Skip to content

SANParks.org Forums

View unanswered posts | View active topics






Post new topic This topic is locked, you cannot edit posts or make further replies.  Page 1 of 3
 [ 36 posts ]  Go to page 1, 2, 3  Next
Author Message
 Post subject: Texas to Kruger - A First Timers Experience – September 2006
Unread postPosted: Sat Sep 23, 2006 5:02 am 
Offline
Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger
User avatar

Joined: Thu Nov 10, 2005 10:38 pm
Posts: 155
Location: Texas, USA
Texas to Kruger - A First Timers Experience – September 2006

Image

Do I have your attention? Good, (however, more of this little kitty in a later day's travel segment) for this is a tale of cats and dogs and lits and logs and of other creatures that go bump in the night.

There are many great trip reports on this forum and thousands of wonderful photos. Since I cannot write as well as many of the other contributors, and am not nearly as accomplished a photographer as many, I thought I would do something a little different. I've approached this report from the point of view of a first timers venture into South Africa and Kruger National Park (KNP). I have loaded it with (probably far too much) detail, which hopefully others considering a first trip to KNP will find useful.

Why Kruger? – My SO and I are in our early 60s. (Can 60s ever be considered to be early?) We love to travel and have been fortunate enough to visit many exciting, interesting and exotic places throughout the world. In October, 2005 we were on a trip to China and met some very interesting traveling companions who had been to Kruger and described it to us. It sounded fantastic and we knew we had to get there. When we returned home, we did some initial Internet research regarding KNP. Like others, we thought erroneously that this was the official website. We finally found the South Africa National Parks official website. The forums in this website are fantastic for providing information, and the forum community is extremely helpful and friendly. Heeding advice as to the necessity of securing reservations early, due to the popularity of the park, we made our reservations in November 2005 for our visit at the end of August 2006. We decided on the specific camps and their order after floating a few draft itineraries on the advice forum and getting back very useful suggestions. We also added several sunset drives and modified our accommodations in one of the camps during the course of fine tuning our trip. All of our contacts with the Park’s Central Reservations were done by e-mail and handled very efficiently. I was able to e-mail a narrative of my request to them, they would respond with a tentative confirmation and amount due. I then downloaded and printed the authorization form with my credit card information and signed it, scanned it into my computer, and sent it back as an e-mail attachment. They would then e-mail me a final confirmation showing everything I reserved and the payment confirmation to date. (Using a credit card that only charges 1% for foreign transactions, as opposed to the usual 3% on most USA issued cards is worth acquiring)

We departed Monday morning, 28 August, 2006 and flew from Dallas, Texas to Atlanta, Georgia (two hour flight) where we spent the night at a hotel close to the airport. Tuesday morning, we flew from Atlanta to Washington Dulles Airport (two hour flight). Here we changed planes, and boarded South Africa Airways for our flight to Johannesburg via a refueling stop in Senegal (17 hour flight). Fortunately, we had chosen a route that did not go through London. I would have been very unhappy to be forced into putting all of my camera gear into checked luggage due to current security restrictions in flights in and out of London. In Johannesburg, we changed planes and flew to Nelspruit (one hour flight) arriving in the afternoon of 30 August. At the KMIA airport we picked up our rental car and spent the night resting up from the long plane ride at a motel by the Riverside Mall in Nelspruit.

Day 1 - 31 August, 2006 – Morning . We stocked up on food, water and some other items and drove on the N4 east to the Malelane Gate and finally enter Kruger National Park. We were armed with two cameras, about 90 GB of memory, and a micro recorder. And so the adventure began.

Image Image Image

Note: any help identifying the various creatures that we photographed will be greatly appreciated as our knowledge of African wildlife pretty much ended at the descriptors "critters and birds" although we did find the brown Kruger National Park Map booklet which we purchased in a camp store to be invaluable.

Before actually entering the park we stopped at the reception office at the gate, signed in, and paid for our Wildcard. The operation was very efficient and it only took us about 10 minutes. It was a beautiful day, and we walked back across the bridge over the Crocodile River and shot a few photos. Saw 10 crocodiles, and many large and small beautiful birds.

Grey heron, Marabou stork, Pied kingfisher
Image Image Image Image
Then it was onward to Berg-en-dal. Within 90 seconds, we had our first sighting on the H3 which turned out to be five giraffe. We really didn't see much else on the way to our first campsite on the S110. Our bungalow Category BA3U (#61) was quite nice. We unpacked a few things and then went to explore the camp and have lunch (Grilled chicken sandwich and a Castle beer). After lunch we took a gravel road up to the Matjulu lookout point. Didn’t get a lot of photos but did take the S110 to the S120 and then the H3 to the S110 back to camp. We did see a lot Impalas, some ellies off in the distance, and 2 rhinos who would not raise their heads. That evening, we were able to experience our first south African night in the park with beautiful bright stars that gleamed much more brightly than we see in Texas. We went to bed happy and thought about what the next day might bring. Kitties, perhaps?
Image Image Image
Image Image Image

Impala and white rhinocerous above.


Last edited by TXDrifter on Tue Sep 26, 2006 1:20 am, edited 3 times in total.

Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Mon Sep 25, 2006 8:38 pm 
Offline
Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger
User avatar

Joined: Thu Nov 10, 2005 10:38 pm
Posts: 155
Location: Texas, USA
pardus wrote:
Phil

I eagerly awaited your report and the words "Kruger BUG" - now you are really a member of the Kruger nutters!
What I have read so far is very entertaining and written with wisdom that only past forties :twisted: can represent...

Don't wait too long with the next installment!


Ask and ye shall receive. :wink:

Day 2 - 1 September 2006 – We wake up to our first morning in Kruger and really enjoy the fact that we are where we are without all the hassles and complications of modern big city life. We take off a little after 6 a.m. to see what the day will bring. The only complication here is getting in the car on the wrong side, driving on the wrong side of the road, and confusing which way to look before you make a turn. One thing I never mastered in 21 days of driving the car was having the turn signal on the wrong side of the steering column. I was forever turning on my windshield wipers when I wanted to turn. I must've had the cleanest windows in KNP. :doh: Well, I digress

We took the S 110 down to the H3 and almost saw 4 lions. Unfortunately, we just couldn't make them out from our vantage point as our car was much lower than one next to us who tried to point them out. We did see the usual impala suspects, everywhere we went.
Image
We went up to Renosterpan. And came across a huge herd of cape buffalo, drinking and very interesting to watch.
Image
White-backed vulture Image
Driving was very difficult at that time of the morning with the angle of the sun flickering constantly in the thick brush. Also saw a couple of lilac breasted rollers by the pond. Beautiful birds. Image

We stopped at the Afsaal picnic area, went into Traders Rest and had a cup of coffee.
Image Image
It felt really good to be able to get out of the car and stretch your legs. Lots of horn bills around the picnic area. Image
We got over to the S114 and saw several impala. Then decided to take the S119 loop. Good choice as we ran into two groups of ellies.
Image
It must have been a breeding herd as there were several babies. As we head into a bend in the road, we ran across a big giraffe who stayed there for quite some time.
Image
We next stopped at the Sasol Gardenia Pan Hide and saw some turtles, crocodiles and birds.
Image
Left the hide and spotted a monkey tree with a whole lot of vervets in it. We now go on the S25. Saw four zebra and four female Kudu. Then some wildebeests. Two more giraffes off in the distance, and the ever present impala. Headed back to camp where we saw a beautiful brown-hooded kingfisher and then saw a poignant reminder that we truly are in the wild.
Image
Image

About 1630 we headed out on our first of five sunset drives. It was great.
Image
As soon as we got out of the gate on the S110 we saw a warthog and then more ellies, a couple of whom were tusking each other.
Image
Image
Got on the H3 and saw two white rhinos. Went on the Matjulu loop and saw an ellie browsing. Spotted a juvenile martial eagle. Then ran into a herd of about six white rhinos on the same loop.
http://video.tinypic.com/player.php?v=2mqj56o
Then we got onto the Timfenheni loop and spotted a serval close by and got some great shots.
Image
Image
On the way back from the Sunset Drive and we spotted a giraffe and a couple of spotted hyenas. It was cold that evening and we were not dressed for it, but it was a great drive nonetheless.


Last edited by TXDrifter on Sat Oct 07, 2006 8:19 pm, edited 7 times in total.

Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Thu Sep 28, 2006 4:10 am 
Offline
Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger
User avatar

Joined: Thu Nov 10, 2005 10:38 pm
Posts: 155
Location: Texas, USA
Day 3 - 2 September 2006 – It's moving day. We must leave our pleasant accommodations in Berg-en-dal Image

and move on to Lower Sabie. We got up about 6 a.m. so that we could pack up and make an early start. We had planned a nice leisurely route up through the park which would allow us plenty of time for sightings. Unfortunately, it was not to be. What's wrong with this picture? Image

It only shows half of our luggage. The rest is already loaded in the trunk of the car, along with the car keys and of course it is locked. Yes, I inadvertently locked the keys in the trunk. :ohgod: :redface:

After checking my pockets about 20 times and trying the doors of the car several times I was forced to come to grips with what I had done. :oops: I walked over to the camp reception office and the people there could not have been more helpful. Although they had no way to get into the car, they did make several calls for me and were finally able to get a locksmith to drive up from Nelspruit. To make a long story short, a few hours and 450 rand later I had my car keys back. Our delayed departure forced us to change plans in order to get to Lower Sabie before the gates closed. So instead of north, we headed south at speed back through the Malelane Gate and took the N4 East and reentered the park via the Crocodile Bridge Gate. On the way out of the park, we still managed to the see 5 giraffe and several impala.
Image

We did stop at the Crocodile Bridge at the Malelane Gate and of course saw several crocodiles and many beautiful birds.
Image
Image Hadeda Ibis
Image
Image Little egret
Image shadow bird
Image Grey heron

After reentering the park at Crockodile Bridge, we realized that we still had plenty of time. So we made the detour taking the S25 and S27 over to the Hippo Pool. Along the way we saw a large herd of cape buffalo.
Image
Saw a few hippos at the pool, and then some vervets in a sausage tree on the way back.
Image
Image
When we went through the camp at Crocodile Bridge it seemed that the vervets were overrunning the camp as they seemed to be everywhere.

Got back on the H4-2 heading north. Stopped at a small watering hole and were greeted by some vervets and saw a elllie with fair sized tusks, and a giraffe drinking.
Image
Image
Back on the main road, saw some Kudu, more giraffe and a couple of ellies.
Image
Image Lilac-breasted roller

Finally pulled into the camp at Lower Sabie. The river view from the restaurant veranda is fabulous.
Image
Image
Image

We had a very special evening, meeting up with dinkybird and her SO (Hawk) and were later joined by another forumite, Katmal. Enjoyed good drinks (our first taste of amarula but not our last :thumbs_up: ) and good conversation. So what started off as a very hectic day ended on a high note with new friends in a far away place.
Image


Last edited by TXDrifter on Thu Sep 28, 2006 12:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Fri Sep 29, 2006 10:53 pm 
Offline
Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger
User avatar

Joined: Thu Nov 10, 2005 10:38 pm
Posts: 155
Location: Texas, USA
Day 4 - 3 September 2006 – We are out the door at 6:06 a.m. and on the H4-1 out of Lower Sabie. Didn't see too much for a while other than a lot of elephant dung on the road. Finally came across a couple of ellies feeding.
Image
Driving further along, we spotted a couple of giant eagle owls and a Purple-Crested Turaco (Lourie).
Image
Image
Image

Turned onto the S79. Not much there other than a few grey louries. Back to the H4-1 heading north. We stopped at the Nkuhlu picnic area. Had a hot breakfast of scrambled eggs with cheese and toast - pretty tasty. Vervets were in plentiful supply looking for scraps or handouts.
Image
Image

People would invariably feed them and the birds despite the signs saying not to. We found this to be true in all of the picnic areas. We spoke with a couple (people not vervets) who had seen the same giant eagle owls that we had seen. They had seen a face-off between the owls and a bateleur eagle. The bateleur had a snake and the owls made him drop it in the confrontation.

Continued north on the H4-1. Lots of impala and several vervets. Went on a small loop and saw some warthogs very close to the road.
Image

Then went on the H12 and stopped on the bridge viewing some hippos.
Image

Then turned east on the S30 and saw some Kudu.
Image

Turned on another small loop and saw some saddle-billed storks and a grazing hippo.
Image
Back on the S30 and saw a tribe of baboons but couldn't get a picture. Next came some wildebeest, Southern-ground Hornbills and Kudu.
Image
Image
Image

Headed back to camp on the S128 without any significant sightings.

We went back to our BG2U bungalow to have lunch and rest up for a Sunset Drive. Although the location was fine, these were the accommodations we cared for least in our trip. The bathroom sink is in the main room instead of in the bathroom. There is only one plug so you must choose between having air conditioning or charging your batteries. Also there seemed to be a black mold on the shower walls. The accommodation definitely needed some renovation.

While eating lunch outside our bungalow, a beautiful Crested Barbet showed up. We could also see an ellie feeding by the fence line.
Image
Image

It's 4:40 p.m. and we are now off on our Sunset Drive. First up, Sunset dam, where we saw a Helmeted Guineafoul and some hippos.
Image
Image

Came across a large herd of cape buffalo.
Image

After that, nothing particularly memorable other than a few miscellaneous critters. All in all, it was definitely the least productive of the five sunset drives we were on.

That's a wrap for today's events, but I do believe I hear some barking from the next installment. :twisted:


Last edited by TXDrifter on Sat Sep 30, 2006 8:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Sun Oct 01, 2006 8:34 pm 
Offline
Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger
User avatar

Joined: Thu Nov 10, 2005 10:38 pm
Posts: 155
Location: Texas, USA
Day 5 - 4 September 2006 – We headed out again early in the morning taking the H4-1 north. We stopped by the Sunset Dam and got a great shot of a hippo laying down close to the road. When we were there, we thought he was sound asleep, but when we reviewed the pictures back in Texas we could see that he was staring right at us.
Image
We spotted some sort of eagle and then several impala.
Image Tawny Eagle
We had a little breakfast by the dam, watched the hippos pushing each other and various birds come and go.
ImageImage Blacksmith Lapwing
Then we decided to take the H4-2 South and go on the S28 loop. Saw a dwarf mongoose dart across the road in front of us. On the road, photographed a few more birds.
Image African Paradise Flycatcher
Image Bateleur
We stopped at the Ntandanyathi bird hide but it was very inactive.
Image
Drove on down the road passing a few vultures and the ever present impala. Turned on the S5 to the Duke watering hole but only saw a few wildebeest and some horn bills. Back on the S5 we saw a troop of baboons. Back on the S28 south to Crocodile Bridge we spotted some more vultures, then 8 giraffes and a herd of wildebeest. Passed an Ellie feeding, then eight zebra.
Image
Image
A very nice couple driving toward us waved us down and told us about a wild dog sighting about 5 km away. (This happened several times on our trip. People were so friendly in sharing information about sightings.) Off we drove, at speed. We thought they would probably be gone by the time we got there but it was certainly worth looking into.

On the way, a large white rhino crossed the road directly in front of us.
Image Image
What an amazing sight. Passed a Kudu,
Image
and then, jackpot :dance: . The dogs were still there although appeared asleep. We stayed and watched for some time and they finally started moving around a little. The total pack seemed to be 10 dogs but most were too deep in the bush to get more than a glimpse when they would raise their heads. We ended up with a fairly decent vantage point but after a little while there were cars parked every which way trying to view the doggies.
Image Image
Image Image
Image Image
Image Image

Finally had to leave the dogs and continued south on the S28. It was really a prolific stretch of road for sightings. Continued to pass several more giraffes, wildebeest and zebra. Pulled over to take a few warthog photos.
Image

Finished the S28 and turned north on the H4-2 back toward Lower Sabie. Passed a few Kudu, impala and a magpie shrike.
Image
Then a large herd of impala crossed the road in front of us. Turned on the S82 which was a total bust and ended up back at camp after our seven hour morning drive. We rested up a little and walked around camp, taking a few photos.
Image White-browed robin-chat
Image Lesser Masked-weaver
Back in camp, we had a light late lunch of grilled chicken sandwiches. They were very good and we had several more in the course of our trip. Unfortunately, the service at the take-out was quite slow. Some people were getting very angry and demanding their money back because they had waited so long and still no food. (40 minutes in one case) The manager came out and was yelling at his staff. It was an uncomfortable situation to be in.

Then back on the road. Went on the H10 spotted 3 ellies right away.
Image
It was about 4 p.m. and we kept passing more ellies. We turned on the S29. Stopped at the Mlondozi Dam at a very nice picnic area and enjoyed the vista.
Image
Saw some vervets and a few birds including some green pigeons, then headed back to camp.
Image Mocking cliff-chat
Image African green-pigeon
On the way back to camp we spotted an ostrich in the distance.
Image
Back on the H10 headed to Lower Sabie. Came across a huge herd of impala, a large baboon crossing the road, and some zebra. We ended this drive back at the Sunset Dam watching the hippos, crocodiles, and Guineafowl and an ellie drinking.
Image
Great way to end the drive and then make a mad dash to be back at the gate by 6 p.m.

We had a visitor that night about 3 a.m. The trash can lid was banging loudly outside about 10 feet away from our open door. I got out of bed, grabbed my flashlight and looked outside. I saw two beady eyes staring back at me. It turned out to be a fairly good-sized hyena that had opened up the trash can and completely pulled out the plastic trash bag inside. It awakened my neighbor also and he came out and shined his flashlight. The hyena had a box of something in his mouth and took off. It was an interesting evening as earlier around 10:30 p.m. we heard what I thought was a high-pitched cry or squeals of a very vocal hyena. We were speculating on what it was, as it would stop and start again. We finally also heard squeaky bed springs and enlightenment dawned upon us and we laughed ourselves to sleep :P .


Last edited by TXDrifter on Sun Oct 01, 2006 11:57 pm, edited 5 times in total.

Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Tue Oct 03, 2006 10:05 pm 
Offline
Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger
User avatar

Joined: Thu Nov 10, 2005 10:38 pm
Posts: 155
Location: Texas, USA
Day 6 - 5 September 2006 – It's moving day again and we are up bright and early wondering what lies ahead. Could it be Image ?

We say goodbye to our spartan room and the sausage tree (hippos love these things) in front of our bungalow.
Image Image

That reminds me that earlier in our stay in Lower Sabie, I photographed my SO reaching up for a sausage in front of our bungalow. After I finished the shot, I followed her back to the bungalow. Try as I would, I could not open the door. People here seem to insist on putting locks on the wrong side of the door and in this case I was using a skeleton key with a loose lock and just couldn't get it right. :wall: SO tried it to no avail. Finally, after uttering several choice words that cannot be repeated here I decided to go to reception and get help. I was furious at the people that designed these antiquated misplaced locks. Got my car keys out and lo and behold my car was missing. I immediately thought that this was too much of a coincidence to be locked out and lose the car. Sure enough, we were trying to get into the wrong bungalow. :redface: :redface:
Back to moving day. We were out of the bungalow by 7 a.m. and went over to reception to check out. We saw this overturned trash can in the parking lot. Since there is no safety lid on it, I'm sure this must be an everyday occurrence. :roll:
Image
Finally we're out of there and heading north to Olifants on the H10. First significant sighting was for zebra crossing the road in front of us.
Image
SO said she spotted a hyena but when we pulled up close it was doing an excellent impression of being another zebra. Drove by warthogs, giraffe, and another herd of at least 13 zebra right off the road.
Image
A little further up the H10 we spotted our first lion. ImageIt was a male and two females with a kill.
Image Image
Image Image
Image Image
Image Image
(We were delighted to see lions as I was beginning to think I would have to change my name to Bert Jr. if we did not run across any. :twisted: ) The male was sitting by the kill and every time a female would approach he would chase her away. No "ladies first" etiquette in the bush. We stayed there for some time but could never get a clean photo of the male although we could see the females clearly. We grudgingly left and continued our journey. We have now seen four of the big five, missing only the leopard. We wondered if we would run across any during our stay. But we were totally pleased with the fantastic sightings that we have had so far and were happy we had made the long journey to Kruger. Our next stop was the Nkumbe lookout. It had a beautiful panoramic view, and we got out and stretched our legs (at our own risk as it said on the signs posted).
Image
Headed back on the H10 and then turned on the Orpen Dam loop. We spotted a couple of steenbok along the road.
Image Image
A beautiful setting awaited us at the Orpen Dam lookout. Saw yellow-billed storks, hippos, and several nesting grey herons.
Image Image Nesting grey herons in a treetop
Image Yellow-billed storks in the treetops
Image
Image Grey heron in flight

After that, we headed south on the H1-3 to the Tshokwane picnic area to have a late breakfast of scrambled eggs and toast. We were surrounded by lots of beautiful blue starlings looking longingly at our food.
Image Image
Image Miombo blue-eared starling

Back on the H1-3 to Olifants via Satara. Came across eight wildebeest grazing, and then a young bull elephant feeding.
Image
Image Burchell's Coucal
More zebra, giraffe, and a Kudu.
Image Image
We stop by the Mazthi waterhole right off the road and saw several waterbuck.
Image Image
Turned off the road to see our first Baobob tree. It looks like it is upside down with the roots reaching to the sky.
Image
Back on the H1-3. Spotted a Yellow-billled Kite in flight.
Image
We drove further on up the road and passed many of the same usual suspects, finally stopping in Satara for a light lunch. Back on the road, and for a long stretch saw no animals. Passed through a large "controlled burn" area.
Image
Finally came across one lone cape buffalo. Then we passed an ellie and a herd of zebra. The zebras were standing with their heads resting on each other's backs.
Image
That way, they could see in all directions. Next we saw some Kudu and a couple of Bateleur eagles in the distance.
Image
Image
We next stopped on the Olifants river bridge and saw hippos, crocs, and ellies. There is a beautiful view from the bridge.
Image Image
Image Image
Image

Drove on and stopped at the Nwamanzi Lookout.
Image
I got out of the car and my SO had a fright when a vervet tried to climb in through her open window. We saw 16 hippos in one location and 13 more basking in the sun.
Image


We finally arrived at the Olifants camp. Our initial impression was very positive and it turned out that this was our favorite camp of all six that we stayed in. We had a perimeter BB2VD bungalow.
Image Image
Image Image
Image

It was # 11 and had a fantastic view from the veranda. There were no safety catches on the outside trash cans and the vervets were pulling the lids off and taking things out. Since our refrigerator was outside, we turned it around against the wall so that the vervets could not open the door. Clever little devils.
Image Impala lilly
After unpacking and settling in, we opened a bottle of good South African wine and sat on our veranda enjoying the beauty of the Kruger. Life doesn't get any better than this. :wink:
Image Image
Image Image


Last edited by TXDrifter on Thu Oct 05, 2006 7:16 pm, edited 4 times in total.

Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Thu Oct 05, 2006 5:35 pm 
Offline
Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger
User avatar

Joined: Thu Nov 10, 2005 10:38 pm
Posts: 155
Location: Texas, USA
Day 7 - 6 September 2006 – We awakened to another glorious day after hearing the hippos bellowing several times during the night. We had breakfast on the veranda and enjoyed the spectacular view.
Image
Image Dark-capped Bulbul
Image Southern Yellow-billed Hornbill
We left around 8 a.m. for the Olifants Dam. On the S93 we came across giraffes, baboons and a couple of steenbok. Arrived at the Olifants River Lookout.
Image
We were very leery about getting out as we were the only ones there. Eventually, a group of South Africans pulled up and got out of their car. That made us brave enough to join them as we figured there is safety in numbers. They were very friendly and we had a very enjoyable time discussing travel with them.
Image
We saw some battle scarred hippos and some very large crocodiles.
Image Image
We reluctantly left the scenic spot and headed on the S44. Spotted 4 female Kudu. Came across more impala and then a lone ellie who appeared to be in musth so we moved right along.
Image
Turned on the S46 river route to Letaba. Pulled off on a small loop and saw a hippo, then a beautiful bee-eater.
Image
Image White-Fronted Bee-Eater
A little later on, we saw a herd of ellies across the river and some of them were taking a dirt bath.
Image Image
Next, we took a little loop and ran across another group of ellies who were coming out of the water on our side of the river. They were coming very close to the road and we weren't sure what what to do.
Image
We decided to follow a car ahead of us that made it around the U shaped loop. We came way too close to the herd at the tip of the U, but we did get some great photos.
Image
In hindsight, after an incident that happened a few days later, we would never have driven that close to a breeding herd.

Further on down the road we came by another ellie who was in the process of pushing over a tree.
Image
We finally arrived at Letaba and took a stretch break and had an early lunch of grilled mushroom and feta cheese sandwiches (surprisingly tasty).
Image
We enjoyed the view of the Letaba River, but it was pretty dry. Took a few bird photos and then we were on our way again on the H1-5 south back to Olifants.
Image Red-winged Starling
Image Red-Headed Weaver
We saw virtually no wildlife on this whole stretch of road until we turn east on the H8. Then we came across a dazzle of zebra, and a few giraffe before arriving back at camp.
Image
Image
Back at our bungalow (#11), we sat out on the veranda with a glass (or two) of wine to build up our strength for our Sunset Drive. We thoroughly enjoyed watching a herd of ellies drinking and slowly trekking across the river below. This was a daily late afternoon event.
Image Image
We walked over to the reception area and boarded our truck for the Sunset Drive. There were about 16 other people on this drive with us. Out the main road and then south on the S92 toward Balule. We had not been on the drive for more than three minutes when we spotted our first leopard. Hooray. :clap:
Image Image
We finally completed our big five sightings. Had it not been for the driver we would have never spotted it as it was quite a distance from the road. Even so, we were delighted. Even with my 12x optical zoom, I was unable to get a good photo although we did take several to commemorate the occasion.

What a great way to start the drive. We next spotted some ellies in the distance in a mock battle.
Image Image
After that, however, we never really had any significant sightings the rest of the drive other than a blackbacked jackal, a spotted hyena, and an eagle owl (none of which I could photograph). It just emphasized to us how much random chance and luck there is in sightings. But we ended the drive and the evening happy that we had finally seen a leopard in a tree.
Image
Back at the bungalow, we again sat out on the veranda and toasted the evening with that nectar of the gods, Amarula. :tongue:


Last edited by TXDrifter on Thu Oct 05, 2006 7:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Sat Oct 07, 2006 6:50 pm 
Offline
Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger
User avatar

Joined: Thu Nov 10, 2005 10:38 pm
Posts: 155
Location: Texas, USA
Vonnie wrote:
:clap: :clap: Well done TX!! Love the pic 's an'd the report!!


Thanks Vonnie. Hope you like this one.

Day 8 - 7 September 2006 – We awakened this morning to the very loud sounds of some screaming baboons. Don't know what the problem was. We were up and out the gate by 6:20 a.m. and on the S92 to see if we could spot the leopard again. On the way we passed several giraffe.
Image
Passed by a lone ellie and then spotted a bunch of vultures and eagles together on the ground across the river.
Image
Stopped by the bridge on the way to Balule and saw a Kingfisher who would dive into the water.
Image Pied Kingfisher
Next we passed a large tree with at least 10 vultures in it.
Image

Next came across a rare sighting of a “dinkybird” traveling with a “hawk” and had a little chat. :D (No photo).

We then decided to go back to camp for breakfast via the S91 to Letaba road. Saw a goose and stopped and watched a large vulture sitting on a branch off the side of the road.
Image Egyptian Goose
Image White-Backed Vulture
Later,we spotted a few baboons on the H1-4.
Image Image
We stopped at the Nwamanzi lookout and stretched our legs while enjoying the view.
Image
Back on the road, saw a few birds and vervets.
Image
We stopped on the bridge which has a lovely view over the Olifants River. Saw impala and some Kudu.
Image
Image
Image

Just a few miscellaneous sightings until we got back on the S92 to the spot where we saw the leopard in a tree yesterday.
Image

He was still there but all we could see was mostly tail and some body.
Image
We decided to go back to camp and get something to eat and then return later. Back at camp, we ran into dinkybird and hawk again. :D We told them about the leopard and they followed us back down to our original sighting. We were not able to spot anything. However DB and Hawk had a higher vantage point and better viewing equipment. DB told us that actually there were two leopards and one of them had a kill in the tree. We still couldn't spot anything but DB and Hawk very patiently jockeyed us into a position where we could finally make out a flying impala with the leopard a few feet above.
Image Image
We finally had to leave and said our goodbyes and thanks to our expert spotters.

We ended up back on the H8 to Letaba. Then onto the H1-5. Saw a group of helmeted Guineafowl. Next was an Ellie who was feeding and flapping his ears quite a bit.
Image Image
Image
Then drove by another Ellie. Now on the H1-6 heading to the Das Neves Cross. We crossed the Letaba River and saw more ellies.
Image

Turned on the S95 loop. Just a few impala. Decided to go a little further north on the H1-6. Not much going on so we wandered our away around and ended up at the Matambeni bird hide. Lovely view, lots of hippos, birds and crocs. Headed back to camp and saw giraffe, ellies, baboons and assorted birds.
Image Crested Francolin
Image Red-crested Korhaan
Image
Image Speckled Mousebird
Image

We concluded the day back on the veranda of our bungalow, sipping good wine and again enjoying the beautiful vista below.
Image


Last edited by TXDrifter on Mon Oct 09, 2006 11:17 am, edited 10 times in total.

Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Sat Oct 07, 2006 7:15 pm 
Offline
Moderator
Moderator
User avatar

Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2005 6:31 pm
Posts: 9769
Location: Ballito, KZN North Coast, South Africa
Another super report Phil,
apart from all the other pics I especially like the one taken at the Nwamanzi lookout, so peaceful and scenic. :D

_________________
Where ever you go, go with all your Heart.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Sat Oct 07, 2006 7:49 pm 
Offline
Virtual Ranger
Virtual Ranger
User avatar

Joined: Tue Sep 20, 2005 12:23 pm
Posts: 506
Location: Proudly a Saffabird
As usual Phil, your report & pic's did not disappoint! :wink: Thank you!

_________________
Life is not a party, but while we are here we might as well dance!


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Sat Oct 07, 2006 9:17 pm 
Offline
Senior Virtual Ranger
Senior Virtual Ranger
User avatar

Joined: Sat Jul 15, 2006 8:40 pm
Posts: 2780
Location: At work
Really enjoyed the latest installments of your report, TXD!

_________________
Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former. - Albert Einstein (1879-1955)


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Sat Oct 07, 2006 11:41 pm 
Offline
Senior Virtual Ranger
Senior Virtual Ranger
User avatar

Joined: Sun Mar 20, 2005 5:53 pm
Posts: 3781
Location: Cambridge, MA (and home from home in Darling, WC)
Another great installment, Phil, brings back lots of memories — I also have a pic of that fevertree full of vultures 8) I'm also enjoying your mystery bird challenges. I think your first one is a crested francolin, altho it looks paler than they usually are. The 2nd is hard to be sure because of the angle, but is probably a grey lourie (now officially the go-away bird :roll: ), or if not that, probably a mousebird, but not sure which of those it might be.

_________________
RSA 2014
20-16 Oct Joburg
27-30 Oct Mapungubwe: Limpopo forest tented camp, Leokwe camp
31 Oct-1 Nov Pafuri River Camp
2-15 Nov KNP: Punda Maria, Sirheni, Olifants, Tamboti, Skukuza
16-22 Nov Cape Town
23 Nov-20 Jan Darling


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Sun Oct 08, 2006 1:10 am 
Offline
Virtual Ranger
Virtual Ranger
User avatar

Joined: Wed Jan 12, 2005 3:12 pm
Posts: 427
Location: Denmark
Your ?birds are Crested Francolin and Speckled Mousebird.

_________________
KTP: November 2014
KNP: March 2015


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Sun Oct 08, 2006 10:07 am 
Offline
Distinguished Virtual Ranger
Distinguished Virtual Ranger
User avatar

Joined: Thu Jan 13, 2005 9:02 pm
Posts: 17091
Location: mind in SA, body in The Netherlands
Again well written with great pics.

_________________
Submit your Images


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Mon Oct 09, 2006 10:56 am 
Offline
Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger
User avatar

Joined: Thu Nov 10, 2005 10:38 pm
Posts: 155
Location: Texas, USA
Image Thanks again Elsa, Vonnie, restio, arks, and bert for the kind words. And a special thanks to arks and katja for the bird IDs.

Next report up shortly. Image


Top
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic This topic is locked, you cannot edit posts or make further replies.  [ 36 posts ]  Go to page 1, 2, 3  Next



Who is online

Users browsing this forum: ghostdogg, teddy_rsa and 8 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Powered by phpBB © 2000, 2002, 2005, 2007 phpBB Group

Webcams Highlights

Addo Nossob Orpen Satara
Addo Nossob Orpen Satara
Submitted by Foxy at 13:56:48 Submitted by HenkB at 15:01:23 Submitted by BevAnn at 14:56:01 Submitted by Lindyvee at 13:30:45