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 Post subject: One week Kruger in June - a bad start, but a great ending
Unread postPosted: Sat Jun 13, 2009 6:33 pm 
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Joined: Sun Apr 26, 2009 12:44 pm
Posts: 19
Location: Gabon
As promised in other posts, here the first post of my trip report of the recent trip to Kruger.

Currently I have the privilige of living in the tropical rainforest of Gabon and enjoy daily the wonders of nature. But a dense rainforest also means that animals are difficult to find and see and not always easy to make pictures of. Also our house is located very remote, so a few times per year we like to get out to South-Africa and enjoy the beauty of this country. Because Kruger is so easy to go to and go around, we (my gf and myself) decided to go back to Kruger. We have been here (and other parks) beforeThis would be our 3rd trip to Kruger. Our goal for this trip was to find Cheeta's, as we had never seen Cheeta in the wild before. Further we would love to see sable and wild dogs. reading the forum and looking at availability we decided to book 2 nights at LS, one night Satara, two nights Talamati and two nights Skukuza. This should give us a good chance of nice sightings.

So there we were on Wednesday night 27th of May at midnight waiting in the plane in Libreville to depart to SA. Unfortunately there were fuel problems and the captain asked us to wait....and wait...and wait.... and guess what, they did not manage to fix the problem and at 3am we were all send to a hotel in the city, with the message that we would probably leave the next day. Luckily this did work and at 2pm on Thursday we did take-off and had a good flight. But in the plane the crew already informed us that there was no way we would get a connection to Kruger airport, so they had booked us also into an hotel in J'burg and they rebooked our flight to Kruger on Friday morning. So all-in-all we lost a full day and we missed our first night in LS, grrrrr.... :evil:

On Friday morning things went okay. We had a very early flight to Kruger, our car (NissanX-trail) was still waiting at the airport and we arrived before 10am at the Numbi gate, including a short stop at the Pick'nPay in White River. So finally our quest to find a Cheeta could start........

But I will tell more about that in next report in a few days...

Fosco

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Aug09 KTP
June 2009 KNP
Aug 2008 KNP


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 Post subject: Re: One week Kruger in June - a bad start, but a great ending
Unread postPosted: Tue Jun 16, 2009 1:41 pm 
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Joined: Sun Apr 26, 2009 12:44 pm
Posts: 19
Location: Gabon
DAY 1 - 29th May 2009

After signing in at the gate at Numbi we were on our way. We decided to take the Napi road, because we had a long way ahead of us to go to LS and we didn't want to rush it. There were not many animals active in the morning. We stopped by the Shitlhave dam, saw a few waterbucks. On the road we did see impala, giraffe, monkeys and blue brested rollers. Nice as a start, but nothing special. We were hoping to get someting special at the Delaporte waterhole, as previous year we had some very nice sightings there. But not this time, and since it was already around noon, we did not want to sit and wait and we decided to go for a lunch break at Skukuza.

At the main camp, we enjoyed a tasty pasta dish, while watching the bats sleep & play overhead. We waited at Skukuza till about 14:00h before continuing towards LS, guessing that there would be more animals active later at the day. We had heard and read many reports on the good sightings one can have on this road, but even with driving slowly we did not see anything special on the first part to the picknick spot, but while we were enjoying our refreshing cold drinks, we suddenly saw a movement near the river edge and we saw a large monitor lizard, unfortunately before I grabbed my camera, his head was already hidden in the bush, but still a nice sighting.
Continuing further, we suddenly saw a group of 5 cars, all watching to the Sabie river. Surely there must be lions and indeed as we approached we saw a young male lion bathing in the sun on the river edge. Apparently there was a pride of lions, but the others were hidden. The lion stood-up, walked around, posed for our camera and decided to sleep further. We fully agreed with him and we also felt tired after the long trip, so we decided to go to LS and get our tent. We made a quick stop at the Sunset dam, watching the hippo's, crocs and fish eagles before checking in.
On this forum I had read many good stories on the sunset drives around LS, so I asked if there was still a place free and to my surpise the lady told me that indeed I could still join, apparently there had been problems with the booking system and there were only three people signed-up for the drive, so it felt like a private tour. The drive went north, towards Mlondolozi, but it was quiet, very quiet. Besides a jackal and a hippo, we did not see anything interesting and even the guide admitted that normally there was much more wildlife. So a bit disappointed we drove back to the camp and just before the gate, we suddenly saw a civet crossing the road, clearly visibile in the spotlights, which made the whole drive positive again.
A quick bite, glass of port and off to bed after this long first day in Kruger.

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Monkey fitness

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Impala having lunch

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Kissing bats

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Lion at Sabie river

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Fish eagle

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Hippo at Sunset dam

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Aug09 KTP
June 2009 KNP
Aug 2008 KNP


Last edited by fosco dogwood on Sun Jun 21, 2009 2:15 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: One week Kruger in June - a bad start, but a great ending
Unread postPosted: Fri Jun 19, 2009 8:22 pm 
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Joined: Sun Apr 26, 2009 12:44 pm
Posts: 19
Location: Gabon
Thanks for all the responses - really a good motivator to post a next chapter of my TR.

Day 2 - 30th May - From Lower Sabie to Satara
& Day 3 - 31st May - From Satara to to Talamati


After a good nights sleep we managed to get up early, put all the stuff in the car, fill the flask with hot water and be at the gate before 6am. We are the 5th car of so in the row, so not bad. Plan is to drive straight to the S28 as last night the area around LS was very quiet and we had read very good reports from other forumites on the chances of seeing cheetah on the S28.
As soon as we turned left from the gate, the cars in front of us slowed down and to our big surprise there were three young male lions casually walking on the road. Because there were not too many cars, we had a nice clear view. Taking pictures however proved to be more difficult, it was too dark, to get high quality pictures (anyone good tips for shooting in early morning?).
The lions decided to turn of left and cross the bridge over the Sabie river. We hesitated, should we follow the lions and wait for better light or stick to our plan an drive onwards to the S28. As this was our only day in LS area, we opted for the last option and drove on.
At first there was not much, except for a rhino in the distance, so we continued on the S28, driving slowly and spotting for cheetah. At some point we heard a strange noise, a bird, but different. We stopped and discussed with another car, who had also heard the noise. We looked, and looked and looked. And just as we were about to give up we saw suddenly a cheetah sitting in the distance. She was far away, a few hundred meters, but she was sitting on a branch, watching the field and really a beautiful sight. We felt so lucky - our first cheetah sighting in a park. We watched her for 30 minutes or so, until she disappeared in the field.
After a coffee break in CB, we drove to Satara. We decided to drive via Mlondolozi to Tshokwane, as this was an area we had not seen before. We saw a lot of elephants and buffalo and in large groups. We had picnic in Tshokwane and continued on the main road to Satara. Nothing special there. In the late afternoon we were still tired of all the driving, so we only went to the Nsemani dam to watch the sunset. Many animals, zebra, monkey, elephant, but nothing very special.
Next morning again an early rise, as we were planning to drive the S100 loop - a loop famous for it's lion sightings. But not for us, not today, as we only saw hyena, elephants, buffalo and ground hornbills. We were again surprised by the large groups of elephants crossing our path. At one point the elephants seem to kept coming and coming.
After a coffee break in Satara we drove on to Talamati. Just when we entered the H7, there were a lot of cars standing by the road. We stopped and tried to see what they saw, but we could not see any living creature. When we asked, we understood why. There was a dead impala hanging in a tree, so there must be a leopard somewhere. But no-one could see it, so we decided to continue.
On the road to Talamati we did not see anything special, so at the desk we asked if there were still places free for the afternoon drive. We were again lucky (or not?) as we were the only couple, so we had a private tour. Talamati is also known for it's large prides of lions, so we hoped for some good encounters. Unfortunately there was almost nothing to see, a hippo running away, the eyes and ears of a wildcat and a jackal, that's all. The guide did it's best to make it a bit interesting, by explaining things on trees and traditional medicines, but still it was not as great as we had expected.

With the thought of "well there's always tomorrow" we went to bed early....... to be continued....


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Early morning lions

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Followed by early morning cars

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The first Cheetah sighting

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Elephants hugging

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Eagle - which one?

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Buffalos in the mist

_________________
Aug09 KTP
June 2009 KNP
Aug 2008 KNP


Last edited by fosco dogwood on Sun Jun 21, 2009 2:19 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: One week Kruger in June - a bad start, but a great ending
Unread postPosted: Thu Jun 25, 2009 9:54 pm 
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Joined: Sun Apr 26, 2009 12:44 pm
Posts: 19
Location: Gabon
Are you still interested to hear the rest of my TR? Seems that everyone is to busy to write a post. Well anyhow, I like telling stories, so here the next chapter...

Day 4 - 1st June - Talamati
Day 5 - 2nd June - Talamati to Skukuza

At night we heard the lions roaring, so we knew they must be somewhere around. Driving slowly we left the camp and again the morning was so much more successful then the evening. Within 5 minutes we saw two male lions walking on the S145 towards Orpen. A magnificent sight, as there were very few cars and the lions were absolutely not in a hurry.
After half an hour or so, the lions decided we made enough pictures and they walked off into the bush. With a big smile on our face we continued our way towards Orpen, where we had our breakfast.
The H2 from Orpen is also famous for its Cheetah sightings, so we decided to drive back via the H7 and the Muzandzeni P-spot. On the H7 we drove very slowly, looking out for the cheetah, but we couldn't find anything. Somewhere halfway we saw a glimpse of something crossing the road, but I would not be able to see what it was, it was fast, very fast :-)

After a coffee break at the P-spot, we watched some Ostriches at the waterhole, before turning to the S145 again. Just when we made the turn, we saw a sable walking in the forest. We stopped, but made too much noise and the sable got scared and ran away from us.:( Our first sable sighting, one more for the list. In the afternoon we did a small drive, but didn't saw anything special until we returned to the camp. At the waterhole there was a group of elephants drinking and from the hide the view was very good.

Next morning we had again a long day driving - we needed to go back south, to Skukuza. We hoped to see the lions again, so we decided to drive back via the back roads to Tshokwane and from there drive quickly towards the camp. But were we wrong there. The first three hours or so, there was very little wildlife active, one rhino in the mist, a few buffalo's and one lonely elephant. We were glad when we arrived at the picnic spot and we could get out of the car and have a decent break.
After the refreshing break and fresh coffee we continued our route. After 15km or so there are a lot of rocks and koppies on the left side of the road and I slowed down and looked out for leopards there. Then my girlfriend starts pushing me and say look in front of you and there was a leopard crossing the road 10 meters in front of us, absolutely amazing! The leopard quickly disappeared in the grass, but luckily it came back a few minutes later on the rocks and we still had the prime position to watch. When we later saw a pregnant lion, we had our big 5 complete in one morning. We had heard it before that Kruger is the place to see big 5 in a few hours, if lucky, but we never did it before.

We didn't think the day could get better, so we almost skipped our afternoon drive. But an hour before gate closing we looked at each other and said, let's go for a small round, maybe to De Laporte dam and wait there. But at the dam it was quiet, so we continued and suddenly saw something strange. There was an officer sitting next to the road, trying to catch speeding offenders, but 50 meters behind him, there were 4 cars standing still. Confused we drove towards them and to our delight we saw a wild dog. Lying in the grass, standing, walking, lying, walking. We stayed as long as we could and hoped to see more, but we couldn't find the rest of the troop. But when we turned and drove back to the camp, suddenly another wild dog came running from the bush, crossing the road and running back into the bush. We tried to make a picture, but miserably failed, as you can see below.
To celebrate this great day, we decided have our dinner in the Selati train restaurant, a nice place and good food.....

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Owl

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Still sleepy lion

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Leopard

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Wild dog

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Flying wild dog

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June 2009 KNP
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 Post subject: Re: One week Kruger in June - a bad start, but a great ending
Unread postPosted: Wed Jul 01, 2009 11:34 pm 
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Joined: Sun Apr 26, 2009 12:44 pm
Posts: 19
Location: Gabon
Hi all, sorry to say, but it is a sad day today - it's the final chapter of my TR. But all good things need to come to an end and it is now time to close this chapter and look forward to a new adventure (we might come back later this year and visit KTP and combine it with Etosha, not sure yet)

Day 6 - 3rd June - Skukuza
& Day 7 - 4th June - Back to the airport :-(


Still excited by the many great sightings of yesterday we decide to try to find back the wild dog and hopefully the rest of his troop. Slowly we drive on the H1-1 south, but no signs of the wild dog. We continued on the H3 and decided there to leave the main road and try some of the gravel roads, we had never driven before. Looking at the map, we liked the name Renosterkoppies dam and we thought this must be a good place for either a rhino or a leopard..... and indeed we did see two rhino's at the dam, who enjoyed their early morning breakfast. Sad thing was that there was a weirdo tourist who stepped out of his car, to make better pictures - aaarrrggh, why do people do this. We took some pictures of him and his car and we reported it later that day at the Skukuza ranger - I hope they did something to punish him.
There were also many organised safari vehicles on this road and the guide of one of them suddenly thought that he saw a leopard. We and all other cars tried to find it as well, bit no-one could find anything, so I am not so sure if the guide had actually seen something.

After a coffeebreak back at Skukuza we decided to go to Lake Panic. We remembered from last year that this is an excellent bird hide and indeed the place was as beautiful as we had in memory. Plenty of birds, crocs and hippo's. But because we were there around noon, the light was very harsh and reflection on the water, made photography very difficult. So we decided to leave and come back later in the afternoon. But when we returned at 3pm, there were so many cars already, that the whole place was crowded, so we decided to drive the S65 loop and try to find the wild dog again. The route was nice, but besides a nice close-up of a martial eagle, we didn't spot anything wortwhile of mentioning here, so we headed back to the camp, for our last night in the park, well spent with a bottle of good wine.

Next morning we decided to give the wild dog one more last chance, but we had used up all of our luck and we only saw zebra and antelope in the morning loop before the coffee break at Skukuza.
After coffee we decided to drive relaxed back via the S1 to the Numbi gate and then further to the airport for our flight back to J'burg. When we came to the turn-off at Lake Panic, we briefly hesitated if we should go there, but we decided to give it one more try. Luckily the hut was not as busy as the day before and we had a good spot to the right side of the hut, where the light was slightly better. The place was as serene as always and we enjoyed looking at the birds, waterbuck, crocs and hippo's. Just as we were about to leave, we heard a doglike sound and suddenly all the animals started to get crazy. The crocs flew into the water and the waterbuck totally froze. And 5 seconds later we understood why, as a leopard came walking out of the bush, straight towards the lake and right in front of us. We hoped he would stop there and drink, but he decided to walk around the lake for a while before hiding in the bush again. Amazing view and everyone in the hide was standing around us to get a glimpse or a picture of the leopard. Very special and totally not expected.

The rest of the day we saw two more special sightings. The first was a turtle (or a tortoise, I am always lost which is which) crossing the road in front of our car. The Last sighting was also a perfect ending of a week in Kruger. A large elephant doing his thing and putting fresh dung right in front of us. A nice vivid memory of Kruger to take home :-)

Thursday evening back to J'burg, shopping on Friday morning, in afternoon back to Libreville and Saturday morning back to our home in the forest in South of Gabon. A great week, filled again with good memories, fantastic stories and many pictures to fill the time until we next visit SA.

Fosco

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Rhino

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Drinking monkey

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Bird walking on water at Lake Panic

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The leopard at Lake Panic

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Martial Eagle

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Heavy traffic crossing the road

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The great ending of the trip:-)

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Aug09 KTP
June 2009 KNP
Aug 2008 KNP


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