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 Post subject: Craigsa Live from Kruger : 6th - 13th April 2007
Unread postPosted: Fri Apr 06, 2007 7:04 pm 
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Good evening forumites,

I thought I would once again share my adventures with you, so here we go. Fasten your seatbelts.

Entered through Phalaborwa gate, arrived at 5:45 and I was 20th car there and the queue went on for another 30 cars after 10min. Eventually got through at about 6:25 and we were on our way, heading up north to Shingwedzi, we travelled up the H14 all the way to Mopani, and the only sightings were a lone elephant and about 7 impala. Stopped at Mopani for breakfast, been to Mopani once before but what a camp it is, the restaurant overlooking Pioneer dam makes you feel really out in the bush. After breakfast headed up the main road to Shingwedzi, adding only waterbuck to my list. Booked in, unpacked and had a afternoon sleep.
In the afternoon I headed west to do the redrocks loop, just a little south of Shingwedzi came across a small herd of buffalo. All very young. On the redrocks loop, came across 8 Elephant in total, some walking the road and others spread out over the bush. Over the one of the Shingwedzi low level causeways, I came across, 6x hamerkops, 4x crocodiles and a grey heron fishing from the water that runs over the bridge, amazing sighting and very interesting watch, I drove over the bridge and stared eye to eye with a crocodile about 1m away, they are evil looking creatures. Headed back to camp and only saw a couple of impala on the way back.
Birdlife has been a bit quiet, couple of small birds but no raptors yet.
The park is extremely green and the rivers are flowing, the dams are full and the streams/spruits are running, even a few swamps no and again, and I thought we have had no rain and was looking at coming to a bone dry Kruger. I was so wrong.
Just settling down to nice braai now and a cold beer.
Until we meet again tomorrow.

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Craig
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Unread postPosted: Sat Apr 07, 2007 7:09 pm 
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Evening again from a windy Shingwedzi, here goes todays report.

Left camp at 6 this morning and headed up north along the main road until I got to Babalala and then headed back along the Mphongolo loop, saw absolutely nothing along the main road, and down the Mphongolo loop saw a nice herd of elephant and some zebra and that was it. :( What a beautiful loop it is though, I would rate it has one of the best river roads in the park, beautiful river views and fantastic scenery. I absolutely love driving a road, and you might be lucky to pass 1 vehicle every hour, it feels that you out there alone. Came back to camp via the low level causeway, the biggest fishing competition I have ever seen was on, 15 crocodiles, goliath heron, yellow-billed stork and 2 hamerkops. Great close ups of crocs again, the light was perfect and got nice shots of the yellow-billed stork and the goliath heron. Arrived back at camp and checked the sightings board, just to see if animals do exist up here. Only to see that everything was spotted down south.
In the afternoon I headed down redrocks loop again, following the river most the time leaving out redrocks view point. Saw the same elephants as yesterday and a small family herd later on, also saw a nice family of waterbuck and the usual impala. On the confluence loop just before gate closing time, there were 2x Giant Eagle Owls, but in the dark under a dense bush, saw them through binocs and heard them speaking to each other.
Birdlife picked up today, saw some ground hornbills, purple roller, and bee-eaters just to mention a few. Weather was cloudy this morning until about 8 and then the sun broke through, this afternoon was a bit windy as well.
Settled down again to a nice evening braai again and to carry on reading “A Game Ranger Remembers” , this book is wonderful and some really great stories.
Over and out!

@Freda, the camp is full but the roads are not busy at all, not anything like the south.

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Craig
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Unread postPosted: Sun Apr 08, 2007 7:59 pm 
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Evening forumites, here goes todays report!

Last night’s wind brought thick cloud cover today. Left camp at 6am again, and headed down south. Doing the redrocks loop again, at the river causeway there were 2 saddle-billed storks. Sun eventually broke through about 7am which made great light. On the loop, saw some impala, family of waterbuck, a few zebra and a lone bull elephant, decided to change my game plan, headed back to camp and went down the S50 towards Kanniedood dam, also very quiet besides the odd impala and the resident baboon troop. Eventually headed back to camp, and sat down to a well deserved breakfast, food quality has improved immensely in the last couple of years, and had a great breakfast. Had a look at the sightings board and saw most of the sightings were up north, main road and Mphongolo loops, something was against me! The elusive cats were avoiding me.
In the afternoon before leaving camp, I just made sure there were no signs of Bert in my car :D , as that was my only reasoning to why the elusive cats are avoiding me :twisted: . After no sign of Bert I headed up north along the main road coming across a lone elephant bull, very casual and came quite close, but he was not interested in me at all, just grazing along quietly. I take a huge liking to elephants when they are like this, I suppose everyone does! Then cutting through the middle to intersect with the Mphongolo loop half way and headed back towards camp. Along here saw another lone bull with quite sizable tusks, and also very close up. Then headed back down over the causeway by the camp, not so much action there today, and then headed down the S50 again. Saw our first bushbuck, and again the resident baboon troop, after a while turned around and headed back to camp for our last night at Shingwedzi. It is raining with a slight drizzle as I write this report, so hopefully the rain brings a new life to the animals tomorrow. Funny enough, I heard a couple of the other visitors at the restaurant talking about the low density in animals in the area, and the staff where saying that the animals come and go in this area, one week will be hot with sightings and the other it will be quiet. Enough said. Off to Satara tomorrow, my home, so looking forward to that.
See you guys again tomorrow.

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Unread postPosted: Mon Apr 09, 2007 8:50 pm 
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Good evening from Satara!

There was a little more rain through the night but not more than a light drizzle. Got up earlier and headed to the back gate around 5:45 to my amazement the gate was already open, so I seized the moment and left earlier than expected heading down the S50. Along here I saw some impala, bushbuck, quite a few waterbuck and the resident baboon troop. Turned around after about 25km and headed back for camp. Packed up and headed out for Satara, going down the main road the whole way, stopping at Mopani again for breakfast. Just outside Mopani was a dead hippo, I heard from other people that a rhino was around it yesterday, spraying urine on it and basically marking its territory thus I can only think that the hippo died after a fight with the rhino, maybe I can have some input here from you guys as to what you think might have happened. After breakfast headed down towards Letaba, about 15km north of Letaba it is amazing how the game density changed, hordes of zebra, wildebeest and impala. Also north of Letaba were about 100 vultures in 2 different trees located next to each other, but low down in the branches indicating a kill nearby, but unfortunately could not see a thing through the dense Mopani bushes. Rained a bit more and then the clouds opened up for the rest of the day. Plenty of zebra, giraffe and wildebeest close to Satara and also some warthogs. Arrived at Satara around lunch, booked in and set out to our chalet, one of the new chalets, very nice and a much improved chalet. Camp is quite busy. Sightings board had a lot of activity down by Orpen, mainly wild dog cheetah and a lion sighting. Had an afternoon nap and headed out again in the afternoon.
In the afternoon I headed up north and then did the S90 turning right onto S41 and the finally back to camp via the famous S100. S90 had nice sightings of zebra and giraffe. S41 had nice sightings of impala, waterbuck, kori bustard and the ever present fish eagle at Gudzani. Down the S100 I saw 2x giant eagle owls and some waterbuck at the very end. Interesting sighting on the S100 was my first ever accident in Kruger, just missed it, but a lady in a VW Golf had driven into the back on a VW Touran, she was obviously not looking on the road and he must have stopped and she hit him from behind. They exchanged details and moved on. Felt sorry for her and moved on myself. S100 has become like the Skukuza – Lower Sabie highway, very busy. Convoy up to 8 vehicles stopped at giant eagle owl sighting. Just before camp, a small herd of buffalo were on the side of the road grazing along casually.
Sitting having a braai under clear skies and listening to the scops owl and a lion roaring not so far away, could be close to the Satara cam, keep your eyes peeled.
Until tomorrow!

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Craig
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Unread postPosted: Tue Apr 10, 2007 9:06 pm 
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Good evening from Satara.

What a beautiful morning, no clouds, just a blue sky with the sun coming up. Left camp at 6am and headed down the main road towards Orpen, turned around just before Bobbejaans krans and headed back, then turning left onto the S39 Leeubron road, going past Timbavati crossing over onto the S127 and back to camp via the main road. Buffalo were just outside camp again this morning, saw the usual impala and some waterbuck at Nsemani dam, not much to say about S39 besides its beautiful scenery and a much bumpier road than last time. Got some nice pics of hooded and whitebacked vultures against a blue sky. On the S127 I saw my first rhino of the trip, in the distance grazing along, had quite a big horn on him. Saw some nice herds of giraffe as well and also again on the main road. Saw some elephants in the reeds by the small spruit/stream on the main road. Got back to camp settled down to nice breakfast and then off the rest my strained eyes.
In the afternoon, I did the S90 all the way up, and then left onto S89 and finally back down to camp via the main road. Caught the 2 buffalo again just north of the camp. Plenty of giraffe, zebra and wildebeest on most parts of S90, a nice family of waterbuck and a couple of ellies as well. My first kudu sighting and also a kori bustard. Saw a rhino just before I turned left onto S89, urinating and marking his territory. On the S89 I saw a herd of about 50 elephants, ranging from small little ones to some big bulls. Almost missed this, they just caught my eye on the right and when I reversed they emerged from the bush and started crossing the road, really good elephant sighting. On the way back down the main road, saw lots of giraffe, zebra and impala, also some warthogs. Then another ellie leaning against a tree, and a few wildebeest just outside camp. General game sightings are excellent up at Satara.
Settled down to a nice braai and some lovely ribs. It was time to regather my thoughts about these elusive cats that are avoiding me. Thinking back to previous trips, the most has been 2 days without seeing any of the cats, and I am standing on a record here, 5 full days. Every route I seem to take, they tend to take the opposite. Off to Crocodile bridge tomorrow and lets hope my luck changes.
Any suggestions of a route for tomorrow morning drive before I head down to Croc Bridge.
See you tomorrow!

@ Herman, no YR, the last time I looked I was on my own in the park and that was about 3 weeks ago!

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Unread postPosted: Wed Apr 11, 2007 9:23 pm 
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Good evening from Crocodile bridge!
Here is todays events!

Was up early today and at the camp gate at 5:45am, was about the 4th car in line. My route was planned to go north, but as I said yesterday everything seems to be seen in the opposite direction of my routes, so I tried to con the buggers and quickly went down south for about 7km, only seeing some waterbuck and baboons in great light, turned around and then set out to do my original route.
Headed up north along the main road, turning left onto S127 towards Timbavati, did a few km down the S39 and then turned around and went down the S40, then the S12 and finally back to camp along the main road. After passing Satara again and carrying on up north, there was plenty of impala, zebra and giraffe along the way. Just a few km past the S90 turn off was a blacked backed jackal trying to get hold of some bones/leg of some animal right next to road in absolute perfect light, got some really great pics of this. Carrying on further, I came across a lone elephant far in the distance. On the S127, saw only some warthogs and impala. The first few km of S39 was full of impala and big herds of giraffe. It was very quiet along the S40 and the S12, just some Egyptian geese at Girivana and some impala along the S12. The ever present waterbuck were at Nsemani. Still no cats!!!

Arrived back at camp, packed the car and headed for Crocodile bridge, taking the main road all the way down via Lower Sabie. Couple of daggaboys just south of Satara, then quite a nice herd of about 150 buffalo about 20km south of Satara. Stopped off the Nkumbe, a lovely view and also nice and green. A small herd of about 20 elephants just before the bridge over the causeway just outside Lower Sabie. Stopped at Lower Sabie for a well deserved hamburger! Then hit the road again, final destination Crocodile bridge. Oh realised this morning the car aircon packed up, so the heat really got to me in the later part of this long drive. Zebra, impala and wildebeest were in there hundreds along the main road. Gezantfombi dam is dry! Finally arrived at Crocodile bridge, booked in and set out to our bungalow, unpacked and hit the sack!

In the afternoon, I headed up north along the main road, turned right onto the S130, then right again onto the S137 (Duke loop), then right onto the S28 and back to camp. The main road was very quiet, what happened to all the impala and zebra I had seen earlier. Turning onto the S130, definitely expecting to see rhino along here, as I always have, but nothing! Turned right on S137, duke loop, went to Duke’s waterhole, had a fair amount of water in it, saw some kudu in the distance and an elephant. After turning back onto the S137 about 1km down the road was a big herd of buffalo, roughly 300 or so, nice sighting, all around the road side. Took a few photographs in low light and then headed off to the S28. Just after turning right onto the S28, there is a spruit, and along the banks of it, I see this thing looking at me!! ITS A LION! WOOOOHOOOO! Turned off the car and rolled closer, immediately moved into passenger seat and started clicking away, then I see a sub adult come out as well, then a very small cub probably about 2months old. Was I getting excited now, after 5 and half days, I finally see these guys that have avoided me. Eventually more strolled out from the bush, a total of 3 female lions, 2 sub adults and 1 tiny cub that I could see, don’t know how many were still hidden behind the bush. It’s amazing that these bushes are like 4m from the road, very dense, and the lions have probably been sitting there the whole without anyone knowing. Impala were making a noise in the background and the lions got all excited and stood up and walked in their direction before settling down again. I am pretty sure that they probably have found a meal by now! The light was getting really low now, and managed a few good pics of the lions, before I could blink the light had gone and thus getting late. I still had 20km to do and it was already 17:30. So I set off and left the lions to do their bit, and I was a very happy man. If only I got there a bit earlier and spent a bit more time with them and to have had the sun stay up longer but we can’t have it all. All in all I was with them for about 15min, not more than 10m from the car in the open, and to make it even better I had the sighting all to myself. Headed back to camp in rush to get there before the gate closes, just before camp saw a white rhino in the road but could not do anything as I was already late, arriving at camp at 18:07.

Some extra birds to name a few, Tawny eagle, Bateleur, Vultures, Longclaw, Pearl spotted owls and a few others.

Settled down to a nice braai again, and had a look at some pics , pretty chuffed with a good days work! Off to bed now, and let’s hope that I can continue this good fortune tomorrow.
Over and out!

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Unread postPosted: Thu Apr 12, 2007 8:55 pm 
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Good evening from Croc Bridge.

Woke up late this morning, quickly made some coffee and I was on my way at 6:01am. Another beautiful morning in paradise. Deciding to head up the S28 and see if the lions from yesterday had made a kill or not. Did the S28, turned left onto S137, then right on S130 and then left down the main road. Then I turned right onto H5 and then back to camp via the S25. Saw the usual impala, loads of zebra on the part that looks like the Serengeti plains on the S28, rhino far in the distance, and a lone elephant again. A clan of about 6 hyaena’s in the distance (first sighting) also along the S28, and of course NO LIONS! On the S137 was a big herd of giraffe, counted up to 21 of them. Down the main road was very quiet only yielding the usual impala. On the H5 I saw a brown snake eagle and thats all. The S25 was very dense, saw a couple of zebra, impala and right at the end some warthogs. Arrived back at camp and had a lovely breakfast. Did a quick mid morning drive up the S28 all the way and then down the main road, saw the same herd of buffalo as yesterday and looked a lot bigger this time, closer to 500 buffalo.

In the afternoon, due to high concentration of general game and also wanting to get some nice sunset pics over the plains I did the same route as yesterday. I headed up north along the main road, turned right onto the S130, then right again onto the S137 (Duke loop), then right onto the S28 and back to camp. Along the main road, there was a small herd of elephants and some wildebeest. On the S130 right at the end is a pool of water, there was a fish eagle on the rocks, got some nice close up pics. Down the S137 (Duke loop), there was the herd of giraffe again and also a small group of daggaboys. Just at the end there was 5 rhino far in the distance grazing along casually, but one was skittish moving his ears and turning around obviously hearing the cars passing. Back to camp along the S28 didn’t yield much besides the lone elephant and the herd of buffalo again far in the distance. Also saw a secretary bird fly overhead and then landed in the distance. Plenty of zebra on the plains. Plenty of warthogs towards the end as well as on the main road back to camp. So much for sunset pics, cloud cover came over about 4pm and ruined it for me!

Had a lovely braai again, and this is our last night here. So very sad! :( Going to have an early night, early game drive in the morning, then pack and then hit the road home. Will post again, when I get home. Good night!

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Unread postPosted: Fri Apr 13, 2007 7:33 pm 
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Good evening from chilly JHB.

Woke up early this morning, saw that we had some rain during the night and there was still a light drizzle. Headed for the gate at 5:50 and saw that it was already open. I think these guys as well as the Shingwedzi gate guards are still thinking it’s 5:30 opening time. My route this morning was up the main road, turn left onto S25, then onto the H5, back up the main road, then down the S130, then onto S137 and finally down the S28 and back to camp. With huge cloud cover and the rain, making it quite dark, after about 1.4km from leaving the camp, there was a lone lioness walking in the road, as I approached she started to jog and before I knew it off into the bushes and off into the distance. Along the S25, I saw hordes of impala, a couple of giraffe, zebra and wildebeest. Vultures were in their plenty sitting all snuggled up in the top of the trees. Towards the end I saw 3 elephant alongside the road. On the H5, I saw impala and giraffe, I followed rhino tracks down this road for quite some time but then went off into the bush and nowhere to be seen. By now it had started raining quite hard, making my visibility quite difficult. On the S137, saw a couple of zebra and a lone buffalo, couldn’t see the big herd again, don’t know if he was lost or what. Down the S28, brought the usual hordes of zebra, giraffe and impala. A small herd of elephants at the end of the loop in the distance, and finally some warthogs close to camp.

Arrived back at camp, packed the car, and headed for home, leaving the park through Crocodile Bridge Gate. Raining most of the way home, but home in Joburg again :( safely.

Just want to say thanks for all the comments and wishes to find the cats, I hope you all enjoyed the ride as much as I did. All in all a little disappointing from the predator sightings, but never a dull moment in Kruger, absolutely had a great time and enjoyed been one with nature again. Last time I visited Shingwedzi was 4yrs ago, so was nice to go up there again, and explore the surroundings, will definitely be back. General game sightings throughout the park were fantastic and some really great elephant sightings. Bird list sits at 83, excluding all the little LBR’s that are so difficult to identify.
I will be back soon, to continue with my adventures!

Will post photos once I have sorted them out, should be sometime this week hopefully!

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Craig
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Unread postPosted: Sun Apr 15, 2007 8:37 pm 
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Some pics from Day 1 (Crocodile Sighting)

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Please tell me if this pics are the right size, photobucket resized them.
Thanks

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Unread postPosted: Sun Apr 22, 2007 10:07 pm 
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Hey guys, sorry for keeping you, I have not had much time to sort out pics and upload them. Thanks for all the kind comments. Here are some pics from day 2, i had a field day with the goliath heron and yellow-billed stork.

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Unread postPosted: Tue Apr 24, 2007 10:03 pm 
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Thanks for all the nice comments, please see pics from day 3.

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Unread postPosted: Thu May 03, 2007 10:29 pm 
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Hi guys

Thanks again, sorry to keep you all waiting, i have just not had time to upload pics. Here is a few from Day 4 & 5.

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Craig
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Unread postPosted: Sun May 13, 2007 7:48 pm 
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Hi guys, a few more pics from the Day 6 (Lion Day)

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Lion pics to follow!

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Unread postPosted: Thu May 17, 2007 8:53 pm 
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Thanks guys, here the pics from the lion sighting.

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Unread postPosted: Sun May 20, 2007 10:45 am 
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Hi Guys

Thanks for all the wonderful comments, here is the last installment of pictures, hope you all enjoyed the report and pics.

Sorry for all the pics on the one page, its going to take long to load.

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