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 Post subject: José and Simon look for Rhino and LITs - BnD November 2006
Unread postPosted: Sat Aug 11, 2007 10:46 am 
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I thought it was time to do a report on our trip to BnD last November, when José found a few Rhino for me and taught me an awful lot about the KNP :)

It was not the most auspicious start – my first two flights, from Jersey to Gatwick then on to Madrid went according to plan. However, on arrival at Madrid I discovered that my Iberia flight to Jo’burg which was due to leave at 25 past midnight had ceased to exist but there was a flight departing at around 10 am the next morning. A quick chat with the Iberia customer services desk established that my flight was, indeed, running 10 hours late but they would, of course, provide a hotel for the night.

Ho-hum – if you’ve time to spare, go by air! Once I was in the hotel it was time to make some ‘phone calls and send some texts. José was due to meet me at JHB in the morning but had fallen in with a very dubious bunch of Saffies and was painting Gauteng red. She was perfectly happy to have a lie-in in the morning the do some shopping in the afternoon. As I would now be arriving at JHB after dark, we were unlikely to get to P’kop before the gates closed so I rang the camp to cancel the first night but to ensure that the rest of my booking (at BnD) was not cancelled as no-show. I rang Avis to make sure they didn’t cancel my rental car when I didn’t show up, then I had an SMS confab with José and we came up with plan B.

I finally arrived at Jo’burg 12 hours late after my first daylight flight the length of Africa and was met by José and mfb/Mike. Mike confirmed that we should be safe enough driving through the night to Nelspruit so off we went. I managed to take the correct turning out of the airport this time and, apart from meeting a lone suitcase on the motorway – followed by the owner driving back to pick it up (the wrong way in the fast lane), it was an unexciting drive; we finally got to the Southern Sun Emotweni just before 2 am. We then had the unpleasant experience of listening to a couple of guests giving the night porter a very nasty tongue-lashing because he had accidentally double charged them for a can of Coke from the night bar. They were really nasty people. Finally we checked in (giving the poor guy a hefty tip) and retired.

We surfaced mid-morning and set off for Malelane gate. José had stocked up with food, drink and a cool-box in Jo’burg so we didn’t bother with shopping and just had a quick sightseeing tour of Nelspruit (yeah, I took a wrong turn or two) before setting off for KNP.

There were a dozen or so cars at Malelane so it took a few minutes to enter the park; it didn’t matter now, of course, as time was switched off. We had a whole week to do what we liked when we liked, without any clockwatching (apart from camp closing time, of course). So they couldn’t renew our Wild Cards at the gate because the machine was playing up – big deal. They would do it at BnD when we checked in. A gentle amble straight to BnD produced little in the way of wildlife apart from a lonesome Ellie (which won me the "what will we see first?" competition) and a Woodland Kingfisher which turned out to be an SMS from mfb ensuring that we had arrived safely. The SMS tone on José's cellphone was an endless source of amusement – and occasional confusion – over the next week.

I had booked a family cottage at BnD and it was lovely. A bedroom each (one double, one twin), bath/shower room, toilet, huge kitchen/living room and large patio with tables, chairs and (of course) a braai.

We dropped off our bags, transferred the refreshments from the cool-box to the enormous fridge, put some vital supplies back into the cool-box and set out for our first afternoon drive.

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Last edited by simonb6 on Tue Aug 14, 2007 9:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Unread postPosted: Sun Aug 12, 2007 3:54 pm 
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simonb6 wrote:
<...> José was due to meet me at JHB in the morning but had fallen in with a very dubious bunch of Saffies and was painting Gauteng red. <...>
Part of Pretoria maybe, but surely not all of Gauteng...! Except for Pardus's house ... :lol: Where we also amused ourselves with the odd nonsense forum post... But, may I add, under the supervision of none other than Mother Superior Angel Diannet herself!

Image
(Pic taken by Diannet, with pardus's camera... so you figure out the © )

Next morning, after adding some essentials...

Image

...we were finally ready to enter Malelane Gate

Image


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Unread postPosted: Sun Aug 12, 2007 11:27 pm 
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Arks pointed me towards AutoEurope and I was able to get an excellent deal through them on a Nissan X-Trail from Avis. I wasn't too fussed about 4x4 but wanted a vehicle with a reasonable viewing height and plenty of room, which the X-Trail provided admirably. It was an automatic which I prefer at the best of times and which I find ideal for the stop-go-crawl driving which is so much a part of the KNP experience. The only downside was the chatty Angel inside the rear bumper who got her tape measure out whenever I wanted to reverse :roll:

The electric sunroof was also useful for photographing birds in trees (but not for LITs).

The first afternoon we ambled up to Matjulu waterhole and sat there for quite some time, all alone, just savouring the peace and quiet. José pointed out the well worn track on the other side of the stream where a fellow forumite had watched a pride of Lion walk down for their sundowners, but on this occasion nothing disturbed us other than a couple of homo sapiens in a bakkie who came, looked and went.

José then started my ornithological education, pointing out the various feathered visitors and identifying them for me - this was a particular pleasure to me over the week as, in the past, I had been to Kruger either on my own or with friends from the UK who were as ignorant as me about the park, its flora and its fauna. To me, as much as anything, my visits to the Kruger are learning experiences but you can only learn so much from books (or, dare I say it, from a forum such as this). There's no substitute for on-the-job training 8)

After some time, we decided that it was time to do something about food so we set off slowly back to camp, stopping to take the obligatory pic of a couple of Impies....
Image
....and of a scruffy looking Wahlberg's Eagle who was surveying his domain from a prominent look out....
Image
Back at camp we did the necessary shopping for food, wood, charcoal and firelighters (we had to go back for those as we forgot them on the first visit!) and retired to our cottage to start the braai.

I will gloss over the braai episode - suffice to say that it is fortunate that we had no neighbours to watch our antics in the fading light :lol: :roll:

Then it was off to bed, fed (at last) and comfortably tired. We agreed that those who wished to be at the camp gates at opening time the following morning would have to do without our company and soon the night sounds of Kruger coming through the open window lulled me to sleep..............

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Unread postPosted: Sun Aug 12, 2007 11:52 pm 
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Jissie... training on the job huh? And there he goes and posts one of those big brown buzzards that I'm still not sure of. But general jizz and most importantly size, both said Wahlberg, and the time of year was right too. But if any of you BBB experts out there want to correct me... please do so. Who am I to argue... :lol:

As for the "no neighbours to watch...", you sure, Simon? I distinctly remember a fully occupied black-collared barbet apartment building right in front of our cottage... :wink:

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Unread postPosted: Tue Aug 14, 2007 7:48 pm 
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20 November 2006

The next morning dawned bright and early - but I wasn't awake to see it :roll:

This was our first full day in the park, and had the added attraction of a forum mini-meet in the evening as katydownunder and Francolin were spending the last two nights of their trip in BnD and we had arranged to meet up.

One of my main aims on this trip was to get close up and friendly with at least one Rhino In my three previous visits I had seen a grand total of two Rhino, and both were over a kilometer away. Renosterpan seemed a good place to start

We set off once again to Matjulu waterhole where this Grey-Headed kingfisher was on the look-out for a passing snack....
Image
....then we carried on along the S110. The sightings board had shown a Rhino sighting in the valley where the S110 joins the S120 but they had obviously moved on, leaving the valley to a small herd of Buffalo. We decided to head north up the S120 and soon came across some Impies, including this youngster....
Image
....and, a bit further on, we found three Kudu browsing at the side of the road....
Image

Further up the hill, this chappie decided that he was bored with hiding behind a bush....
Image
....and ambled into the road....
Image
....followed by the rest of the family.
Image
The vehicles all gave the Ellies plenty of room and they ambled across, played in a muddy pool for a while, then crossed back to have a snack. This youngster seemed a bit unsure about the whereabouts of his mouth....
Image
....and all in all it was a delightful half-hour in the company of these massive beasts.

As we started down the hill towards the H3 we passed a pair of Red-Billed Oxpeckers engaged in some frantic spring cleaning
Image
and a Brown Snake Eagle.
Image

As always there was a sigh of relief as we left the S120 and drove onto the smooth tarmac of the H3, heading north towards Renosterpan and Afsaal. After a couple of km, a flash of yellow on the door mirror of an approaching car heralded the arrival of katydownunder and Francolin so we had a mini-mini meet and made some arrangements for the evening.

I had to ask "Have you seen any Rhino today?" and they assured me that thay had found one at the waterhole at Renosterpan, so we waved good-bye and continued northwards....

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Unread postPosted: Tue Aug 14, 2007 8:15 pm 
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Oh gosh golly... those pics bring back memories. Not that I don't have similar ones as well... Guess that's just one of those things: when you travel with an equally camera-happy Kruger-companion, somehow you both always end up with a very similar series of pics.
Except that, on this trip, the majority of impala lambs were on Simon's side of the car... :twisted:
And I had to "make do with the small stuff" on my side, like this pair of dungbeetles:

Image

But I got lucky too, occasionally. This is another shot of one of the three Kudu bulls. Taken from the passenger seat through the open window on the driver's side. Fully zoomed out, and I still couldn't get the full length of his horns in the frame. That's how close they were. 8)

Image


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Unread postPosted: Tue Aug 14, 2007 9:45 pm 
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Thanks Elsa, Restio and José. I did my best with the little Impies - honestly - they just insisted on appearing on my side of the car and there was no way I was going to reverse all the way around the KNP with that electronic Angel constantly telling me that I had 0.6 metres to go before I hit something :roll:

I was perfectly capable of hitting things without her asistance :(

Anyway - early night tonight - it's been a long day today. More tomorrow....

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Unread postPosted: Tue Aug 14, 2007 10:38 pm 
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Jay wrote:
it would drive me nuts Simon :lol:
I assume you can switch the things off? :?

We read the manual front to back and vice versa, but apparently no way to shut her up. Except maybe by a few hands full of mud (see KDU's trip report). Apart from everything else... her vocabulary is sooo limited. It's either point 6 metres (occasionally, but rarely, point 9 metres) and Stop! :roll:
Imagine... if I had listened to her back in Feb when I was reversing on a straight and flat stretch of tar, I would have missed Duke!! :shock:


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Unread postPosted: Tue Aug 14, 2007 10:47 pm 
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Jose wrote:
Imagine... if I had listened to her back in Feb when I was reversing on a straight and flat stretch of tar, I would have missed Duke!! :shock:

You hit Duke :shock: :shock:

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Unread postPosted: Tue Aug 14, 2007 11:03 pm 
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20 November 2006 - part 2

....It wasn't far to the Renosterpan turn-off and soon we were bumping down the gravel track to the waterhole. Sure enough, as we drove into the turning area beside the waterhole, it was apparent that it was well-and-truly occupied.
Image
The only signs of life were an occasional flick of the ear and a barely visible rise and fall of the chest - so we agreed that this was a real Rhino, not one of W™'s cardboard cut-outs on vacation from the S100 :wink:

After a while we left him (?) to his peaceful wallow and ambled up to Afsaal for the first of several refreshment breaks there (which, of course, included a good browse around the shop).

The memory goes a bit vague at this point, but as I recall we set off back towards BnD on the tar road, turning off onto the S121 then the S114 as we had a bit of time to spare.

The animals were few and far between - certainly nothing tempted my camera into action - but a few feathered friends had their portraits taken....
Image
Image
Image
....and this chap was obviously very proud of his fine set of horns....
Image

As we neared the end of the S114 we came across a small group of Giraffe, including this youngster carrying a fair number of Oxpeckers....
Image

A few hundred metres before we got back to the tar road, we came across a pair of very excited Warthog. They were rushing around near the mouth of a drainage culvert, tails up, and we guessed that they may have had a litter hidden in the culvert. We could see nothing obvious (the light was beginning to go) and the peeegs never stood still long enough for a photograph.

So we finally returned to BnD for the highlight of the day (other than the Rhino, of course) - an evening with katydownunder and Francolin. José dived into the shop and bought a huge quantity of nibbles, then we retired to our bungalow where we were to meet. The evening was a great success - we sat chatting and laughing all evening (and the occasional beverage was consumed) :roll:

On a couple of occasions I tried to bring up the subject of food, but with three :angel: s in full chat mode I should have saved my breath :roll: Eventually we decided that we should retire before sundowners became sunuppers, especially as Katy and Francolin wanted an early start to make the most of their last day in the park.

So ended our first full day in Kruger.

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Unread postPosted: Tue Aug 14, 2007 11:13 pm 
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I know I wrote:
One of my main aims on this trip was to get close up and friendly with at least one Rhino

But I didn't mean it this literally :shock: ......

Jay wrote:
before I go to sleep I just have to say: I could so hug that rhino :lol:

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Unread postPosted: Thu Aug 16, 2007 8:20 pm 
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simonb6 wrote:
20 November 2006 - part 2

<...> Warthog. They were rushing around near the mouth of a drainage culvert, tails up, and we guessed that they may have had a litter hidden in the culvert. We could see nothing obvious (the light was beginning to go) and the peeegs never stood still long enough for a photograph. <...>

But a good photo opportunity presented itself 2 days later, when they were much more relaxed...
Same pair of warties, same culvert... The male had a magnificent - almost full horse-shoe - set of tusks:

Image


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Unread postPosted: Sat Aug 18, 2007 9:19 pm 
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simonb6 wrote:
20 November 2006 - part 2
So we finally returned to BnD for the highlight of the day (other than the Rhino, of course) - an evening with katydownunder and Francolin. José dived into the shop and bought a huge quantity of nibbles, then we retired to our bungalow where we were to meet. The evening was a great success - we sat chatting and laughing all evening (and the occasional beverage was consumed) :roll:

On a couple of occasions I tried to bring up the subject of food, but with three :angel: s in full chat mode I should have saved my breath :roll: Eventually we decided that we should retire before sundowners became sunuppers, especially as Katy and Francolin wanted an early start to make the most of their last day in the park.

So ended our first full day in Kruger.


:lol: Simon I promise the next time we meet there will be some food involved... :wink:

But we very much enjoyed the evening as well.

A lot of stories, a lot of laughter. And it is always amazing that forumites that had never met before (we met Simon for the first time in BnD) and other forumites that had not met for a longer period of time chat away like they have met for the last time just a few weeks ago.

It was just plain fun.

Katy

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