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 Post subject: Andreas_79-: Kruger Nationalpark 3rd - 15th of April,2011
Unread postPosted: Mon Apr 25, 2011 6:02 pm 
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Introduction
I came to Africa in 2007 for the very first time. I did an overland trip from Cape Town to Nairobi and since then I am totally in love with the wildlife and landscapes. During this trip we visited a wide range of Nationalparks like Ethosha, the Okavango Delta and the Serengeti (to name only a few). We were really blessed with sightings – but we didn´t see a leopard.
In 2008 I decided to come back to Africa for another overland tour – this time a trip through South Africa from Cape Town to Johannesburg. On the way we visited a few Nationalparks as well as other areas where the elusive leopard occurred – but still no sighting of it. Then we came to Kruger. After entering the Park through Malelane Gate the first sighting we had was a leopard high upon a tree resting during the heat of the day! My desire for Kruger started…………
In 2010 I came back to Africa for a longer period – I worked as a translator and cook (and 2nd guide) for an overland company. During this time I visited Kruger five times and my desire for Kruger kept on growing.
Back home in Germany it didn’t took me long to decide to discover the whole of Kruger as soon as possible. So after getting a new job I started to make a plan………….and this plan became true during the first two weeks of April 2011.

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 Post subject: Re: Trip Report: Kruger Nationalpark 3rd - 15th of April
Unread postPosted: Mon Apr 25, 2011 6:06 pm 
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Day 1: Johannesburg – Berg-en-Dal
I met Astrid – my friend from Cape Town who was travelling with me – at the airport in Jo´burg on Sunday morning. We picked up our car from the car rental and off we went straight to Kruger on the N12 and the N4. There was almost no traffic and we got to Malelane earlier than expected for our shopping stop. We entered the Park through Malelane Gate around five o´clock in the afternoon. For me it was nice to be back and for Astrid it was even more exciting as she entered the Kruger for her first time. Having not seen the African wildlife for almost a year every little sighting was exciting. Unfortunately we also saw a first road kill – a hornbill – on the main road to Berg-en-Dal. After the check-in at the very friendly reception we headed to the walkway along the dam. The peaceful atmosphere at the dam was only disturbed by noisy kids (their parents were nearby but they didn´t calm them down) and so we decided to look for a nice campsite to set up our tent. I couldn´t believe how tiny the tent was – I bought it for this trip as it was the only one small enough to fit into my backpack. Fortunately we had booked a mix of camping and huts/safari tents so we didn´t have to stay every night in that little tent. :)
After dinner (braai, of course) a thunderstorm began and soon it turned out that my tent wasn´t really waterproof – well, you always get what you pay for, don´t you? :)

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 Post subject: Re: Trip Report: Kruger Nationalpark 3rd - 15th of April
Unread postPosted: Mon Apr 25, 2011 6:09 pm 
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Day 2: Berg-en-Dal – Lower Sabie
We “survived” the first night in our wet tent – and were really looking forward for our hut at Lower Sabie. :) We had a long day driving ahead of us – S110, S114, S25, S119, Gardenia Hide, S25, Crocodile Bridge Restcamp, H4-2, S130, S137, S28, H4-2, Lower Sabie Restcamp – but we enjoyed every single kilometer. We were lucky to see two Lions on the S110 with their kill from last night. Unfortunately we didn´t get a clear view due to the long grass – but anyway it was a good start. Further along the S110 we stopped for observing a group of dwarf mongoose for a while. These little creatures were very entertaining and it seemed that they were also as curious about us as we were about them. Gardenia Hide gave us the first opportunity to stretch our legs for a while. There was still a lot of water at the hide and beside the kingfishers (malachite, pied and woodland) a medium-sized crocodile and a few terrapins were our best sightings there. We left the hide after half an hour or so and headed on along the S25 to the Hippo Pools. As there was not much to see we left this spot quickly for Crocodile Bridge Camp for lunch. We checked the sightings board and as the best spots were seen along the main road we decided to follow the H4-2 for a while. Well…….as the main road was quite we decided to continue on the dirt roads. It was a good decision because we saw white rhinos and a huge herd of buffalos (+- 150 individuals). We also saw a Saddle-billed stork and a white-headed vulture near Duke Waterhole. Happy about our sightings and our first day in Kruger we finally arrived at Lower Sabie around half past five – but not before the obligatory stop at Sunset dam. :)

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 Post subject: Re: Trip Report: Kruger Nationalpark 3rd - 15th of April
Unread postPosted: Mon Apr 25, 2011 6:15 pm 
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Photos of day 2:

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Image


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 Post subject: Re: Trip Report: Kruger Nationalpark 3rd - 15th of April
Unread postPosted: Mon Apr 25, 2011 10:01 pm 
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Thanks a lot for your nice comments so far - i will continue tomorrow. :)

@ Son godin: unfortunately light was not very good that day. But here comes a photo of a woodland kingfisher. Malachite and pied kingfisher were too far away for a photo that day.

Image

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 Post subject: Re: Trip Report: Kruger Nationalpark 3rd - 15th of April
Unread postPosted: Tue Apr 26, 2011 8:32 pm 
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Day 3: Area around Lower Sabie + Sunset drive
Sleeping in a proper bed made us feel so much better than the morning before. :) It was overcast and very windy and we decided to do the Mlondozi loop with a toilet and breakfast stop at Mlondozi dam. But before we left for the drive we stopped at Sunset dam again where we spotted an African fish eagle, a giant kingfisher and many other birds as well as crocs and hippos. While crossing the Sabie River Bridge we discovered a goliath heron waiting motionless for an opportunity to catch its prey. Mlondozi loop was very quite this morning – we saw a male giraffe and impalas, of course. Bird-wise it was nice to see an African harrier hawk flying from tree to tree in search for food. Although Mlondozi Dam is a very nice place we didn´t spent much time there. It was still overcast and the strong wind let us feel chilly. From Mlondozi dam we went back to Mlondozi loop and discovered an interesting group of three side-striped jackals and three warthogs. As the warthogs were quite big they felt comfortable and didn´t fear the jackals. The jackals seemed to be youngsters as they were very agile. Very funny to watch was when one of the jackals started sniffing at the bum of one the warthogs which the warthog didn´t find funny at all. :)
Instead of heading back to camp on the main road we took a detour via Mafotini waterhole and then back on the S128. We saw buffalos and an elephant so the detour was well-worth it. Back at Sunset dam we decided to keep on driving a bit as it was still early. We drove the H4-2 northbound and couldn´t believe our luck when we saw our first leopard at the N´watimhiri waterhole. He was laying in the shade of a tree and after a while (maybe when he decided that there were to many cars around) he disappeared in the bush.
After lunch at the camp – nothing to complain about the food (I have to admit that we only had burgers :) ) or the service – we had a little nap before we went out for a short drive before our Sunset drive in the late afternoon. We drove the Mativuhlungu loop but it was very quiet there and we didn´t see nothing at all – except for the occasional impalas I still like to stop for. :)
Then the Sunset drive which was really amazing. We saw a rhino , two lions, two kori bustards, three porcupines, two genets and a spotted eagle owl. But the best spot was when our guide (Patrick) discovered a chameleon – in the dark in a bush!! Really awesome game drive……………..

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 Post subject: Re: Trip Report: Kruger Nationalpark 3rd - 15th of April
Unread postPosted: Tue Apr 26, 2011 8:44 pm 
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And here are the photos of day 3:

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African harrier hawk

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Unfortunately i was to slow so the focus was not on the warthog´s bum...............but i like the photo anyway.

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Nile monitor

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This is not the chameleon we saw in the dark on the Sunset drive. :wink:

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Pied kingfisher

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 Post subject: Re: Trip Report: Kruger Nationalpark 3rd - 15th of April
Unread postPosted: Tue Apr 26, 2011 8:48 pm 
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More photos of day 3:

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Well camouflaged....................

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Ugly or not? Your choice.

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Green-backed heron

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Small-spotted genet

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 Post subject: Re: Trip Report: Kruger Nationalpark 3rd - 15th of April
Unread postPosted: Wed Apr 27, 2011 11:55 am 
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Hi Andreas!
Excellent pics- am loving your TR- please keep it coming!
Dont want to sound mean- the pic of the jakkals and warthog- great by the way - but they are of the more common black-backed jakkal!
great stuff :clap:

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 Post subject: Re: Trip Report: Kruger Nationalpark 3rd - 15th of April
Unread postPosted: Wed Apr 27, 2011 8:13 pm 
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Day 4: Lower Sabie – Satara
As usual we got up very early and left the Camp towards Satara. We stopped at Sunset dam for the last time and again an African fish eagle was sitting close to us. We took the Sabie River bridge again and again we saw the goliath heron we saw the day before. We drove along the H10 and it seemed to be another quite morning – but the weather has changed and it was a sunny morning. We stopped at Nkumbe lookout to stretch our legs and headed on for our breakfast stop at Orpen dam – what a lovely and peaceful place. We were they only people there except for two older couples who left when we arrived there. While we had breakfast we enjoyed to watch the hippos moving around in the dam further down. The surface was completely covered with what looked like water lilies. After breakfast we left Orpen dam towards the busy H1-3 – busy but worth to drive it to stop for Mazithi Dam, N´watinungu waterhole and Kumana Dam. Somewhere in between Mazithi and N´watinungu were a lot of cars standing on the left side of the road. Always a sign for a big cat sighting we couldn´t discover anything at first. But then a movement in the bush and there it was – a cheetah. Although far away from the road and only to see clear through binoculars I was excited as I haven´t seen a cheetah in Kruger before. We proceeded along the main road until we reached the junction H1-3 – S125. Instead of driving straight to Satara along the main road we decided to do the S125, S36 and S126 loop. A good decision as we had a lot of sightings on the S125 and S126 – buffalos, elephants and a lot of the so so-called general game. We also saw two martial eagles on the S126. Beside the nice Muzandzeni picknick spot the S36 was deadly quite – we didn´t see a single animal there. On the S126 we encountered the only car – a funny couple from overseas with their sedan. Funny because the girl was asking where they could find elephants. :) We also had to stop for a “bush toilet” – I just couldn´t help myself and desperately needed a break. We stopped at a more or less open spot and after checking the area I jumped behind the car. While I did what I had to do I suddenly realized that I forgot to check the tree right behind the car. It wasn´t a big tree and a leopard or lion couldn´t hind behind it but…………on one of the branches was a juvenile martial eagle looking down on me. You could see from his gaze that he was really wondering what I was doing. :) Further down the S126 we stopped at the Sweni waterhole to watch two elephants drinking first from the “real” waterhole and then from the concrete water tank nearby. We really enjoyed that we were alone there with no other cars around.
Back on the main road we headed straight to Satara. After the check-in we set up our tent near the fence and although it was late afternoon already we decided to go out for a drive on the legendary S100. And the road fulfilled the hopes – we were driving only a few metres when the car in front of us stopped. As we couldn´t see anything we kept on driving – on the way back we found out that there was a leopard in a tree - far away but clear to see with binoculars. Fortunately he was still there when we came back because we missed him before. Beside the leopard we saw a wide range of animals: from elephants to a raptor with his kill, from southern ground hornbills to waterbucks and many more. Back at the camp we enjoyed our sundowners and the braai – game meet (wildebeest) for the first time on this trip. :)

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 Post subject: Re: Trip Report: Kruger Nationalpark 3rd - 15th of April
Unread postPosted: Wed Apr 27, 2011 8:19 pm 
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Photos of day 4:

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Klippspringer

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Hippos at Orpen dam

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Juvenile martial eagle

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Crested barbet

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 Post subject: Re: Trip Report: Kruger Nationalpark 3rd - 15th of April
Unread postPosted: Wed Apr 27, 2011 8:21 pm 
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Day 5: Area around Satara + Sunset Drive
During the night I woke up because of a very loud noise from an animal. I took my torch and went to the fence – and saw a dent in the fence. Something must had run in the fence. I checked the area outside of the fence and discovered to male buffalos only a few meters away from the fence. As they were peacefully grazing I had no idea what had happened before – maybe one of the buffalos ran in the fence because of their poor nightsight? We will never know……………..
In the morning we left for the S100 again – and there was less traffic than expected. But the morning was quite – we didn´t see many animals there except for impalas and waterbucks – and so we arrived early at N´wanetsi picknick spot for breakfast. The view from the lookout at N´wanetsi is just beautiful. Here it was the first time that we saw a busy picknick spot. Only a few minutes away from the picknick spot the situation was different – the Sweni hide was quiet and we enjoyed it to be there alone. It was interesting to watch a baboon fishing for roots in the water and we also saw crocodiles there. Bird-wise we spotted black crakes and African jacanas as well as a pair of white-faced ducks with their chicks. And in a distance we could hear the always noisy Egyptian geese. After a while we left the hide and took the H6 back towards the camp. It was hot by now but we still saw a lot of zebras, impalas and wildebeests on our way back. Before reaching the camp we took a little detour via the H7 to drive the short S12 – S40 loop. Here we saw a two elephants and spotted a cardinal woodpecker. But due to the heat it was more or less quiet. So we headed back for camp for lunch and for a rest. We had a couple of hours to spent in camp before the Sunset game drive in the late afternoon. While Astrid took it easy and relaxed for a while I took my camera and walked around the campsite in search of birds. There are always a lot of birds around the campsite and I took a few photos of grey-go-away birds, red-billed buffalo weavers, burchell´s and cape glossy starlings, blue waxbills and yellow-billed hornbills.
At half past four we left for the Sunset game drive with our guide Tevin. He took us along the S90, S41 and the S100. The late afternoon light was just beautiful and it seemed like the whole bush was shimmering in a golden light. We had very good sightings like black-chested snake eagle and an spotted eagle owl, three porcupines and the so-called general game. Well…………most people come to Satara for the big cats and as we didn´t see any of them on the drive Tevin started to apologize after the drive. Of course it would have been nice to see the one or the other big cat but as you can´t rely on the wildlife we were happy with the drive and the sightings we had.

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 Post subject: Re: Trip Report: Kruger Nationalpark 3rd - 15th of April
Unread postPosted: Wed Apr 27, 2011 8:27 pm 
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Photos of day 5:

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A fishing baboon

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A nature´s beauty

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Speckled mousebird

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The lonely territorial bull

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 Post subject: Re: Trip Report: Kruger Nationalpark 3rd - 15th of April
Unread postPosted: Wed Apr 27, 2011 10:10 pm 
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@ Katja: here is a photo of a blue waxbill for you.

Image

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 Post subject: Re: Trip Report: Kruger Nationalpark 3rd - 15th of April
Unread postPosted: Thu Apr 28, 2011 9:50 pm 
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The story goes on....................... :D

Day 6: Satara – Tsendze
The weather started to change last night and when we woke up it was overcast and very windy – a perfect day for travelling. We left camp early and followed the H1-4 until the Olifants river bridge. We then took the S91 and S92 before we reached Olifants camp for breakfast. During the drive it was still very windy and we even had a drizzle for a few minutes. But bird-wise it was a very good day. Along the H1-4 we spotted two kori bustards, a lappet-faced vulture and two southern ground hornbills. On the low water bridge to Balule we spotted a giant kingfisher as well as a brown-hooded kingfisher. And while we had breakfast at Olifants two white-backed vultures we “cruising” over the river.
After breakfast we kept on driving on the dirt roads and followed the Letaba river until we reached Letaba Camp. Along the road to Letaba we didn’t see many animals but were happy with the “usual” things we spotted.
We only stopped for fuel at Letaba and to amend our booking: instead of camping at Punda Maria we upgraded our accommodation to Safari Tents – but still camping. :D From Letaba we kept on driving on the H1-6 until we reached Mopani camp where we checked-in for Tsendze. The drive along the main road was very interesting. At the waterholes was always something to see – elephants, secretary birds, zebras, impalas and wildebeests. And only a few kilometers away from Mopani we had to stop for a real traffic jam: a huge herd of buffalos was crossing the road. As we were waiting for a gap we discovered many calfs and a few really huge bulls with massive horns. After the check-in at Mopani at the reception we went down to the restaurant for a view over the Pioneer dam – and it was stunning. With binoculars one can sit there for hours…………………we discovered two saddle-billed storks, great white egrets, black-winged stilts, cormorants and an African fish eagle within a few minutes only. As we wanted to visit Pioneer dam and Shipandani hide as well as Mooiplaas picknick spot on our way to Tsendze we didn´t spent more time at Mopani although it is worth to stay longer. I must admit that when we reached the hides we were a bit disappointed about both hides. Pioneer dam didn´t overlook the places where most of the birds were around (as we could see from Mopani) and the view at Shipandani is very limited. I guess that during the dry season there is no water to see at Shipandani. We headed on to Mooiplaas picknick spot and this is just a lovely place where I could have spent more time easily. At Mooiplaas we met Rodger (the guy who is responsible for Tsendze) for the first time and he was actually the first one (and only one on our trip) who recognized the yellow ribbon at our car. We had a nice chat there before we left for Tsendze where we met a very nice couple from South Africa we spent the whole evening with……………

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