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 Post subject: Kruger in July - Moments to remember ....
Unread postPosted: Tue Jul 14, 2009 7:15 pm 
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Only four more sleeps and we're off to Kruger! :dance: :dance:

This morning I found a very special visitor in my garden. Maybe it's a sign of good things to come? Beautiful isn't he?
Spotted Cat had her first sighting :wink: A Spotted Eagle Owl :clap:

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 Post subject: Re: Kruger in July - Moments to remember ....
Unread postPosted: Sat Jul 18, 2009 6:12 pm 
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Hi everyone! We have arrived safely and have a wonderful chalet ... one of the renovated ones :clap:

Thanks to all who have sent wishes our way since my last post.

Lorrainepring, Micetta, Donny, Bennievis

An ellie and white rhino 30 meters from our chalet on their way to the dam!
We missed the leopard just outside the gate, because we stayed in camp - :( So our neighbours say!

Tomorrow is another day .... maybe?

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 Post subject: Re: Kruger in July - Moments to remember ....
Unread postPosted: Sat Jul 25, 2009 8:26 pm 
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Hello everyone :) We're back and I can't believe it's over! Sad, sad, sad!
We didn't want to leave, but all good things eventually come to an end. Whether we stayed a month or a week, departure is inevitable :(

Thanks p@m for posting, :D I had to walk around outside to find a spot to get a signal .

Thanks to all of you for wishing us a lovely holiday ... it was! Now to start working on that report 8)

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 Post subject: Re: Kruger in July - Moments to remember ....
Unread postPosted: Tue Jul 28, 2009 9:46 pm 
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Micetta :lol:

OK, here is the first installment ...

18 July 2009

Six long weeks ago ….

I looked up at the thatch and logs of the lapa, listening to the waves crashing down on the beach. It’s quiet and sound carries far. My heart ached for we should have been in Kruger, but unforeseen circumstances made it impossible to go. Not all was lost, for our June trip was rescheduled for July. So another month to wait, not so may sleeps to count considering that it was almost not going to happen at all!
A few days ago we made use of the Park’s online facility to try and find accommodation for 7 consecutive nights. Knowing how full the Park is all year round, I was not very optimistic that we would be successful on such short notice. Just as I had expected, it was not an easy task. We could get 2 nights here, 3 nights there … one night way out north and then back to where we started. Worst was that there was always a night in between without a place to lay our weary heads.
The distance between camps where accommodation was available (always one night missing) also made it difficult to plan our stay. We changed our dates, running through the calendar weeks like a marathon without end.
At last!!! Berg-en-Dal!!! Six nights and a perimeter chalet thrown in to make our holiday extra special. Phewww, I could breathe again!

The month flew by and then it was time to start packing. I always promise myself that THIS time I’m going to be the queen of packers. Hubby just looked on with a smile as I slowly lost the battle. “It’s just the two of us and the new car has lots of space” was all I could think of to defend the growing mound of “necessities”. It’s a woman thing I suppose. Now it would be his chance to prove himself as the king of packers … I count myself lucky to have such a patient boss.

It was a tired but happy Cat that went to sleep that night. Up early to make coffee, getting the eats and drinks in the cooler bag, feeding the pets (had organized babysitters for them) and carrying the smaller stuff to save hubby a few trips … maybe to ease my conscience. Just so you know … I left the sink!

It is a two hours drive to the border post and for kilometres the electrified fences of private game reserves run parallel with the highway. I haven’t seen any wild animals in the past, but I’m always hopeful to see anything that does not resemble the cows, dogs or goats grazing at the edge of the road - a sight that makes me cringe every time one of them ventures too close.

The border post wasn’t busy, so we were through in a jiffy. The road through Swaziland is a pure joy to drive – very good maintained, only a short stretch that needs a “top up”. We made our usual pit stop at Nisela, about 30km from the border. Clean restrooms and a restaurant if you like a bite to eat.
The road continues through the Hlane Royal National Park and this time we were lucky to see two white rhinos, warthogs and impala. The big 5 are found in the Park – we have once seen a lioness in a tree!! A very nice appetizer indeed! But we are on our way to THE Park! Very soon the border was in sight and again our exit went smoothly, passports stamped and back in the car for the last part of our journey. Did some shopping in Malelane, where we also made sure that the camera and binos were within reach, for the next stop would be the entry gate to heaven!
Friendly and swift service, we did not even have to wait in a queue! It was the weekend before schools open, so I gather that most people were heading out instead of in. We didn’t see much on the magic road to B&D. A lone ellie was lazily making his way across the ridge …. Then a traffic jam! Oh my, was I glad we had the camera ready! But all we could see was the hind leg of a lion sticking up in the air, the rest of him/her frustratingly obscured by the long winter grass. Well, at least they were in the area. We were tired and did not want to wait and watch part of a lion enjoying his siesta. Experience has taught us that they are most happy sleeping off a night’s gallivanting during daylight hours when we are “hunting” for them, and that we are sleeping when they do their hunting. But … even though just a leg, it’s still attached to a lion!

I had phoned in advance and asked for chalet no 25. The staff at reception was friendly and helpful and soon we were unlocking the sliding door of our home for the next few days. I was thrilled that it was one of the renovated chalets with an unrestricted view of the riverbed. Even though it was dry, we were entertained every day with sightings of animals moving down towards the dam.
I was busy putting everything in the cupboards when hubby called me. Our first riverbed visitor was an ellie right by the fence. A rhino ambled past not long after and understandably we were thrilled by the prospect of many good things still to come.

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Tomorrow will be our first full day in the Park…..

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 Post subject: Re: Kruger in July - Moments to remember ....
Unread postPosted: Wed Jul 29, 2009 10:28 pm 
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Hi everyone :) Let me continue ....

19 July 2009


It was 6° when we left camp and still quite dark. Our choice for our first morning drive was to take the Matjulu loop, have a look at the waterhole and then work our way to the tar road. Not to be … about a kilometre down the road a massive roadblock. Two very big ellies have pushed over a tree and there was no way that we could get past that. Only thing to do was to turn back and take the magic tar road. That’s Kruger, you never know how your day will turn out.


The sky was painted in beautiful pastel colours.

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Up ahead our second roadblock within an hour. Oh no! Please, not another ellie … :pray:
Just to mention – those who have read my previous reports will know that I am an “ ellie bumshot” fan. Elephants are awesome and their babies are adorable as long as I can admire them from a distance. A good zoom lens and I’m happy to snap away :cam:
“Lion” the driver of a safari vehicle told us. Oh goodie! Our first lion! It turned out to be a young male, his head barely visible in the long grass, so no pic. It was in the same area where we had seen the “hindleg” on our way in the previous day. Question … if the head and hindleg belong to the same lion, we have seen one lion. If not, we have seen two lions :roll: For the remainder of our trip the missing pieces of the lion puzzle didn’t come together and that was it! Not a single lion sighting after that :(
On the H3 a beautiful Kudu (and I chopped of the tips of his horns :redface: ) Steenbok and Giraffe.

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A much needed stop at Afsaal. Not a clever move to have two mugs of coffee so early in the morning! The plan was to go to Pretoriuskop, visit Mestel dam in the hope of seeing the beautiful Sables often seen in the area and then back to Afsaal again via Voortrekker Road.

A very special early morning treat :D
Rhino mom and baby

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Then another treat ...
We found it very strange that he was alone, grazing with a small herd of impala.We sat there for quite some time but by the time we left, there still wasn’t another Tsessebe in sight :?

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Quiet at Mestel Dam - other than the resident hippos, only a few other animals around.
A Waterbuck with a broken horn – poor thing! Still handsome enough for me to take a pic.

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The next stop Pretoriuskop, but first I have to tell you what happened next ….. :whistle:

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 Post subject: Re: Kruger in July - Moments to remember ....
Unread postPosted: Thu Jul 30, 2009 11:20 pm 
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OK, I won't keep you waiting any longer :lol:



From Mestel Dam we took the S3, turned onto the S7 and then the short S10 loop. Good choice! SO is very interested in and fascinated by rock formations and of course I am delighted, because that’s where I expect to find my special cats.

“Leopard!!” I was beside myself with joy … “There! On that rock!” I was trembling when I lifted the camera to take the first pic. What made it so extra special was that we were all on our own, not caught in a traffic jam or just getting a glimpse of spots disappearing in the grass. There he was, not worried at all by our presence.

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After about 15 minutes another car stopped behind us, just had a look and moved on. :shock:
After spending another half an hour watching him, we also had to move on … very reluctantly I must add. I could have sat there the whole day, but it was clear that he was not planning to go anywhere. He hardly changed position and as there were more cars arriving, we wanted to give them a chance to take pics as well.

I was glad when we reached camp. Not only was it great to get out of the car and stretch our legs, but the “facilities” were much needed by then. We browsed through the shop, bought more bottled water, had a look at the sightings board and it was with great pleasure that I marked the spot of “my leopard” :dance:
The trip to Afsaal was quiet, but we did see the Tsessebe again … still on his own with his impala friends. :?

Back to camp via Matjulu Loop. Nothing at the waterhole, the water level is very low and I wondered how the animals managed to get a drink at all. We had to manoeuvre our way around the fallen tree that was blocking the road this morning. Luckily the culprits were gone! :D
We decided to stay in camp instead of taking an afternoon drive. We had seen 4 of the big 5, not too bad for our first full day in the Park. 8)

2 Rhinos and an ellie down in the riverbed - who needs to go out when you get treated right on your doorstep?

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The one closest to the fence ....

and after they had there mud bath :whistle:

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I was fiddling in the chalet to get things ready for the braai, when hubby called me. “Here’s your buffalo!” Well, well, what do you know. The last of the biggies just came strolling by! :dance:

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He was walking UP the incline, it had nothing to do with me holding the camera askew .... Cat's promise :cam: No Amarula involved :naughty:

It was almost dark when a big breeding herd of ellies walked past. I would have loved to take pics! Silent, like ghosts in the night they eventually disappeared out of sight. I could only imagine the spectacular sight it must have been to see them down at the dam.

My last entry for the day …

Just as I was about to step into the shower, a mighty roar made me grab for my clothes again. It sounded as if Lourens’ King of the jungle was right outside our chalet! He must have been within metres from the fence! Chilling sound … magic Kruger , what a great way to end the day!

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 Post subject: Re: Kruger in July - Moments to remember ....
Unread postPosted: Fri Jul 31, 2009 10:00 pm 
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Ready to continue :D


20 July 2009

The lions entertained us all night and when we got up at 5 am, we could still hear them, although not as close as the one the night before. They were there … but unlike our leopard, they never showed. There were sightings, but we always missed out. We were disappointed for sure, but that’s how it goes. You can’t be everywhere at the same time. Choose your route and be content with what comes your way. With an attitude of “We’ll see what we see”, we left camp 10 minutes after gate opening time.

The tar road was disappointingly quiet. We had our first sighting of the morning on the H3. An elephant with her calf, a safe distance away so SO was “allowed” to stop so I could take a pic. (Thanks for the new lens, dear SO :wink: )

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A banded mongoose

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Just as we turned off the tar road leading to Afsaal picnic spot, we were stopped by a very stern looking policeman. “Sorry sir, you’re not allowed to enter. There was a robbery last night and the area is treated as a crime scene”. :shock:
I was in trouble! My heart sank. Guns everywhere, Park personnel and police all over the place … I would have to face a small army to answer the call of nature. One look at us must have softened his heart (or maybe my pleading eyes said it all). :pray: “OK, sir. You’re allowed to use the ablutions. But then you have to leave”.
And left we did!

The S112 loop was quiet not even a single impala in sight. At Stevenson Hamilton get-out point a little squirrel played hide and seek with us. He would peek out from under the low brush and dart back the moment I got the camera to focus. The bush is very dense and there’s no way you can see whether anything is lurking in the shadows. I decided that I’m not going to be dense as well! The sign clearly states that you disembark at your own risk. I wasn’t going to take any chances, a squirrel is one thing … the strong cat smell hanging in the air was indication enough to stay put.

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Ficus soldanella (Rock Wild Fig)

Amazing that it can establish itself in the minutest fissures in huge boulders and rocky outcrops. Some resembles a miniature waterfall when seen from a distance. (Or melted chocolate if you're a chocaholic like me) :lol:

We stopped and Renosterkoppies waterhole to have lunch. The trough was almost dry. :cry: What a disappointment!
I felt sorry for the zebras, impala and kudu who came down to drink. The warthogs were bolder and in my opinion they had a better chance of success. The zebra eventually gave up and moved away … slipping on the sides of the trough made them very skittish. It wasn’t long before they came back for another try. It was quite a depressing sight. :(


Transport Dam evoked images of the now famous battle between lion, buffalo and croc. Today it was quiet, even the nests in the tree were abandoned and showed no sign of life. Only sight the noisy Egyptian Geese and a Water monitor sunning itself. In the distance, Water Buck came down to drink.

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On our way back to camp, we had a sighting with a difference. Two officials manning a speed trap just before the Matjulu bridge were comfortably (?) seated on their camping chairs. Thanks guys! you're exactly THE sighting speedsters hate to see :rtm:

2:45 when we entered camp again. We planned to go down to the dam later on, but first a much needed afternoon nap.

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 Post subject: Re: Kruger in July - Moments to remember ....
Unread postPosted: Sun Aug 02, 2009 8:39 pm 
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Afternoon in camp….

We were still unpacking camera, books and all the goodies we had in the car for the day, when we saw our first elephant of the afternoon in the now “famous” riverbed.

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We never saw impala or zebra using the route down to the dam and I wondered if they felt too “boxed” in … the fence on the one side and a steep incline on the other side.
Even the lone buffalo we saw on our first afternoon in camp had come trotting by at a very brisk pace on his way back from the dam. Apparently the relatively narrow passage is not a place to linger for too long if you are high on the list of the food chain as far as lions are concerned. :hmz:

After a short nap we decided to take the Rhino Trail down to the dam. These two little beggars were waiting on the verandah when we opened the sliding door.
The Yellow-Billed Hornbill literally sat at my feet …obviously hoping that I would find him irresistible enough to toss him a tit-bit or two, :naughty: while the Kurrichane Trush inspected the braai

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It’s a short walk - only three minutes from our chalet.
I found it very difficult to get decent pics from where I was standing. It was an ideal spot, directly opposite to where the animals were drinking. The electrified fence had zapped a lady earlier that morning, resulting in her dropping her camera which, to her utter dismay, landed on the other side of the fence. :shock: We watched as one of the camp personnel walked along the outside of the fence to where she was pointing at it. He got a big cheer from her and her companions as he retrieved it from the grass. :clap: There were big smiles all around, but it was a reminder to all the onlookers that the fence was in good working order and extra caution should be taken when trying to take photographs :cam:

I saw another lady pressing her expensive camera right up against the (not electrified part :lol: ) of the fence. Taking great care, I tried the same. To my astonishment it worked like magic!! The grid of the fence did not pose a problem at all!

A very tame Bushbuck
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Egyptian Goose
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With his mate checked us out...
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Mom and baby ...
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but water does not taste as good this :D
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Waterbuck
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Reflections ... to mark the end of a beautiful day
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Light was fading fast, so we decided to return “home”. It was time to get the fire going ….

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 Post subject: Re: Kruger in July - Moments to remember ....
Unread postPosted: Mon Aug 03, 2009 10:50 pm 
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To continue :D

21 July 2009

I was sitting on the verandah, 3:15 pm and for the first time the riverbed was quiet -the birds were silent, the ‘beggars’ of yesterday nowhere in sight. I was making notes, but it didn’t take very long. It was one of the quietest days we’ve ever had in the Park :shock:
This doesn’t mean there were no sightings, we were just not there to share it with the lucky ones. :(

Our fourth day at B&D

We left camp at 6:25, temp 5°. Maybe that was our big mistake …”the early bird catches the worm”, they say. But who can tell? There were mornings on previous trips when we were first out the gate, just to be told later that we had missed a fabulous sighting. Still, I like to be there when the gate swings open – to get hubby up in time is another thing altogether :roll: I was planning all sorts of strategies when I was sitting on the verandah later that afternoon …. Sneaking out on my own, banging pots and pans together, singing Nkosi Sikelele at the top of my voice. Thinking about the neighbours I immediately dropped that thought. Heaven forbid I should wake the whole camp and I’m not the first out anyway. :twisted:

We took the S110 to Matjulu water hole. The tree was still blocking the road. Quiet, no ‘early birds’ at the trough, but the day was still young. Steilberg was our choice for the day.

A buff with funny looking horns - "Old Droopy"
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Three cars up ahead. Definitely something going on! Hubby approached real slow, not wanting to spoil whatever sighting they had. And what a treat it turned out to be, but the dreaded “you just missed” made the smile fade from my face. You guess right! Two leopards had been walking down the road and they had followed them for ten minutes! An oncoming car made the mom and teenager cub move off the road and they disappeared in the long grass JUST as we joined the ecstatic, wide-eyed guys and gals. They were visitors from overseas and what an experience it was for them!! Despite my disappointment and feeling very sorry for myself, :mrgreen: I was truly happy for them. Magic moments for them to remember. :clap:

On the S114 nothing but a lonely Marabou Stork

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Gardenia Hide was devoid of life - only a few turtle doves

Biyamiti weir’s only occupant a Water Monitor sunning itself on the rocks

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Biyamiti loop was another disappointment …one giraffe and a Klipspringer

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At Afsaal we went to the “ Scopsie tree” for a pic. No Scopsie! What on earth was going on?
A couple from B&D, very excited, asked if we had seen the lions on the magic road just outside camp that morning. “Oh no! Not again!” It definitely wasn’t our day!

Oh well, maybe … but it was not to be. Wildebeest just outside Afsaal, a lone ellie, impala and then NOTHING all the way back to camp.

4:20 and we decided to walk down to the dam

only one Rhino, the Bushbuck of yesterday and the noisy Egyptian Geese

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Back at the chalet, hubby started the fire and I had the pap-pot on the stove. I was thinking of BB and elephus who are always teasing the pap-eters. Eat your hearts out guys, you missed out on a meal good enough for a king :tongue:

Ps – translation ‘pap-eters’ … Jokingly referring to Afrikaans speaking people who love to and usually eat ‘maize porridge’ as side dish with a braai. :D

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 Post subject: Re: Kruger in July - Moments to remember ....
Unread postPosted: Mon Aug 03, 2009 11:15 pm 
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Dotty, me too!! some you see, some you don't :cry:



Pumbaa wrote:
Thanks again SC,

Berg'n'Dal is a great camp for strolling around the fence to the dam - there is always something to be seen - I am still waiting for the leopard there :whistle:


We had the privilege of seeing one a few years ago :dance: The chalet that we had was one of those on the perimeter where you can see 'over' the fence, situated higher than the Rhino Trail.(can't remember the number)
We had our braai, decided to have a last look before we retired and lo and behold - caught in the beam of our flashlight, a beautiful leopard :dance: I could not believe my eyes!
The only one we had seen that entire trip :whistle:

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 Post subject: Re: Kruger in July - Moments to remember ....
Unread postPosted: Wed Aug 05, 2009 9:56 pm 
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To continue .... just a short one for now 8)


22 July 2009

We were the third car to go out the gate, temperature 5°.

The tar road to Malelane was first on the menu. Sightings board of the previous day showed that lions were seen at the intersection with the S114. We were going real slowly and cars were passing us one by one. Debatable question … do you “snail” or do you “sail”? (within the speed limit, of course) :)

Snail’s pace onto the S110, but not a single animal seen. :( An oncoming car flagged us down and my heartbeat quickened. Did they find the leopard and her cub that were seen the day before? Did they see my YR? No! Neither. :( It was just to ask whether we had seen anything yet.
“ No, and you?” Shake of the head “Nope!” A wave and a smile. “Good luck!!”

Our first sighting of the day. A Buff quite happy to be the centre of attraction. SO’s pics

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...and
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SO’s special sighting 8) … what do you see? :hmz: Look carefully - :lol:

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Will continue tomorrow :popcorn:

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Last edited by Spotted Cat on Wed Aug 05, 2009 10:09 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Kruger in July - Moments to remember ....
Unread postPosted: Thu Aug 06, 2009 5:35 pm 
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Pumbaa ... p@m ... mikerid ... billyf ... Micetta.... lorrainepring :D

Spotted Cat wrote:

SO’s special sighting 8) … what do you see? :hmz: Look carefully - :lol:

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The first pic looked like a buff to me (left side of the rock) the right side looked like a lion's head :roll: Ignore the "nose part" of the buff - a lot of imagination on my part :lol:

I thought the second one also looked like a lion with the left eye missing. :wink:

Will post later tonight ....

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 Post subject: Re: Kruger in July - Moments to remember ....
Unread postPosted: Thu Aug 06, 2009 11:38 pm 
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Next ....

From the “rock with many faces” we continued on to have breakfast at Matjulu waterhole. A few zebras came down to the trough, but the water level was very low.
Is there a reason why the waterhole is so empty although there is reservoir nearby? :roll:

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Whitefronted Bee-eaters huddled together

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We sat there for a while, but decided to return to camp. Up until then we had been to the dam only in the afternoons and we were curious to see if there would be any activity in the early hours of the day.
The hippos were playing peek-a-boo while the Egyptian Geese were noisily competing for attention. A slight movement between the reeds caught my eye. The two small floating objects turned out to be a cute little Dabchick (Little Grebe) with a chick following in her wake. She allowed us a very brief glimpse before taking refuge amongst the reeds again. Not a very clear pic, but to show just how small they really are …

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Dabchick L 20 cm

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Egyptian Goose L 70 cm

We left camp for the second time that morning. Matjulu Loop again :lol: A herd of about two hundred Buffalo were grazing some distance from the road. Where were they when we passed that same spot a couple of hours ago? :hmz: First time we’ve ever seen such a big herd in the area.

Steilberg to the H3, then continued on the Timfenene Loop. Not for long though, a herd of ellies were real close to the road and two of them were having a “screaming match” Thundering and intimidating … now way I was going to get caught in the crossfire!

Afsaal was quite busy. When we still could not find the little Scopsie, I went in search of the manager to ask what had happened to him. He had been there all along, but was now residing in his “winter tree”. :dance: His “summer tree” is the one in the demarcated area. The decision to keep people from getting too close to Scopsie was made to protect him after an incident where children were throwing pebbles at him :naughty:

Our little feathered friend

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Another visitor to the picnic site

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And the regulars

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We returned to camp for a short rest before our meet with ej at Malelane. It was great to see her again! Thanks for your hospitality ej :D

It was the “day of the Loop” :lol: We took the Matjulu Loop back to camp again – for the last time!
The roadblock we encountered on our first morning

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We were just about to leave for our afternoon walk down to the dam when we had a visitor. A little camera shy and looking very innocent. SO loves the black and white pics 8)

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quiet at the dam, only a few Waterbuck

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Next instalment over the weekend . :D

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 Post subject: Re: Kruger in July - Moments to remember ....
Unread postPosted: Mon Aug 10, 2009 5:26 pm 
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Before the weekend is over ... :wink:


Thursday 23 July 2009

It was our last full day in the Park. We left just after the gates opened at six, the temp again 5°.

The first stretch on the tar road was quiet and I wondered if it was going to be one of those “slow” days again when we saw a dark shape walking up ahead. It turned out to be a hyena on a mission, stopping every now and then to sniff at something at the side of the road.
He lingered for a while before disappearing in the grass

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Sunrise in heaven

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Plan for the day was to go to Skukuza … maybe we would be lucky and see at least one lion. We had seen a hind leg and a head, now to find the rest! :wall:
Made the usual Afsaal stop and find the place almost deserted. The staff were busy setting up their display for the day and only three other cars in the parking area.

The birds were also putting up a display, a Yellow-Billed Hornbill (just for you Micetta)

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And a little feather ball soaking up the sun

Lilac-Breasted Roller
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A band of Dwarf Mongoose had come out to play. They are adorable and we sat for quite some time watching them. A bit far though, I would have liked to get better pics :roll:

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Warthogs are second on my ‘favourite animal’ list …. 8)

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A very tearful giraffe ... his image marred by a spot on the lens :redface:

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We had breakfast at Kwaggaspan. Just a few impala at the waterhole and an ellie drinking from the cement dam.
Our next stop was Mathekenyane get-out point. The view is absolutely stunning, stretching to the horizon where it blended into nothingness with a haze of blue sky.
SO ‘shot’ a cat on the rocks :roll: A bit chilly, so her spots are hidden under a nice warm jacket :lol:

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The “rock man” admired the giant granite dome that runs from west to east across the lowveld floor. Different layers and colours speak of ages past …

Next stop Skukuza :D

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 Post subject: Re: Kruger in July - Moments to remember ....
Unread postPosted: Wed Aug 12, 2009 10:44 pm 
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With her permission :cam:
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Darn Cat, Turn around!!!! :sniper:



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Turn!!! :evil:


OK!!! OK!!!



Image Pleased to meet y'all :D

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Last edited by Spotted Cat on Wed Aug 12, 2009 11:21 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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