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 Post subject: ColWD From the Sabie to the Timbavati and beyond Mar 11
Unread postPosted: Tue May 03, 2011 4:00 pm 
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Location: 5 long hours from Kruger
I have been looking forward to writing my first trip report for a while now. Work and time constraints have meant it’s been a bit delayed. The pics were taken by a really amateur photographer; nevertheless here goes :)

Oh yes and special thanks to those that assisted on technical issues; Mama Fairu, Elsa and DuQues.

It was meant to be relatively short stay, two nights (19th and 20th March) Lower Sabie and two nights (21st and 23rd March). However, fate would then conspire to give us another trip in April with two nights Letaba and one night Satara. So this is essentially two trip reports combined into one.

On the morning of the 19th March we arrived at Phabeni Gate at 06:40, which meant a very early morning departure from Gauteng.
By 07:00 we were in Kruger. The route for day one was sort of dictated by the check-in at Lower Sabie. Follow the S1 to Skukuza and then H4-2 onto Lower Sabie and take it from there. As is with Kruger, it never quite goes to plan.

Onto the S1 and possibly the best start to any of my trips!

So what we would we see first?
Impala, Impala, Impala?
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Nope a giraffe :mrgreen:

Good enough start....
Hold on!!!! What’s that on the left hand side of the road?
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Getting better 8)

As we got to Nyamundwa Dam, there was some commotion in the bush opposite the turnoff to the dam!
Standby for my South African cricket moment a.k.a choke!
What is it? Wild dog!!!!!!

The excitement was tangible. They were quite deep in the bush, so the photos ops weren’t great, but did manage to take a few pics, however there was far more grass than wild dog!
Then one decided to “chase” an Impala down back towards Nyamundwa Dam across the road behind the cars. When I say “chase” it was more of a hop and a skip.
Fast forward five or so minutes and we were still watching the dogs in the bush. I then turned around to see the dog that chased the impala appear right in front of our car. Reaching for my camera (thinking it was off), I tried to turn it on, only to realise it was the display that was off. What a choke under pressure!

By the time I managed to get the thing back on, the subject was on its way back into the bush. So here is the “proof photo” which happens to be the inevitable backside shot (zoomed from the original) :slap:
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Slowly the dogs disappeared further into the bush and it was time to move on.
Severley disappointed with my performance as photographer, the decision was made to move on.

Not more than a few minutes’ drive further on, lying on the side of the road in all his majesty…..
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He only moved off when one of the game drive vehicles from one of the private tour operators, came speeding in. Spoilt a potentially awesome sighting for a lot of others!
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So that’s hyaena, wild dog and lion all done within three quarters of an hour. What could be next?


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 Post subject: Re: From the Sabie to the Timbavati and beyond
Unread postPosted: Wed May 04, 2011 4:23 pm 
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Moving on…………

Literally around the next two bends, what’s that in the distance? A sight anyone familiar with the H4-1 or the M1 at 5 pm on a Monday will be more than used to; a traffic jam!
So as we approached at a reasonable speed I might add, the joke in the car was “it’s probably just a leopard”
We had to ask a friendly neighbour at the sighting what we were looking for? The answer was an unequivocal “leopard”
Now to find it! Kindly the driver of the other car was more than apt at pinpointing it, though it did involve the traditional “you see that branch, above that patch of green” talk. The bush was very dense so I wasn’t able to take any pics, but through the binos it was clearly visibile albeit shrouded in greenery :mrgreen:
I wish I could say there was some skill involved, but honestly everything had been delivered on a platter for us
First hour done and what an hour!

Closer to the S4 intersection we saw our first buffs.
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So that was the Doispane Road done! It has to be one of my favourites!

Next stop Skukuza for some breakfast; readymade ham and cheese rolls went down like a treat. The sole topic of discussion was what would later become known as “that morning drive”. After a cold drink or two, it was back to the road and off to Lower Sabie.
Then the first change of plans, instead of heading right down the H4-1, a left turn was made towards the H1-2 and across the Sabie. Did the Maroela loop, one day is one day that I will see something other than Impala on this road :pray:
We made our way back to the H4-1 down the H12, saw this Kudu bull on the way.
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Up to now we had not seen one Ellie, but we eventually got our first Ellie bull on the Lower Sabie road.
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Arrived at Lower Sabie, should we have lunch and then check-in? (it was still quite a while till two)
No, let’s take a drive up to Mlondozi!
The view is always worth it 8)
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The heat had really set in, so didn’t see much besides these super-sized birds! (and a few Pumbas)
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We arrived at two precisely, had lunch on the deck which is always favourite and then unpacked and set up at camp. A late afternoon drive was definitely in order :D
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 Post subject: Re: From the Sabie to the Timbavati and beyond
Unread postPosted: Thu May 05, 2011 4:27 pm 
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Location: 5 long hours from Kruger
By half past four we were again on our way back this time down the H4-2. No time to breath, but I was gripped by a serious case of Kruger fever! :mrgreen:

The foraging and grazing was good!

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An elephant crossing!
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Just after the S130 turnoff, another traffic jam, buffs on the right hand side. Got a fleeting glimpse of a lone male lion, as it decided discretion was the best part of valour and made its way back into the bush off to the left. Cars were parked all over the place! Should we try to make our way through the traffic? Not a chance.
We beat a hasty retreat, involving a quick u-turn and a sharp right down the S130
And what decides to walk right in front of the car.
A hyaena and zebra crossing!
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It was heading in the same direction as the lion! Makes one wonder?

Stopped off at Dukes waterhole, no further luck on our way back to camp.

Exhausted, we arrived at camp, had a toasted Sandwich and then off to the tent for a quick shower and a much needed rest. Early start tomorrow :wink:


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 Post subject: Re: From the Sabie to the Timbavati and beyond
Unread postPosted: Fri May 06, 2011 1:17 pm 
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The next morning we were out of camp just after half past five. The plan was to take the S28 to Crocodile Bridge and then the S25 onto Berg-en-Dal for Brunch.
A fellow early-riser….
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Continuing on our way, we arrived at the Mativuhlungu bridge close to our proposed turn-off. As we crossed the bridge, a phantom appeared out of the bush and right in front of our car!

He confidently made his way towards the road sign on the right hand side and with a small leap perched himself for all to see.
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We were fortunate to share the sighting with a fellow forumite, Anja, who posted her pics a few weeks ago. :)
The leopard looking at Anja’s car
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Close ups! :cam:
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It’s no cardboard cut-out! :mrgreen:


It’s these moments that make Kruger so special! One feels really blessed to see it! :)
Then as confidently he arrived, he departed and off down the S28 into the bush, not too far off the road though…
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 Post subject: Re: From the Sabie to the Timbavati and beyond
Unread postPosted: Mon May 09, 2011 4:37 pm 
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Leopard sighting over, we made our way down the S28, which in the past has always been a bit of sighting hot-bed.

We met up with the local security on our way to Nhlangazwani Dam :naughty:
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Nice Ellie bull further on down the S28
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About two km from the H4-2 intersection, there was a small concentration of game drive vehicles. Lion! Romance was the order of the day! They were quite far into the bush so the photo ops weren’t good. Decided to rather put the camera down and just enjoy the sighting. Eventually things came to a rest, the couple decided to settle down under a shady tree and disappeared from view.
A quick stop at Crocodile Bridge and onto the S25. The road was unusually quiet with not much animal activity.

We did have an escort for some of the journey :mrgreen:
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There were also road works along the way :wink:
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And the obligatory pedestrian :)
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At Timfenheni, we found a few Dugga boys, who stubbornly refused to lift their heads for photos :redface:

So onto the Matjulu loop, and the local family…
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And the boss...
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Brunch was at the day visitors area at Berg-en-Dal. Boerewors rolls and scrambled eggs, things just taste better in Kruger! We were joined by a lone water buck that made his way down to the dam for a quick drink.

Route back; H3 to Afsaal and a quick check on the Scops owl. Then onto to the S114, over the Biyamati Weir and a right down the Nwatimhiri Road to the H4-1….


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 Post subject: Re: From the Sabie to the Timbavati and beyond
Unread postPosted: Tue May 10, 2011 4:22 pm 
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The drive back was pretty devoid of much animal activity, it was abnormally hot, even for March.

It included another lion sighting not far from Sunset Dam; another traffic jam meant the sighting was restricted, so we decided to move on, again. Rather just wait for "the good one" :wink:

So I’ve decided to devote the rest of our day to our feathered friends and one long-necked friend :D

Scops owl at Afsaal
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With a tawny eagle doing its best impression of a contortionist,
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the raptor collection
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and the usual suspects
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And the afternoon farewell…
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There was even a sighting inside the tent :D
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What did Kruger have in store for us tomorrow? :hmz: :)


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 Post subject: Re: From the Sabie to the Timbavati and beyond
Unread postPosted: Wed May 11, 2011 1:52 pm 
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So we spent our final night at Lower Sabie and by half past five the next morning we all ready to go off to Tamboti.

The first decision; left or right out of camp?
Left would involve a trip up the H10 to Tshokwane.
Right would involve a trip down the H4-1 and then onto Tshokwane via the H1-2.

Now once again fate would intervention, we needed to draw cash….
Skukuza has an ATM! :tongue:
Right it was!

A stop off at Sunset at sunrise, preceded the arrival at the N’watimhiri bridge
And for the second morning in a row :dance:
Apologies for the shakes :redface:


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 Post subject: Re: From the Sabie to the Timbavati and beyond
Unread postPosted: Thu May 12, 2011 1:35 pm 
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@ Sharifa and Duke: It’s like buses, wait hours for one to arrive and then :dance:

@Mama Faru: Birdwatching is very rewarding. I’m still getting into it myself; knowledge still leaves a lot to be desired at this point :redface: The raptors, especially the juveniles are particularly difficult, but will get there….
I don’t know much about the Scops Owl at Afsaal, I’m sure there are forumites who would be to answer the question.
Next instalment on its way :D

@Cheetah: Now that you mention it, it clearly looks like a burp :mrgreen:

@Pumbaa: I really couldn’t believe our luck! Truly blessed! :)

@Pikkie: And were very lucky on this trip :wink:

@Flutterby: It had actually been quite a while since I last saw a leopard in Kruger :pray: :D

The couple then made their way from the riverbed and onto the road

The lady...

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And her pursuer...

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Poor bloke got the cold shoulder and beat a retreat back to the N’watimhiri :(

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He looked so relaxed! :)

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Slowly he moved off and disappeared amongst the reeds.....

Thus far, it had all been about the mornings!
(I was just bit concerned about the dark marking on the lady’s forehead, nose and around her right eye)

Off to Nkuhlu…….


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 Post subject: Re: From the Sabie to the Timbavati and beyond
Unread postPosted: Mon May 16, 2011 11:01 am 
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On our way we went……….

Now for two of my favourite animals, always think that their eyes have seen more than most :wink:
There were three hyaenas in total, two disappeared off into the bush but managed to get a decent snap of this lady..

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At Nkuhlu we come across this fellow and his family.
My what big teeth you have :mrgreen:

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I really think anything would think twice before fooling around with this guy....

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So after a quick stop at Skukuza for cold drinks and ‘padkos” it was onto Tshokwane via the H1-2.

Then we arrived at the S36 turnoff. I have been fortunate enough to see wild dog in the area before and have read that they do frequent the Jones Dam area. So given my poor performance at the last wild sighting, it was autonomously decided to take the left up to Jones Dam.

Getting closer to Jones, we were hit by this terrible stench! Driving on a bit we came across a buffalo carcass in open view on the right hand side of the road.
It was an old cow; the carcass looked almost untouched, bar some decomposition on the belly.
Now for a fateful decision, we would go to Jones Dam, have a quick view and turn around so that we were upwind from the carcass.

Arriving at Jones Dam, we noticed a large croc with carrion in its jaws. It then proceeded to lift its body out of the dam with the kill locked in its jaws and smashed it against the water's surface. It sounded like the biggest belly flop known to mankind :mrgreen: It did it twice, tearing enough off for a quick snack.

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Not long thereafter, I noticed the vultures had started to circle near the buffalo carcass. As soon as we saw that one or two were starting to dive, it was decided to make our way back and take up ring side seats :D

There were about three cars already well positioned by the time we arrived; we took our place in almost a half crescent shape around the buffalo. There was eventually about six cars in total, all with great views! Now it was just a question of patience. :wink:

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Last edited by ColWD on Mon May 16, 2011 4:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: From the Sabie to the Timbavati and beyond
Unread postPosted: Tue May 17, 2011 3:13 pm 
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In the blink of an eye; he rushed in-between two cars, claimed his prize and disappeared back into the bush!

No one saw him coming, not even the vultures!

Sent shivers down the spine…..

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Nobody could believe what they had just witnessed; you could see the whites of peoples’ eyes! :big_eyes:
We all have a new found appreciation for just how fast a lion can move!

I think about the crazy people who get out of their cars in the Park; even if you were within a metre of your car door you would have had no time to react!
I wish I could describe this better, but it was unreal, he was so powerful!

Things eventually calmed down and the vultures decided to give it another go......
This time everyone was edge so when he made his second appearance, all were waiting :cam:

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 Post subject: Re: From the Sabie to the Timbavati and beyond
Unread postPosted: Fri May 20, 2011 3:51 pm 
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@AREFF: I think everyone there did too including the vultures…. :lol:

@Bush Baptist: We were on such a buzz after that, nothing like a bit of adrenaline to get the heart pumping 8)

@Mama Faru: I find hyaenas such fascinating animals; on pure tenacity there are few that come close. :thumbs_up:

The carcass was hardly touched; it was extremely hot though which probably sped things along and contributed to the smell…

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He was the only lion there, can only wonder if he was joined later? Would have loved to stay there the whole day, but had to move on to get to Tamboti. :)
How good would a night drive to that spot have been? :hmz: :wink:

@ Buffalo Soldier: It was truly an awe inspiring sight! :dance:

@ Pikkie: I have been going to the park regularly for quite a while now; this is only the ‘second kill’ I have seen. The other was just on entering at Malelane in 1999, caught the last bit of wild dogs taking down an impala. Still felt sorry for the impala, but it is nature’s way..... :big_eyes:

@ Flutterby: It is indeed! :shock: I can only assume he did, disappeared off into the bush and when he came back the vulture was MIA. :wink:

@ Bushcraft: Thanks, that’s why we all love the Kruger :mrgreen:

@ Cheetah2111: Makes one realise just how small we actually are. Your 6 versus 1 sighting, probably makes you a bit of an authority on just how powerful lions actually are! :thumbs_up: To see a big male run at full pace is something else! :dance:

@ Bushbuddies : Just wish I had more time, the car is fully stocked :) , could have spent the day there!

@ Pumbaa: They seem so lethargic at times, not a care in the world, but if it is to their liking then watch out! :mrgreen:

@ Mandinga: This was definitely the exception rather than the norm :dance: I had almost four years between leopard sightings the once. When it rains it pours.Felt truly blessed. :D

Next instalment shortly, apologies for the delay... :redface: :)


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 Post subject: Re: From the Sabie to the Timbavati and beyond
Unread postPosted: Mon May 23, 2011 3:08 pm 
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Im back. Thanks for the kind words and encouragement; Mama Faru, Pikkie, Leanawel and Cheetah2111 :thumbs_up:

Now for a while I have been reading about the infamous milktart at Tshokwane on the forum. :hmz: :D
The moment had arrived…..
“May I please have a toasted sandwich and a piece of that milktart?”
The toasted sandwich was delicious and the milktart; well it was out of this world. :dance:
I have decided in future that all stops at Tshokwane will involve this form of sustenance! :wink:

A quick left off the H1-3 to the Southernmost Boabab

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And we found these youngsters..... :)
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Further on we ran into our first Dugga boy of the Central grasslands. Buffalo= Lion country. Well sometimes :pray:

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I have not been the luckiest when it comes to lion in the Satara area; have seen far more around Crocodile Bridge.
Would this trip been any different? :hmz:

The S126 then arrived. It is one of my all time favourites. I love the approach with the Ilala Palms in the foreground. It gives the road a different feel. Despite the heat we did see a fair amount of plains game, I just set back and enjoyed the drive; it’s the full Kruger experience! :mrgreen:

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Next up, a quick stop at Muzandenzi…..


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 Post subject: Re: From the Sabie to the Timbavati and beyond
Unread postPosted: Tue May 24, 2011 3:26 pm 
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Our host at Muzandenzi :)

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Now for one of the more interesting sightings….
Just North of the Sweni Road on the S36, there is a waterhole off to the left hand side.
Something caught my eye; it was bobbing up and down in the waterhole. Head up, head down, head up, head down. :hmz:

Next thing he decided to lift his head a little higher :D

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Obviously the heat had got to him too, as had a previous quarrel. Nonetheless he looked quite at home. :)

Another dugga boy along the H7

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And this fair lady….
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We checked in at Orpen and then arrived at the wild Tamboti. :D

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Given the encroaching bush and the feeling of isolation along the Timbavati River, I have taken it upon myself to become a martyr for the cause and stay there on future trips, to save others from the discomfort :wink:

I mean who wants to hear the sounds of Lions roaring every night? :mrgreen:


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 Post subject: Re: From the Sabie to the Timbavati and beyond
Unread postPosted: Mon May 30, 2011 1:51 pm 
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Second last day had arrived :(

Route for the day….. :)

H7 to Satara, then down to the H6 and back along the Nwatensi River Road

A good morning to you too. :wink:

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We caught this family along the S41 :D

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And just when I thought the herd has passed,these boys appeared from over the ridge. I quickly put the car into reverse, giving them a wide birth as they crossed to the left. :whistle: It amazes how they can just disappear into the bush (despite their size), the one moment they are there, the next they are gone. :big_eyes: :)

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We also caught up with a family of a different sort....

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Have to show some of the residents along the S100 :mrgreen:

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Now for a slow leisurely drive up to the Timbavati picnic sight for lunch………..


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 Post subject: Re: From the Sabie to the Timbavati and beyond
Unread postPosted: Tue May 31, 2011 1:57 pm 
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Arriving at the Timbavati, the search was on, where was the Scops Owl?
After a bit of searching, we found it with the help of the ranger (His name escapes me)

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My what big eyes you have! :mrgreen:

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The braai could now commence. Chops and a piece of Sirloin was the order of the day, it was all about the meat. :D
Of all the picnic spots, there are two that I’m particularly fond of; Timbavati being one and Nwanetsi being the other.
Love the view from both, Nwanetsi is perhaps more scenic but Timbavati feels wilder. Six of one, half a dozen of the other.

So onto our final night in the park :( and a night drive :dance:
Crazy, a ranger stationed at Orpen was our guide for the evening, we left Tamboti at 8 sharp
Plenty of scrub hares, genets and bushbabies, this was a drive about the smaller things.
Night drives are also very hit and miss, there are no guarantees. Crazy did his utmost to keep it interesting. :thumbs_up:
He mentioned that are about seven lion prides that operate around the Satara-Orpen road, there are two prides that frequent the Rabelais Loop, with prides concentrated more towards the East.
In winter time, the S39 towards the Timbavati is very good for Leopard, especially early mornings.

I had to ask which in his opinion which are the best roads in the park?
His answer was unequivocal; the S100, though he does have a real soft spot for the Shabeni loop. He was stationed at Pretoriuskop for many years and said that stretch of road produced a lot of great sightings. :hmz: :)

We found a family of black-backed jackal in the open veld just before arriving back at camp. Got a snap of this fellow...

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I thoroughly enjoyed the night drive! Thought Crazy was very professional and kept things entertaining :wink:

Last sleep in the Kruger………


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