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 Post subject: Explorer and Meandering Mouse go wandering
Unread postPosted: Wed Oct 10, 2007 12:06 pm 
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In terms of Kruger, Explorer and I have had many conversations that started with..

"wouldn't it be nice.."
"we could..."
"what if..."

but there was always some work commitment, or some decision, or some financial emergency that kept it in dream world.

A week ago, while looking at the trip reports, I though, "we live with choices, or excuses. If I want this to happen, I must make this happen".

So, here we are:
13th Pretorius Kop
14th Lower Sabie
15th Tambotie.

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Unread postPosted: Sat Oct 13, 2007 7:20 pm 
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I had a call from MM this afternoon. They have arrived safely in Pretoruiskop.

MM says the area is SO lush and green and the new green shoots on the burnt areas are amazing.

I then had to guess what their very first sighting was!!!

Sable!! Yes!! A lovely sighting of 5 beautiful Sable! :dance:

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Unread postPosted: Tue Oct 16, 2007 1:37 pm 
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My alarm clock this morning was a guineafowl. :shock:
Right next to my head, with only a thin grey mesh between me and the offending bird.

I ate a breakfast of left over braai, watching a parade of cavorting, playing, acrobatic baboons on the dry Timbavati river bank.

and here am I, back in G'teng :cry:

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Unread postPosted: Wed Oct 17, 2007 5:38 am 
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I can hear the birds in full chorus outside. If I close my eyes its easy to believe that I'm back in camp.

The trip was far too short but it was good for the soul. I feel as though I've had a spiritual detox. I have also decided that I'm starting my own little "Kruger Kitty" and its going to be used for brief trips about every 3 months.

I'll start with the bad news first.
Our camera broke. :cry:
It broke straight after Explorer took a picture of MM trying to fast forward a braai. That's another story.
We'll have to wait and see if our first day was at least saved.

Explorer and I left at a leisurely pace on Saturday 13th. We decided to take the Long Tom Pass route and stop on the way to look at the old cannon. We also stopped to buy some biltong at "Bak Gat" biltong in Lydenburg. Highly recommended.

After stopping at Hazyview for supplies, we were off :D

We arrived at Numbi at about 2pm and had the reception area to ourselves. Other that an Italian tourist looking desperate in her search for a little Italian Espresso, everything was surprisingly quiet.

About 500m from the gate we saw a car stopped at a sighting. We pulled up.

"What is it?" says MM
"Cows", say Explorer.

There they were, 5 magnificent Sable a few metres from the road. 8)
I will say at this point that it is doubtful whether we would have seen them were it not for the effects of the fire.
The fire devastation was very apparent everywhere. However, it was lovely to observe the new shoots sprouting covering everything with a fresh virgin green. 8)

I was thrilled at this fantastic start.

Let me say at this point that I will write my trip report a little differently because of my lack of pictures.

There are tales to tell, so I will use the headings:

Racing the storm

The right place at the right time

Elephant road block

Comments and suggestions

Explorer will write on "MM teaches the art of meandering".


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Unread postPosted: Mon Oct 22, 2007 7:26 am 
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Restio, Mgoggard, Elsa Ralph, Sharifa, Pumbaa and Wanderw, thank you for your kind words.

I spent an hour on my trip report last week. When I made the posting, all hell broke loose on my computer and I had to switch off.
My report was not saved :cry:

I find the biggest problem with my computer is that it listens to me, but I don't always know what I am telling it to do. :redface:

So let me tell you about our first evening.
When we arrived at P'kop, there was that sticky, oppressive, my legs are filled with lead feeling. Its the feeling that says, despite blue skies, "storms on its way". :shock:

When Explorer and I left for our sunset drive, we could hear the distant roll of thunder and refreshing gusts of wind were breaking the heat.
We decided to do the Shabeni route and stop for a while at Mestel dam.

What a magnificent drive. The darkening skies and the ghostly light made it very atmospheric. Every so often a short shower would coat my windscreen with mud.
Animals seen, Kudu, Waterbuck, Buffalo, Impis, Hippo and a most lovely Fish Eagle at the dam.

Now, just to give a little background to the next bit.
The Monday before we left, G'teng had been almost paralysed by a panic email warning people of an impending "hurricane".
Businesses closed early, schools cancelled sports, the roads were grid locked as people rushed home. Even a couple of banks shut their doors so that staff could get home to tie down their belongings.

My tummy was starting to get very hungry and all it could think about was braai. We had planned lamb cutlets, boerrie, braaied sweet potato, braaied sweet corn and braaied onions.
I also realised that should it rain, all that we had to eat at that point was a bit of cheese, tomatoes and a can of peas, but we had no can opener.

As Explorer and I approached P'kop, the skies seemed to be playing with our hunger. On the left were angry black clouds, to our right the clouds were pouring out their contents, but down the middle was the most perfect ribbon of blue sky.
Explorer and I had to make a call about, "to braai or not to braai"

With the G'teng fake hurricane in mind and a very determined hunger, we decided that, "after all a storm is only a storm" and we would risk a braai.

The fire was lit and the wine was poured, the chairs settled into their evening reflective mode and :shock: the first drops of rain started.
I looked around to see what others were doing.
To my left, a fire was busy heating a potjie, to my right people sat, fire less, drinking beer, waiting for the storm to pass.

"Isn't that typical of life", I thought, "on the left we have the optimist, to the right the pessimist, and in the middle the ignorant".

I must also tell you, MM does not know how to braai. I think it has more to do with lack of patience than lack of opportunity.

Well what followed was a comedy of how not to braai.
Usually one braais from the slowest to the quickest in order to have everything ready at the same time...
we were starting with everything together and we would eat as the food was ready.. :shock:
so there was a lot of laughter and a lot of hunger as MM and Explorer raced the fire..
every so often, as if to tease us, the heavens would send a few drops of rain.
we would in turn, "count our blessings" one by one.
Lamb cutlets down... yummy. :D . boerrie done.. yummy. :D
sweet potatoes down :D great...
then sweet corn and onions as desert. :wink:

We felt suitably replenished and we had beaten the storm. 8)
The storm as if to say the last word, cleared up completely the moment our last portion was cooked.

Later MM took Explorer for a lesson in meandering.
On our meander, we saw that ignorance and desperation is not a bad thing at all. We were feeling satisfied and happy, on our way there were lots of unhappy faces and unlit fires.
My pessimist neighbour had been to enthusiastic with his beer and I could see that he wasn't doing a very good job at starting his fire at this late hour in the dead of night.

"Sometimes one has to take risks", MM thought. :wink:

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Unread postPosted: Mon Oct 22, 2007 9:33 pm 
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Meandering mouse has made an error with her timeline. It looks like everything was planned out- we had our dinner and all was well, we could then go meandering once all the tension was was over. It is true we had had our dinner, lamb chops, boerie (which wasn't very nice and so delegated to "lunch with rolls...if we have to") later on some sweet potato. But the onion and sweetcorn was a treat we had to wait for.

As we were both feeling slightly energised by the storm that was (or wasn't) to be, we decided that before dessert we would go on a meander. The meander took place at that crucial time between a bottle of wine and a proper (or almost proper) meal. I had rushed off to the ladies and came out finding that MM had dissappeared. I wandered around a bit until I spotted her near the fence, watching me, with admirable patience, as I stumbled around looking for her. Next came lessons on meandering.

First lesson: Switch off the torch!

Second lesson: Ssssshhhhh!!!!!

And so on. A more insipiring night I have not had in a while. As we walked...sorry, meandered, the perimeter of the fence, I realised that lessons in meandering were lessons in life. As we walked ("slow down!" MM says...) we became aware of so much that is so easily missed. MM recounted her last meander around this fence. At some point in her walk she heard the most beautiful singing from the staff village next door, then continued, passing the luxury chalets, in silence. Her walk alerted her to the different realities of the Kruger Park and the different worlds we could all see if we weren't walking by so fast, with our torches on, making a noise, so we miss it all. Before we felt too privileged and wise in being there in anonymity, nothing and no-one aware of us in our insightful perusal of the world we live in, MM said sagely, "of course, now we will fall on faces." And sure enough, in a burst of thunder, MM tripped in ditch, narrowly missing a low branch, and as she yelled in surprise our position, so carefully guarded by constant hisses of "sssshhh!!!", was revealed to all the dwellers of the luxury chalets in a flash of particulary bright lightening. "That," she tells me, "is the universe telling us not to take oursleves so seriously." Here here, I said. And with that we giggled ourselves back to our chalet.

And then we had sweet braaied onion and sweetcorn for dessert.


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Unread postPosted: Sat Oct 27, 2007 5:09 pm 
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Anne-Marie,
I hope that we can salvage a couple of pictures, eventually.

Aboon, Jeanus, BGS, Restio, Wanderw, P@m and Saraf.
Thank you for your kind words.

Dreamer,
you are too kind, thank you. :wink:

The middle bits of my report are the most memorable for me, but I would rather write that later.

But I would like to tell you of out last few hours.

We left Tambotie with a heavy heart.
On our final little journey we passed a herd of Wildebeest.
They were to our left and to our right, just doing what Wildebeest do.

"Aren't they just the most strange looking creatures?" says Explorer.
"Yup", says MM, "designed by an angel who had only just completed 'HEAVENLY DESIGN 101""

We passed the cam and I wondered if the Wildebeest would show up later in the morning.

I remembered how on my previous trip Freda and I had passed the cam and seen the most lovely Tawny Eagle.

But I suppose that's just Kruger, it earns you compound interest... even while you are not there, the benefits just keep growing.

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Unread postPosted: Sun Oct 28, 2007 7:24 am 
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Thanks Pumbaa,

I am a slightly more reflective mood, so I think that I will go onto our stay at Lower Sabie.

One of me best gifts I received, was seeing Explorer's face light up when we found our riverside tent. She was ecstatic.
Explorer had deadlines to meet and for that reason her constant companion was her laptop. :( It also meant that my early morning and evening drives were taken alone. (not that I mind)
As I left for my evening drive I glanced at Explorer who was staring over her screen onto the most beautiful view of the Sabie River.
The expression on her face was one of wistful contemplation.

Our evening was perfect. We had a mixture of braai and potjie as we watched a lone daggaboy making his way slowly on the banks of the Sabie River.

I had promised myself, in fact, given myself stern permission, to allow myself the infinite luxury of sleeping late if I was tired. I was still recovering from flu and did not want to finish the little break exhausted.

I woke up the next morning to the sound of birds. I tried to keep my eyes closed, but my mind was just too busy and jumping about.
I started the day at a leisurely pace. While I sipped my cup of coffee or three a Francolin and a Bulbul bickered over the crumbs from the previous night's supper. In frustration over the meagre pickings, the Francolin jumped up onto the chair next to me and tried to out stare me with stern disapproval.
In the distance, I could see a tiny Blue Waxbill flitting in and out of a tree.
Fortified and happy I prepared for my drive.
As I was leaving I glanced at the time..
I could not believe it, I had already experienced and enjoyed so much, and it was only 5:30 8)

I decided to take the S29 towards Mlondozi Dam.
I travelled slowly in the most perfect early morning freshness. On my way I passed, Ellies and thought of our intrepid Duke hunters, there were Warthog, Giraffe, a few Kudu, Zebra and Waterbuck.
When I reached the dam, I was completely alone. What a treat. 8) I stayed for a while, the water was a mirror in its stillness. Every so often a hippo would move and the ripples would create corrugated reflection.
On the bank two Fish Eagles were preening and completing their morning toilet.

Sadly all good things must end and I started my way back.
I passed a jeep with a lone occupant. This was the only other car I had seen on the S29.
"Did you see anything?" he asked, looking very disappointed.
"I have seen nothing"
I gather by that, that "nothing" meant kitty cats.

I turned back onto the H10, really not expecting much more.
Soon I saw a "traffic jam", all of 3 cars.. but its as if the cars themselves breathe excitement.. I knew something big was happening.

then I saw it :D
Through the lion coloured grass, a most magnificent lion was strolling. He was unconcerned and powerful. I thought of Bert at that point :wink: and understood again, that indeed, there is such a thrill in watching these beasts.
I was even more excited as he made his way towards the road. :D
Within 3 metres from the road he stopped. He was sniffing something in the grass.
Suddenly four enormous lion paws played with the air and I realised that there was another lion concealed so close to me 8) . I was wondering whether it might be a mating pair, until a big yellow lion head appeared a metre away.
The three stood up and playfully muzzled each other.
They were three most stunning young male lions. I was so, so close.
They then moved away together. At some point, they found a place to rest and lay down and with that they disappeared completely.

I drove past the man who first spotted the lions.. his face was ablaze with excitement. His hands were still shaking as he tried to steady his camera. He shook his head, a big smile over his face.. "they just appeared from no where he said.." I could hear that he was German..

I drove on, thinking of the unexpectedness of the bush. I felt sad for the young man who had been so disappointed and content with my own experience.
I thought of the lions so silently hidden and how the bush hides more than it reveals..
I glanced at the time.. 8:00 and I had already been given so much. 8)

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Unread postPosted: Sun Nov 04, 2007 7:36 am 
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Jeanus and Dreamer, thank you.

I have decided to work towards buying a camera that can store my experiences.

Explorer and I left Lower Sabie with heavy hearts. :( The only consolation was that we would be going to Tambotie, my favourite camp.

We took the H10, hoping by some miracle to see the lions again. Nope, no luck.

We passed many, many buck, Kudu, Zebra, Steenbuck, Giraffe, Waterbuck and of course, our impies.

As we were approaching a slightly more tree covered area a group of ellies appeared from nowhere. They were making their way slowly towards us, the little ones tucked in neatly between the older siblings, aunts and mothers.
I stopped for a short while to look at a young ellie munching contentedly close to the side of the road.

"Look", I said to Explorer, "her mammary glands are very enlarged, she must have a suckling young".
As if to confirm my observation, a very tiny little one stood up from the ground where it must have been resting. It moved closer to mom for comfort.
At that point Explorer started to get anxious, "don't you think we should move?" she said.

MM was watching mum closely and replied that the minute the mum showed signs of irritation we would go, but I thought it was safe and we were far enough away not to pose a threat.
.. and so we were treated to this very young mum, content with her position and her little charge.

We did not stay too long, and drove around a bend in the road.
Another car had stopped and I could see a video camera and a head protruding.

We drove slowly to see what was so exciting as the car pulled off.
What we did not know was that we were driving into a very agitated matriarchs path. The car ahead of us had clearly broken boundaries and the big mama felt threatened.


Lots and lots of very young ellies were making their way towards us.
Unfortunately, we were now going to be between the matriarch and her little ones, a very unhappy matriarch. :shock:

I pulled up to the far side of the road so as to be as far away from the little ones as possible.

The mama of mamas was now approaching me with determination.
She stood fairly and squarely in front of me, her ears showing by their angry movements who was in charge.

I switched the engine off.

"Do you think that is a good idea?" says Explorer, her face a few shades paler than the fluffy clouds.

"Well", we can't out reverse, can we?" :shock: "best to do is show that we have no bad intent and that, yes, she's the boss".

Well, the large group of little ones slowly passed by.
Big mama stood firm, a hefty ellie road block, completely in charge.

As the last little one passed by, big mama gave a final shake of her head, and silently disappeared back into the bushes...

we breathed again.

Afterwards I thought of how important it is to always be alert to animal behaviour. Clearly the car in front of us had no idea that they were posing a threat. They drove on, oblivious to the fact that they had left us in potential danger.

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Unread postPosted: Sun Nov 04, 2007 8:41 am 
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I am very proud of you MM - perfect behaviour when caught in the middle of a herd. It is very important to remember to switch off that engine. What a lot of people do not realise is that your engine noise interferes with elephant communication (just like us the females "talk" all the time and have a far larger "vocabulary" than the males do). So although keeping your engine running may give you false comfort all it does is serve to irritate the eles more. By the way that also serves for watching hippo from a boat.

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Unread postPosted: Fri Nov 09, 2007 10:00 am 
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Jeanus, it is difficult not to respect and admire these wonderful creatures.
(I can't read the culling thread anymore :( )

Anne Marie, part of the allure of Kruger, is that we can mingle with giants. We just need to respect them more.

To BGS, Wanderw, Pumbaa, Pam and Restio, thank you so much.

After our "incident" I remembered the "are there enough toilets in Kruger?" thread.

No, not at all, I thought. :roll:

We continued. Explorer saw 2 Giant Eagle Owls in the distance.
We were now approaching the Nkumbe look out point.
I showed Explorer the spot where I had one of my most memorable sightings.

I was driving alone on a windy day. It was last August. On my right I saw the unmistakable rustle of bush.
I stopped as a dainty Klipspringer stepped out.
He/she was in no hurry, so I switched my engine off.
As I admired this little ballet dancer, another Klipspringer appeared from the side.
"Now, I am in heaven", I thought.
Not to be outdone, a third Klipspringer appeared.

I sat for about 10 minutes, while these skittish little animals gazed at my car and inch by inch, ventured closer.
Maybe, because it was silent, they came within touching distance.
I could have stoked the muzzle of the first little buck.

Our reverie was broken by another car. As he passed me they all rushed into the bush, frightened by yet another predator.
:( sigh, missing the bush.

We reached Nkumbe and our first sighting was a desperate tourist protruding. :lol: :lol:

"Oh dear", I thought,"this is not a place to pass judgement, I know that Tshokwane is just a 'knape vass' away". :redface:
Our stay at Nkumbe was far too short.. for various reasons :roll:

and on to Tshokwane.

I know that this is a "non favourite" place for many people, but let me be an apologist and plead it's cause.

IT HAS CLEAN TOILETS.

I have a thing about "bacon and egg" toasted sandwiches in Kruger. I love them.
Explorer and I decided that it was close enough to lunchtime to clog our arteries.

As sat munching, I just revelled in this picture of first time tourist delight.
A French tourist was enamoured, seduced and taken in by out common little "Glossy Starlings".
I saw the birds through his eyes, their brilliance, gregariousness, the lovely flashes of bright blue.

As I ate my sarmie, a few doves appeared, like beggars, hoping to be noticed.
The Starling were just plain delinquent :lol: :lol:

Then, from nowhere, a "Crested Barbet" appeared.
He/she sat, a few centimetres from my face watching my movements in the same way as my Labradors.
Explorer, recognising a photo opportunity, and not having a camera, dived for her cell phone..
The Barbet, as if in total distain, flew off.
A few metres on, a little squirrel aggitated for attention.

"Mm", I thought,"this place has its charm, let's enjoy the moment, the animals and a little bit of animal city chaos".

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