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 Post subject: The stuff of day dreams .... by icurrie, Feb 2007
Unread postPosted: Sun Apr 29, 2007 6:14 pm 
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Hi to all

Well, my first trip report and I have been trying to get up the courage (hence the delay!) ... but here goes! (Hope my pics are small enough - have resized them as per the sticky - if they are not the correct size could a mod please help - thank you!!) :?

We arrived in Hazyview on the 22nd Feb after a very long flight from London and then onto Nelspruit. A word to all those worried about flying in a Jetstream from Joburg to Nelspruit - it was a little like flying in an oversized cigar tube and We did decide that there must be a height restriction for cabin crew as there did not appear to be much head room! All in all the flight was great and what a way to start our adventure!

The new airport at Nelspruit is really 'out of africa' and really
lovely to see as you land .... you suddenly feel like you are 'on
safari'. I suppose I shouldn't really be saying this but as a Saffie living in the UK Nelspruit airport really made me feel like I was back in Africa. I couldn't wait to get that first real lungfull of SA air (Joburg smog doesn't really count!).

For those interested, here is a pic of the new airport - a real credit to those involved.

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We picked up our 4x4 at the airport, great service as usual but we were really disapointed to find that the bakkie's front window had a big crack on the passenger's side. As SO was going to be doing all the video from that side we were concerned that this would cause a problem. He did manage to work around this but do have some rather odd video footage to show for it. :roll:

We stayed the night in Hazyview to recover from the long flight and journey from a miserable Southend-on-Sea, UK. (Actually it is really Southend-on-Mud but that is a whole other story!!)

We left Hazyview and arrived at Phabeni gate at 9:10. The gate at Phabeni is very attractive and the staff very helpful. We were through in about 15 minutes and then onto our first ever Kruger trip!! Yippeee! Finally my dream was about to come true and in more ways than one ....! :D

The weather was overcast but hot and humid with a few downpours thrown in. Unfortunately, the car did not have an onboard temp gauge so all I can say is ..... it was HOT!!

To set the scene ....we were driving from Phabeni to Olifants via S1 to Skukuza for petrol and then onto the H4-1; H12; H1-2; H1-3 to Satara; H1-4; H1-5 and H8 to Olifants. A long drive but what a way to start our Kruger adventure! (For those who are interested ... We left Phabeni gate at 09am and arrived at Olifants at 4pm - this was with game stops, driving at game viewing speed and a petrol and shopping stop at
Skukuza. We did not stop for lunch but did get out at Satara for a leg stretch.

We were greeted by the obligatory Impi's and although they may be everywhere I found them very photogenic.

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On the S1 we saw giraffe, zebra, wilderbeest in the distance, many beautiful birds (unfortunately, we could not identify them all - our bird book is rather basic); a Bateleur on the road (no decent pic as we were too far away and it flew off when
it saw the car), steenbok, tortoises and elephant. The elephant we saw quite by mistake .... we had stopped to see what we could find at a rocky outcrop when SO happened to look out his side of the car and said in a very hushed and reverent tone "Oh my G.d! Elephant!" ... we had been parked right next to it and had not seen it. :shock: Luckily it was chomping away and took no notice of us whatsoever. (In our defence, it was semi hiding behind a bush but that taught us early on to look out both sides of the car!! - something of which we had been taken note of while reading the forum - but nothing brings it home quite like the real experience!!) :wink:

On the H4-1 the rain came down in sheets and we were hard pushed to see anything however, once the sun came out we were treated to herds of impala, countless birds and baboons on the road having a drink as well as countless shongololo's (milipedes).

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As said before, we arrived at Olifants at 4pm and were soon booked into chalet number 11. This is one of the 'best riverview' chalets and I can say that we were not disapointed with the view! This is the view from the front of the chalet.

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The chalet was spotless however we were disapointed with the 'fully equiped' kitchen which meant we had to cut our breakfast bacon with a breadknife. Next time we will make sure we take a a few extras in the way of cutlery!

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At sunset we took a walk to viewing platform where SO proceded to surprise me with a very romantic marriage proposal!!! Phew, after 11 years it was a surprise! After such a great day it really was the stuff a girl dreams of!! :D :o :wink:

IC

Phew - I managed it - resizing and uploading photos is not for the fainthearted!! - please help if I not managed it completely correctly! I am just surprised I have managed at all!! :redface:

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Issy

Trip Reports:
The stuff of daydreams ... - Kruger
Kalahari Dreamin' - KTP
Just What the Doctor Ordered - West Coast, Augrabies, KTP


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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Mon Apr 30, 2007 7:23 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Sat Oct 21, 2006 2:34 pm
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Location: SAffie in Southend
To all of your kind replies - thank you very much! :D I have been sneaking a read at work but system won't let me log on to reply! :evil: ... as you can imagine I have been itching to get home so that I can respond!! :wink:

arks - I have also had the time to read the Emerging Tuskers article and CONGRATULATIONS!!!! :thumbs_up: What a wonderful prize :mrgreen: I echo everyone else's comments - I am sooooo envious!! I hope you really enjoy your trip of a lifetime!! and a "Well done" to everyone else! :clap:

saraf - I agree you are a friendly bunch .... so friendly that I am hooked!! Lunchtimes come and go and I don't leave my desk!!! :wink:

Anja - honeymoon in KTP sounds like heaven - just have to convince SO! We are going to do a 'trial run' next year so here's hoping!! Will be getting married in KwaZulu Natal so not such an unreasonable hop to KTP. :)

Time to get on and start cracking on Part 2 .....

IC

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Issy

Trip Reports:
The stuff of daydreams ... - Kruger
Kalahari Dreamin' - KTP
Just What the Doctor Ordered - West Coast, Augrabies, KTP


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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Thu May 03, 2007 8:20 pm 
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Joined: Sat Oct 21, 2006 2:34 pm
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Hi there - apologies for the delay (boorgatspook :) )work and pc problems are my excuse!! :wink:

24th February

Spent a very hot and humid night accompanied by a howling berg wind (for those not familiar with the term .. warm/hot yukky air!) which we later learned was the edge of a cyclone bashing Mozambique. Morning drive left at 4:45 so it was an early start for us and NO :evil: coffee as the hot plate kept tripping.

Morning drive started out in balmy conditions but 15 minutes into the drive the rain came down in buckets! Let me set the scene ....we were in a 20 seater truck with a canvas canopy designed to keep the sun and not the rain off ... needless to say it was not long before we were all soaked! The rain was coming in the sides, cascading through the canvas stitching above the roll bars (one of which was above me!) and everytime we went around a corner the water which had collected on the canvas tipped over the edge onto the poor souls who had the misfortune of sitting on the outside! Still, despite all the weather could throw at us we were very excited about the drive. I was more worried about my poor (new Canon 400D) camera! Luckily I had taken a waterproof fleece and this spent it's time covering the camera - as a result I was rather chilly but priorities, priorities! (I havent melted yet ... :wink: )

'Sunrise' on the H1-5 (I think our route was H8, H1-5, S89, S90, H1-4 back to Olifants)

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As the sun came up-ish (actually a glimmer through the clouds) we were rewarded by our first Lion sighting. Three males in the rain soaked grass. Unfortunately, the bumping and grinding of the big truck's gears and brakes disturbed their rest and they soon slunk off into the bush .. but I was happy as my last 'lion' sighting had been from a long way off and at night.

I did manage to get one decent shot ...

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Saw toitoise, hyena, elephant, zebra, impala, waterbuck and kudu so all in all it was well worth getting wet! Still, it is all part of the adventure and makes for a much more interesting memory!!

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We returned to the camp at 7:45 in time for a much needed hot shower, change of clothes and breakfast. We also popped into the office to tell them about the hot plate and a problem we had noticed with our loo. By the time we had finished having our breakfast the staff were already working on our chalet - great service!! I must say that the staff were all really friendly and helpful. Our chalet cleaner did such a good job you would have thought we had not moved in yet! How she managed to do this when our galloping SA disease had taken hold I will never know - but all credit to her! (to enlighten you, 'galloping SA disease' is when your luggage overflows onto every available surface and seems to reproduce regardless of how tidy you try to be! I have a severe case of this disease and try as I might I can't seem to cure it!! It is also very contagious as SO seems to have caught it too - even though he is a Pommie and it is still in it's early stages I have no doubt that the longer he is in contact with a Saffie bird the worse his symptoms will become!). I was amused by the fact that the fly/mozzi screens were rusty but the brass window latches next to them were positively sparkling! - How wonderful! The cleaner, unfortunately I never did catch her name, was also very keen to warn us about the "monkees" opening the fridge. Reading the forum had already warned us of the thieving baboons so we had made sure that the fridge was turned towards the wall. The staff take so much pride in their work and it is so great to see. They are a real credit to the Parks.

After we had had a little relax we were ready to hit the park again - you couldn't have stopped me .... poor SO... I think I ran him ragged!! Time seems to be made of elastic while you are in the park and we were on the go from the crack of dawn to late at night!

We drove from Olifants to Letaba via the S93 and S44. It was very very hot and we did not expect to see a great deal but were happy to enjoy the sights and smells of the park. On the S93 we came across an old lion, I think, kill (giraffe) in a dried up stream right next to the road. Unfortunately, it was too old for the lions etc but there were about 20 vultures on the carcas and as vultures were on our wish list we were ecstatic!! We stayed with the carcas for quite a while - taking pics and video, luckily the pong was not too bad!!

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We also saw terapins in a pool alongside the road - about the only creatures moving and only because they had their own jacuzzi!!

At a very hot Letaba we were approached by a member of staff who asked us about our yellow ribbonr. This was the second time we had been asked, the previous occasion was by the petrol attendant at Skukuza. Both times we were asked if it was for a wedding - ironic? :wink: At Letaba we explained about the ribbon and ended up having a very long discussion about the website which culminated in us recommending the forums to SAP staff members! How odd was that??? :lol: But very worthwhile I feel as the more awareness about this wonderful forum and website the better!! After our discussion, we treated ourselves to a lovely cold (melty) ice-cream and watched a family of Southern Yellowbilled Hornbills on the grass. We then made our way up the H1-6 but as all the game were being very sensible and staying out of the open, (what was that about mad dogs and englishmen?...) at the H15 turning we turned around and drove back to Olifants. We then rewarded ourselves with a lazy afternoon of shandies and sitting on the veranda watching the elies come down to the water to play.

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SO made a rather strange rice 'thingy for dinner' (one of those 'chuck it all in a pot' kind of thingy's as it was too windy to braai) and then we we off on our night drive. :D

8pm - 10pm : Night drive was very, very windy and muggy. Saw african wild cat (sitting blinking in the grass - just like a house cat would) greysbok, our first springhaasies (how cute!!), giraffe, hippo, croc, a white backed night heron (which I believe would have had the twitchers in delight!), a +-2m python slowing edging it's way across the open grass and a dead mozambique spitting cobra on the road. (I will confess to being a 'the best snake is a dead snake' kind of person but it is still not great to see this kind of road kill.) If I remember correctly, the night drive route was H8, H1-5, S91, S90, S89 and back via H1-5, H8. On the first leg of the H1-5, from very close by, we were startled by a loud elephant trumpet. :shock: It was so close that a few of the angels in the truck screamed (hee hee), I was quite proud of the fact that didn't although I will own up ... I did get a fright!! :redface: :whistle: Anyway, where was I ?..... a 'demented' (for 'demented' read stressed, unhappy, PMT ...) elephant charged over the road in front of our vehicle and disappeared into the bush. It was quite a smallish elie and I think had gotten separated from the herd as it was definitely on a mission ..... (possible that it was being stalked or something but no way to substantiate this as it was very dark out there ...). We arrived back at camp at 10pm and quickly made our way back to our chalet as we had a walk booked the next day!!!

(Next time I will use my brain when booking all these activities!! I am not sorry now that we crammed so much into our trip but boy by the end of it I was glad to be with the folks and doing nothing!!) :wink:

So, for now .... That all Folks! (for now ... Part 3 to follow ....)

IC :yaya:

_________________
Issy

Trip Reports:
The stuff of daydreams ... - Kruger
Kalahari Dreamin' - KTP
Just What the Doctor Ordered - West Coast, Augrabies, KTP


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Unread postPosted: Fri May 18, 2007 8:27 am 
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SORRY, SORRY, SORRY .... apologies for the delay! :redface: Work, life and engagement got in the way!!! Next time I will make sure I type the whole trip up in one hit so that life will have no chance to get in the way! :? Thank you all for the comments and now let me get on with it ....

25 February 2007

Up early (4:10am) for our morning walk. :D We saw Hyena as we drove along the S90 towards the embarking point. Weather was overcast with drizzly rain which was better than boiling hot so no complaints from me. (although, yet again, I ended up worrying about having to cover my camera - next time I will just take my small digital instead of lugging the big one around!). There were 7 of us on the walk as well as 2 game rangers. The walk lasted about 2.5 hours and we stopped halfway for snacks and drinks - it was great to be able to take the time to just enjoy the bush. Saw wildebeest,zebra, cory buzzard and giraffe which we tracked until we were quite close.

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Although it was quite a quiet walk compared to previous experiences it was great to be on the ground and in touch with nature. On the way back via Olifants wier we came across a troop of baboons and these two ... what plan do you think they were hatching ?? :)

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We got back to Olifants at about 8:30am and had to wash our very muddy clothes and boots. Time for reflection on a great walk while having a coffee break on the veranda and watching the crocs and hippo below - a great way to wind down from the walk.

At 9:30 - no flies on us! - we were off again ... Drove H8, H1-5, S39, S127 then H1-4, H1-5 and H8 again. Saw Ellies, impala and zebra and then turned onto the S39 were we drove for quite some way in pouring rain and then drizzle without seeing much in the way of game. :( The road was quite corrugated and slippery with puddles everywhere so we just took our time and enjoyed the sight and smells of the bush.

On the S127, just before turning onto the H1-4 we saw 3 kudu bulls. We had just stopped to watch when we saw one of the kudu bulls 'digging' up a mound of mud/dirt with his horns and another bull 'charging' a bush. Strange behaviour we thought so we stayed around to watch. The mock charging and digging behaviour continued for a while and then the two started sparing. (We speculated that the kudu were lubricating their horns in preparation for the 'match' - anyone know why they do this?) The third kudu bull must have been the ref or scorer as he did not get involved at all! The two sparred for about 20 minutes, first at the side of the road and then on the road in front of us. What a sight! - two magnificent animals with the curls of their horns perfectly locked together.

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We drove onto the H1-4 saw ellies and then saw a black backed jackal. As the rain had stopped and he/she was quite close to the road we stopped for a look and noticed that it was hunting. The jackal had caught a rodent (not sure what kind) and was playing with it, stalking, tossing it up in the air and then chasing it down. We watched for quite a while wondering how this was going to play out when we noticed that the rodent had gone in for the kill ... it had bitten the jackal on the mouth. It was quite funny watching the jackal try and swat the desperately clinging rodent. Unfortunately, that was the death knell to the rodent as the jackal had had enough! Our first Kruger kill!! (Is that right, BB ... a kill is a kill??)

The pic is not great quality as I have taken it from the video but they do give you an idea ..

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We drove back to Olifants and saw 3 more jackals, giraffe, zebra and impies as well as many shongololos and beetles on the wet roads. We had lunch - Olifant's fabled burgers - and interupted the 'monkees' aka baboons who were raiding all the bins in camp.

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Sunset drive was disapointing as the other occupants were very noisy and did not appear to appreciate the bush. Did not see much although we did get out at the bridge over the Olifants river which was enjoyable. We saw an ellie with baby, hippo, hyena with pups (or is it cubs?). When the sun went down we saw a hippo and Eagle Owl and were back at camp by 8pm.

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Tomorrow would be our last day but true to form we were planning an early one! :dance:

IC

_________________
Issy

Trip Reports:
The stuff of daydreams ... - Kruger
Kalahari Dreamin' - KTP
Just What the Doctor Ordered - West Coast, Augrabies, KTP


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Unread postPosted: Sat May 19, 2007 5:32 pm 
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Hi everyone - thought I would shock you all and post the final installment!!! :twisted: :D

Thank you for all your great comments.

MM, I think you may be right .. I have had another look at the pic with your comments in mind and it does look like a dwarf mongoose further more there appears that there may be another 'rodent' in front of the jackal?? :?

Ok, here goes, last day ......

26 Feb 2007

Up at 4:10 after a good night's sleep - BOY .. I really needed it after all that we had squished into our Kruger days! This is our last day in Kruger so we will spend it driving from Olifants to Phabeni gate via Satara, Kukuza the Napi Road and S7,S3. A long way but far better to be driving in Kruger than on roads outside the park! :wink:

We were ready and out of the gate by 5:35, this included remembering to drop our keys in the 'key post box'. Due to the long drive in front of us we stayed on the tar roads.

About 12km out of Olifants on the H1-5 we came across a curious sight (no pics I am afraid so I will have to try and describe the sight) :wink: .... on the road in front of us we saw a dead scrub hare which had obviously been the victim of a 'hit and run'. What was curious was that although it was very obviously dead it appeared to be moving. As we drew closer we noticed that it was being pulled across the road by mongoose. The carcas was bigger than the mongoose however it was very determinedly dragging it. Unfortunately although we had stopped and were sitting very quietly we had disturbed the mongoose's hard labour and it soon disappeared into the bushes on the other side of the road. We waited for quite a while to see if it would re-emerge and continue it's labour but unfortunately as the road was getting busier this did not happen. We could see from the drag marks meandering across the road that the carcas had been dragged across the road rather than into the closest bushes. It was really such a strange sight ....anyone else had similar experience?

We drove onto Olifants River bridge in time to see the sunrise over the water - lovely!

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On the long drive from Olifants to Tshokwane picnic spot we did not see multitudes in the way of game however we did see quite a variety as well as 3 of the Big 5; Elephant, White Rhino, and a pair of 'fighting/sparring' buffalo. We also saw a herd of zebra with foals as well as a couple of fighting stallions (must have been an 'irritable animal' day) wildebeest, impies, and kudu.

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We stopped in at Tshokwane for a .... break and a very welcome cup of coffee. It was great to sit at a table and watch the interaction between the vervet monkeys and staff. As we did not have any food we were free to watch with amusement as the monkeys constantly outmanoeuvred the staff despite their best efforts and constant vigil.

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After our brief respite, it was onwards towards Skukuza via the H1-2. A short distance after leaving Tshokwane we were stopped by a German couple who told us that they had seen lion about 2km along on the next dirt road (Maroela Loop) so needles to say, off we went .... and eventually found them ... and about 6 other cars. I must say that everyone was very well behaved and once they had had their viewing they moved on as well and trying to make sure everyone was able to
see.... the fact that it was VERY hot, midday and the lions were just snoozing probably helped although to be fair that is probably me being a little cynical. Regardless, everyone had great manners and it meant that we all had a good sighting! So that made it 4 of the big 5 in one day, sadly our leopard wish list is still unfulfilled ... next time, hey!

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We stopped at Skukuza for a little retail therapy before embarking on the last leg of our Kruger trip. We drove to Phabeni Gate via H1-1, H3, H2-2, H1-1, S7, S10 loop, S7,
S3 and S1. On the way we spotted our first Yellow Ribbon .. it was Pieter Steyn on his way back from the cricket which we had managed to miss due to our hectic schedule. How rewarding to see a Yellow Ribbon on our first trip to KNP!!!!! So Pieter, you are our first Yellow Ribbon 'scalp' - here's to very many more!! :yaya:

As it was so hot we did not see very much in the way of the usual game but we did see a few different/strange and unusual sights which more than made up for the lack of game: 'Trees' of vulture/s; a terapin on the tar road; maribou storks (think that's what they are); baboons; warthogs (which had been conspicuous in their absence up north); dung beetle (no pic, sorry), a cameleon dancing it's way across the road ... Skip Two, Three .. Rock Two, Three a..n..d.. Skip Two, Three .. Rock Two, Three ...and .. come on you know how it goes ...!; :dance: :clap: :dance: a boomslang sunning itself in the middle of the road; :shock: and an african hoopoe rumaging in the grass. Although it was too hot for game we did see various unidentified birds which made up for the lack of game. (Need to polish up the bird knowledge before KTP next year!!)

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We arrived at Phabeni Gate at 4pm - hot, sticky and very sad to be leaving. :cry: :cry: :cry:

I can honestly say that the whole trip was far more than I expected and the most wonderful fulfilment of a lifelong dream. :D The cherry on the cake has to be that very romantic marriage proposal ... overlooking the Olifants river at dusk. :dance: As well as that memorable experience, Kruger and Olifants now have every reason to forever hold a special place in our hearts. What a stay ... and writing this trip report has brought it all flooding back! :wink:

Now, All that is left to say is ..... roll on next time!!! :D

Issy :wink:

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Issy

Trip Reports:
The stuff of daydreams ... - Kruger
Kalahari Dreamin' - KTP
Just What the Doctor Ordered - West Coast, Augrabies, KTP


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