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 Post subject: SC and SO - Lazy days in Kruger : Oct 2007
Unread postPosted: Wed Oct 24, 2007 4:02 pm 
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Going, Going ... gone!! It was the morning of October 7 and at last we were on our way. With the mellow sound of Mark Knopfler going, it was as if a switch was flicked and ... Stress OFF, relax ON!

Made the necessary halfway stop :wink: and with formalities over and done with at the border, it was an hour's drive to Crocodile Bridge.

Crossing the bridge we saw this lovely Saddlebilled Stork.
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Entering the gate was like coming home after a tour around the world! Familiar sights, smells and sounds. Welcome Kruger Crazies!

SO went to book in, but there was something very important I had to see to first! You guessed right ....
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(The Total sign in the background - may be juicies for the car, but to me ... Total bliss :lol: )

We were fortunate enough to get the bungalow right in the corner, overlooking the river. Already there were impala going down to drink. Must add, it was a whopping 32 degrees and we sure felt it!

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Then it was unpacking ... six wonderful days to look forward to!
After a nice cuppa, we decided to have a short rest before going on our first afternoon drive. Much cooler inside and too tired (and square in round places) to even attempt to get back into the car!

Very excited when we left the camp later that afternoon ....
our motto -anything, anywhere, at any time. So the search was on!

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Unread postPosted: Wed Oct 24, 2007 9:57 pm 
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Still very hot, but when in Kruger, we're prepared to endure anything! SO took the S28 towards Lower Sabie, a very popular route.

We were surprised to find the road to Nhlanganzwani dam closed. If anyone knows why, please let us know?
When we got back to camp that evening, one of the honorary rangers told us that the dam wall was demolished to drain the water and that the dam was scraped. Aparrently, after losing a few giraffes, the water was tested and found to be toxic, due to algea growth.
The hippos were relocated, but will be able to go back once the dam is full again.

This bird sighting was special - Juvenile Martial Eagle
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Apart from the ever present impalas, we came across this magnificent rhino pawing at an anthill
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Travelling back to Croc Bridge on the H4-2 was very rewarding
Our first ellies
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Buffalo
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Blue Wildebeest, giraffes and zebra

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With 3 of the Big 5 in the bag on the first drive - two happy hearts and big smiles.

The day had to end with a super-duper braai ...and Amarula! Hippos were grazing on the other side of the river - looking like massive rocks moving ever so slowly -
Mr hyena patrolled the perimeter, but we left him to his wishful thinking.
Time for a hot shower - off to la-la land and sweet dreams of magic moments waiting for us on our second day in paradise.

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"Happiness is like jam. You can't spread even a little without getting some on yourself."


Last edited by Spotted Cat on Thu Oct 25, 2007 9:50 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Unread postPosted: Fri Oct 26, 2007 9:05 pm 
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Evening everyone! Second day of our trip ….

I was up even before the first birdies started their sweet songs to welcome a new day. After a cuppa, it was getting dressed and taking everything needed for the day, out to the car. Double check …. Binos, camera, bird books, map and of course, nibbles to keep us focussed and not distracted by growling tummies.

As we opened the door, we were met by a herd of buffalo just outside the fence. Poor light not ideal, but SO decided to try and take a pic anyway – and so did our neighbour. Keeping his distance from the electrified fence, Hubby got a few pics, but unfortunately not good enough to post. In his eagerness to get as close as possible, neighbour stepped up to the fence and … zap! Oh my, now he’s wide awake! Felt sorry for him, though.

We left camp just after six. It was cold and overcast and not a chance of glorious sunrise photos on our first morning out. On our way to the S25 turnoff we saw impala, wildebeest, zebras and giraffes.

Ominous clouds were gathering and it was not long before the first raindrops fell. Thunder rolled and lightning zig-zagged across the sky. Although magnificent to watch, the sheer power of nature made me cringe. As soon as the weather let up a bit, we managed to get these pics before the rain came down again

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It started to clear up and we could roll down the windows to enjoy the smell of clean washed earth. Lovely Kudu and impala posing for our camera.

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Hollows that were dry during our visit in June were now filled with water. Very few animals and we turned onto the S108 , then continued on the H5 – onto the H4-2 to Lower Sabie where, lo and behold, tied to the mirror of the car parked just opposite us, my first yellow ribbon seen in the Park!! Just then a gentleman, keys in hand, approached and unlocked the car. Now that’s what I call timing! It was my very first face to face meet with another forumite – glad to have met you, Richard Harris!

After browsing through the shop and spending some time on the deck overlooking the river, we set off again. Chose the S28, which we did almost every day in our quest to find Duke, and was glad that the weather had improved … giving us a better chance to get photos should we come across the Giant – but alas, no cigar!

On the entire stretch we saw plenty of animals – 4 rhinos, buffaloes, an ostrich, a duiker and quite an ensemble of the more commonly seen – giraffes, zebras, wildebeest, impala (in great numbers), warthogs and leopards …. OK, OK … just kidding!!

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We did however find a lioness with a kill right next to the road! She was alone with no other lions in sight, only the wildebeest calf’s mother lying forlornly about a hundred meters away. According to the other tourists on the scene she had been hanging around since early morning.

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Before returning to camp we decided to drive out to Hippo Pool to say hi to the faithful old Daniël Mabasa. We found him, binos in hand, watching some hippos lazing in the sun on the riverbank. As always he was glad to entertain us with stories of his encounters with lions. He pointed to a bush a few meters from the road and told us about the day he walked up to a male and female resting there … clapping his hands and shouting at them to move on! On another occasion he just calmly rode past four lions lying under a tree not too far into the bush. I asked him if he wasn’t afraid and very calmly he said “No, lions can be very stupid, but leopard … yes, leopard is very dangerous!” At this point we had to leave him as other visitors had arrived. Brave man! Not for a million dollars will I do his work for even a single minute. He has been doing it for 17 years and hopes to retire in three year’s time. I salute you Daniël, will see you again on our next trip!

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Then it was back to camp …. Life slowed down as we sat on the veranda and watched the world go by - until the afternoon drive ….

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Unread postPosted: Mon Oct 29, 2007 6:22 pm 
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Hi everyone!
I’ve been working through all the pics we’ve taken and discovered that we’ll definitely have to invest in a more powerful telephoto lens. (And that I have a lot to learn!)

The afternoon drive on our second day wasn’t spectacular, but we did see a lot of the “usual”. It made me think however …had we become so blasé that we don’t appreciate what we see? Out there nothing is “usual” – everything has a place in the cycle of life! So I can honestly say that apart from searching for THE sighting, we also enjoyed the little things … a dung beetle doing what is vitally important to secure survival, the changing colour of grass swaying in the wind and just feeling that you’re a part of nature. So the Ellies, Rhinos, Buffs and Ground Hornbills were a bonus.

At six we were back in camp. Kruger ritual completed, (for those not familiar with what we Saffies deem as absolutely essential – barbeque and whatever you prefer to wash it down with), we just relaxed and listened to the hippos grunting in the river below. It was then that two vehicles appeared on the road running parallel to the Park fence. Strong spotlights swept over trees, down the river bank and back up again. Our first thoughts were that maybe the farmer was taking guests out to search for night critters … but when this was going on for close to 2 hours, we decided they must be looking for a leopard that had escaped from the Park. The search was still on when we retired for the night. The next day would bring the answer …..

We left camp at six the next morning. It was day 3, still overcast and chilly. On the H4-2 to LS we again saw Ellies and Buffalo – too far to take photos. We did get these pics during the rest of our drive -
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We had breakfast at Duke waterhole and then stopped at Nthandanyathi Hide - where the baboons left enough smelly evidence and we really didn't stay long

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S-28 to Lower Sabie - female bushbuck
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Steenbok

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Klipspringer on our way to N'watimhiri Causeway S79 off the H4-1

On our way back to camp, we stopped at Sunset when this guy crossed the road
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Lots of hippos
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and an Egyptian Goose with chicks
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On the S28 back to Crocodile Bridge
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Waterbuck

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Rhino

On the afternoon drive we saw
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"Red" warthog

Reedbuck
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Burchell's Cougal
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Hamerkop
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Lazy Buff
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Then back to camp before the gates closed. We didn't know then that a BIG surprise was waiting for us on our next morning drive .....

_________________
"Happiness is like jam. You can't spread even a little without getting some on yourself."


Last edited by Spotted Cat on Mon Oct 29, 2007 7:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Unread postPosted: Mon Oct 29, 2007 7:55 pm 
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anne-marie wrote:
We didn't know then that a BIG surprise was waiting for us on our next morning drive ..... :P


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Unread postPosted: Wed Oct 31, 2007 8:13 pm 
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Hi again, next "chapter" ...


Day 4 started overcast and cold! Wait … let me tell you first what the search was all about. Not a leopard, but their beloved African Gray that had somehow decided to do some exploring and got lost!... Poor thing spent the whole night outside and was found the next day at the pump house by the weir. Lucky ending indeed, for pet and owner alike!
So, as I’ve said …cold overcast weather as we left camp at six. During our entire stay I was filled with sadness every time we crossed the bridge at Gezantfombi dam just outside Croc Bridge. I couldn’t help but miss all the activity that we used to see around the waterhole and the rivulet beyond the dam wall. It was bone dry. :(

We again took the H4-2 and then onto S137 towards Duke waterhole.

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Threatening, but no rain

We found a hyena den with five adults and a few pups, but unfortunately most of the young ones quickly disappeared as we approached.

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Note the openings to the den on the left side of the picture.

Further on we saw an impala looking rather nervous and we stopped. His snorting was a clear sign that a predator was in the vicinity. Although we spent some time hoping to see what caused the raucous behaviour, nothing came of it.

Next sightings

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rhino

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warthog

Also saw kudu, zebra, wildebeest and 2 elephant backsides.

At the waterhole only

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Egyptian Geese

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Starling


Onto the S28 to Lower Sabie - this magnificent sight

9.15am - 19 degrees
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We sat there until it eventually had enough of us and casually sauntered off …

Also seen Duiker
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Then on to Lower Sabie where we had a meet, arranged on the Forum weeks before, with Skillie and Richardt. It truly was the highlight of the holiday for me. It got even better when Zypresse and Uwe joined us for a light breakfast/brunch. Amazing that people from all over the world can find common ground through cyber meetings on the Forum. Thank you guys, it was great!

Thieving feathered guests at Lower Sabie
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Back to Croc Bridge on the S28 again – still hunting for Duke the giant! As on previous drives, no luck!!

But Lady Luck smiled upon us – with our second leopard sighting of the day! It was the same leopard, but with a big difference… this time up a tree a few meters from where we had seen her/him earlier that morning. The bushbuck kill wasn’t too visible as it was pulled up into a natural hollow formed by twists in the tree trunk.

ENJOY!!

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A lot of animals on our way back to camp. Elephant, giraffe. zebra, waterbuck, wildebeest, buffalo, rhino, kudu, impala and warthog.

Back in camp at 3.45 pm. Tired but happy! Day ended with a 2 hour power outage. The camp’s generator could handle a 3 hour period at a time, so we were affected for a short period only during the switch.

Nothing like a hot shower after a long day’s driving. If the lions roared that night, I didn’t hear them!!

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"Happiness is like jam. You can't spread even a little without getting some on yourself."


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Unread postPosted: Sun Nov 04, 2007 1:06 pm 
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Day 5

Hi everyone! Time to continue …..

Day 5 started with the usual anticipation - still cloudy, but nothing could dampen our enthusiasm. Another day in paradise! Our stay was nearing it’s end and we wanted to savour every moment. Early out and still not sure which route to take – SO left the decision to me as I did most of the driving. After the fabulous leopard sighting of the previous day, I jokingly replied “If it’s there, I’ll find it!”
Turned out to be wrong – and I mean mega wrong!
Not wanting to follow all the cars that turned off onto the S28 (never liked convoys), I decided to go the H4-2 way. Mistake! Found out later that a pride of 8 lions were lying right next to the road. We’ve only had the one lion sighting (with wildebeest kill) so far and needless to say, I felt like kicking where I couldn’t reach – uhm … so to speak! Some-one else was quite prepared to do the honours, but her ladyship declined the offer!
Anyway, I didn’t know it then so cruising at a comfortable 25 km an hour, the search was on! Didn’t take pics of everything we saw, but stopped every now and then.

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First time we got the opportunity to see the back of a griaffe's head - looks like a "skull cap"

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Young one


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Looks like a youngster
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adult hyena

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Turned left onto the Mativuhlungu dirt road (S82) – another mistake! The road was badly corrugated and the 10 km stretch felt like a never ending punishment.
Back on the H4-2 again, we stopped at Sunset to enjoy breakfast. Not much going on, even the birds were scarce. Another stop at LS to “stretch our legs”. We popped in at reception to have a look at the shameful poaching photos on display. The pure ruthlessness of man is sickening! Leopards, elephant, wild dog, lion, nothing escapes and many are killed or maimed as a result of the snares and traps that are set. Sad and worrying!

The H1O to Tshokwane is one of our favourites. Lovely scenery with the prospect of good sightings makes the drive exiting. On the day however, it was fairly quiet. A lone baboon and then 3 ellies not close enough to take pics. Apart from zebra and giraffe, we found a bushbuck grazing close to the road.

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sad to see litter in the Park
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It was only when we got past the Nkumbe lookout that we spotted a few cars pulled to the side of the road. A hyena den with 4 adults and as with our previous den sighting, young ones not willing to pose for the camera. We didn’t stay too long as more cars arrived and the road couldn’t accommodate the traffic. (Forumites do it right!!!)

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At Tshokwane picnic spot

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SC making notes of the morning drive
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picnic spot and shop at Tshokwane

On our way back we found the hyenas still in the same spot with cars blocking the road. Eventually got the chance to move on and in the rocky area close to Nkumbe , three Klipspringers– first time we saw a pair with their youngster!

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Turned left on the S122 (Muntshe loop circling round the back of the mountain).
Good choice this time! A herd of buffalo scattered over a large area. We could hear their bellows as they lazily plodded along and a strong bovine odour hung in the air.
We estimated the herd to be close to 400 strong!

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11.45 am. Ahead, a troop of baboons held the promise of entertainment as we could see there was some kind of serious interaction going on. Lots of photo's, but I picked these for ...

My interpretation of baboon consternation ...

Carefree breakfast hunt
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until one youngster made time to pull off a stunt
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oh, what a disgrace .. get your smelly side out of my face
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no need to attack ...
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I won't take anything back!!
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Now, where was I? Oh yes, breakfast ....
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Thoroughly enjoyed their antics!

Eventually back on the H10, heading back to Croc bridge

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Burchell's starling

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Reedbuck

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Dwarf Mongoose

Again lots of the more frequently seen on the S28 - the leopard seen the previous day, was gone - the rest of what remained of the kill, thrown out of the tree for the scavengers to enjoy.

We arrived back in camp at 2.30 pm - and it was then that I learned the horrible truth of what we missed that morning ...
sigh ... definitely needed that kick then!!

_________________
"Happiness is like jam. You can't spread even a little without getting some on yourself."


Last edited by Spotted Cat on Sun Nov 04, 2007 1:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Unread postPosted: Sun Nov 11, 2007 10:26 pm 
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DAY 6

Hi everyone.
It’s been some time since I last posted and it’s time to say good-bye to Kruger. The last day of our holiday left me with mixed feelings …. Sadly, all good things must eventually come to an end.

It was October 12 and our last day started with the first sunrise we’ve seen since the start of our holiday.

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We haven’t been successful in our quest to find Duke, so it was the obvious choice to take the S28 and try one last time. We knew that he was seen in the area a few weeks ago, but alas, it was not to be.

Going at a snail’s pace, wanting to savour every moment of our last day, we saw a single car pulled to the side of the road and as we came closer, the guy excitedly pointed to a tree. At first I couldn’t see anything, but yes … a leopard so beautifully camouflaged that if you were going any faster, would have missed him completely!
What a start, it was early morning and the whole day still ahead of us. We could see that he was settled in for the morning and because the other car has left, we stayed until more people arrived so that we could show them, hoping they would do the same and others could enjoy it too.

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Next a herd of buffalo crossed the road

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We stopped at sunset to have breakfast and enjoyed the antics of the resident Egyptian Geese. Very vocal, as usual!
We were treated to a magnificent display of a Yellow Billed Stork fishing for breakfast. The hippos and crocodiles were basking in the sun, looking deceptively placid. Impalas were drinking, but very weary of the danger lurking just beneath the water.

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Grey Heron

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Crocodiles

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Yellowbilled Stork

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Egyptian Goose

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Green Pigeon

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Common Sandpiper

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Lower Sabie restaurant seen from the bridge

On the H10 to Mlondozi Dam saw zebras, wildebeest, impala, kudu

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Mocking Chat seen at..

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Mlondozi dam

We again took the H10 and turned onto the S29, then S30 (Salitje road) and stopped to enjoy the tranquillity at a spot overlooking the river.
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A splash of colour


We took the H4, stopped at Nkuhlu, again the usual sightings. The N’watimhiri loop was extremely quiet and impala the only animals seen.

Back onto the H4. With the windows rolled down, I heard a commotion which sounded a lot like lions fighting. Unfortunately it was too dense and impossible to see what was really going on. The sounds came at intervals and it made us realize that it was something more romantic going on! You can just stay so long, because cars were starting to pile up. Time to move on!

On the H42 back to camp, we saw a herd of elephants down at the river and hippos lazing in the sun. A beautiful kudu bull warranted a stop and out came the camera.
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A short drive late afternoon to get a picture of the sun setting, ended with a very unpleasant experience. So much has been said about speeding in the Park … apparently without having much of an impact. A Park’s vehicle came at a tremendous speed from the opposite direction … hazards blazing and the two occupants seemingly in a very good mood. I didn’t get the licence plate number, so yet another unreported incident!

We were back at the gate just before closing time. The last day of our holiday also meant the last Kruger braai, the last amarula, the last of everything, because by now all the nice “goodies” have disappeared and we had to loosen our belts a notch!
Then it was packing and getting things ready to leave early next morning.
When I untied the yellow ribbon, I made sure it was tucked away in a safe place … until the next time…

Although we didn’t find Duke, I want to post the pictures we took in 2001, during a trip to Mlondozi dam. We found him where the S29 meets the S122. The quality is poor, (taken with an “ancient” video camera), but worth sharing as it was the first and only time we had the privilege to see the big Tusker!! He has lost one of his tusks now, but this is how I’ll remember him …

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Unread postPosted: Mon Nov 12, 2007 9:26 pm 
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Hi Bennievis :) So glad you enjoyed seeing Kruger "through my eyes".

It is amazing that there are so many animals. The camp is literally on the farmer's doorstep (or maybe the other way round) :wink: A few years back, we were woken up one night by lions making such a racket that we had to go out to see what was going on.They were so close, just on the other side of the fence and we felt safer going inside. Unfortunately (or not, hey) we didn't have a strong flashlight.
It was real scary!
On another occasion our neighbours saw a leopard going down to the river - again within 50 meters from the fence! And we were out driving for hours searching for one! Just shows! they were sitting on the veranda, and it came strolling past :evil:

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Unread postPosted: Mon Nov 12, 2007 9:36 pm 
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Genaaaade SC :lol:
We are thinking of fitting in a Kruger visit end December - early January, and will most probably follow in your footsteps via Swaziland and Croc Bridge. Only been to Croc Bridge once We usually enter at Malelane or Phalaborwa Gates. Now you have thrown the (spotted) cat amongst the pigeons 8)
January is going to be a crazy month for us so keep your fingers crossed.
Oh yes, we will be camping this time.


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Unread postPosted: Mon Nov 12, 2007 9:49 pm 
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Best of luck, Bennievis! You'll find that you can knock off 2 hours by going that route ... if you're going to CB first.

We have never been disappointed, wishing you many great sightings! You may even be lucky and find Duke still in the area.

Sorry about the pigeons :lol:

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