosting in the trees.)
Most unsuitable viewing vehicle – BMW Z4
Best hearsay story. – Couple driving out of Lower Sabie in convertible sports car with top down, passenger lying with feet up over dash.
Scariest moment – Dean nearly picking up snake.
Almost as scary – Bucky telling us he had found a scorpion under his ground sheet whilst packing up.
Best moment – Cheetahs
We must be doing something right moment – Dean telling his mom what we’d seen on the first day. Not Cheetah, Elephant, rhino, but ‘we saw Lilac Breasted roller, batelleur, and hornbills'.
Worst moment – Leaving Orpen.