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 Post subject: El-Bok-Kruger here we come
Unread postPosted: Thu May 27, 2010 4:44 pm 
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Only one more sleep before we fly out :thumbs_up: - its been an adventure just getting so close thanks to all that have helped me with tips and advice especially Fee and Bush Baptist (will let you know how I get on with my overly optimistic wish list BB) :clap:

My last late night at Tescos Car park practicing my reversing for any elephant charges :lol: then off to the airport for the missus to wave me and our boy off with most likely a tad of :mrgreen:

If any other forumites are out in KNP at the same time I will be flying my yellow ribbon so hopefully see you there - well more correctly a cut up yellow shirt - the only thing that my missus is happy about this trip :lol:

Will also post my report here when I get back

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 Post subject: Re: Kruger here we come
Unread postPosted: Sun May 30, 2010 6:04 pm 
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A quick update ellies and rhinos galore and my wild dog luck continued with another sighting my big cat misfortune was plaguingf me till e mintues from camp a beautiful leoipard right by the road woohoo ! No lions yet though more updates to follow

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 Post subject: Re: Kruger here we come
Unread postPosted: Wed Jun 02, 2010 5:58 pm 
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I'm in Maroiela tonight then back to skukuza for final 2 nights have added ostrich, cheetah and black mamba woohoo but but Lion voodoo continues still no Lion arghhh lol loving kruger wish you all were here !

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 Post subject: Re: Kruger here we come
Unread postPosted: Thu Jun 03, 2010 7:29 pm 
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Hey all drive from maroela to skukuza have added hyena with very small pups, double-banded sandgrouse (a first for me in Kruger) and dwarf mongoose - oh yeah not forgetting buffalo as for lion well did I break my voodoo today or still no luck (every body seems to love rubbing it in that theve seen like 10 everyday lol) will keep that to the trip report lol

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 Post subject: Re: Kruger here we come
Unread postPosted: Sun Jun 06, 2010 9:35 pm 
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Ok back in the uk now and working on the trip report. Should I post it here or start a new thread? Seems a waste to start a new one and hopefully ill be able to figure out the pictures lol

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 Post subject: Re: Kruger here we come
Unread postPosted: Mon Jun 07, 2010 5:12 am 
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Before continuing this is my first Trip report so take pity on me! Also must apologise in advance as it is extremely difficult to be spotter, driver and cameraman so my picture quality is not to great - but here we go.

Day 1:
After so much anticipation my trip couldnt have started in a more chaoric fashion firstly my plan of arriving early at 4am and getting to the park for 8-9am just in time to have a nice early drive to the first camp Skukuza went completely out the window after it took over an hour to get our bags and then when we finally went through there was no rental car for me to pick up. So after about a 3 hour delay with frantic phone calling around trying to find out where my car was we finally set off for Malelane Gate.

We arrived at the Malelane gate about 12:30 by which time it had really started to heat up! After all my talk with the missus regarding elephants coupled with my own uneasiness of them it had to be sods law that the first animals we saw in the park where these hiding little beauties
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And the 2nd animal we saw ? well what are the odds that it would have been another herd of Elephants - no pictures this time because I have many many more Ellie pics to come!

Our next little critter that we came across was one of these
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I'm not sure what kind of Chameleons these are would be nice to get some kind of ID we saw of few of these crossing the road on the first day!

The next sighting was one of the most beautiful and common birds in SA - Love this bird.
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A little further up the H-3 we came across a herd of these beautiful yet little credence on sightings - curiously I couldnt really get a good pic of them all trip.
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Our last surprise of the drive was something that I have only ever seen one of in Kruger before so this really was a fantastic sighting to start the trip off with!
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Once we reached Skukuza we hit another hurdle, the tent I had borrowed from the brother law was missing a few vital parts so we couldnt put it up and had to contemplate our first night sleeping in the car! with this in mind after all the travelling we decided not to go out for an evening drive but to recuperate and hit the safari hard tomorrow!

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 Post subject: Re: Kruger here we come
Unread postPosted: Tue Jun 08, 2010 4:01 am 
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Day 2

Sleeping in the car was not as a bad as first envisaged, however this could well have been down to the fact that after nearly 20 hours of travelling the day before I could have slept just about anywhere!

We awoke to the gentle drops of rain on the roof at 5:00am and quickly moved into gear I really wanted to be the first person out the gate for once and when we arrived at the gate for 5:45 we were 3rd in queue, great I thought there is a fork just outside with 3 roads so we will take which ever one no one else takes and plan the morning drive from there. 5:58am and with perfect timing that only a 6 year old possesses my boy suddenly decided he was busting for the loo ! Great lol. So off we rush maybe we could get back in time alas it wasn't to be and when we got back all the cars had gone and we were the last ones out. So I decided to stick to the original plan and take the S30-S128 to Lower Sabie and then come back on the H4-1. However, once on the road I completely forgot to take the turning over the bridge probably due to the fact it was so early and im not an early morning person. We saw nothing for the first hour and half and our first sighting were two rhino's just before lower Sabie. These rhinos would turn out to be a great debate topic.
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As we pulled up the couple who were already watching the two said these are the black rhino the smaller species I was unsure yet didn't want to doubt their knowledge, there where two and they were definitely very small almost half the size of the white rhino we saw the day before and the others we saw after-wards. Speaking to a woman at lower sabie she also expressed doubt saying the were very rare in kruger and because i couldn't see what shape their snout was there was no way to be sure! she wisely reminded me Blacks are Browser and whites grazers - unfortunately the pictures are inconclusive - I did think at the time that they were grazing off the bushes but perhaps that's because I wanted them to! I couldnt find her later to run a theory by her that perhaps these two where adolescents and would explain their small size ? of course this begs the question where was mamma? and don't rhinos only have one off spring?

Anyway during a short stop for a nice hot chocolate at Lower Sabie, and I gotta to say it was one of the best ever hot chocolates I've ever had, we had an unexpected guest.
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Then there it was the noise I had been waiting for! to me the call of Africa the unmistakable call of the African Fish Eagle and there it was in all its beauty soaring above the River! yep I was definitely back in Africa!!

Leaving Lower Sabie we crossed the bridge and took the S128 and straight away we had our first sighting of Giraffe and Zebra
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A little further down the road and can you believe another two sightings of Rhinos - this one definitely a big White Rhino a true beauty!
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Our final sighting on the S30 was one of the Big Six woohoo
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On our arrival at Skukuza I decided to check the sightings board to see what had been seen in the morning - imagine my horror when there where 5 sightings of Lions on the S30 & S128 if only I hadnt missed my turning? my Lion voodoo had struck again arghhhh.

A nice brunch was had and then it was time for our afternoon drive we decided to go down the H1-1 then cut across the S21 and come back up the H4-1. Our first surprise of the afternoon was this lovely fella
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He decided to have a nice little drink from the road
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The rain must have sent everything into hiding because we didnt see anything else till about 3:30pm and we where half way back up the H4-1, incidentally my favourite road! (perhaps I tend to over travel this road? but it always brings sightings for me). Coming round the bend there they where the little un playing obliviously in the road.
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After settling at what I considered a safe distance away we continued to watch the baby elephant but the bush was so thick and visibility was poor and you could hear elephants breaking branches and one by one the cars started piling up behind us! Then crash the bush came alive and out charged big daddy 2 metres from the car facing directly at me - my instinct kicked in and my well rehearsed reversing drill (all those hours practicing in Tescos car park paying off) then it happened my worst nightmare coming true there was no where to reverse all the cars behind me engaged in the spectacle in front of them of a Huge Bull ears flayed trunk lifted and ready for action where not moving! for what seemed like an eternity we looked each other in the eye as all I could think of is this it? am I about to become a headline "Naive British Tourist trampled by rampaging Elephant"? My destiny at the mercy of the fates and this magnificent marvel of nature! eventually someone noticed my plight and reversed allowing me space to reverse out when I noticed that there was still a Mamma and baby feeding in the bushes! When an over eager car decided to proceed I flagged them down and warned them yet it was unheeded and they carried on ignoring the Golden Rule never mess with a mamma and her baby out she came charging - promptly intiating a mass reverse from the cars and huge roars of laughter from my son - Ahh the bliss of naive youth!

After my nerves had settled down and I had stopped shaking and was sure the elephants had moved on off we went again when there he was my banker the one animal I always see in Kruger.
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I looked around for the rest of the pack but couldnt see them, this one seemed quite agitated and my best guess is that he had got separated from the pack and was frantically looking for them. As quick as he appeared he disappeared again.

Time was catching up with us and happy with our days sightings we headed off for camp. But mother nature was not finished with us and had one more surprise in store for us two kms from skukuza there he was sitting patiently by the side of the road a beautiful young male leopard! wow what a sighting he just sat there looking at us before deciding to walk round us what an experience when all of a sudden a car in front of us decided to reverse right in front of us and block our view :huh: and then turned to me and told me it was a leopard to which my immediate thought was no its a CAR!!!!! so unfortunately all i have is a very blurred pictured of the back of a leopard. What was really frustrating about this was not that the car reversed directly in front of me blocking our view, I understand peoples excitement at special sightings like this, but the leopard had started walking sideways and if everyone had just stayed put would in all probability moved slightly further and crossed the road in front of them giving everyone an even more exciting sighting but by them reversing the leopard promptly changed direction and disappeared into the bush. Perhaps this thought process comes from years of tracking Big Cats in the Indian jungle? who knows?

Our excitement was fever pitch as we arrived back in camp to be greeted by some more good news. An elderly couple who had been camping near us with their family approached us to tell us that their son had gone back home and left a two man tent for us to use as he noticed we slept in the car the night before! What a remarkable gesture of humanity. As we sat around the braai discussing each others days sightings life couldn't have been better, little did we know that our trip was about to be precariously perched on the slippery slope of oblivion......

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 Post subject: Re: Kruger here we come
Unread postPosted: Wed Jun 09, 2010 3:47 am 
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Day 3

After the excitement of our sightings yesterday we were raring to go with renewed vigour. We had decided that we would do a full day going down the H1-1 to Pretouriskop hoping to catch a sighting of my favourite antelope the Majestic Sable. We would return via the Voortrekker road and the S113-S23-H5. Up nice and early after a good nights sleep we were off and running, however, yet again we didnt see anything for ages first thing. Our first sign of wildlife was at the transport dam after taking the turning and scanning the dam with nothing memorable we headed back to join the H1-1 when we came across this which wasn't there before

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A few Kilometers outside Pretouriskop we once again came across Rhino this time 4 of them together. Amazing to think that in the first 2.5 days of our trip and we were up to 9 Rhino's with 2 of them being possibly Black Rhino. A lovely cup of Coffee with a nice breakfast was definitely the order of the hour and Pretouriskop did not disappoint!

Unfortunately the bush surrounding pretouriskop was so thick and green that sightings were almost impossible! we were fortunate enough to catch a glimpse of this little guy in a clearing just outside the camp

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Taking the S8 loop was great fun to drive what a wickedly fun road to drive on even if the suspension does take a little bit of a pounding and with this highlight I was starting to feel happier about the day

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The morning got even better when just after joining the Voortrekker road we rounded a corner and there scurrying down the road towards me was a honey badger woohoo unfortunately by the time I had braked and got my camera out he was off the road and in the dense vegetation out of sight so no picture was gutted but at the same time ecstatic this was one of my top 10 wish list! The day was starting to warm up and with it the wildlife seemed to be coming out more saw this pretty guy putting on a great show and especially vocal!

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Then a little further down in the perfect morning golden light there she was the object of his affection and what a beauty she was I spent ages watching her blend in and out of the grass.

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One of the most striking things for me about this trip was how quickly the weather would interchange. An early Brunch was had at afsaal which consisted of some frankfurter sausages and rice pudding (nothing to flashy for us lol). Then we headed off for the H5 and not for the first time and certainly not the last I managed to take a wrong turn somewhere and ended up on the S21 again! This however brought us some good sightings; firstly this curious chappy came almost to the car to see what we were all about!

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Wow when Giraffe are standing directly over you and you have to look up to see their head boy oh boy do you get some serious neckache.

Our next sighting reminded me of the David Shephard painting I have of the lone bull elephant

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Nearing the end of the S21 gave me the opportunity of taking one of my favourite pics of the holiday

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The joining the H4-1 again we got to see our first male of the species a beautiful young male. we made our way to lower sabie for another one of its hot chocolates man they're addictive

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After a quick refreshment we started off again and just a km or 2 out we spotted one of my target birds - I love these birds they are awesome and I love watching the way they just stride through the grasslands!

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Our first sighting of a troop of baboons offered some wonderful photo opportunities my pick being this dental shot - my what big teeth you have!

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Whilst watching the troop a lovely lady pulled up and informed us that just a few kms away just outside skukuza there was a male lion with a kill - woohoo this was it off we dashed to see the king of beasts! of course there was the usual Kruger Jam when we arrived so we patiently waited our turn to see the King! By the time we were able to get into position he had finished and decided to catch some zzzzzz's so all we got to see was half his rump! definitely not a counter when it comes to sightings so we made our way back to camp!

This is where everything took a turn for the worse courtesy of Barclays ! They had put a block on both my debit and credit card due to suspicion of fraud, apparently someone was using them in SA? Yep that would be me! the same person who told you i was going on holiday to SA! so I was unable to draw any money and of course they would be sending me replacements cards to my home address within 3-5 days :wall: ! which meant with a change of camps tomorrow I had only enough petrol to get to Orpen not to mention dinner now became our last tin of rice pudding! I was now at an empass and having to wait till the morning to see if reception could help or for a call back from the missus to see what she could do?

Day 4 Spoiler - My luck with Wild Dogs is set to continue with what has to rank as one of the most exhilarating wildlife experiences of my life!

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 Post subject: Re: Kruger here we come
Unread postPosted: Thu Jun 10, 2010 4:51 am 
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Day 4

My original plan was to go see the bank at after 9:00 and see if they could help and if not approach reception, but waking up at 6:00 left me restless so I went to check the sightings board to see about a plan for my journey to Marolea. Whilst there I noticed a reception worker and discussed my situation with her she advised me to come back after 9:00 and speak to the bank and if they could'nt help then her manager should be there.

So at least two hours to kill before I could start working on a solution what was one to do? well I thought about all the effort that went into getting us here and decided that we might as well go for a 2 hour drive. So we got the map out told my son to close his eyes and pick a spot! and what'd you know he picked the Lower Sabie Road again! so off we went it wasn't long till we got some action and we definitely weren't the only ones lol

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A little further down and we got this beautiful sighting which we stayed for nearly half an hour watching this pair on the hunt.

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Notice the different colouration of the eyes on the next picture - very strange maybe a die hard birder can explain? do sadllebills have a protective eye layering when feeding?

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We had just got to the bridge when it was time to turn around, as always you never really expect a sighting on the way home - we should have known better soon we came across a traffic jam ? could this be the Lion we were desperate to see? Nope it was just these common fellas!

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As you can see I was way at the back totally blocked off then I noticed these two in the bushes.

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Clearly agitated it wasn't long before they were on the move!

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What's everyone looking at ?

Then it started! the hunt! these two started loping around looking for prey which they found in some unsuspecting impala across the road.

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And then there were 4! out of no where these two hunters were joined by another 2 as they selected an impala they thought would do for a spot of breakfast. And the chase was on - 4 dogs against one impala across the road then in an instant the evasive impala brought out the sidestep as only the fleetest footed of antelope can (Bryan Habanna eat your heart). There was only one small problem with this change of direction! the impala was now heading straight for our car and closing in fast. Here in lies the paradox of a sighting - as my heart sank thinking of how much this was going to cost me when the car rental was totalled my son was captivated at the scene unfolding in front of him, then as I prepared for the impact the impala with a grace only believed when seen lept clear over the vehicle with the wild dogs hot on his heels as two passed either side and the pursuit continued in the dense veld. Raptures of applause ensued in the vehicle at a remarkable feat of athleticism (and no cost to my wallet).

After a sighting like that nothing really could dampen our spirits even the eventual outcome that no one could help us and finally the missus was able to transfer 500 Rand into western union for me to collect and continue our adventure! Of course this was not without hiccup as always happens when you are rushing - first we ended up with a trainee and then the bank had a power cut!! so it wasn't till 2pm that we left and headed straight for the Orpen gate which we made just in time to be greeted by this view.

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We had made it and our adventure was all set to continue!

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 Post subject: Re: Kruger here we come
Unread postPosted: Fri Jun 18, 2010 3:13 am 
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Sorry for the delay fellas but here we go with the next installment.

Day 5

Today was going to be a very long day! Starting off early we went down the H7 towards Satara - As per usual with this trip early morning sightings were non existent although we did see a hare on the road but to dark for a picture. We made our way to Girivana Dam where we stayed for about an hour watching as the Zebra, Giraffe and one lone Bull elephant turned up for their morning drink.

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We also saw this guy keeping a close eye on us

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From here we made our way to Satara for brunch. We were on the hunt for Lions today so asking pretty much every member of staff what they thought was the best road we settled on the loop of s100, Gudzani Road and H6 off we set. Although it was hot I was confident we were gonna get lucky afterall we had already had some amazing sightings first off was a very large troop of baboons.

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We saw the usual host of Impala, Waterbuck and Gnu as we turned down the Gudzani Road at about midday! A nice couple flagged us down and my heart started racing this was it surely, unfortunately they just wanted to let us know that they had seen nothing :doh: not what we wanted to hear with the hot african sun beating down on us. Anyway we carried on regardless scouring the bush then what was that was it the hundredth rock of the day ?

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So stopping and using the binocs I checked this rock ! and then double checked it no way it couldnt be ! Cheetah ! surely not but it certainly was - magnificent he was! looked like a young male but couldnt be to sure! then he lay down and dissapeared so we parked up to wait. Car after car came by and asked what we were looking at and I told them we were waiting for the cheetah to get back up - to my surprise car after car went ok and drove off I thought there would have been more excitement over a cheetah sighting?

Eventually another car stopped and a tour jeep then he got back up and started prowling but you can see how tall the grass was

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Whilst watching this beauty I overheard one of the tour guides on his walkie saying lion kill so I asked him and was told follow me! so I left this beautiful sighting to go see a pride of lions on a kill woohooo what a day. We got there eventually to the usual traffic jam but try as we might there was nothing to see they were lying down sleeping there was lots of talk of cubs and everything but we saw nothing!! how gutted was I to leave my cheetah to look at some trees :wall: .

So in despair of we headed again for the S126 little did we know what this charming road had in store for us!

Rest of the day tomorrow folks

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 Post subject: Re: Kruger here we come
Unread postPosted: Wed Jul 07, 2010 8:51 pm 
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Sorry all for the very late reply just got my new computer. I understand that unfortunately with the massive gap the report has lost most of its appeal - however we still had a few great sightings that I wanted to share so here are a few pics from the remaining 2 days.

S126 had many stops for crossing elephants

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There were also sightings of Ostrich and Ground Hornbill

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However, probably the most memorable moment of the day and perhaps even the trip for me< happened to fast for photos. Coming round a bend there was a small Black Mamba (7-8 feet) sunning itself on the round slamming my breaks on it suddenly reared up and then astonishingly charged the vehicle forcing me to put the car in reverse I was stunned never in my wildest dreams did I ever think of being charged in a vehicle by a black mamba?

Day 6

Our return to Skukuza we had some fantastic sightings including some Hyena with pups

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And this my favourite photo even got this enlarged and framed for my house

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Running late this was the last thing we wanted to see

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And our final sighting of the day?

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We followed her for about 20mins and she had a convey larger than royalty to escort her down the road - Finally our Lion sighting woohoo it only took 6 days lol.

Our final day included one last drive in the park and I dont want to make anyone jealous but it just seemed right that we bumped into these for a last time before leaving

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The pack was being watched by eagerly by this guy

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On leaving the park and heading for the airport the wildlife sightings didnt end there I finally got to see this eagle that I really wanted to see again definitely my favourite eagle

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we had such a fantastic time and there were so many marvellous sightings that Im sure we'll be back next year the missus already wants to go so we'll start planning again :dance:

Sorry again for the huge break in the report unfortunately not much I could do about that by hope you enjoyed the final summarized installment

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 Post subject: Re: Kruger here we come
Unread postPosted: Thu Jul 08, 2010 3:18 pm 
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Thank you everyone for your comments.

Hey Rino I will pass half my luck to you for your next trip so you should hopefully see some but I cant give all my Wild Dog luck away :thumbs_up:

Few more photos that I wanted to post but couldnt find - our Lone Lioness with her Royal Escort

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These little guys where such fun to watch even if they were keeping an eye out on us

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And finally had such great fun taking a photo of this pair they were so nervous they kept flying off down the road everytime I tried to take a picture the boy was in raptures as they kept toying with me :D

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