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 Post subject: Blasian's Berg-en-Dal trip report
Unread postPosted: Mon May 21, 2007 8:17 am 
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Joined: Tue Aug 08, 2006 12:06 pm
Posts: 21
Location: Australia / New Zealand
Hi everyone!

**WARNING: This is really long and I haven't used great grammer or great paragraphs so I hope you still read it!**

Seeing as it was on the advice of everyone on the forum that I decided on Berg-en-Dal for a three night stay in Kruger I thought I better write a little report for you all.

We were in Kruger early January, right after New Year. I think this is wet season, but when we were there it was SO hot (mid-30s I think) and it didn't not rain at all. I guess this happens sometimes!

The Camp

I was pretty stoked with Berg-en-Dal. Even though the rooms aren't the nicest (I prefer more modern decor and as many stars as possible but was travelling with others who were on a budget), I really liked the setting. Our room had four beds in a main sleeping area which was fine. We had an out-of-date kitchenette and an out-of-date bathroom. There was a bit patio area out the front which was fantastic for sitting in the sun tanning while we took a break from driving around Kruger and it was great having our braais every night too.

We stayed in a perimeter room which I don't think is worth the extra, especially if you are travelling in the wettish season when the vegetation is thicker. I think you would be fine getting a standard bungalow as you are hardly in your room.

The camp is really great. The pool was nice and large and great for refreshing ourselves. I also loved the fact that we could go and sit after coming back from our afternoon/evening drives and look out over the dam. On one occassion we saw a group of about seven elephants mucking around in the water and rolling in the mud - it was awesome. I also saw elephants a number of other times when I went on a walk near the fence. The camp has a healthy population of monkeys and baboons which also adds to the atmosphere - even when the monkeys charge you for taking photos of their babies!

We did all our shopping in Nelspruit, but the camp shop had a reasonable selection of food along with touristy stuff. We didn't eat at the restaurant so can't comment there.

We went on one of the morning game drives run by the camp which was good, but we didn't see anything we hadn't seen ourselves expect for one ugly mother of a hyena!

So I probably give the camp an A for setting and facilities, C for rooms.

Game Viewing Around Berg-en-Dal

FAN-FLIPPIN-TASTIC!

We entered the park through the southern gate Malelane (sp?). I kid you not, but after being in the park only maybe five to ten minutes we drove past a clearing and there was a massive rhino grazing. It was incredible and a perfect intro to our short 'safari' experience. On the way to the camp we also saw some impala and buck (they all look the same to me and we saw them so often my friends got sick of them - I loved every animal sighting though!). We were about ten minutes from the camp (I guess it is a 40 minute drive from the gate) and we saw a herd of about 15 elephants, including some young ones. That was really cool - they were right on the side of the road. So that was the first day... We didn't see anything major (can you say that?!) when we went out for a short evening drive, just some zebra, impala, baboons, buck, elephants...

On the second day we got up early so we could be out of the camp gates first (or second...). About ten minutes drive after leaving the camp we saw our first (of only two sightings) pride of lions! Well, it wasn't really a pride, just two lioness and two lions. There must have been others around, but we couldn't see them. The lioness were quite close to the road and we got some great snaps of them. The lions were a bit further into the bush, but we got some pretty cool shots (if you don't shrink the size of the photo!). We also saw some more elephants (we saw the same family everyday I think) who had totally destroyed an area of bush during the night leaving branches all over the place! We saw more buck, zebra, some wierd antelope etc. We never ventured more than about 2 hours away from Berg-en-Dal so we didn't get confined-in-a-car-overkill for the time we were there (not my idea!!!). That afternoon we went for another drive and we saw heaps more non-killing animals. Highlight of the drive was an awesome experience watching a group of four giraffes eating (just eating I know, but they are my FAVOURITE animals). We were on a dirt road and the only car there and the giraffes were HUGE and only metres from the car. Oh - on day two we also got mock charged by a big mama elephant. The family was crossing the road and she was getting protective of the little ones... It was REALLY freaky, but exciting at the same time! (That would have been interesting when we took the rental back!)

Day three I forced the driver to do a massive drive from Berg-en-Dal up to the rivers near Sukuza (sp? the one near Sabi river?). I was hoping to see some more lions, but we didn't... However, our long drive (this one was almost six hours...) was completely worth it... I spotted something moving in a tree. I started making wierd noises (I can't talk properly when excited) and my friend slammed on the brakes and we watched in total awe as a leopard climbed out of the tree, walked along the road, crossed the road behind our car, walked in a clearing alongside the road for about 20 metres and then dissappeared. I can honestly say I was shaking! It was a completely amazing experience to see such a rare animal after everyone we had met in Jo'burg told us not to count on seeing a leopard - they said we had NO HOPE! We also saw something which I thought was wierd on this drive - a small group of about five buffalo. Now they are definately buffalo because I've got good pictures of them and their heads have that big buffalo thing on them. They weren't near water either - right in some really thick bush. I'm assuming the rest of the herd was futher into the bush. We also saw some hippos and crocodiles on this drive, along with the usual grazers. We did an afternoon drive on day three, but didn't see anything new - but we did see an adult rhino and a baby walking along the crest of a hill by Berg-en-Dal.

Day four we did a morning game drive organised through Berg-en-Dal. This was great fun and I'm glad we did it. We started early and saw the resident elephant family. We saw some zebra and some buck/impala chasing each other around a clearing - that was fun to watch. There were also some giraffe minding their own business in the group. We saw a REALLY ugly hyena (it was on its own). It was just walking down the dirt road. They are much bigger than I expected them to be. Then we drove past another safari vehicle and the drivers spoke. The other driver said there was a pride of lions with cubs not far away. Our driver quickly got us there (not speeding, but not stopping for buck). We were lucky when we got there because we were able to park right near where the lions were (they were in a clearing past some low shrubs about 20 metres from the road. It was great to see lions again, but soon the road was clogged with cars trying to see and the pride moved off further into the bush.

So yeah, that is a REALLY brief summary of the animals we saw. But I am STOKED I got to see all of the Big 5! I will definately go back to Kruger one day soon. I'll aim for the dry season this time though so I can experience the different seasons. I really want to see a kill, so I'm going to save my pennies and stay at one of the not-so-mortgage-required game lodges.

Other Issues

Malaria-Related

I got myself a little paranoid about malaria before I went. However, I shouldn't have! We all took doxycycline (sp?) which was fine - no side effects at all except maybe my skin tanned REALLY easily because my tan by the end of our eight weeks in Africa was lekka! When we stopped at Nelspruit we bought some Peaceful Sleep for the room, some insect spray and some cream based insect repellent. We also wore really light cotton long sleaves and pants at night/morning. None of us got one mosquito bite the whole time! We didn't even really concentrate on it! So if anyone is reading this who feels paranoid about Malaria - DON'T BE! Just use common sense!

Driving from Jo'burg to Kruger

The drive is REALLY easy. We left our friends place in Sandton at about 8am and arrived at the Kruger gate at around 2pm (including an hour stop at Nelspruit to stock up on food). We didn't have any problems with directions. We just bought a map and followed the signs pretty much. You really can't go wrong.

The drive back was really quick. We were cutting it fine for a flight so we kind of sped (160km/h...). We got back to Jo'burg in about four hours including a stop to get the car cleaned of animal poo and mud. Everyone else was speeding so we didn't feel bad, but watch for cameras - especially under bridges!


Cheers for reading my ramblings. I can't wait to visit Africa again one day. I completely fell in love with South Africa (we satyed for 8 weeks, mainly based with family friends in Durban - Bluff). You SA people have an amazing country - you don't know how lucky you are, even taking into account certain aspects that unfortunately can't seem to be controled... (Y'all know the things I'm referring to...)

Bring on my hopeful trip in 2009! (And maybe back again in 2010 for the World Cup!!!)

_________________
"I'm always travelIing, I love being free, and so I keep leaving the sun and the sea, but my heart lies waiting over the foam, I still call Australia home."


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Unread postPosted: Mon May 21, 2007 9:08 am 
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Joined: Tue Aug 08, 2006 12:06 pm
Posts: 21
Location: Australia / New Zealand
My bad about the water buffalos - I was writing the report quickly and forgot they were Cape Buffalos (incedently I saw water buffalo enroute home in Thailand!).

I understand about our Kruger accommodation being basic. I just don't think it would hurt to modernise the bungalows a tad which I imagine you could do with minimal impact on the surrounds.

I thought seeing the big five was cool basically because that's the first question I get asked about when I say I went to Kruger. As I said, giraffe are my favourite and I am eternally grateful I got to see these animals in the wild. We also spent about forty minutes one drive watching antelope/buck/impala (not sure which, impala I think) and zebra running around a clearing. You're right though - Kruger has so many amazing animals, right down to the enormous snail we saw on the road!

Oh - I'm an Australian living in New Zealand. I'm 22, but my family lives in Australia so I go back and forth every couple of months.

_________________
"I'm always travelIing, I love being free, and so I keep leaving the sun and the sea, but my heart lies waiting over the foam, I still call Australia home."


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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Mon May 21, 2007 9:16 am 
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Joined: Tue Aug 08, 2006 12:06 pm
Posts: 21
Location: Australia / New Zealand
Gunner wrote:
Glad you had a great trip Blasian, how about some snaps of that Leopard? :P


Sure! I was shaking like absolute crazy with excitment/adrenalin because I saw a wild leopard. Most of my shots turned out so terrible and blurry, but here are a couple...

Image
just after it climbed out of the tree

Image
walking across the road

Image
walking in the clearing

edit by gwen

_________________
"I'm always travelIing, I love being free, and so I keep leaving the sun and the sea, but my heart lies waiting over the foam, I still call Australia home."


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Unread postPosted: Tue May 22, 2007 9:29 pm 
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Joined: Tue Aug 08, 2006 12:06 pm
Posts: 21
Location: Australia / New Zealand
Saraf: Yep, I'm glad I forced that big drive! We were the only car with the leopard that day - even just after New Year on the H3 probably just north of Afsaal.

Here are some more pictures (quality not great - was only using a Sony Cybershot 5mp).

White rhino. He was grazing 5-10 mins from the Malelane gate.
Image
Look close to see a male lion. Taken 10mins drive from Berg-en-Dal in a little clearing on a hill. S110 I think.
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Elephant on the S110 I think. No zoom. Maybe the one that mock charged us - yes I know, we were a bit close, but this photo was taken as we were creeping past.
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Same elephant as above.
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Zebra crossing. This amused me to no end! H3 perhaps.
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Extreamly cute picture! H3 pehaps.
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More zebra and impala (?). H3 again I think. That road was good to us! I love the multi-grazer pics. There was a couple of giraffe there too.
Image
Up close and personal with my favourite animal. S114 I think.
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Same giraffe as above. He was the tallest of a group of four.
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Pretty shot of an impala. S120 I think.
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Cape buffalo on the H3, just south of our leopard sighting.
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Hippos in the Sabie river. Taken on the H4-1.
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Baboon on the bridge over Sabie river. H12.
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Elephants playing follow mum. S110, morning organised drive.
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This had potential to be a really pretty shot. On the S114, morning organised drive.
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An ugly hyena on the H2-2 perhaps or the S118.
Image
Same hyena looking a tad more attractive.
Image

_________________
"I'm always travelIing, I love being free, and so I keep leaving the sun and the sea, but my heart lies waiting over the foam, I still call Australia home."


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