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 Post subject: Re: needed a (permanent?) fix so.....
Unread postPosted: Wed Jul 10, 2013 5:40 pm 
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Legendary Virtual Ranger
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Back home exhausted but with a huge sense of achievement. Will post more later when I have waded through emails, rested, and eaten. Some very special sightings.....

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 Post subject: Re: needed a (permanent?) fix so.....
Unread postPosted: Wed Jul 10, 2013 7:13 pm 
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ecojunkie wrote:
Some very special sightings.....
:dance: :dance: :dance:
welcome back home... :hmz: home :mrgreen: :wink:

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 Post subject: Re: needed a (permanent?) fix so.....
Unread postPosted: Wed Jul 10, 2013 7:41 pm 
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Legendary Virtual Ranger
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The first day began very early.....we were up at 2am and left by 2.45am to drive round the park and enter at Orpen gate. My friend (who was the 1st rifle for the trail) drove all the way, and I chatted to keep him awake.

Shortly before the outside gate at Orpen we had a caracul cross the road in front of us! Not yet in the park and the special sightings begin..... After that though it was fairly quiet, but we saw impala, warthog, giraffe, zebs, wildebeest, ellies, waterbuck on the way to Olifants.

At Olifants we met the 2nd rifle and the 2 guests.......a third never turned up for some reason. After a short chat we loaded things into the 10-seater sent from Phalaborwa to collect us and set off......It was cold! Fortunately we were warned and wrapped up warmly. At Phalaborwa we collected some equpment.....'Ogre', a folding spade, and the first aid kit, plus a couple of folding buckets which we did not use at all. While there we saw Lourens of forum fame.

Then we were off down the western boundary and then away into the park, another quite long trip. Eventually we reached the drop-off point, unloaded our things, and the vehicle left. We were on our own.....no turning back now.

An elephant herd watched from down the river bed - a tributary of the Olifants at this stage. And then during the pre-trail talk a honey badger appeared on the opposite bank and looked curiously at us. It seemed to wonder what these strange creatures were doing invading its territory. Eventually it ran off, and the interrupted briefing continued.

We had not been walking long when we stopped to look at something small (forget exactly what it was) and just as we were about to move off 3 buffalo bulls came out of the bushes near us and down into the river bed. If we had not stopped we might have walked into them.

And so began the great adventure......

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 Post subject: Re: needed a (permanent?) fix so.....
Unread postPosted: Wed Jul 10, 2013 7:52 pm 
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Welcome back EJ :thumbs_up:

Wonderful start Caracul ..Lourens ..Honey Badger..Buffs and all the other game very 8)

:naughty: ..was just getting into this and then it all just stopped abruptly. :rtm: :wink:

Can't wait for this bush story to continue. :popcorn:

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TR "Born to be Wild"..37 Days of sights, sounds and smells!!
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 Post subject: Re: needed a (permanent?) fix so.....
Unread postPosted: Wed Jul 10, 2013 8:14 pm 
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:mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen: and :popcorn: :popcorn: :popcorn:

What a wonderful start - caracal, honey badger, buffs right next to you :shock:

Let the adventure tale continue ....


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 Post subject: Re: needed a (permanent?) fix so.....
Unread postPosted: Wed Jul 10, 2013 8:28 pm 
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OK - here is the next part.......which does not reflect well on me unfortunately.

The walking was tough……a lot of loose sand to ‘wade’ through, plus some steep up and down areas as we crossed drainage lines, The first day also got quite hot.

Once we reached the Olifants we had to find a place to cross the river. We had been dropped on the north side, but were going to walk the majority of the trail on the south side as it is better. Only one other trail has been able to do this so far this year because the river has been too high…….and I am afraid it nearly defeated me…..literally!

We crossed at a wide relatively shallow spot. The current was still strong, and the river bed full of stones and rocks which we had to walk over in bare feet. I did not cope well! The level of the water was also mid-thigh at times. My feet felt bruised and sore……and I was only saved from over-balancing a few times by the offer of a hand to grab. Still….I did make it in the end! The fact that we had to watch for crocs and hippos did not help much….

Then the trudge (for me) on the south side began…..lots of sand, lots of hippos, crocs, some welcome stops to catch breath and take off the packs for a while….. The crossing had sapped some of my strength and the sand and heat took the rest. Eventually I had to confess my legs were jelly, tears were streaming down my face, and I just could not take another step, I just stood with my pack on and cried! Fortunately we were only a few hundred metres from the first night’s camping place. The lead guide took his pack there, came back and collected mine from me and then encouraged me the final distance where I collapsed in a jelly-like state.

But after a short rest I was able to start putting up the tent, and after a meal (Idahoan and foil-bagged chicken) I went straight to bed…..only to struggle to find a comfortable sleeping position. But I did get some sleep….listening to hippos and hyenas and lions overnight between.

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 Post subject: Re: needed a (permanent?) fix so.....
Unread postPosted: Wed Jul 10, 2013 8:41 pm 
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oups... sometimes hard to be in the wild... :?

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 Post subject: Re: needed a (permanent?) fix so.....
Unread postPosted: Wed Jul 10, 2013 8:44 pm 
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Oh my word EJ..Crossing a river barefoot...with crocs lurking, not having a sand at the bottom but rocks, definitely not my idea of fun :big_eyes:

Well done!! for reaching the overnight camp site even with a wee bit of assistance so close to the end. :wink: If you took so much strain and punishment + you are fit... then it would definitely have killed me loooong before the end, you would have had to bury me right there. :whistle:
This must be where the expression comes from "what does not kill you only makes you stronger". :hmz:

:popcorn:

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“Nature is a volume of which God is the author.” ~ William Harvey
TR "Born to be Wild"..37 Days of sights, sounds and smells!!
TR There and back on a Sunday drive


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 Post subject: Re: needed a (permanent?) fix so.....
Unread postPosted: Wed Jul 10, 2013 8:48 pm 
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Oh EJ. What an adventure! I'm not surprised your legs felt like jelly - did the others realize that you have to take 2 steps to one of theirs. Glad they didn't leave you behind though :lol: :lol: Looking forward to the rest of this story.... Great sightings so far.


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 Post subject: Re: needed a (permanent?) fix so.....
Unread postPosted: Wed Jul 10, 2013 9:21 pm 
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Trrp-trrrrrrrr wrote:
Oh my word EJ..Crossing a river barefoot...with crocs lurking............
you think Crocodiles don't like shoes :hmz:

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 Post subject: Re: needed a (permanent?) fix so.....
Unread postPosted: Wed Jul 10, 2013 9:32 pm 
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I think part of the reason I struggled was that I was not properly fit....I have been fighting a niggly cold and kept coughing to choking point, and the damp night air left my nose very blocked up. But I could not turn down the invitation to join the trail.......!

And so the next part of the story.....you will have to wait until tomorrow for the rest. I need some sleep in my comfortable bed!

Next morning we were up early and ready to leave once it was properly light. I had my tent taken away from me, and did not carry it for the rest of the trail (the guides shared the extra burden)…..embarassment, but a huge help even though it was less than 2kg anyway. The 1st rifle also took one of my food containers……but I did not feel bad about that as I had packed food for both of us anyway!

We walked about 3km and then stopped for a welcome breakfast break.

It was more sand, more ups and downs, more hippos…..and one gave us a nasty moment. It was in the bushes as we walked along a ridge, and as we saw it it came for us. The guides told us to make for a tree nearby and get behind it, and I heard both rifles cocked…… Fortunately as it burst through the bush again in front of us and the 1st rifle actually began to put pressure on the trigger it suddenly swerved and ran off towards the river……lucky hippo and lucky trailists. We had a lengthy break shortly after that!

I found it easier to walk on this second day. The weather was kinder as the sun kept playing hide-and-seek among the clouds, and there was a cooling breeze at times too. We also stopped roughly every hour for a short break.

We also walked away from the river for short periods, once to avoid 2 fighting hippos (on the river bank).

Fish-eagles screamed at us often, and hippos constantly laughed as they watched the 5 strange creatures moving past them. It was great….. I began to enjoy myself, but was still worried about getting to the end. A lengthy lunch break helped as I was able to lie down for a while. We found a giant eagle owl in a tree too.

Just as I was seriously flagging again, we got to our camping site for the night.

Again the 1st rifle and I shared a meal of Idahoan and chicken – and I found I had made another Idahoan addict! The other campers seemed to have packs which rivalled Mary Poppin’s bag! They had a good sized tent, and kept producing more items, especially food……apples (enough to offer around and still have one or two over at the end), cucumbers, salami, cheese, etc, etc…..and even swimming stuff. I had just the clothes I was wearing, spare underwear, and a spare t-shirt, plus track suit pants and top to sleep in and wear in the evening when it was cold, and my food.

Again we heard lions, leopard, hyenas, hippos overnight. I got a bit more sleep and began to feel a little more positive about being able to complete the trip.

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 Post subject: Re: needed a (permanent?) fix so.....
Unread postPosted: Wed Jul 10, 2013 10:17 pm 
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Such an adventure.....looking forward to the rest of it.


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 Post subject: Re: needed a (permanent?) fix so.....
Unread postPosted: Thu Jul 11, 2013 5:36 am 
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EJ,

Hippo encounter must have had the adrenalin pumping for a while. :shock: that really sounded to close for comfort. :whistle:

Awesome to hear all the bush sounds...Fish Eagle calling and all the other animals sounds...very special indeed. :dance: :mrgreen:

Glad to hear you got your second wind and coped so much better on this day. :D

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“Nature is a volume of which God is the author.” ~ William Harvey
TR "Born to be Wild"..37 Days of sights, sounds and smells!!
TR There and back on a Sunday drive


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 Post subject: Re: needed a (permanent?) fix so.....
Unread postPosted: Thu Jul 11, 2013 6:59 am 
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Next installment......

The 2nd morning began the same as the 1st…..up early, walk, then stop for breakfast after a few kms walking. This time in a rocky gulley near an island shortly after seeing a Pels fishing owl in a tree. Unfortunately it flew off as we tried to focus our cameras, but we all had a good view.

Slowly the plan for the day was revealed…..we were making such good time that the aim was to reach the pick-up point in the afternoon and then have a short walk after setting up camp to see some spectacular sand-stone cliffs. I realised I was justified in feeling exhausted! We were really pushing the envelope a bit!!!!!

Again we walked then rested, then walked again. And then we had to cross the Olifants again…… I confess my heart sank! This time we had to slide down a steep bank to get into the water after taking off our boots, and the water was actually a bit deeper. But the risk of crocs and hippos meant no time could be wasted…..so my 1st rifle friend kindly crossed first, then came back for my pack so I could cross without trying to balance that too. Just as well as even my knickers got wet in the water it was so deep! Fortunately not so rocky, so a bit easier on my feet until the far bank when it was suddenly worse than the earlier crossing……My feet felt more bruised……but we were safely across.

We then had a scramble for a while over a rocky area……and we all struggled a bit, so stopped half-way for a rest. Besides the usual hippos and crocs an osprey and juvenile fish-eagle kept us entertained as they fought for possession of that area of the river. We also saw wattled lapwings on the far bank.

Eventually we were told to look ahead, and at the end of the rocky section there was a brown area of cockle-burr…..and our destination was in the middle of the brown area……We had nearly made it.

We got to the brown patch, and headed up towards the mopanis to find the pick-up point…..and walked a bit, and then a bit more…..then stopped so the 1st rifle could walk back to check we had not missed the spot…..but we had not. It was only a short way ahead of us and we were soon there and dropped our packs gratefully……for the last time! Again I found tears streaming down my face…..I had done it (with some help from my friends!) We started to set up camp, and one of the guides walked towards the river to get some water and came straight back…..there were lions on the opposite bank! We had seen vultures in the trees near by, and there was obviously a kill just behind bushes at the waters’ edge. As we watched the lions moved off…..2 males, 3 females and 5 cubs of different ages.

We decided to quickly finish basic setting up and then cross the river a bit further back where it had looked shallow as we saw a waterbuck crossing and try to find the lions on foot. I worried about the river…..and with good reason as it turned out!

We set off, took off boots and walked into the water…..not too bad, but at least as deep as the second crossing earlier in the afternoon. Then we reached a sandbank towards the far bank and looked for the best place to cross from there…..and found HUGE croc footprints! We walked a bit further up…..but still no easy spot appeared, and we had to abandon the attempt at crossing for the sake of safely. That croc was too big, and in the area……the spoor was fresh.

We walked back and sat on the bank on our side watching in case the lions came back to the river, but eventually had to give up and return to camp.

More Idahoan and chicken for supper, some chat around a fire, and then bed in the Olifants bush for the last night. The lions kept up a chorus overnight, with hippos, hyenas, and giant eagle owl for accompaniments. Ground hornbills joined the chorus in the morning, but by then the lions were moving off upstream.

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Smiling is contagious. Start an epidemic today!

Have you read the gate leaflet? Do you KNOW the regulations?

Completed over 5 years in Kruger in my caravan.

If I were normal I wouldn't be me!


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 Post subject: Re: needed a (permanent?) fix so.....
Unread postPosted: Thu Jul 11, 2013 7:25 am 
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What a stunning adventure you had on this trail..EJ :dance: Must confess I am a real old scaredy-cat and would not have been able to do what you did. :redface:

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TR "Born to be Wild"..37 Days of sights, sounds and smells!!
TR There and back on a Sunday drive


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