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 Post subject: Pardus&Felis : The KNP Summer Trip '06
Unread postPosted: Wed Dec 13, 2006 11:19 pm 
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13/12 - The last things on the list are yet to be ticked off. It is a race against time. Perhaps the last vestiges of our daily world that needs be shed before we consider ourselves free to be human, free to finally dream and free to breathe hot air not conditioned by a remote control that produces a perfect 22 degrees summer temperature in a place where we slave to fund our quest for hearing the uncomplicated strumming of daybreak filled with birdsong.


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Unread postPosted: Sat Dec 16, 2006 1:33 pm 
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A message from Pardus:

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We are home

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Unread postPosted: Sat Dec 16, 2006 8:29 pm 
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Having a cool wine whilst the hot African night is seeping in. Numerous kills.. next to our outside light! Park is beautifully dressed for summer.

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Unread postPosted: Sun Dec 17, 2006 10:19 pm 
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no reception, fluctates. Another day of hell in Africa, swallowed down with ice cold Amarulo whilst hyenas are calling!

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Unread postPosted: Mon Dec 18, 2006 7:49 pm 
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Awesome day! Still shaking after 50 strong Ellie road block.
Having a smooth Jack to calm nerves.

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Unread postPosted: Wed Dec 20, 2006 9:09 pm 
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Kruger is great, just hotter than a sauna! Skukuza now! Saw Leopard, X 10 wild dog, lion, 6XRhino and lots more! I'm in heaven. Regards to all!

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Unread postPosted: Sun Dec 24, 2006 8:43 am 
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16 December


After a night of hard summer rain, we wake early in the sleepy village of Dullstroom. It is very quiet, save for the birds, singing cheerfully in the coolness of morning. Soon we were ascending the Long Tom Pass and breathing the crisp mountain air – our eyes cast eagerly in the direction of where our beloved Kruger is waiting for us. Stopover at Hazyview for fresh juicy mangos and litchi’s and then finally the road to Kruger Gate snaking through the lush summer vegetation.

We arrive on the bridge and breathe deeply. High above us in the blue blue sky, the African Fish Eagle calls to welcome us home. I don’t know how this happens, but every time we stop on the bridge, we are greeted by this magnificent bird. In the beginning I thought it was just coincidence, but now I know that this is all part of this place’s magic and mystery.

We drive to Lake Panic and sit for a while – the water level has dropped somewhat but the activity has not lessened. By now it was incredibly hot and humid and we decided to go for a snooze as soon as we unpacked. Skukuza was bustling!
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At about 15:00 I was jolted out of a deep slumber by the sound of club music! I sat there on my bed, somewhat confused. The pulsating beat filled the whole camp! Luckily we had the air-conditioner running, otherwise I would have had a severe blood-boil! We decided to get going for an afternoon drive to get some peace and quiet.

The S114 yielded a road-raged mini-bus with a Corsa following it at a speed that doubled the allowed limit. So I stopped and munched dust for while and proceeded at dung-beetle speed – hoping that nothing around the bend was hit by the practising Formula 1 team. We turned onto the S112 and on the boulders, Felis found a Gymnogene scaling the rocks. We watched it as it was hopping around – most probably looking for a snake. Soon enough, a family of baboons started to saunter past with about 15 zebras on tow. Then Impala followed with a string of babies, little miniature gazelle who mimicked their parents to a T. Our highlight was the very newly born wildebeest calf not far from there. Still unsure of it's footing, it stayed very close to a grazing mum. Delightful!
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We drove to the H3 and just absorbed the beautiful surrounds, lush greenery and the veld speckled with dashes of flowers. A summer garden of such intense beauty!
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Night brought the encounter with thick-tailed bush babies in the tree at our bungalow. They were checking us out for a while and then disappeared as swiftly and silently as they came. It was time for a swim and we floated around in the luke-warm water, watching the velvet sky shimmer, trying to figure out the different constellations. Our day ended peacefully. It was good to be home!


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Unread postPosted: Wed Dec 27, 2006 10:32 pm 
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17 December

Day two starts leisurely. We are entertained by the Purple Crested Louries in the canopy above as we pack the car. Against the wall where the outside light is, four fat gecko’s don’t even bother to make a move – they have feasted all night and can hardly breathe…A kill is a kill, and we’d seen plenty the previous evening of the four fatso’s.

We take the H3 – Felis is driving and I snuggle myself into the passenger seat – who was to think that one day, my little girl would be “driving Miss Daisy”?

Along the road, we see numerous Impala crèches with the cute little ones lying down in the shade, or the bigger ones engaging in boisterous play. The Gershwin song, “Summertime…and the livin’ is easy…” played in my mind. So Felis asks – “Do you think the mama Impalas bite the young ones when they are naughty..?” and we go into a bout of such laughter that we have to stop the car and just sit there giggling at the thought. I still wonder though, how do the little ones know when mama’s cross with them?

At Kwaggas Pan, we find Whitefaced Ducks and a Giraffe bull. Not far from there, a Redchested Cuckoo swoops down on an insect right in front of us. I think that’s a rather major tick, especially for Felis who had only seen it from a distance. The bird has been haunting her for many years, and thus, she looked like a cat that got cream!

As we approach Afsaal, I spot a Rhino and the much needed toilet is instantly forgotten. At the far end of the picnic terrain, I watch the White Rhino taking shelter under a shady tree. Photo opportunity marred by the bushy view. We also spot the Scops Owl who by now must feel on par with Brad Pit. Luckily the tree was cordoned off and I suppose that gave the animal some sort of privacy.

From Afsaal, we take the H2-2 and decide to enter Biyamiti via the 18k’s, but I turned right on the S114 instead of left. On the S25 we found quite a number of Ellies, and this one with quite big tuskers.
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Obviously we were on the lookout for Duke all the time, but more than often, we were once again surprised at how a huge animal like an elephant can just disappear behind a few leaves…(And we had no additives in the line of Castle or Black Label…).

We quickly unpacked and made brunch – sumptuous seedloaf sandwiches with lettuce, tomato and slices of ham washed down with cool ice tea. From our kitchen patio we watched the birds take shelter in the trees and shrubs from the midday heat. Woodland Kingfisher, Brownhooded Kingfisher, Grey Louries, Orangebreasted Bush Shrike, Bennet’s Woodpecker, Heuglins Robin, Crested Barbet, Yellowbilled Hornbill and the ever-present glossy starlings were a few of the birds that we could clearly see. Soon enough, it became rather quiet and we got the message – it was time for siesta.

At about 16:00, I realized that we really extended siesta time. The quiet of Byiamiti came to my being. I sat on the wooden bench close to the fence and looked at the different shades of green on summer’s dress. The trees danced a slow dance with the breeze. I could hear their joyous laughter as their leaves were rustled by the wings of a wind that carried a hint of summer rain.

Our afternoon drive took us to Crocodile Bridge - certain persons wanted ice cream with their fruit salad. What mothers won’t do to get vitamins into their children…? The S25 is an incredible road, even if we didn’t see anything, the vast array of flora can keep one busy for while. None the less, we spotted a large matriarchal herd of elephants with very very small babies. They were so incredibly cute and at the same token, their presence made me very careful not to go close to the group who were browsing near the road. Luckily Felis and I share the same respect and fear of Ellies – we keep our distance, and a lengthy one at that. As we crossed the Bume river bridge, we noticed a ribcage on our left – we presume it was buffalo. To our calculations, the kill must have been three days ago. Thus, the lions were here…somewhere.

At Crocodile Bridge we looked at the fruits of the Wild Mango tree in the parking area and searched for the Paradise Flycatcher we heard calling. The gorgeous little bird soon gave us a glimpse of its bright blue bill and rusty red plumage. We quickly did our shopping and were soon again on the S25. About 3 kilometres from the turn-off, we spotted two White Rhino and a calf. They were behind the bushes – again no luck for a photo. The sun started to descend, ever so subtly, one could sense that the temperature was slowly dropping. I sighed with relief– the light started to soften, colours became deeper. It was as if the animals were a little more relaxed, knowing that darkness will bring respite from the heat. Our next sightings included a family of warthog, giraffe, baboons and zebra with an adorable baby.

Then, as we turned the bend, there she lay; breathing gulps of air as if she could not get enough. Another car stopped and a man told us that he saw her mating earlier on. We searched for the male, but to no avail.
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It was getting dark quite quickly and we moved on. Close to the Biyamiti turn-off we found two Ellies having a mud-wrestle and this little keeper of the gates was spotted by Felis as we turned into the 4k’s.
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By now, the ritual was perfected. You spray yourself with Peaceful Sleep until your skin is shiny…then you cough a bit in the fumes and just to settle you throat you pour something cool…

Tonight was a special for me – it was the bush celebration of Felis’s 21 birthday. We opened a bottle of bubbly and watched how day gave way to night. At first, the Whitefaced Owl began to call, then the Water Dikkop, and a very special treat for us – the Mozambique Nightjar. The moment was magic, the sparkle in my daughter’s eyes and the look of contentment was the best reward I could ask for. As we shared this moment, filled with songs of night, from afar, the Scops Owl began to add its voice to the choir in the darkness and to complete the most incredible music, the hyena whooped in the dry riverbed. How does one explain such an experience except for being breathless and thankful?


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Unread postPosted: Thu Dec 28, 2006 9:27 am 
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18 December

We decided to do a pyjama run, but woke a while before our alarm went off. It was humid and even if it was very early in the morning, the heat felt like sticky candyfloss. We dress quickly and get going. It is still dark when we drive through the gates. We take the 4k’s road in the hope that we might just find the lioness and her lover where we left off yesterday late.

As we cross the bridge, we see that the ribcage was dragged nearer to the road. It can only be the hyenas. As we near the place where we found the lioness the previous day, we start scanning the area with eager eyes, but no luck. Not far from the spot where the elephants were browsing, we find a hyena. A lot of the animals are lying down in grass, most probably because of the dew cooling it somewhat. The clever hyena was looking out for such an opportunity, but the Zebra were quick on their feet and cleared out minutes before the hyena arrived.

A few meters from the Hippo Pools turn-off, we spot a Rhino and this time it’s a good prospect for photos.
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On the H4-2 to Crocodile Bridge, we see a lone Ellie bull, Wildebeest and more Impi’s. We travel back on the H4-2 and take the H5. It is a new road which we haven’t travelled before. Not much in terms of animal sightings, but beautiful flora and fantastic displays by the Lilacbreasted Rollers. On the S108, we find quite a large herd of Zebra and slowly amble along the road until we link with the S25 again.

Once back at our bungalow, we start to make a mother of a brekkie, and watch the passing parade of birds from our patio as we nibble on fresh mango and aromatic sweet litchis.
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As if to ensure that it was properly seen, the Redchested Cuckoo once again made it visible to us on the branches of the shrubs in front of the bungalow. Can anyone explain why they do these things when your camera is busy charging or your hands full of mango? We recounted our morning’s sightings and agreed that we had a good day so far. After breakfast, we decide to take an early siesta, and before our heads hit the pillows, we were in a deep slumber.

At 13:00 I was awakened by trumpeting! I rushed outside and saw that a small herd of about eight ellies were browsing in the riverbed. With them, a small, very cute and very playful baby ellie. They trumpeted again, and a bewildered Felis came running out of the bedroom. We grabbed the camera and started clicking away. The group’s matriarch was busy digging gorah’s with her front legs. The surface water could not have been too deep under the sand, as she quickly started to pull water into her trunk and sprayed herself with the cool wetness. The poor baby ellie and a sister a little bit bigger than she, really struggled to get a turn – firstly, the youngest still had to find out exactly what a trunk was for, and the bigger one was pushed away by the older elephants who seemed to say, adults first and then children. After a while the oldest baby wizened up and laid down on the cool,wet sand next to the pools of water – it also seemed that by lying down, the water was more accessible for it’s short trunk. And all the smallest cutie did, was to play, get in the way and eventually tried to push little sister up so that she could play with her…
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At 15:00 we left camp and travelled the 18k’s – Felis also needed cigarettes thus we headed for Afsaal. It was 36 degrees on the car’s thermometer. I showed Felis Blinkwater, where I tried to park a Landrover Discovery underneath a sicklebush (of 80cm) a few years ago when sis-stir and I were surrounded by a herd of young Ellie bulls who were having their mid-day drink at the dam. I was actually amazed at how much the flora had grown since the last time I had travelled the 18k’s. But today there were no Ellies in sight. We started to talk about wild dogs and about a re-settlement near Shingwedzi I had read about. In general we were exchanging information about these incredible animals. Felis had never seen them in Kruger and before we left for our trip, she said that it was all she wanted on her wish-list.

The weather had suddenly turned, and the wind was blowing quite hard. Big, fat raindrops started beating down and around us, lightening strobes came out of dark clouds. The temperature fell to 26 degrees, and although the rain was pelting down, we opened our windows slightly to smell the fragrance of summer rain. We turned into the S114 and the rain eased up a little. I stopped to check the distances on the map and my peripheral vision picked up movement on my side of the car.

A WILD DOG!

That feeling when you want to scream, hyperventilate and jump just rushed in. I calmly said to Felis – “Camera”. But the dog was in a hurry and three very quick snaps later, it disappeared into the dense bush. We both sat in stunned silence and looked at each other with huge eyes. We were so elated, even if the sighting was for less than a minute. Felis’s wish was granted!
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Thus we drove on looking out all the time, knowing that Wild dogs aren’t solitary, but realizing that they move about with such speed, we were incredibly lucky to see it. As we travelled downhill, I noticed Zebras crossing the road – they were actually running…and they were chasing something! Soon enough, we could see clearly how the Zebras were chasing a WILD DOG! They ran across the road and stopped in the open veld – the Wild dog ran away in the same direction, but a bit lower to the Zebras. And there we found them – huddled together in the rain. 11 in total. Imagine our faces and our surprise!
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The Zebras were looking at the dogs, but not moving. We sat with them for a half hour before I noticed a car approaching at the back. I signalled them and they signalled me. HUH? They stopped and a minute later, a LION walked around their vehicle.
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OK! Felis, pinch me, I need to wake up now! I turned the car to go tell the people about the dogs, and then noticed another FOUR lions heading towards where the dogs were lying down. We slowly drove back to the dogs, and by that time, they were up and agitated – they must have smelled the lions. It was just us – the dog watchers and the other car – the lion watchers…amazing stuff! As we were watching the dogs, and the now very nervous Zebras, a huge elephant bull appeared behind the striped ones. As if on cue, the dogs were still stretching the one minute and the next they were running across the road, looking in the direction of the lions. Within seconds, the veld swallowed them and the whole sighting seemed surreal.
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I looked at my watch and calculated – a half hour to spare to get to Afsaal on time. The lions were flopping down on the side of the road. I decided to take my chances – Felis without a ciggy – eish….We turned off at the H2-2 and guess who were waiting for us a kilometre further? We followed the dogs for at least 4 kilometre and witnessed how they readied for a kill. After they chased the Impala into the bush, we sat there shaking with exhilaration. It’s one thing to put something on your wish list, but we were being spoiled rotten by Mother Nature. Happy Birthday Felis!
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Leaving the place where the Wild Dogs had disappeared into the veld, we slowly drove on with huge smiles. Two cars parked on the side of the road waved us dowm and said there was a leopard. LEOPARD! Thus we told them about the dogs and they left, leaving us for a while with the leopard, who left all of a sudden in a huge hurry. We were convinced that it must have gotten wind of the Wild Dogs.
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Then it was Afsaal, which is another story – but alas, this day was so crammed with good stuff, that all I will say is that Felis got cigarettes and a man called Japie must still be shaking his head about the two crazy females that nearly knocked down his shop door.

By now, I was getting a slight bit worried that should we linger too long at any more sightings, we could be in danger of breaking the “curfew”. But, as we drive around the bend where the leopard was, guess who are lying all over the road? And it was one of those inconceivable moments in my life where I stopped and the animals somehow surrounded my car. One Wild Dog walked past my open window, stopped and stared at me. It felt like the longest time, me, Wild Dog, human, animal, spirit. I sat there transfixed in the eternity of eyes that spoke to me the language of life. I felt Felis’s hand find mine and holding it.
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Back on the S114, we find the lions where we had left them. The Zebras cleared out and the Ellie too. We find the people who told us about the leopard and tell them that the dogs are back on the road. They rush off and once again, we have the lions to ourselves.
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Time…and then the 18k’s still ahead. We leave the lions with a heavy heart and turn into the Biyamiti road. “Mum, we did a big 4 today – we still need buffies for a 5” Felis says. We both smile – the sighting of Wild Dogs was too much of a highlight for us to really worry about the big 5 today, but as we drive around a bend, there they are – their black pelts turning into a reddish copper in the glowing late afternoon sun.

1 Kilometre to go and 8 minutes to spare on the 18k, is abruptly ended. It reminded me of the olden days with seven single records, where the needle slipped and it made this very fatalistic sound. Well we were surrounded – three juvenile bulls in the front and when I reversed to see if I can park a RAV4 under a sickle bush (90 centimetres), I realized that a cow and her calf were crossing the road at my rear. Felis and I sat there with big eyes and shaking hands. I watched how the eight minutes started to tick by and how the guard at the gate will tell me that he heard the story many times before. The three ellies just turned their backs on the road to browse on a fresh tree, when they heard a whoosh! (that was us) and turned to see what it was. By that time we safely drove through the gates and a laughing ranger at the gate asked whether the Ellies kept us…!!! (Ha ha)
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It was an incredible day – we both sat down and drank a stiff Jack Daniels with shaking hands and legs like jelly. We both burst out laughing with sheer relief at our close call. Soon darkness descended – our fire glowed cheerfully against the backdrop of night. We stared the stars so close-by, one felt the urge to touch them…and then the unmistakable sound of elephant tummy rumble…followed by a loud warning trumpet that shook the trees. It was answered by the king himself in an earth tearing roar that silenced the whole riverbed – even the frogs. And so between our neighbours in the riverbed the evening continued, a trumpet, a roar and as we sipped our Amarula on ice, we sighed.


Last edited by pardus on Thu Dec 28, 2006 10:56 am, edited 3 times in total.

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Unread postPosted: Sat Dec 30, 2006 11:32 pm 
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19 December

We rise very early and pack the car for our journey to Olifants.

We take the S108 and then the H5 where we turn into the H4-2. Again we find Zebras and Impala lying down on the grass thick with dew. Our journey up to Lower Sabie is rather uneventful except for a magnificent sunrise.
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About a 100 meter from the camp’s turnoff Impala suddenly burst out of the grass and one slips on the tar road, but gets up in a flash, although it was limping. The reason for their behaviour was soon evident – a hyena was chasing it. A second one came out of the thicket and disappeared in the same direction as the first one.

We quickly pop in at Lower Sabie to use the bathrooms and find a huge mess outside the offices and also on the decks in front of the shops and restaurant. The baboons ransacked all the bins and the contents lay scattered all over the show. It was still very early and no one was there yet. I wonder what happened to the use of the bins with the special lids? I am sure that the workers must really feel frustrated with such a picture greeting them when they arrive for work!

We drive to Sunset Dam and watch the African Fish Eagle for a while, but since we have quite a stretch to cover, we head off to the H10. As we cross the bridge over the Sabie River, a beautiful tree looms on the opposite bank. The ultimate African Christmas Tree, and the these thoughts came to mind;
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A gift from mother earth
a perfect Christmas tree
on the planes of Africa
decorated with the soft
white tears of early dawn

My wish for mankind
is to find silence in their hearts
to ponder upon the many gifts
and blessings that we had received
most of them not wrapped in shiny paper
for a happy moment is as big
as the Universe
for love does not come in boxes
touching someone’s heart
has no price tag

a sunset that makes us cry with joy
is beyond a painter’s dream
the call of an African Fish eagle
surpasses the sound of purest violin
the smell of earth after rain
cannot be captured in a bottle
the gifts that makes us the happiest
are the ones that touch our being

I will venture to say that the tree is either a Red Thorn (Acacia gerrardii) or a Horned Thorn (Acacia grandicornuta).

On the H10 we found a huge herd of buffalo of which many were lying down Our estimate was about a 150 animals. Their trek was evident all over the road as we travelled towards Nkumbe view site. As we started to ascend the hill, we had an excellent sighting of a Lappetfaced Vulture and the horns of Wildebeest lying not far from where it was perched on a rock in the veld. Not far from there, two cars were parked and gestured wildly to us towards the left.

A kill! Two young lions were having a feast on buffalo. It was a strange situation actually as right opposite, on the right hand side of the road, a half eaten carcass of a young buffalo calf was lying. In both cases the meat was still bright red, which meant the kill must have taken place during the night. I realized that it was the buffalos we passed earlier on, and my heart felt sad, knowing that they were exhausted by the night’s hunting. I know that there is no malice in nature, but it still does not take away my emotions.

Not far from the two eating lions, another two were lying and lifted themselves for a short while to change position. Then on the opposite side, a very scraggly looking lioness appeared – she was the obvious main player in the hunt from the evidence on her coat. We watched for a while longer, but soon more and more cars came with people who climbed halfway out of their windows to take pictures. It was time to move on.
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We stopped briefly at Nkumbe and kept a lookout for the leopard we had met there on a previous trip. Tshokwane was a hive of activity, we made a quick pit stop and headed off again. The Central region is very dry in comparison to the South, and yes. I know that the rainfall differs, but I have seen these parts in December and it was in bad need of rain. The stretch between Tshokwane and Satara was uneventful, but our “theory” proved right again – as soon as we neared Satara, we started to see game – Zebra, Wildebeest and Impala. The “theory” is that animals like to be near the camps – we decided that they like the bright lights and a bit of interaction. Laugh as you may – but watch out for this phenomenon in future.

Felis was not impressed with the new gate – I assured her that the old wooden gates are to be installed at the new entrance in the near future, and she was happy with that. The now completed swimming pool area which was under construction in April when we were in Tambotie surprised her and she looked at the inviting pool with lustful eyes. “Forget it missy – we need to get to Olifants still…”

The area from Satara and Olifants was parched, yet we saw a baby Rhino and calf, three Cori Bustard at one go and amazing Ground Hornbills who were busy nesting. It was fascinating to see how they used their bills to “spear” the leaves – and very very selective about the type they collected. I also read an article about a survey in Kruger about their nesting and the amount of successful offspring from the season – I think it was in the Kruger Times – it was thus with great interest that we watched these coquettish birds.
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What was alarming is that the area was burned and we found traces of smouldering wood – one can speculate, but we were of the opinion that only a cigarette tossed out of a window could start a veld fire this late in the season.

At Ngotoso North we found four ostriches quenching their thirst on a scorching day – the temperature gauge in my car indicated 38 degrees. Looking at the poor panting birds, I was thankful for air-conditioning in the car and also that I didn’t have to wear a feather boa on a summer’s day…

The Olifants River bridge yielded this beautiful Yellowbilled Kite who was very relaxed – it was posing on the rails of the bridge for an ecstatic group of birders who had set up their special bird-viewing gear (with camouflaged lenses and the whole katoot in the road…).
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Olifants. We booked in – a little early, so we had to come back later to fetch the bungalow keys, but Felis and I drove to the bungalow to check out the nature of things. Firstly we were met by a very fowl smell of blocked drain as we got out of the car. The view from there was great, but something was not appealing to us – was it the dying aloes or the sombre green exterior of the huts. This is very personal, but both of us could not connect with this camp, and we decided to drive to Letaba for a possible booking.

Letaba was full, and we opted for Shimuwini. Back on the saddle again…We travelled on the H1-6 and again, the lack of rain was very obvious – yet we saw Ellies and Zebra at the Middelvlei drinking hole. The H14 was uneventful except for the miracle of the Mopanie trees who must have a secret formula to find moisture in the dry soil. The turnoff to Shimuwini yielded Impies seeking shade in the Mopanie shrubs from the unrelenting midday sun. It was 41 degrees and we were saturated with iced tea, which meant that we felt every rock the wheels hit.

The receptionist at Shimuwini was amazing – I don’t know how she could operate in such heat without air conditioning. We schlepped our baggage into our bungalow – a beautiful view over the river with lots of shady trees around us.
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We made lunch and ate on the patio, whilst we were watching the Waterbuck and Impala across the river. Shine – the resident duiker came to greet us and Felis kneeled down to have a good conversation with her. It was amazing how she sniffed all over Felis's face and hair. Old acquaintances renewed, Felis finished lunch and Shine looked for shadowy patch to lie down for siesta.
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We woke at 17:00 and took cold showers to calm our overheating bodies. We decided that we were not going to take an afternoon drive, we were exhausted from a long day of driving and intense heat. We sat on the patio (a great bonus at all the bush camps) and watched the trees fill with all kinds of birds – so we played our game of identifying them by their calls. To our South, the clouds with gathering and the sun started to set. The river in front of us turned into liquid gold.

When darkness finally came, the woman of summer started to dance on the horizon. Great flashes of lightening came from the sky, and the trees swayed in a frenzy of the rain wind. From afar, the thunder rolled over the earth, the air was thick with the fragrance of rain. The earth sighed. The snorting hippo’s became quiet and the frogs seized their night orchestrations. We sat, watching the eternal circle of life unfolding, clasped to the warm breasts of Mama Africa. The jewels of night sky shrouded by the dark clouds of summer. Earth calling, calling with parched lips for the absolution of water to cleanse, to restore, to bring hope and continuum of life…


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Unread postPosted: Wed Jan 03, 2007 11:01 am 
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20 December

Somewhere in the early morning hours, the electricity went off. The fans stopped. I woke from the silence and realised that we would be sweltering soon. We slept in the room that has a sliding door opening onto the patio, of which we closed with the mosquito screen only. The room was actually cool and filled with fresh morning air.

We watched the incredible display of a storm the previous night, and although the wind brought promises of rain, by the time we went to sleep, no rain had fallen, yet somewhere in the night, it started to drizzle very softly. I went back to bed and for the first time since we entered Kruger, I drew a sheet over me and fell asleep.

We woke with cheerful calls from the Woodlands Kingfisher and grunting of the hippos. The coolness of morning felt like a blessed gift. As I walked outside to stretch myself in the fresh air, an Ellie bull was grazing on the opposite bank of the river. What a sight to wake up to! We kept watching him as we were having breakfast on the patio. We packed the car and left Shimuwini shorty after 09:00.
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Our route to Phalaborwa yielded small herds of Ellies, a dagga boy, a few Impies and a Tawny Eagle with a snake kill on the road. We decided to visit the Sable Dam bird hide, as Felis had not been there before, and it was still being renovated and prepared for a sleep-over hide the last time sis-stir and I visited. I was very impressed, although, I think that Shipandani is a lot more cosier for a small group. We scanned a bit and to our amazement, we found the Greyheaded Gull again! The photo is a bit far-off, but one can see the one Gull.
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A few kilometres onwards, the Phalaborwa gate loomed. It was time to say goodbye and also to be thankful for the great gifts that nature bestowed on us. Somehow, it was less painful, as there was no bridge to linger on, and no African Fish Eagle that greeted. One second out of heaven, and the bush gave way to traffic lights and shopping centres…but then, there was a planned visit to the Amarula Lapa in sight, and that somewhat cheered us a bit.


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Unread postPosted: Sun Jan 07, 2007 12:19 am 
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What a mother won't do to get Kruger vitamins into their children..... :twisted:


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