one and a half weeks ago i couldn´t imagine that i would be writing a trip report today, but then i recieved an urgent message which caused me to come to Jo´burg immediately. One day later i fortunately had a flight ticket and on sunday 09.12. i was on my way (with 4 hrs delay). Reaching Jozie on the 10.12. i was very busy and did the things i had to do. Even several power failures and looking into a machine pistol at a police control ( Luck is, when they search for somebody other than yourself ) couldn´t stop me - i was ready at tuesday afternoon. For friday i had date in a banking office at early afternoon, so what to do with the time until this date?
Why not visiting Kruger for a short trip? After some shopping i went into a internetcafe at Rosebank, checked availability and asked Angel DinkyBird for advice, because in the past i allways planned my trips before i started of.
DB made me mighty and in the very early morning I checked out from the hotel. I was on my way to Kruger!
The roads seem to be much better than the last years, although some works are still running. Via N12, N4, R36, R526, R530 ( Witbank, Middelburg, Belfast, Machadodorp, Lydenburg, Ohrigstad, Mica) I reached Phalaborwa Gate after 5 ½ hrs. I went to the reception and asked wether I could stay in the park for two overnights. “Sorry, but you only can enter as a day-visitor, if you haven´t booked accommodation.” he answered. I told him, that I had seen on the SANP-webside, that there would be accommodation available for several camps, especially several bungalows at Letaba and that I would like to stay one night at Letaba and one night at a southern camp like Lower Sabie, where I supposed 2 huts to be free. Also at B&D should be availabilities. He took another look at the computer and what happened? “Sorry sir, you are right!” he said. He explained, that he could give me a day-visitor-ticket and I should proceed to Letaba to make the booking for both camps there.
After some struggling with the credit-card-machine (finally I paid cash) due to the abovemetioned power failures, I got my ticket and entered the park and drove to Letaba. The usual animals like impala welcomed me and the H9 took me after a good hour to the camp. Without any problem I booked a bungalow for the first night and a hut at LS for the second. Same struggling with the machine took some minutes bad had some other effect:
When I turned around, heaven opened its doors and sent us some water, much water and more water. 6 or 7 meters to the car and I was wet from hair to feet. The camp roads turned into little rivers, especially that one next to the ATM and shop, where I fled to. Buying some good (most of it to eat and drink – and all very fresh) took less time and I went to the bungalow, for the loo and a coffee. In this time the rain went away and I went away from the camp. Letaba, S46, S44, S93, Olifants, H8, H1-5, S46, S94, Letaba - that was my hunting-route. And it was a good one. Waterbucks, hippos, giraffes, elephants, zebra, impala, baboons, vervet-monkeys, wildbeest, vulture, fish-eagle, hornbill – that was my “kill”.
18.28 h – I went into the camp and after a short break to eat some pasta with meat balls I went to the elephant-hall. I´ve been there several times, so nothing really new awaited me, but they showed a very interesting movie: “Lionesses of the dark”. Those nature-movies in KNP, shown under open air or like here inside – I have never seen one which wasn´t very interesting. I think it´s a MUST for the evening.
Having a shower, some slices of bread, a cup of coffee and a cigarette, then reading some pages of Bruce Byrden´s “A Game Ranger Remembers” and the day ended.
Although I had no travel-bell with me, I woke up very early – early enough to be ready for Take-Off at the camps gate at 4.30 h. For a short time the headlights of my rental Fiat-Palio (not the best thing for a man with 1,86 m height) had to do some work, but quickly the sun lurked at the horizon and the lights could be switched off. The period of headlights turned smooth to the period of air-con.
A short loop on S69 and H9 brought me some Marabous - very useful birds (do you know what the feathers are used for? Even nowadays police uses them for preparing fingerprints).
After that, having my eyes wide open because this time is normally the very best time for observations, I saw………. nearly nothing. Steadily driving down the H1-5, there was a giraffe in some distance , a handful of impalas, the ass of an elephant fleeing into a green wall of bushes and trees, the usual millipedes on the street, which double all distances in Kruger because of travelling in circles, some hippo-backs lying like stones in Olifants-river – maybe they were stones !?!? So I reached the crossing with H8. I had a short discussion with Mr. Thorsten himself and he decided, not to have breakfast at Olifants-camp, but to drink some coke and eat some bread with strawberry-jam at the beautiful view-point, a very short distance ahead. Turning right from H1-5 the asphalted road rises up a little, until you come to a little gravel-place with a memory-worthy view over the river. There you are allowed to step out of your car, but only in the area of this place and on own risk. Somebody may ask now “What kind of risk?”. I will not discuss it here and now, but although you are allowed to leave the car, predators aren´t forbidden there. OK I stayed in the car eating and drinking but not seeing any animals except that little thing in the sky was a bird and not some dust in my eye. 20 minutes of breakfast with that view is wonderful but also enough. So I drove off.
The car rolled down the little road towards H1-5 and I was nearby the crossing, when I saw in the left corner of my left eye a shadow coming out of the green on the left side.
YEAH, Allen Quatermain is back, Indiana Jones and Bror von Blixen-Finecke aka “Thorsten the Hunter”.
My foot hit the brakepedal and in the mirror of the car I saw a Panthera Pardus, a Leopard, the secondmostbeautifulanimal as my son says (he prefers cheetahs). He up-attractive slowly crossed the road and went into the bushes. I turned right onto the H1-5 and after some seconds I got him back. So we went south – side by side and every now and then a look into the others eyes. Just after the crossing to S91 he stopped, looked at me, yawned and suddenly went into the bushes – maybe he had to drink something at the river. But if he would have asked me, I would have given him some coke and we had extended our journey. As I stood there (means the car and me inside), a car came from ahead, stopped and the driver asked me, whether there was an interesting sighting. “There was a leopard, but sorry, he´s just gone down to the river.” Was my answer. He replied: “Doesn´t matter, two kilos ago, we had a leopard with a kill in the tree. Short after the bridge, maybe one or twohundret meters.” We said goodbye and went off. Passing the bridge and short afterwards there was a group of 7 cars surrounding the scene. I only saw the kill in the tree, a little impala. The leopard was hidden by the cars, but it didn´t matter because I had my own non-shared-leopard just before. A great start into the day!
Tomorrow to be continued again...
Kule ... Zontaba
Stimela siphume South Africa
Kule ... Zontaba
Stimela siphume South Africa
Last edited by Thorsten on Tue Dec 18, 2007 6:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.