Jeff's trip to Kruger 22nd May - 3rd June
Mon Jun 04, 2007 4:45 pm
Joined: Mon Mar 19, 2007 5:09 pm Posts: 16
Just wanted to share a few sightings with the people who appreciate the Kruger best. I've been back in London all of eight hours and I'm suffering from withdrawal already.
We've just had a typically wonderful week with 3 nights at Skukuza, 2 at Satara (in one of A circle's new luxury rondavels) and 2 nights for the first time at Crocodile Bridge which we thought was a really pleasant and peaceful camp with Warthogs snuffling round our rondavel and a bull elephant right up at the flimsy looking perimeter fence.
I know for many forumites who get to the Kruger more often than once or twice a year our sightings may seem par for the course but we were thrilled with what we chalked up - even though Sable eluded us yet again!
Two hours before we were leaving, the trip went out on a blaze of glory with a Cheetah on Waterhole Road (that was only yesterday? wow!) which had just caught a Steinbok. As we arrived the beautiful creature was crouching over its victim recovering from the chase but then we had this terrific view as it walked away, holding the antelope by its neck, into the bush to eat. My only other very distant sighting of Cheetah in KNP was at Transport Dam 3 years ago so we were thrilled by this encounter.
On a sunset drive from Satara we were so lucky to get an amazing view of a young leopard which after about 20 minutes slunk across the road in front of us - all this while it was still light. Leopards make my heart race!
Only ('only' he says!) two sightings of Lion and in both cases mating pairs - one on the Doispane Road near Phabeni gate and one just north of Lower Sabie. You have to admire their stamina and their oblivion to the vehicle chaos that lions on the road brings!
An amazing 29 Rhinos! 9 in one morning on a drive from Crocodile Bridge (a wet morning incidentally, our last two days were very showery but good for the park!) and lots more on the H10 up to Tshokwane.
And no shortage of elephants and buffalo either - a lovely encounter with a huge breeding herd of at Silolweni, watching a stand off between buffalo and the resident Hippo as to who had right of way on the banks!
And one other sighting which just has to be mentioned as it came as such a surprise. Early in the morning, near Croc Bridge, an amazing close -up view of a Porcupine which we've never seen before and given their nocturnal habits may never do so again!
Want to mention so much more but that's it for now!
Thanks for your kind comments everyone. Sadly I'm such a dinosaur and still rely on an SLR camera and getting my photos developed at a local shop so your requests for pics may go unrewarded!
I should also mention the great hyena sightings we had on our trip last week. There is a roadside calvert just a couple of minutes from Skukuza heading to Paul Kruger gate where a female has a single pup. We watched a lot of activity amongst the clan on a couple of mornings and evenings - perfect spot for the last 10 mins before curfew! Saw lots of adult singletons around the camps. One very close to Croc Bridge, another by Sabie and a lovely mum and pup on the Doispane Road.
After a breakfast at Pretoriuskop, we drove the Fayi loop in search of the elusive Sable which we didn't see BUT had a very close and sustained view of a male and female Reedbuck grazing at the edge of a clearing. Only had fleeting sightings in the past so this was lovely - they are charming antelope.
And I have to record some of the great bird sightings. I'm not an avid twitcher but there are birds like Fish Eagles, Saddlebills, Ground Hornbills and Secretary Birds that give me a thrill each and every time.
We saw Ground Hornbills three times, the first pair just a few kilometres from malelane as we arrived, four near Tshokwane and a pair near Renosterkoppies Dam. The four included our first youngster, half the seze and without the striking red face.
Five sightings of Saddlebill, a pair really close at Leeupan. I think if pushed I would have to nominate this species as my favourite Kruger bird.
And I would put Fish Eagle second! There was an adult perched on the same dead tree just south of Lower Sabie on three consecutive mornings. Their call is one of the sounds I love about Africa.
Four great sightings of Secretary Birds though sadly none close enough for photography or video. But one perched on a flat topped thornbush just as the sun came up near Satara one morning was one of the most magical moments of the trip, the sort you want to show everyone when they say with some incredulity "You've been back to the Kruger again? Really?" and you can tell they're thinking 'How odd!'.
And I must thank the man who works at Afsaal who was so patient in trying to show me where the Scops Owl that nests there was perched. I found it eventually - what extraordinary camouflage.
That's it again for now.
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