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 Post subject: Sundowner-Drugs to the Drunken Driver
Unread postPosted: Wed May 26, 2010 1:11 pm 
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Location: PnP (Phallies and Pretoria)
20 May 2010

It was a wonderful day in Phalaborwa, and we were busy making sure we have everything that is needed for our trip. I really miss this place when I am working and in Pretoria. There's just nothing that beats the bush.
SO is now also a truly converted "Phalagatter" and fully in love with this beautiful place with its magnificent "farm" next door. :wink: She was a former KwaZulu Natal lady from the small town, Dundee. And also shortly joining the forum as well :lol:

Meat and biltong at Lowveld Butchery - CHECK. :thumbs_up:
Yummy groceries at Woolworths Foods - CHECK. :thumbs_up:
Sundowners (and some more) at the Spar - CHECK. :thumbs_up:

All this was sounding far too much like a checklist from work and we decided that it was time to surrender back home to enjoy the last night on my stoep with a nothing else but -yeah you guessed it- a sundowner.... :wink:
Looking deep into the last bit of burning coals of my hardekool 'bushveld TV' thinking of what might come tomorrow, I carelessly realised that my 'Klippies & Cola' was quite an effective tranquilizer tonight. We had driven quite alot the last couple of days before tonight, so both of us were looking forward to a good night's rest before getting up early tomorrow morning.

Whilst falling asleep, something crossed my mind. Come to think of it, work or play, up in the air or down on the ground, I am always "driving". :hmz:
I always end up having some sort of steering in my hands and some sort of peddle under my feet. :shock:

21 MAY 2010 - DAY 1 (PHALABORWA TO TAMBOTI)

Finally, this long awaited morning has arrived! :dance: :dance:
Great excitement hangs in the air since the moment we opened our eyes. No, they didn't open by themselves. My cellphone alarm did the trick! :tongue:
We needed some sort of insurance just to make 100% sure. :wink:
Outside I could hear the birds and one noisy visiting baboon nearby. He was making a lot of noise calling his fellow troops. My house is right next to a bushveld bordering the Kruger fence, so we get quite a lot of visits from them when they want to come and inspect our residential dustbins for some 'leftovers'.

We were showered, shaved and shampooed, all the bags and coolers packed and all the good-byes said and a cup of coffee down our throats in under an hour! :big_eyes: :big_eyes: :big_eyes: (hopefully nothing is forgotten) :pray: :pray:

It was a very relaxed and happy drive to the Total garage next to the Spar and I was in a such a great mood and could not wait to enter the Park already. :slap:
George got filled up with a full tank of diesel while I was busy tying one yellow ribbon onto my roof antenna and one onto my right hand mirror. With his windows spotlessly cleaned we were setting course to the 'Best Kruger Park Gate of the Year".. 8) 8) :lol: :lol: ..... to be continued

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Live for today, because today is the 'tomorrow' we dreamed about yesterday..

1 Dec: Lower Sabie
2 Dec: Lower Sabie
3 Dec: Malelane
4 Dec: Malelane


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 Post subject: Re: Drugs to the Drunken Driver
Unread postPosted: Thu May 27, 2010 1:23 am 
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Location: PnP (Phallies and Pretoria)
21 MAY, DAY 1 (PHALABORWA to TAMBOTI)

As all of us do, we were taking bets on what the first sighting would be. I have put my bet on an Impala and my SO said she would go for an elephant as I already took the Impala. The camera was checked for the right setting as it was all gloomy with the misty drizzle and early morning sunrise.

Arriving at the Phalaborwa entrance gate and opening the door, I immediately caught that great refreshing smell from the start of falling rain hitting the tar road.

I was greeted by very friendly staff and in no time I was back in the car and at the gate. When I handed my day pass to one of the officials, he pointed out with a smile to the end of the road whilst we were simultaneously looking down the road and could not believe what we saw, but he confirmed our suspission.... :big_eyes: :big_eyes: :big_eyes:

With "enjoy your trip" and my pass handed back, we both were still stunned at what we were seeing down the road.. :shock: :shock:

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Wow! What a start to our trip!!! :dance: :dance: We haven't even entered the Park yet and we already get this great present down the road!! :mrgreen:
George hardly got into 2nd gear and I had to stop already to greet our precious friends. :lol: :lol:

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What a first sighting for a trip!!! :big_eyes: :big_eyes: :big_eyes: :dance: :dance: :dance:

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We just couldn't believe our luck and felt truly blessed! :thumbs_up:

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This was quite interesting to see, they actually ate some of the dung. Others were just tossing it all over the place playing with it.

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While I was sitting there I was thinking that a couple of mites would be very :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen: if they knew what we saw, how quickly we saw it and where we saw it! :lol: :whistle:

After spending some 10 great minutes with them, they moved deeper into the bush and it was time for us to move on. :lol: :lol: :lol:

_________________
Live for today, because today is the 'tomorrow' we dreamed about yesterday..

1 Dec: Lower Sabie
2 Dec: Lower Sabie
3 Dec: Malelane
4 Dec: Malelane


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 Post subject: Re: Drugs to the Drunken Driver
Unread postPosted: Fri May 28, 2010 11:16 pm 
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With body and mind intoxicated by the exhilirating adrenalin, as well as half numb senses, I could have been fooled that I just woke up a bit tipsy today. :lol:
Some people have nicotene, others caffeine, but this type of start to our trip was the greatest charge I could get for the rest of the day!
From the Doggies at the entrance gate we continued on the H9 Letaba road until we reached the S51 Sable loop.

So we turned right onto to S51 towards a beautifully filled Sable dam. Unfortunately not much to see at the dam yet, but I think it might still have been a bit early. Just passed the dam we got to see my early morning bet for a first sighting - a couple of Impalas grazing in the early morning sun. With their coats all soggy, they all looked a bit puzzled and confused with the amount of rain we were receiving during this year's winter.

The rain has just stopped, but the breeze still had that crisp feel to it, and this was the cherry on the cake for me - I love the cold weather, its so much easier driving with open windows, taking in all the smells and wonderful sounds outside. And it even smells twice as great after it just rained!
Sometimes when it gets really hot, I have to close the windows from time to time and use the aircon.... and that kind of spoils the whole point.

Just before we rejoined the H9 tar road at Masorini towards Letaba, this fellow was planning on saying hi first.

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At the 4 way crossing at Letaba, these guys were only showing their backsides to us - must still be too early for them to be social...
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We had to stop at Letaba for a well needed toilet break and I also ran over to the Shop to see what was tagged where on the sightings board. The main road between Letaba and Satara were looking promising from the previous day's happenings... Yummy!

On the road again!
We took the H1-5 towards Satara and when we reached the stretch along the Olifants river, we could see that quite a bit of rain fell since I've last been in the Park. The Olifants was flowing strong and you could easily be fooled thinking it was still summer! The bushveld was green and lush and we knew we would have a bit of a hard time spotting all the animals, so we slowed down even more than the speed I would usually drive at.

At the first loop road, we heard someone laughing from the river....

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We took our time exploring all the loop roads against the Olifants river as we were in awe how lovely the river was flowing and admiring the great condition of the bushveld for this time of the year.
Sitting there looking at them, we had a quick drink and continued down the H1-4. While I was driving, my mind went wondering on what next could beat or even match our great doggy sighting.
Before this trip started, it was my mission to see my first leopard in the Kruger. I always had to be satisfied with "you just missed it by seconds" or something like "it just walked deeper away into the bushes". My mind was having mental pictures on hopefully becoming a LIT member this trip, when I heard "Pumbaa!!" from an excited voice in the car.

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A very nice set of tusks, but not yet something that could match the doggies though.
After a couple of snaps, we moved on and continued down the H1-4 for the the S127 turn-off for Timbavati picnic spot.

SO and me was still talking about all the possibilities of great sightings for the next 4 days to come and was wondering where we would see what. As I was busy driving, one of us would remark "this looks like good lion territory" or "this is nice open fields for cheetah" etc.

Because the drive from Phalaborwa to Tamboti isn't that long, we didn't expect to see too much and were'nt too demanding considering how lush the bush was and that we were generously treated by wild dogs already earlier on.

We just passed Ngotso dam, when my hands were reaching towards the centre console box, where I always keep my biltong. I just took a bite, when I had to look twice before slowing down. Unbelievable! This first day of ours is only 3 hours down and this beauty is greeting us right in the road..... :big_eyes: :big_eyes: :big_eyes:

"Get the camera! Get the camera!" is all I could get out! :shock: :shock: :shock:

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The adrenalin dose kicked in once again and I felt like an overwhelmed 5 year old child all over again. :dance: :dance: :dance:

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Unfortunately it didn't stay for long, as a Land Rover drove past us to try and stop closer to the cheetah, which I think scared the cheetah of a bit.

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One last stare to say his final good byes... :cam: :cam:

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And off into the bushes.....

_________________
Live for today, because today is the 'tomorrow' we dreamed about yesterday..

1 Dec: Lower Sabie
2 Dec: Lower Sabie
3 Dec: Malelane
4 Dec: Malelane


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 Post subject: Re: Drugs to the Drunken Driver
Unread postPosted: Sun May 30, 2010 8:41 am 
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What we thought was going to be a 'quickish' drive down from Phalaborwa to Tamboti, turned out to be quite a surprise so far! And the best is that we are only just half way down the road!! :dance: :dance: :big_eyes: :big_eyes:

By now I was gulping down the biltong out of pure excitement! When I see something special, there is this undescribable feeling flowing through me. The best I can describe it is a mixture of 3 things put together as one.

The first feeling is that same feeling all/most of us got when we were about 5 years old, and on Christmas eve 24h00, sitting underneath the Christmas tree you heard "that it was time to open the presents". - PURE EXCITEMENT!!

The second feeling is that feeling when you were in primary school and you fell in love with that special one and she said 'YES' and you could hold her hand for the first time. - WEAK AT THE KNEES, SPEECHLESS AND A RUNAWAY HEARTBEAT!!

The third feeling is the one where you were suddenly and unknowingly put on a spot infront of many people where you dont know what to do or say - SINKING IN MY SHOES.

Well, mix these three together and you have one hyper-active, overly happy 'Jack-in-a-box', and seemingly drunk person behind the steering wheel! These animals are the drugs and result of a sober man feeling like he is driving like a drunk!

So driving as happy as someone on 3 Prozacs and a Valium, we continued towards the S127 turn-off to Timbavati picnic spot.

I think we hardly drove 3 kilometres from the cheetah when I thought I saw an ellie at first very far away. After looking through the binoculars and zooming in as much as the camera would allow me, this was the best I could get. It was taken just north of 'Ngotso south'.

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This day just seems to get better by the minute.. :hmz: :hmz:

The rhino moved in deeper quite quickly so we moved on, and we were in some dire need of a bathroom break. I drank far too many cold drinks, but the Mobicool keeps it so nice and cold that it becomes simply irrisistable when chomping down on the biltong and the chips and the cookies..... :tongue:

So we took the S127 turn-off to Timbavati and this little road had quite a good variety in general game. We saw giraffe, wildebeest, zebra, steenbok, ostrich, impala and some nice kudu.

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To jump the gun, it was surprising to see at the end of the trip how many nice looking kudu bulls we managed to see. It was really satisfying indeed to see they are doing that well. More of the others to come. :thumbs_up:
My photo quality also improved later in the trip once I got the hang of the camera and its settings again, so please bare with me for now. :pray:

After we stretched our legs and and had a bathroom break, we left Timbavati via S39 towards Bobbejaan Krans. Approaching Leeubron waterhole we had to slow down some what, as we started finding these guys more and more frequently on the gravel road...
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The rest of this road also had a good amount of general game and found some of these guys on our way to the S7 tar road.

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Hello! 8)

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I can't recall seeing ostrich together with Zebra before, I only normally find Impala and Wildebeest sharing pastures with Zebra. (The little guy infront was also scratching his head about this one)

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They can be such funny creatures sometimes when you sit and watch them for a while

When we reached the H7 tar road it was a right turn straight towards Orpen gate to check in for Tamboti. We wanted to check in as soon as we could and explore the camp a bit, seeing this was our first time at Tamboti. This would give us the time needed to stretch a leg and rest a bit as well.

About 2 kilometers past Bobejaan Krans, we just manage to spot these two in the dry river bed. It was difficult to get a proper snap in as the vegetation was in the way most of the time.
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I was contemplating in driving this road again later in the afternoon as it was renowned for some lion and leopard sightings early mornings and late afternoons especially.
Every now and then I would pick up my map and look at where we could squeeze in an extra place to go to if time permits. I’m always so scared in missing a thing.
Further along the road a couple of giraffe made an appearance as well as a very large troop of baboons. We were so lucky to find four female Nyala, but unfortunately the vegetation didn’t allow for a good photo.
This day is surely winding down very well. Wild dogs, cheetah, rhino, nyala and a lot of frequent sightings of all the general game. What did we do right today?

Even though we were quite blessed so far, we saw something really interesting closer to Orpen. And funny enough it came from our most general antelope – the Impala.
We initially drove past it, but my SO asked to go back as something on the Impala did not look too cosure…

How right she was!

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Anybody have an idea on what this growth might be? Funny enough, this wouldn’t be the last abnormal antelope we would photograph..

We arrived at Orpen at exactly 14h00, so our timing worked out perfectly with the new check in times.
On our way towards Tamboti, just after taking the gravel road turn-off, these guys were welcoming us into the camp..

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We finally arrived!

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After some searching on the forum, I saw that tent # 40 was the favourite. So I e-mailed my request through in April and was delighted to find out that we got what we asked for.

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We were very happy to finally arrive, and started loading off all our goodies so that we could explore the camp as soon as we can. Once everything was done we took the time to sit back, relax on the deck, take in the beautiful view, listen to the birds and enjoy a true forumite favourite – AMARULA – the perrrrrrrfect sundowner..

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Whilst taking in all the good and splendor of the magnificent Kruger, this cute little fellow came and sat with us in the tree that was part of the deck. This gave me some time to play with my camera and see which settings worked better for each scenario.

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For the afternoon drive we decided to take the S7 towards Satara and would turn right when reaching the Rabelais loop and return back to camp when rejoining the H7 Satara road again.
I was hoping in spotting a late lion or two and off course, most of all, my ever elusive leopard. This was not to be, although we were blessed with lots of frequent spotting of giraffe, wildebeest, impala and the same large troop of baboons.

What was encouraging to see though, was a lot of vultures occupying all the trees.

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This always gives me a bit more hope of a predator in the vicinity…. Unfortunately not this afternoon and we eventually arrived back at the tent for another sundowner – now the sun was actually down..

We had a walkabout and must agree with all on the forum about Tamboti’s hide. I can’t see anyone using it, as there is absolutely no view. I thought it might be much better if they place it along the dry river bed instead.

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The first day was quite bumper- packed and once again the Kruger did not disappoint. In fact, it exceeded our expectations so much that we happily surrendered to the peace and quiet of our hypnotic flames of a ‘bushveld tv’ that would later fry our meat for us .
As we were sitting at the braai busy reflecting on the first day and planning our second, a lonesome hyena obviously smelled our meat and met us right next to my chair.
Apart from being secluded at the end of the camp, our tent was right next to the perimeter fence where you could see a hyena face to face at an arm’s distance.
With tummies full and excited about the next day to come, we were off to our beds so that we could get up early and in be in time for when the gate opens.

This was definately a very successful day and would be very happy if all the other days turn out to be the same. With the lights finally off, I vaguely remember falling asleep to the unmistakeable “whooooops” of the hyena…

_________________
Live for today, because today is the 'tomorrow' we dreamed about yesterday..

1 Dec: Lower Sabie
2 Dec: Lower Sabie
3 Dec: Malelane
4 Dec: Malelane


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 Post subject: Re: Drugs to the Drunken Driver
Unread postPosted: Mon May 31, 2010 10:58 am 
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Thank you all so much for your nice comments! :thumbs_up:
Here is a small installment, I got a bit 'side-tracked' and a bit old yesterday. :wink:
I hope to send you more installments more frequently from now on.
As they always say, the 'good stuff' is always worth waiting. :whistle:

DAY 2- 22 MAY 2010 (TAMBOTI TO SATARA)

The premature wake-up alarm from the very loud and repetitive “whoooooop” song immediately got me out of bed and heading for the kettle. With that on the go, I quickly headed off to the bathroom to freshen up for the day. By the way, it is absolutely amazing how much you can multi-task so early in the morning when you have a great eagerness to make the gate opening time. :D
With a cup of coffee and a few rusks down our throats, bags and coolers packed, we were heading off to Satara.
When we joined up with the H7 Satara Road, we decided to stay on it until reaching Satara camp. I was calling all the kittens this morning – I really want to show SO why I insist on waking up so early each morning and race to be one of the first cars out. Our first sighting for the day was our large troop of friends we found yesterday at more or less the same place..

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As we left them behind, we almost had to stop again for another bunch of friends we met yesterday.

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We saw the family of female nyala next to the road and when coming to a stop, a very protective and handsome male nyala decided to surprise us with his presence. :shock:

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I think I was still waking up though, I must have been there with body but not by mind, as we discovered later that day from the woeful outcome of the photo quality that I had the camera settings all wrong. :evil: :evil: Ah well, at least we have some sort of memento.

We took a slight detour and stopped over at Bobbejaan Krans , but without any luck we continued further on to Satara. As we got closer to Satara the general game sightings became more frequent again. Satara camp must definitely have the biggest population of wildebeest and zebra in the Park.

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We saw plenty of them and we found them frequently as well. Off course we got impala and giraffe along the way as well. While I summed up our sightings, it struck me how few elephant sightings we had in comparison to our previous trip in March this year.
Today’s early morning drive seems like its not yielding any ‘hairy fairy fellows’ for us so far and definitely not the luck of yesterday with the awesome doggies. I wasn’t too bothered because we still had a number of days left in the Park, I knew they would come say 'hello' some time or another. :lol: :lol: :whistle: :whistle:

Just before reaching Satara, we had a lovely filled Nsemani dam to stop and look at for a while.

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On the opposite side of the dam there were a handful of waterbuck drinking and some grey heron next to the water. Some hippos were laughing at all the cars that were passing by without taking a moment to stop and adore their admiral size and beauty. :roll: :D
The rusks were busy wearing off and my hand started slipping into the biltong again. It was time to press on as I could feel I needed some breakfast not far too long from now and I dearly wanted to reach the S100 before it got too late in the morning.

Stopping over at Satara camp for coffee, a quick toilet break and an inspection of the sightings board, we decided we would build a ‘brekkie’ at N’wanetsi picnic spot.
The sighting board were riddled with all the colors all around the camp. Funny enough -or not so funny at all- I drove the S100 every single time I was at Satara and never found lions and leopard on this road, yet everytime I look at the board it is covered in red, black and white??

Just before leaving we had the fortunate opportunity to have a snap at Mr. Scops in a tree at the parking area.

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On the road again! S100 (and brekkie) here we come!

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Live for today, because today is the 'tomorrow' we dreamed about yesterday..

1 Dec: Lower Sabie
2 Dec: Lower Sabie
3 Dec: Malelane
4 Dec: Malelane


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 Post subject: Re: Drugs to the Drunken Driver
Unread postPosted: Fri Jun 04, 2010 3:39 pm 
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With a great hunger of finding the ‘King of the bush’ and my ever elusive spotted friends, the sounds of an increasing hunger for bacon and eggs echoed from my tummy. This momentarily took my mind off the cats as my hands were once again reaching for the biltong. :lol:

As we drove out of Satara, we turned right on the main road towards the S100 turn-off. On this stretch of road we saw all the animals we did when we were driving towards the camp earlier on.
Wildebeest a plenty, zebra making their “zee – bra – bra” “zee – bra – bra” calls when we passed them by. A lonely far off buffalo seemed to be making his way towards the drinking trough at Satara’s webcam.

Once we reached the S100 turn-off, a lonely male giraffe were hiding behind a bush right next to the road, so by the time we saw him for the first time trying to cross the road, I nearly had to clean my own seat. :big_eyes:

As soon as we entered this gravel road, the S100 kept me on my toes to spot those elusive beasts I never managed to see on this road. A bit ‘charged up’ and ‘nervous’ so to speak, we slowly crept down the road towards N’wanetsi . There was a quiet, electric atmosphere in the car and at the same time my heart started to pump just that one or two beats faster. With great expectation and quite some adrenaline rushing through me, conversation in the car reached rock bottom and both heads were out scanning the bushes like crazy.

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This is what makes the Kruger such a great place – no word needs to be spoken or deed be done, everyone shares that exact same feeling of euphoria from the tenseness of not knowing ‘what could happen or what we would see next’ - these goose-bump, spine-chilling moments is what brings me back to the Kruger time and time again. :thumbs_up:

Upon reaching the river crossing, a large Bateleur eagle stood posing in the road, but by the time I had the camera ready, it took off and was heading for a Marula tree. :doh:

The sun was out and high by now and found this lazy one enjoying a snooze and early morning suntan. Image

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Further on we managed to see a large group of wildebeest, and very large mixed group of zebra and impala and quite a loving couple of waterbuck with one of its siblings.

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Me thinks my mommy’s hand was a bit heavy and overly generous with the conditioner this morning… Image

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Just a short drive further on we found these two walking at the same pace as my car.
The young one looked so content on being on top of mommy's back, safe and secure away from any harm.

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It seemed like they were following us. When we stopped, they would stop too. As soon as we continued driving, they would start walking.. :hmz: We saw baboons on almost each and every road today. :hmz: :hmz:

Whilst driving one of the many loop roads along the river, we managed to find quite a number of Marabou Stork standing together around a small, rocky pool of water in the river bed. This would have made such a nice photo if I had the right equipment, but unfortunately it was just out of range for me. :wall:

As we got closer to the S41, the frequency of game increased and we started spotting giraffe, buffalo and a nice herd of kudu as well. Every now and then some warthog would also make their appearance before disappearing into the long grass. The bush here was very thick and made viewing pretty challenging now.

Would you know it!!! The S41 turn-off beckoned and yet again we saw no lion and leopard on the infamous S100. :huh:
I just shook it off and told my SO that it can only be a matter of timing as the sightings board in Satara was covered in red, black and white.
That said, we arrived at N’wanetsi picnic spot as happy as pig in mud. Although we didn't find everything we hoped for, we still felt so grateful to have the opportunity to be here so frequently. Something that so many others I can think of would sacrifice anything for to have as well.
That said, it was time for a brekkie!!!

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George at N'wanetsi picnic spot.

I was starving by now, and paid for my Cadac in no time. At this point of time it hit me that I indeed forgot something at home! I am standing thinking about the time I was driving towards the Phalaborwa entrance gate the morning before, wondering what might have stayed behind. Now I know! :oops:

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Live for today, because today is the 'tomorrow' we dreamed about yesterday..

1 Dec: Lower Sabie
2 Dec: Lower Sabie
3 Dec: Malelane
4 Dec: Malelane


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 Post subject: Re: Drugs to the Drunken Driver
Unread postPosted: Sun Jun 06, 2010 12:59 am 
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No matter what, nothing was stopping me from having my breakfast in the Park this morning! I managed to improvise without my egg lifter - happily lying in the kitchen cupboard at home! Bacon, eggs, mushrooms, onions and toast on a Cadac braai was all I was looking forward to right now.

With breakfast a done deal, we packed up and quickly visited the bathrooms. I must take some time to congratulate the staff at N’wanetsi for a very clean picnic site and for some top notch, clean bathrooms. Its always a pleasure walking into a place smelling fresh and looking clean. :thumbs_up: :clap: :clap: :clap:
This tend to be a busy picnic spot as its in close proximity to Satara camp and all the early birds driving the S100, I can just imagine staying ahead in maintaining a clean site must be hard work some times. Well done to all of you! :clap: :clap: :clap:

With a full and happy tummy, we hit the road again! We would drive the H6 towards the H1-3, visit Nkaya pan, then turn onto the S125 N’wawitsontso loop. Once that is done, we would drive north on the S36 past Imbali Safari Lodge, stop at Muzandzeni picnic spot and drive back to Satara via the S126 Sweni road to check in for the night.

We must have been driving for only two or so minutes on the H6 when we started finding some game.

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I thought it was very odd to see one lonely wildebeest joining up with a herd of waterbuck, only to find out later that night from our guide on the sunset drive that it happens quite often. Normally I find them alongside impala and zebra especially.

A bit further down the road we got two secretary birds, but they walked so fast you need to get that camera ready very quickly to get a decent photo. They walked deeper into the bushes and away from us, so the photos of them do not justify their beauty.

From the H6 we turned south on the H1-3, heading for Nkaya pan. I recall seeing a black dot placed on it from the sightings board in Satara this morning, and I was hoping that he or she would do us a favor and like the pan so much and decide to stay for just a bit longer… :pray: :pray:

There was not much happening on the H1-3 towards the pan, with the odd lone male impala here and there. Then it struck me again that we really are struggling to find some elephant! I think I can count on one hand how many elephant we saw all together since yesterday entering the Park! In March we found them frequently, and when we did it was large families as well.

We didn’t leave Nkaya pan empty handed though. We couldn’t find the cats, but a couple of Southern Ground-Hornbill waited for us at the waterside.

Back onto the H1-3 again and heading south for the S125, I quickly stopped for a photo. I have lately become very interested in birds and was shocked to see how many birds there was that I don’t know of.
I now have my very own ‘ROBERTS BIRD GUIDE’ and I am busy getting to know my feathered friends a bit better. I took a photo of this beautiful bird, but struggle to identify them.

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My humble guess would be the Senegal Coucal or the Coppery-tailed Coucal. But looking in my book, the map that shows their 'area of habitat' falls outside the Kruger??? Any help would be greatly appreciated!

Just before reaching the S125 turn-off we spotted two large warthogs with four babies, all of them kneeling down with their bum in the air whilst feeding. At the same time some zebra and impala also crossed the road when we stopped for the warthogs.

We reached a peacefully beautiful S125. This twisty road that closely follows the river course had so much to offer. Just a pity it hasn’t been graded for a while. It was a rattling and vibrating nightmare, feeling like we were driving on corrugated iron during some stretches of this road. Even with George, I had to go very slowly for our kidney’s sake.

Very close to the road two male impalas were locking horns, eager to walk away with a moral victory. A very large flock of suicidal Helmeted Guineafowl decided to touch down on the road in front of us and they must have been at least 40 strong and very adamant about staying in the road, not even budging for a four wheeled metal thing 200 times their size. :slap:

Eventually they moved off the road and we were on our merry way again.
We had this whole road to ourselves almost the entire time, maybe with a car passing by each half an hour or so. Nobody right behind me to try and speed up proceedings, kicking up a dust storm in a hurry to get to where they want to be. :dance:

When I felt another hand in the centre console box reaching for some biltong and noticing the quick decline in my biltong reserves, I saw my angel chomping down with a huge smile on her face. It was pretty safe to say that I wasn’t the only one loving this day out in the wild! :wink:
We were driving around one bend, when this beefed up fellow crossed the road and stopped under the tree when we came to a halt ourselves.

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Just before the Mondzweni dam turn-off this baby giraffe stood looking at us.

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He looked so funny and a bit out of proportion, such a large body for such a short neck.

Earlier I wrote about the amount of stunning kudu bulls we managed to get during this whole trip. Here is another one saying hello to us. More of them to come later. :wink:

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We then stopped at Mondzweni dam for a drink and some ‘non-driving’ relaxing time.

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We sat here for a while to see if anything interesting would come down to the water for a drink and found some white heron through the binoculars at the opposite side of the dam and a yellow-billed stork sitting high and dry on a rock just above the water‘s edge.

We left Mondzweni dam and pushed on towards our next stop which would be at Muzandzeni picnic spot. I must say that Mondzweni dam is definitely a place I wouldn’t mind stopping once more when I get to drive this road again. Game viewing was plentiful and frequent sightings of giraffe, impala, zebra, wildebeest and kudu were seen throughout. This was definitely a road worth while driving, even though it was not in the best condition and the fact that we did not find any ‘hairy fairy’ ones here…………... well, yet.

Muzandzeni picnic site could not have come at a better time, as both of us were in dire need to visit the toilet from all the vibration on the road! Every time the car would vibrate you could feel the extra drop flowing down and pressing on your bladder!

I loved this little place with all its shade, build in a practical and cleverly thought out location, but I think not everyone would fall in love with their toilets.
Arriving back at the car, I would think that SO would be happy and relieved in stopping here. In fact, she was not.

"Lovey, we need to get to Satara"
"What's the matter? Why the rush?"
"I couldn't use the bathrooms"
"What do you mean? Are they too dirty? If its urgent, you can use the gents and I will stand guard for you?"
"No its clean enough, but I can't sit down"

:shock: :hmz: "I don't understand?"
"There's too much miggies in my way"


'Miggies' and other small insects were flying out of the toilet from below the ground, and I think especially some of the fairer sex would not love this set-up in particular. :roll: :wink:

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I must say, my SO deserves a reward for her bladder. She has one of the strongest and longest lasting bladders in the world! She is always such a pleasure to drive with and if she needs to, she can really hold it for a very very long time.

From the picnic site we took the S126 Sweni road back to Satara.
Once again all the general game was plentiful although the bushveld here seemed a bit drier than other parts that we were driving before. Once again ‘the proof was in the pudding’ to show that it does actually pay driving slowly. Approaching the end of this road before rejoining the H1-3, a car passed us and completely missed this fellow lying down in the open field some distance away from the road.

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This was the closest I could zoom in without losing too much focus.

On the H1-3 back to Satara we once again saw what looked like all the local resident animals. The wildebeest, impala, zebra and buffalo from this morning was still hanging around the camp when we approached Satara. Only a few ostrich was a new addition to the scene. Then something funny caught my eye when we passed this buffalo.

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Looking carefully at his bum, it looks like someone wrote the number 32 on it!

We finally arrived at 14h15 and checked into a BD2V chalet next to the perimeter fence, unit G174. :dance:

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Being winter I noticed when checking in, that the time for the sunset drive moved up earlier to 16h30. :shock: This meant that we didn’t have much time left to drive around by ourselves anymore. Even though we didn’t cover a lot of distance today in comparison to yesterday, we decided to call it quits and give ourselves a bit of a breather and take our time offloading.

With that done, it was time for a well deserved (yes you guessed it) sundowner before going on tonight’s sunset drive. While we were relaxing outside on the porch of our chalet, I took some time spotting some birds in the trees around us. Apart from all the other birds, one bird caught my eye in particular. This was a beautiful crested barbet which sat in a tree right in front of us, but unfortunately I couldn’t get a nice photo in time.

After packing some drinks and snacks, at 16h15 we once again arrived at reception for our sunset drive with Mos. While we were waiting for some people to arrive, I quickly took the time to go and have a look at the sightings board. Whoever came up with this idea deserves a medal!
The majority of sightings today happened north between Satara and Olifants, and not so much south as I expected. This made me think that our guide might decide to head up north to improve his chances, a road I haven't yet travelled on today. :lol:

When we eventually got going and exiting the camp, Mos surprised me and took the southern option.

At looooong last!! There he stood! A mighty elephant bul! Its been so long since we last saw one, I think this might be our first elephant for the entire day. It was a big bul resting against a tree - not phased by those snapping away from the vehicle. We continued down the road and saw all the general game that we have seen coming in earlier.

I really enjoy sunset drives and always try to book at least one during my stay in the Park. Sometimes its really nice to just sit back and not worry about driving at all. You can concentrate all your efforts on spotting something special, interact with your SO and others in a more direct and intimate way. :wink:

Then, would you know it, we were turning onto the S100......... AGAIN.

I must admit that I am not fond of driving the same road twice, I always try to plan my routes in such a way that we travel and cover as many different places as possible. Driving from A to B, then back via C and D is so much more exciting than driving straight back to A.

So, when we turned onto the S100, I admittedly wasn't too excited about the idea as we failed to see any lion and leopard on this road earlier as well. But then again, we are not driving the same road in one DAY....this time it was at NIGHT!

We were sitting at one of the spotlights, and SO would be in charge of giving us our eyes for the night.
Immediately we were into the game. Lots of zebra close to the road, followed by a lovely big tusker in the far off distance. As we stopped for some waterbuck, I took a minute to get a photo of the beautiful sunset.

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As soon as it became dark you could immediately feel the temperature drop a degree or two, and the wind chill factor made it feel like a further four or five. Everyone was grabbing at their jerseys while I was kicking myself in leaving mine behind at camp. I always bring one along, but just before the drive I got really hot and thought that it won't get much colder. How wrong I was!

This time of the drive is always interesting to me as you tend to see those creatures that would not normally come out in the day time. Night jars were flying all over the place and we had to stop frequently for a blinded hare or dikkop in the road. The hare always look a bit bewildered or dumb-struck, yet very funny to look at their confused, svervy run down the roads! :lol:

Down the S100 we frequently caught the eyes of herds of impala, wildebeest, zebra, waterbuck as well as the odd warthog. SO then spotted a hyena running alongside us in the bushes. This was quite a highlight for a couple of first time visitors as they haven't seen hyena before.

We then stumbled onto a civet at some distance from the vehicle, we now had pitch black darkness around us and this was just too much for my camera to cope with. The only photos I would be able to get is when there is something close by. I tell you, time to invest in a proper camera! The guys with the long lenses took some photos and we were off again.

Just before reaching the end of the S100 at the S41 turn-off, the other side of the vehicle called "stop". Mos backed up a bit and all the spotlights were scanning together. It was a genet sitting on a termite nest! :dance:
Once again, after I took the photo, all I could get was a lot of black on the screen...

Sadly again, without any lion and leopard we reached the end of the S100 and continued to the Gudzani dam. The next 10 or so minutes that followed was just breathtaking when we reached the dam. WOW! Never in my life have I seen so many hippo and crocodiles together! As the spotlights scanned over the water, eyes were
looking back at us from every direction.

Mos turned the engine and our spotlights off for a moment so that we could listen to all the sounds happening around us at night. We then looked up, appreciating the beautiful african sky with all its bright stars. I don't know how to explain it, even though the hippos were making a lot of noise and the night jars were calling, there was utter peace and quiet in that vehicle. This was such a magical moment and I felt goose bumps running down my whole spine as I held my angel's hand.
There is just nothing better than enjoying this beautiful scene with someone that also appreciates and enjoys the bushveld like I do. :wink:

Mos just informed us that we were running a bit behind schedule with the time and that the vehicle was needed again for the 20h00 night drive later on tonight. For the drive back, we were asked not to make him stop unnecessary for the general game that we have already seen, but only for 'those ones' that most people came for in the first place.

We backtracked the S100 again, and I'm sure all the passengers as well as animals had a bit of Deja'vu tonight.....
It just seems like we are not destined to see any lion or leopard today. The drive was nearing its end, and as we crossed the river close to rejoining the tar road back to camp, out of nowhere, the Gods flipped their cards on us...

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Pur.r.r.r.r.r.r.r.r.r.r fect!

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At last we have lion on the S100 !!

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Eventually the S100 delivered! :dance: :dance: :dance: :dance:

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What an awesome conclusion to our day!! :dance: :dance: :dance: :dance:

"I am high on drugs again"
"huh?"
"This lion just gave me what I needed."
"Oh"
"Euphoric overdrive kicking in. Yipeeeeee!"
"Shhhhh... the LION my love"

(soft excited voice) "Off course I can see its a lion! Have I told you how much I love this place?!!"
"Give me an hour to think about it before you ask me again.."

(humming away) "I feel pretty, oh so pretty...."
"If anyone asks, I don't know you"

:lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:

Because of the night drive starting soon, we couldn't sit with him for too long, but we eventually were fortunate enough to spend about 10 minutes with him before moving on.

To say that we were stoked about the lion was an understatement! :dance: :dance:
I felt like a 5 year old boy again!! :tongue:
Day 1 gave us very special doggies, cheetah and rhino. Although we saw so much game throughout the second day, we were still out looking for that something special. At the last few moments of the day, we were so blessed to find it! :dance: :dance:

There was still so much chatter going on in the vehicle over the lion, that we almost forgot that the drive wasn't over yet!

These hyena came running towards their den just outside the camp. Fortunately it was close enough for me to take a photo.

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Reaching our chalet we sat outside for a while listening to the bush going to sleep. One last night jar was still awake, and every now and then you could hear the faint roar of a lion in the far off distance. :lol:
We were so satisfied and happy in deciding to join the sunset drive. It just managed to put that 'cherry on the cake' for the day. :thumbs_up:

After my glass of Amarula was history I slipped into bed, looking forward on what tomorrow might bring. We just completed two days, and another 3 days was still to come. We have found almost everything we could and wanted to, yet one creature still managed to boycot me ALL this time.

Before coming on this (and any other previous) trip, it was already known that it was my mission to come and find you. I know you are out there somewhere. It might not be on this trip, but the day will come when I greet you. Until then, I am patiently waiting and will keep on returning to this amazing place to find your spots. Good night! :thumbs_up:

_________________
Live for today, because today is the 'tomorrow' we dreamed about yesterday..

1 Dec: Lower Sabie
2 Dec: Lower Sabie
3 Dec: Malelane
4 Dec: Malelane


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 Post subject: Re: Drugs to the Drunken Driver
Unread postPosted: Fri Jun 11, 2010 6:30 pm 
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Location: PnP (Phallies and Pretoria)
DAY 3 - 23 MAY 2010 (SATARA TO SKUKUZA)

This morning I was up bright and early, even beating my cell phone and the hyena around the camp. This was a cold morning, grabbing my jacket I was outside the chalet heating the kettle and packing out some rusks so long.

I could hear that there were quite a lot of other people that also got up very early – probably also the mad kind leaving the camp gates at “stupid-o-clock”! This kicked me into gear and whilst waiting for the water to get to a boil, the first cooler box was on the back of the double cab already. I still don’t know whether it was the noise from my packing or the smell from the coffee that got SO out of bed in no time - sacrificing coffee in bed this morning.

We sat outside listening to the Kruger waking up and when we finished our coffee, I packed up and by the time I was done, SO was finished in the bathroom and I could hit the shower before we left for Skukuza.

To my surprise, we were quite far down the queue this morning when twenty odd cars were already exiting the camp before me! Eish! :shock:
For today we decided to stay on the H1-3 for most of the way down to Tshokwane. Just outside the camp, our first sighting for the day greeted us through some vegetation.

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This is now the third morning in a row that both of us got our prediction wrong on the first sighting of the day. :hmz:

All the other usual locals hanging around the camp were also out and about, mostly still lying down against the cold with only their heads and horns visible to everyone. Once we passed the H6 tar road, it seemed like all the animals here were still in bed as we were struggling to find anything at all. Nothing this morning at Nkaya pan again, so we pressed on to Tshokwane. We would only stop again when we eventually found a giraffe at Kumana dam.

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Our next turn-off was the S86 N’waswitsontso loop, a short drive of four kilometers along the banks of the river, but so beautiful and renowned for lion sightings. Not much on this road this morning, just one or two impala in total.
It suddenly felt like I wet my bed :shock: and that I was out too early for a bush still fast asleep this morning. I was still hopeful when we were nearing Tshokwane, because during my trip in March we saw lots of game here including a lot of lions hunting impala next to the road.

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100% concentration..

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Sometimes not seeing anything for a while is actually a blessing in disguise, as you tend to pick up on the smaller things that make the Kruger special as well.

Eager for coffee, we stopped at Tshokwane and SO was admiring all the lovely paintings for sale at the shop. While she was in a world of her own, I took some time to chat to someone that looked like a regular worker here. A very friendly man I must add, giving me some updates on the areas close by.
It was music to my ears and my eyes lit up when he told me that Tshokwane was leopard country, even more so than lion. Reports of leopard being at Leeupan and the Kruger tablets during the whole of yesterday had me back in the shop in no time, trying to get a move on!

“Lovey, look at this stunning giraffe painting”
“It’s really beautiful, but do you still need to get anything?”
“No, I don’t anything thank you. But I wouldn’t mind THAT one”
“I am sure lots of others wouldn’t mind as well… but we need to go.”
“You always tell me ‘what’s the rush, we are on holiday'. So, what’s the rush?"
“I know, but its leopard. And its close by.”
“Oh ok. Why didn’t you just say so in the first place…”


The stretch between Tshokwane and the Kruger tablets was done at a snail’s pace – eager to find Mr. Spots. Hearing that one leopard had been lying on top of the rocks at the tablets the whole of yesterday, made my hair stand up straight again. Every little branch was scanned and no tree escaped my eager eyes - but there are no leopard trees in the Kruger – but that’s another story on its own for a bit later.

After Tshokwane our first stop was at Siloweni dam where a large herd of waterbuck with a great number of younger siblings were busy drinking.

Nervously chomping down on my biltong, we soon arrived at Leeupan. Taking this turn-off, you quickly realize that spotting something would be easy as vegetation is very scarce here, with no grass and only a few shady trees around. We stopped at the drinking hole for a while to see if ‘Mr. Hunter hunted’ would come and reveal itself to us. Not today.

We then ‘oh-so-slowly’ continued to the Kruger tablets in which I had my upmost faith in. When speaking to the guy at Tshokwane, I already had this mental picture of a leopard standing on top of the ledge, ala ‘Lion King style’ and looking straight down on us. My binoculars bisected each rock, crack and tree but this cardiologist could not succeed in finding the missing link.

A bit disappointed, we carried on towards Skukuza. I had a look at my map again and realized Skukuza was closer to us than what we actually thought. The distance between Satara and Skukuza is not that far, but we expected to stop at more sightings which would take up time, but because it was relatively quiet we reached the turnoff onto the H12 in no time!

Just before crossing a strong flowing Sabie river, this one just wanted to remind me that there were still lots of them around, even though I was not finding a lot of elephant during my first two days of my visit.

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This photo shows nicely how dense the bush was during our trip.

Once the bridge was crossed and we joined the H4-1 to Skukuza, this buffalo was missing some of his headgear… :big_eyes:

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He probably had to be in a fight with another buffalo or fighting off some lion?!? :hmz:

The H4-1 proved to be a bit more successful with impala being spotted more frequently and the odd zebra and warthog seen grazing as well. It was still way too early to check-in, so we decided to stop over at the Day visitor area. The last time I was here was when they were still busy applying the last finishing touches to the facility.
The pool now is big and beautiful, but what I liked most was the secluded picnic area, each little spot neatly tucked away, adding that bit of privacy to your braai or breakfast in the bush. It was a busy place, yet it still gives you that feeling that you are nestled in the bush and away from the crowds.

At 10H30, and with the new 14h00 check in time, we all of a sudden had a lot of time to ‘kill’ before we could check in. We stopped at reception to have a look at the sightings board, stretch a leg and have a bathroom break.

I sat thinking, if George had a bathroom built in at the back, with an ‘auto-pilot’ you could activate when in dire need to visit the toilet, I would definitely just be driving the whole day! I already have a ‘Mobi-Cool’ plugged in that keeps all my food and drinks icy cold, so what more do I need?! I would be styling!!!
It’s my opinion that we are here to see what the Kruger has to show us, so we need to be out there to enjoy it! Daytime is drive time for me and night time is camp time. Well, at least that’s how I see it.

After looking what’s been spotted where on the sightings board, we sat down and re-planned a short trip that would take until 14h00.
We were on the road again and onto the H11 leading to the Paul Kruger gate. Immediately it looked like the animals have woken up, frequently we would come across zebra, wildebeest, impala and waterbuck just a few kilometers outside of the camp.

We then turned onto the S65 Waterhole road. This road has been good to me in the past and it once again kept us busy throughout. We first came across this little one lying down behind a log, still trying to have an extra bit of a snooze.

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Further down the road we saw a lot of warthog, a specie that definitely had a good healthy year in growing their numbers.

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I was then fortunate to catch this Lilac-breasted Roller close enough for my camera, and willing to sit still until I could get a photo.

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Reaching the N’waswitshaka water hole, our dry spell on elephant was also now slowly busy coming to an end.

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They still make my heart go at least one beat faster when they are close to the roads.

After a quiet morning from Satara, it was quite energizing to see all the animals frequently again. We joined the H1-1 shortly and then turned south on the H3, heading towards the Stevenson-Hamilton Memorial Tablet. As soon as we turned onto the S112 some kudu were already waiting for us in the road, ready to get their photos taken.

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Another one of the nice Kudu bulls we got to see on this trip.

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A mere 100 meters or so further down and also standing in the road, some jealous wildebeest were dying to be on our camera. They played hard-to-get, because each time just before I would take a photo, they would bolt into the bushes!
I decided to take the drive up to the memorial, to see if I might be lucky enough in being welcomed by a leopard taking a liking in the rocky hills. Once again, not today!

We continued on the S114 back to Skukuza, and by the time we reached reception it was 13h45. In no time I was helped and I was lucky enough to be checked in 15 minutes early. We arrived at our tent where we would stay for the next two nights. We were very happy to get this tent as it was right in the corner of this busy camp, away from cars and people passing by.

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We were glad to be at camp and started loading off all our bags just before taking a well earned break. SO served us 'Amarula on the rocks' as we sat down relaxing outside the tent, planning our short afternoon trip before the gate closes for the day. :wink:

_________________
Live for today, because today is the 'tomorrow' we dreamed about yesterday..

1 Dec: Lower Sabie
2 Dec: Lower Sabie
3 Dec: Malelane
4 Dec: Malelane


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