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 Post subject: BB's trip to Wilderness NP : April 2007
Unread postPosted: Wed Apr 25, 2007 9:27 am 
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Legendary Virtual Ranger
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I am going to Wilderness NP this weekend with friends to do some birding, chilling (it might rain so I might get very chilly), and hopefully paragliding if the speedboat is powerful enough and the parachute extra humungous!

Anyone else going? If so look out for the 'fire engine', my red Hilux twincab with the yellow ribbons. :D

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Unread postPosted: Wed May 02, 2007 1:15 pm 
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Day 1 (Friday 27 April) - Getting there

Packing the car was completed and we were off from CT towards the N1 by 7h15. Only mad dogs and tootlers take the N2. If you are not a tootler, the N2 will ensure you are. :doh: It was cold and grey and raining imtermittently - great camping weather :twisted:
Got through the tunnel and turned right at Worcester on to the R62 via Robertson, Ashton, Montagu, 2 km before which, someone had managed to overturn into the ditch, but all looked ok, Barrydale, Calitzdorp and Oudtshoorn where the sun came through and we had lunch with our son & his wife. I highly recommend this route if you are not wanting to stop off at places on the N2. There was hardly any traffic and it was going fast. A great visit to the Croc Ranch :dance: and we headed off to George via the Outeniqua pass in driving rain.
We reached the WNP at about 16h00, a few minutes before Bullet & family, found our campsite (no 1) and pitched the tent in single digit temperatures under leaden skies. :pray: We were on the bank of the Touw river, with chalets behind us and about a 250 metre walk to the ablutions. I suppose the view is more important here.
On the way I was pleased to see pale chanting goshawks sporadically from just east of Worcester to east of Calitzdorp, and on the way home as well.
We cooked supper on the gas stove tonight and turned in early. I tossed my watch into my togbag and slept well until a storm hit. The tent rocked and rolled but held. The rain kept on the outside. Foolishly I had drunk coffee before going to bed and it demanded to be released. :tongue: When the storm abated, I got up, covered most of my nakedness and opened the sleeping area of the tent to step into icy ankle deep water in the kitchen area. It was still raining and I decided that the rain would do a good job of dispersing liquid instead of me wandering round in the dark for ... :redface: anyway when I got back into bed my icy feet must have woken SO who covered herself with the garment I had used - no point in getting HER stuff wet. When she got back into bed moments later, she returned the icy feet compliment.

Tommorow we will wake up and continue the story.

BTW Wilderness National Park is not a game reserve but I shall tell you what it is in later postings

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Unread postPosted: Thu May 03, 2007 12:14 pm 
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Day 2 Sat 28 April

I awoke to the sound of music and a loudspeaker voice. I looked around in the dark and found SO in bed, so I was still alive. Then I remembered that I had seen the telltale evidence of a road race finish at the ablution block with the solitary shower & loo. These nutters (I used to be one!) set off from George in the gloom at 1 degree Celcius I heard later. Enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey! (Mods - that is not a rude expression - I can explain if necessary).

I got up when it got light and opened the tent. Someone has left the freezer door open somewhere. :lotsocoffee: SO got up and went to see the race finish. She saw our home neighbour finish, and bumped into some of her scholars. She is a school secretary and I kid you not. We cannot go anywhere without bumping into 'Hello Mrs BB'. They were in the next chalet in Kgalagadi!, they came up to her at Nkhulu picnic site!, they looked at the same flowers in WCNP aaarghhh! :wall: :wall: :doh:

Back to WNP. Rufus & family arrived after breakfast. They had intended camping also but child illness drove them to the comforts of local hostelry. I hatched a cunning plot. I gathered the children from age 6 to 10 and offered a chocolate to the first one that took me to see a K turaco. :wink: Since my children grew up and left home I have had no-one to play with. :( I emerged from the ablution block to 4 excited little people who grabbed my hands and bundled me off to a fruit tree. 'There it is!!!!!' I looked up and caught a glimpse of a bird in thick foliage. It would not come out. I had maybe seen a bit of a KT. :shock: The LP were completely satisfied that they had fulfilled the conditions, so, being the good sport I am, I paid up the choccie. :?

It had now warmed up to about 5C, and SO was ready to look for the big & hairy. We set off for Garden Route Mall and sure enough they were there in great numbers. Men too! We bought the pillows we had forgotten to pack and took the scenic route home. I was delighted to see some birds, including giant & pied kingfisher, forest :dance: & 'tame' jackal buzzard, southern boubou, brimstone canary and the usual waterbirds at the Malachite hide, about 6 km from camp.

The park is a patchwork of isolated areas with residential bits in between. Unfortunately this day was heavily overcast and the photos are not great. We were camped in Ebb & Flow south. E&F north was upstream and in a bit of a valley between the hills.

Sitting around the evening braai was one of the coldest nights I could remember, I put two sweaters on and even long pants. The company was good. The food was good and the forecast was for warmer weather. :pray: :clap:

Next 'BB gets revenge on the elephants'

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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Fri May 04, 2007 9:14 pm 
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Some pics to catch up on

ImageImage

Our campsite at Ebb & Flow South

Image

'Tame' jackal buzzard

Image

E&F South chalets, which come with shower, toilet, microwave, kitchen utensils and a braai outside. Campers have to hire a braai at R10 per day plus deposit.

Image

E&F North rondavels

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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Sat May 05, 2007 6:18 pm 
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Day 3 Sun 29 April

After a short shower of rain, we rose to a warmer day. It was still overcast and cool though. Consensus was to have an away day and see what the area has to offer.

6 year old Kennedy decided to take the early start that SO and I decided on, and we headed off to do some birding on the way.

At Malachite hide there was a party that looked like they had slept there. :twisted: One immediately accused me of being BB and I answered 'guilty as charged'. :shock: I didn't know my ugly mug had been publicised :shock: It was the charming Boulder, Peter Betts, who earlier this year, was red carded from the forum. Even nice guys get nasty.
We saw in two minutes the birds it had taken them 3 hours to find (a bunch of red knobbed coots, dabchicks and yellow billed ducks) and then moved on to Rondevlei hide.

At last the clouds dissipated and if became quite warm.(Hallelujah emoticon required!)

There we saw a kill!! :dance: A Common Tern dived in twice to grab orange coloured fish. Kennedy was impressed. He also liked the spoonbill, and then we contacted Bullet & Rufus who were nearing an elephant park near Knysna. We met them and dropped Kennedy with his family and they decided to try the park.
SO & I continued to the monkeyland. SO and I decided not to do the tour and I had a chocaccino to kill for, so instead of killing, I had another. :thumbs_up: All the while little monkeys invaded the cafeteria area looking for dropped food. I was told to put my sunglasses in my pocket because nefarious previous owners had taught the little devils to steal - I wondered about that. :roll: The Kruger vervets & baboons manage superbly despite the lack of formal training :shock: Anyway a bag containing the previous day's takings (R8000) had disappeared into the jungle by monkey hands and was still missing :redface: :doh:
I decided to go into the exotic bird enclosure while SO, who takes stunning photos of out feathered friends, but is very apprehensive of close contact, waited for Bullet & Rufus. There was a magnificent array of local and exotic birds on display and even non birders were impressed.

The other families did both tours while SO and I headed off back to Wilderness to start the fire for the braai.

It was a lovely warmish evening and the good food and friends made it lekker to be alive. :D

Image

Oh, yes, I nearly forgot. SO and I went to the elephant park in the Craggs, and here is where I got my revenge for having to reverse umpteen kilometres on umpteen occasions in Kruger and elsewhere for these big lugs.

Image

If this photo is not aesthetically acceptable, it is done and dusted and I will never do it again. Their skin is so rough it takes the hair off your legs!

Next: Perfect day in Paradise

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Unread postPosted: Mon May 07, 2007 2:52 pm 
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No objections to my ele riding..... good.

Day 4 Mon 30 April

We woke to a perfect day in paradise. The sun was up and shining strongly. No wind. This was the day for Bullet to unpack the mini rubber duckie and soon we were off putputting on the river to 2hp. AFAIK you can use a motorboat between certain points as long as it does not produce a wake. Water skiing would not work then. It was an ideal way to see the birds along the river banks. I saw some brown throated martins, darters, reed & white chested cormorants, Blacksmith lapwings and a large grey chappie who looked like a wagtail, but bigger. I am an expert at finding new birds :twisted:
Rufus and family arrived and the children took turns in the boat. SO & I had been on the first trip and escaped to the GR Mall again to get stuff for the homeward journey.
I decided that since it was a perfect day, I would do a walking trail in the afternoon. Mrs Bullet and Mrs Rufus - complete with 16 month old toddler in backpack, (she is one fit lady) decided to join me. We went on the Half Collared Kingfisher trail that starts on the west bank of the Touw river across the railway bridge. After a flat 50 metres, the path twists and turns near the river bank, at some points steps take you beyond bits that have fallen in, and there are two places that you can sit, see the river and enjoy the serenity. Mrs R was keen to get going again. We got to a point where the path got a bit tricky, close to the waterfall and turned and headed back the same way. There is a circular path that climbs the hill but we chose not to do it in the advancing gloom of late afternoon. Had I known how cool (in more ways than one!) it was on the forest path, I would have set off earlier and spent time at the seats. We saw a few birds, mostly unidentifyable in the darkness of the forest, and came across 2 different middens, one indicated quite a large buck species. Although we saw no animals, I am quite sure some saw us. Next time I will start earlier and park off on the riverside seats.

The evening braai saw everyone in high spirits, even though tomorrow we would be returning home.

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Unread postPosted: Wed May 09, 2007 1:00 pm 
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Day 5 Tue 1 May

The sun always shines on tv and the day you have to go home.

Our packing up was interrupted by an invitation from Rufus to have breakfast at their lodgings. After that dietetic disaster, packing up the tent was not pleasant.

We drove away from the Wildeness NP, now that we know its layout and activities, after a hugely pleasant stay.

A ten minute pop in to old friends in George lasted two hours and we returned along the almost empty R62. At Ashton, the road from Swellendam's N2 swelled the number of cars but it was plain sailing to arrive home at the anticipated time.

Will we return to the WNP - you betcha!!!

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Unread postPosted: Wed May 09, 2007 7:44 pm 
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I can heartily recommend it. The rainy part just gives you the opportunity to toughen up a bit and really appreciate the good weather.

For those who get 'depressed' when they mean a bit sad, stretch yourself, you will be amazed at how resilient you really are if you put your mind to it.

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