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 Post subject: If I could fly .....
Unread postPosted: Mon Mar 01, 2010 9:04 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Posts: 488
... I would fly with the White Storks. Very clever birds, spending the best season in Europe and when it's getting colder they fly to sunny South Africa!

After strong winter months I will follow them, however by plane. Hope there will be no strikes and no storms. Will leave Europe on Friday, March 5.

I booked as follows:
1 night in Pretoria at the guesthouse of a good friend
1 night in Nelspruit (will meet forumite Fanta in the evening)
3 nights Biyamiti
3 nights Berg-en-Dal
5 nights Lower Sabie
2 nights Imbali Safari Lodge (reduced rates if you book less than 21 days in advance)
3 nights Phalaborwa (day visits to KNP)
2 nights Punda Maria
7 nights Shingwedzi (the best of Kruger!)
1 night Phalaborwa
1 night Nelspruit

_________________
My TR's
- It's time for Africa! (KNP Nov./Dec. 2010) - Video page 7: Wild dogs watching lions!
- Memories from the backseat (KNP Dec. 2009)
- If I could fly (KNP March/April 2010)
- Time to fly south again (MZNP, Addo, and more Nov/Dec. 2011)


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 Post subject: Re: If I could fly .....
Unread postPosted: Mon Apr 05, 2010 6:44 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Fri Aug 21, 2009 5:34 pm
Posts: 488
Hi,

just landed - we are back from a fantastic holiday in KNP with 1375 pics and more than 3 hours on video! Four weeks seemed to be a long time - however, it was much too short! Leaving the Park through Phalaborwa gate on Good Friday felt like leaving paradise. Think, you all know this feeling! It's sad having to wait now more than a year for the next holiday in KNP!

In the next days (after work) I will upload a few pics for you. Hope to start my TR on Saturday or Sunday.

So please wait a while to see

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what we have seen!

Hope you enjoyed your Easter holiday!

_________________
My TR's
- It's time for Africa! (KNP Nov./Dec. 2010) - Video page 7: Wild dogs watching lions!
- Memories from the backseat (KNP Dec. 2009)
- If I could fly (KNP March/April 2010)
- Time to fly south again (MZNP, Addo, and more Nov/Dec. 2011)


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 Post subject: Re: If I could fly .....
Unread postPosted: Sat Apr 10, 2010 11:41 am 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Fri Aug 21, 2009 5:34 pm
Posts: 488
Day 1 – March 6, 2010

Due to yesterday’s weather conditions in Europe (in the evening we had snow again!), we started with a delay. The flight was a bit bumpy during the first hours and arrival at Johannesburg International was an hour later than scheduled.

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It was great to be in South Africa again, to see blue sky and the sun after the hard winter months we had at home. Passport control, baggage claim – all is very efficient now at the modern International Airport! 45 minutes after leaving the plane we were already at the car rental station! With a nearly new car we left the airport on our way to Pretoria.

And then SO had a stupid idea. Instead of driving directly to our friend’s place he wanted to buy a few things in his favourite shopping mall in Pretoria. On the way to the mall there was a terrible traffic jam. It’s always better to avoid Saturdays in the begin of a month for shopping when all people had enough money in their pockets and like to spend it! We took the next possible opportunity to get out of this traffic jam and drove directly to the guesthouse of our friend Rosi.

The guesthouse is in a quiet part of Pretoria not far from the Botanical Garden. Rosi had invited us for lunch. We were sitting together in the lapa, eating, drinking, relaxing! The birds were singing in the garden. It was a fantastic start for a holiday.

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CB - still with wet hair after swimming in the pool!

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One of the birds you can find in Rosi's garden: a Crested Barbet.


Day 2 – March 7, 2010

It was fine to wake up with the sounds of birds! After breakfast we said good-bye to Rosi and drove to Nelspruit. We had booked a room in our favourite hotel and after a short rest we met forumite Fanta at the BP-garage. Fanta had invited us to accompany her to the Second Chance Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre where she is volunteering one day per week. The Centre is situated between Nelspruit and White River.

The mission of Second Chance is to provide care and rehabilitation to ill, injured, and/or orphaned wildlife - especially those that have been negatively affected by human activities - with the goal of returning them to the wild. Frith Douglas who is leading the Centre is caring lovingly for all the animals. When we arrived there it was just feeding time. During our visit to the Centre we saw Servals, Banded Mongooses, Side-striped Jackals, Bushbabies, a Red Duiker, a Baby Bushbuck, Vervet Monkeys and tiny baby birds!

We were really fascinated to see Zorie, a Striped Polecat! Zorillas are strictly nocturnal carnivores. So it would be difficult to spot them in KNP.

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Thank you very much, Frith and Fanta, for inviting us to see Second Chance!

After our visit to the Centre we had dinner with Fanta in a nice restaurant in Nelspruit. Since that evening SO – normally a wine drinker - knows what a Black Label is. He tried it several times during our stay in South Africa. Fanta, it was really a pleasure to meet you! Thanks for all!


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 Post subject: Re: If I could fly .....
Unread postPosted: Sat Apr 10, 2010 2:00 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Fri Aug 21, 2009 5:34 pm
Posts: 488
Day 3 – March 8, 2010

Shopping stress with SO in Nelspruit: drugstore, three (!!!) supermarkets, bottle stores! Funny is that SO at home didn’t like to go to supermarkets! In South Africa he loves it! He likes cooking and is always fascinated from the good food supplies (best meat, fresh vegetables, ripe fruits, spices etc.) and the South African red and white wines!

Such a shopping morning with him to buy all the foodstuff for the stay in KNP is really exhausting. After that we left Nelspruit for Malelane. We had lunch there and entered the Kruger National Park through Malelane gate. And from this moment I am again on my backseat!

The KNP was still very green with a lot of flowers. The bush was still dense making game viewing difficult. Here a few impressions from our drive to Biyamiti:

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European Roller

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European Bee-eater

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African Pied Wagtail

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In Biyamiti we got cottage No. 3 with a good view of the dry riverbed. However, it was nothing to see there during our stay.

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Biyamti No. 3
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Our friendly insect-eating neighbour!


Last edited by Crested Barbet on Sat Apr 10, 2010 8:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: If I could fly .....
Unread postPosted: Sat Apr 10, 2010 10:01 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Fri Aug 21, 2009 5:34 pm
Posts: 488
Day 4 – March 9, 2010

First morning in the Park: Waking up with the sound of nature, hungry like a lion! Whilst SO was still dreaming. I rushed outside to the kitchen. :dance: One of the best things for me is a good hot breakfast in the morning with eggs fried to perfection or a nice and spicy cheese omelette! I opened the cupboard and gripped the pan. :huh: Oh no, I think you could protect yourself with a pan like this but for other purposes this old, shabby, damaged, dirty thing was useless. I walked to the reception, reported my problem and after 10 minutes another frying-pan was brought! :clap:

After breakfast we took the S139, the Crocodile River Road to Croc Bridge, the H4-2, the Randspruit Road, the S108, the Bume Road and S23/S139 back to Biyamiti. It was a pleasant round trip. We spotted elephant, buffalo, zebra, wildebeest and impala, giraffes starting a fight, 4 ground hornbills!

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Buffalo in a bed of flowers!

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Giraffes - still peaceful!

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Two are starting a fight!

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Think, this is against all rules!

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And now the ground hornbills:
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One has found a snack!

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White-crowned Shrikes

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Black Flycatcher

In the hottest time of the day we relaxed in the camp. We were really satisfied after hours of good game viewing. What we didn’t know, it would even be better in the afternoon!


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 Post subject: If I could fly .....
Unread postPosted: Sun Apr 11, 2010 9:07 am 
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Posts: 488
Day 4 – March 9, 2010 … continued

At appr. 5.00 p.m. we started for a short afternoon drive. We took the S139, direction Biyamiti Weir.

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Biyamiti River from the viewpoint on S139.

The begin of the drive was very quiet. It was still hot. Then we met a white rhino telling us unmistakably who had the right of way!

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After a while – we were just considering to drive back to the camp – another car stopped us. The driver advised us to drive on for appr. 1-2 km as there was a cheetah sitting directly near the road. So we drove on, 1 km, 2 km – time was running. We were thinking of the gate closing time.

And then ..... directly walking towards us on the road, no not a cheetah, a beautiful leopard! We stopped, the leopard passed us, we followed him, overtook him, watched him! We had this awesome sighting with no other cars around. What a luck! We watched the leopard as long as possible. We reached the gate just at closing time!

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 Post subject: If I could fly .....
Unread postPosted: Sun Apr 11, 2010 4:38 pm 
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Posts: 488
Day 5 – March 10, 2010

I had promised SO (he is not an early bird), that if we would start early in the morning, we could have lunch in his favourite restaurant near Malelane gate. And it worked, we started early!

We drove the S 139 to Biyamiti Weir, S 114, S 119 to Gardenia Hide. From Gardenia Hide we spotted a white rhino with baby, but these two were unfortunately not in a good photo position. Then we took the S118 to H3 and visited Scopsie at Afsaal.

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White-backed vulture (juv.) - looks like a person I know! :whistle:

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European Bee-eater - too cold or too early?

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Impala and beautiful wildflowers

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Red-billed Oxpeckers (adult + juv.)

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Biyamiti Weir

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White-crowned Shrike

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Terrapin

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Water Dikkop

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White Rhino bothered by insects

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Scopsie

Now I had to keep my promise. So we drove to Malelane Gate, it was time for lunch. The sole I had was perfect! SO enjoyed his prawns! And the champagne with it - excellent!

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After a tasty lunch we returned to Byamiti. Had a good rhino sighting on the way back, a really huge bull who had just enjoyed a good bath!

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Beautiful Impala Lily!

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White Rhino bull with birdie

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On the afternoon we took once more the S 139 to Biyamiti Weir (hoped to see the leopard again). This time there was really nothing to see, not even impala! Possibly too hot?!?


Last edited by Crested Barbet on Sun Apr 11, 2010 7:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: If I could fly .....
Unread postPosted: Sun Apr 11, 2010 9:24 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Fri Aug 21, 2009 5:34 pm
Posts: 488
Day 6 – March 11, 2010

It was the day to move to another camp. As long as possible (9:00 a.m.) we stayed at Biyamiti to enjoy the camp and listen to the birds. We knew there would be more people and more noise in the next camp.

As we had a lot of time we made a detour to Afsaal before driving to Berg-en-Dal. With much delight we watched an elephant herd with playful youngsters! Young ellies are so cute!

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My first good pic of a Brown Snake Eagle!

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Marabou Stork

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At Berg-en-Dal we got bungalow No. 81. SO checked it and asked: “Tell me, are you sure you booked the same category we had in December?” “Yes, absolutely!” “But this one is classes below!” Unfortunately he was right. There are really big differences between the BD3-bungalows at Berg-en-Dal. SO pestered me until I finally went to the reception trying to get a bungalow like the No. 27 we had in December. It was impossible. We had to stay in No. 81. SO assured me that he would have a severe attack of claustrophobia if he had to shower in this small shower cabin! I really don’t know why men are so sensitive!?!

In the afternoon we drove to Matjulu WH. Close to Matjulu there was an elephant herd. In Matjulu WH 6 white rhinos had a bath. It’s a pity, we had no chance to make good photos.

When we were enjoying a glass of wine outside our bungalow in the night there was a shadow passing in front of us. Only a short moment, then it was gone. SO fetched the torch. We waited. There it was again – a Large-spotted Genet.

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 Post subject: If I could fly .....
Unread postPosted: Mon Apr 12, 2010 8:48 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Fri Aug 21, 2009 5:34 pm
Posts: 488
Day 7 – March 12, 2010

We made a long and interesting drive and had a lot of good sightings. From Berg-en-Dal we followed the S110, the H3 to Afsaal, the H2-2 Voortrekker Road to Pretoriuskop. From there we returned via H1-1 Napi Road, H3, S110.

First we met a small elephant herd on H3. Only a few km from that point there were three lionesses running on the road. We followed them 25 minutes and took a lot of photos. One of the lionesses gave me really a fright! She stared so intensely at me every time she passed our car. I think she pretty well knew that something eatable was in there! And I didn’t want to give her a chance. I preferred to close the window when she was next to the car.

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Our next stop was near Renoster Pan, first we spotted a white rhino bull, then a buffalo herd crossing the road.

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A real beauty!

The Voortrekker Road was very quiet! The bush was dense.

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White-breasted Cormorant (juiv.)

We stopped in Pretoriuskop for a little rest and to stretch our legs. Then we were on the road again. What we didn’t know was that the best of the day was still waiting for us!


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 Post subject: If I could fly .....
Unread postPosted: Tue Apr 13, 2010 6:30 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Day 7 – March 12, 2010 .... continued

We stopped at Shitlhave. That was a real pleasure. Not only for us. A few elephant herds had a meeting there. It was bathing time. What a fun!

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Back on the H3 we spotted two beautiful kudu bulls.

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And later, the absolute highlight of the day: 3 wild dogs. I must admit they were not active at all, only relaxing in the shade. Not so good to see in the high grass under the bushes. But I enjoyed this sighting!

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Excellent teeth!


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 Post subject: If I could fly .....
Unread postPosted: Wed Apr 14, 2010 7:33 pm 
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Day 8 – March 13, 2010

Saturday! A weekend in the south of Kruger is not really fun! During our drive we spotted more cars than impala!!! We took once more the Crocodile River Road to Croc Bridge. It was a cloudy day with a bit of rain. Spotted a sleeping lioness, ellies and buffs, wildebeest, zebras, giraffes, warthogs and a really huge (!) impala herd.

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A lot of traffic in the air!

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Think the vultures were not very happy with the rain!

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Daggy-boy wearing the latest fashion!

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Ostriches - for me kind of rare sighting in KNP!

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Dwarf mongoose - always a fun to watch!

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We were back in Berg-en-Dal at appr. 2:30 p.m. It was our washing-day. Unfortunately we were not the only ones with this idea! First we waited for a washing-machine and then for the tumble-dryer. No afternoon drive today!


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 Post subject: If I could fly .....
Unread postPosted: Thu Apr 15, 2010 7:17 pm 
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Day 9 – March 14, 2010

Today we left Berg-en-Dal. The morning was clouded. We took the tar road to Skukuza. Spotted some elephants, buffaloes, white rhinos, kudus, zebras, impalas, baboons and vervet monkeys. Not much for such a long drive.

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Nice guy! Think the ellie ladies will like him!
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Two beautiful people!
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However, we had a very special sighting. From a bridge we spotted an elephant herd. Some ellies were in the dry riverbed digging for water. For the adults it was no problem to reach the fresh water. But the babies had to struggle! It was great to watch what they did to get their share!

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In Skukuza we had lunch. The buffet lunch is really recommendable. Then we travelled on to Lower Sabie. I had 4 internet bookings for 5 nights BD3UZ (there are only two of these units in the camp). However the system was offline, so I could only check-in for the first 2 nights and would have to go to the reception once more the next morning.

Meanwhile it was raining cats and dogs. We were trying desperately to open the door of bungalow 16 – without success. Dripping wet we returned to the reception. They had given us by mistake the key of tent no. 16 instead of bungalow no. 16! Here two pictures to let you know how the BD3UZ-bungalows look like.

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Bungalow no. 16
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In the evening when we were sitting on the veranda drinking a glass of wine there was an unusual noise behind us. Something had hit the glass of the door – from inside! SO went in to investigate. After a while he returned with a towel. From the towel he released a bat! SO is really good now in the Kruger popular bat catching contest! Luckily bats had only found their way through the roof into the kitchen (which is inside the bungalow) and not into the bedroom. During our stay in Lower Sabie we always closed the sliding door between the two rooms so that the beloved animals couldn’t disturb our sleep!


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 Post subject: If I could fly .....
Unread postPosted: Fri Apr 16, 2010 4:44 pm 
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Day 10 – March 15, 2010

When I opened the sliding door between bedroom and kitchen in the morning the smell of bats was overwhelming! Immediately I opened the door to the veranda to have some fresh air. Making breakfast took a bit time today. The reason was that only one of the plates of the two-plate-stove was functioning correctly, the other one was so weak that my fried eggs needed 30 minutes!

After breakfast I went to the reception to complete our check-in and to report the bat and the stove problem. They made a note, but that was all what happened during our stay!

It was cooler today after the stormy and rainy night. Game sighting was excellent. There were so many animals around - the KNP was like a zoo! At the Crocodile River Road we spotted two white rhinos which seemed to be irritated by flocks of twittering red-billed queleas.

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A really good-looking wildebeest!

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Red-billed queleas

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With so many queleas around the rhino stopped munching - but only for a moment!

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White rhino with a tiny friend!
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Waterbuck bull in high grass

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Giraffe in a hurry!

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 Post subject: Re: If I could fly .....
Unread postPosted: Fri Apr 16, 2010 6:42 pm 
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Day 10 – March 15, 2010 ….. continued

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As Crocodile Bridge Gate was open (doesn't happen every day!) we decided to drive to Komatipoort to buy fruits and veggies. And – on this occasion – to have a good lunch.

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A shady place for a decent lunch!

Back in the Park:

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Take your time!

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Laughing Dove - not laughing!

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No bath today!

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Tell me where the good things are!

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 Post subject: If I could fly .....
Unread postPosted: Fri Apr 16, 2010 8:50 pm 
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Day 11 – March 16, 2010

It was one of these special Kruger days. SO was up early so we started something he likes to call “early morning drive” what means driving through the gate at 6.30 a. m.! :clap:

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Impala in a bed of flowers!

On the tar road to Crocodile Bridge there was an elephant herd that was accompanied by a bull. One of the cows had remarkable tusks! It was the one Aat had named MaKungwe.

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MaKungwe - impressive ellie cow!

Deep in the bush we spotted a lion and a lioness; however not good enough for pics. So we drove on. Saw some beautiful birds on our way.

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White-backed Vulture

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Swainson's Francolin

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Helmeted Guineafowl (SO would say, they are best in a tasty red wine sauce!)

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Red-billed Quelea - just posing!

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One of my favourite birds - the Yellow-billed Hornbill

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Carmine Bee-eater

At Crocodile Bridge we stretched our legs and then – we were quite hungry now – started our way back to Lower Sabie. But it would last some time before we would reach the camp!

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Kudu bull

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Warthog family

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Grumpy old buff!


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