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 Post subject: kesheshe-Autumn Visits to KNP
Unread postPosted: Wed Mar 24, 2010 5:03 pm 
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Virtual Ranger
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Location: Pretoria
Hi Everyone

This is my first trip report. Visits to the park have mostly been in winter so we were keen to see the difference in Autumn. We just arrived back yesterday after visting Lower Sabie for 1 night and Skukuza for 3 nights.

Next visit commences in 4 weeks time - cannot wait.

Firstly Mellory it was nice to meet you in the park sorry we did not get more time to chat (maybe next trip). Did not see any other yellow ribbons during the 5 days.

The start did not go to plan we were meant to leave Friday morning at 2pm to arrive a Malelane gate arround 5.30am. As it always seems too work got in the way and we ended up leaving Pretoria at 10.30am. Had an pleasant drive and after grabbing at takeway at the Wimpy at Belfast we crossed over the bridge to our second home at 2.30pm.

As per normal entering went very smoothly and after sorting out the camera equipment, books etc we departed for lower Sabie. I guessed that we would see elephant first as we were travelling on the S25 and also it was mid afternoon. Well wife was correct as per normal as it was impala first closely followed by elephant.

The first impression was that the park was looking great - green with thick grass making sure that game spotting was going to be a challenge.

Mode of transport

Image

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2011 September KTP - 17 days

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 Post subject: Re: Autumn Visits to KNP
Unread postPosted: Thu Mar 25, 2010 3:05 pm 
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KTF hooked – posting the first photo took a bit of working out but think i have it sorted – time will tell

Terryc – only a medium size need as it was a short trip. Hopefully you will need many big buckets for next 11 days visit in 4 weeks time

Micetta – the thumbs up should go to Kruger and its animals

normana53 – even though it was a short visit the van is always ready to go anywhere on short notice

On arrival we drove the S25,S108,H5,H4-2 before arriving at Lower Sabie at 5.40pm.

Not sure what this is - Can anyone help?
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Black Shoulder Kite
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Information: Non breeding pairs roost communally at night in groups of 10-20. Clutch 2-6 eggs usually 3-4 with incubation period of 30-33 days.Fed only by female with food brought by male.

Leopard (not great was far and light not good)
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Spotted about 1-2km South of Lower Sabie camp on H4-2

Information: Leopards are capable of breeding at 2 years with gestation period of 90-100 days. They weight 400-600g at birth and open their eyes for the first time after 6-10 days.

European Roller (i think)?
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Information: Common summer visitor.

It would be appriciated if someone could advise me what is the best book to purchase relatede to insects, bugs etc.

We also spotted the normal suspects - giraffe, impala, warthog, elephant, waterbuck, hippo, mongoose, various birds etc

Check-in took about 40 minutes as it was very busy. We had a very long day so decided to book for diner and then went to unpack. After unpacking only the essentials as it was only a one night stay we proceeded to walk to diner. By this time it was dark and the noises of the African bush were all around which can only be good for a person’s soul. The restaurant was very quiet considering the camp was full so we sat outside on the deck. For those who know the setup the bar is quite close and the bulls were playing so there was a fair bit of noise (cannot imagine what it is going to be like during the world cup). Diner was pleasant due to the location but the service and food was average (not a complaint just an observation – and yes i have filled in the customer feedback form for the whole trip – both good and bad).

By the time we had finished diner and got back to the chalet it was 8.30pm so it was quick showers and bed. We awoke at 3.45am as planned (no we are not mad!) to enable us to enjoy what we classify as the best time in any wildlife area. We put the kettle on the gas bottle and by 4am were sitting on the veranda with coffee and rusks in total darkness with only the bush noises and our thoughts. These times for me and SO are magic and no amount of money can deliver what nature provides free of charge.

At 5.15am we had a quick chat about which roads to take to try and avoid most of the traffic (not really possible i know in the South) and decided on the S29,H10,H1-2. We packed the van and departed from Lower Sabie as the gate opened at 5.30am. It was still dark but only took a short while for the sun to make its spectacular appearance (what another tough day in Africa ahead of us – we are so blessed).

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2011 September KTP - 17 days

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 Post subject: Re: Autumn Visits to KNP
Unread postPosted: Fri Mar 26, 2010 7:26 pm 
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On going through the gate at Lower Sabie all the other vehicles headed down the H4-2 we assumed to look for the leopard from last night. We were the only ones to turn onto the H10 and go over the bridge. At this point i must state that mine and SO’s attitude is whatever we see is a bonus it is more about the overall experience therefore we were happy that we were going to be on our own. From a reference point of view we had the following books lying along the front window:

Signs of the wild
Nigel Dennis - Where to watch game in the kryger
Guide to kruger exploring
The Raptors guide to southern africa
The behaviour guide to african mammals
Newmans birds by colour
Readers Digest - South African Wildlife
Newmans - Birds of southern africa

Just enough i guess!

The light was now fantastic as we crawled along at 10-20km per hour. We turned onto the S29 and spotted side stripped jackal and then honey badger which were both animals that we have not seen often. When people say we had fantastic sighting and spent many minutes with XXX animal we hope they realise how lucky they are. We saw both for about 2-5 seconds each as they crossed the road and disappeared but still cannot get over the privilege of the sighting even as i am writing this days after the event (no chance of any photo’s).

This is where we comment on how some visitors to Kruger completely miss the point. As expected we now encountered a fair bit of traffic as we turned onto the H10 and we estimate that the majority were if not breaking the 50km speed limit were definitely over 40km and this includes people towing caravans etc. My point is forget the danger to the wildlife (which is obvious) what are you likely to see at that speed. Kruger is not just about the big animals but maybe i am wrong. Remember we are in the prime game viewing hours not in the heat of the middle of the day. We got the impression that some visitors drive around the park with the objective to cover as much distance as possible and hope to see the sighting by encountering traffic jams and not by finding opportunities themselves.

We arrived at TSHOKWANE at 10am and had a quick breakfast and proceeded to Skukuza along the H1-2. We arrived at Skukuza at 11.50am and check in went smoothly. We went to the chalet and as we were staying for the next 3 nights unpacked and got settled in. As it was now the middle of the day we elected to have a few hours sleep and got out for an afternoon drive at 3.30pm. We awoke at 3.15pm and when to pack snacks and cool drinks for the drive. SO opened the cupboard to find that ants had eaten through the packaging on tuk biscuits and peanuts. That was a bit unexpected. We cleaned as best we could and packed things in the van except tins etc. Yes we had packed stuff in front of the fridge so no problem there at least.

The afternoon drive was on H-1-2,S83,H12,H4-1.

We had the following sightings during the day: Lilac breasted roller, elephant, yellow billed hornbill, red billed horn bill,terrapin, impala, fish eagle, burchells courcal, waterbuck, giraffe,malachite kingfisher,white back vulture, mongoose (various types), ground hornbill, helmeted guineafowl, wire tailed swallow, hippo, side stripped jackal, black backed jackal, kudu, white rhino, spotted hyena, honey badger, redbilled oxpecker, walhbergs eagle, hammerkop, monitor lizard, baboon, wilderbbeest, martial eagle, blacksmith plover, burchells starling, swainsons francolin, steenbok, woodland kingfisher, pied kingfisher, marabou stork - various other birds.

Giraffe
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Information: Breeding is perennial but with most conceptions during the rains. Gestation is 14 - 14.5 months . Females can become pregnant at 4 years old but males need to 7 years to compete.

Need help to identify?
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Steenbok
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Information: Reproduce in 8 month intervals. Gestation is estimated at 166 - 177 days. Fawns weigh about 1 kg and are up after 5 minutes. At 2 weeks they begin to nibble
plants.

Need help to identify?
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Marabou stork
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Information: Unlike other storks they fly with their necks tucked in. Generally in groups of a few birds

Buffalo
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Information: Females calve first at 5 years and 3 - 4 years males are ready to enter reproductive competition. Gestation period of 11.5 months with weight at birth between 35 - 50kg and on feet after 10 minutes

Snail
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On arrival back at camp we went to the shop and bought some firewood and went back to the chalet to braai.

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I cannot think of anything nicer than sitting out with the food cooking on the fire having a glass of wine with loved ones. After diner once again it was a quick shower and of to bed. It started to rain around 9pm which totally changes the smells and sounds. I do not know how anyone else feels but the smell of bush during and after rain is one of the things i look forward to the most.

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2011 September KTP - 17 days

I am against hotels in KNP


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 Post subject: Re: Autumn Visits to KNP
Unread postPosted: Sat Mar 27, 2010 6:20 pm 
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Virtual Ranger
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thanks - that took awhile.

Up again (and yes 3.45am) and enjoyed the usual coffee and rusks. It was still raining so we just sat and enjoyed the smells and the sound of the rain landing on the trees etc. I packed the van in the rain (yes i did the honourable thing). We entering the park at 5.30am and the rain was still coming down quite heavily ensuring game viewing would be difficult. We had decided to travel on the H1-2, S83, H4-1, S21, S112, H3, S65, and H11 – total distance in the region of 130km. We knew it was going to be a day with lots of traffic but had in a way already prepared ourselves for this.

We drove the H1-2 then onto the S83 which were both quiet due to the weather. We then turned onto the H12 and came across a pride of four lions as we crossed the bridge. It was still raining so no real opportunity for photographs but they were on the move at a rapid speed. They looked like a fairly young pride and maybe a split from the large pride we were to see on the H1-2 the next day.

Lion
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Information: Breeding is non seasonal with females breeding at between 43 – 54 months. Gestation period is 14 – 15 weeks with a litter average of 3 cubs with a birthing interval of 20 – 30 months. Lion cubs weight 1 – 2 kg’s’ and are completely helpless, The cubs eyes open at 3-11 days and can walk at 10 – 15 days and run at 25 – 30 days. They can scratch the first day but bite only after the milk teeth erupt at 21 – 30 days. Suckling bouts last 1 – 10 minutes and at 4 months cubs suck about 15 minutes per day.

We proceed to Nkuhlu for a quick pit stop and cup of coffee. We were grateful that the Stanley flask really keeps the water hot. After getting back on the road we could not have travelled more than a few km’s and as we can over a rise we encountered a lone spotted hyena running down the road. About 500m down the road we also noticed to cars stopped by the side of the road. We assumed they were waiting for the hyena to come to them - how wrong we were. The hyena was moving quickly at the same time making vocal sounds but veered of into the push about 100m before reaching the other cars. As we reached the vehicle they indicated for us to stop as they had just witnessed a leopard kill an impala not 5 metres from the road. It was nice of them so we turned off the van and started to observe. The leopard had moved 15-20m away from the kill maybe due to the threat of the hyena. After about 20-30 minutes the other vehicles moved on so we sat and waited, observed on our own. Within another 5 minutes various vehicles had approached from different directions and had asked what we were watching. We advised each one therefore the traffic built up till it became congested. Eventually the leopard must have decided enough of this and departed from the screen. I guess opportunity lost for us and the leopard due to the location. After some time discussing this with SO in the van as we moved on we could not come to a conclusion on the following. During the 5 minutes we were on our own should we have departed as other visitors would maybe not have seen the situation even though it was close to the road the bush was quite thick. Maybe then the leopard would have moved back onto the kill and got its well deserved meal. We did not directly affect the situation but maybe we should have moved on?

We stopped at Afsaal and had something to eat but did not look for the owl as the place was absolutely packed and not our cup of tea. We then travelled back to Skukuza via H3, S65 and H11.We were glad in a way to get back to the chalet as the amount of traffic was unbelievable. After having a light snack we went for an afternoon rest. Got up at 3.15am and were in the park by 3.30pm for our afternoon drive. Afternoon drive was H1-2, S83, H12 and down Salitje road. We did the same in reverse on the way back to camp.

Sighting for the day: leopard tortoise, terrapin, Squirrel, Great Egret, Reed Cormorant, water Dikkop, Egyptian Goose, Crocodile, fork tailed dronga, long tailed shrike, lion, leopard, impala, tawny eagle, zebra, bushbuck, vervet monkey, baboon, spotted hyena, lourie, snails, ostrich, buffalo, mongoose, hammerkop, other various birds

Mongoose
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Leopard Tortise
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Bushbuck
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Information: Gestation period of 6 7 months and sometimes do produce 2 young in a bit over a year. Calves drop in dense cover and do not accompany their mothers into the open for up to nearly 4 months. The horn first appears at 10 months and begins to twist at 1.5 years but only reach full size at 3 years.

Baboon
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Information: Troop sizes vary between 15 – 100. The gestation period of 6 months with no strict birthing season as well most births occur at night. Riding in the jockey position begins at 6 – 12 weeks but some baboons never change from the ventral position.

We arrived back at the chalet at just before 6pm and decided that it would be spaghetti and sauce for dinner tonight. After a very enjoyable and relaxed dinner we were in bed by 8.30pm. The stars and the moon were clearly visible tonight as it appeared to be a fairly cloudless sky.

Have more pics from this day will post tomorrow.

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2011 September KTP - 17 days

I am against hotels in KNP


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 Post subject: Re: Autumn Visits to KNP
Unread postPosted: Sun Mar 28, 2010 8:50 am 
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Additional photo's from the Sunday drives as promised.

Impala
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Information: Females conceive first at 1.5 years with a gestation period of 194 – 200 days. The females isolate in cover several hours before calving usually in midday. It is unclear how long the fawn remains concealed but reportedly in 1 – days they follow their mothers back to the herd.

Spotted Hyena
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Information: Gestation period of between 98 – 132 days. Cubs at birth weight 1.5kg with open keys but blind. Cubs are ready to eat meat at 2.5 months but only a privileged few get to eat regularly before they are 7 8 months. They only begin to hunt effectively on their own at 1.5 years old.

General birds
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Water Dikkop
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Information: Calls at night and at dusk, a piping melancholy ''whee-wheeoo-wheeoo". Normally found in single birds or small groups on the banks of large rivers or lakes where there is fringing vegetation.

Web (no not the internet!)
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European Roller
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Mongoose
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I am against hotels in KNP


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 Post subject: Re: Autumn Visits to KNP
Unread postPosted: Sun Mar 28, 2010 12:17 pm 
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By now the morning routine is set so we depart when the gate opens at 5.30am. Our plan was to travel north on the back roads as we thought that a large number of visitors would be leaving the park today and all travelling South. As we commented at the beginning of the report we normally stay in the northern areas of the park so some of the roads we were going to travel on today would be for the first time so we had no idea what to expect.

The morning drive was H1-2, S83, S33, S36, S125 and H1-3 up to Satara for a break and something to eat. In general when we got off the main road there was very little traffic and it was nice to drive roads we had never been on. Like opening birthday or Christmas presents i guess. It was 130km drive to get there and about 70km straight back down the H1-3. Yes more driving than we would have liked but had planned for a fairly long day.

The dams along the roads were without doubt some of the best in Kruger and the picnic site at Nhlanguleni was a hidden gem. We arrived at Satara around 11am had something to eat and left to return to Skukuza. We arrived back at the chalet around 2pm a little bit tired so there was time to grab a nap for just over an hour before we went on the afternoon drive at 3.30pm.

The afternoon drive we selected H11, S65, H1-1 and then a short drive down the H1-2. We arrived back in camp at 5.55pm went straight to the chalet to cook dinner and just relax after a long driving day. SO went to shower as i started the fire only for her to find out that they had taken the towels and not replaced them. This is a bit frustrating as it surely does not take much to manage these kinds of activities. Just as well we had brought our own towels.

We really just felt like relaxing so we decided to just do toasted sandwiches on the fire. It actually worked out nicely as we sat with our red and white wine. As we were leaving the park tomorrow after dinner we pack most of the van just leaving cameras etc in the chalet to make it quick and easy in the morning. We were asleep by 9pm as normal to ensure we could get up early the next morning.

Sighting for the day: Lion, black mamba, saddle billed stork, water Dikkop, hamerkop, zebra, wildebeest, common duiker, giraffe, baboon, vervet monkey, impala, hippo, warthog, ants, dung beetle, elephant, buffalo, crocodile, vultures, grey heron, other various birds

We had just received new camera equipment on the Wednesday before we arrived in the park so there was a lot of practicing going on as we tried to find the best setting etc. SO takes most of the photo’s but i am starting to get involved in the hobby. Carried a fair amount of lenses but stuck to the following:
A700 – 50-500mm Sigma (Bigma)
A900 – 70-400Gmm Sony (Full frame setup – very much a learning trip)

Shy Baboon (leave me alone go take photo of someone else!)
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Lion
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Information: Males weight in the region of 189kg with an average height of 120cm. Females weight in the region of 126kg with an average height of 110cm. Lions typically spend 20 – 21 hours a day resting. They have a maximum speed of 48 – 59kph which they can maintain for hardly more than 100m. The hunting success rate of lone hunters is 17 -19% compared to 30% when in a group. Lions can eat up to a quarter of their weight up to 50kg whereas the average daily consumption is only 5 – 7kg.

More general wildlife photo's in the next installment. Guess it was a day for lions!

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2011 September KTP - 17 days

I am against hotels in KNP


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 Post subject: Re: Autumn Visits to KNP
Unread postPosted: Mon Mar 29, 2010 9:41 am 
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KTF hooked - ye lions were very wet.

normana53 - Just started to take an interest in birds and smaller things. What a challenge this is going to be.

fenwickh - thanks and you are right if though it was a short trip we were quite lucky

Pumbaa - the cubs were so cute ye just sat and watched for a while and only them did we think about a photo

Mellory - the second set of lion pics were taken at the junction with the S83 therefore i think the ones on the bridge are a split from the bigger pride.

Micetta - still thinking about whether we should have moved.

More pics from the Monday drives.

Dung Beetle
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Information: Length between 5 – 50mm. They normally roll the dung into a ball with it being many times bigger and heavier than them. They will travel with the ball and then bury it in a hole it digs in the ground. Mating takes place in this bridal chamber and in due course the female lays an egg in a hollow at the side of the ball of dung.

Hippo
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Information: Males weight is 1600 – 3200kg with a height of 140 – 165cm. Females weight is 650 – 2300kg. The incisors are around 30 – 40cm with the tusks at 50cm kept sharp by honing against short upper canines. Gestation period is 8 months and weight is 25 – 55 kg at birth.

Scenic
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Elephant
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Information: Fully mature bulls average over 3m and 5000kg with cows at 2.5m and 3000kg.First conception occurs at 10 – 11 years and the intervals between calves ranges from 4 – 9 years. Gestation period is 22 months.

Zebra
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Information: Males heights are 127 – 140cm with weight of 250kg, with females at 220kg. The bachelor herd consists of 2 – 15 with an average of 3 – 6.

Scenic
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Buffalo
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Information: Males height is 135 – 170cm with a weight of 425 -870kg with female weight at 576kg average. Females calve first at about 5 years in the region of 3 – 4 years before males are ready to enter the reproductive completion. Birth weight averages 35 – 50kg and can gain their feet within 10 minutes after birth.

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I am against hotels in KNP


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 Post subject: Re: Autumn Visits to KNP
Unread postPosted: Tue Mar 30, 2010 8:50 am 
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More photo's from the monday drives.

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 Post subject: Re: Autumn Visits to KNP
Unread postPosted: Wed Mar 31, 2010 4:46 pm 
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Up early as normal and packed the last few items in the van. We proceed to drop of the key and head out as the gate opened. Weather wise it was one of those magnificent mornings in the bush and once again we play our game of cat and mouse with the wildlife. The day’s drive was H1-2, S83, H4-1, H1-1 and H3 a distance of 95km to Malelane gate.

It was a fairly quite drive and we reached Afsaal at 8.30am. Now i know why everyone complains about the game viewing vehicles from outside the park as there must have been between 25 at least park at Afsaal. We had a quick stop and proceeded down the H3 towards Malelane gate. After about 7km we can across lions walking in the road. The young females were quite away in front with the big male in the middle and the old collared female a long way behind. The youngsters would wait for the male every now and again just as he would wait for the older female. It was fascinating to just watch the behaviour and as all the game viewing vehicles were still at Afsaal it was actually quite quiet traffic wise. We must have followed then for 2-3 km and then decided to drive on as they looked like they still were intent on walking a lot further. Now and again the male would mark territory and youngsters would stop and look intensely as if spotting hunting opportunities. They must have been heading to the river which after driving past them we estimated was at least another 2-3km away. We are sure they will have been exhausted when they got there as it was hot and the total distance must have been in the region of 5-6km.

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Lions spotted ealier in the day on the H12 heading back to Skukuza.

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Sightings for the day: Lion, Hyena, birds, impala, baboon, vulture, elephant

We departed from Kruger at 10.30am and had a safe and uneventful drive back to Pretoria where we arrive home at 2.45pm. We decide it best to unpack straight away and were sitting outside on the patio by 3.30pm with a coffee discussing how much we still enjoy Kruger. Yes it is by no means perfect but it is like a lot of things in life it comes down to alloying yourself to experience the highs and the lows.

To summaries this trip:
• Animal sighting were more than we normally see in the north
• Traffic in the south is hectic and if you want the proper Kruger experience in our option with sightings your can sit for hours at the south is not for you
• The bush was still green and thick at this time of year making prime game viewing from a photographic point of view a real challenge
• The condition of the chalets was pretty poor and all service areas were average at best
• Entry and exit from the park was is run very smoothly
• We think the new check-in and check-out times are going to take some careful planning for our next trip in 3 weeks time
• Food at the restaurants and takeaways did not offer value for money or quality. We mixed and matched with self catering but would seriously recommend completely self catering
• Not many yellow ribbons spotted – do not know why?
• Sighting boards still confuse a little. Do not know why they just don’t standardise the colours across the whole park – all camps.
• The majority of the animals we spotted looked to be in very good condition – as expected coming towards the end of summer
• Must be honest we did not see many visitors breaking any rules except maybe speed related
• We found the park shops a bit expensive but in general stocked the basics you would need. We would recommend carrying your own wood if that is your option to braai based on the quality available from the shops
• Nhlanguleni picnic spot was a real surprise and we would definitely recommend a visit
• Ants were as much of a problem if more than the monkeys – not an issue for us but providing information for people to take note off
• We have just started learning about the birds, insects etc (shame on us) which we found fascinating and would encourage visitors to pay more attention to everything around them to deliver a more holistic experience. Guess it will be trees and plants next

It has been a real pleasure doing the trip report and being able to share but i must be honest it is a lot more work than i originally thought it would be. My suggestion to anyone going to write a trip report is make sure you write down activities, times, feelings etc as you actually go through the trip as doing this from pure memory at the end could be extremely difficult especially for longer trips.

I will maybe post some additional photo’s from previous trip to satisfy your additions as it is 22 more sleeps till we entry Kruger to document the sequel.

Thanks everyone for taking the time to reading part 1.

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2011 September KTP - 17 days

I am against hotels in KNP


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 Post subject: Re: Autumn Visits to KNP
Unread postPosted: Tue Apr 06, 2010 8:21 am 
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RayK, RondaGreen, Meandering Mouse, fenwickh, KTF hooked, Pumbaa, Micetta - thanks for comments.

Just some photo's from other trips:

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17 sleeps to go!

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 Post subject: Re: Autumn Visits to KNP
Unread postPosted: Thu Apr 08, 2010 5:39 pm 
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14 sleeps to go!

Saw the report with the photo's of the Shingwdezi river flowing. Can anyone advise should it still be flowing when i get there as all the times i have been there (mostly winter) it has basically been dry?

Can anyone recommend drives and regular sightings at Shingwedzi?

I have 3 nights and thought of:

first day arrive mid afternoon and drive close to camp say S50,S134.

Day 2 drive H1-7, S56, H1-7, H1-8 to crooks corner for lunch - straight back down TO camp - are my calculation correct that it would be a round trip of 220km at say 25km per hour 11hours - long day but doable

day 3 - after long drive yesterday take redrocks and do a uturn at junction with S144 in the morning. Afternoon drive close around camp

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 Post subject: Re: Autumn Visits to KNP
Unread postPosted: Mon Apr 12, 2010 4:55 pm 
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Ye page turned so i guess it is Photo time!

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 Post subject: Re: Autumn Visits to KNP
Unread postPosted: Sun Apr 18, 2010 8:33 am 
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5 sleeps to go!

Doing some of the shopping today and the balance on Thursday so my excitment level is building.

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on all my travels this is as real as my owl sightings go - so lets hope this trip

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2011 September KTP - 17 days

I am against hotels in KNP


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 Post subject: Re: Autumn Visits to KNP
Unread postPosted: Thu May 06, 2010 6:33 pm 
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Virtual Ranger
Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Tue Jul 14, 2009 9:44 am
Posts: 556
Location: Pretoria
Hi Everyone

Got back safely from my trip to kruger. It was planned for 10 days but when we were there extended it to 12 days so only got back on Tuesday. Sorry for slow update but then ran into login problems when i got back like alot of people i guess.

Glad it is sorted out now and can start the report on the second trip to Kruger within a month.

We ended up staying at:

Shingwedzi - 3 nights
Mopani - 1 night
Letaba - 2 nights
Talamati - 3 nights
Lower Sabie - 2 nights

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2011 September KTP - 17 days

I am against hotels in KNP


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 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Autumn Visits to KNP
Unread postPosted: Sat May 08, 2010 8:09 am 
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Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Tue Jul 14, 2009 9:44 am
Posts: 556
Location: Pretoria
23rd April Friday - Day 1

We got up at 2.45pm filled with excitement as the waiting was over and the second trip to Kruger within a month was upon us. As SO made the coffee and filled the flask, snacks etc for the road while i commenced with the final packing of the van. We eventually hit the road at 4.10am in the dark. As we were driving in the dark we decide the best route would be to take the main roads and enter at Phalabowa gate based on advice provided by the forum.

We reached Phalabowa at 9am and decide to fill up and grab something to eat a steers as the van was loaded and the parking was save. The drive to the gate was 479km without any event which is always good. We arrived at the gate at 9.45am and the entry went smoothly as normal with basically no queue. Before entering the park we took a browse around the community shop at the gate which surprised us as the pricing was very reasonable. We decided to purchase one of those birding sticker just in case we stopped to concentrate on a bird, as the trip progressed this turned out to be a wise decision.

We had a quick chat and decided that the opportunity to do proper macro photography while in the van was really non existence so the setup was SO had the Sony A900 with the 70 – 400G and the 1.4x convertor. I had the A700 with Sigma 50 – 500mm with the 2x convertor. We sorted out the back seat of the van with the camera equipment sorted out for easy access.

The drive from the gate to Shingwedzi was 135km and we planned for a brief stop at Mopani to stretch our legs and to get some refreshments. The drive was on the following roads: H9, H14 and H1-6.

The first sighting were birds as we reached the bridge crossing over the Letaba river after about 30km where the river was flowing but not with great force but there was a substantial amount of debris stacked against the upper side of the bridge which provided some good birding and photo opportunities. The weather was overcast and the wind was blowing quite hard which made photography quite a challenge.

If any of the photographers out there can provide some tips on how to deal with the wind they would be greatly appreciated. To provide some kind of scenario the wind was so strong it was moving the van never mind the camera on the beanbag. Thought of changing to shutter speed and increasing it but the problem we then encountered was the light was no good due to the dark over head clouds and the debris. In addition the birds were actually fluctuating in the wind. All in all it was very challenging conditions for beginners.

White Fronted Bee-Eater
Common resident. It is identified by white forehead and upper throat, plus red lower throat. The call is a querulous ‘’quirk’’ and other similar sounds. It is found in flocks near rivers, often mixing with other bee-eaters.

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Pied Kingfisher
Common resident. The call is a high pitched twittering, often by 2 or more birds at the same time. In pairs or small parties inland on rivers or dams and at coastal lagoons, estuaries and shoreline rock pools. Habitually hover over water while fishing, then plunge-dive to seize their prey.

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2011 September KTP - 17 days

I am against hotels in KNP


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