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 Post subject: Ruskys Kruger Ramble May-Jun 08- TRIP REPORT OF 2008!!!
Unread postPosted: Wed May 21, 2008 5:30 am 
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As the excitement for the families first trip to Kruger (and SAf) builds to fever pitch, I thought I'll get this tale going.

Here's the Rusky gang. BR Josh, Maria. FR: Sarah and Andre (me)
Image

This trip/holiday has been a pipe dream for many years. For M and me our love for wildlife and nature started on our first visit to Corbett NP in the foothills of the Himalayas. On our first safari (an elephant ride!) we had what must be beginners luck - a tiger on a hunt and a tusker in must ! We were hooked. :dance:

(These pics are from a Spice Safaris trip I did in Mar 07 - 18 month old brother and sister. Mum was away when we had 30 mins with the 2 of them.)
Image

Image

Since M and my first safari family life and work committments have meant our wildlife trips have been relegated to the back burner........but then suddenly a glint of opportunity.

I managed to secure free air tickets through work and M said - "why don't we go to Africa". I didn't need her to twist my arm :wink:
Till then Africa and wildlife meant KENYA to me. However the freebees were with an airline that flew to just SAf and when I added the taxes and fares for Jo'burg to Nairobi return + some of the safaris pricing in Kenya it looked like this trip was going to be WAY beyond the Rusky pocket. Maybe it was just a pipe dream :(

Then, the name Kruger just popped into my head :idea: and I hit the web...came accross the sanparks website and this forum. :o

And I found that....HELLO :doh: - sitting within a coooeeee of Jo'burg was NIRVANA. We could drive ourselves around, the accommodation (like in National parks in Australia) had prime location (C'mon guys have you seen the views from the LS restaurant - u r spoilt rotten :mrgreen: ), it was affordable and I had the most fantastic travel consultants (on this forum ). You know, there are people earning morney for the advice you guys give. I should know I'm a travel consultant! :twisted:

I was also bowled over by the LOVE for Kruger that just exudes from the pages of the forum. I just knew I had stumbled onto something special.

Just 9 days to go!

TBC/ a suivre.....

Rusky

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


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Unread postPosted: Thu May 22, 2008 3:47 am 
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Thanks to all of you for the wishes and support.

22 May08 - 8 sleeps to go. No 9! Shi .....vers! I miscalulated yesterday......Not another W H O L E day more before my African holiday :cry:

I'm in bed. Its 4.30 am and I've just woken up from a dream/nightmare. My heart is pounding like a locomotive and I'm perspiring.

Josh and I had stopped at a picnic spot somewhere in Kruger. A picturesque place with a stream. We're out of the car having a look around when I spot 2 heads bobbing in the water......no not hippos........but baboons! And then I realise there's more than 2.......hundreds.....theyre on the shore as well....and they're having a party! Whats that in their hands.....packets of chips ! and biscuits. There's loud music playing. I follow the sound of music...its coming from a white car parked at the picnic spot...the doors are open and there are monkeys jumping around on and inside the car. I pity the owners of that car...its going to be a total wreck. Hold on .....thats OUR car. I charge to the vehicle screaming blue murder(and using a few choice expletives :redface: )...but the baboons will not be moved. I grab the broom from the boot and I do a few ninja moves (not a pretty site) and after a lot of hassling they leave (I think they died laughing with my Jackie Chan imitation).


PS This dream was definitely inspired by reading Ludwigs TR.

Back to reality - its still 2 hrs before i need to get up....but I can't go back to sleep...I'm all revved up from the dream and thinking about Africa. Should I go and watch the IPL match on TV or jump on to the forum. No that will wake the Mrs and then I really will be in trouble and strife. I toss and turn some more.

"What's the matter" says a voice from the dark. No. its not God - though it is a female voice :wink:

M's up too....thinking of Africa. But while I'm saving our rental car from Giant apes she is contemplating different beasts

- will we get mugged at an ATM ?(courtesy well known Travel guide)
- I wonder if they are any major credit card scams going on in SAf? ("No, my vroo, that is in Asia").
- Will 25 decoy wallets be enough to side track pick pockets on our 10 day trip?
- Maybe we should carry just cash and split it amongst the 4 of us. That way if one of us is kidnapped the rest of us are still rich :huh: (It was early in the morning so I might have missed the gist of this one)

So, for the next hour or so we cuddle up and think of Africa and our dream trip and come up with intricate strategies on dealing with baboons, the saf mafia, all animals that charge and the most important one.......WHO is going to change a flat tyre in the park?..........any guesses ?

TBC...[/b]

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


Last edited by rusky on Wed Nov 19, 2008 7:25 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Unread postPosted: Fri May 23, 2008 8:50 am 
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23 May08: 8 sleeps to go....but who's getting any sleep :roll:

To Buy or not to buy.......that is the question

Its 4.30 am. Yep that time again. Toss turn toss turn turn toss. Oh BunnyHugger this I can't sleep. What's on my mind : A new camera :cam:

Saw one at duty free that has an 18x zoom and is within my price range (but not in the family budget :wink: ).

Me: I REALLY neeeeed a new camera

My Conscience (MC) - BTW MC surprisingly sounds exactly like my wife :hmz: : What for? You already have one and the pics you take are fine.

Me: It has a 3x zoom. No good for capturing LITs. What pics am I going to use in my TR on the forum? The LIT's will look like zit's. C'mon there are 11,606 registered forum users depending on ME!

MC: Forget the LIT's mate MDGIT's (Money Doesn't Grow In Trees). And if you buy that TOY you will be obsessed with taking the perfect shot of every animal we encounter in the park. And that will make everyone elses trip a misery.

Me: Not as miserable as when I have to drive within a bees diaphram of a rhino to get a decent shot with my current 3x zoom.

MC: silent


TBC/a suivre

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


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Unread postPosted: Sun May 25, 2008 10:21 am 
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25 May 08 (6 sleeps to Kruger) - Tie a yellow ribbon round the old Camry

The packings done. :dance: We even managed to avoid the usual Family Feud. :roll: There was of course the heated negotiations over leaving the DS (nintendo) at home. But we rode the emotional storm out even when the possibility of flooding (crocodile tears) threathened. :wink:

But when I consulted the checklist ...sacre bleu!....no yellow ribbon. :doh:

"I'll be back in 15 minutes, darling". First to the newsagency. Zilch. Oh there's the camera shop ...maybe they have a closing down sale......in your Kruger dreams, baby.

Reject shop.....nadda. "Try at the card shop sir".
Trudge all the way back. Here they have pink, purple or mauve, beige or is it cream now, no its called latte, there's red, violet, blue, indigo......every blooming color but yellow :wall:

Ring! ring!. It's the love of my life "Where are you? Blah, blah blah......you men.....can't even send you to the shop for YR.....blah blah...........BTW can you pick up some bread?" :huh:

3 KM walk back to the car with bread in hand . Then I head off to Spotlight. To all you musketeers...DO NOT GO HERE EVER! You need a map to find yourself in this place!

And did you know that a simple item like buttons can take up 10 aisles! There was more than one variety of YR? :huh:

Satin, decorative, ribbed, shiny, matte, etc. then they had different lengths. OMG how much am I going to need? And different widths, too :roll: Obviously when it come to ribbon size matters.

So in the end I bought one of each :wink: And now we have enough YR to tie every car that visits Kruger for the next decade.

2 Hrs later I'm back home.
Mrs sees my stash of YR : "Planning on monopolising the YR market are we?"
But criticism is wasted on those that are on Cloud Kruger 9

:whistle: Tie a yellow ribbon round the old maroela tree.... :whistle:

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


Last edited by rusky on Wed Nov 19, 2008 7:38 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Unread postPosted: Wed May 28, 2008 8:17 am 
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28 May 08: 3 sleeps to Kruger
I'm on a high. And this is not just because of the Kruger trip......I'm on medication for a Head cold. The SO and kids have it too and in 24 hours we have a 24 hour journey to Jo'burg.

But the good news is.......we're not missing it for the world....and I have my digital camera (No not an SLR) but its got a decent 18x zoom so the LIT's will not look like zits (pimples).

So, the next message will most probably be from SOUTH AFRICA. DinkyBird has offered to put on my smses (is that correct) and who knows I might sacrifice my afternoon nap to get on the net at LS.

Till then......

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Unread postPosted: Thu May 29, 2008 6:12 am 
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29 May 08: Why me?

I should be on the plane but here I am at the computer. What a morning!

The kids and I were in the car dropping our dog to a friends when the cell/mobile rings.

Its the airline:"Sorry sir but there's a problem with your flight this afternoon"

Me: Silence

Airline: Are u there. The plane to KL will be delayed 5 hours and hence will not connect with your Jo'burg flight.

Me: This is a joke isn't it. I am on radio aren't I. this is a Gottcha call. Well you had me fooled for a moment. Can I go now.

AL: No sir. The next available flight will leave on Sat and you will be in Jo'burg on 1 jun

Me: But that's 2 whole days away. I have a meeting with a LS lion on the 31st of May!


All of us are bitterly disappointed...but Rusky Jnr is broken hearted. We told him he can still bunk school tomorrow. :redface:

Will keep you guys posted. Now to get to changing bookings in KNP. We are still hoping to have 6 nights in the park. We will now drive straight from the airport.

What was that saying: When God shuts a door .......he opens a window.

Show me the window. :cry:

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Unread postPosted: Thu May 29, 2008 12:22 pm 
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Thanks guys for all the wishes and support.

10 hrs after "that call" we seem to have cheered up a bit :|
....after all we are still going to Africa... :wink:

the trip has not been cancelled and we have been able to readjust our logistics so we still have 6 nights (original 7) in Kruger. :dance:

as ecojunkie says " a day in Kruger is better than a day of housework" and we have 7 days in paradise.

And, I'm not going to work tomorrow. Ruskys Snr and Jnr are off to Imax to see..............African Adventure while the girls...sorry Angels, have a bit of girlie bonding......and before you know it we'll be on the plane........just 2 sleeps to go!(seems like deja vu :wink: )

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Unread postPosted: Sat May 31, 2008 6:08 pm 
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31 May/1 June 08 - halfway there...KL airport.

Well we've made it this far. Done the duty free shopping and finishing off a Wilbur Smith before we board the flight to the "city of gold". I can almost smell Kruger. We watched all the Africa docs on the melb-kl flight and we've filed an official complaint......no African music in the extensive selection. :roll:

TBC

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Unread postPosted: Sun Jun 08, 2008 11:40 am 
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Just had a chat with the Rusky family on the phone ... and they are hooked on Kruger :dance: :dance:

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Unread postPosted: Wed Jun 11, 2008 5:46 am 
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Sawubona mes amis (my friends)

We arrived back in Melbourne safely late last night and I am back at the office catching up on all the work that has been stacked up for me while I have been away. :roll:

The good news is I have downloaded all the pics/videos last night (was up till midnight) :redface: . On the plane journey(s) back I drafted out 15 instalments :shock: for the TR and have handwritten the first one. :dance:

The bad news is I might not get time till this weekend to upload pics etc.

Thanks guys for all the warmth we feel from you.

Last night Rusky jnr cried himself to sleep.
"I'm missing Kruger Dad, I feel sad that we will never go back there again. It was so good to be able to spend time together as a family. We don't seem to do things together as a family as much in Oz. There's always homework, housework and stuff to do".

I was crying inside too. :cry:

a suivre

PS here's a photo to cheer us all up.
Yellow ribbons @ LS
Image
Elsa, Saraf, Kylstron, Saraf's SO, Jock, Tawny, Martial, Sarah Rusky (Nala) & Rusky Jnr

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


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Unread postPosted: Wed Jun 11, 2008 3:33 pm 
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Sawubona - here we go

Part 1: There’s no I in TEAM – a BIG elephant lesson

It’s hot, really HOT. At 6am when we set off from Tamboti the car’s thermometer said – 4 C and now, 7 hours later, it’s 30. But it feels like 40 in the blistering hot African sun. There are no clouds to protect us as we sit in our car at N’Semani Dam 9 km from Satara on the H-7 to Orpen gate. It is our last day in Kruger. :cry:

Sweat beads roll off my forehead and down my back. My t-shirt is sticky with perspiration. Yet, we doggedly have the cars AC and engine shut off for we are just 60 m from a small group of elephants (5) drinking the cool waters from the dam.
Image
It is a beautiful sight…..it’s how I dreamt an African landscape to be. :D

The road to Orpen (the direction we are facing) dips and curves gradually from left to right in front of us before disappearing out of view into the dense scrub about 1 km away. The “dip” is the dam wall and we are perched on it (in our car of course) with 3 other vehicles for company. (One is a YR. But leaves soon, waving at us, but not stoping to chat :huh: ).
The relatively flat plains of this section of Kruger stretch to the distant horizon on our left, regularly punctuated with knob thorn, marula and leadwood. On the right is the dam, roughly the size of 5 Olympic pools is split into 2 interconnected waterholes. The larger one, where the ellies are, is nearer to us while the smaller one is to the farther Orpen end. While the land appears flat on the “water” side it is actually a series of ridges that create this collection point for the precious water. This is the largest waterhole we have seen in the park and it is a magnet for both animals and birds.

The ellies drink with their “trumpet” routine curling their trunks into a lasso after filling them up and then thrusting the trunks into their pink mouths they roll back their heads and gush the water clumsily, ears flapping & tails swinging in accompaniment.
Image
Beyond the ellies, on a large flat bank is a large herd of impala busy grazing on the greener grass the presence of water brings. They patiently wait their turn.

Suddenly we notice puffs of dust in the air from one of the ridges. Then more elephant break into view.
Image
Too many to count, they trundle purposefully to the waters edge lining up to drink. But, not all do so immediately. Some stay back a bit and keep a close eye as the smaller ones get first dibs – just like Mums watching their kids at a swimming pool. Some of the larger elephant stand guard taking up positions between the drinkers and any possible danger. They face away from the waterhole on alert. When the herd troops in it is always “bookended” with the biggest animals taking the font and rear positions. The calves are always protected by 2 larger elies by “sandwiching” them – just like parents walk their kids across an intersection.
Image
With the herd lined up I am able to do a count – 25 fill my viewfinder! I click away. :cam: The heat doesn’t bother me anymore…I am on a Kruger high. Squeals of delight come from both the calves frolicking at the waters edge and from our kids in the back seat.

But wait….there is another group of elephants making their way to the dam….possibly all part of the one herd. They cross the road at the Open end, “disappear” into the ridge and then “reappear” at the water. There are 13 in this group taking the total to a whopping 38! There are a few revellers amongst the latter mob. Must be a bunch of “teenage” boys. A couple of them rush into the water splashing all in the way. They go deeper than the main group with a “look at us. We’re cool” air about them.
Image
When they realise no one is giving them any attention they reluctantly come out. However, one of them has not given up yet. He starts a show stopping performance at the waters edge swaying his trunk, dragging it in the water, creating splashes. Then his right leg joins in, in a windscreen wiper rythym. His mother then approaches and looks on with what to me is the look all Mums have when they have lost control of their kids behaviour. If she were human she’d have both hands on her hips and say “Thomas, that’s enough. Stop playing with your drink immediately. You hear me boy?”

Thomas stops, for a moment, and then with renewed nonchalance starts swinging his left rear foot with the trunk. Mum gives up and leaves in a huff. Not getting any attention from anyone, Thomas gets out of the water. I can almost see a sulk on his face. (No pics. But we take a video of this display :dance: )
'Thomas" the danceing ellie @ N'Semani

The elephants have had their refreshing afternoon bevvie (I could do with a chilled Castle meself :wink: ) and its time to head off. The troop leaders assume their bookend positions but only 5 set off to cross the road, which by this time is jam packed with 15 vehicles jockeying for the best viewing position. The lead ellie walks onto the middle of the road swinging her trunk and tail and flapping her ears to show she means business. More cars have queued on the Satara end as news of this great sighting spreads through the cell phone network. I can’t help but think “I’d prefer the days of the jungle drums. Much more romantic”.
A chain of 5 elephants form a wall across the road. We have by this time driven our car away from the traffic jam, turned the car around and now sit facing Satara and in the shade of a large bush. One red Golf driver has manoeuvred himself into “prime position” and is parked across the road and in striking distance from the elephant chain. Humans may have bigger brains than elies but still have a lot to learn from them when it comes to social graces. :rtfm:
Image
The road block is complete. Hold on ! The rest of the herd has broken up into smaller groups each with a mix of small, medium and large ellies. They head into the bush, not crossing the road at the road-block ?. (They will cross at a safer spot further down the road away from the cars).

Oh, my God! :doh: The road block is a DIVERSION! We are suckers. The road-block grabs our attention and while we are absorbed the main herd has disappeared into the safety of the bush. An Army General would have been proud of the manouevre. :clap:

With the ellies going the Impala now come in for a drink. At one stage the elephant are moving left to right while the impis drift in right to left. It looks like a dance….and African bush waltz.
Image
Then a warthog couple come in to drink and roll in the cool mud and feed on the dung.

We have now been enjoying this ‘live performance’ for 45 minutes and all looks quiet at N’Semani again. In fact if you drove in now you’d call me a liar if I told you what had transpired at the waterhole. It’s a matter of luck……and patience……and perseverance……and karma.

Maria, starts the car as we need to check out at the Orpen Gate…..it’s our last day in Kruger, remember. We head up the road to do a U-turn and then we see a Tripod at the smaller waterhole (which was sheltered from view). No, its not a tripod it’s a quadropod! A Giraffe in its drinking position, legs splayed in four directions that is ungainly yet beautiful at the same time.
Image
It looks like someone has knocked off the top of the Eiffel Tower as it bends its neck to drink.
Image
What a sighting ! What a day ! What a trip !

But, this is only one hour of our Kruger trip and it’s at the end.

So, let’s start at the very beginning….

“A very good place to start” chimes my 9 yr old daughter who knows her Sound of Music.

However, that my friends, will have to wait till next time. :whistle:

Till then/a suivre……..

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


Last edited by rusky on Wed Feb 11, 2009 8:43 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Unread postPosted: Thu Jun 12, 2008 9:09 am 
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Nyabonga (we thank you) all for your kind words.

Part 2: It’s a long way to [strike]Tipperary[/strike] Lower Sabie (LS) :whistle:
After a 2 day delay (see page 3) we are finally on the plane to KL where we have 4 hrs before we board our Jo’burg flight. The first 2 hrs at the airport goes easily with shopping (C’mon Saffies. What’s with the measly 1 Lt Alcohol allowance. It’s 2.25 Lt when you come over to our country) and the kids play area. After that it’s a d……….r…………a……………g. I spend an hour on the net (Sanparks forum of course :D ).

They’ve mucked up out seating arrangements (again!). Fortunately the flight is not full and we swap with a good looking Argentinean male (no way was I allowing him to sit next to my wife on an 11 hr flight!). Finally we are seated together as a family. How difficult is it to sit 4 pax together on a 300 seat plane? :huh:
The service on this leg is excellent though or maybe it’s because I’m closer to Kruger or maybe it’s because soon after takeoff I’m enjoying my first ‘Castle’. :wink: We also get a decent sleep on this flight.

We land at Tambo International at 6am on 1 June 08. We made it ! :dance: Once we’re past customs we see our name on a placard and a friendly face. I’d pre-arranged an airport transfer and Frans helps us with our luggage and to get our rental vehicle and then we’re on the road following his VW Golf to our friends place in Linden. We take in the sights of Jo’burg from the freeway. It’s a beautiful Sunday morning with hardly any traffic.

The halt in Jo’burg is meant to be a short one – shower, change, shop and hit the road. But Murphy (as in Murphy’s Law) is not on our side and we only leave Linden at 11.45 am. Will we make it to Lower Sabie by 6 pm? I’m getting nervous :pray:

Saffie freeways are a dream – 120km/hr pretty much all the way. We do not stop, not even once – mainly because we are conscious of gate closing time but also because we are on our own now and unsure of what is a safe place to do so.
Drivers here seem in an awful hurry. We are cruising at 120-130 k yet cars regularly roar past us. It is particularly nerve wracking in road work zones where the speed has been dropped to 60 and I’m on 100 because there is a queue of cars behind me almost up my ….rude bits. There’s no place to pullover and let them pass cause it’s down to 2 lanes. We quickly learn the ‘sign’ for ‘thank you’ – 2 blinks of the hazard lights when someone lets you pass. Though some times I’m a bit slow in putting these off. Maria is concerned that anything above 2 blinks will be misinterpreted as ‘the finger’. :oops:
Yes, we are a bit tense and on-the-edge – especially when we stop at traffic lights.

The countryside is picturesque and ever changing. First the Jo’burg plateau, then the drop and then the climb again to the hills. I loved the downhill bit into Nelspruit. The kids sleep most of the way which is an added bonus.

I take a wrong turn in Nelspruit (of all places!) and find myself in a rural market area. Oh Schweppervescence! Maria, almost has a coronary. Fortunately there is a slip lane that leads us back to the right road. “Just a scenic detour, love” I assure her not very convincingly. :|

At 4.30 pm, after a fuel top up at Komartipoort we’re at Crocodile Bridge (CB). We pass the outer gate and the ‘holy land’ stretches ahead of us. We travel down the dip over the river and then onwards to the actual gate and reception area. All our tenseness and worry disappears.

Up to this point we haven’t take a single picture as the cameras are in the safety of the boot. A family of 8 warthogs runs across the road and I am in a quandry – do I grab the camera? No, after almost 5 hrs of driving the bladder wins out – I go to smell the thatch :redface: (so no Warty happy snaps).
I tackle the check-in at reception while Maria (Baas, My Conscience MC) yellow ribbons the car.
Image
I’m informed that the LS gates close at 5.30 pm and not 6. We jump back into the car and we’re off again.

Our first animals in the park are the beautiful impala (impis).
Image
Yes, I know they are the most plentiful species in Kruger but that’s the whole point. You Saffies are spoilt rotten! Impis would have to be the cutest looking antelope/deer on earth. It’s the same with birds. How magnificent are the hues of the starling and breast- rollers? And the beaks and plummage of the hornbills?
Image
In most parts of Asia the most common birds are the ordinary looking brown sparrow. You lot are SPOILT!

This reminds me of an amusing story I read about South Africa

GOD and St. Peter are discussing the creation of South Africa.
The BIG G: Pete my man, I am going to create heaven on earth. A land with beautiful white sand beaches, turquoise blue warm waters, mountains that rise out of nothing and touch the sky, plateaus that stretch for miles. I will fill this place with a magnificence of flora and fauna and in abundant supply. This land will be my ‘ Garden of Eden’.

Pete: That is truly wonderful my Lord. But if you will allow this humble servant of yours to speak his mind.

God nods

Pete: Thank you master. Do you think this be fair? How will the other nations feel? Is this not being too generous to the one land and its people, my Lord? Will they not be the envy of all the peoples of the earth?

God: Ah! Peter! Just wait till you see the government I give them.
:wink:

On the tarred road to LS we keep to the 50k limit, a speed that is not the best for sightings. Still we see plenty, but stop only a couple of times. We don’t want to be late and miss out on another night in LS.
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As we round the bend, there it is! It is heaven.
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We make the gate at 5.34 pm (4 mins late) but the guard gives us a smile as wide as Africa and just waves us in. Our hut (EH5 No 61) is just lovely. It looks like a decent motel room but it’s just half the price! The ablutions (with thatched roofs) are a stones throw away, the braai just outside and the swimming pool is outside our backdoor.
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I quickly go to the shop to purchase a decent Kruger Map (settle for the Honeyguide) for there are routes to be planned.
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We are tired yet excited. Tonight we have pasta – just too bunnyhuggered to light a braai. We’re asleep by 8.30 pm for tomorrow is going to be a BIG day. We can feel it in our waters.

Till then/a suivre

_________________
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 Wed Jun 03, 2009 8:28 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Unread postPosted: Fri Jun 13, 2008 4:47 am 
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Sawubona. You guys have a nice way of twisting my arm.....it works. :redface:

Part 3: 2 June 08: Beginners Luck!

It’s our first full day in Kruger. We ‘sleep in’ a bit and only make it through the gates at 6.30am. The excitement in the car is so strong you can almost taste it. We stop at Sunset Dam just round the corner from Lower Sabie. What a treasure trove it is and proves to be over the next few days.

There are about 20 hippos on the waters edge basking in the warmth of an early morning sun. Some are game enough to venture into the freezing water for a few laps. They yawn and grunt at the effort of having to move their bulky bodies. The babies look like plump ‘sausages’. I cannot believe these clumsy, docile creatures are responsible for the most human deaths in Africa. A log floats by…and then it blinks its eye at us……it’s a crocodile.
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A group of chacma baboons preen themselves and each other. One takes offence at our yellow ribbon and tries to rip it off. Maybe he thought it was a banana? Or maybe he was banned from the forum by a moderator! :hmz:
Fortunately for him the ribbon had been tied by Baas (and not me) and he cannot get it off. The birds are also beginning to awaken. We see a pair of giant kingfisher and a pied kingfisher shaking the sleep from their eyes as the sun makes it full appearance.
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We head back past LS camp and then over the bridge to Mlondozi Dam and the picnic spot. On the unsealed S29 we ‘bump’ into a small group of zebra (Baas’ favourite, along with giraffe)and just before the picnic area a group of waterbuck. I fall in love with this antelope immediately. They photograph so well. Its their ability to blend into the bush and at the same time stand out (once your eyes pick them!) that is so beguiling. An that white ring on their behinds adds to their appeal. Its almost a cheeky taunt to a predator “ Here’s the target. Now lets see if you can catch me". :twisted:
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We spend 2 glorious hours at Mlondozi. It is serene and we overlook the dam from a hill. Only a few other people come and go…but we stay on captivated. The dam is almost dry except for a small muddy waterhole and a concrete pan which must be pump filled. (See how quickly things change with just one good nights rain in Oumie’s trip report. It rained after dusk on 4 June). We see the same group of waterbuck who have now made their way to the water. There’s catfish in the gooey mud. We see their bodies glint in the sun as they slither and slide in the slosh. A Giant Heron patrols the dam wall and as the day progresses zebra also come in for a drink.
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We are enjoying just sitting here and letting Kruger reveal itself to us as we sip our thermos coffee and rusks, which I have developed and instant affection for (C’mon guys. Rusky-Rusk. It’s inevitable! :wink: ). There are also vervet monkeys in attendance watching our every move. One moves like a flash of lightning and grabs a pack of rusks from a neighbours table. His chase only succeeds in the pack being split and its contents spilt in the scrub. The rest of the vervet pack now make raids to this area to retrieve the loot one rusk at a time. Birds also come in for the crumbs. Dark-capped bulbuls, starlings, arrow marked barbets, cape white eye ? magpie shrike. (the ? will be used in this report when we novices are not sure what the sighting is after consulting our ‘Honeyguide’)
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The time has come to leave peaceful Mlondozi for we learn there are rhinos on the S29…………..will this be our first BIG 5 sighting?

A suivre

_________________
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 Wed Jun 03, 2009 8:31 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Unread postPosted: Sun Jun 15, 2008 9:50 am 
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PART 4: 2 June 08 contd – When you’re hot, you’re HOT
Back on the S29 we see 3 white rhino in the distance (100m) chomping away. It is our first BIG 5 sighting!
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We drive past the intersection on to the S30 (Salitje Road). This 30k road traverses 3 rivers – Salitje, Sabie and Sand- and a couple of tributaries. At one such point we see our first buffalo. The black of their hides against the white tipped, lush green of the long grass in the river bed makes this a pretty picture.
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Our first Nyala and the brilliant lilac breasted roller who choses a bare tree to show off its colours just for us. And some impis sharing a secret.
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When we are almost at the end of the S30, where the road runs along the Sabie river we run into a group of cars. “Must be a cat sighting” I think. And it is. A lion/ess is pointed out to us – 100 m away on the sand of the river bed, hidden in the grass. Its head is turned away and we cannot really make out if it’s a lioness or a lion. The helpful sighter says they had a better angle (though it is a longer distance from the lion/ess) from the bridge on the H-12. I want to stay put – "we have the cat in our sight. It may come out if we give it time. Lets be patient. If we drive to the bridge there’s no guarantee that the angle will still be good" – but I’m out voted 3 votes to 1.
:evil:
It takes us 10 mins to get to the bridge which has about 7 cars. We manage to get a spot………..but no cat in sight. I almost give Baas the “I told you so” when she says “Andre, look at the brown rock in that bush through the glasses. I think it moved”. “Yeah, sure” I mutter under my breath, then bite my tongue. It’s a LION! And he’s looking straight at us. Quick where’s the camera! :cam:
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We spend 20 minutes with our first African Lion, then it gets really crowded on the bridge. Somehow when this happens the magic is lost and after pointing out the cat to the next car in line we head off, turn left on the H4-1 towards Nkuhlu. We stop for lunch (even the pies taste better in Kruger!) and enjoy the antics of the vervets and a blue tailed skink? A pair of Fish eagles? (they have a brownish colouration on their necks that is confusing me)
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It’s now 1.30 in the afternoon and we’ve been ‘out’ for 7 hrs. The kids are getting a bit weary so we head back to LS on the H4-1. About 3 km from the camp we run into our first road block…….elephants. They are crossing over from the bush on the right to the river on the left. We are 20m away and no amount of cajoling, pleading and nagging will make Maria go an inch closer. (Maria does pretty much all the driving inside the park so I can snap away and jot notes in my diary). They are magnificent animals. They cross in a herd and are followed by 2 larger animals. I think the first one is a male in musth as it has a wet streak running down its cheek.
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The second one leaves me in no doubt that it is a male – it has 5 legs! No pic ! I was too stunned to work the camera. Surely, you need a special permit to have that sort of weapon inside the park! :twisted:
They’re following the ladies down to the river. A quick stop at Sunset Dam. This becomes a given - I just cannot drive past this beautiful spot without stopping.

The kids have hit a wall now so it’s off to the hut for an afternoon nap for them and M while I spend time in the shop browsing. There’s no way I’d be able to sleep in the afternoon when I’m this charged up after seeing 4 out of the BIG 5 in about 4 hours. Only leopard left. Can we do 5 out of 5? In the one day? There’s a good chance we can for we are taking the Evening Drive. I’m hoping it’s MJ (Martie) that’s taking us as his sightings on the forum are the stuff of dreams.

I’m in for a BIG surprise……..

A suivre

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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 Wed Nov 19, 2008 8:34 am, edited 3 times in total.

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Unread postPosted: Mon Jun 16, 2008 8:44 am 
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Sawubona friends and Thanks with all the help for the page turn.........the excitement was killing me. I'm sure with the Mon public holiday all the Saffies will be in Kruger for the long weekend. :mrgreen:

PART 5: 2 June 08: The evening drive

I walk up to the meeting point for the organised drive. M and the kids are are already there talking to a young blonde in a Sanparks uniform who’s easy on the eye. I walk over and introduce myself. It’s MJ (Martie)! “But ……but……but…..you’re female! I thought Martie was a man!” She flashes a knowing smile.

Martie unfortunately isn’t doing our sunset drive. There are 10 of us on the drive and our hosts are Patrick and Portia. We also meet Irving before we leave at 4.30 pm. Patrick is quite a character and soon we are smiling and laughing at his stories and small talk. Portia is the quiet one but Patrick more than makes up for this. I love his dry sense of humour and it’s a pleasant change to hear him push the boundaries – everyone is so bloody politically correct these days. He is full of energy – driving, talking and spotlighting (later in the dark) all at once – who said men couldn’t multitask!

We go to Sunset Dam and it’s a different panorama – there are still the local residents - hippos, crocs, baboons and egrets – they are now joined by a tusker (lone large male elly) on the far bank. I ask Patrick if the swollen red backside of the baboon is some sort of disease. He has a sparkle in his eyes when he says “Some would call it a disease. But it’s more commonly known as Oestrus”. Eish! I don’t know where to hide. :redface:

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Someone tells us there are 4 lions down the road (towards Skukuza) and we’re off in a jiffy. On the way we see a big herd of elephant at the river and some in the bush – a mother with 2 calves. The smaller one is quite a performer and challenges us with flapping ears and raised trunk. We can’t help but laugh at his bravado.
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The safari truck is higher and makes for so much better viewing than a sedan. I make a mental note to rent a double-decker bus the next time. But, there is going to be no “next time”. :cry:

When we get to the telltale group of vehicles we are too late – the lions have gone bush. We head off down the N’watimihri Causeway……nothing. Back down the H4-1 past LS and left over the bridge/dam. It’s getting dark and the spotlights come on – we spot impis, then buffalo, some elephants and hippos in lots of twos and threes leaving the security of the pond/river for their dinner by spotlight. We also see a nightjar (not sure if I picked up the word right from Patrick) and scrub-hare

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Sarah (Nala) is dozing off in my lap and I’m starting to think of dinner myself when Portia says “Lui –paart”. About 20 m off the road is a LEOPARD. BINGO!

It saunters along in that regal, feline gait, muscles rippling at the shoulders using the bush to shelter it from our view. All the spotlights on the safari vehicle eagerly seek it out and the bush suddenly looks like a laser zone from a star wars movie. I am clicking in the general direction of the animal – hoping I get one good shot in the post-mortem. But this is no ordinary cat. It is the king of stealth and camouflage. Yet, later that night when I go through my pics I have just 2 where you can see it is definitely a leopard. The first image is blurred but it captures the essence of this beast – the master of cunning and disguise. The second must have been taken at the instant a spotlight went off. And so, we have a dark background, but look carefully and you can see the spots (I have used auto correction on this image becoz at a low resolution you’ll see nada). I love both pics, imperfect though they may be.
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Patrick gets us to turn off all the spotlights and he switches off the truck. He’s hoping the silence will draw the leopard on to the road right in front of us. I get my camera ready. But, the leopard is too clever for us and he’s gone….vanished.

We have seen the big five in one day – our FIRST full day in Kruger. I turn around to the family and announce “Okay, pack your bags. Mission accomplished. Let’s head back to Melbourne”. The kids look at me as if I’ve stolen all their lollies. (Nala has woken up with all the kafuffle).

“Just kidding” I laugh. :twisted:

A suivre

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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


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