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 Post subject: Another Flutter...
Unread postPosted: Sat Mar 20, 2010 9:10 am 
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Virtual Ranger
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Location: Paulshof, Gauteng
In June my dad turns 70, so I had to come up with the perfect gift. Being a very practical man and not wanting or needing much in the way of material things, I could think of nothing he would enjoy more than a couple of days in Kruger accompanied by Alessandro, yours truly and a case (or more) of his favourite tipple. What a perfect excuse for another trip to Kruger! :lol: So the wheels were set in motion and I excitedly booked 4 days in June. When the initial rush was over it occurred to me that the World Cup takes place in June, and SO and Alessandro will be sure to want to cheer Italy on to victory (again…hopefully)! So, back to the drawing board. I had wanted to surprise my dad with a confirmed booking, but common sense prevailed and I phoned to make sure that he was happy with my gift idea and when would best suit him. Stupid question :roll: – of course he wanted to go and suggested that it should be a combined birthday present as my birthday is the day after his! He pointed out that as we are already booked to go to Kruger in September with some overseas family, it would be best to make our birthday trip in March, and so the booking was changed to 27 – 30 March.

After our last two trips, Alessandro was quite keen to venture a little further north this time (“but not too far north, Ma…I still want to see cats”), so I originally booked 2 nights at Letaba, 1 at Satara and 1 at Skukuza. I prefer to stay at least 2 nights in a camp, so I kept checking the website for any cancellations and at last it paid off…we managed to change our last two nights to Lower Sabie – my absolute favourite camp, and one we have not been able to get into for our last 2 visits. So, the perfect itinerary – Alessandro gets to see two new camps and my dad and I get to return to two camps that we haven’t stayed at for many years. :dance:

I have never been much of a birdwatcher – that was my mom’s thing - but after a trip to Richards Bay in December (where I found “new” birds in just about every tree) I have become a regular stiffneck. I have installed bird feeders and bird baths in the garden, and am forever cautiously peering out of windows in case I scare a bird off. It’s amazing what you can find in your own back garden when you take the time to look, and the bird book and camera are never far away. I am pleased to say that Alessandro is even taking an interest, and was very proud of himself when he heard a bird calling one day and spotted a red-chested cuckoo (piet-my-vrou) being fed by a cape robin! :shock: So…needless to say, we can’t wait to get back to Kruger to put our new bird spotting skills to the test.

Just some of our garden birds.

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We have also upgraded all of our “equipment” for this trip. Alessandro has always used my mom’s old binoculars (not great but adequate), and mine eventually died on our last trip. Recently, SO presented Alessandro with his very own binoculars – spoilt boy - and for Xmas my dad gave me a new pair - spoilt girl! So, no more fighting – this time we are well prepared.

When I used to go to Kruger as a child, my dad and brother were the wildlife photographers, while I was always the one to get the “people” shots, and on our last two trips I was quite happy with my little Canon Powershot (it takes lovely pictures, but the zoom is not very strong). However, after reading so many TRs and seeing so many beautiful photographs I started to get a bit envious. :mrgreen: After several (not so subtle) hints, mumblings about LITs that looked like smudges, and general “wearing down” tactics, SO took the bait and told me to start looking around. Of course, I had been looking around already and was quite keen on a Canon superzoom. However, after seeking advice from fellow ‘mites and then playing around with a friends DSLR I was hooked. Luckily for me, SO is a very generous man, and said that if the DSLR was the better camera, then that’s what I should go for…so…. I am now the proud owner of a new Canon 1000D with 18 –55mm and 75 –300mm lenses and all the bits that go with it. :dance: SO hasn’t quite realized yet what an expensive hobby I have just taken up (this is my birthday and Xmas present for the next few years I think)! I know that to camera fundis it’s probably nothing spectacular, but you have to start somewhere, and I’m very excited to put it through its paces. Alessandro is also very happy with this arrangement as he has now commandeered my old Canon and is determined to “out-photograph” me – maybe here’s a photographer in the making! :cam:

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"I think the environment should be put in the category of our national security. Defense of our resources is just as important as defense abroad. Otherwise what is there to defend?"

SAY NO TO HOTEL DEVELOPMENTS IN KRUGER


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 Post subject: Re: Another Flutter...
Unread postPosted: Mon Mar 22, 2010 9:24 am 
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Location: Paulshof, Gauteng
Some practice shots with my new toy. (Are these pics are too big? If they are I’ll make the rest smaller.)

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We will be leaving in the (very) early hours of Saturday morning, and my list is ever-growing, as are the piles of essential items dotted haphazardly around the house. It always amazes me that this chaos somehow resolves itself into some semblance of order once packed into the boot of the car. However, my normal Kruger countdown has been compromised a bit this time round. :x

It happens to be Alessandro’s 11th birthday on Wednesday which throws a bit of a spanner into the Kruger preparations - 35 cupcakes to be made and iced for school on Wednesday, birthday dinner for family on Wednesday night, birthday party for Alessandro’s friends on Thursday afternoon which inevitably leads to parents staying for a couple of drinks on Thursday night, and probably a couple of extra kids sleeping over! :big_eyes: Needless to say, this week will be hectic, and amongst all the birthday preparations and day-to-day stuff I still need to do all the shopping for Kruger!!! Oh….the stress! :wall:

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"I think the environment should be put in the category of our national security. Defense of our resources is just as important as defense abroad. Otherwise what is there to defend?"

SAY NO TO HOTEL DEVELOPMENTS IN KRUGER


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 Post subject: Re: Another Flutter...
Unread postPosted: Fri Mar 26, 2010 8:28 am 
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Location: Paulshof, Gauteng
It's the Final Countdown!!! :dance:

The celebrations for Alessandro's birthday are nearly over (2 days after the event :roll:)....there are still kids lying all over the lounge as I write. I have to admit that the last two days have left me utterly exhausted so our trip could not have come at a better time - must be getting old! Sunset Dam...see you soon. :D

I have done all the shopping apart from some last minute items, so once the extra kids have been despatched to their own homes and the house has been restored to some kid-free order I can at last get down to some serious packing. All the strategic piles had to be moved in honour of The Birthday, so I now I have to get those sorted out again and start ticking off my list!

My dad is arriving at 1.15am tomorrow and we hope to be off by 1.30.:shock: Although we are staying at Letaba we’ve decided to enter Kruger at Phabeni Gate. We’d much rather be driving inside the park than outside, and if we can only check in at 2pm :evil: there’s no rush. We’ll probably go via Dullstroom and over Long Tom Pass, but we’ll see what the weather is like. I don’t particularly want to drive that road if it’s raining or misty.

So...the long wait is over, and you can imagine the excitement levels. I hope I can bring back lots of great pics for all of you...but top of the wish list this time is CHEETAH!!! :pray:

Does anyone know what cell phone coverage is like at Letaba and Lower Sabie - SO likes to keep in contact.

_________________
"I think the environment should be put in the category of our national security. Defense of our resources is just as important as defense abroad. Otherwise what is there to defend?"

SAY NO TO HOTEL DEVELOPMENTS IN KRUGER


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 Post subject: Re: Another Flutter...
Unread postPosted: Thu Apr 01, 2010 9:02 am 
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Location: Paulshof, Gauteng
Day One – JHB to Letaba 27 March

I haven’t even got a third of the way through my photographs yet but I’ve decided to start anyway. :D Here we go….

We had decided to leave at 1.30 am on Saturday morning, so by 8.30 on Friday I got into bed hoping to get about 4 hours of sleep before leaving. Well…that was wishful thinking! I fell asleep quickly and by 10.00 I was wide awake again! :shock: I tried to get back to sleep but that was impossible, so eventually at 11.00 I got up to finish packing. By 11.30 I was nearly finished and couldn’t bear the thought of waiting another 2 hours for my dad to arrive, so I phoned him to tell him to come earlier…like father, like daughter…he was lying in bed counting the minutes too! So he agreed to be there as soon as possible. He arrived at 12.30 and we were on our way by 12.45. :dance:

We had a very easy drive to Dullstroom, and hardly saw any other cars on the road. From Dullstroom to Lydenberg the road was full of potholes and it was pitch dark. We then got onto Long Tom and the mist enveloped us! I was driving at about 30 kph, and intense concentration was required! We finally made it through the pass and arrived at Phabeni just after 5.30. :D

We stopped outside the gate to get all the cameras, binoculars and books ready, tied the yellow ribbon round the old rearview mirror, and we were ready. This was my first time at Phabeni gate and I was very impressed with the very efficient and friendly check-in staff. It was quite overcast but the temperature was a balmy 24 degrees. My dad was now in the driving seat, I was ready to get that first pic with my new toy :cam: and Alessandro was bouncing around on the backseat, chattering away, unable to contain his excitement. He announced his wish list in order of priority…cheetah, honey badger, black rhino and clawless otter…not asking a lot was he!! :tongue:

We headed along the S1 and our first sighting was a giraffe, then lots of guinea fowl on the road. We soon came across a large herd of buffalo. I snapped off a couple of shots but it was still quite dark so decided to just look at them instead.

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We carried on and came across kudu, magpie shrike, fish eagle, a rhino in the distance, and I then found a bird I had never seen before which we thought was a juvenile Racket-tailed Roller but have since amended to European Roller. We saw these all over the park over the 5 days.

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We then came across some quarrelsome Natal Spurfowl, a couple of zebra, Swainson’s Spurfowl, our first impala, and then watched a bird party, with starlings, hornbills, blackheaded orioles and a green woodhoopoe. A dwarf mongoose scampered across the road.

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I was eager to visit Lake Panic but had to make it quite quick as some of our party were in dire need of the Skukuza “facilities”. It was so tranquil there, with a goliath heron trying a bit of early morning fishing and a comb duck in a tree. Someone then pointed out a bird sitting on a tree across the water - a little bittern - another first for me! (Thanks to Elsa & Salamanda I now know that this is a Greenbacked Heron.)
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We then made our may to Skukuza where Alessandro rushed to the shop to buy his Kruger Passport and get his first stamp. We got on to the H1-2 to continue our long journey to Letaba, seeing lots of game and birds along the way, including the obligatory Klipspringer at Orpen Rocks, and a comical chameleon crossing the road.

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I then managed to get my first shot of an LBJ which looks as though it should be easy enough to identify but which I have to admit continues to elude me, :doh: so any help would be appreciated.

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At Silolweni a herd of about 20 ellies were having fun on the bank.

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We made another quick stop at Tshokwane to check the sightings board and for Alessandro to get another stamp and then continued up the H1-3 to Satara. At Mazithi we saw our second rhino, also in the distance, and some wooly-necked storks. Before reaching Satara we saw a Bateleur eating something in the road but it flew off as soon as I tried to get a picture (of course) :x , a Martial Eagle and our first wildebeest.

_________________
"I think the environment should be put in the category of our national security. Defense of our resources is just as important as defense abroad. Otherwise what is there to defend?"

SAY NO TO HOTEL DEVELOPMENTS IN KRUGER


Last edited by Flutterby on Thu Apr 01, 2010 4:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Another Flutter...
Unread postPosted: Thu Apr 01, 2010 4:06 pm 
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Location: Paulshof, Gauteng
Day One continued

The temperature had been climbing steadily all morning and by this time it was already 35 degrees, so it was into Satara to get some ice to keep the vital liquids cold, another stamp, and we were off again.

Leopard, cheetah and lion had been seen around Nsemani and Girivana so we decided to give it a try. :pray: No luck on that front, but we sat for almost an hour at Girivana watching an elephant, some giraffe and baboons drinking. When the elephant had had his fill he decided he didn’t like the company of the giraffe any more and chased them across the road before continuing on his way.

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Heading back to Satara I saw my first Carmine bee-eaters, looking very busy.

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We got back on to the H1-4 and continued towards Letaba. We found 2 rhinos, close to the road at last. A couple of warthogs came to inspect them as they lay in the shade.

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We didn’t see much more on the way to Letaba except for some ellies and zebra, but I think it was just too hot. By the time we reached Letaba the temperature was a scorching 38 degrees and the humidity was stifling. :big_eyes: We unpacked quickly and enjoyed the shade around the camp for a while.

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We left camp again at about 4pm for a short afternoon drive along the S131, turning back after an hour, but not seeing too much apart from a couple of ellies, zebras and these thick-knees.

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We saw these golden orb spiders everywhere.

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So, it was back to camp after a very long and hot day. On our last two trips we had seen lions everyday so, sadly, we could no longer claim that record. :cry: Oh well, we still had 3 more days, and had had wonderful sightings anyway.

We got the fire started and poured some warm wine...the poor little fridge was really battling in the heat. We listened to the babblers along the fence, and heard a bush baby calling in the tree above us. Everyone from the nearby bungalows brought their torches to look for it but no luck! Supper was marinated chicken, pork rashers, potato salad and tomato salad…yum. It was time for showers and then bed…the temperature was still around 34 degrees…thank goodness for aircons! :)

_________________
"I think the environment should be put in the category of our national security. Defense of our resources is just as important as defense abroad. Otherwise what is there to defend?"

SAY NO TO HOTEL DEVELOPMENTS IN KRUGER


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 Post subject: Re: Another Flutter...
Unread postPosted: Fri Apr 02, 2010 10:14 am 
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Location: Paulshof, Gauteng
Day 2 – Letaba 28 March

After a much needed rest we were up at 4.45, ready for action. :dance: When we left camp at 5.30 it was still quite dark and the temp. was already 26 degrees – another scorcher lay ahead. We got onto the H1-6 to head up to Mopani, and made a stop on the high level bridge where we saw a couple of hippos wallowing and caught a beautiful sunrise. I battled a bit with my camera, not too sure how to capture it. I kept getting F-stops and speeds mixed up but eventually got something resembling the real thing. :?

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We continued on our way seeing lots of game – giraffe, impala, our first woodland kingfisher and waterbuck. We eventually saw our first steenbok – we only saw three during the whole trip! :huh: Shortly we came across a buffalo crossing. It was one of the biggest herds I have ever seen – I’m sure there were over 500 of them and we sat there for about half an hour waiting for them all to get across the road.

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While watching the buffalo we also saw these birds – wattled starling?

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We left the buffalo behind and I spotted my first Crombec and Brown-Crowned Tchagra. While watching these birds we suddenly heard a lion roaring to our right. :big_eyes: With all our senses on full alert we scanned the bush and listened – there it was again, this time slightly closer, and then there was an answering roar from the left. There was now a mini traffic jam, with everyone trying to spot the culprits. Eventually everyone else moved off, so we just sat in the silence for a while hoping to get lucky. Unfortunately it was not to be. We carried on and soon came across these Dwarf (?) mongooses/mongeese/mongi :huh: scurrying in and out of their home. Not a great pic – my inexperience showing through!

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We took the Tsendzi Loop, where we saw more birds than animals. We found a Saddlebilled Stork enjoying breakfast, a family of Crested Francolin out on their morning stroll and an African Openbill.

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Just before reaching Mopani we saw this beautiful big tusker. Anyone who read my last TR will know that Alessandro is terrified of elephants, so as usual he was cowering behind the seat! He only sees the elephants when he looks at the photographs! :roll:

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We soon arrived at Mopani and enjoyed the aircon in the shop while Alessandro got another stamp, checked out the dam from the deck, and then got on our way again.

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_________________
"I think the environment should be put in the category of our national security. Defense of our resources is just as important as defense abroad. Otherwise what is there to defend?"

SAY NO TO HOTEL DEVELOPMENTS IN KRUGER


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 Post subject: Re: Another Flutter...
Unread postPosted: Sat Apr 03, 2010 9:44 am 
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We turned onto the S49 and then took the S50 at Mooiplaas where we saw more ellies with some nice ivory, and a couple of zebbies putting on quite a show.

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Then more zebbies at one of the Nshawu waterholes.

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We then made our way back to Letaba to stock up on ice for the afternoon, Alessandro felt the need to buy another book to add to his already substantial wildlife collection – this one on where to find game in Kruger! :roll: He was still desperate to find something on his wish list and was sure this book would solve the problem! :wink:

We spent some time in camp watching the bushbuck and monkeys, and then visited the Elephant Hall where Alessandro had to have his picture taken with every set of tusks. This was my first visit there - those Magnificent 7 were truly awesome! :big_eyes:

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We then made our way to Mingerhout Dam along the S47, then onto Rhidondo Pan. This buff thought he was a hippo….how we wished we could join him! :whistle: It wasn’t as hot as the previous day but still a rather warm 34 degrees.

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Near Rhidondo we came across these young ones. I just love waterbuck – they are so pretty, especially the babies! :D

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And some baboons…

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Crossing over the N’wanetsi (yes there is another one), about ten terrapins swarmed up to us and looked at us with pleading eyes - they are obviously used to being fed! :evil: When we managed to safely drive off without squashing any they did the same to the car behind us.

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We started on our way back to camp hoping to catch some last minute action somewhere but, apart from more ellies, more birds and a tortoise, again, no luck. Where were all the predators? (Although there had been quite a few Hunters! :wink: ) Not even a jackal or hyena in 2 days! :huh: Back at camp we started the fire and poured some cold wine – the fridge had recovered slightly. Was this going to be one of those trips where all the cats eluded us? For Alessandro’s sake I hoped not – after two days he was getting quite tired of stopping for every single bird, and we were seeing way too many elephants for his liking! :x Lamb chops, boerewors and baked potatoes filled our growling tummies, and then it was time for bed. For some reason my dad and I both woke at about 2.30am and decided to step outside for a ciggie – yes we are terrible people! :redface: We scanned the camp with the torch but saw nothing, and then discussed our route down to Lower Sabie in the morning – hopefully this would be day. :pray:

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"I think the environment should be put in the category of our national security. Defense of our resources is just as important as defense abroad. Otherwise what is there to defend?"

SAY NO TO HOTEL DEVELOPMENTS IN KRUGER


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 Post subject: Re: Another Flutter...
Unread postPosted: Sun Apr 04, 2010 8:40 am 
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Location: Paulshof, Gauteng
Day 3 – Letaba to Lower Sabie 29 March

First of all – Happy Easter to all ‘mites, far and near.

Up early again to pack everything for the long drive to Lower Sabie. We were out the gate at 5.40 and the temperature was 24 degrees. “Eyes down-looking for a full house” said my dad as we left Letaba – we were feeling optimistic – we were heading south – surely things could only get better? Two kms from the camp I spotted something in the gloom and shouted “Stop…Reverse!” We went back slowly, and there, looking at us….. two WILD DOG!!! :big_eyes: Unfortunately, as soon as we stopped they bolted into the bush. We drove forward slowly, then reversed slowly…..they were gone. The old saying still holds true – you just have to be in the right place at the right time! But, we had seen them and they had done the trick. Alessandro was all smiles again and couldn’t believe that we had seen wild dog on two successive trips. Feeling even more optimistic we carried on. :P

Soon after passing the turn off to Olifants we came across a few cars stopped on the wrong side of the road looking at the river. We inched forward slowly and a woman said there was a lioness in the grass watching some waterbuck. We soon found a spot where we could see it – lion at last!! :dance: She was very alert, but the waterbuck were on the other side of the river, so I think it was more a case of wishful thinking. After a while she got up and moved into some bushes to the left. We reversed and were able to see her again, lying down now….but looking through the binocs, this one looked different…much heavier around the neck… maybe even a young male? So there were actually two! All the other cars except one had moved off and they were quite far from us so we thought we’d see if they could see the two together. We inched forward slowly past some bushes, and saw what we thought was the same lion….except this was facing in the opposite direction?! We reversed again and sure enough the young male was still facing to the left, so… this was a third one?! :huh: When we reached the other car they said there had actually been 4 altogether when they arrived and 1 had moved down the bank….so that confirmed our confused sightings (are you all still with me? :? ) – 3 lions – and about time too!!

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We eventually left the lions behind and made for Satara, seeing some impala, zebra and our first Ground Hornbills near Ngotso. We decided to try the S100 again. On our last trip we had done it 3 times with no luck, maybe the wild dog and lions signaled a change in our luck. There were flocks of Red-Billed Quelea everywhere – they are the most infuriating things to photograph – are they incapable of sitting still for longer than 5 seconds? :evil:

We saw a large variety of game and birds along the road as opposed to the last time when we saw almost nothing.

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We made a quick stop at Gudzani Dam and it was great to see it so full – in September last year it was totally dry. We then carried on down the S41 and saw a Secretary Bird – a first for Alessandro - our first purple roller of the trip and a Blackshouldered Kite.

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We then got onto the Trichardt Loop, where we didn’t see much, but I just loved this long, narrow road, which even had grass growing down the middle of it!

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Back onto the H1-2 for a short stretch - at Mazithi we saw Black Storks and waterbuck – and then onto the H10. We had really been looking forward to doing this road as I had read about so many good sightings along it. Would it reveal something special to us? Again, we saw lots of birds….

….Burchell’s Coucal….

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….European Bee-eater….

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…..and then more Carmine Bee-eaters, more waterbuck, and two very large rhino squeezed into the shade of a rather small tree. 8)

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We watched them for quite a while, and then moved on. This road had been good so far, but, did it have more to offer? About 3kms short of the bridge over the Sabie we saw the biggest traffic jam of our trip……. :lol:

_________________
"I think the environment should be put in the category of our national security. Defense of our resources is just as important as defense abroad. Otherwise what is there to defend?"

SAY NO TO HOTEL DEVELOPMENTS IN KRUGER


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 Post subject: Re: Another Flutter...
Unread postPosted: Tue Apr 06, 2010 9:46 am 
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Day 3 Continued

…although you couldn’t really call it a traffic jam….it was just an orderly line of cars on the left side of the road. We slowly approached the last car in the line and were told that there was a cheetah ahead :dance: , but that we had to get in the queue!? :huh: We thought this was a bit odd but it soon became clear that the cheetah must be right next to the road, and it was only possible to see it one car at a time, so we joined the back of the queue to await our turn. We were very impressed with everyone’s patience and consideration for others, and not one person tried to push in, as is so often the case in situations like this. Each person that took their spot at the front took a couple of pictures and then moved on so as to give everyone else a turn. As we neared the front of the queue we reminded Alessandro to keep quiet and calm (almost impossible as this was what he had been waiting to see since his very first trip!), and that we had to be as considerate as everyone else and move off quite quickly. At last it was our turn – and boy, was it worth the wait! There, right next to the road, was the most beautiful creature. :big_eyes: The cheetah was lying in the shade, panting quite heavily. We took a couple of pictures, admired it for a suitably short time and then made way for the next car. Alessandro was obviously upset not to have been able to spend more time there, but understood that we had to be fair, and was thrilled at the sighting.

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We wondered why the cheetah was panting so heavily and Alessandro suggested that it might have just made a kill, but my dad and I pointed out that we hadn’t seen anything nearby, and that it was the hottest part of the day. Anyway, Alessandro had seen his no. 1 wish-list animal at last, and we had just had the best morning of the whole trip! :dance:

We happily checked in at Lower Sabie, and were given hut no. 32. It had a large closed-in kitchen area/verandah, separate bedroom, and large, clean bathroom. A couple with one son had also just moved into the hut next to ours. We said hello to them and tried to engage them in conversation, but it became clear that they were not the ‘sociable’ type, and the first words uttered by the mom were complaints about the accommodation – that it was dirty and not what they had been expecting. She seemed to have missed the fact that the hut was still being cleaned! :x She then said that when they had arrived they hadn’t had towels and had nagged the cleaner until she took our towels to give to them – what a cheek! :evil: If it had been me I would have returned them and got the cleaner to bring more. As it happened, we had one bath towel and 3 hand towels for the first night – not ideal, but also not the end of the world! Anyway we left the 3 Miseries :( (as Alessandro called them) and went down to the pool. I had forgotten my costume but Alessandro had a quick dip and then we were off on our afternoon drive.

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We decided to take a drive to Duke’s Waterhole, but apart from some elephant we saw nothing. Alessandro soon started nagging to go back to see if the cheetah was still there. My dad and I both said it would have disappeared long ago but he was persistent, so eventually we doubled back and crossed the Sabie again. Not feeling very optimistic, my dad and I were both surprised to find another traffic jam in the same place – this one not as orderly as the first. We stopped next to a young couple who said that the cheetah was behind a little green bush on an impala kill!!! :shock: So Alessandro had been right….about the kill and about going back – and boy, did he make sure we remembered that! :twisted: We could see where the cheetah supposedly was and every now and then the bush would shake and we could hear the sounds of bones crunching and skin tearing, and there was the occasional whiff of dead animal. :?

Cars started moving off as there wasn’t much to see, so we moved into a better spot, and our patience eventually paid off. He peeked out from behind his bush for a couple of photos and then disappeared again.

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Suddenly there was a big commotion and the impala’s legs appeared.

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Of course during all of this, another traffic jam had built up and there were the usual culprits, and from where they were there was no way they could even see the cheetah or how close to the road it was! :x

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A young guy in the car next to us was gesticulating madly at these offenders to get back in their car. They eventually did so and approached him and asked what his problem was. He very politely explained the rules of the park, and that by getting out of their car they were endangering themselves, and potentially ruining the sighting for everyone else. :x Feeling suitably chastised they apologized and went on their way. We started talking and he noticed the yellow ribbon. It turned out that he’s not a forumite but that he does read the forums and had even read some of my posts! I felt quite famous. 8)

At last the cheetah had had enough to eat and decided to give the patient few a chance to see him properly! :P

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He was quite big, so almost definitely a male, and beautiful. I can’t remember when I last saw cheetah in the park, so this was a real treat. Of course, this had made Alessandro’s day (and trip), and my dad and I were very glad that we’d listened to him! :doh:

Sadly we had to head back to camp, but we felt very satisfied. We lit a fire and at last had ice-cold wine. The 3 Miseries :( sat inside and stared at each other in silence and soon went to bed, seemingly without any supper, while we enjoyed a lamb curry (maybe not such a good idea considering the temperatures we’d been having :roll: ). Staying in the little bungalows next to us (the white ones with 4 units joined together) was a tour group, who my dad soon got chatting to. They were from all over Europe and were traveling through S.A for 3 weeks. They had spent two days in the park and were off to Swaziland in the morning. It was very interesting to hear their stories, but everyone was exhausted, so it was time to shower (drying off with a hand-towel was interesting! :wink: ) and then off to the land of nod!

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 Post subject: Re: Another Flutter...
Unread postPosted: Wed Apr 07, 2010 3:11 pm 
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Virtual Ranger
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Location: Paulshof, Gauteng
Day 4 – Lower Sabie – 30 March

We woke up to our last full day :( in Kruger and were out the gates just after they opened. Before Alessandro could even ask we said we were going back to see if the cheetah was still there! We crossed the bridge and just on the other side 2 hyena crossed the road – our first of the trip! :D I didn’t bother trying to take any pictures as it was still too dark. We got to where the cheetah had been, but no luck today. A couple of other people had had the same idea, and we all scanned the area but there was not a spot to be seen. We turned around as we wanted to do the H4-1 today. On the bridge we stopped to watch some African Pied Wagtails. They were all over the place and going crazy. One even jumped onto the bonnet of the car and started pecking at the windscreen. :huh:

While we were watching this, a white kombi stopped next to us and a man on his own asked if we were on the forum. My dad pointed to me. I told him my name and he said he was also on the forum, Bushkid, but hadn’t been on for a long time. This was the first ‘mite I’d met in Kruger! :dance: He told us he was Wild Child’s son-in-law, who is apparently quite active on the forum. While chatting I happened to look back and saw something run across the road on the other side of the bridge. It was so fast but it was low to the ground and had a long tail. I shouted out and Bushkid started toward it, but we were facing the wrong way. As my dad was deciding whether to reverse or turn around, Alessandro let out a shriek – “Clawless Otter!” There was one indeed – right below us. :big_eyes: We motioned to Bushkid to come back, and I started snapping pics. We were so excited – this had been on Alessandro’s wish list, and something I had never seen before! Whatever had run across the road was forgotten about. The otter was amazing to watch – it was so busy, in and out of the water. :dance:

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After a while Bushkid said goodbye, but Alessandro wasn’t ready to leave his otter just yet. Eventually he disappeared into the reeds and we decided to move on. You can imagine what Alessandro was like now – spotting a Clawless Otter all on his own! :roll: How much luckier could he get – two animals on his wish list and pretty rare ones at that! :clap:

We stopped at Sunset Dam where there were the usual hippos and crocs, Maribou Storks, a Fish Eagle, and a Sandpiper.

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A little further on we came across another Burchell’s Coucal.

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We carried on, and found another traffic jam, and who do we see there….Bushkid again. He motioned us forward to tell us there was a ……..LIT…..our first one of the trip, and at last we could tick off the Big 5!! 8) At first we could just see the spots in the V of the tree, but then he got very active and kept changing positions. These pics aren’t great as the leopard was on the wrong side of the car for me, so I was trying to balance the camera on the headrest and shoot over the other cars.

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While we were watching this, a hyena casually strolled over the road behind us! :shock: Actually he limped…he wasn’t looking very happy with life, and it looked like he was also injured around the mouth. I was spinning around trying to get shots of both the hyena and the leopard! The hyena then crossed back over again in front of us and went down the bank. We couldn’t see what was happening but Bushkid told us that the hyena walked directly under the leopard, who was keeping a wary eye on him. :shock: Soon after this the leopard jumped down and that was the last we saw of him! :(

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As we were leaving the leopard behind another hyena crossed the road quite far ahead of us, but by the time we got to the spot it had already disappeared. We carried on and I finally got to take a pic of a Bateleur. :dance:

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After this we had a quiet drive to Skukuza where we had to replenish our supplies of Hunters and Hansa – this was turning into another scorcher. Alessandro insisted on taking the H1-1, which is where we saw Kamea, the wild dog, on our last trip, but no luck this time. We got onto the Bume road where we saw some more rhino and some vultures drinking. There was one Saddlebilled Stork amongst them and it was definitely in charge, eventually chasing the vultures away!

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As we rounded a corner we came face to face with a very large and grumpy ellie. :big_eyes: He tossed his head and flapped his ears and Alessandro was behind the seat in a heartbeat! :roll: My dad made a super quick change into reverse and we were off! We kept a large distance between us and reversed around another corner but when the ellie came into view again, he actually started running towards us! Eventually he calmed down and moved off the road, but Alessandro could not be coaxed from his hiding place until we were well past the danger! :lol:

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After that excitement we made our way back to Lower Sabie to relax a bit. Before our afternoon drive we went to the pool again and even though I didn’t have a costume, I couldn’t resist climbing in with my clothes on – it was about 39 degrees by now – what bliss. :tongue:

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"I think the environment should be put in the category of our national security. Defense of our resources is just as important as defense abroad. Otherwise what is there to defend?"

SAY NO TO HOTEL DEVELOPMENTS IN KRUGER


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 Post subject: Re: Another Flutter...
Unread postPosted: Thu Apr 08, 2010 1:11 pm 
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Location: Paulshof, Gauteng
Day 4 – Continued

We got into the car in our wet costumes/clothes, feeling much cooler. We didn’t have time for a long drive so decided to head down the H4-1 to Nkuhlu and back again. There were lots of ellies in the thick bush along the road keeping us alert. :shock: We soon came across this young mom and baby - Alessandro’s cue to hide again! :roll:

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I got to tick off another new bird – a Southern Whitecrowned Shrike.

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This impala was covered in Oxpeckers having a very loud argument. :rtm:

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And at last I got a picture of a bushbuck that wasn’t in one of the camps. :tongue:

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We got to Nkuhlu and turned around. Soon after, we found this creature, slithering across the road. As soon as I lifted my camera he reared up and gave me the evil eye. :evil: He stayed like that for a bit before continuing on his way. It was about 1 metre long and I have been told that it is a Rufous Beaked Snake. I had been wanting to see a snake on this trip, so was very chuffed that he’d posed so nicely for me. :cam:

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As we hadn’t seen anything that had delayed us too much we still had some time before the gates closed. Alessandro asked if we could look for his otter again. We obliged, but found nothing interesting on the bridge this time, except for a lovely sunset – a fitting way to end our last full day in Kruger. :( :cry:

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We had seen the Big 5 plus wild dog, cheetah and clawless otter – we couldn’t have asked for more. But did Kruger have something else up it’s sleeve before we left the next morning…..? :whistle:

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"I think the environment should be put in the category of our national security. Defense of our resources is just as important as defense abroad. Otherwise what is there to defend?"

SAY NO TO HOTEL DEVELOPMENTS IN KRUGER


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 Post subject: Re: Another Flutter...
Unread postPosted: Fri Apr 09, 2010 11:33 am 
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Location: Paulshof, Gauteng
Day 5 – Lower Sabie – Johannesburg – 31 March

Once again we were up early, but not with the same spring in our step! :cry: We packed the car and left Lower Sabie as the gates opened. We turned onto the H4-1, headed for Kruger Gate with heavy hearts. At Sunset Dam we could hear the hippos, but couldn’t see them as it was still too dark. We drove on very slowly, trying to find anything in the gloom to prolong our trip.

About 6kms from Lower Sabie, it was getting a bit lighter, and my dad and I spotted something in the road at the same time. What was it? As we got closer my dad said it was lion, then I saw a flash of white on the tail and knew it was leopard! :shock: But not just one….3 leopard walking down the middle of the road towards us. :big_eyes: :big_eyes: It looked like a mother with 2 offspring of different ages - one a large cub and the other a teenager.

We reversed for about 1km, with the leopard moving back and forth across the road, totally unconcerned by our presence. Mom lay down once and we hoped they would all settle down, but she was up, and on the move again within seconds! The little one was very playful and jumped on the backs of the others a couple of times. :lol: We were the only car there for most of this, but even when two other cars arrived, they still carried on down the road! Eventually, they moved off the road and disappeared, but we must have had a good 10 minutes with them – what a truly magnificent sighting! :dance:

Now, this is where my photographic inexperience really shows! :redface: But then, the light was bad, we were reversing all the time, the leopard were moving, and I was so excited I was shaking – so I have a couple of good excuses for the poor photographs! :D

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You can see how close they were to us - I couldn't take the picture without getting the rearview mirror in!
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This is the only pic with all 3 together - mom is in front looking backwards, then teenager in the middle, and baby jumping at the back!
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This was the smallest one.
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This was, without a doubt, the best leopard sighting I have EVER had! They are normally partially hidden in a tree, or they dash across the road and disappear. To have three of them strolling down the road, and so close to us, was something magical! 8) It was just a pity I couldn’t get one clear photo of them – but at least we got to see them, and I do have the pics to remember them – even if they aren’t great (although one could say they do have a certain artistic merit - couldn't one?). :wink:

We carried on towards Kruger Gate on a natural high, marveling over this incredible encounter. Kruger always has an ace up it’s sleeve! Then…. when we crossed the N’waswitshake River…. we saw a …..KILL!! :big_eyes:

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OK…sorry…let’s say it was a mini-kill! :lol: Still, not a bad way to end our trip!

And what an amazing trip it was! We had seen the Big 5 (in style) PLUS wild dog PLUS cheetah PLUS Clawless Otter, and I had ticked off 29 new birds! :dance: I was feeling sad as we left Kruger behind, but I also couldn’t wait to get onto the Forum to show everyone what we had seen. I hope everyone has enjoyed reliving our trip with us, as much as I enjoyed telling it! So…until our next trip in September….Ciao!
:D

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"I think the environment should be put in the category of our national security. Defense of our resources is just as important as defense abroad. Otherwise what is there to defend?"

SAY NO TO HOTEL DEVELOPMENTS IN KRUGER


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 Post subject: Re: Another Flutter...
Unread postPosted: Fri Apr 09, 2010 9:01 pm 
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Look at the focus (the eyes), the power, the speed, in this! (I cropped the car out); I love it!

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 Post subject: Re: Another Flutter...
Unread postPosted: Mon Apr 12, 2010 11:39 am 
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I've been feeling quite lost since finishing my TR, so I thought I would share some more pics with you. :cam:

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_________________
"I think the environment should be put in the category of our national security. Defense of our resources is just as important as defense abroad. Otherwise what is there to defend?"

SAY NO TO HOTEL DEVELOPMENTS IN KRUGER


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 Post subject: Re: Another Flutter...
Unread postPosted: Wed Apr 14, 2010 12:38 pm 
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Location: Paulshof, Gauteng
More pics...

This is the ellie in the bum shot before he chased the giraffe away!

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Water Thick-Knee up close & personal.

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Too cute!

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This impala was not impressed with his new earrings!

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Guess who won this staring competition?

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This is how you keep kids in their place!

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Want some more? :huh:

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SAY NO TO HOTEL DEVELOPMENTS IN KRUGER


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