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Unread postPosted: Tue Jun 17, 2008 3:16 am 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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To all you nightjar fans, I did some reading, this bird travels all the way fr Europe to Africa on its yearly migration. It must be the Rusky mascot for its travelled almost the same distance to be in Kruger heaven. Of course we didn't have to flap our wings for 8000km to get there. :wink:

This is the 15th post on the page so I'm going to post the next Part of the TR.

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Rusky's Kruger Ramble Jun 08 - a 1st timers dream trip


Last edited by rusky on Wed Nov 19, 2008 8:44 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Unread postPosted: Tue Jun 17, 2008 4:27 am 
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Sawubona friends and Nyabonga (we thank you). All of you who have visited this thread to read my ramblings and a special "salaam" to those who post comments (coz that helps the page turn :wink: )

Part 6: 3 June 08: A rude awakening

Blaaaaartpphhhhh!
Gggggrrrrrrruughhhhhhmmmpppphhhhh!
Spllllaaaaapppphttthh!
Hrrrrrrrrrrruuuuuumppppphh!

It’s 3 am and the hippos are keeping me awake.
And you thought it was Maria, eh? :wink:
It sounds like they’re having an argument!
Or it could be the curry they had last night. :roll:
I lay awake re-living the sightings of yesterday. Hmmmmmmmmm.

Maria, is up at 5am as she’s booked on the morning walk. She wants me to let the kids sleep late. :shock:
“Till they wake up”, she orders and then she’s gone.
(M’s promised to write a walk report for the forum).

I start to pack for the morning drive. I am not the quietest of movers in the morning (more like a bull in a china shop) and the kids get up. :wink:
Well, I followed all the instructions to a tee. “They woke up. I didn’t do nothing” I prepare my defence for the inquisition later.

We’re 4th in the queue at the gate. It’s 6.04am on MY watch and the guard is having a chat with someone in the queue. I’m tapping my foot. :naughty:
It’s overcast today and hence too dark to see much when we’re finally out and so we by-pass Sunset Dam. We drive on to Lubye lubye bridge. There is a turning circle here that will give us a perfect view of the "lion rock" and we can have our breakfast under the shade of some “leopard trees”. I spot a spotted hyena in my rear-view mirror just before the bridge but its too dark for a photo. We park at the above spot and wait for the morning to break. Even our cereal tastes divine here in Kruger. :D
Then we head back to see “Spotty”. The light is not the best for pics so I take just a couple. Spotty just stands at the edge of the road. A 4 wheel drive approaches and pulls up right next to him. Instead of scampering away Spotty comes closer and checks the cars tyres for any road-kill scraps. We spend 10 mins with him and then head towards Nkuhlu. On the road we meet with an immaculate male baboon. He gets quite turned on by my skills with the camera and exposes himself. I’m not impressed :naughty: …….no special permit required for this one though. :twisted:
Image Image We head right down the unsealed N’watimihri Causeway and find impis and nyala or is it a kudu female? By the ears I think nyala. She turns her head to look at us and I click at the right instant. We head towards Skukuza on the H4-1 and come across a buffalo couple crossing the road. We’ve learnt to differentiate the sexes from their ‘helmets’.
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Then I turn around and head back to LS passing more buffalo and then 4 "mongii" scuttle across the road. What is a mongii ?you ask….the plural of mongoose, of course :wink:
We decide WE do not like "mongooses" or "mongeese" and by vote its "mongii" from now on. (NPTQFMTPC - no pics….too quick for me to park and click).

5 km from LS here are 3 cars parked on the side of the road. Lions! A couple sprawled in the brown savannah grass about 70m away. The male moves away into taller grass – must be one of those shy retiring types – but the Mrs stays back and offers some good front on shots. I’m slowly getting used to my new toy and hopefully the pics show some improvement. It is an 18x zoom (only) though and I’m wondering if I should have paid double and got an SLR.
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After about 15 mins I’m finding it difficult to keep the kids quiet enough. Sometimes they are a real pain in the Lower Sabie! :wall:
So, we give our spot to the next vehicle and head for tea and rusks (or coffee in my case) at my favourite swimming pool – Sunset Dam. It’s around 9.30am now and of course the hippos and crocs are there but we are becoming more observant and we’re starting to spot new things that the virgin Kruger eye overlooked. There’s a Great Egret on the tree preening itself in the sun, a couple of African spoonbills fishing in sync with their peculiar arc shaped motion, bills dipped in the water, and there on the far bank are impis almost camouflaged against the brown earth. Even the regulars - hippos and crocs - are up to different antics from previous visits.
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It is as if Africa is this loving earth mother. She knows we cannot take all this magnificence and beauty at one sitting and so, she gives it to us, spoon feeding us as a loving mother would her baby, one small morsel at a time, so we can savour each different flavour and comprehend every nuance.

I can’t wait for that next bite.

“Be patient, my child” she croons. “All will be revealed."

As we pull out of the Sunset Dam “car park” we see an elegant Kudu ram who was feeding just behind the bush where we were parked (and we didn't know he was there)!
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The Kudu is an omen for what is about to follow – after all it’s the Sanparks emblem…… :wink:

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Rusky's Kruger Ramble Jun 08 - a 1st timers dream trip


Last edited by rusky on Tue Jun 17, 2008 7:30 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Unread postPosted: Tue Jun 17, 2008 5:08 am 
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In lieu of Youth Day (we are all young at heart on this forum :wink: ) I have a double instalment of the TR for you today. However it is (but) a click away and written by Mrs Rusky.

You will find Part 7: 3 June 08: The Morning report – by MC (My Conscience) aka Mrs. Rusky here
http://www.sanparks.org/forums/viewtopi ... 0&start=15

Enjoy! :D

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Rusky's Kruger Ramble Jun 08 - a 1st timers dream trip


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Unread postPosted: Wed Jun 18, 2008 2:17 am 
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Part 8: 3 June 08 contd: Yellow Ribbon Day

It’s 10am and we head to the LS reception to see if M’s back from her morning walk. “Dad, look” Sarah shrieks. I whirl my head in the direction of her voice an image of WTM’s lioness (inside the LS camp!) in my mind. Sarah’s delicate hand is pointing to a white car and there’s a big smile on her face. It’s our first yellow ribbon.

Pheeeeeeeeeeew! I start breathing again. (I’m getting old. I should have given up the smokes long ago.)

No sign of anyone in or near the car so I leave a message on the windscreen with our hut number. We then walk around the restaurant looking for likely candidates. No luck. We go back to the car-park and I notice Elsa’s car (I know it is hers because she pm’d me the model and colour and there’s a YR on it). As I am writing a note, a couple approach but move to the car next to Elsa’s, eyeing me very suspiciously.

“I’m sorry sir but you are parked in a No Standing zone. I’m issuing you a parking ticket” I say. They don’t get the joke and give me a dark look.

Over the trip I find that it takes some effort to break the ice with Saffies in general (I’m talking here of face to face meetings not forum ones). Due to the crime situation here they come across as reserved and distant but once they learn we are visitors from Australia the “security glass doors’ are opened and we are made welcome. I feel sorry that things have reached the stage in this beautiful country where human beings of different races have to first prove their trustworthiness to each other before human interaction can proceed. I pray that with the blessing of Father Time these wounds heal and we are able to look at one another as brothers and sisters.

“Rusky?” I am jarred back into reality by a strapping Saffie man. “I’m Klystron” he says offering his hand. And soon we’re following him to a table of 6 others! The YR gang – Elsa & Klystron, Tawny and Martial, Saraf and SO and Jock. We pull up chairs and soon we’re chatting like long lost friends. (What a difference to the couple I met in the car-park).
PS: There is a picture of us on an earlier page
The restaurant is pretty full and we’re making enough noise for heads to be turning in our direction. We exchange sighting news and then Elsa, Tawnyand Martial give the kids a Kudu pin each – it was an omen (the Kudu sighting in Part 6)! The YR gang have to leave as they have a rendezvous with Ecojunkie at Satara. We say our goodbyes. The kids remind me that the ice cream balance is now 8 (one for each BIG 5 and YR sighting). There goes my retirement fund. :(

When M returns from her morning walk, the kids spend a couple of hours in the pool (it’s 28 degrees) and then we have lunch in the cafeteria. This is definitely the restaurant with THE best view I have been to. The river bends its way past us. Hippos and crocs bask on an island midstream and a variety of birds flit about our table vying for scraps.
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We savour our ice-creams as we walk back to the hut for an afternoon siesta. But I have other plans – I get a pass out from the Mrs and spend an hour at Sunset Dam all on my own. :dance:

I decide to do a census: crocs 21, hippos 30, baboon 7, impis 6, warty 1, spoonbill 2, blacksmith lapwing 1, great white egret 1. Before I know it, it’s time to go back and pick up the troops for the evening drive. When I get there M’s still asleep! And the kids don’t want to go. They want to play! :wall: :naughty: :rtfm: :huh:

“Why don’t you go out on your own” M mumbles sleepily. I’m in the car and out of the gate before you can say “Bob’s your uncle” and more importantly before she changes her mind. :yaya:

I decide on a new route and head down the Mativuhlungu Loop (S82). It is a different feeling when you are all alone in the car in the bush. A bit eerie but this excites me. The impis have all come out to welcome me but I don’t see much else for a while then spot a vulture in a tree (white backed?). Image
Being alone in the car makes taking a photo a bit of a logistical challenge – park car, switch engine off, hop over to passenger window (without straining a hamstring), roll down window, take shot, roll up window (I just keep the drivers window open when I’m on my own – a precaution against monkeys. See Page 2 of this thread and thanks to Ludwig.), jump back. Sometimes the animal/bird is “missing” by the time I get into position….drat.

I turn left on to the H4-2 to return to LS and meet 3 giraffe. The sun is setting and I am after that classic African sunset pic – setting sun + tree + giraffe. The latter 2 in silhouette. The sun and props are on the passenge’rs side (Murphy is also a pain in the LS) and the props do not stay still and after many unsuccessful attempts and a lot of obscenities I admit defeat and just enjoy the scene.

I end the drive with 5 mins of quiet reflection at Sunset Dam. I'm going to miss this spot. :cry:

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Rusky's Kruger Ramble Jun 08 - a 1st timers dream trip


Last edited by rusky on Wed Nov 19, 2008 8:58 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Unread postPosted: Wed Jun 18, 2008 2:36 am 
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I'm in a generous mood today and there's not many pics on the page :wink: ......so here's the next installment .

Part 9: 4 June 08: The rude awakening -2
Oooonnnnggghhhhh! Oooooooonnnnnnnghhhhhhhhhh! Oouunnnnggh! Oouunngghh! Oonngh! Oonngh! Oongh! Oongh! Ungh!
What the @#$%^ was that?
LIONs! Roaring in the night.
It is a deep, guttural sound from the pit of your stomach. It starts with a long stomach wrenching groan then builds in length and intensity with every repetition. Then it shortens, with each repetition, finishing with a grunt. It pierces the night and my soul. It brings the hair on my neck to attention and a dryness to my throat. It is pure animal …….and in a way …..strangely sexual. A build up to a climax and then ……..release.
It is a sound I will forever associate with Kruger.

It is 3.30 am. I go to the communal toilets and when I sneak back into bed M cuddles up to me and we lie there, silent, listening to the lions in the night. We both know what the other is thinking – for today we have to say Goodbye forever to LS. :cry:

The Lions have woken everyone in the camp early (they are very close) yet we are 2nd in line at the gate. :dance:
When it finally opens, we head for Lubye lubye for there have been sightings of lion and leopard in this area over the past few days………nothing. We do a u-turn and at a little traffic jam 3k from LS are pointed out a lion couple about 60m away. This time the male is in full view but before the light is sufficient for photos he moves away. However we have seen him standing and walking in full view – wow! Another km down the road on the LHS someone points to a tree with a carcase hanging from a branch. No LIT but a LKIT (Leopard kill in tree)! :roll:

We stop at Sunset Dam to say our goodbyes while we eat our breakfast cereal. The resident hippos are very vociferous this morning. Are they saying goodbye too?
We are treated to an encore performance by the famous “Lower Sabie Hip(po) Harmonic Orchestra” that brings tears to our eyes.

We pack for our move to Tamboti (Tam). 3 days have whizzed by.

We have 147km to cover and the aim is to get to Orpen by 2 pm and Tam by 3, latest! We decide to stick to the sealed roads travelling at 50k per hour as much of the way as possible and stopping only for MAJOR sightings. It’s a good plan……on paper.

We are hardly 500m from the gate to the H4-1 when we hit our first roadblock – 3 giraffe – one is just 5m for the car. 20 minutes later (after tearing up the PLAN) we are back on the road and onto the H-10 to Tshokwane. We drive past a herd of ellies without stoping but we stop for a solitary white rhino, grazing just 15-20m away. He must be Murphy’s brother because he takes 10 mins to show us his horns!
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At the Mlondozi intersection we find a family of warties and stop as the kids want to take a video. They have started do a series of ‘J and S’s Amazing documentaries’ in their best David Attenborough accents. At the intersection we meet with a couple who are also enjoying the warthog family. They inform us they have just seen a cheetah 2km down the unsealed S29. M and I look at each other. Our hearts want to take this diversion – a cheetah would be amazing as there’s only 250 in Kruger – but our heads win. We have only done 10km in an hour since we left LS at 8.30am. At this rate we will be at Tam at midnight!

So with a heavy heart we stick to the tar. And thank God we do………..

A suivre

PS the next instalment will have to be on a new page as it will use the FULL quota of pics :twisted:

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Rusky's Kruger Ramble Jun 08 - a 1st timers dream trip


Last edited by rusky on Wed Nov 19, 2008 9:02 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Unread postPosted: Wed Jun 18, 2008 8:24 am 
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TURN you son of a gun....


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Unread postPosted: Wed Jun 18, 2008 3:43 pm 
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Sawubona friends.
It should really be Good night. I was reading in bed (Wilbur Smith - Sound of Thunder, set during the Anglo-Boer war. I'm not sure if that is how it is now called). I got up to get Rusky Jr off the computer and into bed. Its 11pm here. (BTW he is now a forumite - Rusky jr off course). Anyway I thot I'd just check a few threads and...Hello! :big_eyes: what is this....the page has turned........Oh no we can't have that......I thot with 2 instalments I had my bases covered till at least tomorrow morning (about midnight 18 Jun Saffie time). Now you guys have me working a nightshift too. Eish! :wink:

I am prepared.

Part 10:4 June 08 contd: The magnificent 7
We’ve decided to stick to the main sealed roads so we reach Tam at a decent hour thus giving up the chance to track a cheetah on the S29. We’ve just left the intersection(H10 and S28) when we spot some impis on the road.
"Hold on that’s not impalas, its Lions!" I cry.
2 lionesses (to be precise) have come on to the tar from the bush about 100m ahead. Then another lioness joins them – wow, 3. They glance behind their right shoulders and a lion steps out from the bush. The 4 of them then saunter towards us down the middle of the H-10 as if they own the road. On seeing the lions M has pulled up and now shuts off the car and orders us to put up all windows – there is a shrill tone to her voice. The 3 lionesses lead the stroll followed by the male. They stop 15 m from the car look over their right shoulders again. 2 of the lionesses ‘rub cheeks’ and then they look at us – I can see the yellow of their eyes. What are they thinking?

Elsa:Girls check this lot out. They’re from Australia.
Thelma: Oh goody! , Let’s get them to teach us the Vienna Waltz!
Louise: Eish! Not Austria silly. AUSTRALIA! Kangaroos and Koalas. You know!
Samson: C’mon girls enough chit-chat. Get me some breakfast .I’m hungry.

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Samson proceeds to plonk on the road 5m from the RHS front end of the car closest to M.
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M tries to wind up her window but its already fully shut!
“Andre, if you dare wind that window down even a crack I’ll divorce you. I’m not kidding” she threatens. I don’t have much time to consider the pros and cons of this offer as the 3 lionesses head straight to the car, then as each reaches the front fender they turn and walk around the front of the car and pass by M’s window. One of the lionesses brushes past the YR on the RH side mirror. M’s nails draw blood through the denim of my jeans.

Elsa: C’mon girls we’ve work to do.
Thelma: (as she brushes the YR) Hey, look at this one. I think she’s going to wet her pants. Wonder what will happen if I lick her window.
Louise: (Giggles) You devil!
Elsa: Stop it you 2! They’re our guests in Kruger and they have a YR too.
Thelma: (Mumbling) Party pooper! Just because she’s wife no 1 she thinks she can boss us around.

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I manage to prise out M’s nails from my bloodied thigh.

Wait, there’s more lions!

One male and 2 lionesses step out of the same bush as the others before and make the 100m saunter to the car. This time they are led by the lion who stops to "have a word" with the lion sprawled on the road (who’s clearly top dog or should that be top cat?) before leading his 2 girlfriends to join the others who are all lying down on the road 20m behind our car.

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Edward (Eddie to his mates): What’s up Sammy? Had a big night, eh?
Sam: Ag, keeping 3 women happy has its ups and downs, mate. You have only 2 to look after. You go on I’ll just catch my breath.
Kim (whispering to Kath) He’s getting old. Not long before Eddie can knock him over.
Kath: (to Kim) Thelma was complaining to me that he just lies around all day doing nothing and ordering them around. (To Sam) C’mon sleepyhead breakfast is ready.
Sam: Oh, all right! Can’t a man get some peace. (to himself)Nag, nag. Nag! Women! Give them and inch and they think they’re RULERS!


He gets up gingerly and strolls down to the others and the lead lioness turns right into the bush and off the road where breakfast is waiting.
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This entire sighting took about 7-10 mins and for most of that time it was just US and the lions. It was OUR sighting. Our FIRST BIG sighting and what a memorable one. We stop every car for the next few kms to tell them of the exact location of the pride. There is a buzz in the car that is palpable and when we reach Satara the kids get the honour of putting their first red marker on the board near Mlondozi (and Magnum ice creams). It feels like winning the jackpot.

The stark reality is that we could have driven past them, sitting in the bush, and not even known they were there. We are no experts when it comes to spotting wildlife in fact we are on the other end of that “food-chain”. Or we could have left LS 10 minutes later and missed them completely.
I remember a conversation with a naturalist while on a safari in India trying to see tiger. I asked him what our chances were of sighting one. He replied “ The reality is we will see a tiger when IT ALLOWS US TO SEE HIM. Not before. Not after”.

I feel very humbled and honoured by the prides generosity.

PS: All of the pics above have been taken thro glass with the exception of one - of Sam - where M after much pleading risked her life......and opened her window a millimetre to take the shot.

I am forever indebted to her......and still a married man.........just. :wink:

Mlondozi lions video 1
Mlondozi Lions video 2

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Rusky's Kruger Ramble Jun 08 - a 1st timers dream trip


Last edited by rusky on Mon Feb 09, 2009 6:58 am, edited 3 times in total.

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Unread postPosted: Thu Jun 19, 2008 4:29 am 
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Oh My God! What have I created.....you guys are turning into a pack of "slave-drivers". This morning, I've been slogging at work and have just taken a peek in my lunch break.

Thank you - and I am thrilled you are enjoying the report and in some cases your families too. Illie your trip report brought much joy and tears to my family and the realisation that our time together is finite - make every second special.

Okay enough gasbagging - you guys just want me for my TR. :P

Part 11: The nitty gritty or the nits and the grit.
We are a family of 4. However whilst we may be the same flesh and blood it would be foolhardy to assume from our report that the car is a zone of love, peace and tranquillity. :roll: We are different personalities: Sarah and me are extroverts and lock horns often, M and Rusky Jr are introverts who are prone to getting offended by the extros abrupt behaviour. The new camera is causing a few problems. I had said at the start that it was MINE but Jnr wants to use it.
“Dad, I have the better position” he demands.
“If he can use it why can’t I. It’s not fair” S pleads her case.
“Stop being like a child with a toy” the Bass adds her 2 bits.
“But it’s mine” I cry.
:rtfm:

We decide the person closest to the sighting gets the shot but I’m allowed a pic as back-up. 8)

Generally M drives in the park and she is our best spotter. She is also the main organiser for the food component of our trip. She is the final authority on all earth moving decisions – like whether we stop for an ice cream or not. :wink:

Jnr’s (11 yrs) posi is RHS backseat behind M. He is a keen spotter. He likes to believe he can do everything at the same time – spot, eat, talk, film and read a book. He also has a wicked sense of humour and he and S start a series of mini-documentaries on our smaller digital camera called “J n S’s Amazing documentaries” in their best David Attenborough "propah upper-class english" accents. In fact Jnr is quite a talent and does some mean animal and bird impersonations. We use his “duck” when a stubborn rhino needs to be enticed to look into the camera for that perfect pic. :wink:
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Sarah is the youngest (9). Quick to love, fight, give, take and cry. She sits LHS backseat and is our recorder of spottings – identifying from the Honeyguide what we have just seen. When she is bored (which is very often) she draws pictures of combination animals such as "rhion buffaleophant" and "zebraffopotamus eagle". We are also discovering that she has a unique sense of humour. When I tell the family that on one hot night in LS I had gone to bed with hardly any clothes on and then in the middle of the night while in the toilets I realised I had my full night suit on with absolutely no recollection of putting it on, she cheekily calls me a Sleepdresser!
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The 2 kids come up with their own code words: the brick markers at intersections with directions become “giraffe necks” and the round road signs become “ostriches” (because we mistakenly think they are ostriches the first time).
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I am earning my keep. I’m normally the car packer (but that’s because I want us out on the road first! :redface: ), route selector, toilet stop planner (weak bladder), hot water thermos filler. I ride pillion (front LHS) with map on hand, note book and pen on dash-board, binocs on left knee and camera around neck and ready to shoot.
I think I’m a good spotter but have rotten luck as most of the sightings seem to fall on the RHS of the car. :huh: This is not helped by S’s loss of interest just 5 mins after we have driven out of the camp gate so I’m single handedly holding up the LHS team. :wall:

Both kids are enjoying the freedom of the un-belted back seats. We do make them wear seat-belts when we do maximum permitted speeds on sealed/unsealed roads.

On "quieter" drives we play games and compose limericks – each person adds a line just like in the limerick thread (thanks rayb):

There was a leopard who lived in a ditch (M)
And walked across a cricket pitch(Jnr, after discarding the "dog" rhyme :shock: )
He soon got stumped (nala)
With a ball he was thumped (me)
He sued and instantly became rich (M)


We also nominate names by which we will be called on the trip

Me: Rusky, Sleepdresser, Mbejane (rhino)
Maria (SO): Baas, MC (my conscience)
Joshua: Rusky Junior, Junior, Pumbaa, PILS (pain in the Lower Sabie)
Sarah: Nala and PILS2
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(no kids were injured while taking this pic. All body piercings you see are pretzels. Yes, PRETZELS)

The long hours in the car together without ipods, or Nintendo DS, or portable DVD players and not even a CD (being put on) means we actually spend time together. And though we get on each others nerves at times, (in hindsight) we have bonded as one family and know each other more intimately.

In today’s world we have so many distractions – tv, cell phones, internet, the constant barrage is endless and interruptions aplenty. We might live in the same house but how many families spend undisturbed time together? Watching your favourite TV serial while having dinner together doesn’t count, sorry. :wink:

It is another important lesson Africa teaches us and it is a much treasured gift.

Image

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Be the change you want to see in the world- Gandhi
Rusky's Kruger Ramble Jun 08 - a 1st timers dream trip


Last edited by rusky on Thu Jun 19, 2008 6:43 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: funny conversations
Unread postPosted: Thu Jun 19, 2008 11:34 am 
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Location: melbourne-down, down under(unfortunately we have no lions or impala:( )
hi all! :D
dad gave permission to add some funny conversations to our kruger ramble. enjoy!

I) We saw a wart hog snacking on some elephant/rhino droppings...

Dad: look its a pumbaa!
Mum: it's eating something. wonder what it is?
Me: it's eating poo
Sarah: eeeeeeewwwwwwwwwwwww!
Dad: looks very unhealthy
Me: duh-it's eating elephant crap
Mum: talk about junk food


II) Dad took us on a morning drive. when the staff opened the LS gate he said 'thankyou' in zulu...

Dad: syabonga!
Me: hi bonga
Dad: how do you know his name is bonga, isn't it mackson?
Me: well you said 'see ya bonga'
Dad: that means 'thankyou' in zulu
Me:ohhhh


III) on a morning drive...

Dad: CAN YOU GUYS JUST SHUT UP AND LOOK FOR STUFF
Me: oh look some stuff
Sarah: so far we've seen the big 5, a giraffe, a hippo...
Me: ...and stuff
Dad: oh God help me, save me from the powers of hell-my kids

IV) We had just gone through the well protected tamboti gate to try and find our hut...

Mum: andre baba, we need to find the laundry :o
Dad: ok baas 8)
Mum: on the map it says our hut is no. 22
Dad: the laundry...is there...huh...oh...wha?...wait ummm...err
Sarah: hey, dad! sites 21-30 go right
Dad: 22,22...22 where, where, where...come ooooonnnn...
Sarah: er, dad the turn off's just there
Dad:Sarah just be quiet im trying to find our hut
Mum: BABBU, YOU JUST MISSED THE TURN! :x
Sarah: yeaahh dad :P
Dad: oh bunnyhugger that :redface:

[/i]

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All right, slave drivers! (notice it's not Sawubona friends any more :wink: )You had me working way past my bedtime last night. :naughty:

Part 12: 4 June 08 contd.: Paradise Found
We leave our Mlondozi lions behind (see part 10) and M steps on the gas (relax we’re doing 50kmph) – we lost about 30 mins with the lions but nobody’s complaining. :wink:

The landscape is starting to change as we head north. We are leaving behind the lush riverine south and moving into the drier savannah. We seem to be climbing as well and this is obvious when we reach Nkumbe (lookout) where we are up on a rocky out crop with the flat savannah grassland stretching out to the horizon down below on the left.
Image
Through binocs, we spot our first Ozzie (ostrich) – M thinks the black dot 2k away is a wildebeest and then its telescopic neck emerges. It is a lovely spot and I could sit here for an hour…..but………

We drive on and the Eagles sing ‘Peaceful Easy Feeling’ on the CD. We have allowed the kids to have music and the ac on for this long journey (147km – possibly 8 hrs). It is a compromise for their sanity..and ours. :redface:

We spot a pair of klipspringer perched on and amongst the ‘kopjes’ and our first cop car.
Image
Tshokewane provides a nice coffee and toilet break with the starlings & hornbills but surprisingly the monkeys have the day off. :D

Onwards o the H-10 we meet or first Gnu. Which sounds so much cuter than wildebeest.
Image
At Mazhiti dam a smorgasboard of herbies – gnu, zebra, nyala, impis, hippo – and birds. Someone is gesticulating wildly from a white car. We look the way they are pointing…..and see nothing. After some more sign language we realise the driver is pointing to our yellow ribbon and then at her YR. :doh: We had not spotted her ribbon because she had it on the passengers side mirror. :rtfm:
It is Salamander and she’s had a sighting of 200 buffalo near Satara where she’s staying. :dance:

Next it’s a giraffe crossing. M loves them the most (along with zebra) and I’m beginning to endear myself to their gentle, swaying camel like gait. They are the ‘Mr Cool’s’ of Kruger. I can almost hear them saying “Yo mon! Howz it hangin’ “
Image
Soon we’re at Satara where we check the boards – we’re hunting wild dogs and cheetah. I make a note: doggies on H7 between Orpen and Tam and Sweni is a cheetah magnet. After a picnic lunch and fuel top up we’re off again.

WE see our first Sharpes grysbok on the flat shrubby flats around Satara and at N’semani Dam a lone tusker slates his thirst. This is a lovely spot – different from Sunset Dam but it drags me back again and again over the next few days.
Image Image

We are making good time now but at 50kmph we’re not seeing much wildlife (no surprise to forumites). We turn a bend and almost run into a tusker grazing at the edge of the road. Not sure who scared whom the most. :redface: From now on we stick to the middle of the road when atmaximum allowed speed except on blind bends where we slow down considerably.

At the intersection of S106 (Rabelais loop) with the H7 we notice an impi lying down in the grass on its side. Joshua does his ‘duck’ (call)…nothing. So I do my "lion" (I’ve been practising 8) ) and the impala buck sits up groggily and then lies down again.
“Strange. A sick impi?” I surmise. “We’ll check things out on our evening drive” I announce.

We check-in at Orpen for Tam. It’s a tent so there are no keys. :doh: We search the boards for white (cheetah) and yellow (doggies) dots and then we are at Tam at 3.30pm.

We fall in love with Tamboti.If Ludwig, in his TR can say ‘my Olifants’ then Tamboti is OURS (sorry Bush Baptist). While we enjoyed LS this is more our style – quieter, smaller, more secluded, rustic – less developed and minimal facilities though adequate, less people and yet on a river (currently dry). It reminds us so much of our favourite camping spot in Australia but with giraffe and impis grazing right next to our front porch :dance: (in Australia its wallabies and goannas/monitor lizards up to 5 ft from head to tail).
Image Image Image
The kids love Tam too and while we unpack I agree to forego the evening drive for some chill out time together as a family. We build our braai fire with coal and wood and have dinner early. A lovely easy drinking pinotage for M and me and some lemonade for the kids. Dessert is barbecued marshmallows and Amarula coffee.
Image
The kids have gone to bed and are asleep by 7pm :clap: while M and I enjoy the warmth of the fire and the darkness and the sounds of the Kruger night. It starts to drizzle and we move to the porch and then as the drizzle turns to rain the air is filled with the fragrance of warm moist earth.

I remember an epithet carved into a beautiful Mughal monument in India that describes the way I feel at this very moment

“If there is a paradise on this earth…. This is it! This is it! This is it!”

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Rusky's Kruger Ramble Jun 08 - a 1st timers dream trip


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Location: melbourne-down, down under(unfortunately we have no lions or impala:( )
hi again
1 more F.C (Funny Conversation) for ya

V) on a morning drive...

Me: anything but impalaaaaaaa.
Sarah: Stop,Stop,STOP- a lion!
Mum: where?
Me: er, Sarah, thats a rock
Sarah: oh


thanks for all the compliments

(the page was meant to turn. turn page pretty please :pray: :pray:-dad has really messy writing but a great style. i have to wait. someone send a comment about rusky's report to turn the page)
ps: i saw dad writing in his Kruger diary last night...

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The weekend instalment.
Weekend = 2 days :rtfm:

Part 13: 5 June: Speed Kills!
I awake to the giggle and laughter of a Hyena pack and then the lions join in with their ‘hump, hump, hump”. I’m missing my LS Hip(po) Harmonic Orchestra but this Tamboti Hyena-Lion Ensemble ain’t too bad either.

At 4.30 am the kids are starting to stir in their beds and I jump in for a cuddle (the 4 pax tents in Tam have 4 x single beds). But once it’s 5am, out comes the whip – time to get up! I’m having withdrawal symptoms from not having done an evening drive yesterday. :redface:

The gates are wide open when we drive out at 5.55am (opening time is 6) but I’m not complaining. It’s dark, there’s still clouds in the sky and before we reach the main road we spot the yellow eyes and shape of a jackal.

Our sick impi is now dead – we see the silhouette of the stretched out carcase and the antlers against the pale dawn light. It doesn’t seemed to have been touched by the predators…..yet…a whole 12 hours after we spotted it dying. I make a mental note to check this spot on our return.

We come across some buffalo in the hazy early morning light and as the morning breaks a lovely ‘fingers of God’ through the clouds.
Image
Ostrich! No, it’s a road-sign. Then stop for an impi and waterbuck crossing. They first stare at us from the edge of the road undecided, then some dart across. Then the ‘cool ones’, buoyed by the safe crossing of the pioneers, saunter across nonchalantly.
Image
We turn right on to the S36 headed for Sweni Rd and cheetah territory. We stop for a Tusker and finally our first ostrich close up. When they stop to graze it does look like they are sticking their heads in the sand.
Image
We enjoy a stretch and cereal, coffee and my favourite – Ouma rusks - at Muzandzeni.

On the Sweni we come across grysbok, giraffe and nyala or is it female kudu with young???
Image
They are beautiful and the light gives them a "garden of eden" aura.
Image
As they graze they are getting a ear and body clean by some energetic oxpeckers!

Then bump into a herd of ellies – 8 adults and 6 smallies – headed for the Sweni waterhole.
Image
We follow them there and position ourselves down wind (actually we just happen to be downwind but “position’ sounds so much better :wink: ) and get a great view of the biggies drinking from the tank and the smallies drinking from the spillway. The little ones – 6 in a row drinking – look like the trumpet section of a big brass band.
Image Image
After the ellies trundle away we move on left onto the H1-3 towards Satara. It is time for crossings – impi, gnu, zebra (of course). They are all headed for the Satara waterhole and for their mugshots on the forum webcam.

The white and yellow dots stare mockingly at us from the sightings board. It just wasn’t OUR day today. WE are learning to be patient and let things happen. We have realised the value of appreciating what is revealed to us rather than constantly chasing a ‘ghost’.

As we leave Satara I see the sign for the S100. THE S100 – the "road of legend" and ……..cardboard cutouts (as per WTM :wink: ). Not today, maybe tomorrow, …. the kids are tired and we have a huge bundle of clothes to wash. :(
Image baby giraffe and impi somewhere between Satara and Tam.

At the “dead impi” intersection we see few cars pulled up. There is a huge pack of vultures (about 40)- mainly white backed and cape and a couple of lappet faced. They huddle and hop around what must be the impi carcase in a tight moving circle. It looks like a rugby scrum but more frenetic – maybe a group of bargain hunters round a table full of specials at the Myer Boxing Day Sale. :roll:
Image
The vulture shopping sale scrum circles as the individuals fight and squabble. There are mini arguments and chases but they all return to the main huddle and get on with the task at hand.
Image
Overlooking the proceedings at a reserved distance is the lappet faced vulture with a sort of snobbish air. He reminds me of Mr Peacock from “Are You being Served”. Hands joined behind his back nose in the air patrolling the floor.
Image
At one instant the pack breaks and I see the impis head with it’s eye staring at me. It sends a shudder through my body but I’m captivated by the whole macabre scene and I am not able to tear my eyes away.
Image
Later we find out that the impi was hit by a vehicle and an hour earlier a pack of hyena were fighting for the carcase. The vultures are here to finish the rest.

It is easy for us to look at hyenas and vultures with disdain - as parasites who steal from other animals. This incident however, puts them in a totally different light. Here, the 'rejects' are the ones that are cleaning up the mess made by MAN.

Imagemonitor lizard

On reaching Tam we find the sound of singing coming from our tent! It’s Sibongele our housekeeper and she has a BIG smile to match her lovely voice. We learn a few Swazi, Zulu and Xhosa words from her. When she finds out that we are going to Orpen to wash clothes she offers to do them overnight for us for whatever payment we see fit.

And so we relax around the camp and watch the animals and birds over a lazy lunch on our wooden porch overlooking the Timbavati river.

After the cleansing rain last night it has warmed to a hot day with clear blue afternoon skies. I put up my feet and crack open the top of a cold Castle…….Ah! This is the life.

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Rusky's Kruger Ramble Jun 08 - a 1st timers dream trip


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Great report Rusky. Those are female Kudu. The nyalabull is slightly darker and is smaller than a kudu. The Nyala ewe looks almost like an impala ewe and she is much smaller than the bull (and about same size Bull about106cm shoulder height,ewe about 55-60 cm shoulder height. Also the bulls have spots on their rump. Kudu are also for more common and are more likely to be out in more open bush. Nyala tend to "hide " in the thickets along river courses

Hope that helps you differentiate between the 2

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rusky jr wrote:
p@m wrote:
As for coming back -- remember that the kids grow up & leave home & then mom & dad are free to travel again :)


i may grow up but i'll never miss an opportunity to go to SA. who would? :lol: :lol: :lol:


Looks like Jnr's gonna be a hanger on till I have a foot in the grave :wink:

Part 14: 5 June contd/6 June 08: A second once in a lifetime
We are inspired by our Afrikaner neighbours in Tent 21 to 'hunt' for leopard on our evening drive. They are both old hands and give us some tips.

“You go along de H7 bah kaw, follow de reever. You look in de deetch un amongst de rawks, ja. There will be the luipaart”

Easy peasy. We pass this afternoons crime scene – only the antlers are lying on the ground. A male warthog runs across our path – must have been to the punk hairdresser.
Image Image
We follow their instructions to a tee: Go along the H7 by car, follow the river. Look in the gully and amongst the rocks. There you will find…………zilch. :(

At one such spot along the river we stop and listen to the forest for 15 mins. First there is just silence. Then we notice impis 30m ahead in the bushes. Jnr then picks up movement in the bushes on the far bank (across the river) – 2 elephants. Slowly the “silent” forest is filled with sound – we are learning to listen. Crash! 10m away a lone tusker snaps a branch. We hadn’t realised he was right next to us all this time! We need more practise on our forest listening skills.
Image Image
M is wary of lone elephants and so we go up the road and left on the unsealed road to a river view point. There are 4 white rhino grazing on the dry sandy bed of the river. WE spend a bit of time in their company till gate closing time beckons. On the drive back we are treated to a spectacular sunset.
Image Image

Back in the camp we have another special braai night. No rain tonight and we sit under a million stars. A hyena goes past on his fence patrol – too quick for me to even think of a pic. The kids call it a night first, and then M and I are off to la la land by 9pm.

At 3am I’m up. It is FREEZING! And, I’m busting to go to the loo. As I step out of the tent door I see a big shadow at the fence. It’s a giraffe! I can pick out its legs and its neck seems bending towards me. Then the picture comes into focus as the sleep races from my eyes – it’s just the fence post playing tricks with my eyes!
Imagemy giraffe in the night :redface:
We are used to bush camping in Australia and I’m used to getting up I the middle of the night when nature calls. But Africa is different. I start to think all sorts of things as I make the 80 or so metres to the toilet.

“The gate is open all day and it only has a cattle grate to prevent animals from coming in. Any leopard worth his salt will be able to leap the grate with 3 of its legs tied! What’s preventing one from slipping through the gates just before they close for an easy meal?”
I survive the ‘leopard attack’ and get back to bed. I’m still freezing.

“Oooonnnggghhh! Oooooonnnnngggghhhhhh! Oooonnggghhh! Oooonnnngggghhh! Ooonnggghhh1 ooonnngghh! Oonngghh! Oongh!”
LIONS, followed by
“Haaarrrr! Haaarrrrrhh! Haar! Haarrrr! Harrr! Hrrrr!”(I first thought) Hyena (but now know it’s Impala. Bucks protecting their territory)
Suddenly there’s something in my bed! No, not hyena. Maria! She’s cold too. We pull out extra blankets from the cupboard and cover the kids then hop in under the covers together in my single bed.
“I love Tamboti” she whispers
“Me too” I reply
“I don’t want to leave Tamboti” she continues.
“Haaarrrr! Haarrrr! Harrr! Hrrrr!” No, not me. Hyena!
“Should I check if I can get us another night here?” I offer.
There’s a pregnant pause.
“Nah! One night will not be enough. Let’s come back again” she says.
“Ooooonnngggghh! Ooonnnggghh! Ooonnggh!Oonngh!” No, not lions, ME.!
“When the kids are older and we can come alone, just you and me” she suggests.
“How about for our 50th birthday year – 2017” Me.
“Okay. It’s a deal” she agrees.
“Ooooonnngggghh! Ooonnnggghh! Ooonnggh!Oonngh!” No, not me, Lions!
“Haaarrrr! Haarrrr! Harrr! Hrrrr!” Yep, definitely me.

At 5am we go outside and light the braai and sit together as the forest awakens. The day is looking so much brighter already………for we are coming back to Kruger, again! :dance:

I remember the lines of a Peabo Bryson love song from my (mis-spent) youth and hum to myself

“We had a once in a lifetime
but I just didn’t see it
till it all fell apart.
A second once in a lifetime
isn’t too much to ask
coz I swear from the heart.

If ever we’re in Krugers gates again. ………..”
:whistle:

It’s official. Once the Bass has decided its set in triple strenght concrete. We’re definitely coming back! Yessssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss! :twisted:

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A quick instalment to buy me some time :wink:

Part 15: 6 Jun 08: Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

As we are finishing our breakfast, enjoying the warmth of the braai on a crisp 3 degree morning, we hear the “Haarrrrrr, haaarrr, harr” of a hyena pack. They seem to be fighting over something. The barking/growling becomes louder and it is coming from just over the far bank of the river not more than 60m away from the Tam fence. WE surmise from the noise that it is a carcase they are fighting over and because we had heard lions earlier this morning we deduce - wow! Lions and hyena fighting for a carcase (even David Attenborough would be proud of our how perceptive we are). I immediately txt Dinky Bird for the forum. I have been sending regular updates ever since we landed in Jo’burg.

At the wash area I share the mornings “lion and hyena fight” with a Saffie angel,

She shakes her head “ Impala” she corrects me.
“Impala! No way!” I know deer/antelope bark but his is definitely dog like almost wolfish in timbre. I try to convince her.
“Impala!” she repeats, more firmly this time, “protecting their territory”

Eish! I have suds up to my elbows and I try and dive into the soappy water to hide. :redface: Who would have thought this small, gentle, Bambi like, feminine creature has a raspy, gruff voice more masculine than a cheetah!

Another Kruger lesson for me (and us humans): “Don’t judge a book by its cover”

At home in Melbourne I google ‘Impala’ and this is confirmed – "bucks fiercely protect their patch and are not known to live long as they are constantly fighting."

Enlightened and still a bit embarrassed we drive down the H7, startling some waterbuck on the way,
Image
then turn left on the Timbavati Rd (S39) that follows the river by the same name – we’re still hopeful for cheetah and leopard. We see a Pearl Spotted Owl, but she’s not in a good mood and keeps her face turned the whole time.

One Km before the Leubron waterhole we take a diversion to the left in the direction of some ‘leopard trees’ . A brown snake eagle? (not sure)alights on a tree branch and we enjoy his company. There are also a couple of vultures around.
Image Image

Then we notice that on the riverbed about 80m away on the sandy river bank, partly hidden in the grass, is a LION and he’s looking straight at us. He is a beautiful specimen – the regal bearing of a King and seems to be in his prime. His mane is a lovely chestnut brown and fully grown. We watch him and he us, then he looks away and gives us his elegant profile, then he loses interest and drops his head on his paws and M gets all sentimental as ‘he looks just like Brownie’ our dog. “Yeah, wanna pat him?” I chuckle. I get a look that would give most people frostbite. Fortunately I’m thick skinned….and I survive. :twisted:
(pics are too small for posting here)
The Leubron waterhole has quite a collection of impis, zebra and 7 giraffe.
ImageThis is one of my favourite impi pics
We stop a couple coming in the opposite direction. They haven’t had much luck. When we tell them about the lion they’re off in a jiffy in a cloud of dust.

We have our compulsory Coffee and rusks break at the Timbavati picnic spot with its birds and bushbuck and a very thirsty bee who is determind to have his sugar fix.
Image Image
Ratelpan has some great waterbirds including our first wolly-necked storks and hamerkop. It is getting seriously hot now and we are perspiring profusely without the ac but we refuse to turn it on. As we drive away from the hide we are confronted by 2 ellies who are headed to the waterhole. M swings the car around and escapes in true Mad-Maxine fashion. :big_eyes:

On the S127 we get some good shots of a LBR. They are such posers, aren’t they. It’s a blatant “Ain’t I just so splendidly gorgeous with all my colours. Here take a pic of me. Okay I’ll turn now. Here’s a profile shot.” And a Steenbock?? Or is it a grysbok? All on its ownsome.
Image Image
As we are driving Maria and I get this really strong cat smell – a mixture of perspiration, unbathed animal and a touch of urine. There’s definitely a cat in the area. WE stop the car. We are on alert. But we don’t see anything. Before M starts off we both take a deep breath to see if we can still smell the cat. We both almost choke – it’s my underarms. :roll: :redface: It’s a very hot day and I forgot to spray some deo on! :shock: :redface:

First the "Hyena and Lions fighting over a carcasse" and now this. Ag, this is just not my day! :slap:

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