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 Post subject: Impisi08, KNP : Jan 29th - Feb 20th 2007
Unread postPosted: Sat Feb 24, 2007 8:59 pm 
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Day 1 - January 29th

Within half an hour of landing at Phalaborwa Airport I enter the park via the Phalaborwa gate. On the way to Letaba (H9) I see impala, zebra, elephant, steenbok and a whiteheaded vulture eating a leopard tortoise roadkill. After a late lunch I continue via the tar road to Satara. An elephant is feeding next to the road and it doesn't care that I take some close-up pictures.

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Thirteen kilometers north of Satara I see my first side-striped jackal in Kruger. The white tip of the tail is clearly visible. Shortly after that a male leopard. Because it is very open I can "follow" the leopard for a while without the use of a binocular. A small herd of buffalo seems to have taken residence just outside Satara.

Day 2 - January 30th

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I leave Satara at 04.45 am. A kilometer after the junction with the S 90 I see 2 reedbuck. Then some zebra's.

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Lots of impala at Ratelpan and near the Piet Grobler dam. I follow the S 39 and see my first white rhino's of this trip. A yellow-billed kite, like last year, poses for me on the bridge over the Olifants river until another tourist (on foot) comes to close.

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On the way up to Olifants 3 lionesses. The big five in less than 24 hours! I am a bit surprised to see the lions because it is already 10.30 am and hot. Highlight of the afternoon is a gang of crowned lapwings dive-bombing a secretary bird.


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Unread postPosted: Sat Feb 24, 2007 10:27 pm 
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Day 3 - January 31st

Again I follow the main road north. I take a picture of a red-backed shrike with a rising sun.

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Zebra, elephant, kori bustard, and at Ngotso a herd of buffalo . Some are sparring. One buffalo has its horn in the eye of his sparring partner.

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It's cloudy when I come back at Satara so I try to take some macro pictures. But after 10 minutes the sun comes out again and it gets hot.

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In the afternoon I take the S 90, S 41 and the S 100. A few steenbok and lots of waterbuck, impala, zebra and wildebeest. Just before I enter Satara I see a warthog with some big tusks.

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It is very quiet at the campground. In my little tent it's very hot.


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Unread postPosted: Sun Feb 25, 2007 10:08 am 
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Day 4 - February 1st

From now on I can sleep in till 4.45 am because in February and March the gate opens at 5.30 am. Shortly after leaving Satara I find 3 lion cubs. One cub is curieus but the other two are a bit shy and hide in the long grass. I see no adult lions. After a while the cubs move to some bush and I decide to go on.

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Only a few minutes later I see a male lion walking on the road. The lion walks by without even looking at me. I follow the S 127. Two elephants are close to the road and they are very relaxed. Almost all the elephants I encountered during this trip were very relaxed.

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Via the S 127 and the S 40 I end up at Girivana and watch impala coming and going.

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I spent the afternoon at the Sweni bird hide. There's a troop of baboons and it's a joy to watch the antics of the youngsters.

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There's not much water in the river. I have never seen it so dry. There's a marabou, a nimmerzat, spur-winged goose (2), Egyptian goose (2), jacana, and whitefaced duck. The jacana's are jumping from hippo to hippo. It's not deep enough for the hippo's to submerge.


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Unread postPosted: Sun Feb 25, 2007 9:43 pm 
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Thank you all for your kind comments. Very stimulating.

Day 5 - February 2nd

A cloudy and relatively cool morning. I follow the Old Main Road (S 90) all the way to the Olifants river and see wildebeest, impala, zebra, elephant, black-backed jackal and giraffe. Just before the junction with the S 89 some weaverbirds (Southern masked weaver?) are quite active with a nest. I have the impression they are more collecting material then building a nest. After ten minutes they're gone.

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The water level at the Balule bridge is low. After crossing the river somebody tells me lions killed an impala a few kilometers down the S 92. I find the lions (4). There is not much left of the impala and the lions lie in the shade. One of the lions decides to go the river and the other three follow soon and I continue to Olifants.

After a chickenburger and a little rest I go back to Satara via the S 90 - S 41 and the S 100. There are four elephants near Bangu and two are socializing.

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Besides some kudu I don't see too much on the S 90. A white rhino is sleeping under a tree (S 41). On the S 100 somebody tells me about a pride of lions, male, lionesses and cubs, "five kilometers away and next to the road." I decide to go for it and pass a herd of buffalo, waterbuck and impala. After six kilometer nothing, after seven kilometer nothing and I start to curse myself for another fruitless lion chase. I was very wrong. After eight kilometers I see three cars and know I found the lions. I arrive just in time. A herd of impala is approaching and three lionesses make an ambush. But the impala's sense something is wrong and, after a lot of snorting and stamping, move away.

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The pride walks to the Shibotwana waterhole for a drink. Some of the cubs play and the adults "conserve energy".

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On the way back to Satara I see a Verreaux's eagle owl in one of the trees near the green bridge.


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Unread postPosted: Mon Feb 26, 2007 7:56 pm 
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Day 6 - February 3rd

It is cool and cloudy again. I take the H 1-4, S 127, S 39 and the H 7 back to Satara. It is a "slow" morning: warthog, elephant, zebra, wildebeest, waterbuck and many impala. But I do make one of my favorite pictures of this trip. I am surrounded by impala at Leeubron and suddenly a redbilled oxpecker lands on the face of an impala that is standing only a few meters from my car. Unfortunately after three pictures I have to change the film and the impala moves away.

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When I come back at Satara I pack my tent, have lunch, say goodbye to some friends and go to Maroela.

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(Rabelais hut)

The new reception at Orpen is very nice. Plenty of wildebeest, zebra, impala and giraffe in the last two kilometers before Orpen. Also black-winged lapwings and what must be the noisiest bird in the park: the crowned lapwing. This is a bird with an attitude. I always wonder what insults they shout when they finally move away from the road. When I have to go back to Maroela I take a picture of a tree with the sunset behind it.

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(Magpie shrike)

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I see a man catching a snake near the shelter and the fridge .... with his hands. He tells me it is a brown tree snake and releases it in a tree.


Last edited by Impisi08 on Tue Feb 27, 2007 5:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Day 7 - February 4rd

A young black-backed jackal jumps and catch a flying insect. After that the jackal starts running like crazy. Maybe the insect didn't taste that good. Two elephants, two different moods. One elephant is feeding next to the tar road and is indifference to all the cars. The elephant on the S 106 is in a different mood. It walks on the road and makes it very clear that he is the king of the road.

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At Rabelais there's a herd of impala, warthog and a lone buffalo. I think of the time when the dam was filled with water and animals everywhere. When I am at Orpen a woman tells me she saw lions this morning near Maroela. In the afternoon I stay on the first two kilometers of the tar road (coming from Orpen). This is where most of the animals are (wildebeest, zebra, impala and giraffe with young). Sometimes the zebra's and wildebeest are running and I try to make some "panning shots".

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Unread postPosted: Wed Feb 28, 2007 10:27 pm 
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Day 8 - February 5th

It is raining "cats and dogs" when I leave Maroela with Lower Sabie as the final destination. When I am near Msemani dam it stops raining. A very wet martial eagle sits in a tree next to the road.

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Because it is still early I decide not to stop at Satara. A good decision because I see buffalo, giraffe, zebra, impala, wildebeest, baboon and waterbuck in the first 7 kilometers. I have a look at Nkaya. No mammals but Egyptian goose, comb duck and on the way out a Swainson's spurfowl.

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Maybe it is because of the rain but in the last kilometers before Tshokwane I see three chameleons on the road (not together). I hope they all survived. After a late breakfast I follow the H 10 to Lower Sabie. Like most of you I always look for klipspringers and I find two of them. There are two white rhino's near the junction with the S 128. Shortly after that two reedbuck.

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When I am on the H 10 I always check the first 150 meters of the Phambane loop (S 129). This is where the road crosses the river and where I have seen reedbuck many times. This time I see four reedbuck.

In the afternoon I spent some time with a family of warthog on the S 28, the road between Lower Sabie and Crocodile Bridge.

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At the junction between the S 28 and the Nthandanyathi bird hide a large herd of impala is feeding. I always look for an impala with an oxpecker and I am lucky to find one with two oxpeckers.

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Suddenly an impala starts snorting because a lioness is walking by in the distance. I try to follow her but after a while she disappears in the dense bush. On the way to Sunset Dam I see three buffalo.


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Unread postPosted: Thu Mar 01, 2007 10:18 pm 
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Day 9 - February 6th

It is not the first time that I see an African fish eagle in the same tree when I follow the H 4-2 from Lower Sabie in the direction of Crocodile Bridge. After five or kilometers there is a (leadwood?) tree on the left side where I've seen African fish eagles a few times before. The difference is that this time there are two eagles in the tree and there is some color in the sky.

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While I take pictures a spotted hyena walks by. Again I take the S 28. I see the impala herd from yesterday together with 6 zebra's. A slender moongoose is enjoying the warmth of the sun. A Swainson's spurfowl sits on a dead tree and sometimes advertises his presence.

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At the end of the S 28 there are also impala's, zebra's and wildebeest. There are two lions at Gezantfombi dam. Too far for pictures but it is always nice to see lions. In fact I will see them, and the rest of the pride, every morning for the next four days.

At the junction of the S 25 and the H 4-2 a white rhino is grazing. I wait for a while and it comes closer and closer. Then it starts scratching itself 10 meters in front of my car.

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In the afternoon I stay for a while at Sunset dam. A troop of baboons passes by. Suddenly I see people throwing food to the baboons. Without thinking I drive to them and tell them not to feed the animals. In fact it was more something like :evil: :evil: @#$%^&*() :evil:. I think my appearance was so suddenly and agressive that they got a fright. The only thing they can murmur is "sorry" and then they drive away. (It all happened so fast and unexpected that I didn't make a note of their license plate number.)

It is a bit "slow" at Sunset dam so I go to the bridge over the Sabie river where I try to take pictures of the pied kingfisher and the giant kingfisher. There is also a goliath heron.

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Just before sunset I go back to Sunset dam where the hippo's are coming closer to the shore.

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Unread postPosted: Sat Mar 03, 2007 11:03 am 
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Again, thank you very much for your comments (I wish I was half as good as Nigel Dennis).

Day 10 - February 7th

Again a spotted hyena walking on the H 4-2, and impala, zebra, giraffe, elephant and wildebeest on the way to the Nhlanganzwani dam. When I come back from the dam on the S 28 I am surprised to see a rainbow. It is a bit cloudy but I haven't seen a raindrop since I left Maroela.

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Lots of zebra near Macs borehole. There is a lot of action going on but unfortunately not closeby. A bird poses for me. If I am correct it is a bronzewinged courser.

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The people who enter the park via Crocodile Bridge are lucky because there are lions at Gezantfombi dam. I follow the S 27 and see impala, warthog, wildebeest, kudu and zebra. The reason I spent a lot of time in the Crocodile Bridge area is that I hope to see wild dogs. No dogs today. I do find a woodland kingfisher.

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There's a small tree that seems to be the favorite tree of some butterflies, so when I come back at Lower Sabie I try to take some pictures. Some people make fun of me because the tree is in the parking lot: "All the way to Africa to take pictures in a parking lot".

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The afternoon is spent near the bridge over the river and Sunset dam. No kingfishers when I arrive but "the" goliath heron is present. From the side track it is possible to take pictures.

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The hippo's are very close to the bridge but suddenly I "discover" there is gold in the park and a rhino in the sky.

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Last edited by Impisi08 on Sat Mar 03, 2007 3:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Unread postPosted: Sun Mar 04, 2007 8:00 pm 
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Day 11 - February 8th

On the way to the Nhlanganzwani dam I see a slender moongoose at the same place as two days ago. Giraffe and zebra's near Macs borehole. At the end of the S 28 impala, warthog, waterbuck, vervet monkeys and zebra.

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When I see four cars on the bridge at Gezantfombi dam I know what to expect. I follow the S 25 and find a common duiker, buffalo and three white rhino's. They have no intention to pose for a picture and disappear in the bush.

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Today I move to Crocodile Bridge, but it is too early so I decide to visit Berg & Dal and follow the Crocodile River road. I spent some time with a bachelor group of impala's and see some interesting behaviour like vegetation horning and the display as shown on the picture.

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Then one impala start snorting. I look around for a predator but see nothing. Most of the other impala's are snorting too and they look very alert.

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After a few minutes a hyena walks by and the herd moves away. I continue and get hit on the head by a dung beetle. I find the beetle and throw him out of my car. On the way up to Berg & Dal I see my fourth white rhino.

After lunch and some rest I take the Bume road back to Crocodile Bridge. The clouds are gone and it is hot. I make a side trip to the Mpondo dam but don't see to much game. After checking in at Crocodile Bridge and erecting my tent I go to the S 28 again. A family of warthog, impala, giraffe and lots of swallows/martins (?).

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Close to Crocodile Bridge two white rhino's are feeding. That makes six white rhino's on one day.


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Unread postPosted: Mon Mar 05, 2007 11:30 pm 
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Again thank you very much for your comments. This was really a very special trip.

Day 12 - February 9th

First I go to the Gezantfombi dam. The lions are there but again on and near the stone wall. On the other side of the bridge 3 buffalo's. I stay in the area and spent some time with a troop vervet monkeys.

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Today I must go to Skukuza. I left Holland with six stitches and today is the day they have to be removed. On the way to Skukuza I see a lioness, buffalo, impala, baboons, vervet monkeys, hippo, bushbuck and elephant. I have breakfast at Nkuhlu and have to defend my food against a vervet monkey. The doctor and his wife are regular visitors to Holland and we have a nice conversation. They speak Afrikaans and I Dutch. I go to the museum to have a look at the pictures. I have seen the pictures before but I enjoy watching them. And it is cool in the museum so I stay inside and read some magazines. On the way back to Crocodile Bridge I have to stop again at Nkuhlu. When I walk back to my car I see a skink (?) on a stone. I get my camera and tripod out and take some pictures.

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I follow the S 28 from Lower Sabie to Crocodile Bridge and I am very lucky to find three cheetahs. After ten minutes one of the cheetahs walks to his brother and they start grooming each other. When they leave I see the "third" cheetah has a wound on his left hind leg.

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Two white rhino's make the evening drive complete. I am very happy with the cheetah sighting and to celebrate I have a beer in the evening.


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Unread postPosted: Tue Mar 06, 2007 1:31 pm 
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Unread postPosted: Wed Mar 07, 2007 8:30 pm 
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Bert, the first ten minutes or so I was the only one at the cheetahs. When they left there were only three other cars.

Day 13 - February 10th

There are 8 lions at the Gezantfombi dam. Some of the cubs are playing. I follow the S 28 to Lower Sabie and keep an eye out for the cheetahs but I "only" see impala, giraffe, kudu, zebra and warthog. Shortly after rising the sun disappeared behind the clouds. No "golden light" this morning. After a short break at Lower Sabie and a final visit to Sunset dam I continue via the H 10 to Tshokwane. A white rhino is grazing in the distance and there are two reedbuck near the junction with Phambane loop (S 129). Shortly after that 3 buffalo's. While I take pictures of one of the buffalo's an elephant and a calf appear. I am surprised that they are not with a herd.

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In the afternoon I drive from Satara to Balule via the tar road and the S 89. The clouds are gone and it is very hot. I don't see too much animals but I do see a car with a yellow ribbon. It is Jose with a friend. They stay at Roodewal. After sharing some experiences we go on. The rest of the evening drive was a bit uneventful except for the last half hour. Some hooded vultures sit on a sandbank next to the Balule bridge and two of them start grooming (if that is the right word for birds). Again I feel very lucky. This is not something you see every day.

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A quick sunset picture and then I have to hurry back to camp. Don't want to make a bad impression on my first night.

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Unread postPosted: Thu Mar 08, 2007 7:28 pm 
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Day 14 - February 11th

In the middle of the night I get a "wake-up whoop". It is so loud that the hyena can't be too far away. A spotted hyena is also the first animal I see in the morning. A little bit later I see three black-backed jackal pups playing and running around with what looks like a dead snake. In the end one of the pups eat the snake. A red crested korhaan makes a lot of noise on the S 89, in contrast to the seven dead nightjars and the dead spotted dikkop.

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After reporting the dead birds at Olifants I follow the S 44 for five or six kilometers. I remember a small stream with terrapins (?) from last year. I don't know if they are curious or want food, but if you stop the car they will swim to you and check you out. Some even climb on land and walk closer to the car.

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The S 44 is a very bad road and I am happy to be back in Olifants. Today is another very hot day. In the afternoon clouds start to built up and sometimes the light is great. On the way to Bangu I take some pictures of impala and a tree.

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I see an elephant in the distance but, in general, it is a bit slow. Coming back there's an eagle in a tree. I wait till the sun comes through the clouds and take some pictures.

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I decide to go to the Balule bridge. There is hippo and a woodland kingfisher.

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When I take some scenic pictures of a dead tree in the river suddenly there's a second of magic light.

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Besides me there are only two other people at the campground.


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Unread postPosted: Sat Mar 10, 2007 11:02 am 
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Day 15 - February 12th

What a great start of the day! Shortly after leaving Balule I find a clan of spotted hyena's.

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Some leave soon after my arrival but two females and two cubs stay for a while. The cubs are very playful and run around with sticks and bite in each others ears.

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One cub is very curious and comes closer and closer and, looking back, I take my favorite picture of the whole trip.

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In between playing the cubs try to suckle. One female doesn't want it and the cub starts whining.

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When it gets too warm the females and the cubs leave. I also leave and on my way to Bangu I meet another forumite: Acekam. I turn around at Bangu and go slowly via the S 90,
S 89 and the tar road to Letaba. There's a roadblock on the
S 89 in the form of a breeding herd of elephants. At Letaba I find a nice spot in the shadow and read for a while. It's another hot day and, beside impala and warthog, the evening drive is slow. As usual I spent the last part of the evening near the Balule bridge and take a picture of a hippo.

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Near the bridge is a tree where vultures gather in the evening. Back in camp I enjoy my spaghetti.

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