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 Post subject: 28 Day Diary - In real time : Jun/Jul 2007
Unread postPosted: Sat Jun 16, 2007 8:45 pm 
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Location: Durban, South Africa
In celebration of my dad hitting the Big 50 and my parents 25th wedding anniversary, our family is visiting Kruger for a 28 day holiday. I am going to write a diary of our experiences and upload it each evening to share with you - cell phone connectivity permitting.

Day 1 - 16 July 2007: Pretoriuskop
Entered at Malelane Gate as usual. Having booked a year ago the excitement was incredible. Immediately the “Kruger Park” smells brought memories flooding back. About 500 metres in we saw a herd of elephants crossing the road, some giraffe a further 50 metres beyond the ellies with a herd of the ubiquitous impala on the opposite side of the road. A great start!

Breakfast at Berg-en-Dal. Always the best breakfast because it means that we have just entered the park. The water-hole is nearly dry. A treat was to see an ellie right up against the fence. Lots of sightings of ellies and rhinos in the morning, especially on the S118.

Sighting of the Day: A leopard sitting 40 metres on the side of the road 5 kilometres from the Pretoriuskop on the H1-1 going towards Skukuza. Spent half an hour watching it walk alongside the road even climbing up and down a tree.

Species of the Day (In order as seen): Elephant, giraffe, impala, bushbuck, zebra, warthog, squirrel, white rhino, dwarf mongoose, terrapin, kudu, wildebeest, steenbok, waterbuck, leguaan, leopard, tsessebe, baboon, grey duiker and klipspringer.

Pic of the Day:
Image


Last edited by Zolbol on Wed Jun 27, 2007 7:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Unread postPosted: Sun Jun 17, 2007 8:27 pm 
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Joined: Thu Sep 01, 2005 10:49 am
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Location: Durban, South Africa
Day 2 - 17 June 2007

Camp: Pretoriuskop

Routes: Many merry-go-rounds of Shabeni, Fayi loop, Shitlhave dam for breakfast, S1 to Metsel dam, S3 along the river to Skukuza for lunch and back to Pretoriuskop via H1-1.

Comments: Plenty of duiker around Pretoriuskop. Too close an encounter with enormous elephants on the S3 (elephants do not like red cars!). Sadly, saw an impala with a snare wire dangling from its one horn. Brief sighting of leopard on the H4-1 as an appetiser before lunch. Is there ever an occasion when there is not a waterbuck at transport dam?

Sighting of the Day: The often maligned Pretoriuskop area always provides us with little gems often with rare buck and the three big cats. Late this afternoon, it was our third sighting of a leopard in just 2 days. This time the cat treated us to an hour’s show of stalking and charging warthog (missed), climbing trees to scan for new prey and using the melee of cars as cover to hunt impala.

Species of the Day (In order as seen): Impala, reedbuck, grey duiker, baboon, white rhino, giraffe, zebra, Ayers’ eagle, kudu, ground hornbill, steenbok, slender mongoose, bateleur eagle, squirrel, waterbuck, monkey, hippo, wildebeest, banded mongoose, warthog, elephant, bushbuck, leopard, klipspringer, crocodile and genet.

Pic of the Day:

Image

PS Thanks for all the comments! Please keep on reading.


Last edited by Zolbol on Wed Jun 27, 2007 7:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Unread postPosted: Mon Jun 18, 2007 8:03 pm 
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Joined: Thu Sep 01, 2005 10:49 am
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Location: Durban, South Africa
Day 3 - 18 June 2007

Camp: Pretoriuskop

Routes: More Shabenis, Fayi loops and Shitlhave dam for breakfast, then off to the Stevenson-Hamilton memorial, down the S114 past the Biyamiti Weir to Afsaal for lunch and then back to Pretoriuskop via the Voortrekker road.

Comments: Lion, rhino and buffalo before breakfast. All within a few kms of Pretoriuskop, then elephant straight after breakfast. An idyllic scene at transport dam with giraffe, zebra, warthog, waterbuck (duh!) and nearly all the impala in the Kruger Park came down to drink, hippo in the water and the evocative sound of the Fish Eagle that makes you feel you are really in the African wild. Another Pretoriouskop special was a sighting of three Lichtenstein’s hartebeest (a first for us) 7km down the Voortrekker road. What has helped our enjoyment of Pretoriuskop is that due to burning, most of the roads have 40m of short, green grass on either side.

Sighting of the Day: Oh the excitement that early mornings can bring when in the distance you can detect the familiar gate of a cat. Today it was a young male lion about 2kms down from the t-junction of the H1-1 on the way to Skukuza that walked past our car, eyes glinting at us, then got spooked by the alarm call of a herd of kudu causing it to run away. We followed it all the way back to the t-junction going down to Pretoriuskop.

Species of the Day (In order as seen): Impala, steenbok, lion, kudu, hyena, duiker, rhino, baboon, buffalo, waterbuck, squirrel, warthog, giraffe, tsessebe, elephant, zebra, hippo, leguaan, ground hornbill, klipspringer, Lichtenstein’s hartebeest, monkey, dwarf mongoose, slender mongoose and reedbuck.

Pic of the Day:
Image

PS: Mads, we found your Lichtenstein! Leopard stalked the same place we saw the lion today.
Thanks to all for your comments.


Last edited by Zolbol on Wed Jun 27, 2007 8:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Unread postPosted: Tue Jun 19, 2007 7:37 pm 
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Joined: Thu Sep 01, 2005 10:49 am
Posts: 84
Location: Durban, South Africa
Day 4 - 19 June 2007

Camp: Pretoriuskop

Routes: All the Pretoriuskop loops, then down the H1-1 to the H3 and down to the Kwaggaspan and back.

Comments: A partly cloudy and cooler day than yesterday’s 30C. A comical sight was a lone zebra trotting alongside the road for a kilometre and then just stopping. Now why did it do that? Another Pretoriuskop rare buck sighting - a herd of sable on the tar part of the Napi road. A lot of controlled burning done all around Pretoriuskop today which brought out the lilac-breasted rollers en-masse. My brother and I are in our last year of school and were instructed to do some studying :( . But how nice doing calculus on a table outside our hut with impala, monkeys, mongooses and guinea fowl passing within metres of our hut and then reading Hamlet on chairs alongside the fence with warthog passing by. :)

Sighting of the Day: 4 lionesses resting in the bushes on a bank on the far side of the Kwaggaspan. The fun part was seeing a herd of impala drinking and then walking off in a straight line directly towards the lionesses. They got to about 15m away and then turned back blissfully unaware of the how close they came to danger. Then 2km further up the H3, we came across 3 young male lions sitting on the edge of the road.

Species of the Day (In order as seen): Impala, steenbok, zebra, reedbuck, baboon, kudu, duiker, warthog, wildebeest, giraffe, ground hornbill, crocodile, lion, dwarf mongoose, tawny eagle, sable, monkey, squirrel, rhino, tsessebe, buffalo.

Pic of the Day:
Image

PS. Haupie, definitely get yourself up to speed so that you can do real time reporting! That will be good.
Gazza, you made it!
Mads, it was 7km from the Pretoriuskop side. Good luck with spotting one.
Thanks for all the comments.


Last edited by Zolbol on Wed Jun 27, 2007 8:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Unread postPosted: Wed Jun 20, 2007 7:56 pm 
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Joined: Thu Sep 01, 2005 10:49 am
Posts: 84
Location: Durban, South Africa
Day 5 - 20 June 2007

Camp: Skukuza

Routes: All the Pretoriuskop loops, then the H1-1 to Skukuza, then after lunch the H4-1, H12, H1-2 which we call the Pizza Slice.

Comments: Said goodbye to Pretoriuskop and headed off to a safari tent in Skukuza. Saw the Big Five today. Late this afternoon had a brief sighting of a leopard 3km towards Skukuza from the junction between the H12 and the H1-2. I only have my leaner’s licence for just under a month but today I today experienced the pressure cooker of navigating in a moving melee of cars. Hey, I only stalled 4 times! :wink:

Sighting of the Day: We followed 6 lions for just under an hour marching alongside the Sabie river a couple of kms on the Lower Sabie side of the junction between the H1-1 and the H4-1. Watching a herd of impala explode like popcorn across the road when the lions passed by them was cool to see.

Species of the Day (In order as seen): Impala, duiker, white rhino, bushbuck, baboon, squirrel, wildebeest, kudu, warthog, steenbuck, waterbuck, crocodile, zebra, hippo, giraffe, dwarf mongoose, monkey, buffalo, lion, slender mongoose, elephant, leopard, nyala.

Pic of the Day:

Image

PS MGoddard, wouldn't it be nice to go for a year? One day ...

Thanks for all the comments, keep them coming!


Last edited by Zolbol on Thu Jun 28, 2007 5:52 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Unread postPosted: Thu Jun 21, 2007 9:17 pm 
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Joined: Thu Sep 01, 2005 10:49 am
Posts: 84
Location: Durban, South Africa
Day 6 - 21 June 2007

Camp: Skukuza

Routes: Skukuza to Lower Sabie to Tshokwane and back to Skukuza.

Comments: 3 Lion sightings and lots of big herds. After seeing 3 female and 1 male lion lying on the near sandbank of the Sabie river we drove 1km on to Sunset Dam where we saw several tons of buffalo pitch up. As we ate breakfast, a giant kingfisher darted into the water before our eyes and caught a fish. A large herd of elephant at Silolweni dam.

Sighting of the Day: A tie today. A herd of approximately 500 zebra and wildebeest at the junction of the Muntshe Detour and the H10 being closely monitored by 6 lions. Then later in the afternoon, 9 lions polishing off a zebra that had been killed early this morning just 3m off the road, 4km north of the H12 and H1-2 junction.

Species of the Day (In order as seen): White rhino, impala, hyena, grey duiker, bushbuck, baboon, hippo, giraffe, lion, crocodile, buffalo, wildebeest, zebra, warthog, leugaan, saddle-billed stork, kudu, monkey, squirrel, waterbuck, ostrich, secretary bird, slender mongoose, nyala, elephant, steenbok, dwarf mongoose and bush baby.

Pic of the Day:

Image

PS Gazza, hey the driving was fun at the time too.

Thanks for all the comments, keep on reading!


Last edited by Zolbol on Wed Jun 27, 2007 9:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Unread postPosted: Fri Jun 22, 2007 8:20 pm 
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Joined: Thu Sep 01, 2005 10:49 am
Posts: 84
Location: Durban, South Africa
Day 7 - 22 June 2007

Camp: Skukuza

Routes: Skukuza to Mlondozi Dam via the H4-1/Salitje Road, then to Lower Sabie and back to Skukuza.

Comments: Saw our first snake and mozzie today. The H10 either side of the Muntshe Loop was alive with game today and brought us 2 lion sightings. Two lionesses with two cubs the size of house cats and a much smaller third that reminded us of Solo of Big Cat Diary fame walked about 500m on the far side of the river bank. Sunset dam bustled with activity today. My brother who is a brilliant spotter, if nothing else :D , thinks he spotted an african wild cat but on reversing, alas, it had disappeared, so we’re not claiming it.

Sighting of the Day: A mating lion couple that performed the deed right in front of us. The two then crossed the road just north of the Muntshe loop and came very close to a massive herd of wildebeest which stampeded in our direction.

Species of the Day (In order as seen): Bushbuck, impala, hippo, steenbok, baboon, duiker, zebra, monkey, giraffe, crocodile, warthog, rhino, elephant, waterbuck, lion, wildebeest, kudu, jackal, ostrich, buffalo, leguaan, klipspringer, nyala, saddle-billed stork, ground hornbill, slender mongoose and hyena (prowling around the camp, unfortunately).

Pic of the Day:

Image


Last edited by Zolbol on Wed Jun 27, 2007 10:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Unread postPosted: Sat Jun 23, 2007 8:03 pm 
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Location: Durban, South Africa
Day 8 - 23 June 2007

Camp: Skukuza

Routes: Skukuza to Tshokwane, then to Mlondozi and back to Skukuza via the Salitje Road.

Comments: Two lion sightings. One a glimpse of two lionesses on the H1-2 close towards Tshokwane, and later, another sighting of the same lionesses and cubs of yesterday in much the same place except this time there was an additional adult. There was not one iota of evidence of the zebra kill of two days ago. While travelling on the Maroela Loop later this afternoon, we came across 12 elephants crossing a dry river bed in single file. A beautiful sight indeed! We didn’t see it, but we heard of another kill somewhere down in Durban. Fifteen springboks fought gallantly but in the end, alas, they succumbed to a superior force.

Sighting of the Day: More like sound of the day. Whilst out of our car at the Nkumbe lookout enjoying the magnificent view, we heard the roar of a lion, prompting my mother to scuttle off to the car.

Species of the Day (In order as seen): Grey duiker, impala, baboon, monkey, steenbok, zebra, klipspringer, lion, hippo, slender mongoose, elephant, crocodile, waterbuck, warthog, kudu, giraffe, wildebeest, dwarf mongoose, secretary bird, ostrich, kori bustard, nyala, buffalo, squirrel, bushbuck, leguaan and hyena.

Pic of the Day:

Image


Last edited by Zolbol on Thu Jun 28, 2007 5:59 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Unread postPosted: Sun Jun 24, 2007 9:01 pm 
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Joined: Thu Sep 01, 2005 10:49 am
Posts: 84
Location: Durban, South Africa
Day 9 - 24 June 2007

Camp: Skukuza

Routes: Skukuza to Malelane Gate, then to Berg-en-dal, back up the H3, then east along the S112 and S21, and back to Skukuza along the H4-1.

Comments: Quite a day, with two leopard and one cheetah sighting! On the way to Malelane to pick up supplies before heading further north, we came across an early morning leopard crouching low just off the side of the road about 1km north of Afsaal. On the way back, we popped into Berg-en-dal and met Lourens who was busy writing up the his post for Berg-en-dal Sightings. A thoroughly likeable guy who is very enthusiastic about his job. Lunch at Afsaal proved exciting when an elephant paid us all a visit and walked right into the picnic spot. Later at Kwaggaspan, one of those frustrating sightings of a bobbing head and a flicking tail until finally one of two cheetahs got up, posed, and then lay down again.

Sighting of the Day: 4kms before the S21 joins the H4-1, we came across a leopard eating an impala at the bottom of a tree some 20m in from the road. Unfortunately, the view was partially obscured by shrubs. Strangely, towards the end of its meal, we heard the familiar leopard sawing sound come from behind us but we didn’t see any other leopard. After awhile, the spotted cat left its meal and walked further into the bush and lay in some shade in an avenue of trees some 50m away from us. After 15 minutes or so, two impala meandered in the direction of the leopard. The cat immediately crouched, ready to pounce. The impala got to within 10m of the leopard, stopped, sensed some form of danger, then detoured around the leopard coming within 5m of the predator before walking off without ever knowing they had come so close to the leopard. Perhaps because its belly was full, or for some reason we will never know, the leopard did not charge but the episode gave us tons of excitement.

Species of the Day (In order as seen): Impala, grey duiker, warthog, wildebeest, white rhino, waterbuck, leopard, giraffe, African scops owl, elephant, crocodile, monkey, squirrel, baboon, buffalo, zebra, ground hornbill, cheetah, steenbok, hippo, bushbuck and hyena.

Pic of the Day:

Image

PS: Freda and Elsa, perhaps the reason my mother was so nervous about the lion roaring at Nkumbe was because in 1992 (when I was only two years old) my father asked my grandfather when alighting at Nkumbe, whether a lion would ever come into the parking area. He replied no, that lions would not go where there was a smell of humans. A couple of hours later, on returning from Orpen dam to Lower Sabie, we pulled into the Nkumbe lookout parking lot and there standing in the very spot they had their conversation was the biggest lion they had ever seen!


Last edited by Zolbol on Thu Jun 28, 2007 6:02 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Unread postPosted: Mon Jun 25, 2007 8:16 pm 
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Posts: 84
Location: Durban, South Africa
Day 10 - 25 June 2007

Camp: Olifants

Routes: Skukuza to Olifants via the main tar road, then a Balule Loop and lastly to the Olifants Lookout on the S44.

Comments: Heard lions roaring last night. Hundreds and hundreds of zebra dotted all over the bushveld between Satara and Olifants and great close up sightings of elephants with big tusks. A late afternoon drive brought back memories just how beautiful and majestic the Olifants river is.

Sighting of the Day: A real treat was a close up sighting of the rare Sharpe’s grysbok approximately 5km from Olifants on the S44.

Species of the Day (In order as seen): Steenbok, impala, baboon, giraffe, bushbuck, elephant, warthog, hippo, grey duiker, monkey, buffalo, crocodile, waterbuck, kudu, zebra, wildebeest, squirrel, slender mongoose, martial eagle, kori bustard, hyena and Sharpe’s grysbok.

Pic of the Day:

Image


Last edited by Zolbol on Wed Jun 27, 2007 10:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Unread postPosted: Tue Jun 26, 2007 8:33 pm 
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Posts: 84
Location: Durban, South Africa
Day 11 - 26 June 2007

Camp: Olifants

Routes: Down the 9km road and back via the Balule Loop, then again on the Balule Loop and to the Timbavati picnic spot via the H1-4 and the S39, and back to Olifants via the tar.

Comments: Early in the morning whilst standing on the Olifants river bridge, we heard lions roaring close by but could not find them. The S39 dirt road to Timbavati was teeming with game and got us one of two lion sightings. We had a wonderful sight of a herd of elephants rushing down to the river to drink and when finished, got into single file and rushed off again as if they were late for a meeting. On returning home, we saw a pride of 5 lionesses and 5 young ones on the far bank of the Ngotso dam. More calculus and Hamlet in the afternoon and a relaxing view of the river at Olifants’s famed lookout.

Sighting of the Day: About 3km before the Timbavati picnic spot, we pulled into a view spot over the Timbavati river and spotted a lionesses already crouched. We looked ahead and 30m away an impala was coming down a bank towards the river. The lioness got low and stalked closer then trotted 10m or so, got back into a crouch position and then charged for the impala but missed. Then lionesses then sat down on the edge of the river bank and we noticed that its one eye was swollen and glazed.

Species of the Day (In order as seen): Scrub hare, impala, giraffe, hippo, zebra, elephant, baboon, steenbok, warthog, kudu, waterbuck, squirrel, hyena, bushbuck, black-backed jackal, wildebeest, crocodile, lion, ostrich, kori bustard, monkey.


Pic of the Day:

Image

PS Meandering Mouse, I'm also surprised!
arks, unfortunatley, I don't think the ones we saw will ever be big tuskers but you can always hope.

Thanks for all the comments, keep them coming!


Last edited by Zolbol on Thu Jun 28, 2007 6:08 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Unread postPosted: Wed Jun 27, 2007 10:09 pm 
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Joined: Thu Sep 01, 2005 10:49 am
Posts: 84
Location: Durban, South Africa
Day 12 - 27 June 2007

Camp: Olifants

Routes: Down the 9km road and back via the Balule Loop, then the ‘back route’ to Letaba via the S44, S93 and S46 and to Olifants again via the H1-5 and H8.

Comments: Watched the sunrise whilst standing on the Olifants river bridge and took in the morning sounds. We met up with my uncle and his wife at Letaba and spent a lazy day having tea, lunch and tea again on the restaurant veranda overlooking the Letaba river.

Sighting of the Day: The splendour of the view of the Olifants river from the camp’s view site - can anything be more majestic!

Species of the Day (In order as seen): Impala, elephant, steenbok, hippo, squirrel, zebra, giraffe, bushbuck, crocodile, baboon, waterbuck, buffalo, monkey.

Pic of the Day:

Image


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Unread postPosted: Thu Jun 28, 2007 8:52 pm 
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Joined: Thu Sep 01, 2005 10:49 am
Posts: 84
Location: Durban, South Africa
Day 13 - 28 June 2007

Camp: Punda Maria

Routes: Down the 9km road and back via the Balule Loop, then from Olifants to Punda Maria via the tar.

Comments: My grandfather visited the park 40 times. It became his ambition to visit the northern reaches of the park so we planned a trip for 1996. Unfortunately, however, he passed away before achieving his dream so we have come to Punda Maria in his honour. The journey from Olifants was looooong! We saw lots of elephant, mainly around Shingwedzi and Punda Maria with one sticking its trunk into a big concrete reservoir for a drink. Near Punda Maria, we saw a tsessebe/Lichtenstein’s hartebeest with the glare of the afternoon sun preventing us from identifying it correctly.

Sighting of the Day: After the Tropic of Capricorn, we turned into a little dirt road that took us to a view-point over the Tsendze river. And sitting on a tree was a beautiful martial eagle, a picture of which my grandfather once painted for us.

Species of the Day (In order as seen): Impala, black-backed jackal, scrub hare, giraffe, waterbuck, squirrel, steenbok, zebra, baboon, crocodile, elephant, kudu, kori bustard, secretary bird, wildebeest, warthog, duiker, martial eagle, monkey, saddle-billed stork, bushbuck, ostrich, buffalo, tsessbe/Lichtenstein’s hartebeest.

Pic of the Day:

Image

PS Thanks for all the comments. Keep on reading - I'll keep on spotting!


Last edited by Zolbol on Sun Jul 22, 2007 7:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Unread postPosted: Fri Jun 29, 2007 8:03 pm 
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Joined: Thu Sep 01, 2005 10:49 am
Posts: 84
Location: Durban, South Africa
Day 14 - 29 June 2007

Camp: Punda Maria

Routes: The Mahonie loop, then to Klopperfontein dam via the tar, then back via the S60 and then Mahonie loop.

Comments: A lot of general game on the Mahonie loop, both in the early morning and late afternoon. A nice scene of zebra coming down to the Klopperfontein dam to drink followed by impala. No question they are more skittish up this way. Just the bleep of a camera focussing and they scamper off before returning. Played a mental game of chicken with an elephant for a couple of kms on the Mahonie loop before he eventually allowed our little red car to pass through. Sitting in the bird hide at Punda Maria this afternoon, we saw an elephant come down to drink at one of the few remaining puddles at the waterhole.

Sighting of the Day: A herd of 200-300 buffalo crossing the road right in front of us on the Mahonie loop with the late afternoon glow creating a golden atmosphere.

Species of the Day (In order as seen): Scrub hare, grey duiker, civet, giraffe, impala, kudu, Sharpe’s grysbok, zebra, elephant, brown snake eagle, steenbok, buffalo, monkey, warthog, nyala, squirrel and snake (just outside our door).

Pic of the Day:

Image

PS Yeah Gazza, we know you but you also know us and we're not really snake people so it was a little brown job. We had a little brown job outside our door tonight and thought 'Where's Gazza to tell us what it is?.' But we met someone the other day who saw a black mamba cross the road in front of him and then turned round and lifted its head up and then another lady did a trail along the Olifant river and also encountered a black mamba.

Thanks to WAC, BB and peterbee for posting comments. Keep them coming.


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Unread postPosted: Sat Jun 30, 2007 8:26 pm 
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Posts: 84
Location: Durban, South Africa
Day 15 - 30 June 2007

Camp: Punda Maria

Routes: The Mahonie loop, then up to Pafuri via the tar and to Crooks’ Corner, then retracing our steps all the way back to Punda Maria.

Comments: Heard lion roaring during the night for only the second time so far. 6kms down the H13-1 from Punda Maria, we came across a breeding herd of 25 elephants that crossed the road but on reaching the other side, the elephants at the front got spooked, became very agitated and stood their ground. The adults immediately formed a laager around the baby elephants and slowly herded them back to from where they came from. Only when they were in safety did the front elephants retreat. We looked to see what upset the elephants but could find nothing. We found the road between Pafuri picnic spot and Crooks’ Corner to be one of the most beautiful in the park and it contained perhaps the highest density of game that we have seen in Kruger. On our way back, we found the lion that kept us awake last night, one of those large-maned king of the jungle specimens.

Sighting of the Day: A few kms up the H1-8 on the way to Pafuri, two jackal trotted towards a steenbok starting a fascinating interaction between the two species. Typically, one jackal would circle round the steenbok hoping to shepherd it towards the other jackal hiding in the long grass. This process continued for around 20min but the steenbok was wise to the jackals’ ploy. Eventually the predators gave up and trotted off again.

Species of the Day (In order as seen): Impala, scrub hare, grey duiker, elephant, zebra, steenbok, black-backed jackal, warthog, tsessebe, nyala, monkey, baboon, wildebeest, waterbuck, crocodile, trumpeter hornbill, kudu, buffalo, Sharpe’s grysbok, lion and bushbuck.

Pic of the Day:

Image

PS MM, the north is great so make sure you get up here some time.

Thanks to everyone who commented. Please keep on commenting!


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