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 Post subject: Chickadee's Kruger Trip
Unread postPosted: Wed Aug 27, 2008 12:33 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger

Joined: Tue Jun 05, 2007 12:29 am
Posts: 130
Location: Herndon, Virginia
Ten minutes ago, my sister Janet stepped out of her imagination and into reality. She is on a flight from Marquette, Michigan to Dulles, Virginia. Tomorrow, we will leave together and if all goes well, arrive in JNB Friday afternoon. Saturday....Kruger. After more than a year of planning, we are no longer simply dreaming, our dreams are real.

I am mostly packed, I have about 1/2 hour of repacking to do. We've got some S. African wine for tonight. I have to go into work tomorrow, but only to pretend. Maybe I will hem a pair of pants I want to take along. I have to finish sewing our large bean bags.

I am watching the sunrise here in Virginia and I think, tomorrow will be the last sunrise I see here before I witness the sunrise from a new place. That lucky sun, who sees the earth everyday from every place. I enjoy this sunrise and try not to think about Africa. I was into my dreams so much recently, that all I could do was read the forums and dream. I had to go cold turkey from that addiction so I could enjoy the todays that I was living in. But now, I can look ahead. Soon I will be living in my dreams I had of the future. Soon, my future will become my today. 3 more sleeps until Kruger.


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 Post subject: Re: Chickadee's Kruger Trip
Unread postPosted: Wed Aug 27, 2008 12:56 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger

Joined: Tue Jun 05, 2007 12:29 am
Posts: 130
Location: Herndon, Virginia
Yes, this is the first trip. We are totally geeked about it. I have a yellow ribbon in my suitcase and it will fly proudly.

Here are our plans:

First night: Skukuza
1 night L. Sabie
1 night Talamati
2 nights Olifants
3 nights Satara
1 night Shipandani
2 nights Letaba
1 night Tamboti
Last night Skukuza

Wee heee


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 Post subject: Re: Chickadee's Kruger Trip
Unread postPosted: Thu Aug 28, 2008 12:46 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger

Joined: Tue Jun 05, 2007 12:29 am
Posts: 130
Location: Herndon, Virginia
Everyone, thank you all for your good wishes. I also thank everyone who has contributed to the forum and helped me with my plans. I caught the fever from you!!!

We spent last night drinking S. African wine, fell asleep quite nicely. Now, all that is left is to put in about 4 hours of work, zipper up my suitcases, and head to the airport.

I am taking my computer, so I may be able to write a bit when we get to Kruger, but I'm not sure. So everyone, take care, enjoy yourselves, and I'll let you know how things go in a couple weeks. :dance:


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 Post subject: Re: Chickadee's Kruger Trip
Unread postPosted: Sat Sep 13, 2008 3:32 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger

Joined: Tue Jun 05, 2007 12:29 am
Posts: 130
Location: Herndon, Virginia
WOW!!! We got back this AM after 18 hours on the plane. Kruger did not disappoint. 30 hours of video and almost 4000 pictures to go through. Need a little rest and then I'll begin my report. We had sunny days except for the last when we were baptised by the rains of Kruger. Wonderful. Wonderful.


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 Post subject: Re: Chickadee's Kruger Trip
Unread postPosted: Wed Sep 17, 2008 5:27 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger

Joined: Tue Jun 05, 2007 12:29 am
Posts: 130
Location: Herndon, Virginia
Well, let's get started. There's not much to report on our flight although it seemed important that I perform a countdown as the jet began the takeoff. 5-4-3-2-1 Blastoff!! We begin our half orbit of the earth from Dulles, Virginia into Johannesburg with much excitement. The flight was not horrible and we arrived in good shape at around 4PM. We had decided to accept S. African time immediately after takeoff, so we had slept and waked with that in mind. Really, we had no jet lag.

Once we checked into the hotel near the airport, we decided to do some research that we felt was important for the rest of the trip...Outside near the pool was a nice little cabana bar where we approached the bartender and began our research. He recommended Castle beer on draft, which we analyzed and gave a double thumbs up. Next our research focused on Windhoek, which also received double thumbs up. And lastly, Hansa Gold. Again, no failures with a third double thumbs up. We were confident now to proceed with our vacation with the necessary knowledge.

We had a lovely buffet dinner with lots of new food to try out. Janet had never had anything with curry in it and liked that very much. After dinner we sat outside for a little time more enjoying the night sounds and the bright moonlight, even with a sickle moon. Last sleep before Kruger.

August 30. We had a smooth flight to Mpumalanga and while Jan took care of the rental car business, I purchased our Wildcard at the kiosk in the airport for KNP. The lady was very nice and provided good directions to the park. We loaded up our Nissan XTrail and headed out. What fun we had with all the new country to ride through. It was a beautiful day, sunny and breezy. We especially liked the signs for "Hippo Crossing" and I was surprised to see that the banana trees were trained to grow their bananas in bags!! We survived the first hour of driving on the left side of the road, with Jan confusedly driving through Hazyview luckily avoiding people with all the stop signs we missed. After that, smooth. We were so exicted, we didn't bother to stop at the stores, we drove straight through to Kruger Gate. Check in was no problem, everything took just a few minutes. And then our game began, as I believe it does for everyone. What would we see first. Here I include our first official photo taken in Kruger...impalas.
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Little did I know how many opportunities I would have for picture taking. My first photos make me laugh as I look at them now. I took pictures of everything, no matter how much brush or how far or how bad the light was. So I'll spare you most of the ones I took on the drive from Kruger Gate to Skukuza. Let me just say we were delighted and stopped for EVERYTHING!!!, much to the dismay of other drivers. This little one was cute although we never could tell a duiker from a steenbok, so we called them all either a dicdoc tictoc or bikbok.
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Check in at Skukuza was very welcoming and again, we were beside ourselves with excitement. We wanted to see it all and didn't know where to start. We walked all over the camp, got our supplies and walked some more. We sat to watch the sun go down and were entertained by the baboons crossing the bridge, so familiar from your pictures that I felt I had been there before. We heard a rustle in the grass along the fence. Rustle, rustle, grinning face, long legs and teeth, a hyena appeared from the grass and came to the fence to welcome us to the Kruger night. Whoop whoop whoop.

We had dinner on the deck and had spectacular service with Letta serving (thank you very much). There was a tiny bat that was very amusing in the tree above us as it dipped and fluttered among the branches. And then the day was over and my first sleep in Kruger had finally arrived.


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 Post subject: Re: Chickadee's Kruger Trip
Unread postPosted: Thu Sep 18, 2008 3:49 am 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger

Joined: Tue Jun 05, 2007 12:29 am
Posts: 130
Location: Herndon, Virginia
August 31. We were up early and as quiet as vervets raiding kitchens. We turn onto the H-3 since we are going to be spending the night at Lower Sabie. We are thrilled as we begin to see many beautiful birds for the first time and stop often as the bush begins to light up. We stop at DeLaporte water hole and watch more impalas frisk about and I delight in the blue sheen of the Burchell's starlings that come begging around our car.
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A little further on, we see our first rhinocerus hiding in the bush, our first warthog, our first giraffes, our first kudus...in about 15 mintues!!! Next we stop to take a picture of a purple roller and out from the side trots a hyena, too quick and too close to photo. All I get is his back of spotted fur. Well, not exactly all...I got goosebumps too. Still, all the creatures we see are hiding and shy, not too good for photos, but I'm sure this distinguished fellow would have come closer if he knew how handsome we thought he was.
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We turn in to Mathekunyane and wander about, enjoying the view and the breeze. I wonder what is out there, under my gaze. I can't see enough, so I try to breathe it in. I make myself very still and try to absorb the air and sounds through my skin. It all seems to work...I am totally relaxed and one with the moment. At this point I'd like to introduce ourselves. That is my sister Janet on the left, and myself, Nancy, on the right. How do you do?
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From Mathekunyane, we continue south to Kwaggas Pan. It is here we stop for our first zebras, a whole herd of them coming and going from the water hole.
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As we enjoy their antics, Janet cries out, there's a fricking elephant coming in. So now we have our first ellie join the party.
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Some warties trot in, and then a rhinocerus with a chorus of oxpeckers hitching a ride. Soon the throng is joined by some wildebeest. What a party.
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We watch a family of dwarf mongoose off the side of the road for a while and then continue on. A group of giraffes stops us again for a bit, and then some kudus. Three ground hornbills make their appearance and we watch one beg from the car in front of us. What a morning. At the Afsaal picnic spot we have a cold Castle and some cheese and crackers. The birds are amusing and I am shown the little Scops owl.
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We drive merrily along on the S-114 and just north of the James watering hole, Jan stops suddenly. There's a leopard she says. I somersault into the backseat and recover along the window of the right side. Up on a rock and under a tree, Mr Leopard, who I have been dreaming about for some time now, is inviting us up for tea. With no one else in sight, we take our time enjoying this magnificent animal relaxing in the shade. We have plenty of time before another car approaches and we are pleased to point out Jan's discovery. As another car pulls up, we pull out. It's not yet noon.
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Crocodile Bridge is our goal, but we stop again and again. There is too much to see. We make it to the Gardenia Bird Hide and see a grey-billed hornbill and our first noisy francolin. A pair of Wahlberg eagles pose beautifully.
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I try to get good photos of the rollers we see, but the light and distance is not cooperating. But I am lucky to find our first bateleur.
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And our first white-backed vulture.
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We make our way slowly along the gravel roads and realize we can't get to Croc Bridge, we need to move a little faster, but we are continually stopping. We see our first buffs as we come up to the river, and then a lovely white-fronted bee-eater. I see and hear my first fish eagle soaring high overhead.
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We come across a magnificent kudu, our first male. Then a funny old man face in a tree.
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And then some fuzzy waterbucks, more dicdoctictocbicbocs and our first traffice jam. A leopard kill up in a tree just off the road. It was quite riduculous since the tree was surrounded by vehicles and Mr Leopard nowhere in sight. Since he was smarter than the drivers, he would be staying away until 6PM. We maneuvered our way thrugh and checked into #20 safari tent with a beautiful view of the river. We were delighted with everything. From our deck I looked out and said, not for the last time, Is that a moving rock? Jan said, and it became a habit, that's not a moving rock, that's an elephant. Just below us in the reeds was an elephant browsing along the river. At 20 minutes to 6 the tents emptied themselves of all the bats and then it was dark and we were lazy so we went up to the restaurant for a little more research and ended up with a pizza for takeout. Back at the tent we disturbed some little animal pingponging around the deck and then disappeared. We never did determine what it might have been.

The moon was up and the stars were out and the hippos were grunting and the hyenas were whoop whoop whoop once again.


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 Post subject: Re: Chickadee's Kruger Trip
Unread postPosted: Fri Sep 19, 2008 4:22 am 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger

Joined: Tue Jun 05, 2007 12:29 am
Posts: 130
Location: Herndon, Virginia
Thank you all for your kind words and encouragement. I am having trouble posting tonight so I will not make this lengthy in answering everyone, I will simply try to get this posted. Thank you.

September 1. The L Sabie tents are really comfortable. We had a 2 bed unit with bath and I have to say the shower was spectacular. We had decided to stay at the tent for the sunrise and not leave with the gates opening. It was just too awesome. We were up quite early though and boiled up our water for NESCAFE!! We had never used it in the States, but I can't say enough about Nescafe Instant Coffee. And no, I don't work for Nescafe. We made up our coffee and sat and listened and watched as the sun rose. The bats were called back to guard the tents and the baboons returned from beyond. The sky was the gentlest of colors, banded in a pale rainbow as the sun rose in a red ball over the horizon. I did my best to get the color, but it was a difficult picture.
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There were lots of little birds around the camp that I was trying to identify, bulbuls, barbets, chat, mousebird and herons and storks flying up the river. And a noisy francolin mom who showed off her chicks.
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We were only delayed about an hour, so all of the traffic was ahead of us. We imagined another traffic jam back at the leopard kill, but we were heading north along the H4-1 with the Sabie River travelling along with us. We made a stop at Sunset Dam and I was sorry we had not been able to view the sunset from here the night before. But NO REGRETS, I said, there would be no regrets this trip. I would call a "regret" a "plan" for the next time. We watched the hippos and I got nice photos of a grey heron and a jacana before we moved on.
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Sadly, we left Sunset Dam and headed north. We came upon a parade of baboons which we decided to join. Moving slowing up the road, the baboons marched around our car as we paced along with them. Grooming and fighting and carrying babes, watching us closely, but moving along with us with headed north. At some point they lost interest in us and moved off to their own amusements. We continued on to find a small group of cars looking out towards the river. Lions, they said. We strained our view through the brush and grass and were finally able to view 2 cubs and a mother. I was able to get a few pictures, but they are not very good. But LIONS!! Our first lions. Shortly after that we watched 2 old buffs along the river and stopped to watch some beautiful big trees on the other side of the river in the morning sunlight.

Some beautiful impalas came close to the car with their hitchhikers and a handsome waterbuck paused to watch us go by.
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We made a short stop at Nkuhlu, no research there to be completed, and headed towards Skukuza to pick up some supplies. We had a nice view of the river before Skukuza.
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Our stay tonight is at Talamati, so we headed up H1-2 to S-36. Just before the Nwatindlopfa(?) Bridge, we noticed cars parked on one side watching elephants. There was a nice giraffe, so we focused on him and then moved to see what we could see from the bridge.
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We stopped along the edge of the bridge and then the herd of elephants that everyone was watching down the road decided to enter the riverbed and do some mud bathing and mud stomping. We had a good view of the action. I loved how clever they were with their trunks. I could watch ellies all day.
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Coming up to Manzimhlope water hole I noticed dark shapes through the brush. Jan, I said, SABLE!! There was a big herd of them, maybe 30-40 gathered. One dominant male was acting up, very interested in one female. Off to the side was another big male, on alert. We were able to watch some very interesting behavior, from leg-stepping and grimacing after the female, butting, chasing, siding with the 2 males, and all the while the others peacefully grazing.
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At Lugmeg dam we saw our first crocs. A little further down we stopped at the Nhlanguleni picnic spot. The guardian there pointed out a cooler in back that had Fanta orange drinks. I have never had a colder crisper orange Fanta than at that picnic spot. I was in heaven. I don't think any drink will go down better than that orange Fanta did. Wow. Near the Ngwenyeni Dam we came upon 5 bull elephants in a very punky mood. 2 of them were sparring...they'd wrestle a bit then stand off staring at each other...fight a little more and stare a little more. Coming closer and closer. I was getting nervous and we almost moved, but they ignored us and just like that the 5 had disappeared into the bush.
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We arrived at Talamati late afternoon and scared 2 large kudu from entering the gate. We checked in with efficiency by a student and were given #1. It was settled into the corner, bush on one side and riverbed on the other with huge trees towering over the bungalow. Plus it was very big and modern with an indoor kitchen and 2 bedrooms, what luxury. There are 2 blinds in the camp and we checked out both, then later in the day, after sunset, we watched the baboons come home to the trees for the night, hopping over the fence with ease and climbing into the trees above our bungalow. Then just before it got dark, a huge herd of elephants came tumbling down the opposite bank and across the river and up the bank outside our bungalow and within 10 yards the whole herd passed in front of us as we stood quietly by. They headed off to the water hole where we watched them for a bit more, then decided it was time to braai. Now, here is a question. How do angels start a braai without matches that can light? Here is how: Take the match that doesn't light, start the car and light the match with the lighter, then have a candle and light it with the match that was lit by the lighter and take the candle to the braai and light a match from the candle and then light the braai. It works!! We had blesbock kabobs under a U-shaped moon. Later we watched a rhino come up to the watering hole and then that was it for this day.


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 Post subject: Re: Chickadee's Kruger Trip
Unread postPosted: Sun Sep 21, 2008 12:50 am 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger

Joined: Tue Jun 05, 2007 12:29 am
Posts: 130
Location: Herndon, Virginia
Thank you all for your encouraging comments. I owe you all my best effort as I have surely enjoyed your reports through the year.
@Pumbaa, yes the bat is still there. We nicknamed all the animals, this bat was Tannie. We aren't very clever as it was a tan bat. The other bat from Skukuza we named Battie, you get the picture.

September 2. We left Talamati with regret after watching the baboons descend from their night perches and meander off to do whatever baboons do during the day. We had leftover blesbok and potatoes for breakfast then headed out. We came upon this bateleur in the beautiful morning light.
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We had a good opportunity to realize that there were such things as bushpigs. We have been confusing them with warthogs all along.
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And I finally had my first good shot of a male kudu.
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Further down the road, we were lucky to see a second group of sable. One of them had a collar.
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We stopped at the Rabelais Museum just so we could get out of the car, but it was an interesting stop. Then on to Orpen to gas up and get some supplies. Just outside the gate we came upon this pearl-spotted owlet, still awake.
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We made our way to Bobbiejaankrans get out spot and we found our first geocache there. It was under a Wait a Bit tree and I found out why it is called that. It seemed to want my forehead to wait a bit, and I left a little DNA at the site. But what a nice view. Even though we drive with the windows open, it is special to get out and really waken the senses, letting the breeze and warmth isolate you then allow you to disappear into it all. Another thing about today, we've seen just about all we're going to see as far as a tally goes, maybe some more types of animals if we're lucky, but we are content with what we have seen. There's no longer this frenzy about sightings, we've slowed down. We are taking our time to sit and watch the behaviour and relax a bit. This is great. We turn down the S39 towards Timbavati and come upon a troop of baboons feeding from the fruits of some type of tree. There are baboons in the tree and occasionally the wind or a baboon shakes the fruit down to the ground and the baboons on the ground grunt happily and chatter. There are also a family of striped mongoose feeding but they are hard to photo.
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We watch the baboons for a while since we find a pleasant shady spot and have some cheese and crackers. Moving on, we climb a hill to have the bush open before us. I want to imprint this so I will always remember.
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This day turns out to be good for birds. This martial eagle watched us closely.
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The Timbavati road runs close to the Timbavati river and we searched hard for leopards. The route is beautiful. We came upon this scene that will be another reminder to my senses, such a simple sight in Kruger, but makes me melancholy and lonesome for it now.
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It wasn't long before we came to the Timbavati picnic spot. It was very busy, but we had sandwiches so didn't need a skottel. Good thing, we were intimidated by the skottels. We sneaked peeks at how otherw were cooking. Very well equipped they were. We weren't so well equipped, but soon we would try. For today, ham sandwiches and research-proven Windhoeks. The starlings had to settle for bucket water.
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There was another geocache at Timbavati, which we were able to nab, even with the mugglers all over. And, very familiar to many of you, there was a pair of bushbucks begging for handouts. What we like was that they groomed each other with such care. A little bit of lick for you, a nibble back for you, very nice.
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We took a turn out just past the entry to Roodwal Camp and came upon a large red rock koppie along the riverbed. Jan scanned with her binocs and was triumphant with a sighting of a klipspringer pair. The female was a bit lower in the shade, and the male stood facing us. It was hot and they were taking it easy.
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Continuing along the Timbavati river, we come upon a Brown Snake Eagle.
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A Kori bustard
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And an African Hawk Eagle.
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And then, ultimately, we came to the Oliphants River. We got out. I lost my breath. When I drew the next breath in, I finally was wholly, totally, in Kruger. I can't describe the beauty of the panorama before us, but I can only try. Out in the distance were elephants grazing, there were hippos in the pools. Buffalo were nosing around the banks. I could see giraffes on the shore and impalas by the hundreds. Moving closer in, we could count the crocodiles and right below us, a huge catfish maneuvered under the bridge. And the birds...eagles and kingfishers and ducks and herons. And the sounds, hippos, swallows chirruping, fish eagle crying, the reeds swishing, the water singing. The breeze was strong and the sun was bright. The air was dry and warm. People walked about, but everyone was hushed. There was too much, no one looked in the same direction because there was so much to see everyone had their own special view. When I come back, this is where I'll come back to.
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Reluctantly we leave, but we will return here again and again over the next days. We make our way towards camp and can see it high on the cliff. And then we are there. We have #18, a 2 bedroom awesome bungalow. It is supposed to be perimeter, and it is, but it is also river view and what a view. We overlook Eden. When I looked out over the river from the bridge, I never expected anything could be better. But the view from #18 is incomparable. I can see paradise.
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We head to bed early after an easy dinner with some wine. The sounds from the river below accompany a chardonnay tonight, but we end the day early as we are booked for a morning walk and have to be up at 0430.


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 Post subject: Re: Chickadee's Kruger Trip
Unread postPosted: Tue Sep 23, 2008 2:20 am 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger

Joined: Tue Jun 05, 2007 12:29 am
Posts: 130
Location: Herndon, Virginia
Thank you thank you everyone who is responding to my post.

September 3. We're up well ahead of the sun. We meet 6 others and our 2 rangers, Matthew and Wussie?? Wussie? I question. In the U.S. Wussie is not a name you would give a guy with a gun who is going to be protecting your life, but I go with it and think I must have heard wrong. Anyway, it is cold this morning and I am thankful for the blankets that are passed around. We head towards the Bangu watering hole. We see a bunch of elephants and a black-backed jackal on the way in, but it is relatively quiet. 2 of the folks with us said they saw a leopard in a tree on the way into Bangu the day before. At Bangu we get out and begin our walk. Matthew shows us some tracks of a leopard that he believes are fresh, so we keep our hopes up. Jan spots a hyena, and we take off to try and intercept it and get a little closer. We are really moving fast so I can hardly look at anything. I was thinking this walk would be more of a stalk, rather than this race. Anyway, we never do get much closer and our attention focuses on a rhino and her baby. We stop for some snacks and wait for the rhinocerus to move a little closer to us. With the wind sending our scent away, we are able to sneak a little closer to the pair. Very exciting to be out there on foot with such a powerful beast nearby. Eventually, she catches our scent and ambles off. We see some kudu and some zebras but little else as our time is up and we head back. I have to say that the opportunity to be out in the open in the bush is an experience not to be missed. Next trip, my plan will include more morning hikes.
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Back at camp we discover the monkeys had a little party on our patio. They rummaged through our paper bags and tossed our cooking oil and Nescafe out onto the grass. Next thing we realized, our car keys we had left along the sink were gone. The keys were found on the grass next to the Nescafe. WOW. Disaster in the making. Disappointed by not finding anything good, they pooped in our kitchen, those little rascals. Kitchen wildlife also includes a little frog that likes to sit next to the saucers in the cupboard.

We decide to drive a loop to Letaba along the S44/S46 and back down the H1-5. There's a geocache at the Oliphants Lookout which we find and at the same time enjoy the beautiful view and glimpse of the camp in the distance.
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But the route is very dry. It's hard here. Dry. How can life continue. I find myself imagining what it would be like in December, hot, rainy, buggy. I might try coming here for a shorter time during that timeframe. We come upon a bird on a nest. Not sure if this is a Wahlberg's eagle?
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Next we have a immature fish eagle float by.
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At Letaba we watch out for falling sausage fruit and stop by the store. Futher along the river, we notice some cars parked and we pull in. We can't see anything, but it is a nice river view so we take some time to watch and listen. A man pulls up and asks what we are looking at, and I tell him baboons. He mentions there are some lions back down the road and then says "well there's some lions right there." Sure enough, we had missed the lions. We moved the car a bit and could see a mother and 2 cubs. Janet honked the horn by accident and everyone who looked at us saw an empty car. We were hiding in embarassment on the floor.
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Back at the Olifants get out bridge which is my favorite spot in Kruger, we stop and get out. The animal life we witnessed the other day had changed rather disappeared. There was still a lot to take in, but the big animals were missing.

Back at camp I took some photos of the little birds that came by. First, black backed puff back
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Then southern black flycatcher
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And then
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We decided on a short ride before the gates closed, so we went back out to see if the lions had moved on. We found them a little closer to the road and they kept us entertained for a while once again. Here's the cub.
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The chicken we bought at Letaba turned out to be spoiled, so all we had was beans for supper. But, not all was disappointing, tonight we had whisky and coke in honor of Ludwig. We toasted him many times. This made us talkative and we decided to make some calls back to the States. We call this "drunken dialing". If we had Ludgwig's phone number he would have had calls from 2 loopy U.S. ladies from Olifants.
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 Post subject: Re: Chickadee's Kruger Trip
Unread postPosted: Wed Sep 24, 2008 3:51 am 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger

Joined: Tue Jun 05, 2007 12:29 am
Posts: 130
Location: Herndon, Virginia
Thank you all once again. I appreciate your comments and would like to write back to you all.

September 4. We sadly say goodbye to Olifants camp. Not too sad, I know I will be back. I can always close my eyes and imagine this paradise of eden is waiting for me. We swing by the low bridge over the Olifants and watch the kingfishers. My camera does not want to cooperate today. Maybe some of the whiskey got into it. Many shots were out of focus and I am a bit disappointed that I could not get a good photo of another rhinocerus with a really little baby. Mother was so protective, folowing closely behind. The baby knew we were watching and was very curious about us. It was so little it didn't have any wrinkles yet. Once more, a stop on the high water bridge over Olifants to gaze out and breathe it in. There's always something going on here, kingfishers, hippos, crocs--we saw one snap a fish head off and eat the rest. Snap snap, after just beans last night a fish would be good.
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At the Ngotso North watering hole we came upon an amusing scene. One lone hyena sat cooling his rump in the water hole. Surrounding him was a huge herd of impalas and many zebras. Kudu were also lingering in the distance. Oh, they were oh so thirst, but the hyena was too frightening for them. The zebras would stamp and turn away, and every so often a brave impala would approach the water for a drink only to skitter away when the hyena looked up. We watched for a long time and finally a few of the impalas braved their enemy and got some sips. Then from the bushes a second hyena trotted out. It too must have had a steaming rump as it sat down in the water with the other one.
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We were getting thirsty now. Finally, the two hyenas got out of the water and we thought, good, now they will leave the watering hole to the other animals, but they laid down! And went to sleep!! That's when we left. Here you see the zebra as if to say, we can do it if we stick together. Let's rally up and get that drink. C'mon mates, what do you say?
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A little further down the road, we come across a male and female lion near the road. They were resting quietly and then the female gets something on her mind and not a headache.
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And then right before us, wow.
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They take a little nap and then head off into the brush. That was awesome. Then a car waves us down and says there is a leopard with a cub just down the road. But we miss once again. They jumped out of the tree and hid off into the bush. We see our first ostriches, though, with their snakey heads and fluffed out feathers.
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This little mongoose and the oxpeckers caught my eye.
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We arrive at Satara and check into C56. It's cozy and we head to the store for supplies and look out over the webcam. It was something to see it and not on my computer. How many hours have I sat looking at the computer screen and now I am there. In the trees around the cam I find a brown-headed parrot and a shy grey-headed bush shrike.
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We'll here for 3 nights. At reception we are told to come back in the morning at 0730 to see if we can use the Mananga Trail, so that's our plan. We decide to drive down the S100 for our afternoon drive. Animals everywhere. I spotted a big male lion walking parallel to the road but by the time the camera was up he had laid down and could not be seen. One of the elephants we were watching crossed the road in front of us and decided he didn't like the looks of Janet. He shook his ears and moved after us. That raised the adrenaline a bit. Back at camp we are ready for a good meal. Here is our recipe for bushghetti.

Saute 1/2 pound of minced beef with
1 can Miami brand tomatoes and peppers,
and 1 4 oz can All Gold tomatoes and onions

Cook up your spaghetti noodles and add sauce. Bon apetit! Yummy after spoiled chicken and beans.

We spotted a genet climb out of the trees. Fell asleep once again to the whoop whoop whoop of the hyenas.


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 Post subject: Re: Chickadee's Kruger Trip
Unread postPosted: Thu Sep 25, 2008 8:40 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Tue Jun 05, 2007 12:29 am
Posts: 130
Location: Herndon, Virginia
I am glad for your comments. Thanks once again. Boy is this hard work keeping up.

September 5 We sleep in a little bit this morning since we have to wait until reception opens at 0730 to book the Mananga Trail. This is something I have been looking forward to and the reason we got a 4x4. We pack the car in anticipation of leaving for the trail early if we get to go. They allow a maximum of 6 vehicles per day. I imagine a long line of people waiting to book, so we get to reception early and I pace anxiously. But there's no one there! We are the first ones through the door and without a hitch, we deposit Rand 100 in case we need to get pulled out and we are on our way. The start of the trail lies just off the H1-4 and travels east to a waterhole. From there is cuts diagonally to the S100, where it follows the S100 and then S41. Gudzani Dam is nearby the turn off westward off S41. The trail then heads back to the waterhole on a different track, and then from the waterhole follows the river until it ends up on the S90. Let me say this trip took us all day and we loved every minute of it.
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Almost immediately, we come across a huge male rhino who didn't seem to mind us one bit.
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We are anxious to take advantage of our opportunity to "get out" and we drive a little further where we exit the car and take in the solitude of the bush. We feel a bit like the browsers, watching for predators, so we nibble a few crackers and have some Kruger juice, all the while waiting for a predator. We survive that stop and then move on. Before we go too far, we come across a Kori bustard and he makes a nice pose.
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The wildebeest, zebras, and kudu are plentiful and now we fully relate to the grazers and browsers. We nibble some more crackers. We are up on a little plateau and have good views in all directions. In too short of time we come to the waterhole.
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There are impies and elephants, giraffes, and waterbucks to watch. We take our time and then head off in the wrong direction. We have a GPS with and it becomes obvious we are not on track, so we return to the water hole and make amends to the proper course. It is very peaceful and the track is swept free of all vehicle tracks. We use our new skills in tracking to make sense of the creatures that passed before us. We get out occasionally just to savor the feel of the wind on our faces and the freedom from being outside the car. There is no sound or worry of anyone else. We come upon the S100 in due time, then turn towards Gudzani Dam where we decide to take a break. We were enthralled with the activity below, it was like changing TV channels, Channel 1, hippos, Channel 2 crocodiles eating birds, Channel 3 warthogs mudbathing, Channel 4 baboons eating mud??? what?, Channel 5 The Bird Channel. Here is an open-billed stork.
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We get back on the trail and drive along a stream bed. I see my first saddle billed stork, one of the birds I have been hoping to see. I almost get the picture of the fish eagle I'd been dreaming about, but there will be a better one to post later. We travel among the zebra and wildebeest herds and something spooks the beesties, but we unable to spot what it might have been. Further on, we come to a cute tickietoc, I'm guessing a steenbok (but arks has just explained what makes a duiker a duiker, so duiker it is), and then we pull up under a shady tree with a good view of the waterhole.
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We enjoy our lunch and grow sleepy. Like the impalas around us, we cautiously fall asleep with the shade protecting us from the hot sun. (Don't worry, we ARE in the car.) Some time passes and I wake to a large bird sweeping down from the sky. A secretary bird! Oh, I was hoping I'd see one of those. And then a minute later, another large birds swoops in, a nice eagle which I believe is a tawny eagle.
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We watch as both birds share the waterhole and then the secretary bird moves off. It becomes excited at one of the bushes and I hope it has found a snake, but the bird only danced a bit and then moved off.
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Not many large animals come in during the afternoon before we need to head out, but a chorus line of zebras made a curtain call.
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We stop again for our last get out and listen...the dry sound of the grasses in the breeze, the birds call, an elephant trumpet. We took 9 1/2 hours to go 50Km and hunted hard for cats, but none to be found, even with us as bait. On the way out we came across another male rhino, then a little bit further, this mother rhino and baby.
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The track meanders along the river and we come to a large herd of buffalo wanting to cross the road.
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And then we are finished. The sun is fading fast and we need to get back. We come across this jackal who gets up and calls to its kin. Janet forgets the time I think and I have to remind her, the gates close at 6. I would have liked to have stayed too.
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We make it back in time and I gather up my deposit. I wonder how many others have lost theirs and what their stories are. We found the trail to be quite friendly, but then it has been dry. There are some spots that raised our eyebrows, but we didn't have any problems. It was a delight. And we never saw another soul the whole time we were on the trail. I believe we were the only car out there this day.

The store was jammed when we got there. We picked up a pineapple to save for Shipandani and some Russian sausages and potatoes for tonight. And some wine. It was all a very satisfying day. Just before we headed to bed, an unexpected blast of wind roared through the camp bringing with it sand and all the braais still lit. Sparks from the fallen braais and from the glowing wood now on the ground shot around the camp. I was really concerned and the wind continued like hell from the Sahara. We went to bed with the windows open so we could listen this impressive windstorm. What a mistake.


Last edited by Chickadee on Fri Sep 26, 2008 12:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Chickadee's Kruger Trip
Unread postPosted: Fri Sep 26, 2008 12:57 am 
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Senior Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Sun Mar 20, 2005 5:53 pm
Posts: 3758
Location: Cambridge, MA (and home from home in Darling, WC)
You certainly had a rewarding trip Chickadee, with some gorgeous pix! Your lovely little antelope is a duiker (the tuft of hair between the horns is the clue here :wink: ), how nice to see one so very relaxed :mrgreen: My rare duiker sightings are usually of a tail disappearing behind a bush :(


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 Post subject: Re: Chickadee's Kruger Trip
Unread postPosted: Fri Sep 26, 2008 2:31 am 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger

Joined: Tue Jun 05, 2007 12:29 am
Posts: 130
Location: Herndon, Virginia
thanks arks for helping me on the ID of this particular dicdocktictockbicbock. We figured some of the were duikers and some were steenboks, but we were clueless. Coming up we find we saw a nyala when we gave up with it as a kudu. The pics are really helpful.

BTW I am so excited. I got half a commital from hubby (half is better than :hmz: ) and have booked Aug 30 and 31 into Kruger for next year!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :tongue: :tongue:


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 Post subject: Re: Chickadee's Kruger Trip
Unread postPosted: Fri Sep 26, 2008 12:18 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger

Joined: Tue Jun 05, 2007 12:29 am
Posts: 130
Location: Herndon, Virginia
Hey, thanks all. I'm enjoying puttng the trip down to words, it is stepping me back to being there while I remember and look at notes and pictures. I had my camera set up to never change my number sequence, so every time I downloaded my memory card, the numbers on the pic wouldn't change. It help me keeps track of the order of things.

I made Aug 30 and 31 because I could, but I have got September to book. Since my husband is going to be a challenge as I believe he will try to get from point A to B as quickly as possible, I told him he had to savor the drives, not race them. Then I agreed to spend more time in each camp so he could sit and read and relax. THen I could go out and drive. (He is also a good cook.) We'll see if he can get bit by the Kruger bug.

This is what I am thinking

1 night Skukuza
1 night Tamboti
3 nights Olifants
2 nights Satara
3 nights L. Sabie
1 night Byamiti
1 night Skukuza
:clap:

@lp->does that coincide?


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 Post subject: Re: Chickadee's Kruger Trip
Unread postPosted: Fri Sep 26, 2008 11:44 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger

Joined: Tue Jun 05, 2007 12:29 am
Posts: 130
Location: Herndon, Virginia
September 6 Satara
We woke up covered in a fine coating of sand from leaving the windows open. The patio was filled with leaves and sand and we needed to re-wash all our dishes. The maids were going to have to work harder today, so we left them a little extra and were through the gate at 6, heading once again for the S100 with Gudzani Dam in mind. There was a lot going on along the S100, but we were looking for cats and they eluded us along the route. We made it to Gudzani and had no intention to leave for a while, we wanted to watch and wait patiently to see what would enfold.
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My first thrill was this yellow-billed stork, a first. There were also some saddle-billed storks,a goliath heron, a family of Egyptian geese,and a very loud hadeda ibis, another first.
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I used my oxpecker mini-cam for this shot.
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There were hammerkopfs, bateleurs, kingfishers, fish eagles, and lots I didn't know. We had lots to keep our attention. We had a cute baby hippo show up, not sure he is complaining after being scolded here.
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A tribe of baboons approached the water and a floating log exploded up and consumed one, scattering the baboons in every direction except one. After they settled, we thought we would see some type of behaviour that would indicate their loss, but life went on normally. No mama frantically looking for her baby. After a couple hours, and no major excitement, we headed to N'wanetsi for brunch. We had leftover Russkies and potatoes, can't remember, but probably a beer. There was a geocache near the lookout which we found and then enjoyed the view.
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We left N'wanetsi and began our trek back to Satara. We pulled into the Sonop watering hole and there were a few cars with focused attention. For the life of us, we could not see anything, and one lady in another car told us their was a male lion deep in the brush, but from where we were parked probably couldn't see it. We finally got a chance to move, but still couldn't find anything. Janet and the lady were getting frustrated, Janet not finding and the lady with Janet not finding. Then, the lady got out of her car and came over to Jan and pointed THERE! Jan finally got it and the lady ran back, all the while the people in her car were on her case to get back in the car. So thanks lady, we spotted him, but that wasn't the right thing to do especially with us flying the yellow ribbon.
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After we left and just as we turned onto the H6, we came across his girlfriends and their cubs tangled together in the shade.
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Further on we came across a couple sisters cruising the H6 with their hairs in the breeze that reminded me of Jan and me.
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Once we arrive back at camp, we decide to hunt for a geocache which we could not find earlier. We eventually found it, but also came across some interesting characters in the trees whilst we were searching.
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We tried to get on the night drive, but it was booked so we took care of some clothes washing and repacking our stuff. And that was that for today.


Last edited by Chickadee on Sat Sep 27, 2008 1:19 am, edited 1 time in total.

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