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 Post subject: Wild about cats Can you say luck?? Jan 2011
Unread postPosted: Mon Mar 21, 2011 10:47 am 
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Virtual Ranger
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Hi everybody :yaya:

I know I dont have the best reputation when it comes to finishing TRs, but I absolutely have to tell this tale! I was in Kruger In January, in what my family and I called a 'just after new year' trip bacause we had to leave on the first on Jan. We were there for nine days.

OH and I can pretty much only post on weekends because during the week Im at varsity like all day :|

Day 1

For a crazy teenager like me, leaving on new year's day sucks. I had to skip the party and have a calm new year with the family and go to bed early :roll:

We managed to leave the house at 5 am to avoid the drunken early-morning drivers. The trip was suprisingly good. We stopped at a little place called the Wheelbarrow. It was really nice to get a break from driving in the rain.

We decided to spontaneously stop at the Home of Amarula. It is a really fancy place. They gave us a free glass of Amarula with crushed ice (which was amazing). But they asked us if we'd been there before first. So we decided to say no again if we ever re-visited (for more free Amarula) :twisted:

We made it to Phalaborwa gate by noon. It was still overcast, but the heat had made it humid.

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The road to Letaba was pretty boring, probably becasue of the rain. We did see a patch of road packed with raptors.

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When we arrived at camp we couldnt find our tent (which is a real mission when you have a trailer attatched to the back of your car). We had to detatch it a couple of times before we found it :redface:

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So after the mission of finding the tent, we had no chairs... so we hijacked the neighbors'. (In defense nobody was staying there). :twisted:

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We took a short drive to Engelhart Dam. We arrived at the gate just as the guard was closing it.

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We took a quick stroll to the fence, but the river was quite empty.

My mom posed what was known as the stupid question of the trip "Are we going to have a braai?"
We all had a laugh about it; and the irony is that in the end, we didn't braai :lol:

Later that night we saw a bushbaby as he climbed the tree not 5 meters from us. He didn't seem to be that afraid of us at all.

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Next SANPark: Mapungubwe 2014

Birding Weekend 2014 - Satara 3

Exploring Letaba - '13-'14


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 Post subject: Re: Can you say luck??
Unread postPosted: Fri Mar 25, 2011 4:50 pm 
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Virtual Ranger
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@cheetah2111: I am sorry to say that I can't up Letaba's reputation. I did, however, have some luck passing Mopani (which is even more strange). Good to know Im not the only one suffering under varsity workload 0.o

Day 2

Usually, our luck in KNP only kicks in on the third or fourth day with a mediocre lion sighting. I'm pleased to say that this is one of the first trips that had yielded luck in the first 24 hours.

We had a calm morning after the drive after the day before. We woke up with the sun already in the sky. Sho but it was HOT!! Sitting on the stoep, sipping coffee, we noticed a little visitor:

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We were headed to Shingwedzi for the next couple of nights.
Covering so much ground, if you assumed that a lot of game would be seen....?
Then you would be correct.

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The Letaba river is lovely in the morning:

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We stopped for n rukkie near a river view to sip some tea and enjoy the sounds of nature. A movement caught our keen little eyes:

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This gymnogene was frantically flapping around. Upon watching him for a while, we noticed he was attacking a drongo nest (for a snack no doubt) and being ferociously attacked by the wonderful drongo parents. It was a great thing to witness.

And some more game...

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This ellie was very close to the road, making me very nervous to be around him, but he was calm and leaned against this tree in the accumulating heat:

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The famously big herds of buff:

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(I can just hear this guy's thoughts: 'OI!!! You got a problem??") :lol:

Then, as if just a fairytale, we had luck near Mopani....

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Next SANPark: Mapungubwe 2014

Birding Weekend 2014 - Satara 3

Exploring Letaba - '13-'14


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 Post subject: Re: Can you say luck??
Unread postPosted: Fri Mar 25, 2011 5:33 pm 
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Virtual Ranger
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Location: SA
LEOPARD!!!

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The best part is, of course, that we were ALONE with him for over half an hour. He walked along, at some points only 10 meters from the road, marking and playing. But, as these things go, the cars started arrivong and the leopard lay down, becoming the feint shape that people decribe as: "You see that little black patch over there? It's a leopard"
Which annoys me a little bit.

The big shock, personally, is that we were only about 2kms away from Mopani when the leopard sat down.

We saw some lovely raptors on the rest of the road (yeah not much else)

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Destination

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It was great to be back at Shingwedzi! We unloaded and napped, awakening to overcast weather. We decided to run to the pool before the rain stared, but alas

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The rain was a sensational warmth. So we swam in the rain 8)

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Next SANPark: Mapungubwe 2014

Birding Weekend 2014 - Satara 3

Exploring Letaba - '13-'14


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 Post subject: Re: Can you say luck??
Unread postPosted: Sat Mar 26, 2011 11:05 am 
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Virtual Ranger
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Location: SA
OH and I reversed the trailer for 200m (first time makes you feel like a bigshot 8) )

Day 3

We woke up late again and took a slow drive along the road that travels alongside the river (IMO one of the best roads in KNP).

Saw some general game on the way to Babalala

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I would never have guesed that such a beautiful bird had such a raspy call:

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On this day I found 3 new ticks 8)

So, of course, we had to cross the Shingwedzi causeway. Unfortunately for me the rain had made the water prett high, and the car I was drining was pretty low. So I was a little freaked out.

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I made it across twice, and ater imagining a horrifying death by those enormous crocs, my mom and sister made me do it 3 times. Thats love. :roll:

Later that day we went to Kanniedood for a sundowner...

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[ Post made via Mobile Device ] Image

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Next SANPark: Mapungubwe 2014

Birding Weekend 2014 - Satara 3

Exploring Letaba - '13-'14


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 Post subject: Re: Can you say luck??
Unread postPosted: Sun Mar 27, 2011 2:32 pm 
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Virtual Ranger
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Location: SA
Day 4

So the day started out well, we eventually managed to leave the camp early. This ellie was on the riverbank

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And some buff on the confluene loop.

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A really annoying story about these buff is that they had some oxpeckers on thir bakcs. Being in Shingwedzi area I was desperate to find some Yellow-billied oxpecker. So I took a look at the birds and noticed that only the bill was yellow, so I thought red-billed. I found out 3 days later that they were actually the elusive Yellow-billed and I had missed my shot at photgraphic evidence of seeing them :wall: :wall: :wall:

I my defense my matric results were being set out that morning and my head was totally out of it.

So out of it that at one point my mom had to remind me that I was driving on the wrong side of the road. :roll:

Moving on :redface:

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I stopped so suddenly for this ellie, the guy behind nearly hit me

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And later that day I saw some Broad-billd Roller again... far off again :?

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Next SANPark: Mapungubwe 2014

Birding Weekend 2014 - Satara 3

Exploring Letaba - '13-'14


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 Post subject: Re: Can you say luck??
Unread postPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2011 10:35 am 
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Virtual Ranger
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Thanks for the comments everyone :)

Day 5

Today we were heading down to Orpen, where all the magic happened.

The day started out well, we saw a lion on the riverbed just outside Shingwedzi!! Unfortunately it was dark, so my camera didnt do very well.

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We saw some great game on the way down:

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This chameleon was soo funny! I stopped next to him to try to shoo him off the road.

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As we approached Orpen on the H7, our first stroke of luck:

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It's ne of those annoying sightings 'Do you see that ear??? Its a wild dog'

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HELLO ORPEN!!!

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We took a leisurely afternoon drive down the H7 for a couple of kilometers. We came to a spot busy with antelope. There we founda family of Black-backed jackals. I think there were 7 cubs :shock: :shock:

BUT even more of a pleasant shock was that they were on the prowl. They ran after baby impala, snapping at their heels, just to be chased off by the mothers. But it was exilerating to watch!!

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We fell asleep to the sound of the Orpen lion pride.We hoped to see them at least once this trip!! Hopefullly with the big male who had a scar on his eye....

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Next SANPark: Mapungubwe 2014

Birding Weekend 2014 - Satara 3

Exploring Letaba - '13-'14


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 Post subject: Re: Can you say luck??
Unread postPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2011 2:05 pm 
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Virtual Ranger
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Flutterby, Shingwedzi is a great place, you're in for a treat :)

Day 6

We travelled towards Satara along the H7

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Just after a waterhole we came across a small sand loop. There I spotted a cheetah! We were alone with him for 40 minutes. So dont underestimate small sand loops :)

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Some Ayres Hawk Eagles

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Orpen's Infamous honey badger came to visit in the night. We decided to name him Chester.

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Next SANPark: Mapungubwe 2014

Birding Weekend 2014 - Satara 3

Exploring Letaba - '13-'14


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 Post subject: Re: Can you say luck??
Unread postPosted: Wed Apr 06, 2011 8:22 am 
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Virtual Ranger
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Day 7

We left a little later that usual today. Near the Maroela turn-off, we found the big family of Black-backed Jackals. They were just milling around, doing their thing.

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Then they curled up right in front of us and fell asleep.

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Heres an ironic story if ever there was one: So my sister enjoys her naps. A lot. In fact she's sleeping for 80% of the game drives. So in one of the rare occasions that she was awake, my mother and I decided to address the issue that perhaps she should stay awake and enjoy the drives with us; help us spot and so on. Ironically, she was complaining about having to spot when I spotted something interesting on her 'side of the road'. Now, understand that it was RIGHT next to the road. She basically had her paw on the tar already.

Had my sister simply just glanced out of her window to spot, she could have taken all the glory. :wink:

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Here's a pic to show how close she was.

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It was both scary and awesome to have this lion so close. Knocked out my naivity of their sheer size. But also sad because we could see that she was suffering a lot. When other cars arrived she staggered into the bush with a look of absolute exaustion on her face.

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Next SANPark: Mapungubwe 2014

Birding Weekend 2014 - Satara 3

Exploring Letaba - '13-'14


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 Post subject: Re: Can you say luck??
Unread postPosted: Sat Apr 16, 2011 2:39 pm 
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Virtual Ranger
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Thanks for the comments... and patience :lol:

Later that day....

Our THIRD wild dog sighting

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right next to the car
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Next SANPark: Mapungubwe 2014

Birding Weekend 2014 - Satara 3

Exploring Letaba - '13-'14


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 Post subject: Re: Can you say luck??
Unread postPosted: Sat Apr 16, 2011 9:58 pm 
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Virtual Ranger
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Micetta: isn't it great?? 8)

We found this baboon who wants to be a model for Animal Planet

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zebra

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warties

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ostriches

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and this croc, who was immersed in green slime

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Next SANPark: Mapungubwe 2014

Birding Weekend 2014 - Satara 3

Exploring Letaba - '13-'14


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 Post subject: Re: Can you say luck??
Unread postPosted: Sat Apr 23, 2011 12:43 pm 
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Virtual Ranger
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Thanks for the comments everyone :)

Day 8

So the day started off with an early morning drive. I made it to the gate in the dark - luckily our spotlight was working. We enjoyed looking for the sparkle of eyes. My sister found a bushbaby right next to the road, but he was gone too fast for a picture.

I was getting agitated by the cars that were always right behind me, but I let them pass today.

Luckily. :wink:

As the morning began to get lighter, we were cruising past a low piece of land. My mom commented that she could smell something - and then it hit me too - the smell of a carcass. :shock: As I was bringing the car to a stop to look for any potential predator I caught a glimpse of white - the fat belly of a leopard. 8)

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Sadly he got up and left promply, so I couldnt get any good shots. We tried to find the carcass with no luck, but we were more than happy!! :D

Later down the H7 we found what we had been searching for - the Orpen lion pride!!! But they were on the move, gone in the blink of an eye - we tried to spot the male with the scar on his face with no luck :( one of the females was injured - she lagged behind the rest and called to them, but it was clear that she was falling behind.

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Next SANPark: Mapungubwe 2014

Birding Weekend 2014 - Satara 3

Exploring Letaba - '13-'14


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 Post subject: Re: Can you say luck??
Unread postPosted: Sat Apr 23, 2011 1:28 pm 
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:oops:

Forgot to tell about Chester, Orpen's Honey Badger who came to visit us every night.

He wasn't shy at all! But he had a younger one/female with who was quite nervous. We could hear them calling to each other sometimes. 8)

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Next SANPark: Mapungubwe 2014

Birding Weekend 2014 - Satara 3

Exploring Letaba - '13-'14


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 Post subject: Re: Can you say luck??
Unread postPosted: Sun Apr 24, 2011 11:09 am 
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Virtual Ranger
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Thanks for the comments everyone :)

Later that morning...

Down the H7 we found some more baboon enjoying some family grooming time.

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"that's the spot..." :lol:

It was fun to watch them :) Some were even enjoying the view with us

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Then, we found something very strange indeed. I think it was at Nsemani...? This water dikkop was carrying around a shongololo. A couple of other birds were chasing him around, but he refused to give it up. He just ran around with it and dunked it in the water every now and then.

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Next SANPark: Mapungubwe 2014

Birding Weekend 2014 - Satara 3

Exploring Letaba - '13-'14


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 Post subject: Re: Can you say luck??
Unread postPosted: Fri Apr 29, 2011 8:34 am 
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Our Afternoon nap was rudely halted due to the antics of the Vervet Monkeys. We woke to find that they had taken our loaf of bread - but only eaten the soft middle of each slice :lol: :lol:

Earlier that morning I wondered around camp like a loony teen, looking for a bird with that beautiful haunting call. Eventually I found him - a new tick for me: the Grey-headed Bush Shrike (also called the spookvoel due to this call). It was great to find him 8)

Now something we noticed this day: a couple of days earler we had found a hyaena den. There was a little cub who had come very close to the car in his curiosity. He had breathed on and steamed up the driver's side review mirror. Last night it had rained and still the steam remianed :shock: we called it the wrath of carrion-breath :lol:

Along our afternoon drive I just spotted an ellie out of the corner of my eye on the edge of the fork road we didnt take. So I stopped the car but didnt reverse (much to my family's complaints) but luckily I didnt, because this ellie charged without any provocation!!!! :big_eyes: :big_eyes: :big_eyes:

Needless to say I nearly had a heart attack and am greatful to be alive. :lol:

Later on we found another ellie, so as you can imagine I was very cautios this time.

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Today was our last full day here, so we enjoyed the ever-present wildebeest by the road.

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Next SANPark: Mapungubwe 2014

Birding Weekend 2014 - Satara 3

Exploring Letaba - '13-'14


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 Post subject: Re: Can you say luck??
Unread postPosted: Mon May 02, 2011 8:27 am 
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Virtual Ranger
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Our Last Day

We managed to arrive at the gate second in the queue! Out with our spotlights, we found the Orpen lions - who disappeared so quickly I couldn't even snap a shot :(

But further we found a hyaena - who also disappeared - and then another one!

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some raptors
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Later on we stopped at one of the viewpoints for a cup of coffee - not Bobbejaanskraans becuase the tour trucks were far too noisy last time :?

And you wont believe what we found on our way back to camp..........

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Next SANPark: Mapungubwe 2014

Birding Weekend 2014 - Satara 3

Exploring Letaba - '13-'14


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