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 Post subject: Lisa and Mark's Kruger trip : 29 Dec '06 - 6 Jan '07
Unread postPosted: Sun Jan 21, 2007 4:25 pm 
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Mark and I recently returned from a wonderful trip to Kruger. We haven't even loaded all of our photos onto our computer yet so putting together this trip report may take a while. But I want to thank everyone here on the forums who patiently answered our myriad questions asking for advice on where to stay, which roads to drive, etc. This would be our second time in Kruger, after a 3-night stay in Olifants in 2003. We had planned this trip for almost a year and really had a fantastic time.

Mark surprised me on Christmas Day with the gift of a new Canon 30D, so my photos reflect the fact that I am still learning how to use it. Hopefully with practice I will get better.

We left Washington DC on Dec. 27th, changed planes in Paris, and arrived at JNB on Dec. 29th around 7:30 AM. By the time we got through the lines at immigration it was around 8:30, and by the time we picked up our Nissan X-trail at National it was about 9:30AM. Thanks to the directions we found here on the forum we had no trouble getting out of the airport and were soon on our way to Kruger!

We stopped someplace for lunch and later (again on the advice of forumites) stopped at the Spar in Malelane to stock up on a few provisions for our 8 days in Kruger. We bought a cooler but being a holiday weekend they were sold out of ice...and it was starting to get HOT...

After leaving Malelane we continued on to Komatipoort where we stopped for petrol and finally headed up to Crocodile Bridge gate...only to find it closed because the river was flooded! OH NO!!! If only there had been a sign someplace on the road to warn us... By now it was 3:30PM and after looking at our map we quickly realized our only option was to drive all the way back to Malelane Gate and enter that way, and hope we could make it to Lower Sabie by the time the gate closed at 6:30 -- ARGH.

Sure enough, by the time we made it into Malelane Gate it was 4:30 PM, and we had just two hours to get to Lower Sabie via Crocodile River Road. No time to stop for game viewing. :(

We made it into the gate at Lower Sabie as it was getting dark, at exactly 6:27 PM -- Whew! We were there! We were assigned tent #19 (had requested 16-18 or 20-22 but they were fully booked). It had a pretty good view of the river...and a nice view of a herd of elephants that was directly in front of our tent just as we arrived. The baboons had already knocked over the trash can outside, a harbinger of things to come. The tent itself was quite nice except for being very warm and the fact that the mesh door between the open-air bathroom and the "bedroom" had many holes in it and would not zip closed at the bottom.

Cleaned up, had a quick dinner in the dining room buffet as we were exhausted (and the takeaway was closed by the time we got there), and were in bed by 8:30 PM, so happy to be in Kruger at last.

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I haven't been everywhere, but it's on my list. – Susan Sontag
I travel a lot; I hate having my life disrupted by routine. – Caskie Stinnett


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Unread postPosted: Fri Jan 26, 2007 10:24 pm 
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We decided to let ourselves sleep in the next morning to recover from our long flights and wake to the sounds of nature rather than an alarm clock. So after falling asleep to the sounds of hippos and frogs, woke up to the sounds of the birds...and then to a loud banging and clanging. It was the baboons making their morning rounds, emptying the contents of every metal trash can in camp. From inside our tent we watched through the mesh flaps as they methodically foraged for scraps and came very close to our tent, not knowing they were being watched. Some of the baboons were HUGE and you would not want to mess with them. It was actually kind of fascinating to watch their behavior, but I think the camp needs the kind of "bear-proof" trash bins that some of the U.S. and Canadian national parks use. Interestingly, Lower Sabie was the only camp we visited on our trip that seemed to have this baboon problem.

Lower Sabie has a lovely viewing deck overlooking the river, with a coffee bar. Some unfortunate soul had the job of cleaning up the huge mess the baboons had made earlier that morning all over the viewing deck, picking up the trash and mopping up everything the baboons had dumped (which had already started to attract lots of bees and other insects even at 6:30AM). What a chore that person had, and I imagine they must have to do it every day. The coffee bar and takeaway weren't scheduled to open until 7AM but I found a kind person willing to sell me a couple of cups of coffee early, and I took them back to our tent so we could have breakfast on our deck with the banana bread, yogurt, fruit, and cereal we had bought the day before. Some of the barbets and other naughty birds were very bold and hopped right onto our table to try to steal crumbs directly under our noses. We sat there in front of our tent, enjoying the view of the river, listening to the hippos and birds, and browsing our map to figure out where to go first!

It was already starting to get very hot. After breakfast we set out on our first game drive. We first stopped at the bridge over the river and got very close to some pretty blue wire-tailed swallows perched on the railing. Then we went to Sunset Dam and admired an Egyptian goose family that had a lot of tiny goslings out for a morning swim, until a big croc got too close and then they all hurried out of the water while we breathed a sigh of relief for them. A big pod of hippos was lolling underneath a dead tree in the water that was full of weaver birds building elaborate nests. We watched a sharp-eyed heron standing motionless on the bank looking for fish in the water. A fish eagle perched regally in a tree. A group of impalas approached the water tentatively to drink. It was a very peaceful scene and we were so happy to be there.

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I haven't been everywhere, but it's on my list. – Susan Sontag
I travel a lot; I hate having my life disrupted by routine. – Caskie Stinnett


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Unread postPosted: Mon Jan 29, 2007 2:58 am 
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We are still sorting through our pictures from this trip and I hope eventually to post some of them directly onto this thread, but for now I will at least post the link to a few (48) of our pics from the first 5 days of our trip, from Lower Sabie to Mopani, so that those who are interested can take a peek until I have time to continue the trip report.

The Link.

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I haven't been everywhere, but it's on my list. – Susan Sontag
I travel a lot; I hate having my life disrupted by routine. – Caskie Stinnett


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Unread postPosted: Mon Jan 29, 2007 5:11 pm 
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Here are some of the pics from our game drives from Lower Sabie.

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I haven't been everywhere, but it's on my list. – Susan Sontag
I travel a lot; I hate having my life disrupted by routine. – Caskie Stinnett


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Unread postPosted: Mon Jan 29, 2007 5:16 pm 
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More:
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Image Black rhino
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I haven't been everywhere, but it's on my list. – Susan Sontag
I travel a lot; I hate having my life disrupted by routine. – Caskie Stinnett


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Unread postPosted: Mon Jan 29, 2007 5:21 pm 
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Image LIT

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I haven't been everywhere, but it's on my list. – Susan Sontag
I travel a lot; I hate having my life disrupted by routine. – Caskie Stinnett


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Unread postPosted: Mon Jan 29, 2007 5:25 pm 
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Here is the love of my life in front of our tent #19 at Lower Sabie:
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homepage.mac.com/lisaandmarktravel
web.mac.com/lisaandmarktravel
I haven't been everywhere, but it's on my list. – Susan Sontag
I travel a lot; I hate having my life disrupted by routine. – Caskie Stinnett


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Unread postPosted: Mon Jan 29, 2007 5:33 pm 
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I haven't been everywhere, but it's on my list. – Susan Sontag
I travel a lot; I hate having my life disrupted by routine. – Caskie Stinnett


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Unread postPosted: Mon Jan 29, 2007 6:05 pm 
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Here is a photo of Mark on the viewing deck at Lower Sabie.
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It was a nice place to enjoy a cappucino from their excellent coffee bar or have a sundowner at the end of the day.

Overall we liked Lower Sabie, although our tent was uncomfortable the first two nights when it was very hot. The third day it cooled off a lot and was much more comfortable. We did like the open-air bathroom. The sheets and pillowcases on the beds had a moldy/mildewy smell. It is too bad about the baboon problem. Also, the food and service in the restaurant were ok but not great. The shop has a good selection and is pretty well stocked. The best thing about Lower Sabie is that there is a lot of game in the area. Within the first 36 hours there we had seen all of the big five (although the lions and the white rhino we saw were too far away for a good photo).

After three nights at Lower Sabie we drove north to Satara. The landscape changed a lot along the way.

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homepage.mac.com/lisaandmarktravel
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I haven't been everywhere, but it's on my list. – Susan Sontag
I travel a lot; I hate having my life disrupted by routine. – Caskie Stinnett


Last edited by lisa on Mon Jan 29, 2007 6:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Unread postPosted: Mon Jan 29, 2007 6:56 pm 
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A short distance south of Satara on the H1-3 we had a couple of great sightings of hyena families near their dens.
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_________________
homepage.mac.com/lisaandmarktravel
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I haven't been everywhere, but it's on my list. – Susan Sontag
I travel a lot; I hate having my life disrupted by routine. – Caskie Stinnett


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Unread postPosted: Mon Jan 29, 2007 7:07 pm 
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I haven't been everywhere, but it's on my list. – Susan Sontag
I travel a lot; I hate having my life disrupted by routine. – Caskie Stinnett


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Unread postPosted: Mon Jan 29, 2007 7:12 pm 
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Farther along the H1-3 nearer to Satara we had a lovely sighting of a couple of lionesses.
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_________________
homepage.mac.com/lisaandmarktravel
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I haven't been everywhere, but it's on my list. – Susan Sontag
I travel a lot; I hate having my life disrupted by routine. – Caskie Stinnett


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Unread postPosted: Mon Jan 29, 2007 7:24 pm 
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We had dinner at Satara's restaurant which was very good, and we really liked our bungalow.

The next morning we went on a game walk. It was nice to do some walking after so much riding in the car. One of our guides was named Eliab and I can't remember the other one's name unfortunately. We really enjoyed the walk. The highlight was seeing a black mamba. We also saw giraffes, impalas, lots of birds, a terrapin, and learned about many of the plants.

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_________________
homepage.mac.com/lisaandmarktravel
web.mac.com/lisaandmarktravel
I haven't been everywhere, but it's on my list. – Susan Sontag
I travel a lot; I hate having my life disrupted by routine. – Caskie Stinnett


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Unread postPosted: Mon Jan 29, 2007 7:40 pm 
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A few other things we saw on our drives around Satara and on our way up to Mopani:

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_________________
homepage.mac.com/lisaandmarktravel
web.mac.com/lisaandmarktravel
I haven't been everywhere, but it's on my list. – Susan Sontag
I travel a lot; I hate having my life disrupted by routine. – Caskie Stinnett


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Unread postPosted: Mon Jan 29, 2007 7:48 pm 
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_________________
homepage.mac.com/lisaandmarktravel
web.mac.com/lisaandmarktravel
I haven't been everywhere, but it's on my list. – Susan Sontag
I travel a lot; I hate having my life disrupted by routine. – Caskie Stinnett


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