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 Post subject: A Million Miles Away.....
Unread postPosted: Thu Dec 10, 2009 11:41 pm 
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Joined: Wed Nov 04, 2009 4:08 pm
Posts: 237
Location: Amsterdam, NL
Sitting here in cold, wet Holland, it is pouring with rain and pitch dark by 4.30 pm, it seems a lifetime and a million miles away since we entered The Park with that enormous, eternal, optimism - this time surely we would see all those elusive animals we had been searching for so long!

In fact it was only 3 weeks ago that we flew in to JNB and after a mostly sleepless night spent in a B&B at the end of one of the runways (must do my homework better next time!) we picked up a SsangYong and headed off towards Mpumulanga where we first spent a couple of nights in the Hulala Lakeside Lodge Reserve (heartily recommended!).

On the Sunday we headed down to Marloth Park where we were staying, just stopping off to pick up supplies at the P&P at the Riverside Mall in Nelspruit.
First time we had stayed in Marloth and we had a great house right on the Crocodile River overlooking the park. That night we fell asleep to the sound of lions roaring (ok, I did know that they were safely tucked up in an enclosure in the middle of MP but it still made the hairs on my neck stand up!)

Day 1

Up at 5 am, sorry, am not one of those Die Hards who queue before the gates open and it was 6 or so before we were ready to go. Sixth instinct made me put in a quick call to the gate at Croc Bridge only to be told, no it is closed and even worse than yesterday… damn, extra 40km or so before we can even enter the park. Oh well, we set off and made good time, entering just after half six.

Being a Monday morning out of season it was pretty quiet, no queues at the gate and we headed up the H3 towards Skukuza, windows open to catch the scents and sounds of the park. The sky was overcast and dull but at least it wasn’t raining.
Almost immediately we bumped (figuratively) into several elephants this one was a little too close for comfort but he seemed to be fairly relaxed and soon melted into the bush.

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We decided to go off on one of the smaller roads and headed down the S118 where it seemed to be The Place for giraffes to hang out, we saw several groups of various sizes browsing and they obligingly posed for the obligatory photos.

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We drove on seeing plenty of ellies and impala with their babies and decided to head for Afsaal for a pit stop. It was absolutely packed with Safari Companies and foreign tourists, there was no chance of getting anything resembling a decent cup of coffee so we used the facilities which were pretty awful (not even any loo paper) and headed off back up the H3 to Skukuza where we had a cuppa under the fruit bats, love them but they did freak a lot of other people out!

One of my main purposes during this trip was to join the Buff Pie Club. Joining this elite group could only be completed by travelling to Nkuhlu and partaking of one of the aforementioned pies. Our mission clear we set off down the H41 and spotted a large herd of ellie females with lots and lots of babies, they were so relaxed they just wandered between the cars on the road until they had all crossed safely.

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Mission accomplished!
I got the last Buff Pie nestled in the Keep Warm Thingy, unfortunately I think it had been kept warm for a while and whilst the filling was tasty the pastry bore an unfortunate resemblance to buff hide! Never mind, one of my Things To Do Before I Die crossed off the list :lol:

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Just out of Nkuhlu we came across this beautiful hyena family and enjoyed watching the youngsters playing whilst Mom had a good snooze. It was only when we drove off that we saw that directly below our car had been a ditch in which a great big Daddy hyena had been lying! This was one of my favourite sighting during the whole trip :dance:

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We decided to return to Malelane via the S21 and down the H3 again, the sky was clouding over again and it was getting pretty nippy. Unfortunately the animals didn’t seem to like it too much and we didn’t get to see much apart from the ubiquitous impalas and a few ellies. We came across this rhino trudging through the bush and a baby tortoise crossing the road as well as a few other bits and bobs. I loved the sighting of the below young bateleur with his mom but unfortunately it is a bit dark!

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That was pretty much it for Day 1, the only cat sighting was of 3 lionesses lazing around in the bush near Nkuhlu but I could only just about see them through the binocs so no chance of a photo unfortunately. Oh well, there is always tomorrow!

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2015 Trip is a Work in Progress!


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 Post subject: Re: A Million Miles Away.....
Unread postPosted: Wed Dec 16, 2009 10:43 pm 
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Joined: Wed Nov 04, 2009 4:08 pm
Posts: 237
Location: Amsterdam, NL
Day 2 (S25/S26/S114)

I can already hear the cries and gasps of horror but we decided to have a lie in and only set off for the gate at around 8.30 :redface:

Again CB was closed so it was another trek to Malelane. The weather was a bit iffy again and I actually decided to take a sweater with as it had been decidedly chilly the day before. As my slightly aged MIL was travelling with us we couldn’t travel too long between stops and decided to stick to the very Southern part of the park where we could make the necessary pit stops.

We took off along the S25, giraffe city again, I love the way they are so curious and stop and stare at you, almost as if you are the attraction and they the visitor!

Lots of impalas and lambs along the way, ethereally beautiful with their delicate little legs, it was a real treat to see them but it was really hard to get a decent photo of them!
We came across this rock/tree and alien formation, maybe someone can tell me what it is, reminds me of a sculpture in a museum.

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Maybe it was the weather but there wasn’t an awful lot to see even though we drove very slowly and I looked as hard as I could until it felt like my eyes were bulging :shock:
When we first spotted the below giraffes it was a case of “not more giraffe!” but we soon noticed something very strange, the entire group were taking it in turn to bend down and sniff and lick something on the ground, on closer inspection it became obvious that the object was a large bone.
At the same time we noticed the stench of a rotting carcass and after searching the area we saw the rest of the carcass a few meters away. I am no expert and please correct me if we were wrong but we thought that it looked like the remains of a giraffe and the large bone that they were sniffing and licking looked like it was a giraffe leg bone.
Everyone has heard of elephants grieving over the remains of family members but I have never heard of giraffes doing the same? It was a very sad sight indeed.

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Further along the road we bumped into a herd of zebra, it was nice to see this youngster still suckling from Mom.

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Crossing an empty river bed we came across this herd of waterbuck all lying in a circle, each one looking in a different direction, I suppose they were keeping an eye out for predators, looked like a clock dial!

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We decided to make a quick detour to the Hippo Pools and as we were driving my SO slammed on the brakes crying "rhino!" I looked in the wing mirror and about 5 meters behind us a rhino marched out of the bush and crossed the road at some speed, good job we werent 5 seconds later!

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As we got down to the river the MIL let out a cry of astonishment as she spotted the below bike parked nonchanantly up against the rocks. We scanned the area for the owner and soon spotted him sitting up high on some boulders eating his lunch! We waved and he pointed at something, I had a quick look with the binocs but couldnt see anything so I just pretended I knew what he was referring to and gave him the thumbs up :roll:

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We drove into CB and stopped for a spot of lunch, the new entrance looks great but they really have to get the bridge situation under control and again the loos were gross! As I came back from the loo a bakkie drove up to the gate wanting to exit the park. The lady driver seemed to be totally unaware of the bridge situation and proceeded to scream and shout about how she did not have the time to drive to Malelane and she was already late, bla, bla,bla. Hmm, well if there is no bridge there is no bridge I thought but no, to my amazement after about 10 minutes histrionics they actually let her through!! As I didn’t read about anyone drowning I guess she made it over ….

These little chaps kept us amused as we ate our toasted sandwiches.

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We started back to Malelane via the S26/S114 but it was exceedingly quiet, after a while we started wishing we could even spot impala it was so empty! The weather was very cool by this time and drizzling, sweater time!

This tree was full of vultures trying hard to ignore the weather.

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A grumpy looking dagga boy!

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Can somebody ID this bird please?

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Just outside of Malelane I spotted something big and grey moving through the bush and was delighted to see this rhino mommy and baby. they posed obligingly for a few minutes before crossing the road and melting into the surrounding vegetation.

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Well, no cats today but lots of other interesting things. Could spend a lot more time here.....Watch out for Day 3 coming soon!

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2015 Trip is a Work in Progress!


Last edited by AndreaB on Thu Dec 17, 2009 9:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: A Million Miles Away.....
Unread postPosted: Thu Dec 17, 2009 10:13 am 
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Joined: Wed Oct 08, 2008 3:56 pm
Posts: 9542
Location: CH - Lugano
Your "sculpture" is explained here!

I think the bird is a grey Lourie, actually I am sure it is one :lol:

The bicycle belongs to Daniel, a wellknown figure in CB :dance:

Extraordinary photos!! :clap: :clap:


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