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 Post subject: SusieB-Our second Kruger adventure - 1st to 17th August 2010
Unread postPosted: Sun Aug 22, 2010 7:30 pm 
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Location: Nottingham, UK
Last year on our first trip to Kruger I did not get to do a trip report, so this year I have decided to go for it!

Day 1, Sunday 1st August - JNB to Biyamiti

Finally after weeks (or should I say months) of excitement and preparation we were standing on the tarmac at KMIA ready to embark on our 2nd Kruger adventure! :dance: :dance: :dance: I had never expected when I had left the airport just under 12 months earlier that I would be back so soon.

This year we were without our son for the first time on a major holiday, however we had some good friends from Australia along with us for their first visit to Africa. They like us are also keen photographers with a love of wildlife of both the feathered and non-feathered variety, in fact our mutual interest was how we had got to know each other originally.

What I love about setting off on a trip like this is that you never know quite what excitement is in store for you, all our previous visits to Africa had always thrown up so many new and exciting experiences and as it turned out this trip was going to be no different!

After picking up our hire cars we headed for Malelane gate, stopping for a shopping trip at Malelane Spar along the way. We had been travelling for 24 hours now since leaving home for LHR the previous day, but once through the gate any tiredness faded away as the adrenalin started pumping.....finally we were there!!

I had made a late change to my booking when a bungalow became available at Biyamiti, so instead of heading to Berg en Dal as previously planned we were heading off towards Biyamiti along the Crocodile river route, a new camp and area to us.

Our first major siting along the way was with a heard of elephants along the road, so we spent some time just enjoying watching them and waiting for them to cross over the road. The first siting is always magical and especially when sharing it with people who have not experienced african wildlife encounters before. The lighting was harsh, so not ideal for photography but of course I could not resist a snap or 2.

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We decided to take a trip along the Mlambane loop and take a look in at the Gardenia Hide. Along the way we started to encounter some of Krugers prolific bird life and managed a few pictures including this Southern White-crowned Shrike.

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A little further along the road we had our first Impala siting. Although these creatures are so common in the park, I always find it difficult to just drive by when the lighting is good without any pics, as they are just so beautiful. This time the lighting was harsh still, so the impala shots would have to wait. I was pretty confident one or 2 opportunity would arise over the next 2.5 weeks!

We eventually found the hide and spent a few minutes watching a Brown-hooded Kingfisher and a Blacksmith Lapwing, the only visitors at the time, again not ideal for pics, so after a few minutes it was time to move on. We made a mental note that if the opportunity came up again to visit the hide we might try it in the morning when the lighting might be more favourable for photography.

As time was getting on we needed to get onto the S25 and carry on with journey towards Biyamiti. However we were soon stopped in our tracks by our second member of the 'big five' a Rhino! Of course pics were in order!

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By the time we reached the turning off to the S139 Biyamiti road we had also added Buffalo to our sitings, not bad for our first few hours in the park, but the best siting of the day was yet to come!

We had only been driving down the road for a few minutes when we saw a stopped vehicle down the road. As we got closer we could see it was the Biyamiti sunset drive vehicle....what had stopped them???

We approached slowly and as we drew up the driver pointed over to a nearby rocky out crop and there was...aahhhhhhh..... the most beautiful Leopard relaxing in the soft evening light! I was beside myself on our last trip we had not seen a cat for about the first 4 days and here we were not even having reached the first camp, enjoying viewing this gorgeous creature...I was choked!!

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After a few minutes the leopard got up and moved on and so did we .....our first day in the park was complete!

As soon as we arrived at camp we immediately fell in love...what a fantastic place. The setting, the view from our bungalow over the dry riverbed, quiet atmosphere was perfect. While the others were unpacking my SO and I sat on a bench, enjoyed the view as the sunset in front of us as elephants passed through the riverbed, a perfect end to a perfect day.

Could it get any better?


Last edited by SusieB on Sat Oct 02, 2010 9:28 am, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Our second Kruger adventure - 1st to 17th August 2010
Unread postPosted: Tue Aug 24, 2010 11:30 pm 
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Day 2, Monday 2nd August - Biyamiti to Lower Sabie

Part 1 - Early morning drive

Why is it when you are at home and the alarm goes off at 06:15 you just cannot face getting out of bed, when in Kruger and the alarm goes off at 05:15, you bounce out of bed?! :hmz:

My first morning of waking to my special Kruger alarm on my phone, the sound of braying Zebras was a welcome sound, it signalled day 2 of our adventure. I had a niggling feeling that we had had such a great day yesterday that the pace was bound to slow today...how wrong could I have been!

I so enjoy my first coffee of the day, always sitting outside the bungalow/tent whatever listening to the sounds of the bush. This is one thing I make sure there is always time for, even if it means sacrificing a few minutes extra sleep. The first morning is always extra special as it's the moment that has been anticipated for for months and never disappoints! Today was no exception it was still pitch dark, and the whooping sounds of a distant Hyena gave me goosebumps. The day had begun!

As much as I was tempted to go back down the road to seek out the leopard we had seen the evening before, we decided to head in the opposite direction towards the Biyamiti weir, as I had read a number of comments on the forum about this being a good place to visit.

The gates had only been opened a few moments before as we headed out. The morning air was cold, but the windows were down and eyes straining for 'shapes in the bush'.

Although the sun had yet to creep above the horizon it was starting to get light now and visibility was improving. We had travelled only a short distance from the camp when we saw a vehicle stopped at the side of the road. This looked promising and the anticipation of what our first siting of the day was going to be was starting to kick in.

I couldn't see anything immediately, but as my eyes scanned the area suddenly behind a bush right next to the road 2 amber coloured eyes were staring back at me....wowwee a male lion! I was so busy watching him it wasn't until Andrew (SO) pointed slightly ahead of us that I saw the 3 female lionesses in the open right next to the road. The light was poor and the lionesses almost too close, but this was too good an opportunity to miss, the ISO was hiked up on the camera and I managed to grab a few shots and then just enjoy the experience of being almost in touching distance of these beautiful cats. It truely was an amazing siting to start the day. :dance:

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The drive along to the weir was lovely, it's a really enjoyable road to drive. We spent time at the weir watching Black Crakes that were within touching distance but were totally unperturbed by our presence.
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We also found swallows enjoying the early morning rays and a drink at the weir.

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By this time the sun was well and truely up and breakfast beckoned, so we headed back down the road to camp with a brief stop for a Rhino who wandered across the road in front of us and a couple of rutting male impalas.

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Breakfast was enjoyed from our bungalow overlooking the dry riverbed and watching elephants once again passing through.

I sent Andrew off on a mission to locate a bench that had been donated by Salamanda
and they wanted to check had arrived. Mission successfully completed the cars were packed and the time had come to say 'Goodbye' to Biyamiti - it was hard to leave such a wonderful place that had provided us with such a fantastic start to our trip , but I was confident that one day we'd be back!

.....to be continued.


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 Post subject: Re: Our second Kruger adventure - 1st to 17th August 2010
Unread postPosted: Sun Aug 29, 2010 3:59 pm 
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Day 2, Monday 2nd August - Biyamiti to Lower Sabie

....cont

We were packed and ready to leave on the next leg of the trip on to Lower Sabie, but couldn't resist spending a few more minutes in the camp around the bird hide watching the elephants in the river bed and the vervets.

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Ok time to go off along the S25 towards Croc Bridge where we had planned our lunch stop.
The day was now getting quite warm and animals were fewer, but as keen birders there's always something to keep us happy!
Red-billed Hornbill
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Golden Tailed Woodpecker

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I know we had been to the Hippo Pool last year, but I really didn't remember it, time was on our side so we took a detour down to the alighting point.
As we arrived we could see an armed ranger up on the rocks a distance away beckoning for us to come up....we certainly hadn't had that last year, so probably why I didn't remember it specifically.

Up the rocks we climbed..tricky with cameras and long lenses dangling from our necks, but worth it. We spent a pleasant 30 minutes or so chatting to the ranger, and enjoying watching the wildlife below including ...hippo's, water monitor, elephants, waterbuck.
The ranger told us about a pack of wild dogs making a kill that morning outside Croc Bridge...that must have been amazing to witness.

OK I guess it's time to come clean, although I always try not to have any specific expectations for any trip to Africa in respect of what I want to see, as my fear it expectations potentially could lead to disappointment, if I was honest there were 2 things I would love to see. Top of the list Wild dog as I love these beautiful animals and although we had seen them last trip twice, both times it had been fleetingly and the only shot I came away with was the out of focus, back view of a pair of ears disappearing into the bush...I would love the opportunity to take just one nice shot of these striking, untamed creatures. Second on my wish list a cheetah, as on all our trips to Africa we have only seen this magnificent cat once in the wild and that was in Kenya.

So hence I was green with envy as I listened to the tale of the Wild dog kill. But back to the TR, lunch beckoned, so it was onwards to Croc Bridge.

We didn't get far along the road back to the S25 when a Giraffe stop was in order as we came across an adult and two youngsters who seemed quite intrigued by us.

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Right....lunchtime! Onwards to Croc Bridge!

With the picnic places all taken we took the easy option and grabbed burgers and toasted sandwiches from the snackbar and enjoyed lunch watched by this little chap on the tree next to us.

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Our preference is normally for travelling on the quiter sand roads, so the route up to Lower Sabie was to be via S28.

The S28 was quite quiet as we'd expected at this time of day, but enjoyed the birdlife, general game and watching a family of Warthogs. It was wonderful to watch dad Warthog return to the family after he had been on his travels and to witness the welcome he got from the 3 excited youngsters and mum! They really are great underrated creatures!

A couple of km's before the S28 joined the H4-2 a car flagged us down and a couple of guys excitedly told us that there were lions at the weir just up the road, we would identify the spot by the cars (as always!). So on to the weir!

Yep they weren't wrong....lots of cars! We found a spot where we could see the lions below and watched them for a few minutes before moving on. It was great to see them, but I much prefer sitings like we had had that morning without the multitude of cars and the associated stress of negotiating traffic just to get a glimpse. Agghh..I've only been in the park just over 24 hours and I clearly been spoilt already. At this stage in the trip last year I would have killed just for a glimpse like this!

Anyway a shot just for the record, nothing great as they really were too far away and not ideally positioned for photography.

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Approaching Lower Sabie a detour to Sunset Dam required no discussion, it was a given!

Ahh...lovely to be back here and just watch the Hippos and the birdlife as the light warmed in this golden hour before sunset.

Pied Kingfisher
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Yawning Hippo
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Kid Hippo's can do it too (even without the big scary teeth)!

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Now time to head into camp and finally get to see the river view tent I have been dreaming of staying in for the last 11 months! I couldn't wait to see it!

Woweee....not disappointed at all well worth every minute of waiting..what a location!
The view from # 27 (taken next day)

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As the sun dipped below the hoizon I could I have stayed there for the rest of the trip just listening to the sounds of the hippo's gunting, baboons screaching and the cicarda's humming.

However once again food beckoned and as we had not got ourselves organised for doing it ourselves yet we headed for the deck and ate at the restaurant, listening to the sounds from the river below, occasioanlly flashing the new torch my mum had purchased for me for this very purpose, over the river below.

Tiredness had finally got the better of us and we returned to our tents and turned in for the night. We still had sleep to catch up on from our long travelling days, so needed an early night. However as we were to find out shortly this wasn't quite going to be the reality.....our night was younger than we thought!

I sat alone for a while on the deck and then headed in to unpack and transfer photos on to the laptop. I could hear our companions for the night, a troop of baboons, screeching loudly in the tree right outside our deck. Then every so often I could hear my favourite sound in the world....lions! Each time I would rush out onto the deck to listen...dragging my Andrew with me. After about the 4th time that was he, he told me I was on my own!

This time while I was listening I could hear movement in the reeds below me, so I flashed the torch, something was moving in fact running, then another shape behind it....woweeee a lion!!!!! I couldn't believe what I was seeing right here in front of me only a few meters away, I was sooo excited, I shouted Andrew to 'get out here,now!!'
The chase seemed to have ended but there below crouching on the ground was a large male lion. I dashed next door to summon Tina, who although in he pjama's was not going to let that minor detail get in the way of her and a possible lion siting!

By the time I got back the lion had disappeared, but the adrenalin was pumping, so sleep was out of the question, so we patiently waited constantly scanning the area with the torch. A few minutes later our patience was rewarded another glimpse and then another, at this point we realised there was more than one lion....two male lions amazing!!!! Then it became clear that they were still hunting .....it appeared they were trying to pursue a hippo.....they headed through the reeds and there was a lot of comotion the hippos making noises like I've never heard and then the baboons were screeching and of course as usual the Egyptian geese join in!

By this time a young couple staying in the tent next door had appeared asking if we'd seen the lions and if they could join us on the deck....no problem...it was turning into quite a party!

We spent the next hour or so watching the lions in and out of the reeds and crouching on the grassy area in front of us. Sometimes there was one in view sometimes two. It was unbelievable....the guy from next door commented quite rightly that you spent days on end driving around Kruger to get sitings a fraction as good as this!

After nearly a total of 2 hours watching the lions futile attempts to get themselves a meal, they appeared to be moving off, we watched them as they made there way out of the reeds and along the open grassy area. First one, then two...... hold on there's another one....there must have been three!!
Wow 3 lions we just hadn't realised!! :shock:

Then another movement FOUR!!!! :shock: :shock: We just can't believe what we are seeing. All of them look to be males in their prime...beautiful!

We are shell shocked and sit for a while to recover....how the heck am I ever going to get to sleep after that?? We reflected on how the day had started with that fantastic lion siting at Biyamiti (that now seems such a long time ago), the siting at the weir and then this to top it off....certainly this was our day of the lions!

A few minutes later another extremely loud comotion from the far side of the river once again got everyone running from their tents on to our deck....it did sound like something had possibly caught a late evening snack, but at this distance it was not possible to tell what.

Now well past 11pm it was finally time to sleep, the gate would be open in less than 7 hours and we needed to be out there on time!!


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 Post subject: Re: Our second Kruger adventure - 1st to 17th August 2010
Unread postPosted: Sat Sep 04, 2010 2:16 pm 
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Day 3, Tuesday 3rd August – Lower Sabie

Despite the late night the night before I was awake at 04:30, for a fleeting moment I wondered if I had dreamt the events of last night. Then the roar of a distant lion brought me back to my senses…of course it had…this was Kruger where stuff like that happens!

I was too awake to fall back to sleep, so fumbled around I the dark for the torch and headed out on to the deck to make coffee. I enjoyed yet another of those special moments alone on the deck in the dark with my coffee and torch at the ready to seek out the source of any noises coming from the banks and river below. Before I knew it, it was time to start loading the car with the camera gear and provisions for our planned trip up to Mlondozi dam for breakfast via the Mlondozi Road in the faint hope of perhaps encountering cheetah.

As we headed along the S29 our first notable site of the day soon arrived in the form of an extremely large lone bull elephant. He had clearly lost both tusks at some stage in the past and I am sure in his day complete with tusks must have been a magnificent site. We gave him plenty of space as always, but he seemed completely relaxed and not at all concerned about our presence and the other couple of cars that had joined us. Eventually as we edged by slowly on the other side of the road despite the poor lighting I grabbed a couple of ‘record shots’.

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After this encounter the animal sitings dried up a little, no sign of the cheetahs I’d heard were in the area however we enjoyed our morning encounters with the birdlife along the way, including a Roller enjoying the first few warming rays of the day and a Black Shouldered Kite scanning the bush for an early morning snack.

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The picnic spot at the lookout point above Mlondozi dam is a favourite of mine and the perfect place for a breakfast stop. As we killed the engine on arrival we could hear something….we listened and heard it again…this time the sound was unmistakeable…my favourite sound once again…Lion!
As we reached the viewing area there was a fair amount of excitement and pointing. The lion down at the dam below and had been calling for a while apparently. However as we arrived the lion retreated into some bushes out of site and we had to settle for a fleeting distant siting. I got chatting to the lady who had pointed out the position of the lions and she proceeded to tell me about the cheetah siting she had just enjoyed a few minutes before around the junction where she turned off the H10 on to the S29 heading up towards the picnic spot….gutting!!! :evil: why hadn’t we chosen the other route?? :wall: :wall: but that’s the way it goes in Kruger, we could have travelled exactly the same route and still not seen it!

It was a perfect morning, the early morning chill was gradually being replaced by the warmth of the sun and we spent a very pleasant time over breakfast, looking out over the dam and taking a few shots of the birds around the site.

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So time to move on while we still had some nice light. The plan was to drive the S122 Muntshe loop up to the H10, then the S29 and down the S128 back to Lower Sabie.

It was a quiet drive much of the area looked to have been recently burnt. Once again it was the birds that kept us shooting away. The smaller birds singing away in the tops of bushes, larger birds of prey circling overhead.

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By the time across we came across a herd of zebra and wildebeest the light was too harsh for good pics, so we headed off down the S128 and back into Lower Sabie. Just before we reached camp we spent a few minutes photographing a lovely Pied Kingfisher who was fishing from the bridge.

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It was then time for some lunch and R&R ahead of the sunset drive that we had booked for that evening.


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 Post subject: Re: Our second Kruger adventure - 1st to 17th August 2010
Unread postPosted: Thu Sep 09, 2010 7:30 pm 
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Day 3, Tuesday 3rd August – Lower Sabie (cont) - Sunset drive

We arrived in good time at the meeting place ready for our evening adventure. This was going to be the first taste of being out in the bush at night for Australian friends!
From the moment we’d booked the trip I had stressed how cold it could be in the evenings, early mornings and out on the drives. They had taken note and brought along extra warm layers, so were duly prepared.

It quickly became apparent that we had a lady ranger for our evening drive, so I surmised it must be the infamous Martie! It was soon be confirmed when she introduced herself, I immediately had Andrew whispering in my ear that I spent far too much time on here on the SANparks forum to know the name of our guide prior to introductions!

After all introductions were made it was time to head off. Out of the gates and then down onto the S82 and on to a service road …at this point I get disorientated and after that we could be anywhere!


Martie was an extremely entertaining and informative guide and it soon became apparent that even if we didn’t see a single living creature during the drive it would be an enjoyable evening.

Anyway as the sun starts to sink towards the horizon we do find our first living creatures (well second if we count impala), we pause for a few minutes and watch a heard of Buffalo pass by in the lovely evening light. I wasn’t really prepared to do much photography as I didn’t hadn’t brought a flash with me on the trip, but I couldn’t resist a quick snap while we still had some light.

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At the rear of the herd as you so often find, a lone wildebeest, and a group of Zebra were tagging along behind. It looked like there were all heading up in the direction of Sunset dam.

Further down the track we alighted from the vehicle for a few minutes and chatted with Martie and just enjoying being out in the bush without fences as the last light gradually faded.

Soon we were back in the vehicle and once again on our way. Darkness fell quickly, from this point on we relied on the spotlights to pick out eyes for any further sitings.

It was at about this time that our Australian friends started to shiver and pile on the extra clothing and blankets. Oh my goodness we’d got a long while yet and I knew it was nowhere near as cold as it could get. ..I hoped they would survive the night!

Suddenly we pulled quickly to a halt Martie had spotted something….cool a Pearl Spotted owlet! I love owls and really wanted to get to see some during our stay and hopefully get some pics too. This was not going to be a photographic opportunity, but was great to see. Martie mimicked the call of the owl and it flew from tree to tree around us searching out the source of the sound.

Our next siting was an AWC hunting in some long grass, it appeared to catch something, but it was difficult to make out exactly what in the dark.

I did try a couple of pics and really without a flash, they weren’t overly successful, but anyway a record of our siting.

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By this time our friends looked like they were suffering from hypothermia, while Andrew and I were still in t shirts….but spirits were still good and we all had a good laugh about it.

Our next few encounters along the way were with Giraffe, a Scrub Hare, Duiker and my favourite siting of the evening a Genet. I had seen Genet previously on night all drives, but normally quiet fleetingly. This was a great siting it was quite close to the vehicle and then jumped up into a nearby tree and climbed around from branch to branch in good view for what seemed like ages…beautiful creature! My pics really didn’t come out this time, so no public record of this one!

As on previous drives at night we parked up for a few minutes silence, to listen and enjoy the sounds of the bush. But our first attempt of silence was quickly broken as we heard noises close by in the darkness. Martie identified the sound as that of a Black Rhino….once again she tried the mimicking routine, but soon the sounds were gone, so no Black Rhino tonight.

Our second attempt at silence was more successful, but soon it was time to press on as our drive was coming towards it’s conclusion. It was probably a good thing as I don’t think our friends would have survived much longer, even we had now had to resort to a single fleece layer!

Before heading back into camp there was just enough time for a quick stop off at Sunset dam. As we drove onto the parking area next to the dam we spotted an Egyptian Goose sitting with it’s feathers fluffed out just next to us. The goose not impressed by our presence, soon got up and headed for the water, at this point we could see the reason for the fluffed out feathers, as a brood of 5 goslings waddled behind…awwww!

Suddenly on the other side of the vehicle we spotted eyes heading towards us along the road. As the eyes got closer we could make out the distinctive shape of a Hyena. It continued on it’s intended course right by us, so a really nice siting to end our evening drive. Once again I tried my best to record the siting …..

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Back in camp we headed straight to the snack bar for food and another Hyena siting from the deck. Slowly our friends thawed out. We were all tired though and once back at the tents we were all ready to head off straight to bed. However exciting the previous night had been, I think we all needed a more peaceful night and some sleep as tomorrow we were heading north!


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 Post subject: Re: Our second Kruger adventure - 1st to 17th August 2010
Unread postPosted: Sun Sep 12, 2010 5:46 pm 
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Day 4, Wednesday 4th August – Lower Sabie to Satara

At 06:00 we were out of the gates our friends were delay a little and going to follow a few minutes behind. The plan for today was to head up the H10 to Tshokwane for breakfast, then take the H1-3 to Satara. Today as with subsequent long driving days was to take our time when the light was good first thing in the morning and then use the middle part of the day to crack on with fewer stops onto the next camp.

We headed down to the bridge and as always took a slow drive across. As we drove off the bridge and were heading up to the junction with the S29 and S128 we could see shapes in the road ahead, it was still quite dark so difficult to make out what they were, but as we got closer the shapes looked amazing cat like!

Two magnificent male lions were taking an early morning stroll along the road right ahead of us. We followed slowly behind as they reached the junction and then headed off into the bush along the side of the S128….where were our friends???! We desperately wanted them to share this great siting as Matty and Trish had both missed the siting the night before last and Matty who had missed our early morning drive the previous day, he had not yet got to see lions at such close quarters. They caught up with us within seconds of the lions disappearing into the bush. We spent the next few minutes scanning the area, but to no avail….they had vanished the way cats do.

Right time to get back on the road and see what other treats the H10 had in store for us! Up until now it had never let us down and always produced something good and today it had already in the first few meters had lived up to it’s reputation, even if we didn’t see anything else between here and Tshokwane!

It wasn’t far along the road until we were stopping again when we spotted a Pearl Spotted owlet sitting on the top of a bush by the roadside. I was still not going to get my pics though as the light wasn’t quiet sufficient yet…oh well we still had another 13 days in the park, so perhaps I would find another opportunity.

A short distance further along the road we spotted a grey shape moving in the bush, it was difficult to make out in the low light if it was Elephant or Rhino, but as we got closer it was confirmed as our first Rhino sitting of the day…in fact there were 2 making their way through the bush. We watched them for a few minutes before they moved away and we moved on.

The sun had still not made an appearance when we came across a young Bateleur roosting in a tree next to the road. It was so close we had to try a couple of shots, but it wasn’t looking good we needed light! It was in such an ideal position so we waited….. and as the light finally arrived we caught Eagle in those very first golden glowing rays of the day.

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As we continued, we encountered elephants and a lovely Steenbok, who paused from breakfast to pose for a couple of shots – they really are my favourite antelope, such delicate, attractive creatures but as I discovered later in the trip could be quite feisty too!

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We were soon halted in our tracks once again, by a group of Zebra and another 2 Rhino! The Rhinos were clearly heading towards the road so we stopped well back to give them space and waited and enjoyed our siting and of course grabbed a few pics! Another car had stopped a short way behind us just as the Rhinos had just about reached the road and I guessed was enjoying the great siting too. The Rhinos reached the road and started to cross, then half way across they stopped, and waited ….they were clearly not in a hurry to go anywhere, but it just gave us more opportunity to admire these magnificent creatures.

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Then suddenly the car behind us started to move forward, pulled around us and started to drive forward, we watched horrified as the car drove straight at the Rhinos. What came our mouths at the time cannot be repeated here!
The driver was clearly too impatient to wait and drove within inches of them and as the Rhinos didn’t move was forced to slam the brakes on….we discovered later, every single one of us in both cars had exactly the same secret wish at that moment…that the Rhinos would teach them a lesson that they wouldn’t forget in a hurry! However our wish was not to be and the Rhino’s clearly disgruntled by the incident fled the road seconds later.

We stayed longer and watched the Oxpeckers and Egrets descend on their backs from above as they went on their way through the long grass. We moved on ….still fuming from the stupidity we had witnessed.

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Once again we were passing through an area that had recently been burned, so we guessed the sitings might once again dry up…..however not altogether …….I couldn’t believe it another 2 Rhino!
6 Rhino’s in 3 sitings before breakfast, not a bad start to the day!

By this time we were all getting quite hungary, so Tshokwane beckoned, but a brief stop at Nkumbe was a must though, to introduce our friends to this magnificent view, that never disappoints.

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Time for me to take the wheel for the first time this trip and what a beautiful drive down towards Tshokwane, descending down the twisting road from Nkumbe. Just a few brief stops along the way for zebra, steenbok, ostrich and a roller

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Then woah….my foot hit the break rather harder than intended as I saw something moving through the grass right at the side of the road. :shock: Once we’d retrieved cameras and belongs from the floor and peeled Andrew off the windscreen, welooked up just in time to see a pair of Honey Badgers trotting away from us…..probably heading for cover in shock after witnessing my unintentional emergency stop! :redface: We decided to wait…..
A few minutes later, when I guess they were happy that danger had past, they emerged from their hiding place and trotted back towards us, then crossed the road behind us. It was almost impossible to get a shot of them as they were moving fast, but I managed one for the record as one paused momentarily.

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Wow I love that road…once again it had not let me down! :D :D :D
Food now beckoned….Orpen Dam would have to wait until after breakfast!


Refreshed following a breakfast of pancakes and coffee, it was time to back track a little as we couldn’t resist showing our friends the lovely Orpen dam.
The dam was pretty quiet except for a hippo and a rather large crocodile basking in the sun on the far side. However I enjoy just sitting there in the peace and quiet enjoying the view.

Ok the light was getting harsh, the heat building and we wanted some time if possible to do an evening drive out from Satara, so time to push on. We agreed that we would keep stops to a minimum, unless it was something special, which was unlikely at that time of day.
…..little did we know the journey to Satara was going to take a little longer than expected!


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 Post subject: Re: Our second Kruger adventure - 1st to 17th August 2010
Unread postPosted: Sun Sep 19, 2010 7:45 pm 
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Day 4, Wednesday 4th August – Lower Sabie to Satara (cont)

Up the H1-3 we headed, with a brief stop at Mazithi waterhole to watch Giraffe coming in to quench their thirst from the heat of the day and admire the striking Saddle-Billed storks wading in the water just below us. We were making good progress, so took the short detour along the N’waswitsontso loop, but it was quiet except for a few Kudu having a midday snack and sheltering from the midday sun.

As we rejoined the H1-3 we were surprised how quiet it was, with no traffic coming the down the other side of the road, heading south. Then a solitary vehicle flagged us down and told us of a siting at the waterhole ahead….. no wonder it was quiet going the other way!!
There was no mistaking where the siting was, as we approached there was a very long line of traffic all along the road that runs by the waterhole. As I pulled up at the end of the bunch my heart sank, there was no way we were going to see anything here, just too many cars!

My eyes scanned the area I just couldn’t pick out the source of the excitement. So asked the guy in the car in front if he could see anything, he pointed to the far side of the waterhole. Wow there it was! Wallowing around in thick mud at the edge of the water was a leopard in the final stages of killing a large adult warthog. I have to say I was quite shocked, this was the first Kruger kill we had seen and really wouldn’t have expected it to be at this time of day, in the hottest part of the day, right in the open.

I managed to angle the car slightly so that we could observe what was happening without blocking the road to others, only problem was it was just too far away to get any shots and the angle of the car wasn’t ideal. We watched transfixed though as the leopard struggled and struggled to drag it’s prey through the thick mud along the edge of the waterhole, clearly trying to get it out of the open and into some cover…..but it was a long, long way with what looked to be an extremely heavy burden. The poor leopard struggled on, stopping every so often to rest and scan the area, panting heavily.

Not a good shot, but a snap to set the scene!

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It eventually made it out of the mud and on to the drier ground behind, but still it was slow going. In the meantime more cars had arrived and it was absolute chaos. We were now losing our view as the leopard. I couldn’t stand it anymore….it was fantastic to see, but I really can’t stand leopard jams and this one was BAD!!!

Tina, Trish and Matty were behind us somewhere, and I knew that it was now going to be impossible to stick together. I told Andrew I just wanted to ‘get out of here’, he was in agreement too (it was clear we had seen as much as we were going to in this chaos). I saw a clear route through the traffic and went for it! I gradually made progress through, passing vehicles with people hanging out of windows, car roofs etc… aggghh the rule breaking I observed this trip drove me crazy! I was nearly, so very nearly through when surprise, surprise someone pulled out into the middle of the road and blocked me. We were going nowhere!

Deep breaths…relax….don’t get stressed I told myself. Resigned to my immediate fate I glanced down towards the waterhole on the off chance I could see where the leopard had been heading.

Oh my, oh my…..the leopard was there…heading straight for the tree almost level with the car, we had unwittingly ended up in a fantastic spot to view the proceedings and with a little edging backwards and forwards managed to once again angle us so we had a fighting chance of getting some shots, the angle was far from perfect and I knew as soon as the car in front moved I would have to move or I would be the one blocking the traffic!

The leopard finally reached the tree and panting heavily dropped it’s burden to the ground, totally exhausted. It was amazing watching it looking intently up into the tree, clearly trying to figure out the best way of getting it up there.

It was so dark under the tree so I really had to hike the ISO up on my camera to stand any chance of getting any shots and I’d still got the teleconverter on the 300 2.8 lens I was using….at 600mm I was struggling to get the leopard in the frame, but no time to take it off, I might lose the shot any second and if the traffic moved I would need to move…agghhh pressure, I needed to have at least one shot!

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I managed to keep shooting as the leopard finally took the bull by the horns (or should that be the warthog by the tusks?...well not quite) and started to try and drag the warthog up the tree. The weight was just too much for it as it tried, got so far and dropped it to the ground. Then it would gaze upwards clearly you could see the thought running through it's head 'how the heck am I going to get this up there??' The struggle went on our eyes glued to the action!

Then a guy from a neighbouring waved to get our attention. He asked us if we had seen the other one and pointed to a tree right next to us on the other side of the road. We glanced over just in time to see some spotty legs dangling out of the tree just a few feet away from us, before a guy in a large 4x4 towing a very large caravan pulled up right by the side of us blocking our view completely and any hope of anyone being able to come through up the road. He sat there and sat there he and the occupants of the not really showing any interest in the leopard once they’d initially seen it, but they were clearly intent on not moving , so others genuinely interested could enjoy the siting. No mustn’t get worked up….more deep breaths!

Our attention then returned to the leopard with the warthog. The poor thing was still struggling on completely exhausted, but was starting to move out of view. Soon it disappeared around the other side of the tree. All we could do now was to sit and wait.

Eventually the traffic started to move forward, so we gradually moved forward we couldn’t stay longer or we would have been blocking the road. As we moved away I took one glance back to see the leopard in a low down folk in the tree trying to pull it up from above in a small pool of light from through the branches. I couldn’t let the opportunity pass I knew the people behind would want to be moving forward, so I took my shots quickly and then had to move on there was nowhere to stop.

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It still took a while to get free of the jam but eventually we made it, drove a little way up the road and then waited for Tina, Trish and Matty to make it through too, it must have now been about an hour or more since we had last seen them. We reflected on the siting and how although it was fantastic to see it the experience itself was so stressful and marred by the traffic chaos. How I long one day for something like that without the cars!

Eventually they appeared and once again we were on our way, if we made good progress now we should still get a reasonable drive later from Satara.


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 Post subject: Re: Our second Kruger adventure - 1st to 17th August 2010
Unread postPosted: Sun Sep 19, 2010 8:19 pm 
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SusieB... :big_eyes: :big_eyes:

What fantastic pictures, im sorry the experience was not the best but glad you had the chance to get thoose photos.

(PS. We are definitely following you :D and I think we also saw your 2 leopards at the same waterhole a few days later...Sorry the pic isnt as good.)

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 Post subject: Re: Our second Kruger adventure - 1st to 17th August 2010
Unread postPosted: Mon Sep 20, 2010 10:58 pm 
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Many thanks Anja, Bush Brat, Bushcraft, Bornfree, Anne-Marie, Kaja, Gunner, Flutterby and Pumbaa - I really appreciate your lovely comments!

Hi Massimo - Thanks so much!, I use a Canon 1D III for most of my shots (a few with the 5D) and I hired a 300 2.8 and a 2XTC which I used most of the time - wonderful; lens, but I also took the 70-200 F4 which I used with the 5D. I left my ususal 400 5.6 at home this time, because of the weight restriction. :(

John - Thanks again and yes I'm sure those must be the same leopards! I would love to have known what happened and it it actually made it up the tree in the end!

Elsa - many thanks, it was only seeing this with my own eyes that made me fully understand how much weight they can handle and what a struggle it actually is to handle prey like that. The determination though was amazing to see!


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 Post subject: Re: Our second Kruger adventure - 1st to 17th August 2010
Unread postPosted: Sat Sep 25, 2010 1:54 pm 
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The rest of the drive was quiet and we arrived at Satara just after 14:00, so managed to check in straight away. I have to say the new 14:00 check in worked well for us throughout the trip, as it was normally the time of arrival at a new camp and it still gave us chance to have a late afternoon drive too when the light was less harsh. Also the later check out time gave the opportunity when we wanted it of having an early morning drive and still having time to go back grab some breakfast and then leave.

Anyway back to Satara! The plan is simple unload the cars grab a quick coffee and then out…S100 here we come! However sometimes the best laid plans and all that….

We put the kettle on, unload the cars and then discover we can’t lock our bungalow, it doesn’t work, Andrew tries it, I try it, no it’s jammed! So, off Andrew trundles back to reception to report the problem, while the rest of us finish making coffee and dig out some cake to keep us going.
Andrew is soon back with the situation resolved, they had given us the wrong key, new key works perfectly…great, problem sorted now we could just concentrate on topping up the caffeine levels and offski. No such luck next thing we know a small army of men arrive armed with screw drivers hammers and all manner of tools and explain they are there to fix the door. Andrew explains in vain that the door is now fine, it was just a matter of having the wrong key.

They are having none of it and soon the door, door frame are being removed. The intentions are good and we know they are just being helpful. Our friends just smile and ask if this is a case of the TIA concept that we had explained to them prior to the trip. We laugh, affirm this probably is and just remove our bags put them next door and leave them to it, time is moving on and we don’t want to miss our afternoon drive.


The light was lovely and the colours vivid as we headed off down the S100. We were soon watching a couple of large elephants crossing the road in front of us and then head off into the distance.

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As they moved off we moved on the road was quite quiet except for a few waterbuck and wildebeest along the way and of course the ever present impala!

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We were well ahead of Tina and Trish when we decided it was time to turn around and take a steady drive back to camp, so we knew we would meet them along the way back at some point. Well we did, but not quite as expected. They and a whole line of other cars were reversing back towards us. We pulled up alongside Tina and Trish to find out what it was that was causing the hasty retreat. They told us that they had now been reversing for approximately 3km’s due to an elephant taking an evening stroll straight along the road.

Then round the corner we saw it wow….a huge tusker, who I certainly would want to meet head on! We soon joined the line of reversing cars, glancing at our watches and fleeting thoughts going through our heads about what would happen if his plan was to walk the whole of the S100! We could be reversing all night!

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Eventually he moved off the road and on to the grass. Once he got to a relatively safe distance a few cars managed to pass. Then it was our turn, we edged slowly forward as we did he suddenly changed direction and came heading straight back towards the road, we were taking no chances, especially now as I got closer I could see the oozing gland on the side of his head!

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As we made our hasty retreat the car behind us was not getting the message. There was a distance between us as we always try and make sure of if elephants are in the vicinity, but the gap was gradually closing. Gesticulating out of the back window eventually got his attention and he pulled back, but only very last moment, once again I was fuming at the stupidity of others!

Luckily the elephant eventually decided to take a new course and we managed to carry on with our journey back to camp. The road was once again quiet and time was getting tight, so they only stop we made was for a waterbuck posing at the edge of the road, that I could not resist snapping.

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Back at camp the door was finally back in place and the lock still working , so we could finally move into the bungalow. We spent a quiet evening chatting about the day’s events and uploading our photos to the laptops and eating a mixture of whatever we could find in the fridge and our bags (we hadn’t realised the takeaway and shop closed earlier here than at LS). So a bowl of cereal and a cheese and peanut butter sandwich, accompanied by a glass of Bafana Bafana rose wine made a perfect end to a good day!

Now we needed to sleep we would need to be up early for the Morning drive we had booked for tomorrow!


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 Post subject: Re: Our second Kruger adventure - 1st to 17th August 2010
Unread postPosted: Sat Sep 25, 2010 4:42 pm 
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Thanks Pumbaa and Katja....I have done a little browsing and the tusker looks very much like Nwashinangana to me www.tuskersofafrica.com/tuskers/nwashinangana_001.htm and the right area too. Of course I may be wrong as the world of tusker identification was completely unchartered territory to me until about 30 minutes ago! :lol:
I will see if Aat can confirm one way or the other.
He was certainly an impressive guy whoever he turns out to be! :)


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 Post subject: Re: Our second Kruger adventure - 1st to 17th August 2010
Unread postPosted: Sat Sep 25, 2010 9:49 pm 
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SusieB,
I was just going through your TR and I must say , great stuff and wonderful pictures.
IDD the name of the tusker is Nwashinangana

I did some head-shaking by reading that more and more people just ignore all the rules and also speed limits, I recognize that from my last trip and it looks that is going worse and worse...

Curious about the next chapters. My blood is already running faster through my body ...counting down for my trip starting october 8th when I arrive in the kruger.
:)

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 Post subject: Re: Our second Kruger adventure - 1st to 17th August 2010
Unread postPosted: Sat Oct 23, 2010 1:36 pm 
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Sorry Kate and everyone else who has been following, it's been a while....but finally to the next installment!

Day 5, Thursday 5th August - Satara – Early morning drive

The alarm woke me at 04:15, bleary eyed I washed and dressed and staggered into the outside kitchen area to make coffee. I desperately needed coffee if I was going to make it for the morning game drive. I sat down at the table and waited for the kettle to boil. As I waited above the sound of the Hyenas close by outside the camp, I heard something, a noise that I didn’t recognise much closer, I immediately became alert.
It was pitch black still outside I got up and walked to the edge of the kitchen area and peered out into the darkness. What was it? The sound was much closer now. Movement…something was definitely out there! Ahhhh …… trotting towards me a Honey badger!! I stood there transfixed as it approached and then disappeared around the side of the bungalow. I dashed back inside to get Andrew fearing it would be long gone and he would miss it. But no it was still around and came trotting out again so both managed to get to see it before it finally disappeared off, probably in search of any bins it may have missed trashing overnight. Wow great start to the day!!

By 05:30 we were on the SANparks vehicle tucked up under our blankets heading out of the gate into the darkness for our morning drive.

I have to say I was slightly surprised at the pace as we headed north out of the camp up the H1-4. Due to the speed of the vehicle it was difficult to pick out eyes in darkness and when we did, the driver seemed reluctant to stop.

After about 20 minutes we eventually reached a spot where the driver decided to stop and he was clearly looking for something. He then said something about there being lions there the evening before, but clearly now they were long gone, just a patch of empty open ground. Right so that was why we had been travelling at such a pace, however it did make me wonder what we could have missed along the way.

We turned and headed back a short way down the road and then headed onto the Mananga 4x4 trail. The driver told us it was one of those routes where you would probably either see lots or absolutely nothing. Unfortunately for us that morning it turned out to be the latter!

It was good to experience the trail though and be in an area where we didn’t encounter any other vehicles. Our only real encounters were with a lone distant Fish Eagle, a Heron perched in the top of a distant tree and a few baboons.

Once we reached the other end of the trail we headed to the nearby Gudzani dam. This was our first visit to the dam and although once again it was pretty quiet with just a few Hippos in the water and a lone Hamerkop below, we decided it looked to be a spot with good potential and we would try and come back at some stage.

The next stage of our route was to head along the S100 back towards Satara. We hadn’t gone far down the road when the driver stopped and proceeded to get out of the vehicle. He had clearly spotted something at the side of the road. He pointed out patches of staining in the dust and tracks where something had been dragged along. His conclusion was that an hour or so before lions had brought down and feasted on a wildebeest in this very spot. He searched the grass nearby but could find no other signs of the earlier activity.

As we headed along the cloud that had been with us up until now that morning started to burn off and the light started to improve. We just needed to find some signs of life now!

Soon we came across a few cars, so clearly there was something around. As we looked across the grassy plain we could make out the shape of a sleeping lioness. She was really too far away for any decent shots, but my fingers were itching after the quiet morning, so I waited until eventually she briefly lifted her head and grabbed a shot.

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It was soon time to move on, the lioness clearly had no intention of doing anything other than catching up on her sleep!

As we headed on we came across a herd of Impala, including 2 who were giving each other an early morning wash.

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The next encounter was with a group of zebras.

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Then as we started to move away suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere a Hyena appeared trotting by at the side of the vehicle. As quickly as it appeared it was off on it’s way.

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It was time to head back to camp and to hit the restaurant for a hearty breakfast and to mull over our plans for the rest of the day! :)


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 Post subject: Re: Our second Kruger adventure - 1st to 17th August 2010
Unread postPosted: Sun May 29, 2011 2:16 pm 
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Day 5, Thursday 5th August - Satara (cont..)

You can't beat a great breakfast sitting out in the sunshine after a morning drive. Food always seems to taste so much better when you're ravenously hungry and someone else cooks it! The bottomless coffee of course was most welcome too! After we had finished eating we spent some time on the lawn in front of the restaurant snapping a few birds and ground squirrels, before I went off on a trip around the campsite in search of a yellow ribbon.

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I was looking for a very specific yellow ribbon as I had been in touch with John 'n' Poppy ahead of the trip and we knew we'd be at Satara at the same time and we were hoping to meet up. John had mentioned something about putting a yellow ribbon on the tent, so my theory was it was probably easier to spot during the day than in the evening when it would be dark, so if I located the tent I could pop back later.
I searched in vain and when the heat became too much and I'd pretty much covered the site and sadly gave up and returned back to the bungalow. It was a shame as I had really wanted to meet up with both John and Kate, but I guess sometimes these things don't work out. :(

To be really honest we were really starting to feel the effects of all the early starts and particularly the one that morning, but the pull of the park was too much and we decided to go out for a drive without any particular plans and see where we ended up. Matty stayed behind to rest Tina and Trish went off on their own drive and Andrew and I headed down the H7 towards Nsemani dam to see if anything was around.
We came across a couple of elephants having a playful tussle and watched them until they headed down to the water to quench their thirst in the heat of the day.

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Next a detour down the small road at the side of the dam and spent a pleasant 30 minutes or so with a troop of baboons, including this threesome who were wonderful to watch as the female suckled the baby and enjoyed a grooming at the same time.

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Oh yes and this guy enjoying a small snack!

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The plan was to continue our drive, we wanted to continue our drive, but a tidal wave of tiredness was hitting us both the last few days and the very early start that morning had finally taken it's toll. We decided that the best plan was to head back get an hour or so's rest and then head out again once the light was less harsh and we were rested enough to enjoy the rest of the day.

Just as we were about to turn into the camp we came across a full on battle between 2 male impala's. Sleep was delayed a few more minutes as we grabbed a few pics. Why oh why does all the best action happen when there's a bush in the way and you can't get a pic?....I swear they do it on purpose after witnessing this a fair few times now! :lol:

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It was a good plan, after our nap and a strong coffee , the batteries were recharged and we were ready to head out again! H7 here we come!

This was a drive to be dominated by one species and it wasn't long before our first encounter.

A short way along the H7 we came across a large breeding heard of elephants, so we pulled in and spent a few minutes just watching them and grabbing a few pics of the youngsters.

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Soon a car pulled up alongside us and told us that if we thought this was a lot of elephants, we should head down towards the dam!

Wow the whole of the way down to the dam was an elephantfest! Hundreds of them heading down to drink, and others leaving after they had quenched their thurst. The light was harsh so the pics weren't great, but just enjoying the experience of seeing so many elephants in one place was amazing!
After a while we decided to move on and take a drive, the plan being to return to Nsemani later before returning to camp.

Our late afternoon drive provided some nice sitings along the way.

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Back at Nsemani once again, we watched the elephants for a while in the golden evening light. It was quite heartbreaking watching this very lame youngster struggling along on 3 legs trying to keep up with the herd. :(

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But as the sun was slipping towards the horizon indicating that it was time to start heading back to camp, we had one last very special siting of the day.....a yellow ribbon! A car had drawn up alongside us and called in to us 'are you Susieb?' …..it was our first meeting with our now very good friends John and Kate (John n Poppy)! I was delighted to see them after my fruitless search of the campsite that morning. We chatted until the sun sank lower and it really was time to head back to camp, but it was a lovely end to the day!
I have to add at this point that without the gentle persuasion of John and another forum friend Wayne (Macktheknife) I would have never got around to continuing the report....thanks guys! :wink: :D


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 Post subject: Re: Our second Kruger adventure - 1st to 17th August 2010
Unread postPosted: Tue May 31, 2011 11:56 pm 
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Day 6, Friday 6th August - Satara (a day of highs, lows, moods and controversy!)

The previous evening we had returned to camp to hear the tales of the lions with cubs Tina and Trish had encountered the afternoon before on their afternoon drive. I have to admit to being slightly envious as I was yet to encounter cubs in Kruger, however this morning I had woken full of optimism today we would take an early morning drive along the S100 and S41 down to N'wanetsi for a breakfast stop. The route would also take in a stop at the Sweni hide.
As we turned on to the S100 the stage was set the light was perfect , Tina, Trish and Matty were just a short distance behind, so now we just needed some great sitings to take full advantage of this wonderful light.

I have to say I do like the S100 it's a pleasant drive, but up until now I have had some nice sitings, but nothing really special, like others I know seem to have had on this road.....so I keep living in hope that one day soon I will be due for something good. :pray:

We drove slowly as always our eyes peeled for signs of life, but it was a quiet start. :|

We continued to drive slowly eyes straining, but it continued to be quiet. :(

The further we drove the more my initial optimism was slipping away, there was absolutely nothing! :cry:
I would have been happy for some impala, zebra, birds anything in this gorgeous light, however the only living creatures I eventually found to photograph the entire length of the road were a few francolin that were scurrying by the side of the road.

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As much as I really do love francolins, I have to confess that some variety would have been nice.

Due to the lack of sitings we had made good time, so we decided to head down to Gudzani dam to see if our luck would change. Once again it was quiet, a lone crocodile made it's way across the water and the peace of the morning was only interrupted by some extremely noisy Egyptian Geese squabbling in a nearby tree over the dam.

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As we made our way down to N'wanetsi things started to look up a little. We stopped to watch a heron fishing above a small stream.

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Then further along suddenly a steenbok came flying (literally!) across the road closely pursued by another flying steenbok. There clearly seemed to be some dispute going on so we pulled to a halt and watched them as they chased around and around in a large circle with our car being at the centre of the circle.
Eventually one got the better of the other and one disappeared off into the grass and the other one clearly exhausted posed long enough for me to grab a pic.

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We seemed to be the first arrivals of the day at N'wanetsi (hardly surprising I guess due to our pretty much direct drive their!) , so we took full advantage of having the place to ourselves, climbing up to the look out point and then settling down in a good spot with the breakfast pack up to wait for our friends. The longer we waited the more convinced I became that were enjoying some excellent siting on the way that we had missed....on this occasion I wasn't wrong. Clearly all the life on the S100 had been in hiding waiting for our car to pass and then sprung from the bush doing the can can for our friends!!! Lions, cubs, zebra, impala, waterbuck all in that perfect golden light...I was gutted! :wall:

After breakfast we decided to go our separate ways as Tina, Trish and Matty wanted to head back to Satara for some R&R while I wanted to take a longer route to explore some roads that I had not had the opportunity to travel before to try and lift my mood a little. So the plan was H6, H1-3, S126, S36 and back to Satara along the H7.

First stop Sweni hide, just a lone heron and a stork and a few hippos hiding under the water and clearly not in the mood for a photo shoot, so we continued.

It was deadly quiet and was clearly going to be 'one of those days' and the further we drove the more despondent I got. I knew I shouldn't be feeling like that I was in Kruger the place I spend all the rest of the year lusting after...but sometimes there are occasions in the lunar cycle when we women let our feelings get the better of us....this was one of mine!

Finally my mood and disgruntled mumblings got too much for Andrew he pulled the car to an abrupt halt and suggested that we return directly to camp before it got any worse. As the words left his lips and I was about to snap back his expression changed he was clearly distracted and started looking beyond me out of the window.

I glanced in the direction he was looking and oh my goodness, there just below the road were a pile of sleeping young Hyenas.

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Unless he had stopped like that then we would have probably completely missed them, as they were sleeping at the entrance to one of the tunnels that goes under the road. So as I pointed out later moodiness is not always as pointless and unproductive as he makes it out to be! :tongue:

Surprisingly enough the atmosphere changed completely and wow a lovely siting like this without another car in site! :dance: This was my first encounter with such young Hyenas and I was smitten, they were just so well errr....cute, surely these couldn't be the same blood thirsty scavenging creatures that feature in those wildlife documentaries on TV?! It looked to be a group of young and adolescents that looked like they had been left home alone with the youngsters and by their behaviour it seemed that they had been told to stay inside with the doors locked and instead had ignored the instructions and sneaked outside for a snooze.

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We spent about 10 minutes or so with them as they snoozed and played, until another car arrived on the scene and they disappeared quickly back inside. The other car's occupants clearly didn't want to hang around on the chance that they would reappear, however we didn't give up lightly, we had finally found something great and wanted to make the most of it and kept our fingers crossed that we could enjoy them a little more.

We waited and waited other cars arrived asking what we'd seen, sometimes waited for a few minutes and then gave up, only one couple seemed to have the patience and time to sit it out with us after we'd told them about the siting. The patience paid off and after about 30 minutes a face appeared and then another and finally a third and we were treated to a further 20 minutes or so with the appealing little group. I was smiling again! :D

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The next treat the H6 had in store for us was a close encounter with a magnificent Ground Hornbill , that deviated from his walk in the long grass to come and investigate us, at one point I thought he was going to join us in the car...I just love these birds!

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The next encounter was with another of my favourite birds just a little further along the road – a pair of Secretary birds were stalking in the long dried grass.

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It was at this point I decided that perhaps the H6 was going to be on my 'must drive roads' for future trips and the S100 might be relegated in the stakes a little.

All went quiet until S126 when the sitings started again

A few zebra

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A Southern White-crowned Shrike

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Another of my favourite little antelopes!

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So for a morning that started so slowly it didn't turn out too bad after all, we reflected as we enjoyed a quick bite of lunch at Muzandzeni picnic spot.

The S36 was another new road for us, so I was looking forward to seeing what it had to offer - however at the time controversy was the last thing I expected......to be continued!


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