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 Post subject: One night in Paradise - Letaba Camp, Kruger
Unread postPosted: Thu May 13, 2010 2:50 pm 
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Location: Zambia, inbetween visits to Knysna
This will be my first visit to Kruger since joining the forums.. :dance:

SO and I decided at lunch time today, that tomorrow Friday, after work (his), we will hop in our little sedan and head for Letaba.
He will be doing the photography & driving and I will be the spotter/organiser/navigator. If we see anything worthwhile :cam: (Yes, I know, ALL in Paradise is worthwhile), I will post the pictures here.
My view has always been total excitement when heading to Kruger, but this time it is a little different - I will be looking at everything through my Forum tinted glasses.

I am a list maker, even with only ONE sleep to go. . Flask for Coffee, will have to buy it as my Park equipment is not with me in Jozi.
Okay now I am panic mechanic supreme, realising we do NOT have anything except a decent camera with us. A lesson learned reading A-J's TR, do not need much and there ARE shops in Kruger.

I have decided that now is a good time to purchase those Leica Binos I have had my eye on since my birthday. So let me get moving and start the list.

JJ

Where will I get a Yellow Ribbon at this stage - perhaps they are sold at the gate :whistle:

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 Post subject: Re: One night in Paradise - Letaba Camp, Kruger
Unread postPosted: Wed May 19, 2010 6:33 am 
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ORPEN GATE to SATARA (PART 1)

Arrived in Paradise to a completely "new" Orpen Gate and reception. Gone was the rustic/rural reception in the Shop as well as the funny little Petrol/Filling Station across the road. Big adjustment taking place in my head! :big_eyes: Also giant Soccer balls on tall poles reminding us the World Cup is around the corner!

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I immediately missed the old entrance & reception via the Shop. I also missed the lovely shady trees to park beneath while check-in was happening. :(
When we were finished presenting ourselves at reception and received our permit, we drove around looking for the entrance to the park - no signs anywhere; luckily we had visited before and knew the general direction to proceed towards.
We arrived at the old reception, now serving as the camp shop only. Duly parked at the day visitors area and walked down to see the Waterhole. :D

The waterhole looks very different from the camp than it looks on the Webcams.
1. Looking through the fence you do not have the benefit of the height of the cam looking down on the water, your eyes are level with the waterhole.
2. The waterhole is MUCH smaller than it appears on the cam. (to me anyway).
3. Virtually the whole waterhole was hidden by the long vegetation - the cam view is much better and much closer of course. :dance:
I :cam: this view with my "mik en druk" SO refusing to point his "precious baby" through a fence! :huh:

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Very contented we entered the Park proper. Our first sighting just inside the gate was quite unusual (for us anyway)?

Two Lappet faced Vultures in mid air with a "snake" carcass hanging from it's mouth. They landed and proceded to devour thier "kill". Marabou Storks pursued them and one of the Storks managed to steal a few scraps of meat every now and again.

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The vultures would not look up for longer than a split second and it was difficult to get a good picture. (I now realise how EXTREMELY difficult it is to even get a half decent picture of a bird or animal on the "move"). Trip Reports and photos will be read from a totally different mind set from now on! :lol:
After enjoying the tussle we moved along – I am not a cat chaser and so we stopped at every possible little thing and just enjoyed the complete control of either stopping and watching or moving onto to the next “sighting”. . .
I must add that if I did not see another thing on this trip, I would have been quite happy to only soak up the scenery, and retuen home fully "charged" till our next visit.

To be continued. .

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I am two with nature ~ Woody Allen ~

To vote for your FAVOURITE WEBCAM SIGHTING go HERE

My Trip to Marakele National Park- Here


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 Post subject: Re: One night in Paradise - Letaba Camp, Kruger
Unread postPosted: Wed May 19, 2010 1:00 pm 
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Orpen to Satara (Part 2)

Leaving the Vultures & Storks behind, not much further up the road, we spotted a vehicle pulled over and a camera pointing out window. :hmz: what could it be?

It was this Gorgeous Giant posing under an acacia tree (I think).

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He was pulling up grass, threshing it against his front legs before popping it into his mouth.

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In my opinion he has reasonably big tusks and two of them as well! :shock: Later you’ll see why I mentioned this? :D

As he was eating he flapped his ears and we managed to snap a picture inbetween flaps showing the large veins running behind his ears. A lot of blood has to be cooled down there. (I think).

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Next up we spotted this Eagle, but lacking a Telephoto lens and the Binos I was hoping for (travel time vs shopping time - Travel time won) could not identify it. This is a heavily cropped picture (I am not photoshop savvy either, so not sure if this is the correct way to digitally zoom!!).

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I am not drawing this out too much? Hope not?

To be continued

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I am two with nature ~ Woody Allen ~

To vote for your FAVOURITE WEBCAM SIGHTING go HERE

My Trip to Marakele National Park- Here


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 Post subject: Re: One night in Paradise - Letaba Camp, Kruger
Unread postPosted: Thu May 20, 2010 8:56 pm 
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ORPEN TO SATARA – Part 3

We drove along, my head nearly out of the window, enjoying the smells and sounds of the bush; every now and again we passed groups of Zebra & Impala. These bachelors were all getting stuck into their grub – guys will be guys hey!

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This tortoise was so small, about as big as my fist, as we approached he hunkered down and pulled his head into his shell.

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When he thought all was clear, he raised his chassis (reminded me of those old Citroen cars, when they started, their ‘hydraulics’ raised the car up – I think!) off the ground, head protruded and off he would go until he heard or felt another sound or vibration then down he dropped and “played dead”
As we drove off, a 4 x 4 was coming up behind us - heading straight for the tortoise :shock: We prayed the tortoise would be spotted, but no, they drove over it – FORTUNATELY they missed him by a few inches, and the little fellow scrambled for the verge and relative safety. GRRRR

This beautiful view of the river, enticed us to pull over and just sit and look.

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Suddenly we heard loud trumpeting! YAY, I was on my tippy toes (sitting down, if you understand what I mean) straining to see where could the Ellie be? Not a sign, just heard another trumpet and then all quiet.
Everything is so overgrown in Kruger with all the rain, that tree’s branches have closed all the vantage points along the banks of the river. We edged forward a bit, looking though the leaves, then reversed, but could not get a good view.

On we sauntered and not one metre from the road was this huge Elephant. A broken tusk with only ¼ of it left. We stopped and watched him, fascinated, car engine off – maybe not a good idea – but we did get to hear the deep rumbling sound, then quickly started the car and moved on. :rtm:

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This trip was a total chill out trip for us, we did not see anything dramatic, but for us each little thing reopened our eyes to the wonderful experience that Kruger is..

To be continued. .

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I am two with nature ~ Woody Allen ~

To vote for your FAVOURITE WEBCAM SIGHTING go HERE

My Trip to Marakele National Park- Here


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 Post subject: Re: One night in Paradise - Letaba Camp, Kruger
Unread postPosted: Fri May 21, 2010 9:01 pm 
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Location: Zambia, inbetween visits to Knysna
These are some other pics of the Orpen entrance.
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The new petrol station
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I found the sticks planted in the cement very weird - Not sure how long they will last either?

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I am two with nature ~ Woody Allen ~

To vote for your FAVOURITE WEBCAM SIGHTING go HERE

My Trip to Marakele National Park- Here


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 Post subject: Re: One night in Paradise - Letaba Camp, Kruger
Unread postPosted: Wed May 26, 2010 4:05 pm 
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ORPEN TO SATARA – LAST PART OF THIS LEG

We drove slowly along and approached the Nsemani dam, hidden behind the trees we saw the darkest, almost black Ellie. He slowly munched while he was walking, eventually crossing the road behind us. I tried to persuade SO to turn the car around and get closer for a good picture, but my pleas fell on deaf ears! I wonder why?

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We searched the dam and surrounds for any sign of life and only saw an outline of Hippos on the far side, almost completely submerged.
This is one of our favourite places to stop in Kruger and we have had many wonderful sightings here. One was of a Lion pride with many cubs frolicking next to the water – but, that was a sad and very poignant day, as we listened to Princess Diana’s funeral on the radio. I was torn between jumping for joy at the sighting or listening to the sombre toll of Westminster’s alto bell, striking every minute during the funeral procession.

This is the fullest we have ever seen the dam. The vegetation is so green and long at the moment, that only elephants were easily spotted.
Before this visit I have only seen it brown and dusty (always living up to it’s nickname – The Dustbowl of the Kruger) but not anymore.

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Just before the T-Junction to the N1 (H1-5) and taking a left turn to Satara, we saw this wonderful group of Zebra and mixed antelope. So many Kudu and Waterbuck, impossible to count.

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We approached Satara, finding a new entrance gate there as well, with a new day visitors area and a Swimming Pool. :D It looked very inviting indeed... :naughty:

Time for lunch – but after walking through the “take-away” section and seeing a lot of unappetising displays, we opted to make our own ham rolls and have a glass of wine for lunch. We had to buy plastic glasses, as the shop only had tourist souvenir wine glasses at a price far beyond the price of the wine they would be used for. I found it strange that at lunchtime, there was only one cashier on duty in the shop and I had to queue for ages to pay R9.00 for the two glasses (even thought about using the mugs that came with the flask I bought in my panic shopping preparations).

After lunch we walked to the fence to view the waterhole and get a perspective of which way the cam faced. I always imagined it faced towards the road and wondered why when Danie zoomed out, we never saw any cars. Now I know why – it is pointing in the opposite direction. :wall:
Again no animals at the waterhole :(

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I photographed this beautiful tree in front of the restaurant at Satara. This is where, many years ago, I saw my first Woodland Kingfisher and learnt to identify its beautiful call. Can you guess which bird is my favourite?

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Our journey continued (SO now showing symptoms of a bad bout of flu, which was to scupper any quick drives out of camp at sunset. :rtm:) Our goal to reach Letaba before closing time, in fact to be early, to make sure we got a good bungalow!! The control freak in me was thoroughly thwarthed at Letaba :big_eyes:

to be continued . .

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I am two with nature ~ Woody Allen ~

To vote for your FAVOURITE WEBCAM SIGHTING go HERE

My Trip to Marakele National Park- Here


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 Post subject: Re: One night in Paradise - Letaba Camp, Kruger
Unread postPosted: Mon May 31, 2010 3:25 pm 
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Karin, MM, Shi, Bushmom, Pumbaa, Katja, salamanda, Micetta, Michel367 and anne-marie - thank you for commenting, I really appreciate it. :thumbs_up:

Satara to Letaba

After lunch we headed left out the gate, leaving Satara. I did have a quick look at the sightings map and book “Rhinos up ahead” it said. :popcorn: Also at this point did I remember to “tie a Yellow Ribbon on the ole wing mirror” :slap: Not that it helped us, we never saw another YR the whole weekend. Okay perhaps it helped us behave ourselves - in case someone was watching! :wink:

SO was anxious to reach Letaba, as the cold/flu had set in. We did not stop for much. Not long after leaving Satara a vehicle came towards us, heading for Satara – must be late for a lunch date - we estimated he was travelling at 120kms. :big_eyes: Not once on this trip did we see any traffic control either. :huh:

Fortunately SO could not resist trying his camera skills on a beautiful Lilac Breasted Roller. The first one we spotted perched on a branch with the light directly behind it; so that would have been a useless exercise! :rtm:
The next one was on the European side of the road and we had to pretend we were French, we parked and pulled over to the right hand side. Some acute observation skills came through SO’s foggy brain, he mentioned that the LBR always go back to the same perch after swooping down and grabbing an insect off the road. We waited, with camera at the ready…
The results:

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Happy as can be, we moved onwards. Every so often we spotted an Elephant in the distance, then some Ostriches.
At one point, I shouted "Three Ellies", they were a little way off, but we had seen Ellies earlier, so on we drove – Then my brain registered what my eyes had seen :shock: They were Rhinos, "TURN AROUND". SO was annoyed, as you can imagine, his head pounding - "If they are not Rhino, there will be hell to pay" :roll: But I did tell you at the beginning of this TR that I was the official gamespotter on this trip. So don't worry for me! :D
Yes, THREE White Rhinos, but they were behaving oddly? A cow and calf, were running away from the other Rhino, then, suddenly coming to a stop, turning and charging back!! This went on for at least 15 minutes. We could not get a photo (too far and too much action). Only one other vehicle bothered to stop and watch.

We proceeded on towards Olifants without stopping again, until the bridge. I could not remember ever seeing so much water in the river. I have seen it almost dry and this sight was wonderful.

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We passed the turnoff to Olifants, as we had decided to visit the camp on the return trip.

Our only sighting on the road was of a “caterpillar” this one bright yellow and grading the verges, taking away that lovely feel of closeness to the bush and replacing it with roadwork’s in a typical Jo’burg manner! :twisted: Now why is this happening we wondered? Not pleasant at all.
Then suddenly the smooth tar road turned to sand :doh: About 20 kms of it to the 4-ways stop just before Letaba, the tar has been covered with sand. How awful, we had to close windows and drive extra slowly.
If anyone has the explanation, please do tell. I remember many years ago the same thing happened to the road between Lower Sabie & Tshokwane, so it is not a new idea?

We arrived at Letaba reception. . .

To be continued

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I am two with nature ~ Woody Allen ~

To vote for your FAVOURITE WEBCAM SIGHTING go HERE

My Trip to Marakele National Park- Here


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 Post subject: Re: One night in Paradise - Letaba Camp, Kruger
Unread postPosted: Tue Jun 01, 2010 11:10 am 
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Plenty 'manzi' in the Nsemani dam and the Olifants river. It is great to see the park looking so good. :D

Regarding the sand spread on the tarred roads, I believe that it is part of the maintenance of the tarred roads as they are not built like roads outside of Kruger. They don't have the solid base that other roads have. The hot sun tends to melt the tar and the riversand is spread evenly over the tar to be absorbed into the surface and therefore strengthen it. This is an ongoing process and it keeps the tarred roads in good nick. Pity that places like the Pilanesberg don't look after their tarred roads as well as Sanparks. Well done Roads Dept. :thumbs_up:

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 Post subject: Re: One night in Paradise - Letaba Camp, Kruger
Unread postPosted: Mon Jun 21, 2010 3:46 pm 
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Thanks to everyone for so patiently waiting for my next episode and also your very kind comments.

LETABA

Arrived at reception in the afternoon and stood in queue to check in. Each counter (two of them) seemed to take forever! As each guest was checking in – they all returned to their vehicles looking for “permits” in the meantime clerks just waited! :doh:
Finally received keys to our three-bed bungalow in the semi-circle on perimeter. Why they are described as perimeter I’ll never know, it was a long walk to the river?
You wonder why I booked a three bed when there was only two of us (luckily I did) as I always over pack (even for one night) Can’t imagine how small a two bed unit was -must have been a nightmare?
The bathroom (shower & toilet) was so small; I mean REALLY small, the only way to access loo, was to open door, which then only allowed you to step into the shower, then you could close the door behind you, step out of shower and you had access to the loo!!! Not funny in the middle of the night and with a sick hubby as well! :big_eyes:

The beds were up against the wall with not an inch for a small side table or even a shelf behind beds, a glass of water/torch etc had to be placed on the floor next to bed.
So much for me trying to control accommodation. :wall:

The next trick was moving the fridge against the wall :slap: , if you think of a solution to help SANParks find a better idea – Let’s start a thread on the forum. Surely a “boer maak a plan” The fridge out of it's nook, takes up a lot of the already limited space on the verandah?

Okay lets forget about the problems – we were in paradise after all.

We unpacked EVERYTHING from the car and as I sorted stuff out and loaded the fridge (Yes, I know you are thinking - ONLY ONE NIGHT) hubby took a walk to fence. When he arrived back “There’s an elephant in the riverbed, go and have a look, I need to rest a bit” As a second thought, was he trying to get rid of me or was there REALLY an Ellie to see? :roll:
So off I wandered past the Lala Palms while SO was having his own lala (nap in translation) and just missed having my head taken off by a dead palm branch that fell at that exact moment! :shock: :shock:

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I now tried to keeps eyes upwards and downwards (noticed the “Bat House” in the centre of the semi-circle - Must find out what that’s all about) - Tie a string to finger as a reminder girl!!! as there was a huge amount of bat poo in that semi-circle..

As I neared the pathway, I could see the elephant and this one only had ONE tusk – gee what’s with me seeing Ellies with missing or broken teeth?

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As the Elephant started moving off he decided it was time to lighten the load! :redface:

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A little bit later a couple of young boys were running along the pathway and throwing stones over the fence! :rtm: and generally behaving badly! Surely not at the Ellie? No, it was at this beautiful bushbuck. Gave them a piece of my mind! :twisted:

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While I was frantically trying to get the best position for a photo, I noticed a woman sitting on a bench (which had the best vantage point) reading a magazine – not a wildlife one – NO, a scandal mag?
Okay, I told myself visitors have different priorities when in camp?

On way back to the bungalow I noticed the vervet monkeys running riot in the camp – literally casing the joint at each unit, then, if nothing to be had, on they moved – eventually they arrived at our bungalow and took up position on the tree, just waiting for an opportunity to be naughty..

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When they realised we also had nothing to offer they moved on, swinging up to higher branches, jumping onto neighbours thatch roof and then across to another tree in another circle of huts..

Back at the bungalow hubby was virtually passed out and that seemed to put paid to having a braai for the evening meal. :(

I did some of my own reading and then listened to our neighbours start their Saturday night party. :naughty: Fortunately their alcohol acted as a sleeping tonic and after an hour or so they must have passed out – Just at the time SO awoke and felt well enough to start a fire and we did manage to have a fabulous braai and I was very thankful. :D

Morning brought rain and we took a walk to the restaurant to have a look what was on the menu? – no thanks, not for us - very unappetising to say the least. :x

We packed up the car and moved out, deciding to drive to Skukuza and to exit at Kruger gate.
We deposited the keys at reception and with them our observation skills! :wall:

To be continued…

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I am two with nature ~ Woody Allen ~

To vote for your FAVOURITE WEBCAM SIGHTING go HERE

My Trip to Marakele National Park- Here


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