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 Post subject: Mike1916 Exploring KNP by pics with a story here&thereJun10
Unread postPosted: Wed Jun 16, 2010 3:36 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Location: Sungulwane Hills Game Lodge, Hluhluwe
Hi there all :yaya:

We have decided after much deliberation to start a new TR for our up coming trip. We are leaving for Phalaborwa tomorrow morning at 5 o' clock, tomorrow we will be staying at Lantana Lodge and Friday we enter the park via Phalaborwa gate and head up to Shingwedzi for 6 nights and then to Punda Maria for another 6 nights and then back down to Shingwedzi for 1 night.

It is going to be great to be back at Punda again and hopefully this time it wont rain the whole time, too bad Su has left punda. Cant wait to get back to the park and start taking photos! :dance: :dance:

When we get back we will try as hard as we possibly can to get the TR done "swiftly and with style"! :wink: :wink:

I hope you all will enjoy this TR as much as our previous ones!

_________________
Sustainability is not something we do in addition to..........., it is about the manner in which we do everything


Last edited by Mike1916 on Sun Dec 11, 2011 10:16 am, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Oddesy & Mike's Great Kruger Escape
Unread postPosted: Tue Jul 06, 2010 11:37 am 
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Location: Randburg, SA
We are back from yet another amazing kruger experience! and what an awesome time we had along with memorable and amazing sightings!! :D :D :dance: :dance:

The down side is that when we arrived back on the weekend we found that we had no phone line or internet connection and apparently its been down for almost 10 days now :( :( :wall: :wall: :doh: :doh: so do not know when it will be back up, but we fight over the phone with them every day. Luckily my parents allowed me to use the internet at their office for a short time today just to let you all know that we have most definately not forgotten about our TR :wink: :D and will start as soon as we get up and connected again, which will hopefully be very soon!

Ill try and post something in a few days time from here if telkom still has not sorted out the problem at home :thumbs_up:

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The beginning of knowledge is the discovery of something we do not understand.

"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit." Aristotle


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 Post subject: Re: Oddesy & Mike's Great Kruger Escape
Unread postPosted: Sat Jul 10, 2010 9:23 am 
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Virtual Ranger
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Location: Randburg, SA
We are ready to start and hope that you will enjoy sharing our trip with us as much as we enjoyed experiencing it and further still writing about it. Thank you very much to all the mites that wished us a good trip because they certainly did help us achieve just that :thumbs_up: :thumbs_up: :D :D

Kruger: From Dawn to Dusk


Half past 4, the sweet sounds of the crested francolin filter gently over my ears, softly awakening senses. I turn over in bed, eyes open, a deep breath draws that fresh air into my lungs and each cell is alive, tingling with anticipation as the golden oxygen is absorbed. My mind is now active, ears alert, as I lie listening to the blackness.

The crisp winter’s air is sharp against the skin as I fumble with the zip in the near darkness. Pupils widen as each faint ray of light is drawn inwards; the tents and caravans now a sea of silhouettes floating in the dim light. A feeling of excitement, anticipation and an overwhelming sense of joy wells up inside me. What wondrous things will I Look upon today, how will nature gather up my senses and allow me to experience her secrets?

The fine sand gives way, flowing and filling new depressions as my weight shifts from foot to foot, eyes focussed on the star filled sky against a canvas of the purest black. The milky way sits proudly in the sky, its pastel mass clearly definable. There is no movement... everything sits still and at rest. The moon is glowing brightly in the sky and its light shimmers over the path, lighting the way as my footsteps echo through the stillness.

Nowhere else will you hear the eerie crescendo of the pearl spotted owl or the frantic laugh of a hyaena while the warm water washes away the last remnants of sleep. Now fresh and ready to face the day a routine is quietly followed. There is no need for confusion. Flasks are filled with still bubbling water...grains melt away dissolving to form a dark, rich liquid. The coffee aroma wafts through the air, rising, curling and twisting in its embrace with the fresh morning air. The cooler is packed; boot filled, we are ready.

One by one they line up along the road, an eager procession, each with its own destination. All around the sounds echo out from the inky black. All who listen appreciate the symphony of the night , each sound fitting perfectly with one another. I close my eyes as i concentrate on my hearing, the sounds become more intense as you distinguish dozens of different animals, each unique. Breathing slows and my mind drifts off as the sounds tug at my consciousness pulling me further and further away until all that you know is the calming, comforting embrace of the bush. The mammals, birds and even the tiny insects playing their role.

Hands meet and the guard moves silently to unlock the gate. The procession awakes, engines rumble and beams flicker to life. Orderly they move out.

Lights dance across the bush, black turns to green as the focussed beams pierce the dark shroud. Glowing orbs of green, yellow, red and blue are revealed each signalling the presence of a life. Some are dazed and still weary from the long night while others are sharp and already on the hunt.

Eventually the darkness relinquishes its hold and the star clad artwork of black is replaced by a murky blue. Little by little the African sun meanders above the horizon its warm rays bathing the landscape in shades of red, orange and pink. Shadows shorten, receding to be replaced by the golden light. The sky is no longer dark but bright with colour and the sounds of the awakening bush. Animals of all kinds belt out their announcements some marking their territory others attracting a mate while a few frantic alarm calls echo through the trees.

The quiet hum of the car’s engine fills the air as we chug our way down the sand track , accompanied by the crushing sounds of rubber meeting dirt. The warm air washes through the windows laced with fine dust kicked up as we move slowly along. Eyes scan methodically across the thick bush darting quickly from bush to tree and everything in-between looking for any shape, colour or sign of movement. Every now and then the car is stopped under the shade of a towering tree and the hum of the engine ceases as we sit, senses focused as the medley of sight, sounds and smells are deeply imprinted in a memory. The bush is peaceful...almost serene; everything is in its place.

The sun has completed half its daily journey as now it sits at its highest point. The rulers of the sky can be seen in their dozens effortlessly gliding on the spirals of warm air rising as the African sun beats down harshly on the savannah. Animals laze in the cooling shade of the nearest tree while others layer themselves with thick mud to create their own authentic sunscreen. Eventually the sun continues its westward journey moving closer and closer to the horizon. Shadows lengthen once more as another day draws to a close.

The deep blue sky is once again painted in the colours of a departing sun which are darker, more intense than that morning. The warm colours flow across the entire horizon and the clouds glow in anticipation. The steely water shimmers in the last light, a mirror image of the heavens above, perfectly depicted in all its detail.

Small murmurs can be heard as the people go about their nightly activities. Fires are started and the braai meat prepared .The dry wood is engulfed by the amber flames as smoke rises from its core. Everyone sits, staring, drawn into the glowing flames as they dance in oranges and blues. The flames are mesmerizing and strangely beautiful as time passes more slowly. The blanket of stars stretches across as far as the eye can see what more is there? To have the privilege of experiencing natures wonders , her marvels of design and all this with family...there is nothing more. The bush is a magical place, one that strips you of burden and surrounds you in a comforting embrace, you feel warm, calm, happy and each day that feeling builds, first from the smallest ember until a fire rages within. That is the magic of nature, the very thing that replenishes your ability to deal with the day to day happenings in the concrete jungle, it is the feeling that captures you and forces a return; time....... and time again.

_________________
The beginning of knowledge is the discovery of something we do not understand.

"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit." Aristotle


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 Post subject: Re: Oddesy & Mike's Great Kruger Escape
Unread postPosted: Sat Sep 04, 2010 7:19 pm 
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Location: Randburg, SA
17th June (Arrival):

Finally the day had arrived and we headed off to kruger, excited to see what amazing experiences kruger had in store for us this trip! We arrived in Phalaborwa at 10:30, after a very speedy trip (thanks to my ability to sleep exceptionally well in the car :lol: ). We were initially planning on camping the night at a camp spot in phalaborwa but when we got there they had a few cabins available so we jumped at the opportunity not to have to pack up the tents in the early morning !

We unpacked the car and then decided seeings as it was only midday we would head into kruger for a couple hours :dance: i envy all the Phalaborwa mites :mrgreen: :twisted: .We didnt see alot during that afternoon but to simply be back in kruger was more than anyone could ask for, we were home and these few hours just built onto te already overflowing excitement and anticipation.

We had a nice sighting of this elephant bull and managed to get some pictures of him enjoying his light snack of TREE TRUNK! Incredible to sit only a few metres away and listen to the sounds as he munches away on the thick bark.

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African Elephant by oddesy2


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Tree Snack by oddesy2

Next we had a nice sighting of a red-crested korhaan that let us watch it for quite a while and only disappeared after crossing the road.

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Red crested korhaan by oddesy2

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Red Crested korhaan by oddesy2

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Red Crested Korhaan by oddesy2

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Red Crested Korhaan by oddesy2

After this we had a few sightings of Steenbok but they were very skittish and vanished before we could even lift our cameras. One of the most fascinating animals to watch is the squirrel! they run around frantically stopping only to sit and give their characteristic call that sounds very much like hysterical laughter :lol: but is actually a territorial call. I recently bought a field guide on the behaviour of southern african mammals and its really very interesting. So i might add some interesting behavioural characteristics with the pictures :)

Squirrels live in territorial family groups but are most often seen alone as they forage as individuals. The group members share a common odour that they spread by sleeping together and allogrooming (mutual pair grooming). squirrels that do not carry the proper group odour are chased away.

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Tree Squirrel by oddesy2

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Southern Yellow billed Hornbill by oddesy2

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Impala Ram by oddesy2

_________________
The beginning of knowledge is the discovery of something we do not understand.

"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit." Aristotle


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 Post subject: Re: Oddesy & Mike's Great Kruger Escape
Unread postPosted: Sun Sep 05, 2010 10:20 am 
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Location: Randburg, SA
Day 1 (18 June):

Finally the morning had arrived :dance: we quickly packed the car to capacity once again and headed to phalaborwa gate. We were perhaps a little too excited so we ended up waiting at the gate for just over half an hour :lol: After a very quick check in we headed into KNP :D . Animal sightings were fairly quite but we still had 2 weeks ahead of us to experience tons of amazing soghtings.

Our first animals of the day was a small herd of impala and a little later on the H14 we came across 3 bull elephants just as the sun was beggining to rise. The horizon was washed with pink and created a very different backdrop for the elephant. They were very calm and did not mind us being directly next to them.

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Elephant in the early morning by oddesy2

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Elephant in the early morning by oddesy2

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Pink elephant by oddesy2

Next we came accross our first predator of the trip, the hyena! we first spotted it in the road but we were still a few hundred metres away when she moved off into the ditch to the side. Luckily she allowed us to have a good look at her for a few moments before she moved off deeper into the bush.

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Spotted Hyaena by oddesy2

On the way to mopani we also spotted a large herd of buffalo and had a great sighting of a pair of bateleur just off the road. Unfortunately the light was very bright so i could only get a shot of one of the pair. they truly are one of Africas most beautifull birds!!

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Buffalo Bull by oddesy2

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Bateleur by oddesy2

We arrived at mopani and as always our first stop was the lookout over pioneer dam :D the winter impala lilies were in full bloom and lined the pathway to the restaurant area.

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Winter Impala lily by oddesy2

The portion of the H1-6 between mopani and shingwedzi has never been overly productive and the mopani can get a bit much :lol: but about 15km out from shingwedzi the scenery changes completely and the scenic acacias make a return. Just before the turnoff to shingwedzi we cam across a herd of Kudu and just after that a small breeding herd of elephant with this young one making use of its trunk to reach the higher leaves.

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The Majestic Kudu by oddesy2

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Young Elephant by oddesy2

_________________
The beginning of knowledge is the discovery of something we do not understand.

"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit." Aristotle


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 Post subject: Re: Oddesy & Mike's Great Kruger Escape
Unread postPosted: Sun Sep 05, 2010 2:12 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Posts: 1500
Location: Sungulwane Hills Game Lodge, Hluhluwe
Kamadejo all those wonderful photo's are Ods, but since Ods is posting i thought i'd post some as well :D :D

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Brownhooded Kingfisher by Michael Hattingh

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Three-banded Plover by Michael Hattingh

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Spotted Hyena by Michael Hattingh

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Elephant Calf by Michael Hattingh

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Elephant by Michael Hattingh

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Buffalo by Michael Hattingh

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Female buffalo by Michael Hattingh

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Bateleur by Michael Hattingh

_________________
Sustainability is not something we do in addition to..........., it is about the manner in which we do everything


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 Post subject: Re: Oddesy & Mike's Great Kruger Escape
Unread postPosted: Mon Sep 06, 2010 7:07 pm 
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Location: Randburg, SA
Day 2 (19 June):


Route: H1-6, S53, H1-7, S56, S57, H1-7, S56, H1-7, H1-6, S50,S135

We were up bright and early this morning and ready to head out. The stars were amazing, millions clearly visibile in the morning sky. Arriving first at the gate we had a coffee fix and i had my kruger coffee sniff :lol:

Our first animals this morning were a tropp of still very sleepy baboons along the shingwedzi river. Still along the river there were two elephant bulls and we stayed with them untill just after the sun had finished rising.

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Elephant by oddesy2

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Eye of the Elephant by oddesy2

We had a great time watching a pair of hornbills fly from tree to tree in what i imagine must have been their mating behaviour.

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Yellow billed Hornbill by oddesy2

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Yellow Billed Hornbill by oddesy2

A very curious squirrel who was also very noisy and decided that we were a threat :? :lol:

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On the Lookout by oddesy2

We even saw an African Wood Hoopoe today, a bird that we have not seen for a very long time :dance: and it posed nicely just next to the car for us.

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African Wood hoopoe by oddesy2

There was a a family group of kudu that had taken to eating from the top of a HUGE termite mound just next to the road. It was so high we were literally looking up at them. The termite mounds bring up nutrients from deeper down and therefore the vegetaton that grows on them is more nutritious and attracts more animals thats why its very unlikely that you will see a TM covered in grasses.

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Like mother like daughter by oddesy2

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Inquisitive by oddesy2

We were driving along and for some reason this tree caught my eye so I tried my hand at tree photography and it did not come out too badly.

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size by oddesy2, on Flickr

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Vervet Monkey by oddesy2

The rest of the day was quiter but like always we ended up spending ages going back and forth over the low water bridge waiting our turn :lol: the people in the guest house must have thought that we were mentally unstable :hmz:

A view of either side of the low water bridge

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shingwedzi river by oddesy2

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Shingwedzi river by oddesy2

On the one side there was also a green backed heron perched at the waters edge in the reeds waiting for an unsuspecting fish to pass.

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Green-Backed Heron by oddesy2

While on the opposite side there were plenty of crocodiles enjoying the late afternoon sun.

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Sunbathing by oddesy2

And a little later this openbill joined the others taking a casual afternoon stroll.

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African Openbill by oddesy2

We left the low water bridge and headed to the high water bridge :lol: where we admired all the tracks left in the loose sand of the riverbed now highlighted as the shadows begin to tip over their edges. So we managed to do a bit of some more "artistic" photography.

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Tracks by oddesy2


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Wandering Paths by oddesy2

All the while the sun was sinking lower and lower and the warm glow wass beggining to engulf the landscape. We had some very special visitors cross over the bridge oh so close to us.

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Shingwedzi Bridge and elephants by oddesy2

The sinking sun created these amazing shadows of the bridge against the river bed

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Natural cage by oddesy2

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Framed Bridge by oddesy2

The setting sun and its warm embrace, the sounds, the light breeze, and not to mention the special guests made for the perfect end to a day in kruger.

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Shingwedzi Sunset by oddesy2

_________________
The beginning of knowledge is the discovery of something we do not understand.

"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit." Aristotle


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 Post subject: Re: Oddesy & Mike's Great Kruger Escape
Unread postPosted: Sat Sep 11, 2010 9:40 pm 
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Virtual Ranger
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Location: Randburg, SA
Day 3 (June 20th):

This morning we decided to head around the camp on the S143 to the low water bridge in time for the sunrise at about 06:30 and we just, just made it after taking a slow drive. A big...little surprise awaited us, a magnificent malachite kingfisher :dance: , what a way to start off the day. We switched off the car and rolled towards it as it sat perched on the bridge. it didnt seem frightened at all and remained motionless. Eventually it decided to move a little and did a little penguin like shiffle along the bridge :lol: It was tiny and still puffed up in the fresh morning air.

Image
Malachite Kingfisher (Alcedo cristata) by oddesy2, on Flickr

While we sat watching the kingfisher we noticed an elephant ambling across the dry river bed in the distance.

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Elephant in the Mist by oddesy2, on Flickr

We drove along the river and came across a whole herd of elephant drinking in first light, all was quite besides the splashing of water and the low rumbles from the elephant. A perfect way to start off the day, or rather yet another special sighting :lol: Unfortunately they were obscured by bushes so we could not get any pictures and the light was only just seeping through the horizon.

Further on we drove into one of the loops and spotted a pair of southern boubous just beggining their daily activities, the one had just been for a bath and was still all we and shaggy.

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Southern Boubou (Laniarius ferrugineus) by oddesy2, on Flickr

Next on todays sightings was squirrel acrobatics and tongue stretching! A few squirrels were running around the trunk of the tree, and every now and then they would almost let go of the tree, and holding on only just with their back legs and stretch as faaar forwards as they could and then proceed to stick out their tongues :roll: :lol: A very unusual morning stretch :hmz: :lol: We had a great time watching these guys.

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Squirel acrobatics by oddesy2, on Flickr

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Squirel acrobatics by oddesy2, on Flickr

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Squirel acrobatics by oddesy2, on Flickr

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Squirel acrobatics by oddesy2, on Flickr

The sun had just risen now and we sat in complete piece enjoying it on the left while the squirrels entertained on the right.

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Sunrise by oddesy2, on Flickr

We took a drive back a few hundred metres to get the sun rising from the bridge.

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Sunrise over the shingwedzi by oddesy2, on Flickr

We carried on and found a nice spot to stop for some coffee and rusks and watch te crocodiles basking in the warm sun. Only after ten minutes or so did we look up and notice the giant eagle owl sitting in the tree above us! what an awesome sightings to have :dance:

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Verreauxs Eagle owl (Bubo lacteus) by oddesy2, on Flickr

A few kilometres later a brown blur caught my eye and immedietely we stopped and caught only a few seconds worth of seeing a massive male LION, pity he did not stick around. We waited a while to see if he would return but unfortunately no such luck.

Later on we spotted this sharpes grysbok, and had a nice sighting of a natal spurfowl

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Sharpes Grysbok (Raphicerus sharpei) by oddesy2, on Flickr

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Natal Spurfowl (Pternistis natalensis) by oddesy2, on Flickr

The sightings died down for a while but we did see these two sandgrouse and as we got nearer to the nshawus we even saw a tsessebe but unfortunately could not get a photo. At grootvlei dam we saw a namaqua dove and maybe its just because we have started becoming more interested in birds these past few years but i dont ever remember seeing a namaqua dove before.

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Double Banded Sandgrouse (Pterocles bipinctus) by oddesy2, on Flickr

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Grootvlein Dam by oddesy2, on Flickr

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Namaqua Dove (Oena capensis) by oddesy2, on Flickr

We were heading closer towards mopani now and just before mooiplaas waterhole spotted a roller and what we think must have been wattled starlings? because they didnt have their wattle

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Lilac Breasted Roller (Coracius caudatus) by oddesy2, on Flickr

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Lilac Breasted Roller (Coracius caudatus) by oddesy2, on Flickr

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Lilac Breasted Roller (Coracius caudatus) by oddesy2, on Flickr


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Wattled Starlings (Creatophora cinerea) by oddesy2, on Flickr

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Wattled Starling (Creatophora cinerea) by oddesy2, on Flickr

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Wattled starling ? (Creatophora cinerea) by oddesy2, on Flickr

At mooiplaas there was plenty of activity and a few elephant bulls and a massive tusker were drinking from the waterhole and dusting themselves with sand while a herd of zebra wandered in the foreground.

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Taking a Bath by oddesy2, on Flickr

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Taking a Bath by oddesy2, on Flickr

These two took chase of oneanother and raced across the open ground with amazing speed!

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The chase by oddesy2, on Flickr

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Zebra and Elephant by oddesy2, on Flickr

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Plains Zebra (Equus quagga) by oddesy2, on Flickr

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Big Tusker by oddesy2, on Flickr

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Elephant (Loxodonta africana) by oddesy2, on Flickr

On the loops nearer mopani there was a massive herd of buffalo and by now the sun was midway throught he sky forcing them to seek out any shade.

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Its Hot! by oddesy2, on Flickr

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African Buffalo (Syncerus caffer) by oddesy2, on Flickr

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African Buffalo (Syncerus caffer) by oddesy2, on Flickr

On the way back towards shingwedzi there was very little animals wise but we did see this elephant.

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Elephant (Loxodonta africana) by oddesy2, on Flickr

After a very slow drive back we ended off our day with a pre-determined low water bridge visit , no better way to end off another day in beautifull kruger when staying in shingwedzi.

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Singwedzi Low Water bridge by oddesy2, on Flickr

We then headed back to camp, more than satisfied with another glorious day in kruger.

_________________
The beginning of knowledge is the discovery of something we do not understand.

"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit." Aristotle


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 Post subject: Re: Oddesy & Mike's Great Kruger Escape
Unread postPosted: Fri Nov 19, 2010 12:33 pm 
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Virtual Ranger
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Location: Randburg, SA
June 21st,Day 4, Part 1

Finally I can carry on with my TR and going through the pictures there is ALOT for this day so ill do it in 2 or 3 parts so that there is not too much too load :D

This morning it was raining when we got up which still confuses me because its supposed to be winter :hmz: But as usual we were up, excited and ready to leave when the gates opened :dance: .

And what a day we had in store for us!! our first sighting of the day, while still on that 3km stretch from the gate was a LEOPARD. We had stopped to scan in the river bed from one of those small side loops and while we were stopped my mom shon on the opposite side of the road and saw two eyes which quickly disappeared. so we slowly made our way across the road and scanned patiently for any sign of them. After a very tense few minutes we shone the light more to the left and there sat one of the most beautiful animals! I quickly passed the spotlight to the front and dove for my camera (all silently of course :lol: ). I managed to get only a single picture of her , which is blurry as i just managed to turn the settings down enough. After not even 30 seconds she\he was gone. This is one of those moments where simply having the privilege of seeing this animal is more special than any picture.

Image
Leopard Abstract by oddesy2, on Flickr

We headed down to the first entrance onto red rocks and as the sun started to crawl over the horizon we saw some of the kruger regulars, impala. And then one of my favourite birds the hornbill, AKA banana bird.

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Impala by oddesy2, on Flickr

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Herd of Impala by oddesy2, on Flickr

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Hornbill by oddesy2, on Flickr

next we had a very special sighting of a Verreaux Eagle owl sitting calmly in the shade of a tree.

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Verreauxs Eagle Owl by oddesy2, on Flickr

Our next sighting was a bit different and was one of krugers more secretive inhabitants. A dangerous but very beautiful mozambique spitting cobra! It was out basking on a termite mound and some of its body was still inside the mound so this one must be approaching their 1.8m size limit. Its quite cold in kruger on winter mornings so the reptiles go out to bask on solid surfaces as this allows them to absorb heat from the sand (conduction) and they are also dark coloured which helps them to heat up more quickly. Eventually my mom forced us to close the windows because the TM was only about 1.5m from the road and well within spitting distance, (and she is very afraid of snakes :lol: so am I :redface: )

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Mozambique Spitting Cobra by oddesy2, on Flickr

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Mozambique Spitting Cobra by oddesy2, on Flickr

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Mozambique Spitting Cobra by oddesy2, on Flickr

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Mozambique Spitting Cobra by oddesy2, on Flickr

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Mozambique Spitting Cobra by oddesy2, on Flickr

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Mozambique Spitting Cobra by oddesy2, on Flickr

Next it did something very interesting, it opened up its hood but did not raise its body so it was not done to appear threatening but rather i think to maximise heat exchange with the environment to warm up more quiclky. Because reptiles first thing in the morning are almost sitting ducks because they simply do not have the ability to perform any kind of burst movement to escape would be predators.

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Mozambique Spitting Cobra by oddesy2, on Flickr

We eventually arrived at the red rocks lookout and enjoyed the view of the lookout. Years ago we were lucky to see a lion kill on the rocks here.

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View from Red Rocks by oddesy2, on Flickr

My mom and brother

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Red Rocks Lookout Point by oddesy2, on Flickr

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Red Rocks by oddesy2, on Flickr

_________________
The beginning of knowledge is the discovery of something we do not understand.

"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit." Aristotle


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 Post subject: Re: Oddesy & Mike's Great Kruger Escape
Unread postPosted: Sun Nov 21, 2010 3:30 pm 
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Location: Randburg, SA
21st of June, Day 4, Part 2

After the Cobra we finished the red rocks loop and headed back around towards shingwedzi via the sand road that loop round towards the back end of the camp. I hope that everyone enjoys elephants as much as I do because the rest of the day is officially an elephant filled day :lol: , around almost every corner there were elephants, elephants and more elephants but we were not complaining.

This ellie was in a hurry and got a bit annoyed with us as how dare we occupy the portion of road he intended to cross over. We quickly backed up and allowed it space but the display was filled with trumpeting and lots of head shaking.

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Grumpy Elephant by oddesy2, on Flickr

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Grumpy Elephant by oddesy2, on Flickr

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IMGP4394 by oddesy2, on Flickr

Not long after this first elephant had crossed the road an entire breeding herd appeared :dance: :dance: and hurried across the road. A big female eyed us cautiously as the young started to near the road.

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I Still see you by oddesy2, on Flickr

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I see you by oddesy2, on Flickr

It was really great to see the young calves and luckily the older individuals seemed not to be threatened by us and let them wander quite close by.

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Follow the Leader by oddesy2, on Flickr

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Elephant calf by oddesy2, on Flickr

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Landscape of Elephant by oddesy2, on Flickr

They crossed the road very quickly one after the other in neat single file

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Follow the Leader by oddesy2, on Flickr

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Follow The leader by oddesy2, on Flickr

We spent ages watching the few stragglers that followed slowly behind, this mother and calf did not seem to share the need for haste like the others and walked sloowly stopping every now and then to feed,

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Wait for me! by oddesy2, on Flickr

We were only a few km now from the turnoff to shingwedzi when we came across this very impressive large tusker!! :dance: :D He was a sight to behold and fed only a few short metres from our car.
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Big Tusker by oddesy2, on Flickr

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Big Tusker by oddesy2, on Flickr

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Big Tusker by oddesy2, on Flickr

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Big Tusker by oddesy2, on Flickr

Im not sure if he would be classed as a big tusker but his tusks are extraordinary! Ill see if maybe Aat knows if he is one :thumbs_up:

We then arrived at the shingwedzi low water bridge and what do we find.........more elephant :dance: :dance: it was after midday now and very hot so they were enjoying a nice cool drink from the river and we sat watching them from the low water bridge. Luckily not a single car arrived while we were watching them. It is so calming to watch these giants and something that i never get tired of.

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Afternoon Drink by oddesy2, on Flickr

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Elephant drinking by oddesy2, on Flickr

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Elephant drinking by oddesy2, on Flickr

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Elephant drinking by oddesy2, on Flickr

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Elephant by oddesy2, on Flickr

Up to now we had already had a brilliant day for elephants and they afternoon was only just getting started :clap: :wink:

_________________
The beginning of knowledge is the discovery of something we do not understand.

"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit." Aristotle


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 Post subject: Re: Oddesy & Mike's Great Kruger Escape
Unread postPosted: Fri Dec 03, 2010 9:15 am 
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Virtual Ranger
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Posts: 3183
Location: Randburg, SA
Nov 26th 2010

Mike and I left early in the morning at about quarter to two and although the task of driving down seemed alot to comprehend by 6:20 we arrived at Malelane Gate :dance: :dance: We were home again :dance:

Tonight we would be staying in Pretoriuskop but first off we headed to Berg-en-dal to have some breakfast before heading up. Our first animal for the trip was....no not an impala but rather 2 warthog peering above the grass.

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-7021Warthog by oddesy2, on Flickr

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Warthog by oddesy2, on Flickr

Next we came across this tortoise which I believe is a hinged tortoise(specifically spekes hinged tortoise) because the shell patterns just dont look like that of a leopard tortoise but its difficult to tell with the shadows and glare from the sun.

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Hinged Tortoise by oddesy2, on Flickr

We has a quick bite to eat at B+D and went and had a walk along the lookout point. Had a nice sighting of thick-billed weavers although I didn't manage to get photos of them. We finished up at B=D and headed around on the Steilberg road and came across this breeding herd of elephant.

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Breeding Herd of Elephant by oddesy2, on Flickr

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Breeding Herd of Elephant by oddesy2, on Flickr

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Breeding Herd of Elephant by oddesy2, on Flickr

This greater blue eared starling was quite happy sitting just next to the car in an acacia. The colours were amazing!

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Greater Blue-eared starling by oddesy2, on Flickr

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Greater Blue-eared starling by oddesy2, on Flickr

And just after that we had our first sighting of a broad-billed roller! :dance: :dance: :dance: :dance: We have been looking for this bird for ages and finally spotted one although it was very far off I managed a photo.

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Broad-billed roller by oddesy2, on Flickr

Next we sat watching a fairly large leopard tortoise in the road

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Leopard Tortoise (Stigmochelys pardalis) by oddesy2, on Flickr

I have always been fascinated by dung beetles they are just so interesting!! and this pile of dung was full of them with about 3 or 4 different species all together :D

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Plum Dung Beetle (Anachalcos convexus) by oddesy2, on Flickr

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Dung Beetles by oddesy2, on Flickr

And this next photo must be one of my favorites!! This dung beetle was busy orientating himself while at the same time a fly was hitching a ride with him :lol:

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Hitch Hiker!! (Dung beetle and Flie) by oddesy2, on Flickr

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Getting the Ball rolling by oddesy2, on Flickr

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Communal Dung Pile by oddesy2, on Flickr

Finally we had a nice opportunity to get some photos of a creche of impala young :dance: One of many bonuses about visiting kruger this time of the year.

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The Creche by oddesy2, on Flickr

This little one was not phased by our car and demanded a drink from its mother, which is always special to watch.

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Young Impala and Mother by oddesy2, on Flickr

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Mother and child by oddesy2, on Flickr

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Drinking by oddesy2, on Flickr

This little impala is very lucky! if you look closely you can see a gash on the left hind leg. So i think it just escaped being some predators meal, maybe a cheetah. And as you will see lots of predators find the newborns easy pickings.

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Impala by oddesy2, on Flickr

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Impala Fawn by oddesy2, on Flickr

A tender moment between mother and offspring

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Bonding moment by oddesy2, on Flickr

Next quite a distance into the bush we spotted a fish eagle and although he didn't call it was great to watch such a large powerful bird.

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African Fish Eagle by oddesy2, on Flickr

We then decided to head up the voortrekker road to PK as like usual we get absorbed by all the sightings and loose track of how quickly the time is passing.

These two white rhino were resting in the shade at the end of a loop in perfect view for us. It was nice to see them in the open like this.

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African Siesta by oddesy2, on Flickr

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Its Just too hot by oddesy2, on Flickr

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White rhino by oddesy2, on Flickr

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All Rhino by oddesy2, on Flickr

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White Rhino by oddesy2, on Flickr

Closer to PK we came across this young elephant just next to the road

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The Wise by oddesy2, on Flickr

and then this black bellied korhaan put on a show for us :dance: :dance:

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Black Bellied Korhaan by oddesy2, on Flickr

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Black Bellied Korhaan by oddesy2, on Flickr

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Black Bellied Korhaan by oddesy2, on Flickr

We gt to the camp and booked in and after unpacking the car we went out for a short afternoon drive. Just outside camp (3km) on the circle road/faye loop we had 3 lioness and a big male walking just off the road. There were a few other cars so I managed just the one photo of this massive lioness walking off. In total we only saw them for a few minutes before they disappeared. She really is a beautiful specimen.

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Lioness by oddesy2, on Flickr

_________________
The beginning of knowledge is the discovery of something we do not understand.

"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit." Aristotle


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 Post subject: Re: Oddesy & Mike's Great Kruger Escape
Unread postPosted: Sat Dec 04, 2010 2:52 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Fri Apr 11, 2008 2:43 pm
Posts: 1500
Location: Sungulwane Hills Game Lodge, Hluhluwe
Here are my photos from Day 1: :D
Enjoy :thumbs_up:

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Black-backed Puffback by Michael hattingh, on Flickr

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Dung Beetle Fun by Michael hattingh, on Flickr

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Dung Beetle by Michael hattingh, on Flickr

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Dung Beetle by Michael hattingh, on Flickr

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Giant Plated Lizard by Michael hattingh, on Flickr

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White Rhino by Michael hattingh, on Flickr

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White Rhino by Michael hattingh, on Flickr

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White Rhino by Michael hattingh, on Flickr

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Blue Crane by Michael hattingh, on Flickr

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Balck Bellied Korhaan by Michael hattingh, on Flickr

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Balck Bellied Korhaan by Michael hattingh, on Flickr

_________________
Sustainability is not something we do in addition to..........., it is about the manner in which we do everything


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 Post subject: Re: Oddesy & Mike's Great Kruger Escape
Unread postPosted: Sun Dec 05, 2010 12:39 pm 
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Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Wed Jan 02, 2008 4:57 pm
Posts: 3183
Location: Randburg, SA
27 November 2010
Morning Drive

I really did sleep like the dead last night and not once did I wake up until the very Kruger sound of the crested francolin broke the silence (my phone). It took a few seconds for me to realise that yes we were definitely in kruger :dance: :dance:

We quickly packed up all of our things and by the time we were finished it was about 4:10 so we made our way to wait at the front gate. Cameras cleaned, coffee ready and off we go ready to see whats in store for us today. We had to be at the lodge by 12, which sounds like a long time from 4:30 so we were not worried about time (at that stage :wall: ) and decided to first head onto the faye loop around camp. The bush was fresh and everything smelt clean and new! Im not used to the vegetation in the area so It was exciting driving around every corner to see how things would change.

We enjoyed a beautiful sunrise washing over the landscapape.

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An African Sunrise by oddesy2, on Flickr

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An African sunrise by oddesy2, on Flickr

We watched this red-crested korhaan go about its business and some giraffe.
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Red-crested korhaan by oddesy2, on Flickr

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Giraffe by oddesy2, on Flickr

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Giraffe skin by oddesy2, on Flickr

And then we saw our first giant plated lizard :dance:

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Giant Plated lizard by oddesy2, on Flickr

And not long after that a awesome sighting of a lizard buzzard(i think) just off the road!

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Lizard Buzard by oddesy2, on Flickr

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Lizard Buzzard by oddesy2, on Flickr

We then came to a really interesting sighting of a Fork-tailed Drongo mobbing what looks to be a Walbergs Eagle(dark morph) if anyone can help me with the ID would be much appreciated :D Over and over again the raptor was dive bombed and harassed and eventually persistence payed off. Really nice interaction to see :D

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Mobbing behaviour by oddesy2, on Flickr

We finished the loop and decided to go and sit for a little while at shitlhave dam. our first visitor was a little Pin tailed Wydah. He was very busy trying to impress his lady friend by almost hovering in front of her in a bobbing like fashion. It was great to see! as soon as she flew off he followed and would again perform for her. But it looks like she was not impressed and left him all alone :lol: After a few minutes of sitting he decided it was time for breakfast and nibbled on the dew covered grass seeds.

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Pin Tailed wydah by oddesy2, on Flickr

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pin tailed wydah by oddesy2, on Flickr

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pin tailed wydah by oddesy2, on Flickr

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Pin tailed wydah by oddesy2, on Flickr

also at shitlhave was a green backed heron looking for food, crouching down :lol:

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Green backed heron by oddesy2, on Flickr

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Stalking heron by oddesy2, on Flickr

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Green backed heron by oddesy2, on Flickr

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Elephant skin by oddesy2, on Flickr

Just after naphe boulders we came across this newly killed impala fawn already cached in a tree. If you look closely you can even see the puncture mark from the leopards teeth on the upper neck region. Unfortunately there was no leopard around although we did stick around for about half an hour, waiting listening. Seeing the little antelope in the tree, sprawled over the trunks brings you back to nature in that it reminds you that life in the wild is hard it is not easy and while this fawn had to die, a leopard can live.

I think with all the easy pickings around the leopard may simply have taken an opportunity to kill the impala with little effort to itself and then cached its prey in a tree for later consumption as leopards will usually eat fairly well decomposed meat. Or often with such a small meal, an adult leoparde may not even cache it if it is going to consume it straight away, which might then mean that the leopard perceived the area to be not safe with possible competition from other more powerful predators driving it away.

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Leopard kill (Impala fawn) by oddesy2, on Flickr

Next we saw this white rhino mother and calf grazing on the grass shoots around the termite mound. The termites actually are able to bring up nutrients locked up in the deeper horizons of soil and results in more nutritious vegetation. An interesting fact is that in KNP 19% of the vegetation is greatly influenced by nutrients from termite mounds :shock:

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White rhino mother and calf by oddesy2, on Flickr

Our next few sightings were of our beloved elephants :dance: posing nicely for us. I dont think i will ever tire of elephant photos :dance:

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African elephant by oddesy2, on Flickr

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African Elephant by oddesy2, on Flickr

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Posing by oddesy2, on Flickr

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Posing by oddesy2, on Flickr

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African Elephant by oddesy2, on Flickr

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African Elephant by oddesy2, on Flickr

And thats our sightings up untill we arrived at the lodge, ill continue with our afternoon drive :D :D

_________________
The beginning of knowledge is the discovery of something we do not understand.

"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit." Aristotle


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 Post subject: Re: Oddesy & Mike's Great Kruger Escape
Unread postPosted: Mon Dec 06, 2010 8:08 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Fri Apr 11, 2008 2:43 pm
Posts: 1500
Location: Sungulwane Hills Game Lodge, Hluhluwe
Image
Waterbuck by Michael hattingh, on Flickr

Image
Blue Crane (Second Sighting) by Michael hattingh, on Flickr


Image
Woodlands Kingfisher Calling by Michael hattingh, on Flickr

Image
Woodlands Kingfisher by Michael hattingh, on Flickr

_________________
Sustainability is not something we do in addition to..........., it is about the manner in which we do everything


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 Post subject: Re: Oddesy & Mike's Great Kruger Escape
Unread postPosted: Tue Dec 07, 2010 6:47 pm 
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Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Wed Jan 02, 2008 4:57 pm
Posts: 3183
Location: Randburg, SA
27 November 2010, Part 2

After we had seen the elelphant it was after 10 already and we had not eaten breakfast or were near to the lodge yet. And here we though we had plenty of time :wall: :wall: So we sped up a little to 30km/h :lol: and decided to not stay too long with the impala.

We eventually arrived at the lodge more or less on time. It was very exciting getting there and mike and I ,used to camping were a bit out of our league :lol: I think people got sick of us saying thank you for anything that was done for us :lol: Ill post the animal pics today and find out if im allowed to post some of the pics of the lodge and story telling from in the lodge itself and then possibly add more tomorrow (if my nerves hold up, my marks release tomorrow :pray: plus its mikes birthday :dance: ) :thumbs_up:

While sitting enjoying a cool drink after lunch we watched these guys drinking and feeding on the opposite side of the river from us all in complete silence with the wind blowing calmly over us and the smells of the bush invading our senses 8) . Its one of those moments that reminds you how amazing nature really is in its intricate simplicity.

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Elephant by oddesy2, on Flickr

Just before our afternoon drive we had a very special visitor come to welcome us :dance:

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Elephant (Only a few metres away) by oddesy2, on Flickr

At 16;30 we left for our afternoon drive and first on the agenda was this very muddy elephant who was quite happily enjoying his mud bath and not long after that a rhino who also had just finished up a bath :D

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Muddy Elephant by oddesy2, on Flickr

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Rhino by oddesy2, on Flickr

Our next sighting was a special one :D On the S114 the ranger knew of a pride of lion who had recently killed a buffalo so we headed off in that direction and luckily enough we found them :dance: When we first spotted them there were a couple teenagers together with 1 big male and a few females mulling around the buffalo carcass. They were obscured by lots of bushes but eventually we managed to get a few pictures of them. After these photos mike and I though we had hit the jackpot :dance: You could hear them fighting amongst each other and the cracking of bones as they savaged the carcass.

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Lion (Buffalo kill) by oddesy2, on Flickr

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Pride of Lion by oddesy2, on Flickr

The carcass is just to the left of them. Luckily the sun was starting to go down so they were moving around alot.

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Pride of Lion by oddesy2, on Flickr

The two big males decided that it was time for a drink and moved away from the females to a little waterhole. 1 drank very quickly and then headed off deeper into the bush.

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Lion by oddesy2, on Flickr

But the other male decided to head at an angle closer to the road so the reversed and we eventually had him walking directly towards us! :dance: :D :D

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Late Afternoon Stroll by oddesy2, on Flickr

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Lion by oddesy2, on Flickr

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Lion by oddesy2, on Flickr

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Late Afternoon Stroll by oddesy2, on Flickr

Eventually he was now very close to us and looked in top condition with no obvious BTB signs :dance:

He was a huge male and beautiful in everyway!


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Raw power by oddesy2, on Flickr

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Lion by oddesy2, on Flickr

So powerful, majestic with a confidence that pervades the air around him. He is the top predator and he knows it. He walked to within less than 2m of the vehicle and then suddenly flopped down staring in our direction! He was breathing very heavily as it was still very hot at this stage.

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Lion Closeup by oddesy2, on Flickr

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Lion Closeup by oddesy2, on Flickr

Just look at his paws!! I would not like to be on the receiving end of those!

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Power by oddesy2, on Flickr

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Lion Paw by oddesy2, on Flickr

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The king by oddesy2, on Flickr

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Profile of A Lion by oddesy2, on Flickr

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Lion by oddesy2, on Flickr

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Lion by oddesy2, on Flickr

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Lion by oddesy2, on Flickr

You can even see a piece of buffalo sinew stuck between his teeth :lol: In this case with an animal such as this pictures are just able to convey a message far more profoundly than words can ever hope too and is one of the reasons why I love photography so much, capturing special moments or looks. After posing for a while he had enough and flopped over onto his side after which he turned around, with his head up facing the complete opposite direction as If he had become bored with us and refused any more photo ops :lol:


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battling with the heat by oddesy2, on Flickr


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Intense stare by oddesy2, on Flickr

The sun had set while we were enjoying watching the lion, what better way to end off a day than in kruger, with a magnificent sunset and at a sighting like this. With this picture we ended off our second day in heaven.
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African Sunset by oddesy2, on Flickr

_________________
The beginning of knowledge is the discovery of something we do not understand.

"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit." Aristotle


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