Entered at Phabeni on 17th at 10.00. Reception efficient and polite. Headed off along Doispane road first sighting giraffe. But wait a minute it seems to be pulling faces (gurning) looks like it may have had its jaw broken at some time, but can still eat ok.
Lots of fire damage along the way, but saw impis and a number of steenbok, including this one who was trying to braai itself.
We had planned to do Lake Panic and Skukuza, but time was against us and we had to get to Berg-en-dal. So we took the S65. not much until we got to the water hole, where there were bums in the air and also the first of many kudu we were to see over the w/e.
Stopped for a break at Afsaal and were visited by elephant, but they were well behaved and stayed behind the ‘no visitors beyond this point’ sign.
Then off to bnd seeing first of my rhino.
Booked in to chalet 25, alongside the dam. Again elephant waiting for us. That evening it was walking along the fence like a hyena.
Next morning, 18th, headed off towards byamiti weir, lovely lbr,
later stopped by an unmarked w/h on s114 for rusk and coffee. Brown headed parrots made themselves heard and stopped for a drink.
Wandered round to afsaal for breakfast and scops spotting, no ellies this time. Then headed back seeing one of our favourites on the way.
Headed out on tar for sundowner drive, came across traffic jam, lions in the bush we think, couldn’t see so headed on. Near bridge on H3 a herd of ellies crossed between the cars jockeying for position, could have been nasty as there were babies in the herd. On way back to camp still a traffic jam but Jan running out of patience so we headed back to camp. At the sand road to Matjulu saw a couple of cars stopped by the access road along the side of camp. 100m down the road 3 wild dogs. Took photo but really too far and poor light.
Next morning met Surprise and Lourens in car park for morning walk. Off to marula tree to park up (a bit chilly in the vehicle) . After our instructions off we set. Gee these guys have sharp eyes. Spotting kudu and giraffe then 2, no 4, no 5, no 6 rhino and an elephant. When we got as close as was safe we climbed on a rock and had 6 rhino 30 m in front and ellie 30 m to right. Stopped for our snack and enjoyed a great view. We actually saw buffalo, another ellie and giraffe in the bush from here.
Headed back and got some closer pics of the rhino, plus Surprise and Lourens answered all our questions, and we learned how to distinguish between tracks of white and black rhino (Lourens has a wicked sense of humour).
As we were going on a sunset drive we spent the rest of the day in camp. Sitting outside the chalet with breakfast we saw more ellies, a herd of about 30 kudu and some baboons walking past. Also were visited by brown hooded k/f, black headed oriole, red collared barbet, scarlet chested sunbird and a purple crested curacou (lourie).
On the sunset drive we headed for Matjulu water hole, although there is only a small amount of water in the concrete w/h. this was occupied by two rhino much to the frustration of a hyena and a number of ellie groups, one up to six in number. We expected a confrontation, but the rhinos would not move and the elllies moved on towards bnd.
Also came across more ellies, buffalo and our only lion sighting of the trip. We also saw civet and a spotted eagle owl and a yellow ribbon, Elena and SO were also on the drive. Hope your luggage was with you when you got home. Thanks again to Lourens.
Last day dawns, pack up and head for Skukuza so the driver can do some shopping, (I operate the cameras!) Had this lovely sunrise over Malelane and this duiker along the way.
After breakfast at Afsaal were met by these guys, quick u turn to catch up with them, then sadly had to move on.
Glad to report the shopping was poor at Skukuza so we moved on to lake panic, my choice anytime. A quick aside here, it seems that the jeep jockeys have discovered lake panic. There were 2 vehicles parked up when we arrived. We met two birders on our way in who were leaving as they were overpowered by 14 people descending on the hide and wanting to see and take pictures overpowering people already there. There is an 8 car maximum notice at the car park, but if 8 x 4 people were to arrive that would fill the hide to overflowing. I guess the calculation is based on an average of 2 or 3 per car, which is manageable (if a bit crowded), but if a vehicle arrives with 7 plus the driver there is an immediate problem.
Fortunately for us one party was leaving as we walked down, and the other was preparing to leave so we managed to get seats and spent a peaceful time there. Interesting bit of interaction between this jacana and the turtles.
As time was against us we had to leave and head for Kruger gate. About 100m from which we came across this ellie with quite big tusks, but the interesting thing was that the tusks also bent away on each side of the trunk as well as the usual curl. Is this a know ellie?
Signed out at the gate and headed of home with a heavy heart, four months today we will be back.
Fire damage quite severe around Phabeni etc., but not really any worse that 2005.
Nothing but good reports about all KNP staff. Very pleasant and professional.
Unfortunately did not get to see Stephan, down with flu’, but had two great outings with Lourens (and Surprise on the walk). With people like these two the future of the park is in good hands.
Hope we have good rains soon.
Still think R46 for the toll at Machadadorp is the biggest rip off.