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 Post subject: Papadoc and Mamadoc back in SA
Unread postPosted: Wed Jan 20, 2010 12:13 am 
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Dear all,

We, two European's in their fifties, went to SA for the first time three years ago. We went there to celebrate our 30st wedding anniversary, and we said to each other when boarding the plane: this will be a once-in-a-liftime experience, let's enjoy every minute of it!.

What a mistake :redface: : we underestimated the addictive nature of South Africa in general and its national parks in particular. As a consequence, three-and-a-half weeks later, we took off for Europe, loaded with impressions and memories, photo's and a promise to each that we would return once, God willing.

Time passed by and the company I (Papadoc) work for decided to reorganise. Luckily I kept my job, but we had no possibility to take our regular holyday (June/July) :sniper: . As the first and best option was to take leave in September/October it took not too much time to decide to plan a remake of our first trip.

Rather short before our first visit to SA I discovered the forums of Sanparks, and I enjoied quite a lot the travel hints and reports, but it was too short before leaving to take advantage (as a matter of fact I only discovered the TR's in the preparation of our second trip.

Obviously in planning the second trip we took full advantage of all tips hints and examples given on the site, and as a consequence I felt I should try to make a TR myself when we returned home as a tribute to all those forumites I enjoied reading their experiences. But ..... taking home widely over 2.500 photo's it takes some time to sort these out, throw away a lot, process quite a lot with the popular digital photo handlers (I won't give names, this is not an advert for software :naughty: , how powerfull it may be).

Well that job is done, Mamadoc has started to prepare her own Trip Report in most likely two huge photobooks :big_eyes: , and I will start along with her with this TR.

So, off we go!

Some words on the preparation: we did part of the planning ourselves, part was done be a travelagency here in Europe, which is run be a couple, which lived for long in SA, but returned for reasons of their own. Stuffed with information of the forum I asked them for some specific destinations, some of which even they did not know. Thanks for the info forumites!

We planned the trip along this route: start (again) in Jo'burg, then to KNP, Golden Gate National Park (the magnificent Mountain Retreat), then to Mokala NP (a recently openend NP south of Calgary) and then to Augrabies NP and Kgalagadi NP. From there a short detour through Namibia (Fishriver Canyon), and then all the way down (along the West Coast) to Capetown.

Well, end of September we boarded our plane in rather mild and dry weather and landed after a long flight in a moderate and even slightly wet Jo'burg (quite different compared to our previous trip when it rained cats and dogs and it stormed heavily when we set off for a warm/hot and sunny SA).

After some days in Pretoria (where we met some friends and familiarised ourselves with the SA environment and our rented car) we set off for the Kruger area. We took the N 4, made the northern detour near Waterval Boven, and then drove over regional roads in the direction of Hoedspruit. We were impressed by the endless forestries, and the beautifull sights we had. As we took 3 years ago the full Panaroma Route we now skipped that one and went directly to a private lodge in the Kruger area for two days. I won't elaborate on names, but we were back in the KNP game area, and we enjoied every minute of it.

During a night drive in this KNP area we came across a male lion strolling his way, not the least impressed by the humans in there trucks:

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During a morning drive we encountered this cute rhino with his/her family:

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Lastly we visited a centre where endangered species were hosted and prepared for returning to unprotected regions. There we saw these guys, the Alpha couple, which we want to show you:

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Well, off for the real thing: two days in KNP. The first day we entered at Phalaborwa gate, and set off for Letaba for lunch. Enroute we came across some Groundhornbills:

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Obviously these two guys knew that we were heading for the camp they had given their name to, for our first night in KNP, and showed us some "teenager wrestling".

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Along the road we saw this hippo, it was along shot, so no magnificent photo, but still worth looking at (I feel).

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After having installed in our cottage in Olifants we boarded our (only) night drive (in KNP). Though I must say we were not fully impressed by the ranger (seemed to be afraid of the -admitted- rather big truck we had at our disposal), still we were heading for some impressing sightings. When we left the camp we took a long off road track to a place where lions took down a giraffe. We took some photo's in full dark so not of excellent quality, but we want to share one with you, just because of the thrilling experience we had:

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(left, the carcass of the giraffe, in the centre of the photo one of the lions)

Alongside the road we saw some hyena, but because we encoutered the same group the other day on our morning drive I save a beautifull photo for that day.

When returning to the camp the ranger showed us this beautifull creature:

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A next time we will continue with some thrilling and cute sightings we had the seond day in KNP.

Papadoc (message approved by Mamadoc)


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 Post subject: Re: Papadoc and Mamadoc back in SA
Unread postPosted: Sun Jan 24, 2010 11:24 pm 
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Ok Guys,

let's go on with the report of our trip (when we first visited SA we thought it would a once-in-a lifetime experience, this was our second trip, and we are thinking of a third one ....)

We stayed our first night in KNP in Olifants. The first evening we made a sunset drive with beautifull sightings, and it tasted like more, so when it appeared possible to go on a morning drive we did. To be true, to a certain extent it was a bit disappointing as the giraffe kill we saw last night was still hot news, so this ranger took us the same direction, though along another route (the main road H 1-4). We saw the same kill in daylight on a far bigger distance (the ranger would avoid to attract other trafiic on road were a Sanparks vehicle is allowed, but others are not, but we all can see on the gallery of shame what foolish people occasionannaly do.... :twisted: ).
We came across another spot which I want to share with you: a hyena mother with her pups.

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After returning from the drive it was time to leave for our second overnight stay in KNP at Pretoriuskop. We took the S90 / S42 / S37. Unfortunately at first we saw not too much spectacular (or it must be the anti poaching squad on bicycle with the rifles on the frame). By the end of the road however we came across two impressive raptor birds:

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we later learned from the raptor part of the birdersforum that this is Tawny Eagle.
Only 10 minutes later we saw this African Harrier Hawk which granted us a showdown of his capabilities:

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The next day we were to leave KNP via Malelane Gate. The route took us via Berg en Dal and Voortrekker Road.

We saw near Berg en Dal an waterhole where a hippo was turning from right to left and back in order to remain wet. In the shade (it was 40 degrees) there was a rhino, and out of the bushes came two big elephants slowy near. Pity for them that Mr Rhino was not prepared to share his shade with them!

Along the road we saw very common game, but at least I liked the photo, so I share them with you all:

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Our trip took us now to the Mountain Retreat lodges of Golden Gate NP. We were here three years ago and we explicitly asked our travel agent to book this remote place again. We were again (and even more) impressed by the views (i.a. because the wheather was better then last time).

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We now skip a part of the trip and start again south of Kimberley, where some three years ago Sanparks proclamed her latest national park Mokala NP. Mokala is currently ab 16.000 hectares big and at short distance there is another rather small park Lilyvale. Both are to be connected once and shall grow to a park of ab 100.000 hectares.

Not blaming any of the other places where we were in SA this time but Mokala has beaten them all. It think it is the mix of a slightly more up market level of quality (the bungalows are big and very comfortable) the nice surroundings and the V E R Y friendly and helpfull staff. They told us that the team felt itself one big familiy responsible for the park, the animals and the guests, and they showed us to be! A special word of thank here to Susan and ranger Nanti. I won't disclose their special secret :whistle: but the last evening before we left was a special surprise! :thumbs_up:

When we arrived there was a couple of buffalo at the waterhole right in front of our bungalow and under a tree nearby tree two eland antilope.

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Because we had a long trip we did not do too much, just relaxed and enjoyed the excellent food in the restaurant.

Next morning we went on a morning drive with ranger Nanti, a young, enthousiast but still very professional women who showed us quite some nice game. For us the top was :dance: :

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A ROAN ANTILOPE !!

Other game (apart from loads of impala and other small game) we saw was a hartebeest with calf:

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this springbok that crossed our way:

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and this raptor, which the birders told us it was a black cheasted snake eagle

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Over the day we took our own car for a drive over the adventurous loops (though they were at that time - mid October - well to do with a regular sedan car).

We saw e.g. Kudu and Tsessbe, in the distance some Giraffe, and some beatifull birds.

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(the latter we think just finished his / her mud bath! :big_eyes: )

Because we liked the morning drive very much we booked for the sunset drive too. We saw i.a. a huge sociable weaver nest with its inhabitants, being sociable weavers ( logical ! :lol: ) and a pygmy falcon.

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Before going back to Mosu lodge we passed this 300 yr old Camel Thorn Tree, the place where the staff regularly presents the guests a bush dinner (sadly :( , the reception did not tell us, else we would for sure have booked such!!)

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Next morning we left this beautifull place. This was one of the occasions that, if we had no fully pre booked trip, we would have tried to extend our stay here, but God willing, wel will be back once!

A next installment with Augrabies and KTP to follow shortly!

Papadoc and Mamadoc.


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 Post subject: Re: Papadoc and Mamadoc back in SA
Unread postPosted: Sun Feb 07, 2010 4:03 pm 
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Dear all,

thanks for the kind comments and yes, Mokala is really a beautyfull place with beautyfull people :D .

After we loaded our car with the luggage carried to the parking on one of the carriages Mokala provides because the bungalows are in a walking only area, we set off for Upington and Augrabies. While driving we noticed along this road there were more sociable weavers nests than cars! :roll:

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An impressive track through this semi desert area with here and there some settlements where obviously men found means to survive.

After a long trip we reached Augrabies, where our bungalow (at the perimeter of the park and looking in the direction of the fall and gorge) was waiting for us. Reception was kind and efficient, the restaurant and the food ok.
Before dinner we briefly visited the fall and the gorge which was really magnificent to see.

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However compared to a photo, I saw on the internet the other day, this was only a calm creek compared to the violence of water currently tumbling down. :big_eyes:

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We were fond of the cute "dassies" which we saw all over the place, but liked not at all :evil: the millions of little flies, prey for the many lizards.

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We booked and sunsetdrive and I must say that this was more "Kurger like" than "Mokala like". Though the field guide obviously tried his best all by all it gave more the impression of an efficient run routine than some with passion for his job and the surrounding he tries to show his guests. During the trip we saw not too much of interest, only some giraffe in the far distance as silhouettes against the horizon and some spring hare and a single klipspringer.

Next morning we set off early to walk the very well doable (though with some "heavy" spots for us 50+ .... :whistle: ) Dassietrail, nice walk through this impressive scenery.

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The next day we set off again for the next stop. Obviously we had to pass Upington and to do some shopping for the upcoming days (i.a. the famous Skaapland Slaghuis) which we expected to be the next summit in this trip Kgalagadi NP, and we were not disappointed!

We were again impressed by the vast scenery with only occasionally occupied spots, and rare traffic on the road. What struck us (already on earlier occasions, but in particular in this track) was the good quality of the roads: up to Twee Rivieren the road was in good upto perfect condition :thumbs_up: .

In Twee rivieren we first reported at the reception of the park and to the customs and immigration, because it was the plan to leave for Namibia from Mata Mata. In our previous trip we passed Swaziland so went through immigration too, but again: what a bureaucracy!! :x

When we asked for possibilites of drives, it appeared that the only possibility would be Twee Rivieren, but there were not enough interested parties yet. Happily we met some country fellowmen who joined us, so we again enjoied a trip through the empty park roads. (Again we were amazed that Sanparks uses big trucks capable of carrying > 20 people for small parties of only 4 or 6, which would have fitted perfectly in a HiLux or Landy 4*4, which is far more fun in my view then the Isuzu's often used for bigger numbers.)

We were lucky during this trip. We did not see our cheeta of leopard we were looking for (but never saw in our two trips yet :( ) but we saw other things bigger and smaller:

First of all the obvious antelope (gemsbok) which is so typical for these region:

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All of a sudden (it was already dark) the guide stopped and in a minute he showed us this gecko:

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And somewhat later we saw this beautyfull chanting goshawk:

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Next morning we planned our first track it this distant area fully on our own. Temperatures rapidly went up to 40 degrees, it was really stunning hot. We passed along Auchterlauny
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(unbelievable that someone can have so much courage to start a farm here! and that a whole familiy lived here) and through the vast dunes between Nossob and Auob.

Again we saw numbers of nice animals:

first of all this cute mother with her drinking pup

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then a Secretary bird:

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no this is not an advertising for any make of car, just a view of the road and some wildebeast crossing

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In the far distance we saw this raptor feeding his/her chick (so far we were not able to see what kind of raptor this might be, someone suggested a bateleur, but I have my doubts):

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in the riverbed we saw these proud parents with their chicks:

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and this gentleman, happily some kilomtres away:

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In a tree we saw by luck this impressive bird:

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and another one:

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and this happy familiy as last ones:

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In the evening we saw an impressive thunderstorm and even some raindrops, but far too less for the needs of the country!

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Kgalagadi National Park was beautifull (though unfortunately for very vague reasons the (available) ranger was not in the position to arrange a sunsetdrive in Mata Mata).
Mata Mata is likely to become even more attractive as it is now. When we were there a number of new, and obviously very comfortable bungalows were under construction. When finished they must be stunning for comfort and view!.

The next and last episode I will show you some pictures from the rest of our trip all the way down to Capetown.

Papadoc (kindly supported by Mamadoc)


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 Post subject: Re: Papadoc and Mamadoc back in SA
Unread postPosted: Sun Feb 14, 2010 11:22 pm 
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Dear all,

thank you Salamanda for your kind comments, and Lorrainepring for your non verbal support :mrgreen:

I will try to finalise my report in this episode:

As I told you we already arranged the customs and immigration formalities as far as SA is concerned in Twee Rivieren. IF YOU FORGET THIS YOU WILL HAVE TO TRAVEL BACK ALL THE WAY.
So this morning we had "only" to take care of the formalities at the Namibian side. Well that took us quite some time as three different officers had to carefully consider whether we could enter Namibia, but at the end everything was arranged for and we could set off for Keetmanshoop and (our destination for today) Fishriver Canyon. We started early because we were not sure about the road, but it turned out that, though these roads are all gravel / dirt roads, driving was good to do, and we drove at good pace to Keetmanshoop. Just before this rather small town we passed a large number of Quiver trees. In Keetmanshoop we did some shopping and carried on for our B&B for the coming two days.
I will not elaborate too much and just show you one picture of this beautifull site, which ( as said ) can be reached easily form Mata Mata in one day.

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From Fishriver we took the road over Grunau and borderpost Vioolsdrift. From there WE took the road further south to Clanwilliam hoping to perhaps see some late Namaqua flowers (it were VERY little, but they were there!). Perhaps this is the place to remind people with a full 4*4 or "bakkie" that you are passing two beautifull Sanparks, which we had to skip because of the limitations of our car. On the Namib / SA border is the Ai Ais Richterveld Transfrontier NP and further south is the Namaqua NP, both 4*4 parks only (as far as I know). I could imagine that I would like to make some kind of a round trip passing Augrabies, KTP, Fishriver, Ai Ais/Richtersveld, Namaqua and then back to e.g. Capetown.

Next day we drove to Hermanus (hence changed from West- to East coast) were we made a BEE boat trip to see the whales (which we did!)

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Again let me remind people who only touch this part of SA, that here was proclamed recently the Agulhas NP and some hundred kilometers further east is the beautiful Tsitsikamma NP.
Next day we set off for our last place to stay for another three days, before leaving SA for chilly Europe. Because it is only a rather short trip from Hermanus to this wine region we had some time to spend, which we did at Harold Porters Botanical Garden the nearby the Fern Kloof (do not any English name) (in both we made loads of photo's of flowers, but that could easily fill another TR) and a pinguin colony which we felt was even more impressive and fun then the Boulders Beach one, where we san a Comorant "taxiing" (or testing the engine, it stood there clapping his wings for minutes without setting off) .

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and a nice singing bird, does anyone now what kind of bird this is?

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And the comorant in the pinguin colony:

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We staid in the Capetown wine area and from there we visited the last NP (and forgot to take our Wildcard :slap: )

The Good Hope (Cape Point) Park and peninsula, we visited first three years ago, and then it rained cats and dogs, so yes, beautiful, but it could be better. Well it was this time!

This time we saw the beautiful flowers, we climbed to the lighthouse, saw a baboon eating Protea, enjoied the Slangkop lighthouse, and as an extra which we did not expect, but only hoped for: Chapmans Peak.

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This is the end of our story of a trip to South Africa we never thought we would make when we planned our first trip three years ago, but, as said before: we became addicted to this beautiful land, its impressing nature and variety.

God willing we surely will be back once, perhaps rather sooner then later, and how we envie those who can dicide to just take a long weekend to one of those magnificient parks. On the other hand I realise that when you live close to those marvels you sometimes forget how beautiful they are, or (as we do in our country) we never even visit those marvels, where people from other continents make a detour to see them......

Anyhow, au revoir beautiful SA (and a little bit more for Mokala which stole our harts!!)

Papadoc and Mamadoc

PS when reading back my report and comparing it with others , I realise I have not been able to write a very humorous or funny text, perhaps more businesslike. This might be the case because I write quite some English, but only in official (and hence for most people boaring) documents. Sorry for that, and I hope the photo's compensated for that!


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 Post subject: Re: Papadoc and Mamadoc back in SA
Unread postPosted: Sat Feb 20, 2010 4:15 pm 
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Dear all,

Thank you for your kind comments.

I do indeed hope that you obtained some appetite in the parks and regions we liked ourselves most like Mokala (unknown, and still under development, but such a beauty - both the park and the people ...-) and KTP (very much written of but so true).

Some special remarks and answers:

Nightjar and Salamanda, thanks for the identification of "our" bird as a Karoo Prinia. Looking at the internet we have the feeling this double ID and internet share the same view, so we assume you are all right.

P&M and Billyf: you indeed have a beautiful country, and yes we hope to visit it again, hopelfully soon.

Arks and Meandering Mouse: most recommended to visit Mokala once: try to get the chalet "Duiker" that is bungalow nr 2. An excellent place to be!!

Crested Barbet: as we share the same continent we fully agree: this report was a way of surviving weeks and weeks of very cold and snowy wheather.

Onewithnature: Mamadoc and myself shared the "burden" of this trip: Mamadoc composed two photobooks of 80 pages each :big_eyes: I composed the TR on the forum. While we were in SA we had both our own camera and the photo's are more or less 50/50 made by the two of us. (Mamadoc carrying a Canon G9 and myself a Canon 40D).

I feel I fulfilled my task of honour after having enjoyed so much TR's before leaving for SA ourselves. Surely we will keep on reading on the forum, and hopefully we will share our experiences on a next visit to our beloved SA.

Papadoc and Mamadoc


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