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 Post subject: The Beauty of Nature revealed (Part III)
Unread postPosted: Thu Mar 19, 2009 9:17 am 
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Virtual Ranger
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A BIG HI to all you wildlife & forum addicts :D

I decided to spoil all the angels and musketeers who have to stay behind this year, and enjoy Kruger through the internet :lol:
We, the members of the Forum Olifants River Backpack Trail are about to start our looooong and eagerly awaited trip within 2 weeks :dance: :dance: :dance:

So, you guys will be lucky:
I hope to do a trip report of our intended stay and Letaba and Mopanie, INCLUDING a very detailed trip report of the Olifants River Backpack Trail It is the only backpack trail in Kruger.

Just for some background info, it's a 42km hike along the Olifants River. Every trailist carries his own equiment with, including a small tent, sleeping bag, cutlery etc! The plan is to sleep 3 nights next to the river, and it must be the ultimate BUSH experience. IF everything goes accroding to plan, we will depart the 1st of April, and return the 4th :dance:

As you can imagine, I'm HUGELY excited, and I know Sabuwona with whom I'm going to Kruger, is so too. :D 8) I will try to give you an extensive 'briefing' of the trail later on. but first have to finish the other trip reports :lol: :twisted:

Hope to chat soon :thumbs_up:

_________________
Letaba 8 July, Shipandane 9 July, Shingwedzi 10 - 14 July :D


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 Post subject: Re: The Beauty of Nature revealed (Part III)
Unread postPosted: Mon Mar 30, 2009 8:11 am 
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Hi all :D

I'm ready to leave, packed and prepared! It looks like my backpack is goona weight around 16kg :whistle: Lets hope we don't get too many blisters. The weather looks fine (excellent actually) as it will be 29/30 degrees, and partly cloudy :dance: No rain predicted, so lets hope the best!

First night, we will stay in Letaba, then drive down to Olifants on the morning of 1 April :dance: After the walk, 3 nights in Mopanie to rest a bit :twisted: :tongue:

Hope to chat soon, and thanks again :thumbs_up:

_________________
Letaba 8 July, Shipandane 9 July, Shingwedzi 10 - 14 July :D


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 Post subject: Re: The Beauty of Nature revealed (Part III)
Unread postPosted: Mon Apr 20, 2009 11:12 am 
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Hi all :D

OK then, lets start this trip report and I have to admit, a very special one! :dance: Just a short lay-out: we stayed the first night in one of my favourite camps in Kruger, namely Letaba. Then we conducted the 3 nights / 4 day Backpack Trail along the Olifants river. This is probably the highlight of all my holidays I had! There, I will deal with every detail extensively… We then stayed the last 3 nights at Mopanie, with perimeter bungalows providing an awesome view over the Pioneer Dam! All in all, an absolute stunning and unforgettable adventure for which I mainly must thank Sawubona and his wife for great planning, help and support. Thanks again!! :clap: :clap:

So let’s start with the first day, right were the adventure began.

Day 1: 31 March 2009

After a year of excitement, high expectation and a lot of arrangements, we could finally leave Pretoria on the early morning at 3 o’clock. :dance: Packed with all the backpacks, equipment etc, it was quite a ‘trek’ (big move)! Fortunately, time went by quick, and it was good to finally see the gates of Palaborwa. 8) It’s been 8 years ago since I have been there, and I couldn’t remember a single detail! The gate was new, with booms, cameras the lot and quite different from the usual simple gates.

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Anyway, it wasn’t long before we hit the H9. I have read quite a lot about the area. Somehow, everything looked different that I had imagined. :whistle: Much more Mopanie trees and shrubs, a sign I have been in the south too much. The first impalas soon shown themselves, and were eagerly greeted. Finally, back home & far from house!

The road was full of elephant dung, however not yet any sign of these grey giants. I missed the first buffie on my side of the road, but luckily it was picked up by the others. Bloody Kruger maps, they keep distracting me wherever I am!

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We then hit the dust road towards Sable dam. Once again, I could not remember it, and the setting is lovely! It’s won’t take long before I will one night sleep there under the African sky in the Sable bird hide. The dam looked a bit dried up, with the water levels reducing very quick. Apart from a group of Impalas, a few crocs, Egyptian geese and other birdies the area was quiet and peaceful. 8) I then remembered why I hate the city!

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The loop leading towards Sable is a nice route, something different than the relatively flat and straight H9 tar road. It was good to be on a proper dust road again.

We almost passed Mansorini hill without seeing the old huts on the hill. They are a bit far, and one has to look nicely if you’re not familiar with the area. A few km’s down the road, we bumped into a few ellies, but closest to us was a female with calve. They came quite close, and then the baby started drinking! :) Unluckily, they didn’t face us properly, so we couldn’t take a nice picture..

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Apart from a Martial eagle in a tree, 2 saddle-billed storks and impalas, the area was quiet. I have to admit, with only 2 hours sleep, the stress disappeared and my eyes got heavy…. Phew! Luckily, a group of buffaloes took a bath at Rhidonda Pan. There were quite a few, and as we waited for 10 min or so, the buffs walked away. Slowly…

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At Nhlanganini dam, we saw a herd of elephants. They drank a bit, played a bit, and all in all it was a nice diversion, keeping me awake. In the distant, 2 ellies were trying hard to start a family :lol:

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:wink: Closing in on Letaba, we took the dust river loop and the s69. The s69 is a very nice road, meandering close to the river with some nice views! Definitely worth a few tries. An then, there is was: the old and trusted gate of Letaba camp, and I love the setup of the camp with all the trees, LOTS of shade and unique palms. HOME. I couldn’t wait to check out the restaurant area, sit in a chair there, and simply enjoy!!

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We had both a guest house, and bungalow nr. 59. The guest houses are nice, spacious and close to the river front. It’s the perfect place to sit and relax, watch the squirrels dance in the trees, enjoy the shade and forget about the stress of our big wide world. 8) :cam: Couldn't miss the resident bushbuck :wink:

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I walked up to the restaurant, sat on one of the wooden chairs and enjoyed the magnificent view in front of me…. *sigh*

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I then took a shower and nap, as I was really tired of the trip and planning before. There is no better feeling than waking up after a short siesta in Kruger, with a later afternoon trip ahead. After that, I enjoyed a quiet 30min, watching the riverfront in silence...

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Half past 4, we hit the road to do a small drive. We decided to take the s46 – s49 dust roads, and explore it a bit.

The road was nice scenic, with a lot of big trees and a nice river view. We spotted a few zebras, a big impala group and few hippos and close to us, a nice big fish eagle.

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Apart from that, this side of the Olifants was quiet. Too quiet for my expectations, being all fresh from Johburg again!
BUT I was in the bush, a privilege on its own. I hope people realize that when they are in Kruger! So we decided to take the tar road close to the Letaba river.

This decicion proved to be much better. :) We saw a group of baboons playing in the trees. Down in the river, there were 2 elephants, a group of waterbuck. (no pics, light was bad!) We also saw a few fisheagles quite close. Branches were making photographs difficult though. On our way back, almost invisible to the eye, 3 giraffe walked on the other side of the river. I’m afaird that was it. We didn’t have much time left, and returned to camp.

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Back in camp, I walked to the front of the restaurant. Just couldn’t leave that place especially with the amazing sunset emerging. One thing I noticed: I wasn’t the only one with this idea and to me it seemed quite a few people somewhere have recognised the exceptional beauty of the place…. 8) :cam:

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Sometimes when I am fortunate to see the sun setting over the woodlands of Kruger, a melancholic feeling overwhelms me. :whistle: Really, not in the depressed sense of the word, but rather a strange feeling of fulfilment where I ask myself how many people want to be here, but can’t. I then wonder about principles of fairness, and try to figure out why I’m so fortunate to be at such a special place…. That’s the moment I remember one formites’ forum name: DANKBAAR. And that is what I felt: gratefulness to be so privileged. Just a single word with such a huge meaning.. *sigh*

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Leaving the emotional thing aside, we had a nice braai under the stars that night. We were all quite excited as the big day, 1 April 2009 was around the corner. And a big day it was! Just before heading to our hut, we all had a last ‘gear check’ Our last night in a ‘safe’ camp….

The next post with pictures will be tonight :dance: Keep an eye on this topic. As soon as I get the pictures of the first day, I'll add them

To be continued....... 8)

_________________
Letaba 8 July, Shipandane 9 July, Shingwedzi 10 - 14 July :D


Last edited by G@mespotter on Fri May 01, 2009 4:34 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: The Beauty of Nature revealed (Part III)
Unread postPosted: Mon Apr 20, 2009 6:55 pm 
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OK then, main meal has started! Enjoy & one rule though: I'll split every day of the walk in 2 parts. ONLY ONE PART a day will be posted. Enjoy, and ask whatever you want to ask. I will reply individually!

Day 2: 1 April 2009 (part 1)

Ja, what can I say about such a special day. :D After more than a year of waiting, planning and hoping – FINALLY is was there!! We all woke up early, packed all the loaded backpacks and gear in the cars, and headed towards Olifants camp. I would have loved to stay in Letaba a little longer, maybe next time!

The weather was nice, a bit windy and chilly in the morning as I prefer it. We wanted to be in camp quickly, and thus took the tar road to Olifants.

The road was pretty quiet, with only a few cars on it. Apart from numerous impalas & lots of spider webs glistering in the early morning sun, not much game around. We spotted the odd elephant or 2 though.

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As we got to the Olifants, we noticed that the river was rather full, and flowing strongly. :shock: A lone big croc lied on a dry piece of sand, as a silent warning to the inherent danger of walking next to the river….

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On the H8, 3 kudus were hiding in the bush, carefully observing the strange moving, flashing objects. I’m still waiting to see something spectacular on this stretch of tar.

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Olifants camp didn’t look very different than in 2007, apart form the restaurant being renovated. It’s one of the camps I have not stayed over yet, but I cannot wait to watch the sunset from my patio one day!! ONE DAY. :dance: :whistle:

Some of us decided to have a last proper BURGER. I skipped the burger simply enjoyed the view of the rocky Olifants river. Then, I quickly met Donavan Terblance, and Julie Wolhuter, our male and female guides for the coming 3,5 days. :thumbs_up:

Photie before we met the others....
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Donavan is a big guy, tanned by the sun and one can see he spends most of his time in nature. Julie seemed like lady from Johburg who decided to do a few walks. Well, the emphasis is on SEEM, as we came to another opinion very soon….Strange how one can misjudge when meeting the first time! :lol:

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Then it was Riverrat from the forum, our joking vet of the group. Nickname: THE RAT….Refers to one of the 2 rats in the movie ‘Ice Age’ Hope that speaks for itself! No offence RR, just kidding. Then Chris, the oldest of the group who has shown to be a ‘though’ guy himself. Keeping up with much longer lads, well done. :wink: Further, there was Jan who couldn’t wait to go. He proved to be an extremely early morning person. Donavan knows.. Then Sawubona, who worried so much about the fact that he couldn’t tell jokes out loud all day, he simply went bold the last few months. Even Julie THOUGHT he was old…… Ja Sawubona, the good days gone by! :twisted: Then it was Frank, a friend who came all the way from America to join us, and who proved to be Donavan’s superior when it came to the ‘bokdrol spoeg’ Maybe because he is so tall? Then, my sister Juanita and her friend Marijke: the 2 ladies on the trail. By no way prepared, & geared with jeans, mirrors, a pink hammer and plasters… BUT they didn’t complain once, and showed some (pink?) steel…. Hah, and then there was me. A total of 8 guests, and 2 guides, 10 EAGER people in total. 8)

There was huge excitement in the air, we all chatted, joked and couldn’t wait to go. Finally, after the doctor’s certificates and indemnity forms were handed in, the trailer loaded, families greeted, we headed WEST towards Palaborwa gate. The adventure had just started!!! :dance:

'The Rat' taking a nap on our way to Palaborwa.
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The objective of the drive towards Palaborwa gate is to get there as quick a possible, and no game viewing. We did see a few ellies and buffs but didn’t stop. I almost forgot, but we noticed 2 speed traps along the H9, and once again it proves SANParks is really trying to address the speeding issues! Have to admit, I think we all just wanted to get to the starting point and WALK IN KRUGER!

After a quick stop at Palaborwa gate where we picked up a driver we continued in a southern direction along the Western border fence of Kruger.

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Only saw a few saddle-billed storks and LOADS of ellie dung on the way. The road is OK, but the last part is more like 2 almost non existent tracks…. Gone is civilization! :D Well, we could clearly see it was the first public walk of 2009 in the area. Apparently, there are 2 starting points where the Olifants Backpack Trail starts. One at a weir, called Mamba and one place where we started (cannot remember the name) :roll:

Close to the river, Donavan stopped the bakkie (pick-up), and we started offloading. Before starting the walk, we were first introduced to Orge the ground drill. This item is used to make holes in the soil, and then use that hole as the loo (toilet)! Yes, you read it correct. When finished, one is to burn the toilet paper, and then cover up the hole…
:lol: Furthermore, when aiming is difficult, one uses a stick to putt-putt it in the hole. The toilet paper is referred to as the ‘scoreboard’ Some might not like it, but I though IT’S HILARIOUS. :lol: :tongue: Flippen funny stuff. Eish, and so the walk started! Furthermore, there is ,Mother Theresa the medical aid kit. Indeed a ‘mother of a kit’ as it’s quite heavy! :lol: And lastly, Fiona the spade. Those 3 items must be rotated under the guest members, who will have to carry it.

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After a short safety talk, Donavan took the lead as head guide, with Julie as second rifle, both in front. Sacked, packed and strapped we walked the first kilometre under the (still) hot sun. :clap:

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Just for a bit background information, April and October are usually the hottest months of the backpack trail. And so this time was no exception. It was around 30 degrees but we didn’t struggle because of the temperature. There is just too much to marvel at, too many first impression.

Although I have been on walks in Kruger before, every time the first hour or so everything feels and rough and tough. The banks for the Olifants are filled with huge trees, dense bush, and a lot of sand. It has uncountable dip and side rivers one has to get through, and with the heavy backpacks it’s makes it a challenge sometimes. I personally didn’t find it bad. I LOVED it! :dance:

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First we encountered a group of nervous impalas right in front of us, who bashed into the bush as soon as the heared something. These animals you simply can’t get close to… Then, as luck would have it, 3 elephants appeared on the other side of the river, and soon more joined them to form a small herd.

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This was quite cool, as we could observe the undisturbed! This is where we had a water break as well, so we could rest a bit in the shade, and check out the ellies on the other side. 8)

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After a 15min break, we headed further. It took some time for us to get used to walking on difficult terrain, and the whole sphere. Once used to it, it is even more difficult to adapt back to ‘normal’ Speaking is kept to a minimum. However, the biggest factor playing a role in seeing animals is the WIND DIRECTION and LUCK. :whistle:

I’m just happy to tell you we had both. We crossed paths with a small group of baboons, who were too quick for photographic evidence. So too was the giant eagle owl only I saw! It flew right over our group, and I was right at the back. I called the others, but it was gone already!

Especially the first day, one tend to concentrate on the group, people and don’t look far in front. This is where the guides experience kicks in. After another hour of walking, we stopped for another water break. Some of us went to fetch water at a ‘safe spot’ while Julie accompanied them to double check. As I will emphasise again and again, safety of the guests is their main concern! 8)

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Just before we started walking again, Donavan pointed a group of buffalo out in the distance, on a slight hill on our side of the river. He and Julie had seen it long before we did…. He then explained to us that we should at all times stick together, listen to their commands, stay silent and last but not least: WHATEVER YOU DO, DON’T RUN! :) I feel sorry for Sawubona, because now he could not test his version for his book “hoe klim ek ‘n doring boom” (How do I climb a thorn tree).

Anyway, we were ready to head towards the buffalo. We were further explained to be careful for predators, as around this area lions tend to follow herds of buffalo closely…… Remember, the wind was blowing quite strong, and came from the right-front of us. Perfect... :whistle: Time to stop for a break, don't ya think? :twisted:

To be continued.......... 8)

_________________
Letaba 8 July, Shipandane 9 July, Shingwedzi 10 - 14 July :D


Last edited by G@mespotter on Wed Apr 22, 2009 6:29 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: The Beauty of Nature revealed (Part III)
Unread postPosted: Wed Apr 22, 2009 7:52 pm 
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Hiya :D Just continuing where I stopped..... :thumbs_up:

So we approached carefully. As we got closer, Donavan suddenly stopped abruptly! Everyone knew something was brewing, and YES there he was, a lone elephant bull! :dance:

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He was quite close. We were told to be absolutely silent, and luckily we could see the bull walking past us gently. Cool! 8)

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Its fresh droppings....
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So, a close elephant on our ‘list’ we headed towards the buffalo. As we closed in on them, we were quite relaxed. The wind rustled through the trees, everything in our favour.

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By that time, I was walking in front behind Julie, as I was the ‘camera man’ :lol: and Jan who had the video camera right behind me. As Jan wanted to video, he walked a meter to the right of the group, to have a better view. SUDDENLY, :shock: we heard a short whistle from Jan. Before we could ask what he saw, we heard a loud, surprised growl!!! :shock: 8) By now, my heart was already pounding, as I remember a big lioness jumping up very close from us (20-25m?) :whistle: looked at us for a split second, and bolted! Then more lions just RAN, coming out of nowhere.

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As I just spotted the first lions, the guns were loaded by a short KLAK sound! I’ll tell you what, it might sound dramatic but it also was a really exciting experience. Both the lions and humans were completely surprised!! :whistle: We then had to jog forward, to get a few glimpses of the fleeing lions. This is where we got maybe 3-4 seconds to take pictures of the last 2 lions that looked over their shoulder, and followed the others. No time for perfect shots and they were taken while walking… :o

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Afterwards, a good laugh calmed the nerves.
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The nice thing was that the buffaloes too were surprised. They also did not notice the lions. However, the lions were between us and the buffalo, and ran away from us, close past the buffs. Them buffaloes then got up, gathered together and start pushing forward towards the lions for a few meters. :dance: The buffaloes stayed together as one unit.

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However, the cats checked their chances, and for the safety of the veld to the left. We then noticed 3 hooded vultures circling above the place where the lions had lied down. I was told when hooded vultures circle, one can expect a predator (especially lion) as they tend to follow lions.

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After this spectacular interaction which I couldn’t even have hoped for, we all had a short and nervous laugh. Thereafter, we were told to remain calm stay sharp and listen to the guides’ orders. Julie checked the dip in front of us, and found this muddie agro dagga-boy. Judge from the picture, but she wasn’t impressed!

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Eventually he decided to leave, and we could cross the side stream, which recently turned into a mud pool. 8)

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We then walked close to the river, Donavan leading us out of the trouble zone , while Julie let us pass, standing between the buffs and us, just for backup. Encountering buffalo herds on foot is nice. Buffaloes are like cattle, they are actually scared but just too curious to run away. :wink: They will initially run a bit, stand still, and then return to end their curiosity. :shock: This is when we guests get a fright :lol: Luckily, everything went A-OK, and after 30mins or so the whole episode was behind us. What a introduction to the Backpack trail though!

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Continuing for the last hour, we saw some impalas a low flying martial eagle. The area get a bit more dense, and once again we stopped for 15min, getting some water, talked about the recent experience and enjoyed the freedom of remoteness. The last 30min, we stumbled into this chameleon, spotted by the trained eyes of Donavan! :clap: He was busy changing skin, and was well camouflaged. Indeed a remarkable sighting!

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Watering spot, real untouched nature!
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Around the corner, we found a nice spot to camp. It was on an ‘island’ on the one side a dip with almost no water, then the ‘island’ with nice grass and on the other side the river. Close to the rocks etc. We would always camp close to the rocks, so that we could bath, get drinking water. One should always get drinking water from flowing water. We pitched camp, the guests in two parallel rows of 4, and on each point a guide. :whistle:

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One has to do all swimming, bathing, cooking and campfire preparations before it’s dark. Everyday, we would put up camp around 4 o’clock. Then we would enjoy the freshness of the Olifants river for an hour or so. I’m sure we must have looked like a bunch of birds bathing. There is nothing better than to relax the stiff muscles in the flowing water, with grunting hippo’s some 70m further on, curiously looking at all the activity. :dance: :dance: Ah, how do I long for these days again! ‘Bathing’ close to the rocks is just safer…. :) We slept 5m from these tracks..

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Then, everybody took out their gas cookers, and made their own food. One has to take along your own food. We used premixed food packets we bought at Outdoor warehouse. They were quite nice I have to admit. Problem was, normally I don’t do a lot of exercise and I could eat TONS. :twisted: So Donavan had too much, and gave me some. I ate like al elephant, to the great astonishment of the rest. We then collected firewood.
As the sun set, once again MOTHER NATURE REVEALS HER BEAUTY IN ALL ITS GLORY. There is no sunset like an African sunset.

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The fire is only for social purposes, and it’s only a small fire around which we all could sit and socialise. Telling jokes, serious stuff, what ever came up. We would all sit around the fire, simply listening to the flow of the river, sharing bush stories, or imprint the feeling of remoteness into our long term memories. :D :D NO civilization, NO luxuries, JUST basics in the bush. This has to be experienced to truly understand it.

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From time to time, Donavan would shine around with his maglite (torch). Around 9, one by one we slipped into our tents, like lions moving away from a kill after they had feasted on it. :twisted: Although the night sounds were a bit compromised by the strong flowing river, it was like music in my ears, carrying me far- far away, only dreams know where. And so we all slept like logs under the cover of darkness, with the stars and moon holding the watch. Who knows how close the hippos wandered, or whether a leopard slipped passed us unnoticed. We slept. :) Peacefully. :D

To be continued........... 8)

:thumbs_up:

_________________
Letaba 8 July, Shipandane 9 July, Shingwedzi 10 - 14 July :D


Last edited by G@mespotter on Thu Apr 23, 2009 11:20 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: The Beauty of Nature revealed (Part III)
Unread postPosted: Fri Apr 24, 2009 8:43 pm 
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So, the waiting has come to an end! Put the children to bed, tell your SO you're gone to the shop for 30 min, remember your coffee pot & popcorn, and finally shut the door. Wait, I forgot: ENJOY :D

Day 3: 2 April 2009

Still before the crack of dawn, when everything was still pitch dark I was woken up by zipping sounds. Sawubona and Jan were furiously zipping their sleeping bags, busy packing their stuff! :shock: It was only 4:20 in the morning. Well, we all stayed in our 2 man tents for another 30 min. After that, we all decided to wake up and join the early gang club.

I have heard it before, the first night people don’t sleep that well as they are not used to sleeping flat on the ground without luxury. I suspect that’s the reason of the super early zipping :lol:

Anyway, normally, one would be expected to wake up at 5 in the morning. This gives you an hour to pack up all your stuff, get water, use Orge and get ready! No breakfast that early…. As we packed up, Donavan and Julie threw sand over the fireplace, put the grass back that they took out neatly on the day before and restored it like there were no humans ever before. This is the policy, only leave footprints, and take memories, which is a good thing.

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As everyone was ready by then, we all went to one side of the island, & did a ‘chicken parade’ before we left. Chicken parade refers to a thorough check that NOTHING is left behind other than footprints. Even the remaining wood we collected for the fire the previous evening has to be put where it came from…. :dance:

I quickly grabbed 2 energy bars, I’m that type who cannot walk on an empty stomach. As we left, a late hippo returned to the water. Actually they are HUGE beasts. By now, it was almost light enough so we could walk. Most of us were a bit stiff, as we were not yet used to the heavy backpacks. :whistle:

Donavan told me that for most people, the 2nd day is the worst of the hike. Their muscles are stiff, and also the terrain is steep on the second morning. And so it was. Because the river was flowing strongly, we could not cross and walk of the southern banks of the Olifants river. This means, we HAD to take the steep side this morning, leading over the rocky terrain.




We encountered numerous spider webs, with those big yellow and black spiders (forgot the name) We did get a nice lecture on the spiders and habits from the guides.

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Donavan wasn’t too happy he had to walk in front, catching all the webs for us. Thanks mate :thumbs_up: Anyway, we ran into hippos again and luckily for us, they were in the river, standing on a small island. Once we close in on them, they started to run deeper into the water. We must have spotted 4 or 5 fish eagles that morning! There were plenty. :clap:

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Then, Donavan picked up a big Shongololo – and explained to us that these amazing creatures are actually poisonous, they hold a certain poison, and only honey-badgers will eat them. They are harmless though, as they cannot bite.

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The terrain was rough, with quite a few steep hills, and we all battled with it. This was where the blisters were forming….. Therefore I want to emphasise: GET THICK falke hiking socks, they are fabricated to prevent blisters. Invest in them, really!! 8)

Sometimes, the group would spread out a bit, as this most challenging part of this hike. The guides must have noticed, and waited a few times for the others to catch up. After quite a walk, I really wanted to eat some weatbix I took as breakfast, as I was extremely hungry. :lol: Donavan then decided to leave the riverside, and cut off a corner through the bush. Problem was, there was a hill. As we made our way through the Mopane scrubs, we had to dodge many spider webs, and narrow spaces.

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My backpack was a bit big, so some times I took ‘shortcuts’ Once, I walked behind Julie, 2m to the left. As Julie warned me, I saw a HUGE web with LOADS of spiders on it….Lesson was learned, follow the exact path of the guys walking in front!

After a while, I was so hungry that for every step I thought Weet – Bix; Weet – Bix! :lol: Maybe Donavan saw the group struggled, and stopped. This where it turned out that Kevin, Juanita and Marijke already had developed blisters!! So, the first aid kit, Mother Theresa was opened. Donavan had lots of experience, and did a full blown ‘surgery’ on the feet of the ladies. I took a few lunch bar, as we were told breakfast is around the corner. In guide terms, that can be 1 – 4 km! :twisted:

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As we continued, we crossed our first big dry sand riverbed.

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It was quite nice walking in the dry riverbed as it is soooo different than when driving past it! One feels so exposed...To the left, a buffalo appeared. I also spotted hooded vultures…. As we tracked the buffalo, another herd ran away from us, towards a small muddy pool. We stood at a save distance, and enjoyed our second buffalo herd. Julie told me that on some trails, they never see any buffs.

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Finally, after another 30 min walk we had breakfast!! :dance: :whistle: :dance: So, I got my water, nestle powder milk and enjoyed every bit of weat there was for the day!! They just smiled at me, but I leared a lesson & the next morning before even leaving at 6 I would take 2 weatbix biscuits. And...... it worked…!

At the breakfast spot, we had a nice view on the river, and on the hippos close. 8)
As I finished, we noticed a hippo bull closing in on us. Donavan didn’t take chances and put on his sandals, gun ready. So did Julie, one could see that they didn’t trust hippos…. The bull got closer, and closer snored and blew fountains of water in the air.

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Obviously he was not impressed.. Frank and myself sat quite close to the water edge (3m) but after a while, he got too close for comfort, and the guides told us to move. :shock: So we packed quickly and moved to a safer spot. Donavan then tried to chase the hippo back with a few wooden branches and stones. Finally he backed off, and I’ll tell ya, I was happy he did.. :whistle:

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We didn’t walk a km, or the next dagga bull stared at us from the river edge! Julie made quite a noise (on purpose) and eventually he got the hint that we were there, and ran off. We approached very carefully but he was really gone. Both guides didn’t like them dagga bulls.

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We later-on slowed down, and I knew the guides are looking for a nice lunch spot. The terrain got easier as well, and we enjoyed the splendid views of the Olifants river.

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The water breaks were mind refreshing, and I actually drank almost 4l that morning from 5 – 12 o’clock! Then, we saw a carcass in the water! :o We first thought it’s a hippo’s carcass but upon closer investigation it turned out to be a dead buffalo. It was surrounded by up to 15 crocs. However, they did not really feast on it, and waited for it to rot. We all ‘parked’ there and watched the scene a bit. The smell was awful I must add.

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Only then I noticed this strange looking tree. When I asked about it, they told me it’s a dead tree who I is taken over by a parasite plant of some sort. In other words, them pirates got hold of the tree! :D It did look extraordinary, and worth of mentioning.

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Lunch was at a very nice protected and shady spot, almost like a small beach surrounded by flooded pieces of wood. As we settled, a grey ellie appeared from the right! It got quite close to our spot, and I quickly jumped into my shoes. You never know. :doh: Luckily, he wandered past. Not must later, we noticed another buffalo bull close to the water’s edge. We didn’t swim, as the river edge was not suitable. A pity, but we were all tired and enjoyed our rest in the shade. :D But, we were still too new and eager to rest.......

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To be continued tomorrow.......... 8)

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 Post subject: Re: The Beauty of Nature revealed (Part III)
Unread postPosted: Sat Apr 25, 2009 2:40 pm 
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G@mespotter wrote:

Then, Donavan picked up a big Shongololo – and explained to us that these amazing creatures are actually poisonous, they hold a certain poison, and only honey-badgers will eat them. They are harmless though, as they cannot bite.

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Wasn't that poison called sianied?

And if I remember well civets will also eat them.
:thumbs_up:

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 Post subject: Re: The Beauty of Nature revealed (Part III)
Unread postPosted: Sun Apr 26, 2009 1:52 am 
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There seems to be differing opinions on the shongolo's toxicity. My reference says thatthe shongololo is not poisonous, but it can secrete a mild acid when threatened, which people with sensitive skins may develop an inflammation to. This secretion also makes them taste bad, so predators are limited. However small mammals such as the meerkat, and various birds also eat them (it appears).

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 Post subject: Re: The Beauty of Nature revealed (Part III)
Unread postPosted: Tue Apr 28, 2009 10:23 pm 
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Hi there :D

I'm sorry for the long waiting etc, but unfortunately I have duties as well :D A lot of work to do, and the forum comes second :whistle: But I'm determined to finish it as soon as possible :thumbs_up:

Shut the door, get your cofee pot, because the game is on again. Oh wait, sports come second. :dance: Enjoy this post that is a mere attempt to depict the beauty of Kruger 8)

2 April 2009: Day 3 (post 2)

After 2,5 hours all of us loaded our backpacks and off we went. We didn’t have to go much further.. The terrain was a bit rocky in the beginning, but it really gave us some splendid scenery...

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Julie said she smelled an ellie in must. I didn’t even know one could smell it! This got us all geared up and wary. Not much later, we found Mr. Giant. He wasn’t upset at all, and as we stood quite close (50m) he wandered past in gentle fashion. Phew!

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5 Minutes later, 2 playful cousins of the local elephant herd played in the in the mud. It was a welcome sighting. It’s amazing to stand there in nature, watching the animals enjoying themselves without them even noticing we are there.

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We also saw the outpost of an earlier ranger of the Southern side of the river. (see Ndloti’s trip report)

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This is close to the actual second nights camping spot, called “Hells Eden” if I remember correctly ( Eish, can’t remember). Lovely spot, with a nice beach, and rocks in the river to swim. BUT, it was only 3 o’clock and we collectively voted to walk on a bit.

On a rocky hill, we spotted an unusual shape, and through binoculars we counted 2 klipspringers. They almost spied on us unnoticed :shock:

AGAIN, 2 buffs were spotted on the other side of the river. 4th Buffalo sighting of that day :dance: We were so spoiled!

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Just before 4 o’clock I spotted a small head in the distance……giraffe! So we stopped, to a few pics and then went closer. As we walked closer, we could hear soft ‘thud’ sounds as he ran off. For a last time, he turned around and then walked off. Believe me, on foot they seems even bigger giants!

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Right were we intended to camp, 2 waterbucks had a small discussion. At first glance, they looked at us and bolted into the thick bush. Wow….so many animals on foot is just unbelievable! Right were we wanted to camp, on a hill the 5th buffalo bull appeared! This one had wide horns, and was VERY nervous. He stayed with us for almost an hour, and on their turn the guides did not trust the situation, and stayed on alert all the time… Again, the emphasis on our safety was very clear.

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This camp was totally different than the previous nights’ camp. HERE it was more peacefull, no nearby rocks that caused the sounds to fade. It was VERY rustic. The water edge was 1m higher than the water, which provided us with a save barrier and awesome views.

We all pitched our tents, gathered firewood and got our swimwear out. Because the few rocks where we could swim was 200m further back, we all went together. Doanavan agreed to stay out of the water, and keep an eye on the buffalo. The rest of us had a lekker cleaning session in the Olifants river. The same river the dead buffalo was rotting in :lol: Just kidding – but it’s true. Just a few of the strange facts of the hike. One cannot be picky, and must love and be prepared to go totally ‘back to basics’. This is what I love the most!



Back in ‘camp’ we made food again. This time it was Tai chicken and some other yummy yummy stuff. Man, that tasted good! I sommer (just) took an extra portion. Cooking and eating on our high edge of the river bank with the splendid view was unforgettable. I wonder what we did enjoy more: the view or the food.

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Julie loved the small fires at night, and before the sun was properly setting, we had a nice cozy fire going….. Before it went dark, Donavan had a quick bath himself. Privacy is still a problem hehe!

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Although the setting of the camp initially did not seem perfect, the longer we stayed the better it got! The sounds were simply AWESOME & STUNNING!!! We heard an upset herd of ellies, baboons etc. Later that night, the 6 second birds, also called the scops owls called. They do so every 6 seconds. Then the high pitched sound of night jars. And, to make the night perfect: a loud hyena calling just on the other side of the river! AMAZING. We talked a lot about the stars, and Julie told me quite a lot about the stars etc. I still cannot turn my eyes away from the impressive atmosphere above me. Southern cross, lions figure, Scorpio – we saw it all. Donavan is too to admit it humble, but he knew most of it to!

Sitting around the small fire providing just enough heat, the Jonny Walker bottle made it’s round in the group. Uuuh, some strong stuff! At least Chris didn’t walk alone that day, Jonny was with him :D Ai, and did Jan and Donavan enjoyed the sigars, while Riverrat had his own small special sigars.

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From this night on, we were all comfortable with each others company, and the sphere was beyond description. I was rather tired around 9:15, and decided to go to bed early. Maybe it was the excersise, all the first impressions! But I quietly found my way to my tent. Whilst lying there, I still heard the soft humming of the others, AND ENJOYING EVERY BIT OF BUSH SOUND reflected in my ear. And so, I fell asleep. The perfect bed, the perfect room, the PERFECT HOUSE. AT KRUGER, AT HOME!!

Added: EISH, now I miss that spot!! :roll: Good times gone by. Again, I'm grateful I had the privilege of experiencing it. Who knows, I might be so privileged to go back once again. How I do miss that night!!!!!!

To be continued soon....... 8)

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Letaba 8 July, Shipandane 9 July, Shingwedzi 10 - 14 July :D


Last edited by G@mespotter on Tue Apr 28, 2009 10:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: The Beauty of Nature revealed (Part III)
Unread postPosted: Fri May 01, 2009 3:02 pm 
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Alrighty then, no long introductions this time, and let's continue 8)



Day 4: 3 April 2009

Early the next morning, before 5 o’clock I once again was woken by the sounds of a zip…. Again Jan was up already getting the water ready for his morning tea. I decided to stand up as well, as I was ready and fit to go. Jan then shuffled the tent of Donavan, only to be yelled at “Yeah I’m awake as well” We all had a good laugh, especially when I told Donavan he was snoring quite loud… (it was true though)!

I was happy to have put on a new fresh set of clothes, and hiking socks. To limit weight problems, I only took one extra set of clothes, and swimming shorts. It proved to be enough! Just as a tip in between.

We were ready to go even before 6, as Frank and Riverrat helped the ladies to pack up their stuff. Sawubona and myself had offered them to carry their tents the day before. This meant extra weight, as I already carried Fiona. Thus on top of my 16,5 kg, was added another 2,4kg. However, strange enough Sawubona and myself did not get a single blister on the whole event! We were all eager to leave early, and I had learned my lesson and quickly ate some weatbix before we even started.

After a thorough chicken parade, we walked. Once again we stumbled into loads of spider webs.

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Dusk was quite nice this morning, as it first was a bit overcast, but then the clouds disappeared. 2 km from our camp, we came saw fresh leopard spoor. I first thought it was lions spoor, but was told that because the spoor was in the sand, it seemed bigger. A little bit further we hit a black rhino midden! Have never seen one of those, and they are quite different from the white rhino middens… It wasn’t recently used though, but still very interesting.

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Just around the corner, Donavan stopped at a baboon spiders’ hole. He gave us some nice info about the spiders, very interesting. He then tried to get the spider out of it hole and show it to us. The spider wasn’t too keen, and stayed home. Too bad for us!

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The scenery and light was just perfect for pictures, and when we walked up to a spot with little yellow flowers everywhere we stopped to take a few pictures and drink some water. For us with our tremendous luck we didn’t see much on the 3rd morning. Not yet. We did cross a lot of fresh spoor, especially leopard, and were still following it…

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After 10 min of pure enjoyment we stopped for a short while to check out a lapped faced vulture sitting next to the river. Apparently they regularly come to the water to clean themselves. Unbelievable that even the dirtiest of the dirty sometimes clean themselves. We still had to cross a few side rivers, which made the walk a bit more of a challenge.

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Furthermore, there were quite a few patches where we walked through the sand. Very difficult to walk in. Today, I seriously missed gaiters!!! I wanted to buy them, but thought it’s a bit expensive at Outdoor Warehouse. After that I forgot. There were plenty of short shrubs with nasty little things (round thing with short thorns) of which I forgot the name, that stuck to our socks and laces. Very annoying. Julie had gaiters, and I only afterwards came to the knowledge that she doesn’t even use socks. Talking about tough feet… Well, Donavan is toughest, as he only wears sandals without socks. But, even he had to stop from time to time to remove those itchy little buggers.

At the next water break, we were all cleaning our shoes from them. We stopped under a huge fig tree. Marijke did struggle a bit to keep up that morning, and Sawubona took some more stuff from her. But not one complaining word!

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We enjoyed the rest a lot, as we did quite some walking that morning. It also helped that we didn’t see that much game as it saves time. Talking about the devils, just as we hit the veld again, we crossed our paths with 4 buffalo bulls. These were big specimens, and windgat (over confident) as well. Wind was once again in our favour and they couldn’t identify what type of ‘animal’ we were. The buffs the walked forward a few meters, lifted up their head to smell us. By doing so a few times they got quite close!! We guests were then told to walk closer to the river, with both Donavan and Julie in front covering us. The started shouting at the buffs, as they kept coming closer. I’m sure everyone was a bit tense, you never know with these guys. You don’t play with them. Only after quite a few angry words, they got our smell and ran off.

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For some background info: Julie did a 5 year research on Baffalo in Kruger. I’m sure that we saw so many because they felt she was around… When I check those lone buffies, we now call them JB’s, and not dagga boys. Julie’s Buffaloes….. They guides are not too eager to run into buffs like that every day, but we sure didn’t mind. Luckily we got away every time. :D



It then started raining a bit, and as some of us have just taken out their rain covers, the rains stopped. :lol: It’s always like that!

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In the denser bush, Donavan suddenly stopped and picked up a frog! I didn’t even see it, as they are excellent camouflaged but the guides have eyes for detail. Julie got out her little ‘frog’ book, and again a late morning lecture was conducted. Small things that matter, and make the walk even more interesting.

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After a bit rough terrain, we walked closer towards the river to find a nice and suitable spot to have breakfast. The river was quite full here, and with some very nice rocks in the shade, we had a perfect place to hang around for an hour or so. We all made our food, filled all the empty water bottles adding the chlorine pills and sucked up the feeling of freedom. Here, one doesn’t think of the big wide world, one forgets about money, internet and computers.

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Maybe one of the crocs who died a few months ago, when up to 30 crocs died??
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It’s just us and the elements of nature. Some of us tried to rest. I myself found myself a comfortable spot to enjoy the view of the Olifants river, and the curious hippos following our every movement. *Sigh*

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Once we stuffed our stomachs with food, we were ready to go again. When following the river closely, all along the river were these small irritating shrubs. We thus decided to walk a bit towards the open bush.

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On one of the hills, I saw a small antelope running away in high speed! I thought it was a duiker, but Donavan and Julie identified it as a grysbok…. We were the only one’s who saw it, as I often walked right behind Julie to take pictures. For more than an hour, we didn’t see much game but the lack of game was made up by the beautiful riverine vegetation. Aften having done another 2 km, we stopped for a water break in the shade of a steep rocky cliff. On the steep slope, trees with amazing roots have found a way of living. Quite amazingly to see.

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This is where we all started to guess our ages. Julie however has lost all her sense of age. She estimated Frank, who was 23, as below 20, and Sawubona in his late thirties, while he is 10 years younger! Ai, what a bold head can do :evil: Maybe you should keep your hat on at all times, mate! :lol: The laughing seemed to spark some renewed energy, and we were ready to walk! We still had to go another km to the lunch spot. Just for some background info: they normally try to walk 2/3 of the daily distance before 12. This because early morning is nice and cool to walk, animals are more active and the hiker is still fresh. This also leaves more time to ‘play’ around at lunch or the evenings’ camp.

_________________
Letaba 8 July, Shipandane 9 July, Shingwedzi 10 - 14 July :D


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 Post subject: Re: The Beauty of Nature revealed (Part III)
Unread postPosted: Wed May 13, 2009 11:50 pm 
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Hi all :D

Looks like I am back on track (for a while at least) before I have to dissapear again :thumbs_up: Thanks for all the nice comments! Greatly appreciated.. Because of the gap we had, I'm not going to reply to each comment :)

I have included a LARGE amount of pictures, a nice reward for the looooong waiting :whistle:

Day 4: part 2

We once again crossed a dry riverbed, covered with sand, rocks and numerous tracks. Signs of elephants were everywhere….

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When we joined the river loop again, we spotted a big waterbuck male. I think he had his late morning nap, as he first didn’t even hear us. But, eventually he picked up our noise, stood up, looked at us. When we came too near for comfort, he ran away.

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When walking, I tried to take a picture of an incoming blue stork. Luckily, one picture succeeded! The terrain suddenly became easier to walk on. No steep slopes, meant less sweating and struggle. Just before the lunch spot, we saw a small hippo scull. Donavan walked up a steep slope, followed it a bit and then went down again. When he asked “how about having lunch here?” my sister parked down quickly and replied. “We stay right here!” Jip, you got it, we were all tired, and felt like swimming!

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It was a beautiful spot, where we could lay on our back against the steep slope, having a nice view over the river. Beautiful! Before we could swim, Donavan had to explore the river a bit by checking how deep it was. He thus walked into the water, and amazingly he would get to the middle of the river with the water just above his ankles!!

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The whole side of the river we were swimming in was shallow, and thus relatively save. Donavan took a quick dive, and then went to play lifesaver, observing us from the height of his chair. Gun in his hand an all. We on the other hand were playful like a bunch of young dogs, splashing in the water grunting like hippos. The REAL hippos were watching us some 70m further down, where the water was deeper.

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This is where Riverrat apparently though to he’d stand on a piece of wood. However, the piece of wood moved away quickly! Julie, who watched from above said it was a 50cm small crocy… Scary stuff. He was lying in a bit deeper part close to the edge of the water. We thus now jumped over that spot onto a small island, and then walked to the shallow water. The water was a pure blessing, and we enjoyed it extremely. Julie had the ‘wash fever’ as she was washing herself like she would never see the river again. After 30min of splashing, I made some food. Man, I was hungry all the time!



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When the others we checking and fixing blisters, I decided to have a short nap. Took out the inflatable mattress and down I went. I was completely out for an hour or so, and when I woke up, I truly had no clue where I was!!! It’s an amazing feeling, as it took me a few second before I realised I had been sleeping next to the Olifants river in broad daylight. I then check out the river for another half an hour, imprinting every small detail in my memory. The hippos were used to our presence by now, and moved off. I didn’t want to leave at all, but we had to go. So, stiff muscles and all we carried on.

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After a few minutes of walking, I was properly awake again and ready for action. It was quite a scenic walk, with beautiful figamore and jackal berry trees close to the river. It also wasn’t that hot, better than the days before although generally we didn’t suffer due to excessive heat. We spotted the odd impala herds, and 2 km furtheron, we saw a lone ellie feeding on the fresh branches of smaller Mopane shrubs close to the river. As we continued, we saw a glimpse of a distant elephant, and LOTS of very fresh tracks! We walked and walked, and at some stages could hear the elephants communicating with these low grunt sounds. Enough to be on high alert. We were told to be very quiet, not to speak at all and observe very carefully.

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Unexpectedly, we bumped into yet another lone buffie!! He was quite nervous, probably because of the communicating elephants around, and bolted into the thickets. It’s the only JB I don’t have a picture off. But certainly, these buffs kept us busy and excited. We could hear the ‘thud’ sounds as he ran off. Not much later, we heard a elephant trumpeting, shortly followed by a sighting of him. It was a young bull who probably tried to catch up with the herd, and he was running below us, towards the herd we haven’t seen yet. Then, as the dense bush opened up, we saw a small herd of elephants moving towards the reeds, grazing in the river, while the small ones had some swimming lessons to!

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We approached carefully with again the wind in our favour. The guides decided we should leave our packs behind, and walked towards the rocks in the river. From there, we had some excellent views of the elephants, who were totally unaware of our presence. We stood and watched for more than 20min, and the ellies moved up quite close to us.

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Then, we had to leave as it was half past 3 already, and time to look for a camp spot. Maybe 500m further on, with the elephant herd in the background we came across a HUGE beach. It was a fast piece of sand. The sand was quite hard, as the wind was beginning to pick up a little.

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Donavan and Julie suggested we should camp right there, and that’s what we did. So now we have camped on a small grassy island, a bit in the bush, and finally on a beach! Every night something new, something special. Due to the terrain, we camped in a kraal (round circle) like the Voortrekkers did. Suddenly, the elephants picked up our scent, trumpeted & gathered together and soon rushed to the riverside – and were gone into the bushes. It’s strange to see that even elephants are ‘scared’ of humans. Maybe it’s River rat’s presence, or the ‘boldness’ of Sawubona :evil: Who knows what scared them! Maybe it was our bad sweaty smell, as we didn’t see a real bath in 3 days :D

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Putting up camp was quite a job, nearly a hassle! The wind got strong and everything was buried under a thin layer of sand. We had to gather stones from the river, and put it in our tents as the strong wind proved the tent pegs to be useless in the sand. After a while, when everybody won his battle against the wind, we walked off to the rocks to have our last (and best) swim on the trail… Ai, some good memories!! The river was strong, and at times we had to find support from the rocks, preventing us from flowing to the nearby hippos. They were quite curious, and ‘talked’ to each other from time to time. Never ever in my life, have I seen so many of them. There are hundreds of them!!

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The girls joined us later, and it seemed Julie had caught them doing some thing naughty…. I wonder for what? Maybe taking the jeans with, or their pink hammer. It wasn’t the mirror, as I saw Julie also had one…. Hehe, them angels! I’ll NEVER forget Donavan, as he looked at my sister coming out of her tent with a pair of jeans on! His eyes popped out the day before, and he said JEANS!!?? Followed by a long and unbelieving laughter. Apparently, the first time somebody had taken the heavy jeans along. Julie just smiled, but it said enough….. :lol: We all teased her badly, and she won’t do that again!

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The sun was setting rapidly, so we decided to cook some food. I ate everything I could lay my hands on, and all that I had left for the next day was 3 pieces of weatbix. Next time, I’m gonna take more food with!! Donavan and Jan just shaked their heads in unbelief, as I ate like a monster and didn’t even used Orge once. :dance:

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Riverrat went to fetch some water, and he didn’t put some stones in his tent. And whoop, there the tent went, thumbing across the beach! I tried to beat beach record sprinting, and although I failed on that, I still caught up on the tent, and saved Donavan and Riverrat a cozy night in Don’s tent :evil: :dance: Guess who got rewarded with food…..

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Sunset was tremendous, with the clouds adding a dramatic view. I awed at if for more than 20min, and took over 30 pictures. You can imagine why!! Just before it went dark, we fetched some wood, and made a cozy fire. My sister (in a blond) moment build a ‘seat’ close to the fire. Now why did she want to sit with her back towards the fire? Maybe Sawubona or Donavan can explain.. Or did they fraud the ‘chair’ while she was gone….? Poor her, she did get her fair share of jokes that night. :P

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That night was simply incredible, indescribable by words. We chatted, and did kuier till 11. The last OBS and Jonny Walker did it’s round by the fire. Just enough to warm up a bit, as it was chilly. Then, periods of silence followed as we stared into the flames. We then had to sing a song (softly), each by ourselves. For the dutch people around, I sang “Kleine Katreintje”! This singing business might sound strange, and although we wouldn’t win Idols, it was more of a ‘spiritual’ boost. Imitating animal sounds didn’t go that well. My throat just didn’t cooperate. :lol:

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Just before heading to bed, we all walked into a darker patch of the beach with the moon providing enough light to look around. We were all told to lie flat on our backs, and not to talk for 5min. We first couldn’t stop laughing, but after a while everyone calmed down. There we lied, quietly on the banks of the Olifnats river at night, looking at the stars and the upcoming moon. This certainly was ‘healing’ time. This is where one looks at the sky, wondering if there really is a big busy city on earth. The feeling of freedom, remoteness and silence is simply unmatched. After 10mins, we did some ‘spoor drawing’ in the sand. Donavan and Julie would draw spoor in the sand, and we would have to guess what it was…. I wish I was still there!

By 11, I called it a day and headed to my tent. I was tired, but also had seldom experienced such feelings of gratefulness & I realised: every person who loves outdoors and who didn’t walk this trail yet, is missing out tremendously! With my sleeping bag full of sand, I slept like a log, just as the nights before!! I sometimes wonder how the camp must have looked from the air. A small and fragile human kraal in the middle of nowhere.. I’m glad I discovered this hike while I’m still young. Meaning I hope to have many many more! With these thoughts, I lost the battle against my eyes. It was a deep and healthy sleep.

To be continued....... 8)

_________________
Letaba 8 July, Shipandane 9 July, Shingwedzi 10 - 14 July :D


Last edited by G@mespotter on Thu May 14, 2009 12:08 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: The Beauty of Nature revealed (Part III)
Unread postPosted: Tue May 19, 2009 8:12 pm 
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Hiya, I made it back! :dance: No words needs to be split here, enjoy the last moments of the trip with us, and awe a little longer :dance: :dance:

Day 5 (part 1): 4 April

After a deep rest, we woke up the next morning. This whole trip, we woke up VERY early, however the last morning everyone was a bit late. Was it because of the eventful day before, the short night we had, or because we all realised this would be the last morning we would wake up in a tent next to the Olifants…..? :roll: :|

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Anyway, everyone took his/her time and I quickly made use of this opportunity and made some ‘hot choc’ before we hit the animals paths again. I wasn’t the only one with this brilliant idea, as Chris, Sawubona and Jan did the same thing. My tent, backpack, sleeping bag etc was full of sand, because of the previous days’ wind! I simply pack up, and decided to clean everything later. All stones and wood were back where they came from, so that once again all human signs would be wiped out. Julie and Donavan were finished long before any of us, and I could see them enjoying the beautiful colours of this early Saturday morning. 8) Orange, yellow, blue, white and all the colours in-between. Stunning!

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We left this extraordinary spot when it was already light. By now, we were so used to the heavy backpack. It felt like it was supposed to be there all the time.. (Well I was used to it!) :thumbs_up: I didn’t even struggle with the weight of the backpack, unlike I did the first 2 days. We walked through a nice and scenic area, and luckily the irritating shrubs of the previous day were gone. Quite a few impala herds were spotted enroute to a very SPECIAL and LIFETIME sighting. But be patient, we’re not there YET! :tongue:

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Donavan abruptly stopped, and picked up a large insect. Again, it’s name has escaped me, it is an impossible task to remember everything… We were told that it was one of the bigger insects around, and that this insect kills other insects by crushing them with it’s front ‘claws’. Donavan then showed us that, after it would be disturbed, it will run around a it’s gone mad, totally confused as where to go! It looked like me, when I’m heading home to Kruger :twisted: VERY INTERESTING!

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So, after this ‘lesson’ we continued the hike. From time to time, we would see fleeing impalas, spotting a few glimpses. In the distance not far away, we heard a group of baboons calling. BaHA! BaaHAA! 8) Definitely something wrong there!! At this stage, the river appeared to become fuller and deeper. We saw less hippos and less rockies.
The river was flowing strongly, and it was quite an amazing sight, certainly when considering that it was a few days in April already. Hopefully, plenty water left for the harsh dry months to come!

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Then suddenly, unexpectedly my lifetime dream became true!!!! :shock: :dance: We walked between a low ‘earth wall on our left, and the river to our right. As we ‘came around the corner’ of the river, the warning calls of the baboons got louder and louder! AND THERE HE WAS!!!! A beautiful and big male leopard!! Donavan saw him first, and when Julie saw it her face was one smile & in pure excitement she pointed it out to us: “There, a leopard!’ Obviously, I could not believe my eyes… PURE luck! Numerous elephant and buffalo sightings, , close buffaloes and a lion encounter, and finally a clear leopard sighting, all ON FOOT. :D The leopard initially wasn’t aware of our presence, as he was smelling the scent on the fig tree. We walked a bit closer, probably around 50m from it. :dance:

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As we stopped, the leopard looked at us. This gave me the opportunity to take another 2 pictures. Then, he went from a ‘ready’ to ‘steady’ mode. As with athletics, the ‘steady’ phase did not last long, and with a few big leaps, he greeted us by a flury of spots. Gone.




All in all, it lasted maybe for 30 seconds, but it was long enough to be imprinted in our memories for ever. Now, we became members of the LOF (LeopardOnFoot) group! :whistle: Sorry for all the bragging :whistle: , but I think we have reason to! I have now encountered all of the big 5 on foot, all in close range and although it is pure luck, I see it as a personal goal achieved!

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But lets leave the bragging for a second, and walk on. A bit further we came across yet another Black rhino midden, which was recently used!! And boy, was it smelling bad…. I saw Donavan smiling, although he did not stop to tell us about it. But I noticed it…. :twisted: So we walked on very cautiously for the next km or so. At one stag, he whispered to Julie :if we find this bloody thing [meaning black rhino], you’re coming with me on every trail!” I just shook my head and smiled. They were all laughing at me the previous day, when I said I wanted to see “wild-dog pups on foot” :lol: So too, I now laughed at ‘black rhino on foot’ It was pushing luck too far. :whistle:

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As full as the river was the early morning, it became narrower as we walked on. The amount of dry side streams also increased, and made the hike a bit more challenging, as we had to ‘conqueror’ numerous dips.

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Donavan increased the pace, and some struggled to keep up. Sometimes, the ‘gaps’ between us got bigger and bigger. Chris pack too much food, and his pack was heavy…Nevertheless, overall he did really well considering the weight. So too, the 2 girls had to stay strong…. :) The blisters too were taking their toll. Luckily, I had none!! We passed quite a few anthills, something we did not see the 1st two days. We left the riverside, and walked through the veldt, surrounded by almost exclusive Mopane scrubs.

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We walked into an open spot, and here Donavan announced the official “Bokdrol Spoeg Competition”. For non-South Africans, bokdrol spoeg is a competition where each person takes a ‘bokdrol’ [kudu or impala dropping :P ], puts it in their mouths, and spits it out as far as possible. The person who spat the furthest, is the winner. Simple as that!

Julie
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Sawubona
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Chris, he made quite an effort for it!

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Riverrat, AKA 'The RAT'
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Donavan, who saw him beaten this time :lol: :dance:

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It was quite fun, and we had a lekker laugh!! Frank won… I guess I didn’t win, as my first attempt went down my throat.. :lol: Just kidding :twisted: A tip: first suck it a bit, so that it can get heavy and will go further :wink: Just make sure your fake teeth don’t come with as well!



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After this fun event, we had to walk on, as we we supposed to be collected around 11 that morning. The river became very wide again, with large patches of ‘beach’ all along it. The walking over the sand, rocks and flushed wood made it somewhat different than the days before. It was VERY scenic, and absolute thrilling to see! As we passed by, a family of Egyptian geese were not too happy about our experiences, and left the scene. :cam:

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Closer to a rocky area, we all knew Donavan and Julie would be looking for a spot to have our last, wonderful breakfast. We walked close to the edge of the river, when suddenly two hippos emerged! Mom with offspring.. Julie didn’t even see it, and when I stopped her, she tried so hard to stop she almost fell in the sand! :lol: I had a good chuckle, and we detoured a bit, to get some distance between the surprising mom and ourselves. :shock:

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Not far from there, we had our breakfast. I didn’t have much food left, 2,5 pieces of weetbix, that’s all! Luckily Jan and Chris overstocked, and shared me some of their food. Salami , dry wors sticks, the lot :dance: We took our time, and enjoyed the view of undisturbed nature for a little longer. 8) The sounds of the flowing water, the rustic surroundings, the WILD impression..

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After a delightful 45min, we had to continue. So we walked the last km or so of this hike. Came along a few impies, distant fish eagles and a lone springhare, who sped off at first sight. Couldn’t even get a picture of it! The clouds were joining forces, and it looked like it was about to rain! :o Then, as a very light drizzle covered up, the last buffy of the trip came by to say Hi. He looked at us for a while, not moving an inch. As we got closer, he must have got the smell of dangerous humans, and choose an easier route. After this encounter, it stopped drizzling. It was as if everything became sad, sad because we had to return to reality, sad because we had to leave the side of the river, the place we have learned to like so much!! :cry:

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After a rocky patch, we walked on another earth wall, giving us the opportunity to look onto the river from a nice, high angle. Suddenly, Donavan STOPPED…. Guess what? It was the end of the walk!!!! He congratulated everyone, and after we realized this was IT, we did the same. It was unbelievable, time had gone so quick and I really did not want to stop! :slap: I then asked whether is was a joke, as I have not seen the BIG TREE the groups usually ended the walk under. Donavan told me the tree collapsed or something, so now they stop under an apple leaf tree…, 200m before the initial stop point.

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We all offloaded our gear, and enjoyed the short rest. Donavan took out the satellite phone, and quickly phoned Olifants camp, to enquire where the truck was that was supposed to be collecting us. They were on their way. This delay gave me the opportunity to take a few pictures, while the rest of us discussed the highlights of this remarkable and extraordinary trip. We still could not believe our luck as to the cat sightings.

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Then, SAWUBONA could not hold it anymore, and for the first time walked off with ‘Orge’. :dance: Another soldier lost ‘The Battle’….. :naughty: When he came back, we joked about this ‘scoreboard’ and all that! Good times!! After 20 mins or so, the truck came. Erik, the driver had a big smile on his face. They loaded our packs on the truck, while we could feast on a cooler box filled with cold drinks, beer, coke, the lot! It was nice, and strange at the same time to have such luxury at our disposal. Just shows you how quick we adapt to our circumstances.

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We had a pleasant drive back, where we talked ‘n hond uit ‘n bos uit’ (a lot!). We were all happy, happy to have successfully completed the trip, & that it was such a tremendous success!! We saw quite a few impala’s on our way back, as well as distant elephants and giraffes. The dustroad towards the H9 became quite a mission, with numerous potholes. We shook quite badly from time to time! Then, after a bumpy ride, we saw the first car, and then the tar… back to civilization!!

Closer to camp, we saw a person walking outside his car, down by the river. Donavan all asked us to shout with him… Well we did our best, and the guy was back in his car in seconds :lol: :evil: I could clearly see that these things upset Donavan quickly… Just around the corner, a bakkie stood next to the road, it’s bonnet open. The guys was fiddling with the pipes. Upon enquiry, he said he’s OK and the car started, so we moved on. Quite strange to be back, and encounter the flaws of society and technology as soon as we hit the tar….


All too soon, the gates of Olifants camp appeared, and our trip was officially OVER.
Although this wasn’t a very good thought, it was nice to see that we had a whole reception waiting for us! All family members eager to meet us again. We climbed out, and it was as if everyone was excited, chatting, laughing and smiles everywhere. I’m sure a few other visitors to the camp would have lifted an eyebrow…. :lol: Anyway, Donavan and Julie thought it was quite funny when I presented them with a ‘certificate’, which I made and printed before. Although Donavan completed his 31st Backpack hike, and Julie her 10th, their both took it with a big smile. I wonder if they hanged them up somewhere…. :twisted: :whistle:

ALL IN ALL, this Backpack Trail was an unforgettable experience, TRULY AMAZING and beyond expectation!!! I have really enjoyed it tremendously, and it definitely was the highlights of my close to 22 years so far! I would really, really recommend it to ANY person who is moderately fit, and who loves the outdoors & wildlife. Don’t expect big things, but you might just stumble across them. :pray:

Once again, thanks for everyone who came along, and contributed towards the unbeatable success of this trip. A special thanks to both Donavan and Julie, for your professionalism and company. We enjoyed and appreciated it beyond description!

Then, after all the meeting and greeting was done, I had to make a dive for the toilets, as I ‘won the battle, but lost the war’...... :roll:

:thumbs_up:

To be continued SOON……. 8)

_________________
Letaba 8 July, Shipandane 9 July, Shingwedzi 10 - 14 July :D


Last edited by G@mespotter on Tue May 19, 2009 10:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: The Beauty of Nature revealed (Part III)
Unread postPosted: Sat May 23, 2009 11:48 pm 
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Virtual Ranger
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Thanks for all the kind comments! Truely, the amazing sightings added to the whole 'sphere' here 8)

I'm sorry, but it looks like this Trip report is moving on the 'long term rail' as I had to work extremely hard this week to MAKE time for my 2 day trip next week, to complete the Piano Saga. Shortly after, I will have the exams the next week.

I will see what I can do, but yet I cannot promise anything :roll: BUT I will finish this report as soon as possible. Unfortunately, the FORUM comes second :thumbs_up:

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Letaba 8 July, Shipandane 9 July, Shingwedzi 10 - 14 July :D


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 Post subject: Re: The Beauty of Nature revealed (Part III)
Unread postPosted: Fri Jun 19, 2009 3:04 pm 
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Hi to all you Kruger fans :D

Thanks for all the comments! Ja BH...surely you will have to come with another time, another day :wink: Great you enjoyed the steak. But, the meal's not over yet. Your timing is excellent, and the dessert it on this way :dance:

After a loooong break, left revive this topic, and get going again!! 8)

The first ‘new’ part will be quite short, just to get into writing the trip report ‘vibe’ again!

So, once again get the popcorn ready, get the wine out and lets enjoy the report of our last few days in the magical place, called the Kruger National Park! 8) :D

Day 5: part 2 (4 April 2009)

So there we were, back from the Backpack trail, our heads filled with unforgettable memories and stacked with great stories…. It was quite strange to walk around in such a ‘castle’ of human activity in the middle of the wilderness. I have to say that once back to ‘civilization’ I really wanted to take a shower, have a shave, clean my contacts! :whistle: After an enjoyable hamburger in the take away area, I laid my eyes upon the great view of the Olifants river. Every time I go there, I feel so lost. Kruger seems so immense big, and the beauty of the view can never be fully appreciated or admired by the eye. 8) :cam:

Then the time came to pack our stuff, and finally head towards another great camp, namely Mopanie. We had to travel quite a distance that afternoon, and the clock was already past 1 o’clock. As we hit the H8, the journey had begun. Again. A few more days to explore the magic of Northern Kruger. A time so see things we have never seen before…..

The road was pretty quiet up to Letaba. Mostly dry grass, bushes and a few impala’s. Close to the junction at Letaba, a big group of baboons decided to entertain us. They were running around, playing, fightings and shouting all the time. Sometimes, they drank from the water on the tar. There was one REALLY BIG specimen, a huge baboon. :shock:

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He didn’t seem to be too happy, and I guess something was wrong with his hindleg. Hopefully, he’s cope before another would claim his place..

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There road meandering close to the Letaba river was filled with life. As always! There were plenty of waterbuck, kudu’s and elephants. Not to mention all the birdlife. Many birds of prey in that area…! :dance:

An elephant bull with formidable tusks was enjoying the freshness of the water, drinking, splashing all the time. He had quite big tusks too. That’s what I love about the area there, the one day you see an elllie and think “wow, check his tusks” The next day, you stumble upon another with even bigger. :slap:

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Then, in with their majestic and haughty appearance, three beautiful giraffe crossed the dry riverbed! The composition was close to perfect, their dark coloured spots contrasting from the background. It was a beautiful sight, and I waited a few moments to take some nice shots. Simple sightings like this, make me remember the beauty of nature, and it’s animals.

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We decided to take the s95 loop, just North of Letaba. We saw a few kudu’s, distant hippo’s, a fish eagle and impalas. Just before the intersection joining the tar road again, a nervous herd of elephants appeared on the horizon…. :roll:

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That said, I have had many wild ellie encounters, and although not scared, we were wary of them. There were a few young ones around, AND 2 or 3 young bulies who decided to turn grumpy. Flapping their ears, and intimidating, it was difficult to get past them. It took us 20 min or so, before we could finally relax and head north towards our goal, Mopanie camp. :wink:

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After a quiet piece of road, far in the distance, almost undetectable, we spotted a lone ostrich. Walking in-between bushes of similar height, we almost missed it! Imagine it was a lion, or a leopard! We would now even see it! At Middel vlei (I think it’s Middel vlei) :roll: we spotted a herd of elephants once again. They were drinking out of the cement dam, stealing water buy reaching the water over the wall with their trunks, gulping it down.

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Not much action, here and there elephants. We clearly came closer to Mopanie, which is regarded by many as the Elephant Capital of Kruger. We were quite tired, and wanted to be in our bungalow, with an excellent view over the Pioneer dam. But, just before the turnoff to camp, as a greeting official I met my favourite bird, the Bateleur. :pray:
Unfortunately, he was a bit far, and the light was bad….. So I didn’t even try to get nice shots. I hope to do so in future though! Watch and see :D

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Then, the hill with the regional manager’s house appeared, and we knew the camp was close!! Having been there in December 2008, the area still looked familiar, and no surprises. Little did I know, what a special sighting I would get on the same T junction…. :tongue:

It was a relief to walk around in camp again. Some of us releaved that their feet could rest from the weights of the backpack. The 2 girls’ feet were plastered till perfection. Although I had no blisters, my feet wouldn’t mind a rest. The best thing was that Sawubona’s wife had organised us the bungalows with the best views over the Pioneer Dam! Bungalows 49 and 51 were awesome. The view was perfect, and I just knew the next day would be great from the ‘stoep’ (patio) :dance: 49 was a bit closer, and thus a little bit better.

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It was amazing to just look at the scene in front of me, where the sun was losing the inevitable battle against the dark forces of nature. It put up a fierce fight, spraying a beautiful array of amazing colours over the quiet and mysterious waters of Pioneer Dam….

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We had a quiet braai, and the stars were awesome. I still remember the sizzling sound of the boerewors, and the taste of medium prepared steak.... EISH! I hit the bed early, and soon I was lost in a deeeep sleep. A day full of memories, where I had come upon my dreams, the one to complete the backpack trail, and the other to see a leopard on foot. Satisfaction to perfection. 8) :D


To be continued…….. 8)

_________________
Letaba 8 July, Shipandane 9 July, Shingwedzi 10 - 14 July :D


Last edited by G@mespotter on Tue Jun 23, 2009 1:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: The Beauty of Nature revealed (Part III)
Unread postPosted: Tue Jun 23, 2009 12:54 pm 
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A day to RELAX:

Day 6: 5 April 2009 :D

The next morning, a quiet peacefulness was in the camp. Imagine another sunny, wonderful morning in Kruger, in Mopanie camp. Around 8 o’clock, the hardcore gameviewers had already left the camp. All that was around, were the francolins, scrounging around in between the dead leaves. The grey lourie, calling it’s young. And warm, soft and gentle sound of wind rustling through the dry leaves. :mrgreen: 8)

In these circumstances, I woke up at 7:30. I decided to ‘crawl’ out of the bungalow, not to wake others who had chosen to sleep till late. Especially the 2 girls after the ‘heavy’ backpack trail. As I quietly opened the door, I was surprised to see Sawubona sitting on the patio already, enjoying his coffee! I installed my chair with the view over Pioneer dam, enjoying the taste of my warm coffee from my comfortable chair. Oh, how do I miss these days!! Where I could enjoy the rustic and quiet surroundings of the camp, smelling the ever present and special smells, and to give my ears an opportunity to listen to the unknown. This was HEALING. :whistle: Healing from our increased pace of living, from our self imposed pressure and high goals. Here, I don’t have to live up to my own high expectations. Here, I can simply relax!

As we enjoyed the peacefulness of that moment, I joined my uncle at Bangalow 49, relaxing in the early morning sun. On way way to the bungalow, I spotted a very small snake (10cm) crossing the path... It looked like a skaapsteker! I wonder where's the mother. WELL, I was about to find out VERY soon...... :roll: :whistle: :lol: We sat there for almost 2 hours, observing birds, crocodiles, hippo’s and other game through our binoculars. We counted 24 crocs baking in the sun, 4 hippos and many, many waterbirds! Grey heron, Egyptian geese, darters, the lot. :wink: In that time span, we saw a few buffs in the distance, as well as a small group of kudu’s and a lone giraffe. Also, almost undetectable a lone elephant in the dense woods close to the dam. We were enjoying this tremendously, and I think it did us extremely good to relax for a full day after the Backpack Trail. I would advice ANYONE thinking of doing the backpack trail, to stay a few days in Kruger after the walk. Only at 12, did we decide to have eggs, bacon and and small cheese ‘worsies’ :dance:

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After the lunch, I went to sit on the patio, at the steps close to the door. My cousin and myself were looking at these bluetailed lizzards, who were chasing each other on the rocks, playful in the sun. But danger was lurking around ....!

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I remember watching this paricular lizzard, baking in the sun. On another rock, close to him, another 'lizzard' appeared. OR SO IT SEEMED!! The lizard came longer and longer :shock: :shock: SUDDENLY, this 60-70cm lizard appeared to be a snake!! It 'jumped' out of it's block, and slittered forward VERY quick, right towards me. The blue tailed lizard 'dived' for cover, also right towards me!!! :roll: Imagine, sitting at the steps, looking at the lizards, and the next moment a snake comes in, top speed towards you....! Well, I got such a fright, I threw myself onto my back, legs and all in the air! The snake got to 70 cm from me, the lenght of the concrete walk way new to the patio :shock: :shock: My cousin shouted 'snake, snake!' and it was chaos for a moment. Only then I identified the snake as a 'skaapsteker'. Later on, when we all had to relieve the nerves, and laughed about it, I collected my slippers that flew into the air, in the heat of the moment. ACTION, right at our 'house' 8) 8) I must admit, I got quite a fright :P :twisted: :whistle: No pics, unfortunately :wink: :)

The stay was a real treat, and I remember the hornbills, kwe (grey lourie) and Natal francolin waiting to steal some of it, like a bunch of hungry vultures at a kill. Later that afternoon, some headed for a ‘short’ sleep, while others slept in their campchairs! :shock: I myself had almost 11 hours of sleep the previous night, so no way I could do that….

Some of the visitors at the bungalow:
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So, 3 of us decided to go, grabbed the car keys and slipped out of the camp. Just outside the camp, the sad remains of Alexander, the big and well known elephant told us of his dramatic story. We wanted to sit at the hides close to camp for a while. We decided to head towards Mooiplaas waterhole, take the s49 down, then up to the s50, and then back, just a short loop first. We came across a few elephants, impala and a lone Tsessebe. None of them really good for pictures. :doh:

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As we headed back, my eye was caught by a strange colour!! Although I had seen the lone Tsessebe on our way to the waterhole, I did NOT see the RARE antelope walking close to it. I must admit, it was FAAAR, and we got extremely lucky as we saw our first Lichtenstein’s hartebeest EVER!! :clap: :dance: I could not believe it, but my binoculars did not ly….. I have an 18x optical camera, but even my camera struggled to get the evidence. It was VERY far. But still visible :dance: The strange horns, and distinctive colour made it stand out. So there is was, another unexpected lifetime sighting – for me far better than a lion sighting :clap:

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We then headed towards Shipandani hide. I’ve heared Ndloti bragging about this hide, and I could not wait to look myself. I slept in Mopanie some 8 years before, and could not quite remember all the details. Just before one can see the hide, the Eurphobia’s on the hill on the left demands attention. The area is full of rocks, and different vegetation than one should expect from the ordinary Mopanie area. Definitely worth a visit!!

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Shipandani hide was wonderful. The in front was quite full, plenty of water around, and that attracted numerous animals. At fisrt, the area seemed very quiet. However when one looked carefully we saw waterbuck, steenbok, kudu, hippo’s and then the elephant in front of us, wading through the water, enjoying himself. He did not leave the water for almost 2 hours! He simply walked through the river, eating from the reads all the time and gave a pretty show.

A Water Thick-knee (Dikkop) stood motionless next to the water, not moving an inch. I wonder why the official name has changed…? Anyway, we sat in the hide for 30 mins. The kudu’s had no intention of drinking. The waterbuck had a very small calve, and we hesitnant. Maybe because of the hippo’s, or the snorkelling elephant in the water.

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We had to leave, and headed towards the sable hide. Out of the 2 hides, I would prefer Shipandani ANYTIME. :dance: Sable hide is directly onto the water, and is a hide that should be visited in the morning, as in the afternoon the sun makes game spotting and photography a bit tricky. There were 2 giraffe’s on the other side of the water. Not much else going on I must say. But very relaxed and dead quite. A nature lover’s paradise!

More ellies, close to Sable hide....
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We then went back to camp, picked up a few others and returned to the hide. Nothing new or special going on. We did a small piece of the Shongololo loop, but it was dead quite. NO animals whatsoever.

Then back to Mooiplaas waterhole. There was action all over the place. 1 ellies was drinking from the concrete dam, while a few wildebeats and zebra stood motionless, watching them drinking. It seemed the zebras were thirsty. :roll: But the one male looked at the through thoroughly, and decided it was not save……… They then all ran back, to do the same over and over. Wonder why? Read my next reports ;)

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Two more bulls joined in, and added some action to the spot. Mooiplaas has always some sort of action!

Just before sunset, we headed a bit southwards, towards the close by loops. These loops are quite nice to drive either early morning, late afternoon. It follows the course of a small stream, with some huge trees, and adds some variation to the otherwise flat Mopane shrubs in the area. We were greeted by family Waterbuckionians, and that was it. Uncle leopard seemed to be on strike. Another day, another time I heared him whispering :D.

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Finally, MY FAVORITE: the most beautiful time arrived AGAIN. The time for SUNSET. 8) The time to be amazed by the colours of the African landscape, the time where the day loses it’s fight and the sky becomes from a yellow to a deep orange, almost redlike stain. Clouds add to the sphere. This must also have been the thoughts of this Kestrel, Hobby or Falcon when he shouted his last calls, before the night would finally take over.

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Close to camp, ‘THE HILL’ :whistle: was already covered in darkness.
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The Dam caught the last flashes of light, before a choir of crickets & hippo’s began their song. With their loud calls, the Egyptian geese headed to a saver spot….. A few waterbuck edged close to the water, hoping to survive the dangerous night...

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Those special moments, will never be forgotten. A bag full of Memories = better than one with none & and a bank full of digits... :whistle:

To be continued……... 8)

:thumbs_up:

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Letaba 8 July, Shipandane 9 July, Shingwedzi 10 - 14 July :D


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