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 Post subject: Mel123 - Christmas 2007 in northern Kruger
Unread postPosted: Wed Dec 12, 2007 11:29 am 
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I've spent the last few days (or weeks actually) reading other people's trip reports and it has definitely not been good for my anticipation levels. I'm heading to Kruger for Christmas on the 23rd.

I am definitely in awe of how well people write, their brilliant photographs and their once-in-a-lifetime sightings. Cheetahs in trees indeed! :D

It's made me feel such a longing in the pit of my stomach that its almost indescribable. Having had a search through the archives for reports about Mopani specifically, there is definitely not as many reports as for the busy and popular south.

That is one reason that I feel that there might be room for a trip report from me.

Another reason is that I think it might be fun to do one, although I can't promise that it will be as spectacular and nostalgic and wonderful as the others right here on the forum.

It will also be my first summer trip to Kruger and the first time I will stay in Mopani. I have passed through and had lunch or a drink, but I've never explored the surroundings in detail. I'm looking forward to it.

I'm declaring my intentions now, because after I get back, I might otherwise be too lazy or busy or intimidated to bother. Now, I'll feel obligated to do what I promised. :)


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 Post subject: Re: Christmas in northern Kruger
Unread postPosted: Wed Dec 12, 2007 11:33 am 
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mel123 wrote:
Now, I'll feel obligated to do what I promised. :)

8) Obligation noted! :lol:

Have a lot of fun and great sightings! I have noticed that taking notes helps creating your TR later...

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Arriving currently: The photos from our trip! Overhere! :yaya:

Feel free to use any of these additional letters to correct the spelling of words found in the above post: a-e-t-n-d-i-o-s-m-l-u-y-h-c


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Unread postPosted: Wed Dec 12, 2007 11:57 am 
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I'm just trying to figure out how to post pics. This was taken at Lower Sabie on the H10 - it's one of my favourite photos ever. I'm holding thumbs... - Ooh. It works. Cool.

Thanks DuQues - I'll remember that.
I normally keep a diary - which will also help a lot I think.


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Unread postPosted: Tue Dec 18, 2007 10:43 pm 
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In September this year we took a break and headed off to stay at one of the luxury bungalows that looks out on the Sabie River at Skukuza.

We were afraid that it was going to be noisy and busy – Skukuza being the largest camp after all, but contrary to our fears – it was quiet and restful. I can honestly recommend the camp.

The accommodation is a step up from the normal rondavel – although the cupboard had no door – and no hanging space was provided at all.

The view over the river is wonderful and there is nothing better than being able to watch an elephant or buffalo grazing on the opposite bank, ice cold Coke in the hand, while sitting there relaxing on your own stoep.

The biggest negative was that we were raided once or twice by vervet monkeys. They stole our cheese, cucumber, pasta, provitas and mealies – who are so intelligent they know how to open the fridge (which is on the stoep). In order to prevent this, one has to push the table and or chairs against the fridge when leaving the house. They do the rounds every morning and every evening like clockwork.

As requested by Meandering Mouse, I’ve chosen five of my favourite pictures – and I’ll tell you their stories – sort of a shortish highlighted trip report. When we head off to Mopani in a week’s time – you’ll get a full one. I promise.

First:
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This was taken at the N’wastwitshaka waterhole. It was very, very dry and the first time I had ever seen such a lot of different species at one waterhole. There were some kudu as well, not shown on the photograph.

The two elephants were drinking at the trough and a troop of baboons were sitting on the cement dam walls. The dam was obviously empty, judged by the fact that some of the little ones jumped in and the way the sound echoed from inside while they were chattering away.

For some reason one of the elephants decided that there had to be water in the cement dam – which is quite higher than an elephant’s head. It headed to the dam, to the consternation and obvious upset of the baboons, who had to make tracks.
The elephant then walked all around the dam, rearing up against the dam walls in order to get its trunk to the water – which unfortunately didn’t exist.

When it realised this and all of its efforts had proved fruitless, it trumpeted and then slowly walked back to its mate at the trough with the other animals still milling around in the dust. You could feel it’s tangible frustration.

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I’m not an expert on birds, so my guess would be that this might be a double banded (because of the two stripes) plover or courser, but I’m not sure. Identification would be welcome! I photographed it at the Sunset dam near Lower Sabie – which is one place in Kruger where there is always something to see – it’s never disappointed me yet. I love this photo.

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Although it’s most definitely not perfect, this is the nearest I’ve come to a satisfactory photo of a leopard ever. Most glimpses are too fleeting or it’s walking away from us. On our first day we drove from Skukuza in the direction of Lower Sabie on the H4-1 late in the afternoon. We were just lucky – a leopard crossed the road in front of us – by the time another vehicle came along it had disappeared into the bushes on the other side. I got a photograph, but once again, of a leopard’s backside.

Despite the lack of a nice photo I was very chuffed with this sighting. Therefore I could hardly believe my luck when we spotted two leopards together the very next day – on the same road. One of the leopards jumped into a huge tree by the side of the road and spent about 40 minutes up there, the other waiting out of sight below. I suspect that there was some sort of carcass up there – and that it fed during this time.

The reason I can’t tell you what it was doing is that I couldn’t see what it was doing during this time – and could not take a photo to prove my LIT-sighting. This was due to a massive traffic jam involving almost 30 vehicles.

When the leopard finally jumped down again it sniffed around some bushes and performed this action with which it picks up scents. I can’t remember the correct scientific word for it at the moment.

It might have been a mother and grown cub or male and female that were in heat – I don’t know. It was very special because you don’t often get to see one leopard at a time – to see two together is fantastic. I love leopards – they’re my favourite animal.

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On the same day, at the causeway near Lower Sabie we ran into our second traffic jam – a male lion was lying on the slope just where you leave the causeway on the H10. He was very sleepy – not bothering too much with the commotion going on around him. In this case people were more polite – letting you through to see the animal and take photographs.

However, while I enjoy watching lions – I don’t enjoy watching them sleeping – which is what they always seem to be doing when I spot them.

The highlight of the sighting for me, was therefore the hippos that were in the water to the left of the causeway – quite near the road. These two youngsters were playing with each other. Baby animals are always cute – and baby hippo without any teeth are definitely on my list of things I’ll watch for hours at an end and not get bored.

Image
This was taken at Transport dam. One of the fish eagles was sitting in the dead tree, and it’s mate was sitting at the water’s edge on the far side of the dam. I took this when it flew over to join it’s mate in the tree – I loved being able to see the interaction between the pair.

My biggest disappointment during the trip was not being able to find wild dog. I would really love to see these special animals, but despite all my efforts, they’ve eluded me thus far. I live in hope with every Kruger trip, however.


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Unread postPosted: Wed Dec 19, 2007 5:30 am 
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Mel :D thank you.

Your first photo is like a mini Eden, really beautiful, but my favourite is of the 2 Fish Eagles together. They really are the most breath taking birds.

I have said before on another thread that I have never had much luck with Leopards, and I am very much a cat lover. Like you, my most numerous sightings have been of a fleeting backside, or an elegant tail hanging out of a tree, or of an ear behind a bush. I can imagine your pleasure at being able to see more.

I am looking forward to your report. I think your photos are lovely.

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Unread postPosted: Wed Jan 02, 2008 9:22 am 
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As promised.... here goes: :D

Day 1: Arrival

An early start to the day is preferable, because I always want to get to Kruger as soon as possible. Normally I love to sleep late, but when I’m on my way to Kruger or am in the park, I turn into a fanatic early riser and I wake up with a smile on my face.

Today is no different as I rise at 04:00 in the morning. It’s still dark out, and all the lastminute packing and preparations for this highly anticipated holiday is filled with joy.

At last, the Phalaborwa gate looms in the distance. It’s lunchtime and at the reception there is a queue of people. One older man has some sort of difficulty and takes up the attention of one of the two attendants on duty for the whole time I am there. He leaves to get a telephone number, and returns, but still there seem to be problems. What they might be I don’t know. :?

When my turn comes the friendly lady handles the papers quickly and efficiently and a few minutes later I join my friend outside, where he is avidly watching a bunch of mopane worms crawling all over the sidewalk and road.

A park attendant that is walking by notices our interest and smilingly tells us that these worms are special treats – very tasty eating, he says. Thanks, but no thanks! :shock:

As we drive into the gates the age-old Kruger mystery rears its head. What animal will we spot first? A few kilometres down the road, the mystery is solved. An elephant is grazing the soft wavy grass just before the H14 turnoff. It makes sense that our first sighting would be an elle, since a large portion of the population live in the Mopane veld.

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We watch for a while and I take a few photographs. When we move on we spot a second elephant grazing near the first.

While we’re driving I marvel at how green everything is. I normally visit the park in winter, when it’s filled with a stark, dry beauty. This opulent emerald-glow is something I’m not used to – and every few kilometres I find myself marveling at it all over again.

Up north from the turnoff we spot a troop of baboons in a tree, but as they are some distance away I don’t take photos. Driving on my friend spots a bataleur soaring overhead, and points out the magnificent bird.

I’ve just finished telling him that I really wish to see a bataleur sitting in a tree, rather than in being the air so that I can take photographs, when we turn a corner and lo and behold, a bataleur is sitting in a dead tree.

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We’ve got a long ways to go still and resume our journey. It’s smelteringly hot outside – thank goodness for aircon. The only negative aspect is that it drowns out the bush noises. The cycadas are trilling shrilly outside, and we turn off the aircon and engine to just drink in the sound – seeming to symbolise that we’re in the park, in the wild. It’s heavenly.

Crossing a watercourseway we see a grey heron and a great egret sitting just beyond it, in the next pool over. While we watch, the great egret starts flying towards the grey heron and the two starts shouting abuse to one another. I don’t understand their language but I doubt what they were saying was polite. It sounded definitely unfriendly.

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Far on the horison I spot a giraffe and on two of the looproads we find lone elephants – I suspect bulls – all grazing on the soft grass. Normally the elephants I see in winter eat leaves – but the grass looks luscious and juicy – you can almost see that it is a tasty snack just by looking at it. I decide not to taste it, but to take the elephants’ word for its yumminess.

The lowwater bridge across the Letabariver is open, thankfully, but the debris is piled high and the water still flows fast and brown.

The rest of the road goes by quickly and we pull into camp just after 3 o’clock. The bungalow is secluded, with a view over Pioneer dam and it’s got everything you could want – except ice or even ice trays in the fridge! :) My friend suspect this to be a conspiracy in the hot weather to boost ice sales...

After visiting the shop to stock up, and sorting out all our luggage we take a late afternoon drive north on the tarroad to Shingwedzi, up to the Shidlayengwenya waterhole.
We see two elephants and a herd of zebra who look lovely in the soft glow of the late afternoon sun.

Returning to our bungalow I surprise a squirrel who is snacking on one of our banana’s.

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Back at camp I make dinner – pasta alfredo – while watching the sun set. It is a bit nervewracking to try to evade all the flying insects that are drawn by the light and the gecko’s and other reptiles that are hunting the various moths, termites and little brown bugs.

The intense activities on the stoepie is making me shiver nervously at every slight tickle I feel on my skin, while I keep a beady eye out for snakes or scorpions. Luckily my only biggish visitor is a cute mouse sitting near the refuse bin. He runs off when he notices me watching him.

It’s been a long day in the car and soon after we wash the dishes we head towards the shower and our beds. Down by the river the hippo's are grunting and there is a choir of frogs serenading us. This is heaven.


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Unread postPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2008 10:33 am 
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Day 2 (Dec 24 07): Fireflies on a mopane-bush

Another early morning unfortunately doesn’t start early enough. We’re at the gate 7 minutes after it opened at 4:30. Remember, I told you I was a fanatic early riser when I’m in Kruger. :(

We head north toward Shingwedzi, driving towards the full moon hanging like a big eye in the sky, directly in front of us.

As soon as it gets lighter, we find a herd of giraffe that are browsing in the mopane bushes to the left. They even have a baby with them.

A few kilometers up the road we find a buffalo eating grass near the road and a distance beyond him, another buffalo. We also notice two elephants grazing deeper in the bush in the same vicinity.

I enjoy watching a longcrested eagle. It’s sitting in a tree and I think it’s waiting for the air to warm so that it can use the thermals to get into the air. It might however be sitting there waiting for prey? It’s the first time I’ve seen one of these eagles and so it’s a special sighting.

On one of the loop roads overlooking the Shingwedzi river I notice movement in the grass beside the road – and at first think it is a snake. However, it is a very long column of military ants, walking in a formation of three abreast and they are just beginning to cross the road.

I’ve long wanted to see such a colony of ants, presumably on their way to raid a termite nest – and I’m thrilled to bits. They look mean – big black things that I don’t want to meet without the protection of the car. We reverse out of there and leave them to it.

We first head towards the bridge crossing the Shingwedzi river – but there are no interesting sightings there – before heading to the camp for breakfast. We have the day visitor picnic area overlooking the river to ourselves, except for the squirrels and the waterbuck that we spot in the riverbed as we eat our muesli.

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A baboon troop that we noticed on the road to camp arrives at the picnic spot just as we prepare to leave. We drive through camp to follow the road along the Kanniedood dam back to Mopani.

We pass a dead terrapin in the road – quite obviously a vehicle drove right over it. It’s saddening.

A troop of vervet monkeys keep us occupied for a while – especially a mother nursing a tiny cutesy baby. I’m always amazed at the way they interact and sit – very much like humans sometimes.

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We finally spot three hippo in the dam below, and a goliath heron stands motionless in the water. At one of the loops, two kingfishers are sitting in a tree overhanging the water – diving in to try and catch a fish at intervals. We stay a while, watching them hunt but they have no luck during the time we watch and we finally say goodbye.

The dam ends and the bush changes back to mopaneveld. Two more elephants are added to the tally as well as a steenbok that unfortunately does not stay to pose for a photograph.

At the viewpoint we spot a mother and baby dwarf mongoose and later we find our first blue wildebeest – a lonely figure in the otherwise empty mopane-shrubveld.

A male and female ostrich kicks up a cloud of dust as we pass and here and there we spot impala herds with nursery-trees under which lots of babies shade against the summer sun. This is one of the most astonishing things about visiting Kruger in summer – the impala babies are wonderful.

We’re back at Mopani at about 12 o’clock – a nice siesta under the air-conditioning is in order, I think. We enjoy lunch on the deck overlooking the dam and then spend some time at the bungalow relaxing.

We leave at about 15:00 to drive the Shongololo-loop. Some authors suggest going as far as Baanbreker waterhole and then turning back because the rest of the long road doesn’t offer many sightings, apparently. I decide to put this to the test and see for myself.

On the stretch before the waterhole we spot two buffalo, a giraffe that is lying down (the first time I’ve ever seen this) and a herd of well-rounded zebra.

The monotonous bush for the rest of the loop offers a sighting of a leopard tortoise crossing the road with a leaf sticking out of it’s mouth, a steenbok and a lappetfaced vulture sitting in a tree.

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It appears that the various authors are indeed correct. Back at the tar road we find two more elephant browsing the soft, wavy grass. I’m feeling sleepy and the green grass is looking more inviting by the minute.

Back at the camp we find a water monitor has decided to join us for the evening. This is the first time I’ve been close to one and it’s wonderful. Little do I know what treat is in store for me later!

It’s the night before Christmas and when a handful of fireflies decide to start crawling on the mopane-bush in front of the stoep I feel a deep sense of peace settling over me – this is the ideal African Christmas. Who needs snow and fir trees?

There’s even gifts and another choir of birds and frogs tonight – although they’re not singing Christmas carols – as far as I can hear.

Happy and satisfied with our good fortune we head off to bed.


Last edited by mel123 on Fri Jan 04, 2008 8:45 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Unread postPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2008 10:26 am 
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Day 3 (Dec 25 07) – A gnawing hyena and terrapin claws

I slept like a log and this morning we’re ready almost on time – we’re off just three minutes after the gate officially opens.

This is my favorite time of the day in Kruger – it’s dark out and there is a very real sense of anticipation and not knowing what exciting sightings might be ahead. Nowhere is the promise as tangible, the unknown lying ahead so thrilling.

Dark clouds mill around in the sky – giving the night a dramatic look and feel.

The first sighting of the day, shortly after turning south, is a special one – a lovely owl sitting on a dead tree. When we stop the majestic bird starts watching us, instead of looking out for prey. The car in front of us didn’t even slow down at this spot! The photograph is one of my favorites of the whole trip.

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Just a few kilometers further two vehicles are parked on the verge. As we near them I spot a head moving in the grass – we’ve found a hyena den and while the older folks are probably still out hunting, two youngsters are feeling frisky. One is gnawing something in the grass – probably a leftover bone or something.

As more cars arrive – he decides to investigate and gambols out into the road to sniff at all the bumpers. Hyenas aren’t the prettiest animals but in my book all babies are cute and the joy with which this little hyena discovers life is remarkable, not to mention adorable.

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We finally move on, not because we’re bored but we’ve got a long ways to go still. The next sighting is two kori bustards strutting through the grass. One is in front, with the second one chasing it. The second one is doing all sorts of groovy things with his (I presume) feathers. I suspect he’s trying to impress the first one.

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As we drive towards Letaba we spot a herd of zebra and four blue wildebeest that suddenly and for no apparent reason turn and start galloping away in a dust cloud. Was it something we said?

Past Letaba we’re held up by a herd of buffalo (probably 100 plus) crossing the road – and taking their time about it. I like watching buffalo – they remind me of cattle. A few kilometers on we spot our second big herd.

We spot our first and only warthog of the trip on the road to Olifants – they’re much more rare here in the north. Down south you see them all the time.

The day is warm and there is no breeze. The clouds of this morning evaporated like mist and the sky is blue and clear.

At Olifants we turn off and head to the restaurant for breakfast. Years earlier I had once had breakfast here, and to this day it’s been the best breakfast I’ve ever had in the park. I’m now back in my favorite camp for a special treat: a breakfast I’ve been dreaming about...

Before we can get out of the car I spot a paradise flycatcher sitting in a bush and get out my camera. I also wait while a couple that just came out of the restaurant, photograph it. These birds are really lovely.

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Breakfast is all that I’ve hoped it would be. Olifants really has the best breakfast of all the camps I’ve tried thus far – including Punda Maria, Skukuza, Lower Sabie, Berg-en-Dal and Letaba.

Feeling very happy, we head off to drive the S92/S91 roads – which I’ve heard are excellent for sightings. Unfortunately our luck is not in, and we only spot a ground hornbill, baboons and a baby crocodile. It’s almost 30 cm long – and there are no other crocodiles visible at all in the pool where we find it. It’s a bit of a puzzle, but as it moves off as soon as we stop, I can’t get a nice photo.

The highlight of the road is a tiny terrapin sunning itself on the rock. I’m amazed at its claws. What on earth does it use it for?

Image

We head back towards Mopani with the H1-6 where we amazingly spot two tsessebe! This is a first sighting of these rare antelope for me and I’m thrilled. We also spend some time watching an elephant browsing, a herd of zebra and a few blue wildebeest. These do not run off suddenly and for no reason.

We’re back at camp at 13:00 – in time for a spectacular Christmas lunch at the Mopani restaurant, starting off with a glass of champagne. The food is not bad at all, although I don’t like turkey that much - I suppose it is traditional.

After a sumptuous lunch I take a nap while my friend sits outside reading the paper. When I wake up he tells me that the water monitor was back and that some sort of mongoose (he can’t identify it unfortunately) came bounding up from down below, and ran into the monitor – who responded very meanly and threateningly. It then ran away... the mongoose, not the monitor. The monitor is obviously not scared of anything.

I’m upset that I missed an obviously dramatic encounter. We leave to drive the Nshawu-loop where the highlight is two elephants near the Mooiplaas waterhole. A few zebra graze near the fire-experiment, unaware of such lofty endeavors such as figuring out what the effect of fire is on the mopane shrubland. I also wonder if there has been any progress – the research has been ongoing since the 1950’s. Surely they’d know the answer by now?

We also encounter a lone helmeted guinefowl – although we can hear his mates deeper into the bushes.

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At Nshawu 1 we see a grey heron and as we head back to camp we wonder what the reason is for a red car that is parked off the road, in the bushes. Earlier there were two occupants, now there are none.

Just before camp we encounter a herd of waterbuck, consisting of males and females.

Back at our bungalow I make a light supper and while my attention is on the food, I hear my friend call out – but I miss seeing the genet that ran from the bushes in front of the bungalow and headed to the right at lightning speed. That's twice. Now, I’m really upset!

As we do the dishes among the usual insect chaos I stifle a nervous scream as a beetle clasps my finger from beneath the soapsuds.

What a shock to my already jittery system! I pour myself a glass of whisky to calm my nerves. This soon has the desired effect and after a cooling shower, we go to sleep. It’s been a wonderful day.


Last edited by mel123 on Mon Jan 07, 2008 2:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Unread postPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2008 2:47 pm 
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Your owl photo is stunning Mel. Really enjoying your report about Christmas in the park, hopefully I'm going to be doing the same in a year's time.

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Unread postPosted: Mon Jan 07, 2008 3:03 pm 
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Day 4 – 26 Dec 2007 – A dramatic fight

Today for the first time, we are exactly on time. We wait 10 seconds for the gate to open and then we are off for the day – heading south once again.

The road is dark and quiet and the first sighting of the day is a few kilometers after we turn off to take the Tsendze-loop. It’s four white rhino’s. They’re not very impressed with our appearance and mill around uncertainly before stomping off.

What makes the sighting special is the magnificent sunrise behind them and the fact that rhinos in the north are pretty hard to come by. According to the sightings boards at Letaba and Mopani this is the only rhino sighting of the day in this area.

Image

The loop further yields some waterbuck but no leopards – even though I search quite hard for them.

We stop on the bridge across the Letaba-river, but except for the pong, not much else is around. The smell is apparently caused by the bats living under the bridge.

Back on the tar-road to Letaba we find a baboon-troop. Three of the big male baboons have sore legs or feet, they’re limping along on three legs – which leads us to speculate whether they might have had a run-in with a leopard or some other predator during the night?

At Letaba we head towards the restaurant for breakfast – after watching a hippo cross a reed bed and disappear into the water.

The breakfast, although lovely, is not quite up to Olifants’ exceptional standard. It is also confusing to order what you want from the waiter, when all the other restaurants work on a buffet-principle. Furthermore I get baked beans, which I hate, instead of bacon when the orders arrive. It’s thankfully quickly rectified. :D

I love watching the bushbuck in camp – they give the camp a special atmosphere I think.

On the road again, we decide to take the S47-loop, but the pickings are slim. We see impala, another leopard tortoise and a chameleon.

Back on the tar road I spot two reedbuck. They are lying in the tall grass near Malopenyana. The ram is lying some meters away from the ewe, and they are so well camouflaged that it is very difficult to see them at all. I feel chuffed to have spotted them – another rare antelope sighting.

The mystery of the car parked in the bushes is solved – it broke down and we meet the towtruck towing it towards Letaba as we head north.

Heading on, we stop for lunch at Mooiplaas and I enjoy watching a mother Woodland Kingfisher who is feeding some babies in one of the poles of the thatched structure.

The nest is surprisingly low from the ground – about 50 cm from the ground. A party of picnickers arrive and take up position under the structure, so I can’t get a nice photo of the mother coming out of the hole as she watches the procession of cooler boxes from a tree branch.

Finally we head towards camp and find a party of four elephants and a herd of waterbuck.

Back at our bungalow I sit on the stoep, determined not to miss the afternoon action like yesterday when I was sleeping through it. And I am not disappointed.

I spot our friend the water monitor on a rock and decide to photograph him. While I’m taking his picture I spot another water monitor. It’s sidling closer in a shifty manner and I watch with interest to see what will happen next.

What happens next is beyond any expectations I might have. The two monitors tackle each other viciously, coiling round and round each other like a snake. Their silent struggle is characterized by moments of intense stillness, and then flurries of movement so fast the eye cannot track it, as they both try to gain the upper hand.

It’s violence on an unbelievable level and they seem to be very evenly matched. I read somewhere that honey badgers are ferocious and utterly determined in a fight. I’ve never seen a honey badger, but this is definitely obsessive behaviour. The intensity takes my breath away.

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At times one of them gets the other on its back, but not for long. Round and round they go. They’re so busy and utterly engrossed in their deathly struggle that they don’t see me at all! Half an hour later they’re still going.

Then, one who is looking a bit more tattered tries to run away. The other however follows and tackles him again. Round and round, biting, clawing, trying to throw each other down like wrestlers – they continue.

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Ten minutes later a mighty throw launches them, still clenched together with their jaws enveloping body parts of the other, off the steep incline towards the dam below.

I can’t see them anymore and I’m sorry not to be able to see how the story ends. The image of them plunging down the incline, with neither letting go of the other even though they’re falling, will stay locked in my brain forever.

I feel incredibly blessed to have witnessed this. Although it is a violent sight, it is not something you see every day. Wow.
I’ve downloaded three of the almost forty photo’s I took during the epic struggle. I just hope they do some justice to it.

We leave at 16:00 to go to Stapelkop dam – it’s a long and somewhat boring drive. The Stapelkop-koppie is nice however and the dam is pretty.

We find some kudu, waterbuck, impala and hippo at the dam and then head back. We spot more kudu and an elephant that blocks the road for a while but luckily then moves off without making too many threats.

Image

Back at camp we start packing, and making a fire for a braai – to celebrate our last day in the park before we head off to bed. What a day it’s been.


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Unread postPosted: Tue Jan 08, 2008 9:57 am 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Location: North West
Day 5 - 27 December 07 - Going home

We leave as soon as the gates open, as we've got a long ways to go to get home.

It's still dark out and despite my ardent wishes to see some special animals to round out the trip, the drive is uneventful.

Our only sightings on the way to Phalaborwa gate is an elephant browsing near the road and two giraffe.

My heart ache as we head out of the gates. Life always feels too fast once I leave the park - I'm used to driving slowly and then suddenly, all at once, we speed up to normal driving speeds and everything just feels wrong.

In terms of seeing the Big 5 we didn't do too well - we only saw elephant, rhino and buffalo and I'd be lying if I said that I wouldn't have enjoyed seeing leopard (which I adore) or lion.

Despite the lack of cats, we've had a very special trip, with loads of interesting sightings and beautiful sights. The camp was beautiful and there were moments that will stay with me for as long as I live. The rhino-sunrise and wrestling monitors are just two of them.

For people who don't think the north is worth a visit, this is the message I hope to bring - everywhere in Kruger is special.

Even if you have to work a bit harder to see the animals, there's always something there that makes it all worthwhile.

While we're there we always start planning our next trip. It just makes leaving the park somewhat more bearable.

So: for our next trip - I believe the cat-country of Satara might be nice... :D

THE END :wink:


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Unread postPosted: Thu Jan 10, 2008 9:29 am 
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Location: North West
Thank you boorgatspook, anne-marie and meandering mouse and everybody who replied earlier, for your kind words.

I surprisingly quite enjoyed doing the report and it has made the trip more even special, to be honest.

I'll definitely do another one when I visit the park next.

Eugene123, the state of Letaba's waitstaff is really sad - especially compared to the excellent service in other camps. Do give another camp's breakfast a try - it's a special treat that I enjoy every time I go to Kruger.


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