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 Post subject: Kruger: Discovering the North
Unread postPosted: Tue Jul 28, 2009 8:40 pm 
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Location: Centurion
This trip was our first visit to the North. Stopping outside Pietersburg for fuel, I got funny looks from the filling station owner and his friend when I realised they were dressed in Winter clothes (jacket and all) while I was traveling in shorts. :lol: Its was great to escape the cold weather of "Gangsters Paradise".

We slept at a famous resort some 104 km from Pafuri gate - :yaya: Mgulube. The R525 road, from the N1 to Pafuri gate, is in good condition and the last 15km isn't bad at all at 60km/h.

I will share highlights of our 9 days in Kruger and will not do a day by day version of events.

2 days at Punda Maria - 10 and 11 July
We entered Pafuri gate on the 10th at 06h00 and headed for Punda Maria. Just before camp we passed Mgoddard i.e. Martie on the road. Camp sites, those close to the filling station, are well spaced but power points are quite far away. I was aware of this and had an extra cord that was not required this time. Taps are very rare in this area and the only one I saw was at the wash-up area some distance away. The power was not adequate as it tripped when we switched on the caravan's geyser. No problems with the ablutions though. The camp was full and some campers reckoned they never saw the camp this full. Even Su-Mari mentioned it in the "Punda Maria sightings" thread.

We met Su-Mari before leaving camp - what a lovely person with a passion for the bush :yaya: Su-Mari. I couldn't get radio signal reception to listen to the rugby matches at Punda :shock: - guess its too far into the bush.

I was looking for Pel's along the S64 and S63 and met Frank at Pafuri picnic spot. He saw them at the picnic site before, when they were chased away by Baboons, but they are very rarely seen. Needless to say that my beginners luck did not help and never got to see them. :(

The S63 with the Fever tree forest, Crooks Corner and Klopperfontein dam were amongst our favorite areas. Su-Mari suggested Klopperfontein for mud bathing Ellies and indeed we found one there. :dance: We also stopped at the Pafuri borderpost which was very quiet. Late afternoon on the 11th there was a speed trap on the H13-1 and luckily we did not see any speeding vehicles in the area during our stay.

Crooks corner towards ZIM
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Crooks corner towards MOZ
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We went on a very enjoyable sunset drive with Su-Mari. Saw Ellies drinking at the Thulamela waterhole.
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and time for a drink
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Some of the Boabab trees
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Tsessebe on the S61
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at Klopperfontein dam
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We saw lots of Ellies, Kudu's and Nyala's in this area as well as abundant birdlife in the shades of the huge trees at the Pafuri picnic site. A late afternoon drive on the S99 produced a sleeping Lioness at the Matukwala waterhole.

As we left camp on 12 July, we saw a pride of Lions on the H13-2 - could only get a decent shot of the male
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and then this youngster in the shade
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 Post subject: Re: Kruger: Discovering the North
Unread postPosted: Thu Jul 30, 2009 6:54 pm 
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Location: Centurion
2 days at Shingwedzi - 12 and 13 July
We spotted a Black-backed jackal on the H1-7 en route to Shingwedzi and I had to reverse somewhat. I can clearly see next to the caravan but not behind it so reversing is quite interesting. As the Jackal disappeared my youngest told me to reverse even further as she was sure she saw an African Wild Cat. Well there were no cars on the road, reversing the rig was no problem and indeed an AWC in front of some small palms!! :dance: Kitty was around for about a minute (no photo's though :wall: ), looking in the direction of where the Jackal was, before it also disappeared - lucky AWC not to fall prey to the Jackal this time.

Check in at Shingwedzi was smooth but the folks in front of me were looking for 2 nights accommodation and was told that the camp is fully booked. We spoke to some folks at Crooks corner at around 12 the previous afternoon. They entered as day visitors and were on their way to Satara also looking for a campsite for a day or two without reservation in peak time! :shock: Its about a 5 hours drive so I cannot see how it would have been possible for them to exit the park before gate closing time. I am sure they purposefully get to camp late leaving the admin staff no alternative but to offer them a site for the night. :huh:

It was also our first visit to this camp and we loved it. Stands are even, power points are close by, there is enough taps and the ablution block is superb. There is even a separate area for emptying the porta potti - even though its just blue water. :wink: The camp's back entrance is a super alternative to get to the Kanniedood dam and the day visitor's area is spotless! :clap:

A regular visitor to our site was a very tame Tree squirrel walking around amongst us. It nibbled on some leaves and bark and even buried some food. My daughter was overwhelmed by seeing how it dug a hole and then neatly covered it with its front paws.

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The Red Rocks road was very rocky with sharp stones and we found lots of Ellies at a lookout point on the dirt road that heads back to the H1-6. Most of them were standing on the rocks so I guess there must have been some water between the rocks. :hmz: One was very close to us down below in the riverbed with a nervous looking Saddle-billed stork right next to him on a smallish grassy island. On returning to camp, while at the garage, I realised that the right front tyre was almost flat! The puncture was fixed in no time at the workshop – this was no surprise to the guys as they believe the Red Rocks road is known for causing punctures. :shock:

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We did a sunset drive with Matthew and noticed the trucks are brand new. With us on the truck were some folks that were on their 3rd drive in a row – seriously looking for Leopard. A young couple was serious birders and even had their bird book with them. Amongst the animals we saw were Ellies, a big Buffalo herd settling next to the road for the night, Saddle-billed stork, Hyaena’s, Giant Eagle Owl and Sharpe's grysbok.

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I had a difficult time in cleaning the car windows (left the chamois at home :wall: ) and could not find one at Punda Maria or Shingwedzi. Luckily found one at Mopani but at R60 was way overpriced and was worn out by the end of the trip!

We took the S50, from the H1-6 and saw Ellies at all the Nshawu waterholes – lots and lots of Ellies. Then we turned left into the S143 and headed for the Tihongonyeni waterhole hoping to see the elusive Roan and Eland. It was very dry around the waterhole with a slight wind blowing easing off the heat. We sat there for an hour and saw Ellies drinking, Tsessebe, lots of Zebra, lots of Ngu and a Black-backed jackal - no other cars on this road while we were there and no Roan or Eland. :(

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On the way back to Shingwedzi we saw a small group of 6 Sable mostly in the shade. :clap: :dance: :lol: What a stunning sighting as our previous Sable sighting was 2 years ago. They were hesitant to move out into the open as we shared the sighting with only two other cars.

We enjoyed the North and already booked for June 2010. It’s tiring and somewhat time wasting to move camp every 2 days so we settled for 4 days at Shingwedzi. From here one can easily travel North to Pafuri and South to Mopani. :thumbs_up:


Last edited by Johan N on Sun Aug 02, 2009 6:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Kruger: Discovering the North
Unread postPosted: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:33 pm 
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Location: Centurion
Cats

On our previous trip we did not see any Lions but this time around we found lots and lots of Lions. Next time I am going to search just for Lions in the hope to see lots and lots of Leopards. :lol:

2 Lion sightings worth mentioning:
- Between Mopani and Shingwedzi we found a Lioness and her 3 cubs :dance: of around 4 weeks old. She walked for 2 kilometers parallel to the road before crossing it. There were only 3 cars at the sighting.

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- We bought Buffs pies from wacktazz and on the way back to Lower Sabie a Lioness came out of the bush. I reversed and stopped as they started appearing - 9 of them with the big male dead last as usual.

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We were fortunate to see two Cheetah's :D just before Croc Bridge but they were about 100m from the road. Apparently there were more earlier but the others left before we got there. They were both laying down but luckily this one got up briefly for this shot.

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Leopards were very shy and we only saw three. One on a sunset drive at Shingwedzi (bum shot) and another crossed the road early morning some 100 meters in front of us. When we got there she was almost in the thicket, she then stopped, turned around, looked at us :wink: and I did not have the camera ready. :wall: :rtm: At least we enjoyed that special moment when she turned around. :dance:

The third Leopard was on the S1 and we did not get a clear view of him as there were many cars around. It wasn't long before traffic officer Botha and his colleague appeared on scene and restored traffic order. :clap: This is the best shot of him:

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A few other pics:

the leguan caused a minor pile-up on the Lower Sabie bridge:
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Ellies digging for water:
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 Post subject: Re: Kruger: Discovering the North
Unread postPosted: Mon Aug 17, 2009 8:29 pm 
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Joined: Fri Oct 31, 2008 10:25 pm
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Location: Centurion
Lower Sabie Sunset drives

While we were setting up camp at Lower Sabie, a fellow camper came to greet us and I asked him about special sightings they might have had. He told me about 2 male Lions that caught a collared Buffalo on the S128 the day before. After setting up camp we headed straight for the S128 fully aware that there may be many cars at the sighting.

Just before we got to the mini traffic jam, not too far from the road, a big male Lion was lying down with no-one looking at him. :shock: Either the peeps did not see him (which was highly unlikely) or everybody just wanted to see his feeding buddy. It was impossible to see the feeding male as mr Campervan had prime spot and it was evident that they were not going to leave in a hurry. The rest of the folks were watching through bushes while others were patiently waiting for a turn at the sighting. We left as I was sure that the evening’s sunset drive would include a stop at this sighting.

The sunset drive headed South down the power lines and soon we stopped at a huge herd of Buffalo. We spend some 15 minutes there before heading off onto the H4-2 and then straight to the Lion kill on the S128.

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Just before the kill, I spotted eyes and called the guide to stop. It turned out to be African wild cat, not one but a pair :dance: :dance: which was about 50m from the road and I managed one shot when the guide started the truck! :big_eyes: I was stunned and wanted the guide to go back but SO told me to let it be. :wall:

We go on Sunset drives to see nocturnal animals so I cannot understand why the guide would spend 15 minutes at a Buff sighting, with lots of info being shared and only 1 minute at an AWC sighting with no info sharing. :rtm: Buffs you see daily but how many AWC have you seen during the day? I don't have a problem if no info is being shared but surely he could have spend 5 minutes at this sighting?

Sunset drives at Lower Sabie are fabulous but we never had the opportunity to be on one with Martie. I had a quick chat to her before a drive and it seems as if she will be concentrating more on morning walks from now on.

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The collar is clearly visible in the foreground
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The composition of this pride was awkward as it consisted of 2 males and 1 female only. We also met them two days later on the S29 just off the H10 but this time the female was nowhere to be seen.

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That evening we also went down the power lines and somewhere between Lower Sabie and Croc Bridge I spotted what turned out to be a Serval. :wink: :dance: This stop was also brief but then the Serval was quite a distance from the vehicle. Just before camp my daughter spotted something which the guide identified as a White-tailed mongoose – another first for us. :D It was huge and according to my mammal guide they are around 1m in length.

Highlights of the sunset drive included Rhino, Fish Eagle, Scrub hare, Porcupine (one of SO's favorites) :whistle: and a Nightjar. :dance:

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Birds

We drove a lot up North to discover as much as possible of the area and therefore most of the birds we saw were down South.

Brown-hooded Kingfishers
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Bateleurs
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Lilac-breasted Roller
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Secretary bird
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Kori Bustard
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Blacksmith Lapwing
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Wahlberg's Eagle - very happy to get one out in the open
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The following four are our latest lifers:

Blue Waxbill
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White-fronted Bee-eater
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Woolly necked Stork - seen by many mites lately
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African Barred Owlet pair - although we have seen them on previous sunset drives they were not clearly visible.
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- FIN -


Last edited by Johan N on Sat Aug 22, 2009 9:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Kruger: Discovering the North
Unread postPosted: Tue Aug 18, 2009 1:14 pm 
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Kath U.K wrote:
But :huh:the photo after the porcupine, I can not even guess what that is...is it possible you could shed some light? :thumbs_up:


Nightjar Kath, I think it is the fiery-necked.

Sheesh Joh, you had the Lord Mayor's show!!

Lions on a kill, AWC (I would have kicked up a stink as well) and serval :dance:

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