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 Post subject: An early December in Satara
Unread postPosted: Fri Dec 04, 2009 3:48 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Mon Aug 27, 2007 3:36 pm
Posts: 343
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I love the name Satara. I think it is easily one of my favourite names of a camp. It just sounds so exotic.

However I've only stayed there once, for one night, and I was burning to go back and explore the area. Everybody is always raving about how cats and kills abound and I wanted to experience this magical place myself.

This is the tale of our five days spent there between 28 November and 2 December.

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Day 1 – The journey is half the fun

It’s an early start. We leave home just after 5 o’clock in the morning, because although we will be staying at Satara and the obvious road to use would involve the Orpen-gate, we’ve decided that it would probably be safer and more pleasant to enter lower down and drive through the park for a bit.

We enter the park at the Phabeni gate, which is the first time we’ve entered the park there since the gate was built. We’ve always used other gates. It's very nice.

I am hopeful about finding wild dogs on the S1, but I’ve last seen them when I was a little girl and never since. Would this be the trip to change that? :hmz:

The first game we see when we enter the park is a warthog, and soon after a lone buffalo.

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There are also some zebra, looking fat as usual. I’ve read somewhere that zebras actually always look like this because of parasites that live under their skin and makes them look plumb, even though they might be really thin, which is interesting.

After a while a few cars are stopped next to the road and we look around in anticipation. Two rhinos are lying sleeping in a pool. Although we don’t see a lot of the rhinos it is an interesting sighting. It is hot outside, and if I could go and lie in a pool of cool muddy water, I probably would too…

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The rhinos don’t move or even lift their heads and we decide to go on. Down the road we find this warthog who rolls around in the mud with obvious enjoyment.

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We see a few elephants in the distance as well as blue wildebeest and waterbuck.

These are whitefaced ducks I think?

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We also find a couple of giraffes eating some tree leaves.

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On the banks of the Sabieriver there are some hippos grazing on the banks, even though it is very hot outside.

We stop at Skukuza for a bathroom break and soon make our way to Tshokwane, where the boerewors, pap and sheba goes down a treat. :clap:

On our way north we find five ground hornbills making deep rumbly noises in their throats.

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We book in at Satara where our perimeter hut is neat, but quite small. I struggle a bit to fit in everything, but once we’ve stashed all our stuff, we head towards the shop for some provisions.

I am a bit disappointed that there is no mince in the shop, only steak and wildebeest wors. I buy a piece of steak for supper, as well as some makings for sandwiches and so on.

Since we have about 40 minutes left before the gates close we take a quick drive down the S100 to see if we see anything interesting.

We find some kudu.

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This giraffe and sunset seems a fitting close to our gamewatching day.

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Back at camp I put together a pasta dish with strips of steak, mushrooms and onions – which SO declares a victory. As I sip some Amarula on the stoep, looking out into the darkness I can’t believe that I’m finally in the KNP. It feels like a dream.
It’s been a long day and I retire early – the bed is lovely and soft, it makes you sink into it like a cloud. As I drift away I hear the hyenas calling outside. Perfection. :)


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 Post subject: Re: An early December in Satara
Unread postPosted: Sun Dec 06, 2009 10:11 am 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Mon Aug 27, 2007 3:36 pm
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Location: North West
Thanks Boorgatspook - Kruger sunsets are always special to me! :)

Day 2 – A robbery and lightning bolts everywhere

You know the feeling when you’re sleeping very soundly and suddenly wakes up to find yourself in the darkness with no idea where you are? That’s what happens to me this morning just after 3 when the alarm clock goes off.

Time to get up.

I stumble to put the kettle on the two plate stove – rightly thinking that it will take ages to get to boil. A shower wakes me up and after some rusks and a hot cup of coffee I am looking forward to a lovely day in the KNP.

We are at the gate before it opens, but we are only eighth in line. These people take this very seriously.

The gate is opened and we’re off. Today we’re exploring the Orpen road, where somebody saw wild dog yesterday if the sightings board is to be believed.

As it becomes lighter we see plains game such as impala, blue wildebeest and zebras with a few giraffes thrown in. A Kori bustard walks around looking important.

Then, on the right, in the lovely green grass, two cheetahs are lying sleeping.

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So close to them on the other side of the road that this is probably no coincidence, a jackal is rooting around in the ground.

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The cheetahs don’t look as if they are planning to move soon and we drive onward. A big raptor is sitting in the road with something looking like a snake in its claws. Unfortunately as we approach it flies away and I cannot get a photograph or identification.

Close to the gate I keep my eyes peeled for wild dog, but no luck. We turn around and drive back. The cheetahs are still there, still lying around lazily. We take the S36 to the Muzandzeni picnic spot for breakfast and another coffee.

I need it as by this time I am feeling very drowsy. We have some muesli and joghurt, and use the restrooms, that are a bit gross unfortunately.

We drive back on the Sweni road where we see a lot of steenbuck and duikers. Some buffalo are grazing near the road and this raptor is on the lookout for breakfast.

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As we drive up to one of the numerous pools beside the road (and sometimes in the road) two Egyptian geese loudly announce their arrival as they land beside us.

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Back at camp I reconnect with my lovely bed and when I wake up again, it is past lunchtime. Poor SO is very hungry and suggests that we go get something at the cafeteria.

I eat fish and chips (nice, although the fish was a bit oily) and SO enjoys his chicken salad.

This water monitor walks past the waterhole on the camp side of the fence. A warthog goes to drink at the water and I think about everybody watching him on the webcams at this very moment and feel blessed.

Here is your fellow would be waterholewatcher:

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When we get to the bungalow I see that I made a huge miscalculation. You see, I saw the monkeys hanging around yesterday afternoon and realized that any food left outside will be an obvious target.

I also noticed the cupboards have pieces of wire in the locks to keep the monkeys out. What I did not realize is that the thieving band of robbers know very well how to open a fridge door.

When we arrive two of the culprits are sitting on the steps, trying to open two joghurt containers. They run away fast when they see us, but make sure that they take their loot with them. Here is the thief, trying to get it open. In the end it bit through the side of the container.

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Looks like we’ll have to barricade the fridge as well whenever we go out. Sigh.
Our afternoon drive is a proper exploration of the H6 and S100. We find two elephants, waterbuck and a cute troop of baboons.

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A big water leguaan is slithering about at the low water bridge over the Nwanetsi river.

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There are a massive lot of hippos there and it stinks to high heaven. The water looks dark and smelly. We wonder why? Maybe there are too many of them in the confined space of the pool?

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We also see this water thick-knee. This is one of my favourite photos.

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Just before camp we spend a bit of time watching frisky zebras and then it’s gate closing time. Tonight we dine in the restaurant – at R165 per head I hope the food is lovely.

Unfortunately it is only okay, nothing spectacular and we leave feeling a bit unsatisfied with the whole thing. A lot of the food lacked taste, and it’s a pity.
Outside, nature is putting up a wild display of thunder and lighting, but no rain is falling. I spend a lot of time sitting on our stoepie before I am able to capture this. I go to sleep feeling very chuffed!

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 Post subject: Re: An early December in Satara
Unread postPosted: Mon Dec 07, 2009 12:55 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Mon Aug 27, 2007 3:36 pm
Posts: 343
Location: North West
Day 3 – Rumours of a kill

This morning we are second in line at the gate, and once it opens we head north towards Olifants on the tar road.
A lonely hyena entertains us for a while.

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The view from the bridge across the Olifants river is breathtaking. This is my favourite place in the whole world and I could spend days here. A brown eagle is hunting from the bridge, but flies off when anybody approaches.

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The baby impala are the cutest things ever and we spend time watching this one drinking from his mother. This is why I love being in the park in summer.

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At Olifants the cafeteria is just opening and I opt for a breakfast with a sausage, eggs, bacon, toast and mushrooms. Unfortunately, once it arrives the mushrooms are so salty that I cannot eat it.
The view is lovely though.

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We drive south again and take the Timbavati loop. Not much is going on, except for the normal impalas and of course the scenery is beautiful.

At the Timbavati picnic spot we try to buy colddrinks from the attendant, but he is very unhappy to sell them to us because his fridge is broken and they are warm. Being very thirsty, we don’t have much choice in the matter and settle down to drink a warm ginger beer. A bushbuck mom is standing in the shade, feeding her baby.

At the Timbavati waterhole a troop of baboons are playing in the water, exactly like a bunch of kids on holiday. It is amazing.

Video clip
The clip is uploaded to Youtube and is only 38 seconds long.

Further down the road we spot a magnificent kudu bull having lunch.

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Just before we get to the H7, a man stops and asks us what we’ve seen. He’s heard about a giraffe kill somewhere next to one of the roads to Timbavati. It’s obviously not on the S39 and he heads back to try one of the others.
At Nsemane we watch the hippos grazing outside again.

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We head back to camp for a bit of a break and some lunch – cheese, onion and tomato snackwiches. After lunch I sit on the stoepie and watch the monkeys who have arrived with beady eyes looking for their next victim. I sit amazed as they raid my neighbours who had just returned from the shop and unwittingly left their brown paper bags on the stoep when they went inside. Stuff goes flying everywhere and when they rush out the ensuing commotion is enough to wake the dead.

A lizard with a blue head visits me. I can’t find it in my reptile book – does anybody know what type of lizard it is?
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For our afternoon drive we take the other two roads to Timbavati to look for the kill, which we find on the S127, close to the H1-4 turnoff. It is a buffalo and not a giraffe.
All that is visible however, despite a lot of searching, are vultures.

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A long blackish, greenish snake crosses the road ahead of us. We watch it sail into the grass and I debate with myself whether I should open the window to take a photo, but fear wins out in the end. I try to identify it later, but it is difficult. My best guess is that it was in fact a black mamba.

We also find a mom and baby rhino on the S127, as well as a herd of elephants.

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Back on the H1-4 we find a black backed jackal, who feels the need to scratch himself.

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As we drive back to camp, the sun sets in the distance. It was another beautiful day in paradise.

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 Post subject: Re: An early December in Satara
Unread postPosted: Mon Dec 07, 2009 1:13 pm 
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Virtual Ranger
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Location: somewhere in Bavaria
Mel your TR is really interesting and your pics are great! :thumbs_up:

The lizzward is a tree agama - the colours are beautiful - especially when the sun is shining on them!

Thanks for sharing your experiences with us and I am looking forward to your next postings! :popcorn:

_________________
To be happy is better than to be a king. People who are happy own a real unique treasure:
A laughing heart


PLEASE NO HOTELS in KNP and PLEASE don´t change KNP into a Funpark!

KNP - Eyes and tracks behind the bush


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 Post subject: Re: An early December in Satara
Unread postPosted: Tue Dec 08, 2009 9:40 pm 
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Day 4 – Porcupines in the rain

When I open my eyes in the morning I know that we probably won’t see much game today. It’s raining and it’s raining properly.

We get up and get ready in the hopes that the rain will let up soon, and as soon as it seems that it is coming down less hard, we head out towards the buffalo kill we found last night. It soon becomes clear however that we were too optimistic. It’s still raining quite hard and we see nothing.

The killsite is deserted except for a few miserable vultures in the tree. We head back and as we drive along the flooded plains I see something funny moving.

I can’t believe my eyes when I realize that I am seeing two porcupines, a very rare sight indeed. They are running along quite fast and before I can take a photograph they duck into a hole at the side of the road. I am sorry to admit that I then said a very bad word. I still feel disappointed that I couldn’t get a photo of these two special creatures. :(

We drive on and look out at the amount of water in the veld. It is amazing to see the KNP this wet.

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A young and very wet hyena is standing by the roadside, obviously discomfited because his home, a culvert, is gushing with water. He rushes to a tree sapling close to the road and smells it intently and then proceeds to roll over the sapling with surprising gusto. He gets up, smells it again and then within five seconds chomps the sapling to the ground with his teeth. Wow. Something about it surely offended his sense of smell!
Rolling:

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We return to camp where I sit and look out over the rain drenched landscape. Later when the rain slows to a steady drip we try the S100 but apart from impala, blue wildebeest and a wet fish eagle we don’t see much.

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We head to the cafeteria at Satara for lunch, a very nice chicken burger. When we ate there two days ago, they ran out of ketchup and I am amazed to discover that this has not been rectified. Some of our fellow-lunchers are grumbling a bit. The waiters just shrug their shoulders. :|

For our afternoon drive we head towards the H7 again. We see some buffalo, steenbuck, elephants, the cutest little dwarf mongooses, nyalas and many, many more impala.

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The highlight of the drive for me is when we stop to watch two steenbuck grazing near a log. As we are watching them they suddenly and violently start to jump around, very unhappy about something at their feet! And then we see the cause of concern. A small, angry Swainson’s spurfowl is chasing them about!

And even though it is a hundred times smaller than them, it is obviously seriously discomfiting them and getting the better of the confrontation. I am not sure why, perhaps it had a nest there? :lol:

We head back towards camp, not having had a lot of luck with sightings on this, our last full day in the park.

The rain truly had a negative effect on our chances of experiencing the normal Satara magic, but it surely had a magic all of its own. Even though I can’t believe that we didn’t see lion or leopard at this camp which is so famed for its cat sightings,
I really enjoyed the trip.

A hyena walks by the fence as I sip some Amarula again while I ponder this. :)

I pack up our stuff and make supper – steak again for lack of a variety of meat in the shop. It is our last night and it is kind of sad, even though I am missing my two cats at home and from all reports, they are missing us too.

I listen to the night sounds before going to bed. Tomorrow, we are leaving paradise.


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 Post subject: Re: An early December in Satara
Unread postPosted: Wed Dec 09, 2009 7:26 pm 
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Day 5 – Heading home
We are up early, and even though we have to finish packing, we still are ready to leave camp when the gates open. It is a beautiful day, the rain has cleared up.
On our way south towards Tshokwane we see something in the road. I am hoping for it to be lions. Please, please let it be lions!!!


:pray:

:pray:

:pray:

:pray:

But it is instead two cheetahs lying in the road, having a snooze.
After a while they move off into the long grass on the side of the road. What regal cats.

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At Skukuza we head towards the cafeteria for some breakfast. Under the thatch roof are some fruitbats. Now, I’ve never been a “bat person”, batty perhaps. Sometimes.
But these creatures look so lovely, and clean, and cuddly and I find myself watching them with fascination as I eat.

This time the mushrooms have no taste. Sigh again.

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We head towards Phabeni gate again and we find this rhino walking along the road towards a spot where he’s obviously used to marking his territory. I took a video clip of the process, which was quite interesting.

Clip

It’s 33 seconds long. I didn’t expect him to use his horn in this way, frankly. Almost like scraping an omelete off the pan, isn’t it? :lol:

After this he defecated and also spread the fresh stuff around. Then he sauntered off into the veld, obviously on his way to the next point where he wants to declare to all comers who is the boss around here.

All too soon we were at the gate, where it again took me ages to become used to driving fast and having loads of cars around.

We enjoyed our trip tremendously and even though this was the first time in years that we didn’t see the big five, or wild dogs, the park has magic. Like a little bird chasing around two big antelopes, seeing porcupines running in the rain or a rhino marking his territory.

It is an escape from our busy and frustrating everyday lives.

A smouldering camp fire, the beauty of a European roller against the sky, the clean earthy smell of the veld after the rain, the majesty of a sleeping cheetah or the sound of a wailing jackal allows us to leave our baggage behind and get perspective on our place in the universe.

The end


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 Post subject: Re: An early December in Satara
Unread postPosted: Thu Dec 10, 2009 9:53 am 
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Location: Body in Edenvale, mind and soul in the wild!
Mel123 ,Beautiful TR, makes you feel that you are there, the pic's are amazing, the stories magical,you have a gift...

Looking forward to reading whatever you write next... :D :P

The ending is so true, it feels as though you are leaving you heart in Kruger.....

Lets hope for all our sakes that in the future our beloved paradise-Kruger- will still be the way it is now. :pray:

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Dec 2012 - Hluhlwe Umfolozi then Swaziland then KNP


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