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 Post subject: Saraf & SO's KNP Trip : 30th Sept - 8th Oct 2006
Unread postPosted: Sun Oct 22, 2006 12:53 am 
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Well the first major sighting of the trip (sorry no photos) was at Gatwick Airport in the queue for check-in - Krok, Tok and Archie. Tok looking ladden down, Krok looking happy and blooming and Archie looking very sweet.

Car hire hassles (car wasn't ready, the brokers had given them the wrong arrival time) meant we left the airport later than we'd hoped. We pointed the car towards the east and put pedal to floor. We negotiated Nelspruit and White River successfully and arrived in Hazyview with enough time to dump our stuff, head to the Pick & Pay for provisions and then enjoy the absolutely fabulous surroundings of our home for the night.

Day 1 - 30th September 2006

Up early next morning and in through Phabeni gate (queuing time about 20 mins) and we entered the park at 6:39am. The first sighting of the trip was from the bridge over the Phabeni River - 6 mins after entering.

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A really colourful welcome.

Next up was the first of the Big 5 for the trip. Image.

I must mention here that we saw lots of the common grazers - impala, zebra, wildebeest and giraffe - probably not going more than 1/2 hour between sightings of one sort or another. I'm not really going to mention them again, unless they have a bearing on something I want to tell you. Oh and you can add kudu females and steenbok to the list as well. I also won't bore you with most of our bird spottings - we really are beginners and the birds we think are spectacular are just gardens birds to most of you.

So we turned off the S1 onto the S3 - Sabie River Road. The area to the north of the S1 before the turn off was badly burned and so was the section here until we reached the river. A lone hyena was in a gully next to the road but he'd gone before I could get a photo.

At Lake Panic hide we saw an African darter, a goliath heron in the tree - probably the same on building a nest reported by the Duke crew and TXDrifter - green-backed heron, hippo, crocodiles, jacanas, swallows, 4 bushbuck and, as we were leaving, a young bushbuck by the fence.

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We found Lake Panic a magical place, as promised. The thought of being there early in the morning is enough to tempt us into a couple of nights at Skukuza (next visit). One thing - the weavers nesting opposite the hide - what kind are they, so we can tick them off our meagre list.

We stopped of at Skukuza Day Visitor Centre to eat our packed breakfast and sat watching a herd of impala at the river, a fish eagle circling and the glossy starlings trying for a bit of our neighbours skottle breakfast.

The Maroela loop yielded nothing but a couple of kudu, the S84 our first lilac breasted roller of the trip and on the H1-2 we saw 4 southern ground hornbills.

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South of Tshokwane picnic site we spotted our first giraffe and A car stopped to tell us of a sighting - about 9km up the road...

To be continued.


Last edited by saraf on Sun Oct 22, 2006 9:38 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Unread postPosted: Sun Oct 22, 2006 10:37 am 
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Day 1 - Part 2

The sighting turned out to be at Mazithi dam. You couldn't really miss it, because of the cars, but the considerate animals had placed themselves near a parking section so there was no traffic jam and good visability for most of the cars stopped.

There was a lot of activity at the water hole, some waterbuck wandering around, a bull elephant, a couple of saddle-billed storks ... and off to the right 4 lions, 1 male 3 females, devouring what I thought was a water buck (later confirmed by a look at picture of a leg and Renata).

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After a while the male got up and walked away into the shade. It was my first kill and the noise was astounding - no table manners at all. The male was being harrassed by a lilac breasted roller who kept flying down around his head but no vultures had started to gather yet. At the other side the dam was getting like Picadilly Circus on a Friday and I don't mean with cars. Apart from those animals that were already there when we arrived we were joined by 6 more waterbuck, a breeding herd of elephants, another bull elephant and a crocodile. The first bull was very agitated, whether it was "his" waterhole and he didn't like sharing or he was upset by having lions that close I couldn't say but he was not relaxed at all.

What was funny was people passing by thinking we had stopped to watch the antics of the elephants - the looks on their faces when a lion suddenly stood up was priceless.

After about half an hour things had quietened down and we still had a long way to go so we moved on. We spotted our first warthog, wildebeest and buffalo (4 of the big 5 in one day, which we'd never got before). From the Sweni river bridge we spotted elephant, baboons and kudu.

Stopped for some coffee at Satara (we couldn't work out how the coffee bar or deli was supposed to work) and I had a quick look at the cam and waterhole but there was not much going on.

Back on the H1-4 I spotted the first of many Kori bustards this trip. And then - more lion! 2, of which one was definitely male. Not as convenient as the first sighting and no photos but we'd never seen 2 separate lion sightings in one trip before, let alone on one day! We had to pinch ourselves - this was still our first day.

At the get-out bridge over the Olifants River there were 2 different breeding herds of elephants on the east side - one on the north side and the other on the south. We couldn't get to the ones on the south side because a camper van had parked near the yellow line and its occupants were sitting out on camping chairs, not something I'd come across before.

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Not much to report on the H1-5 and H1-6 - creasted guinea fowl, Maribou stork and a fish eagle.

We checked into Letaba and had a meal in the restaurant (I'll put something in the camp thread about this). While I was writing up my day's notes outside and watching the couple next door trying to set their hut on fire, a bushbuck wandered over to say goodnight.


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Unread postPosted: Sun Oct 22, 2006 7:37 pm 
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Day 2 - 1st October 2006

Gates opened earlier today so out we went and up the H1-6 to see what we could see along the river. A couple of hippos were still active on the far bank. We were the 3rd car out and a lone bull elephant was not pleased that we were the 3rd car to disturb his eating - we got an earful so we didn't hang around. Nigel Dennis's book suggested we try the S48 and who are we to argue so off we went northwards. We didn't really see much except general game and a few kori bustards again. Just as we were about to turn away from the river there they were - 2 lions either side of the road. SO was driving and somehow didn't see them until he was almost on top and I was screaming at him to stop. They looked just like gate keepers. Anyway SO's driving had disturbed them and they got up and moved toward the river bank and dense bushes and as they moved a third appeared. I hadn't managed to get a shot off so we turned the car around and followed as they walked parallel to the road. I managed to get about three shots of one of them and then a shot of the sky and then of the car's passenger well while I tried to figure out why I couldn't press the shutter button when I wanted. (Turned out I'd accidentally set the timer. It took a further half hour to work out how to turn it off and another day to figure out how I'd done it in the first place - with my nose, believe it or not).

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Back on th H1-6 we spotted 2 red-breasted swallows and a rhino in the distance - too far away for a decent photo. As we were passing Middelvlei waterhole we saw a large crowd of zebra and wildebeest on both sides of the road and an elephant bull trying to drink from the concrete bore (is that the correct term?) - not the first time I've seen this. We noticed the zebra seemed to be a bit spooked so we had a look around. And there, sat in the furthest crib, was a hyena.

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In fact we managed to count 3 of them and as we watched the one in the crib stood up and shook the water and collapsed at the edge of the crib. It looked like they were settling in for the day. The zebra continued to hang around, obviously thirsty. The nearest crib didn't seem to have much water and and as we watched they got nearer and nearer to the hyena but none of them were brave enough to go the last few feet and they eventually retreated to the other, emptier crib.

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We stayed for about 1/2 an hour, hoping that perhaps the elephant would loose interest in the bore and try the easier crib and shift the hyena so we could get a better look but coffee and rusks will only fill you so much and hunger got the better of us and we headed back to Letaba. By the Malopenyana waterwhole was a large herd of buffalo (4 out of the big five again) and 3 tsessebe.

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Then as we approached the loops by the Letaba river we saw an very large elephant on the far bank. A car was parked there and waved us to stop. The elephant was not happy and he'd flushed out 5 lionesses from their sleeping place and they were walking along the bank, playing hide and seek in the rocks and the reeds.

I didn't get many photos as we went up the S95 loop following their progress and they eventually found a new sleeping place.

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There were about 5 hippos out of the water (it was about 10:15 by this time and very, very hot so we noted it as unusual) and some waterbuck.

By this time our stomachs thought our throats had been cut and we settled down to cheese toasties and orange juice at Letaba and watched the antics of the crested barbet, dark capped bulbuls and black-collared barbet.

After brunch we set out on the S46, S93 and S44 but saw very little of note - a group of dagga boys and some cattle egret, along with general game. Had some refreshments at Olifants camp and watched waterbuck, impala and a pair of fish eagles. We heard hippos but couldn't see them - or any water that was deep enough for them.

The H1-4 down to Satara gave us a large herd of elephants in the Olifants river, large numbers of giraffe and zebra and the first vervets of the trip.

The H7 to Orpen we saw 6 southern ground hornbills and 5 kudu males.

We had quite a delay at Orpen booking in for Tamboti - I'd booked a morning walk for the next morning and Orpen didn't seem to know anything about it. But we got there eventually and we had tent 36. I'll put some observations about it in the Camps and Roads forum later.

SO got some food together for us while I downloaded the photos to the laptop and wrote up my notes. The insects got the better of SO after a while and he went in while I stayed out for a while just listening.


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Unread postPosted: Tue Oct 24, 2006 9:01 pm 
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Day 3 - 2nd October 2006

Got up unbelievably early, for a bushwalk. Almost as soon as we set off walking Stephen, our guide, spotted 4 rhino, how I will never know. We set off after them at a careful distance until the second guide (he never introduced himself) spotted impala. Stephen had us all duck out of sight because the impala would warn the rhino about us if we were spotted. After 10 uncomfortable minutes of kneeling in a mixture of dried dung and thorny plants the impala caught smell of us and bolted, followed closely by the rhino.

Up we got again and we made out way to the dried river bed of the Timbavati river. We walked along it for a while, passing some drag marks in the sand that Stephen thought were a couple of days old. We sat in the middle of the river bed, eating breakfast, watched by a troupe of baboons. After a while I heard a noise on the bank behind us and as I turned the 4 rhino - a male, 2 female and one juvenile - burst onto the river bed, took one look at us and just carried on running. Stephen was very pleased with himself as he'd predicted that they would come down to the river at some point - he just thought they'd come out in front of us and not behind.

We retraced our steps for a while and then went to explore the north bank. As we were crossing back over the river at some rock pools, there was a rustle in a tree on the far bank and a Verreaux's eagle owl shifted position from one branch to another.

Stephen showed us a rhino midden and explained what it was used for and then an elephant rubbing tree. And then just as we were approaching the truck we saw baboons between it and us. A lot of shouting and waving sent them into the trees, watching us all the way.

After we were dropped back at camp we went for a drive on the Rabelais loop and back on the H7 but saw absolutely nothing. By this time I was falling asleep so we decided to have a mid-morning nap.

A commotion from our neighbours woke me up and I went outside to see what it was. It took me a few seconds to register and I went back in to wake up SO with the news that there was this gentleman outside.

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I sat watching him wandering along the far bank for a while. Then the oik next door started grunting again and I looked up to see the afternoon bushwalk crossing the river bed and going up the bank, about oh 50m, from where the elephant was.

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I can only assume they didn't realise the elephant was there as they then stayed very still for about an hour - I checked on them every so often and they didn't move very much.

Went for a late, short drive and again didn't see much except some baboons.

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When we got back the wind had really picked up so we didn't bother cooking and went to bed, exhausted.


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Unread postPosted: Tue Oct 24, 2006 9:57 pm 
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Day 4 - 3rd October

We woke up to a very wet balcony. It had stopped raining but stayed cloudy and cool all day. Now at this point in my report I get a little confused. The map I was using to navigate and thus write my "field notes" says the road we took to Talamati is the S140. However the map I'm using as an aide memoire while writing this report says its the S145. No matter, you get the idea. And we only saw an unidentified raptor, 3 kudu males and 5 southern ground hornbills anyway.

We then headed north on the S36, looking for some hot water at Muzandzeni picnic spot so we could have some warming coffee. We didn't get any as this was the sight that greeted us at the adjacent water hole

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You should just be able to make out 5 lionesses. We spent about half an hour with them until they moved into the longer grass behind the waterhole.

We then decided that we needed some food to go with the coffee we hadn't had and headed along the S126 Sweni Road (2 white backed vultures and a bateleur) and up the H1-3 (elephant and buffalo) to Satara and hot chocolate and toasties (we finally figured out how to order from the deli. At least we thought we had. More on this later).

After this sustenance we headed, with some trepidation on my part, for the S100. On the first morning of our first trip in 2003 we had a fantastic half hour, on our own, with a pride of lions on this road but we'd never travelled it again. So we do we love it or hate it? Make your own conclusions.

First up was a hamerkop, then a woolly-necked stork, a male kudu and a male bushbuck.

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Near the Nsasane waterhole we came across a herd of spooked zebra so we stopped for a while to see if anything appeared but nothing was happening. And then just before the junction with the S41, 2 lions. 1 male and 1 female. That was the 6th separate lion sighting of the trip and made 21 in total. These 2 were quite a way from the road and although I did get a picture it's not worth posting here.

We turned down the S41 and came across a black crake, a couple of trees full of vultures, one being a lappet-faced. We couldn't see what was happening though. From the N'wanetsi picnic spot we spotted 2 bushbuck, 1 male, 1 female.

A herd of elephants on the S41 on the way back, close to where the vultures were gathering.

On the S100 return journey I got the woolly-necked stork on my side of the car and managed to get a couple of photos. I would appreciate confirmation that it is a wns though.

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The only other sighting on the way back was a very skittish grey duiker.

After a burger break at Satara (my SO recommends the veggie option) we headed off back towards Tamboti. We took a little loop of the S40/S12. At the Girivana waterhole we came across this little one being taught how to drink by her (his?) mother.

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Mum wouldn't let her suckle so she was forced to try to drink. She was really doubtful but mum was showing her how to splay her legs and eventually she got it. It was really beautiful to watch.

On the H7 was a large herd of elephants really close to the road. Some cars were getting quite close and one idiot managed to rev their engine right by a mother. He was very lucky they didn't charge at him as they had very young with them. We decided to give them some space.

Back at the camp there were 5 kudu females by the fence at the back of the tent. While I was writing my notes up I could hear baboons and caught sight of something crossing the river bed. SO went out later and spotted a hyena right by the fence. The wind really picked up again and we retired to bed early again.


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Unread postPosted: Sun Oct 29, 2006 7:45 pm 
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Day 5 4th October

We were awakened at 2am by a massive thunderstorm overhead. Not normally a problem but in a tent being illuminated every 2 minutes or so it can become quite interesting.

Another storm woke us up again at 4am and when the alarm went off at 5am I was not keen on getting up. However a grumbling from outside had me shooting out of bed and onto the deck to see what was around. As I was up I wasn't allowed to return to bed and by 5:38am we were by the gate. However the storm must have disturbed the gate keeper as it was still locked. Stephen, our guide from the bush walk, appeared from behind us and apologising with a smile, a wave and a shrug, let us out.

We went back along the Rabelais loop and then down the S36 to the Muzandzeni Waterhole in the vain hope the lions of yesterday might still be around. But it was still raining and pretty miserable and the animals and birds weren't playing out. The total sightings for the S106, S36, S126 and H1-3 to Satara were 2 male kudu, 3 grey duiker and 2 african hawk eagles.

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After toasties and hot chocolate/coffee at Satara we went back along the S100 and encountered Blue waxbills and a crocodile. The S41 yielded a Hadeda Ibis and a striped kingfisher.

Fromt he Sweni hide we could spot yellow-billed storks, white-faced ducks, grey heron, egyptian geese, a malachite kingfisher briefly, four crocodiles, jacandas, weavers and a black stork.

By this time the sun was out and we decided to have a leisurely drive back to Orpen, book for the sunset drive and have a nap so we headed back along the H6 and H7. SO thought out loud that it was a good thing we'd seen those 2 ostrich as we hadn't seen any since. And I spotted 2 ostrich. And then another 6 later on. I asked him to try this trick on leopards or cheetahs but it didn't work!

Back in camp we had a leisurely afternoon and I got some shots of the resident woodpeckers from No. 36

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And as we were relaxing on the deck we discovered what the grumbling was that morning - mating lions serenaded us all afternoon. The fence path in front of the tent got busy but they weren't visible - we suspected they where on the far bank. But they were very, ah, energetic.

At the appointed time we walked to our pickup point and spotted some dwarf mongoose and a francolin with some tiny chicks. While waiting for the truck to turn up we observed this chap on the door of the ablution block

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Disappointment as the sunset drive had to be cancelled - one truck had broken down and the other was sent to bring back the day walk. But the day walk failed to return at the appointed time and place so no truck to do the drive. We were asked if we wanted to do the night drive instead, which we agreed to.

So back to the tent again to do more lion listening. When we eventually got on the drive they seemed to have forgotten that they'd moved us so it was a cosy fit into the 10 seater. First sight was a white-tailed mongoose and we also saw a couple of small-spotted genets, 2 bushbabies (a first for me), and African wildcat, Nightjar, southern white-faced scops-owl, scrub hares, a thick-knee, a grey duiker and at the Rableais pan - the frog chorus. I play my music loud but that was deafening.


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Unread postPosted: Sun Oct 29, 2006 9:20 pm 
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Just got to read you reports Saraf and they are wonderful! Thank you. I must you sure had a great start to your trip - I love waterholes when they are 'busy' and to have lion feeding right there too... :mrgreen:

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Unread postPosted: Thu Nov 02, 2006 12:21 am 
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Day 6 5th October 2006

Time to leave Tamboti and move on to Olifants, where we stayed for the rest of our stay. We'd already packed up while waiting for the night-drive the day before. So we just packed the car up and as we went back for a last look around we disturbed a baboon rooting around in the bin. We wondered if this had been a daily occurrence and the baboons had been waiting for us to go every morning and then got to the bin. This morning we had broken our habit and gone back. If this is the case then we owe the cleaner a really big apology for not securing the bin in the tent when we went out.

Just on the H7 we saw a rhino in the distance - too far away for a photo. As we turned onto the S39 there was another rhino right by the road. Once again my amateurish approach to my new camera showed - I hadn't reset the camera from the settings I'd had from the night-drive and by the time I'd changed it the rhino was probably in front of the webcam at Satara! We spotted this kudu male, part of a group and I added this photo to my quest for a photo of the perfect pair of horns.

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The only other sighting of note was a bull elephant in the Olifants river that we got a better view of from N'wamanzi Lookout.

We brunched at Olifants (the mushroom and feta toasties there are wonderful) and went for a mini-drive until it was time to check-in. At the low-level bridge near Balule we saw:

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and

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and a bit further on this vervet sat by the road

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We called in again at the N'wamanzi Lookout again and had a visit from another vervet. A mini-van was also there and we had to warn them, just in time, to shut the car doors.

After booking in we took some timeout at the look out where we spotted elephant, kudu, inpala, waterbuck, great egret, fish eagles and crocodiles. A final drive yielded buffalo on the S89 and a bateleur and nyala female right by the gate.

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Unread postPosted: Thu Nov 02, 2006 12:24 am 
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Day 7 6th October 2006

We did an early drive to the low level bridge which yielded a 3 banded plover, snipe and a pied wagtail.

The hyena den on the S90 is still active and we caught sight of a nervy youngster who was modelling for some cars but had enough when the cars started manoeuvring to get a better position, just as we arrived. Luckily this mum and pup were still napping.

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We carried on down the S90 and had a large buffalo road block, a black-backed jackal (our first of the trip) a black-bellied korhaan, 3 elephant bulls and a pearl-spotted owlet.

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We then decided to head to Letaba for brunch and the H1-5 yielded klipspringer (SO - "this looks like a good place to spot klipspringer - oh look klipspringer").

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After brunch we headed north for a while. At the Letaba bridge we had this elephant come over to investigate my camera - or was it the reeds?

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At the same time another elephant decided to go for a wander and it was touch and go as to whether he wanted to go south along the bridge or east towards the river. Luckily he chose the river and we all breathed a big sigh.

At the end of the bridge was a tree with a large raptor's nest, complete with raptor. The bloke who first spotted identified it as a tawny eagle but we weren't too sure and we thought Wahlbergs. I've posted it in the "Please help with ID" thread in the Birds forum but opinion still seems to be divided between Wahlberg's or juvenile tawny. Whatever it was, it was a majestic bird and it was a pleasure to spend time watching it.

We did the S95 loop and I managed to capture this white-fronted bee-eater.

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We then headed to the Engelhardt dam were we saw a water monitor on the dam wall and some sort of sunbird that was too fast for me to identify properly. At the Matambeni Hide we saw a squacco heron - a new tick.

The drive back was fairly uneventlful and we decided to book a monring drive for our last day. As it turns out it was a really good decision, but more of that later.

We had a final drive of the day to the low water bridge and to see if the hyena were around. No such look but we spotted a large troupe of baboons on the Ngotso crossing on the S89. There were about 30+ in the river bed, along the bank and inthe trees. One youngster was on the bank and a younger one was trying to get to the top from the bed. The older one would wait until the little one was just at the top and then push him off. He did this about four times, until one of the others got fed up of him and pushed him down the bank.


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Unread postPosted: Thu Nov 02, 2006 12:41 am 
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Day 8 7th October 2006

The morning drive didn't get off to an auspicious start - as we were the only ones with binoculars the others struggled to see the hippos in the river from N'wamanzi lookout. As we rejoined the H1-4 2 cars overtook us - so much for being the first out! Not much action in the river as we passed over the bridge . However further down the H1-4 there was a hyena on the road but he didn't stick around long as the cars in front had disturbed him. The drive was partially rescued when we went off-road - that's more like it. However about the only thing we saw was the buffalo herd from yesterday and a couple of bull elephants and a small breeding herd. The others then struggled to see a hippo in the river when we crossed the low-level bridge.

We had breakfast and headed out. Just as we were passing the petrol station one of the attendants came rushing over. Having established we were from No 28 he told us that we had 2 punctures. Apparently he'd seen the tyres while he was walking through the camp and had tried to call on us. When he didn't find us in, he'd been looking out for us. It transpired that we had a slow puncture in one front tyre and a table-tennis size bulge in the other. Michael said they could fix the puncture and change the wheel - half an hour it would take them to do it. So we wandered around the camp watching an eagle circling overhead. After half an hour we returned - to chaos. The user manual was out, all the tools were out and a worried attendant was scratching his head. They couldn't find the spare wheel. After they accosted a fellow Touran driver to find where their spare was, still no sign. A customer enquired what the problem was and when he was told he took out his phone and called a friend who also had a Touran still no sign. It was obvious - this car had no spare wheel. They fixed the puncture but could do nothing about the bulge.

Off I went to phone the brokers who got the rental company to phone me back. They had no spare vehicle to give me. We could apparently drive the car but not on gravel roads and not over 100kph. After me saying that I was not prepared to drive back to Jo'burg like that, there were more phone calls and they arranged for a spare wheel to be brought to KMIA from Jo'burg. We would meet them at Paul Kruger gate the next morning, as we had to leave that way, and they would change the wheel.

Not knowing what the morning would bring we decided not to drive on the tyre in case we put too much pressure on it. SO we had a day in the camp, enjoying the activities of the starlings, hornbills, vervets and squirrels and laughing at the activities of certain of the human species. We made a few trips to the lookout to play spot the giraffe - first one to spot one got an ice-cream.

We'd already booked a sunset drive all was not lost. Just out of the gate I spotted the nyala female I'd seen a couple of days before. The rest of the drive followed the route we'd done that morning, but in reverse. Down to the low level bridge (nothing around), then off road, following the telegraph poles. Had a rhino in silhouette on the ridge - if I'd been on that side of the truck it would have made a brilliant photo but never mind.
By the time we got back onto the H1-4 it was time to put the spotlights on and do some cat spotting.

But first up were hyenas - lying in the middle of the road when we arrived they moved off and left one by the side of the road near the den. We then had a bushbaby and what we decided was an African Wild Cat and the guide, with one look, said was a genet. We weren't the only ones who said wildcat and we were a little annoyed. Do they look that similar? Especially since we then had a fantastic view of a genet later on. Then having turned onto the road to the camp a cry of STOP, REVERSE and there she was - our very first leopard. Beautiful, magnifcent animal, very relaxed with a truck load of people shining lights and pointing cameras at her. She put up with it for quite a while, until the driver got a bit bored and started the engine again. She walked of into the bush with a flick of her tail.

And that was it. Back to bed.

Sunrise
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One of the herd from the morning drive
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Hyena from the night drive
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And there is a leopard in there...

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 Post subject: Last one
Unread postPosted: Fri Nov 03, 2006 12:02 am 
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Joined: Sun Jan 16, 2005 3:19 pm
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Location: Portsmouth, England
Day 9 - 8th October 2006

Last day <sigh>. We'd had enough time to pack the day before so we were at the gate before it was opened, not something that happened very often, so we were the thrid out of the gate. Because we didn't know what the day would bring - whether we were going to get a spare wheel, when or where, we decided not to linger too much. So this was the day we had some interesting sightings. I think it's called Murphy's Law or something.

First up was a hyena right by the camp gate.

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Luckily he didn't hang around so we set off again. One last look around one of my favourite spots in Kruger - the bridge over the Olifants River. Nothing going on so off we go again. We'd made a note of where the hyena den on the H1-4 was and so had the car in front, so we both slowed down a bit. We did see an adult but they scarpered on the approach of the car and left this little one by the den. We spent as much time as we dared with him but had to move on. I could have watched him all day!

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On the way up earlier in the week we noticed that the area between Olifants and Satara and especially between Satara and Tshokwane had been badly burned. However going back we noticed how beneficial the rains had been, even though it had only been 2 nights. Lush green shoots were appearing everywhere. Unfortunately there wasn't much grazing going on. Or was it fortunately as we couldn't stop very long.

A little bit further on from the hyena I spotted this scene in a tree not very far from the road. He just wouldn't turn round so I could get a good look at his front but I'm fairly certain it's a martial eagle with steenbok. If I'm wrong on either counts, please let me know.

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I was so annoyed we couldn't stay longer, it was one of the best raptor sightings we'd had all week.

Next stop was when SO slammed on the brakes and reversed. There was a chameleon in the road - the first I'd ever seen. he was frozen on the tarmac, not quite in the middle. I was tempted to pick him up and move him but the road was really quiet. We drove on an when SO look in the mirror to see if he was still there saw a raptor land on the road and he was gone.

So the question - did we alert the raptor to the chameleon's presence by stopping or was it just nature taking its course. And the question I really don't want to consider - if we'd stopped a bit longer would we have seen the kill.

My original plan had been for a leisurely-ish drive to Skukuza and to spend some time at Lake Panic before heading out of the park for the drive to Jo'burg. We just couldn't do it. I phoned the car hire at KMIA and he was in a panic - he couldn't get to us at PK gate so we had to drive into the airport. All-in-all I reckon the diversion and the time spent changing the wheel and all the resultant paperwork cost us about an hour. So it was with a heavy heart we passed the turning for Lake Panic (we couldn't have gone there with the tyre anyway) and headed out of Kruger and started our 24 hour journey back home.

I've only posted a fraction of the photos I took - a larger fraction can be found here or by clicking the www button below.

We had a fantastic time, car troubles not withstanding. We will be back, just not sure when yet.


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