Skip to content

SANParks.org Forums

View unanswered posts | View active topics






Post new topic This topic is locked, you cannot edit posts or make further replies.  Page 1 of 1
 [ 6 posts ] 
Author Message
 Post subject: 3 Men In The Kruger - 22nd to 25th January 2010
Unread postPosted: Tue Jan 26, 2010 9:22 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Wed Dec 27, 2006 12:11 pm
Posts: 45
Location: Benoni, South Africa
Hello everyone,

My father sadly passed away last year, and in his honour we had two benches installed - one at Crocodile Bridge, and one at Berg-En-Dal. We planned a short trip to Kruger to commemorate the completion of the benches, and also to scatter his ashes somewhere in Kruger.

I wasn't intending to do a trip report as it was such a short trip. However, we had such an unbelievable 3 days that it would be remiss of me not to share it on the forum....... so here goes:

DAY ONE: 22nd JANUARY 2010 - BENONI TO CROCODILE BRIDGE

I managed to drag my son and my brother out of bed at 4:00 AM and within half an hour we were off! The usual journey was unremarkable, and even a fine just before Nelspruit (we were in my brother's car and I had left my licence at home :wall: ) did nothing to dampen my spirits, as we were less than an hour from Malelane!

It has to be said that my wife called me when we were 2 hours into the journey to tell me that we had forgotten Dad's ashes...... :? , but we decided to push on (the chief rationale behind it being it gives me an excuse to go again).

We entered at Malelane gate at around 9:30, and set off down the S25 Crocodile River road.... here is a pic of the very first mammal we saw:
Image Link To Large Size

The S25 was its usual self with plenty of game - ellies, warthog, giraffe, zebra, impala and so on, so there was plenty to keep us occupied. We arrived at Croc Bridge just after noon, checked in and went off to find the bench. If you ever get to Croc Bridge, my Dad's bench is right in the middle of the lawn between the rondavels and the ablutio block under a tree. It is a beautiful spot, and Dad would have been thrilled :clap:

After a very nice kip (it was 41 degrees!), we set off on a drive at around 2:30 and decided to take the S28 north and return on the tar road. No sooner had we turned onto the S28, then we were flagged down by a gentleman who told us that there were 3 cheetah about 10km further along, so we went for it to see if we could find them, but it was sadly not to be :(

However the mood was lightened again just beyond the turn-off to Nhlanganzwane Dam, where there was a bakkie parked beside the road, and this is what we saw:
Image Link To Large Size Image Link To Large Size

This lioness was tucking in to the buffalo carcass, and we found out the following day that the buffalo had apparently died of natural causes, and the lions - being the opportunists they are - had taken it over. There were 2 other lions about 50m further into the bush but we couldn't get any decent photos unfortunately.

After lingering for half an hour, we pushed on and turned left onto the S137 in the direction of Duke waterhole and came across this large herd of buffalo:

Image Link To Large Size

This photo does not do the size of the herd justice - they were literally as far as the eye could see! So we were rather please with ourselves by now - a couple of hours into our first drive and we had seen more than we had expected to see.

We turned left again onto the S130 which was bereft of game and then turned left again back onto the H4-2 tar road, and after a while encountered this rhino family - We were hoping they would get a little closer together but this was the best photo we could manage:

Image Link to Large Size

We then returned to Crocodile Bridge, seeing more elephant and rhino along the way..... and plenty of other small game (impala, zebra, giraffe etc), and finally, just before returning to camp we saw this eagle or hawk at the top of a tree..... please excuse my ignorance but I am almost a total philistine when it comes to birds, so I have no idea what it is :redface:

Image Link to Large Size

So that was it for day one. And believe me when I tell you this...... that day was NOTHING compared to the following couple of days.

Next instalment soon!

p.s.: I cannot take the credit for the photos - 90% of them were taken by my 17 year-old son Kevin. He is waiting in the wings to take over the family Kruger baton, as did I from my father.

_________________
Smile people!! You're in Kruger!!


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: 3 Men In The Kruger - 22nd to 25th January 2010
Unread postPosted: Thu Jan 28, 2010 7:50 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Wed Dec 27, 2006 12:11 pm
Posts: 45
Location: Benoni, South Africa
Hello again folks,

Sorry I wasn't able to reply yesterday - had to do some work :|

Nevertheless, thanks everyone for the wonderful sentiments expressed regarding Dad. He was an absolute diamond, and I have him to thank for my Kruger obsession!!! Meandering Mouse, I guarantee you would have liked him :D

Anyway, here is the next instalment:

23rd JANUARY 2010 - MORNING DRIVE - CROCODILE BRIDGE AREA

Kevin and I got up at 4 AM (my brother is not a morning person!) and we were first out of the gate at 4:32.

We had literally driven about 300m from Crocodile Bridge - in fact around the very first bend in the road - when we saw multiple eyes reflecting in the pitch darkness. This is what awaited us:

Image Link To Large Size
Now this is what I call a start to a day in Kruger. There were in fact 7 lions on the road - 6 females and one male. Two of them moved into the bush on the left, and the male went to the right, but the remaining four stayed exctly where they were. They completely ignored us! Even when our wheels were less than a foot from them they just carried on sleeping :shock:

Image Link To Large Size
In fact, after sitting there for a while, and with a traffic jam starting to build up behind us, we managed to edge past and continue with the drive.
So it was a superb start to what turned out to be one of our best days ever in the Kruger.

We went the opposite way this time, and proceeded up the tar road in the direction of Lower Sabie, and along the way we saw plenty of the usual suspects. We turned right on to the S28, and headed for the Nthandanyathi hide, as we always enjoy watching the hippos. Kevin went bananas with the camera and managed to get some really great shots of the hippos:

Image Link To Large Size Image Link To Large Size

The 2nd photo shows the hippo doing what can only be described as 'biting the water' - does anyone know why they do this? He was doing it for ages and was amusing all of the people in the hide :lol:

So after around 30 minutes in the hide, we decided to go and see what was happening at the buffalo carcass that we saw the previous day. An inspired decision!

Upon arrival, and we were pleased that there was only one car there, we could see that the whole area was swarming with vultures:

Image Link To Large Size

Then a pair of hyena arrived, chased most of the vultures away and started picking at the carcass:

Image Link To Large Size

Things were now starting to become really interesting, as a huge herd of buffalo arrived on the scene - we suspect that the dead buffalo was until recently a member of the herd.

THEN! The male lion that we observed sitting under a bush the previous day obviously didn't fancy hyenas ruining his meal, so he chased them off and started eating:

Image Link To Large SizeImage Link To Large SizeImage Link To Large Size

Now the REAl fun started! About 20 or so buffalo bulls had obviously taken exception to seeing their friend being devoured by a solitary lion, and started edging closer and closer to the carcass..... snorting and making the buffalo sound I'm sure you are all familiar with. This continued until they were almost right on top of the lion:

Image Link To Large Size

The noise from the buffalo herd was quite something, but the lion waited until the absolute last millisecond before deciding that discretion is the better part of valour, and living beyond the next minute or so was the more appealing option, so he fled - pursued by 3 or 4 of the more brave buffalo - bloodied (not from the buffalo attack, but from eating) but unbowed:

Image Link To Large Size

By this stage, the entire event had attracted an absolutely MASSIVE 'Kruger Traffic Jam', so we decided to leave and carried on down the S28. Seeing elephants, rhino and other small game is always welcome, but after the previous excitement it paled by comparison. We did see a badly injured zebra - it looked like it had a severe injury to it's back right hoof - and duly reported it when we got back to Croc Bridge.

Our last port of call on the way back was the Gezantfombi Dam, where we saw this saddle-billed stork. There are posters all over the place in Kruger asking that any sightings of these be reported to the Endangered Wildlife Trust, which I duly did.

Image Link To Large Size

Sadly we were only staying at Croc Bridge for the one night, so we had to pack and leave for Berg-En-Dal. Before we did that, we took a few pics of us sitting on Dad's memorial bench:

Image Link To Large Size

I'm not sure if it is the done thing to post photos of yourself in a trip report, but this was a poignant and emotional occasion, so I am doing it anyway. (I am on the right by the way - brother on the left).

Right, so there is the second instalment...... The afternoon drive to Berg-En-Dal was fantastic too and that part will follow shortly.

Dave

_________________
Smile people!! You're in Kruger!!


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: 3 Men In The Kruger - 22nd to 25th January 2010
Unread postPosted: Fri Jan 29, 2010 7:09 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Wed Dec 27, 2006 12:11 pm
Posts: 45
Location: Benoni, South Africa
OK, no sooner did I have a pop at Flickr then it speeded up, so here goes with the next chapter :thumbs_up:

SATURDAY 23rd JANUARY 2010: CROCODILE BRIDGE TO BERG-EN-DAL PLUS AFTERNOON DRIVE FROM BERG-EN-DAL

Continuing from where we left off. Before I forget, here is a pic of the plaque on Dad's bench at Crocodile Bridge:

Image Link To Large Size

We set off for Berg-En-Dal, absolutely thrilled that the trip had been so wonderful up to this point, and things carried on in a similar vein! We turned left onto the S25, and immediately saw a hyena having a very relaxing mudbath - much to the extreme annoyance of a warthog who was waiting his turn - sadly a little out of camera range. The hyena was waching the warthog, as if daring him to come in :lol: :

Image Link To Large Size

There was a bakkie parked about 100m further up the road, so we stopped and the American gentleman in the vehicle told us that we had just missed a zebra giving birth to a foal...... ah well, you can't have everything huh? So we pressed on, and no more than 1,5km further this is what awaited us:

Image Link To Large Size Image Link To Large Size Image Link To Large Size

There were around 20 dogs in this pack - far and away the largest pack we had ever seen - and they were running about all over the place, so it was proving difficult to take any decent photos. So we decided to concentrate on the 5 or 6 that were keeping relatively still:

Image Link To Large Size

Seeing wild dog is always a major occasion for us, as we had been going to Kruger for well over a decade before we saw them for the first time in around 1989. Then we saw them again the first time I took my kids in 2006, we have actually seen them on every trip since! The trip was just getting better and better! And, as is often the case in Kruger, the dogs melted into the bush and the vehicles that arrived a few seconds later missed them completely.

On we went, and a few kilometres further on we saw this breeding herd of elephant:

Image Link To Large Size Image Link To Large Size

We enjoyed this sighting because there were around 25 to 30 in the herd, but they were all huddled together in one solid mass around the calves. There was a particularly small calf right in the middle, and Kevin managed to get one photo:

Image Link To Large Size

Our next stop was at the Mpondo Dam, where we witnessed this elephant procession..... obviously taking a short-cut and cooling down at the same time :) Notice the impala and warthog on the far bank - not sure if Kevin did that on purpose, as we only noticed them once we saw the picture :wink: We also found this magnificent male waterbuck a short distance from the dam:

Image Link To Large Size Image Link To Large Size

It was incredibly hot by now, so we pushed on to Berg-En-Dal without seeing much of any significance. We arrived at our destination just after noon, checked in and found our bungalow. No sooner had we stowed our gear away, when a herd of elephant strolled past the fence:

Image Link To Large Size

After another mid-afternoon snooze, we set off at around 3 PM for our afternoon drive, and this highly interested kudu was one of the first animals we saw:

Image Link To Large Size

A little further on we saw our first tortoise of the trip. As we had not seen leopard, we decided that the leopard tortoise was the next best thing, and celebrated the fact that we had seen the 'Big Five' - of sorts!!! :lol:

Image Link To Large Size

Next up was a duiker.... which we always find really difficult to photograph due to their nervous disposition, and they usually run away before we can get the camera ready..... But Kevin did well to get this one:

Image Link To Large Size

During the course of this drive, we saw plenty of other animals - no need for me to list the usual suspects - BUT...... we were heading back to Berg-En-Dal at around 5:35 PM when we saw one of the outside jeeps parked beside the S25, about 2km before the tar road junction. We stopped, and the driver told us that a leopard had been walking beside the road, but had disappeared into the bush about 5 minutes ago. We were crushed, as the leopards had eluded us so far, but as we still had a little time to spare, we decided to wait a while and see if it re-appeared. One of my often used phrases when discussing Kruger is "You HAVE to have patience!!!", and in this case it paid off.... because after waiting for around for around 10 minutes, Kevin exclaimed "There it is!!!!" .... and despite being rather excited, he still had enough of his wits about him to fire off a couple of photos:

Image Link To Large Size Image Link To Large Size

We watched the leopard for a while, as it seeed to be stalking a couple of impala that were close by, but he seemed to be out of luck, and the impala eventaully scattered and the leopard disappeared into the bush.

By now it was just after 6 PM, and time to make tracks for Berg-En-Dal. We turned left onto the tar road and noticed a car stopped on the Matjulu Bridge. We pulled up and a very excited woman pointed out another leopard drinking from the river. This was less than 5 minutes after seeing the first one! This particular leopard was extremely co-operative and posed for literally hundreds of photographs :clap: If I may say at this point, I reckon Kevin really excelled with these photographs of the leopard:

Image Link To Large Size Image Link To Large Size Image Link To Large Size


Image Link To Large Size Image Link To Large Size

Now do you see why I referred to this as our best ever day in Kruger? Bearing in mind that this day (Saturday) started at 4:30 AM with the 7 lions in the road, and ended with two decent leopard sightings in the space of 5 or 6 minutes in the late afternoon!!!! Along with the lion being chased by the buffalo, the pack of wild dog and so on...... It was a truly fantastic day which will live long in the memory!

Next instalment soon..... sorry if this was a bit long-winded :redface:

Dave

_________________
Smile people!! You're in Kruger!!


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: 3 Men In The Kruger - 22nd to 25th January 2010
Unread postPosted: Sat Jan 30, 2010 4:48 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Wed Dec 27, 2006 12:11 pm
Posts: 45
Location: Benoni, South Africa
Thanks again folks :D

I will definitely encourage the lad to have a look at photography!

Onewithnature: We have seen the wild dogs 3 times on the S25 Crocodile River road - pack of 7, pack of 5 and then the 20 we saw the other day. We saw a pair of dogs kill an impala midway between Berg-En-Dal and the Matjulu Dam on the S110. We saw a pack of 5 running down the H5 tar road close to the Mlambane bridge, and then we saw a pack of 6 very close to Skukuza. Those sightings have all been since 2006.

Gearing up for the next chapter, which also wasn't too bad at all :wink:

_________________
Smile people!! You're in Kruger!!


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: 3 Men In The Kruger - 22nd to 25th January 2010
Unread postPosted: Sat Jan 30, 2010 7:31 pm 
Offline
Virtual Ranger
Virtual Ranger
User avatar

Joined: Thu Jul 05, 2007 7:43 pm
Posts: 2347
Location: KZN
Have just caught up with your TR now Dave. What stunning sightings you had, and Kevin, thanks for taking so many wonderful photos to illustrate them. The story of the buffalo seeing the lion off the carcass of one of their mates is particularly interesting because I have just been looking at the summer edition of Wild (if you get the WildCard mag, its on P30) Here there is a photograph by Adrian Bailey showing the identical reaction from a buffalo herd in MalaMala. he says that after they had driven the ( single male) lion off the carcass they sniffed and licked it for a few hours. Such an amazing thing that you saw a similar occurrence and I read them both on the same day!

I'm sorry to hear about your dad, but I think he will be around for a long time yet in your hearts as you travel to Kruger and remember the things that he loved.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: 3 Men In The Kruger - 22nd to 25th January 2010
Unread postPosted: Sat Jan 30, 2010 11:31 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Wed Dec 27, 2006 12:11 pm
Posts: 45
Location: Benoni, South Africa
Folks, the reponses from all of you are fantastic..... thank you so much, it means a great deal, and only serves to remind what a special bunch of people the forumites are :clap:

On that subject, mine was the only yellow ribbon we saw the whole time we were there :(

onewithnature: Sorry, silly of me as that is a very long stretch...... All of the S25 wild dog sightings were within 5km of Crocodile Bridge. The pack of 20 last Saturday was well before the hippo pools turn-off.... so very close to the camp.

_________________
Smile people!! You're in Kruger!!


Top
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic This topic is locked, you cannot edit posts or make further replies.  [ 6 posts ] 



Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 4 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Powered by phpBB © 2000, 2002, 2005, 2007 phpBB Group

Webcams Highlights

Addo Nossob Orpen Satara
Addo Nossob Orpen Satara
Submitted by Jurie van Vuuren at 12:26:03 Submitted by grannyb at 13:36:11 Submitted by Anonymous at 12:10:12 Submitted by bushwackedblonde at 17:27:19