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 Post subject: KNP tripreport April 2010
Unread postPosted: Fri Apr 30, 2010 10:21 am 
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Joined: Wed Jun 25, 2008 10:27 am
Posts: 181
Location: Netherlands
02 April departure

Dear forumites, since this is the first time that I am reporting in a foreign language, I hope you will forgive me a big number of mistakes.
On the second of april our plane went up on schedule from Amsterdam to Frankfurt, for a short flight of about one hour. Only 1 and a half hour later a boeing 747 flew us from Frankfurt to Jo’burg. The plane took off about 22:30 and we arrived the next morning in Jo’burg, about 09:15. BTW, there is no time difference between Amsterdam and Jo’burg.

03 April Hazyview
Picked up our car at Avis, Hyundai Tucson, and left for our first destination, a lodge called chestnut countrylodge , just past Hazyview, near Phabeni gate. The lodge was quit luxurious, spacious rooms , excellent food and friendly staff! I was quit tired when we arrived, since a night in a plane followed by a 6 hours drive is not easy, especially when one is not used to drive the left side of the road.
04 April Skukuza
After a good night sleep we headed for phabeni gate, with skukuza as final destination for the first night. At the entrance was a traffic jam and it took us over an hour to get in! People an advice, DON”T TAKE PHABENI GATE ON A SUNDAY, especially not on a public holiday!
We drove the tar road S1 one to Skukuza, after the first animal we encountered (surprisingly Buffalo), we hit the jackpot; 4 Wild dogs walked the tar road towards us, just passed Nyamundwa dam! I decided instantly to turn around and wait for them as they were walking quit fast, so I followed the doggies for a while together with only a few cars luckily, and at Nyamundwa, they decided to drink and one of them actually took a bath!! We followed the dogs a little more, till we were so far back, almost at the gate again that we decided to turn around and continue our tour into the park.
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As we came closer to Skukuza my wife got really sick (migraine) and we had to cancel the drive for the rest of the day. After a lot of arguing with the manager at Skukuza I managed to get a temporary tent so my wife could lay down. So day one was finished very quickly.

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 Post subject: Re: KNP tripreport April 2010
Unread postPosted: Fri Apr 30, 2010 10:48 am 
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Joined: Wed Jun 25, 2008 10:27 am
Posts: 181
Location: Netherlands
5 april Lower Sabie

The next morning luckily Yvonne felt better and so we went off for destination Lower Sabie for 6 nights! Lower Sabie is our favorite area, that’s why we wanted to stay there for 6 nights. We had a lot of rain and even massive thunderstorms in Skukuza and today it still is cloudy and it’s just a matter of hours before it will start raining again. We drove the H1-1 followed by the S114 in direction Afsaal. It was very quite , but the first animals we saw: AGAIN A PACK OF WILD DOGS!!!. Amazing, during our previous trips to KNP ( 4 times) we never managed to encounter wild dogs and now we see them two days in a row, this proves once more that nothing is more unpredictable than wild life! There were again only a few cars and the wild dogs stayed more or less on the same place, it seemed they were playing with the leftovers of their kill probably from earlier that morning. They were very playful, but quit far away, the pack must have been about 8 dogs or so. We found them just after a few Kilometers on the S114.
Than it started to rain again, and it kept on raining until about 15:00 !! We saw therefore a lot less animals, but we saw two big male lions lying completely uncovered in the rain at the renosterkoppies waterhole. We drove S114 down to Afsaal , than back, the S114 and the S26 Burne road , H5 and H4-2 to Lower Sabie, we saw Ellies, Bateleur Eagle,Tawny Eagle, goliath heron, African darter, and some birds we could not identify, including a kestrel or falcon. When we reached LS, we were informed that a cheetah is stationary only 100 meters past the bridge over Sabie river on the H10. So we decided to go there, we found the cheetah, but there were about 30 cars or so with the cheetah (and it’s kill) so it was not easy to get a good sighting. We did somehow manage to take some pics, but didn’t stay too long because of the traffic. It’s sad to see how some people just throw their car in front of everyone else and don’t care if they block other people’s view! After this we went back to camp and had dinner at the restaurant from LS.
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 Post subject: Re: KNP tripreport April 2010
Unread postPosted: Fri Apr 30, 2010 11:21 am 
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Joined: Wed Jun 25, 2008 10:27 am
Posts: 181
Location: Netherlands
06 April Lower Sabie
What a surprise , it rained again!, we left the camp at 06:00 never the less to do a big 6 hour drive to Tshokwane and back with lots of detours of course. We started to drive the H10 all the way up without detours. We saw 4 lions lying on the tar road 20 km south of Tshokwane. They were very relaxed and didn’t mind the vehicles at all! It was very quit this morning, we saw only a few cars, but wildlife was quit as well, probably because of the rain. After we went back from Tshokwane , the weather improved and so did the sightings, we saw a lot more wild on our way back. We got back at around 13:00h. Special sightings: A big group of about 20 Black billed stork near Mlondozi dam accompanied by a fish eagle, a group of open billed stork at mlondozi dam (about 10 of them) , striped Chukoo (twice), black backed jackals ,black bellied bustard (twice),European Bea eaters, White rhino with calve, white headed vulture, a huge baboon troop sitting on the tar road (about 100 of them) with impala and even bull Kudu , and a massive breeding herd of buffalo close to lower Sabie on the H10 again. Strangely we had more sightings of Kudu than Impala today! Back at camp we booked a sunset drive with Martie or Irvin I guess.
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We did the afternoon drive with Martie (Thanx again for letting them know I would arrive Anita) and it was a great one, we almost immediately saw a martial eagle sitting in an old tree nearby LS camp. And halfway the drive we saw Lions mating! Yvonne taped the sound of it, but unfortunately we had a guest who needed to eat crunchy chips just at that moment grrrr. But still it was a great sighting!! Other special sightings: A breeding herdbuffalo, a marsh owl, small spotted Genet, finally one who stayed foot en let us take fine pictures, and a puff adder on the side of the road.
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 Post subject: Re: KNP tripreport April 2010
Unread postPosted: Fri Apr 30, 2010 3:01 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jun 25, 2008 10:27 am
Posts: 181
Location: Netherlands
7 april Lower Sabie
We left at 06:00 and did the tar road to Crocodile bridge this time. We came back over the dirt roads S28/S37 and S82, but no matter where we drove, the only place with lots of game was the last 10 km tar road towards croc bridge. Strange, it was the first day without rain but the day with the least wild so far, people we spoke all told us that it was quite for them as well. On the tar road H4-2 I got out of the car to pick up a turtle who was on the road and put it in a safe place. When I got back in the car and drove off, we noticed that 40 meters from where I got off the car there was a duggaboy rolling in the mud, pfeww, that made me realize again how tricky getting out of the cat at any time can get! But if I find a turtle on the road again, I probably go out to set it safe again, sorry, that’s me.
The most exciting sighting was with no doubt the Secretary bird on the S28! Other special sightings; Woodland kingfisher, and a so far unidentified eagle by me, after checking with Irvin he suspected it of being a Tawny eagle in a pale form. The picture is taken from very far away so not that good, but hopefully clear enough. If anyone has an opinion about this bird please let me know, could it be wahlberg's eagle aswell?
Or is it tawny? Is this a juvenile? Please help me with this one. I also put 2 pictures of "regular" tawny's, next to it, just for the fun of it.
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After a short break on the pool, we decided to make a short afternoon drive ourselves and left around 16:00 hour. We drove north in direction of Skukuza, and at the sunset dam close to the gate we saw a lot of game: a croc, hippo , white crowned lapwing, blacksmith plover, waterbuck, impala, giant kingfisher, pied kingfisher, fish eagle. I probably have forgotten some species but ok. Later on we saw a white rhino with calve along the tar road, buffalo and bushbuck.
Just after we were in the restaurant heaven opened his gates again and the rain came down like crazy! It made me feel sorry for Martie and the other rangers who might have gone out on the afternoon drive.

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 Post subject: Re: KNP tripreport April 2010
Unread postPosted: Sat May 01, 2010 11:03 am 
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Joined: Wed Jun 25, 2008 10:27 am
Posts: 181
Location: Netherlands
8 april Lower Sabie

We left at 06:00 again, and this time it was cloudy but luckily it didn’t rain. We had the best drive ever and the most exciting thing happened on the H4-1 just past the N’watimhiri causeway turnoff!! A hyena was very interested In our car and was very playful, running up and down again, standing against our car and probably enjoying the warm air coming out of the front grill. As I looked in my back mirror after a while, I saw a female leopard approaching from behind walking along the tar road!!! I instantly put my car aside and the hyena walked away for 50 meters. As my car was out of the way, the leopard and the hyena soon noticed each other. They both approached , and I already felt sorry for the leopard. But then it happened; The leopard charged the Hyena, who was so surprised that it backed off!! My wife managed to film this and I embadded this short film below. As the leopard disappeared we continued our way in direction Skukuza, and choose to take the H12/N1-2 instead at the junction H12/H4-1. It was surprisingly calm on the road to Skukuza, We really didn’t see many cars at all! On the Marula loop (S83) we spotted a leopard again!! This time a male. We lost it quickly since it crossed the road, so we decided to turn back via the tar road (H1-2), hoping we could spot it crossing here. As we drove back we saw him again in the bush next to the road! We made a few pictures and then he left again. So 2 leopards, 3 sightings, within an hour!!!! We also saw lionesses at a kill at Phabeni road 10 km past Skukuza, but it was far from the road and we couldn’t get a clear view. Other highlights : a tawny eagle feeding on a francolin in a tree, a bateleur just a branch below right underneath it to catch anything that might fall down,( very funny sighting), chameleon and scrub hare (quit unusual during broad daylight) , long tailed paradise whydah, Saddle billed stork together with warthog and an elephant at Mlondozi road, Ground hornbills at Salitje road, and then there were the two cheetahs (Harry and Willie ??) at Mlondozi road, 3 km north of the dam. Although we already could take really good pictures of them, they felt sorry for us and decided to climb the highest point in the area a hill with a fallen tree on it. Everyone got the best pictures, at least 10 cars got all clear view at the same time!!!! We got back at camp around 13:30 hour, we were very tired after this long but most fulfilling drive!
View My Video

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At 17:00 hour we had planned to go out on an afternoon drive with one of the guides, but it rained heavily again and the trip was cancelled, so we decided to book the next afternoon drive. We had dinner again in the restaurant, but it started to get boring, since the menu hardly changes and there is very little choice!

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 Post subject: Re: KNP tripreport April 2010
Unread postPosted: Sat May 01, 2010 1:37 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jun 25, 2008 10:27 am
Posts: 181
Location: Netherlands
9 april Lower Sabie
We went out late, 06:30 and since we had no plan for this day we just drove a little here and a little there, all in all it was not a game rich morning drive , and we already arrived back at LS camp at 10:45. The only sightings worth mentioning were a Lion walking the tar road, a huge elephant on old Tschokwane road, ground hornbill , and a martial eagle nicely in a tree closeby at lower sabie bridge.
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We did the afternoon drive with Raymond, Martie felt a little sick so she stayed home. It was a nice drive, especially the last hour and a half. Highlights: Lion, genet cat, Barn owl, Rhino, Hyena, ellies, lesser bush baby, and my personal highlight; African wildcat catching a mouse! Thanx again for the drive Raymond!

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 Post subject: Re: KNP tripreport April 2010
Unread postPosted: Sat May 01, 2010 5:14 pm 
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Posts: 181
Location: Netherlands
normana53 wrote:
Wonderful photos! I enjoyed your short video clip, the Hyena did look very confused. The Eagle and Bateleur picture is kind of funny, did the Bateleur get and scraps?



Yes, hahaha, the hyena didn't know what happened to him, he looks quite inexperienced to me.
I don't think the bateleur got a lot of the meat, but I am quite convinced it sat there for left overs, I have never seen a bateleur and a tawny so close to one another.

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 Post subject: Re: KNP tripreport April 2010
Unread postPosted: Sun May 02, 2010 11:31 am 
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Joined: Wed Jun 25, 2008 10:27 am
Posts: 181
Location: Netherlands
10 april Lower Sabie

We were out at six and took the southern circuit to croc bridge, via H4-2/H5/S108 and S25, since wild dogs are a regular sighting in this area the last days. However we didn’t find them, neither did we find the cheetahs on the S28 on our way back. We still had a very good drive though: We saw a lion on the s28, quit a lot of ellies, a breeding herd of Buffalo, a huge herd of Impalas, at least 300 species (we really counted them), a lot of birds of prey, of which Osprey was the most uncommon for me ,lappet face vultures( at least 5), again a barn owl, a chameleon, loads of zebbie and wildebeest, and we had 3 or 4 rhino sightings. We were stunned by the amount of game we saw close to croc bridge, there is really a great amount of game in this area!
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We did a short afternoon drive from 4 till 6 and choose mlondozi road, Mlondozi dam and via the tar road H10 back to LS. We had strange cloudy weather with a very strong wind blowing. We didn’t expect too much, since my experience is that the only thing worse than rain to find animals is strong wind, but in the end the game drive was not bad at all! A lot of waterbuck and Kudu (they always seems to be around in that area, and we saw 3 lions laying on the H10 on our way back. Other highlights were a bateleur eagle balancing in a very tiny tree and facing the wind, directly next to the road, which finally gave us the chance to photograph this eagle from less than 5 meters!!! Further elephant, black backed jackel, and hippo out of the water. Later that evening we had a chat with Martie and Shannon , and said goodbye. I was very glad that we saw Martie before we left.

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 Post subject: Re: KNP tripreport April 2010
Unread postPosted: Sun May 02, 2010 12:13 pm 
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Posts: 181
Location: Netherlands
11 april Satara

We drove off at 06:00, to be honest, I was glad to leave LS, not because of the game drives and Martie of course, but because 6 days in the same bungalow, with no utilities en little space , and a restaurant with little variation in menu started to get boring. We decided after a firm discussion (my wife wanted to take the H10, I preferred the H4-1/H12/H1-2) to drive the route of my preference ( since I drive the car probably ;-)). It was cloudy and very cool, and the first hour we saw only a hyena and a few bushbuck and finally our first duiker from this visit. I was worried since on previous visits we saw a lot of them and now they have seemed to vanished. In the Skukuza area, we had 3 lion sightings within an hour or so, that prevented my wife from blaming me for making the wrong choice :D .The rest of our drive we saw Martial eagle again, a pair of Grysbok (are they uncommon around thsokwane?) and wooly necked stork ( at kumana waterhole) ,and we had a brief sighting of a leopard at the turn of on the Baobab tree loop. There were about 10 cars and none of them had good visual since the leopard lay down in a hole behind tall grass. Close to Satara there was an increasing of game activity including big herds of Zebra, Impala, Wildebeest, lot of giraffe as well.

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On our short afternoon drive we saw a lot of elephant at Nsemani (H7), a big breeding herd of Buffalo, fish eagle and again marshal eagle, a lot of vultures, duikers, giraffe, hippo, zebbies, impala, kudu, crocodile, wildebeest. Especially the Nsemani dam is a great place to see a lot of game activity! But the highlight was back at camp; We saw 3 Honey badgers (our first sighting of badgers ever) and they were just playing with each sniffing, growling and basically having a lot of fun, 20 meters from our bungalow!. We took pictures and even filmed a little although it was dark. I am so glad I finally saw those guys, thank you Satara! Later on I caught one of these naughty guys robbing a garbage can.

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 Post subject: Re: KNP tripreport April 2010
Unread postPosted: Mon May 03, 2010 9:04 am 
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Location: Netherlands
Meandering Mouse wrote:
They are one of my favourite on the little buck. I have seen many close to Punda and they do tend to be very shy. It would be interesting to know if the Grysbok are migrating futher south for some reason. There seem also to be an increase of Nyala sightings futher south.


Nyala absolutly!!!
I saw them both in 2008 (august) and 2009 (may) in the same area where I spotted the grysboks.The area between Skukuza and Tshokwane (H1-2), is a strange area, Sable antelope is also seen there sometimes, especially the area around the olifantsdrinkgat provides rare sightings sometimes. Also saw in that area: Striped kingfishers (2009) striped jackal (2008) and flychatcher (2009)

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 Post subject: Re: KNP tripreport April 2010
Unread postPosted: Mon May 03, 2010 10:21 am 
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Location: Netherlands
12 april Satara

06:00 and the Badgers are still robbing all the garbage cans in our circle of bungalows (A section). So if you want to see honey badgers, book the A section in satara . We went out and did the first 20 km of the Satara road (H7) towards Orpen. Than we continued on the Timbavati road (S39) and Ntomeni Road (S127), finally back to camp via the tar road H1-4. We didn’t see a lot of game despite the in my opinion good weather conditions, dry, hardly any wind, a little cloudy and not too hot. We had again a lion encounter though (on Timbavati road) , mother with two cubs (about 6 to 9 months old) walking the dirt road. We also saw a Gymnogene but again it flew off before I could take it’s picture, this happens to me every time with those raptors, even if I keep great distance! We also saw the same buffalo and elephant herd from yesterday , another elephant herd at Timbavati picnic side, several elephant bulls, Martial eagle (of course), kori bustards (Ntomeni road) Rhino, wahlberg's eagle, a bateleur on the ground, and of course the rest of the usual suspects, especially close to Satara camp. Back at camp we saw the thick tailed bushbaby (the pet from Satara) at the reception and in the gardens we saw woodpeckers, African Hoopoe and green wood hoopoe . In the afternoon we joined the guided afternoon drive , departure at 16:30 hour.
Sorry for all the lion pictures, but Bornfree loves them, and she is the one who inspired me to do this tripreport!
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The afternoon drive started fantastic, with a huge number of different animals such as giraffe, waterbuck , warthog, wildebeest, zebra, impala, kudu etc. At the S100 we saw a big lion pride at a kill. The kill (an impala) was finished already, so basically all the lions did was lying down . We were told the lion pride counted 14 members, but they were scattered and we didn’t see all of them. Later we saw two giant eagle owls acting very funny, I think it was a mating dance or something like that. Other highlights: martial eagle (they become numerous it seems!) , jackals, hyena with youngsters, brown snake eagle, and our 3 badgers about 7 km from camp were walking towards camp, I was pretty sure it were the same guys from yesterday.

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 Post subject: Re: KNP tripreport April 2010
Unread postPosted: Tue May 04, 2010 9:13 am 
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Location: Netherlands
13 April Letaba

We left Satara at 06:00 and headed straight for the S100 were the lion pride was yesterday. We arrived luckily precisely on time, after 2 minutes they stood up and started to walk, now we had the best possible sighting! 4 little cubs were following the mother and two older cubs and two other lionesses walked along. Later we saw one of the males from a distance. The little cubs cannot be possibly older than 2 months or so! After that we continued on the S100 and took the S41 up north. This seemed a wise decision since the game view was very good and among the usual we saw nice osprey (which after closer study seems to be a female Martial Eagle I think), saddle billed storks again , a yet to identify eagle (picture added), a jackal, a young marabou stork, and really incredibly big herds of wildebeest and zebra, we almost felt like being in the Serengeti . We drove the old main road S90 to Balule, there was hardly any game on that road. At Balule we were forced to go back, because the bridge over Olifants was closed down because of the high water level. We did see a Malachite Kingfisher, and we filmed it fishing in a small pond! What a nice little birdie this is! Sometimes coincidence brings you the nicest sighting!
View My Video

After a detour we reached olifants. I must admit, the restaurant area has improved a lot, it is now one of the most beautiful of all kruger camps!!
Between Olifants and Letaba game was scarse, and no sightings worth mentioning.

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report late afternoon drive follows

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 Post subject: Re: KNP tripreport April 2010
Unread postPosted: Tue May 04, 2010 1:25 pm 
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13 april Letaba part 2

Late afternoon we went out ourselves, and within 10 minutes, my wife spotted a leopard on the S69! It was lying in the mud and we could take quite reasonable pictures of her. However, within 2 minutes she started to move again, and we soon lost visual through the thick Mopani bush. But we were nevertheless very happy to find a leopard near Letaba again! And for this visit our 4th sighting, not bad for a couple of foreign tourists :wink: . Later we also spotted; Saddle billed stork, ellies, goliath heron, buffalo, an eagle which I would identify as a Wahlberg’s eagle in a pale form, and the most beautiful sighting was a giant eagle owl, very close in a branch. We went for dinner in the Letaba restaurant; Surprisingly this is the first camp where we stay that has a real a la carte menu !! Strange fact that this relative small camp offers an a la carte menu whilst the bigger camps like Satara and Lower Sabie don’t!

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 Post subject: Re: KNP tripreport April 2010
Unread postPosted: Tue May 04, 2010 4:16 pm 
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Location: Netherlands
john n poppy wrote:
Hi Gregor,

just a quick note to say we are really enjoying your trip report but......

could you leave some leopard sightings for us, when we visit in july...thanks :wink:

john n kate


You will do fine guys, just be extra alert between 06:30 and 08:00 and between 16:00 and closure time.
And one tip, don't scan all the trees, you miss the walking ones when you do.
There are 8 biljon trees or so in KNP and in only few of them is a leopard. And if there is one in a tree, most of the time someone else did find it before you and you just join the cars on the sighting :lol: :lol:

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 Post subject: Re: KNP tripreport April 2010
Unread postPosted: Tue May 04, 2010 4:44 pm 
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Location: Netherlands
14 April Letaba

I can be very short about the highlights of our early morning drive, there weren’t any, or it must gave been this juvenile ground hornbill. It was very, very quit and we decided to be back at camp early. We drove the Mingerhout dam S47, and back. Later we also did H9 toward Phalaborwa and took S96 and S131 back to Letaba, but no luck either.

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For the afternoon drive, we decided to try to find the pack of wild dogs, since they were spotted that morning on the H9. We knew that it was only a small chance, but since there was very few wild in this area generally, we felt like we could give it a shot. And we were glad to do so, because on our way back, we found the doggies, a pack of nine, with at least 3 youngsters among them. We saw them for a little while, but they jumped of the tar road quite soon. We got very good pictures though. One wild dog was behind and lost the pack, it didn’t seem to know where they went off road although they left clear markings of droppings and sent marks. As the dog wanted to leave the road on the wrong side, I decided to put my car next to the dog in order to force it to exit the road on the other side. And luckily after that it was soon reunited with the rest of the pack. I know one is not allowed to interfere in animal behaving, but in my opinion there are exceptions. The rest of the drive we saw basically nothing and we arrived back at Letaba around 17:45. Tomorrow is the day I have been waiting for, finally I can do my favorite road, the tropic of Capricorn.

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Traveltale june 2011 (Botswana & SA)
http://www.sanparks.org/forums/viewtopic.php?style=2&f=27&t=54937


Regards Gregor

"if you look, you see more"


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