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 Post subject: canon- NEW EXPERIENCE-KRUGER IN APRIL 2011
Unread postPosted: Wed May 04, 2011 8:43 pm 
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We recently undertook our annual trip to Kruger but this was a trip with a difference for us - for the last 10 years we have visited the park during August and this time we visited during April. This was the first time that SO and I had seen a "green" Kruger together with flowing rivers and more water all over the place. I learnt from another seasoned visitor that the conditions this year were in fact the wettest that had been experienced for many years. We had mixed thoughts about these conditions and having taken all factors into account we decided that we much prefer ther dry season that prevails in August. Game viewing was extremely difficult in the long grass, game was much more scattered due to the plentiful supply of water and the sightings were very brief with game soon disappearing into the long grass. Birding certainly took on a whole new meaning! We also felt that the dryness of the winter bushveld certainly has a mystique attached to it. Anyway we were glad to have seen baobabs with leaves, the rivers flowing and the animals in prime condition. However, our future visits will definitely be during August.

Before starting with the daily reports I would like to share a few observations that we made -

- the park appeared to be very quiet as far as the volume of visitors was concerned. We we seldom involved in snarl-ups at good sightings and the camps seemed to have an eerie quietness about them. We were in the park for the fortnight before Easter which could be the reason for this. I am certainly not complaining!

- we noticed that 99% of the visitors were driving at the correct speeds but sadly witnessed a number of SAN Park vehicles speeding. The "highway" between Satara and Orpen was particularly bad and here we encountered a number of busses (presumably transporting staff) driving at excessive speeds.

- we soon found out that it was pointless trying to be the first out the gate in the morning hoping to find a few cats lying on the warm, dry roads because invariably there were SAN Parks vehicles on the roads before opening time - this seemed particularly bad at Berg en Dal.

- We could not believe how many visitors either get out or protruded from their vehicles. We found two gentlemen (mad men would be more appropriate) standing nearly 50m form their car near the Balule low water bridge casually taking photographs. Later the same two alighted from their vehicle on the Balule bridge and walked around without a care in the world.

- the roads were generally in good condition despite all the rain. I just wish something would be done about the top end of S36. I suspect that the roads here take a lot of strain with the commercial traffic heading for Hamiltons and Hoya Hoya. Whilst staying at Talamati last year we had staff busses overtaking us and we saw a number of delivery vehicles tearing down the raod. I wonder if these "concessions" contribute to the upkeep of these roads?

- we were very impressed by the reception staff at all the camps that we stayed in - keep it up. They were polite, efficient and helpful at all times. Olifants Rest Camp was very well maintained, the bungalows clean and the taps outside were even polished! The new renovations have been tastefully done and do not have a negative impact on those who just want to hear and feel the bush. Berg en Dal was equally impressive. My favourite camp, Biyamiti, is getting a bit "tired". The roof thatching and some of the furniture is long passed its sell by date. The cane chairs have been there since we first visted Biyamiti 10 years ago, still with the same worn out cushions. However, I still love this camp and will never visit Kruger without staying here. Talamati Tented Camp has similar problems.

I trust that these observations will be seen as being constructive.

Trip report to follow.....

_________________
WE ALL HAVE TWO CHOICES : We can make a living or we can design a life

29/12/14 - 05/1/15 MZNP
02-07/4/15 Addo
26/6 - 5/7/15 MZNP
4 - 7/8/15 Richtersveld NP
17 - 26/8/15 Kgalagadi NP


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 Post subject: Re: KRUGER TRIP IN APRIL - NEW EXPERIENCE
Unread postPosted: Wed May 04, 2011 9:35 pm 
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08 April 2011

The last minute packing was done after work and as usual one battles to get to sleep before departing on the long awaited annual trip to Kruger. The trip from Grahamstown is about 1400 km which means it makes sense to cut the trip into two days. This year we travelled the 900 km to Vrede where we spent the night at the Emanzini Resort just outside town. I must confess that it was with some trepidation that we made this reservation but we were pleasantly surprised. We did get a bit of a scare when informed that we had no booking!. This was sorted out and we settled into our little thatched chalet before taking a walk around the resort to stretch our legs. A quick braai followed and we were soon in bed having decided to get moving as soon as possible the next morning because we had to get all the way up to Olifants for our first night in the park.

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Dam at Emanzini Resort, Vrede

_________________
WE ALL HAVE TWO CHOICES : We can make a living or we can design a life

29/12/14 - 05/1/15 MZNP
02-07/4/15 Addo
26/6 - 5/7/15 MZNP
4 - 7/8/15 Richtersveld NP
17 - 26/8/15 Kgalagadi NP


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 Post subject: Re: KRUGER TRIP IN APRIL - NEW EXPERIENCE
Unread postPosted: Thu May 05, 2011 7:55 pm 
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09 April 2011

The early night certainly paid dividends because SO and I were wide awake by 03h00 so we decided to pack up and leave for Olifants. A quick cuppa and we were on our way. The early start certainly expedited the trip trough all the Stop/Go hinderances on the road between Vrede and Standerton. Once this had been successfully negotiated it was not long and we had Belfast and Middelburg behind us. We hit the highway to Nelspruit at sunrise and suddenly felt that we were almost there. A pitstop at Milly's woke us up and we set sail for Hazyview via Sudwala Caves to Sabie. This was not clever because the closer we got the more anxious we got but alas the road outside Sabie was extremely slow, caused mainly by the timber trucks. Nevertheless we soon found ourselves in Hazyview where we did a bit of last minute shopping for supplies - could not forget the avos!. At 10h30 we had checked in at Phabeni Gate, unclipped the seat belts, taken a few deep breaths and immediately the pulse rate dropped - paradise. The initial expectations are always high and one expects to see the verges of the road teeming with game. This only happens for a short while until the rythm of the park settles you. It was immediately evident, however, that game viewing was going to be a challenge due to the length of the grass and the density of the bush.
There was not much to see on the Doispane Road but this ever present hornbill kept us entertained for a while. It had caught a worm and proceeded to "beat it up" on the branches before swallowing it.

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He seemed very proud of himself once he had completed his meal.

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The rest of the drive along Doispane was quiet, ominously so! SO had got very quiet and I sensed a quiet resignation that this long grass was going to cause us much grief during the next fortnight! The Nyamundwa Dam was the fullest that we had ever seen it. A quick stop at the day visitors centre at Skukuza re-charged the batteries somewhat. What a pity the Park authorities have been forced to put up all those signs with regard to the use of liquor at the public places in the park. Hats off to them though because it seems to have had the desired results - it will be interesting to see how Easter went though!

We crossed the Sabie via the low water bridge and spotted this Pied Kingfisher eyeing out his lunch in the river below.

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A little way further along the banks of the Sand River the ever present troop of baboons were foraging next to the road. This fellow had either had a good night out or was about to drop off for his afternoon siesta.

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Not much to report on the trip on the H1-2 up to Tsokwane. We stopped off at the Leeupan and saw water in it for the first time. Quite a few water birds were knocking around but too far to photograph. We could not believe how quiet Tsokwane was and no monkeys - what a pleasure. An ice cream lifted the spirits before the long hard slog to Satara. A few elephant were browsing next to the road near the Kumana Dam. One has to marvel at how tough their skin must be!

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We decided not too stop at Satara because time was marching on and we were rather weiry. The Ngotso dam was nearly empty which was very surprising given the fact that there had been so much rain. This White Rhino was grazing at the Ngotso North waterhole but simply refused to lift his head out of the grass to greet us - ouch, the grass again!

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Not far from the Olifants bridge we saw this majestic elephant - they have such an aura about them.

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A quick stop on the bridge revealed how much water was in the river - certainly more than we had ever seen. Check in at Olifants reception was slick - hats off to the personel. A quick glance at the sightings board confirmed that most folk had not seen much to report on - THAT LONG GRASS!

We were allocated Number 12 as requested and we set about unpacking and settling in to what would be our abode for the next three nights. We decided to stay put for the rest of the afternoon which was the sensible thing to do given the fact that we had been up since 03h00. We walked through the camp and were very impressed with the new developments at the shop/restaurant area. The new development certainly does not impact negatively on the peace and tranquility of the camp. Just before sunset we lit the fire, the beer was sweet, the hippo chorus was soothing, and all of a sudden the grass was not so long after all - Mama Africa had once again wrapped her blanket around us.

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_________________
WE ALL HAVE TWO CHOICES : We can make a living or we can design a life

29/12/14 - 05/1/15 MZNP
02-07/4/15 Addo
26/6 - 5/7/15 MZNP
4 - 7/8/15 Richtersveld NP
17 - 26/8/15 Kgalagadi NP


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 Post subject: Re: Kruger in April - a new experience
Unread postPosted: Thu May 05, 2011 9:25 pm 
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Location: Grahamstown
10 April 2011

We decided to travel up to Letaba today because this was a part of the park that we had seen very little of during our previous trips to Kruger. We were out the gate at 06h00 and followed the S44 along the river. The scenery and terrain was beautiful in the early morning mist. This tall fellow scared the wits out of us as we rounded a bend

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We stopped at the viewpoint over the Olifants River and enjoyed the view over the river. A few pods of hippo were busy waking up slowly and there were plenty of Lion spoor on the sand and in the parking lot which kept us on our guard!

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The rest of the drive did not yield much until all hell broke loose about 20 km from Letaba - Wild Dog in the road. It all happened so quickly. A pack of about 8 to 10 dogs came up from the river and crossed the road right in front of us. They were clearly on the move - presumably hunting. We did not see them for long but what an adrenilan rush.

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Just around the corner we came across this Hyena lying in the road - I suppose he was following the Wild Dog hoping to pick up a few scraps.

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Right opposite the Hyena there were two Fish eagles in a tree. This one had caught himself what looked like a Catfish for breakfast

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We took a number of the loops down to the banks of the Letaba River but never saw much. Guinea Fowls were to be seen all over the place - in fact throughout our trip we saw thousands of them with these half grown chicks.

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We stopped for breakfast at the Letaba Day Visitors Centre which is really impressive. A nice hot plate of oats porridge did the trick and we were soon on our way to the Matambeni Hide on the Engelhardt Dam. En-route we encountered a huge herd of Buffalo accompanied by many young calves like this one. They certainly must be easy pickings for the predators.

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We had the hide all to ourselves which did surprise us. Here a a few pics taken from the hide

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This lone Buffalo had a magnificent set of horns.

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We then took the S47 up to the Mingerhout Dam. We had never done this route before. The drive is certainly lovely but unfortunately we never saw much - a few Buffs and Impala. I was very disappointed in the dam which is very far from the viewpoint and hardly visible through the bush.

We then re-traced our steps back along the S46 - S93 hoping to find the Wild Dog again. This did not happen so we took the short cut back to Olifants by taking the S93. We were ambling along when suddenly we saw movement next to the road. There he stood - a young male Leopard. He seemed mesmerised by the two vehicles that had stopped in his pathway across the road. He must have stared at the vehicles for nearly 5 minutes before lying down on the rock a mere 5 metres from us. What a sighting!

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This young Lilac-breasted Roller greeted us as we headed into Olifants - very happy with our sightings I must add.

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In the evening we did a short drive to Balule and then up to the main bridge where we saw this breeding herd of Elephant feeding in the river. Look at those eye lashes!

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This White-backed Vulture was enjoying the evening sunshine at the H1-4/H8 junction.

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Thereafter it was back to camp to reflect on another perfect day in Africa.

_________________
WE ALL HAVE TWO CHOICES : We can make a living or we can design a life

29/12/14 - 05/1/15 MZNP
02-07/4/15 Addo
26/6 - 5/7/15 MZNP
4 - 7/8/15 Richtersveld NP
17 - 26/8/15 Kgalagadi NP


Last edited by canon on Sat May 07, 2011 10:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: KRUGER TRIP IN APRIL - NEW EXPERIENCE
Unread postPosted: Fri May 06, 2011 10:10 pm 
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Location: Grahamstown
11 APRIL 2011

The sightings board from the previous evening showed a lion sighting near the Olifants bridge on the H1-4 so we decided to have a quick look there before embarking on our planned route for the day. The Lion were nowhere to be seen but these Vervet Monkeys certainly kept us entertained.

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We then decided on a southern route taking the S92 down to Balule. This has always been a quiet route for us which is strange. We came across a breeding herd of elephant taking a early morning dip in the Olifants near the low water bridge. We continued in the direction of Bangu Waterhole and then turned right onto the Ngotso Weir road. We were very surprised to find this weir bone dry - were looking forward to an eyeball to eyeball encounter with the resident Hippos! We then crossed the H1-4 onto the S39 having decided to drive down to the Timbavati Picnic Spot for a late breakfast. There was no life at the usually productive Goedgegun Waterhole, most likely because of the plentiful supply of water in the Timbavati River. A few Km later we turned right to spend some time at what must be one of the best kept secrets in this area. This waterhole is not marked on the maps.

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All that was to be seen here were a few Hamerkop but the short while spent simply "soaking it up" was great.

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The drive down the S39 revealed the usual suspects such as Impala, Wildebeest and Giraffe. Between the Piet Grobler Dam and the Ratelpan Hide we came across this Hippo who looked very lost. A few more vehicles stopped which clearly agitated it because she was trying to get back to the river and the cars were in her way. Each time she moved the cars moved and so it went. We left the scene and I certainly those going in the opposite direction did the same.

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One of the little loops next to the Timbavati River dished up an amazing sight. A smallish pool in the river had numerous birds taking part in some sort of a feeding frenzy. There were Saddle-billed Storks, Black Storks, Woolly-necked Storks, Hamerkop and a couple of Fish Eagles catching and eating what looked like small Catfish. The activity was frenetic to say the least. This was certainly a dream sighting for bird watchers.

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Our much anticipated stop at Ratelpan Birdhide was a bit disappointing - the reeds were so tall that you could not see the water at all. A few Hippos were lazing in the sun in the far distance.

With the Timbavati Picnic Spot just around the corner we bumped into these Burchells Zebra who clearly wanted their family potrait taken

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One cannot spend time at these picnic spots without taking a pic of the ever present Red-billed Hornbills

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This Swainson's Spurfowl emerged out of the grass possibly hoping that somebody would toss him a titbit - sadly this still seems to happen

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From here we headed west along the S127 which was quiet as was the S90 on the way back to Olifants. The grazing was plentiful and the storm clouds seemed to be gathering.

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There were a few Impala slaking their thirst at Bangu Waterhole - one fellow seemed to have rich pickings for the Oxpeckers!

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[i]Bangu Waterhole

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It was time for a beer and the now traditional afternoon siesta so we headed back to camp. En-route we saw a Red-crested Korhaan, a couple of Lilac-breasted Rollers and a White-fronted Bee-eater.

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We decided to do a short afternoon drive via S92 - S91 so that we could get back to enjoy the evening view from our bungalow. These Chacma Baboons were busy heading home and kept us entertained for a while

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This is the view we enjoyed from our unit No12

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That brought another great day in Africa to an end.

_________________
WE ALL HAVE TWO CHOICES : We can make a living or we can design a life

29/12/14 - 05/1/15 MZNP
02-07/4/15 Addo
26/6 - 5/7/15 MZNP
4 - 7/8/15 Richtersveld NP
17 - 26/8/15 Kgalagadi NP


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 Post subject: Re: KRUGER TRIP IN APRIL - NEW EXPERIENCE
Unread postPosted: Sat May 07, 2011 10:05 pm 
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12 APRIL 2011

Today we had a long drive ahead of us because we were moving to Biyamiti Bushveld camp for the next 4 days - as I said in my intro this is our favourite camp, having stayed there many times. We had done most of the packing the previous evening so we managed to have a quick cuppa and be out the gate by 06h00. We once again did the S92 - S91 loop with high expectations but drew a blank once more! This vulture was sunning itself after a rather chiily night

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A troop of Chacma baboons had positioned themselves on the Olifants bridge and were once again full value as far as entertainment went

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I love this picture that tells you so much - this is certainly an adoring mother

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This young chap very definitely had a late night last night!

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At the other end of the bridge we spotted these White-fronted Bee-eaters who were nesting on the bank of the Olifants. They were extremely busy catching insects that were swarming over the river.

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We then made good time down the H1-4 towards Satara (sticking to 50 Km/hr). At the S127 turn-off we spotted this White Rhino and her calf. We were told that White Rhino calves always walk in front of the mothers whereas Black Rhino calves walk behind their mothers. Very often Black Rhinos take flight when frightened and thus lose their calves who cannot keep up - hence the reasonably high mortality.

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We stopped off at Satara Day Visitors for breakfast - not sure that I like this place, just does not fit in with the rest of the camp. Nevertheless we enjoyed the break and then decided to head down the S100 to Nwanetsi. There was not much to report on this route other than the normal suspects of which there were plenty. It so nice to see the antelope in such good condition. We popped up to the Gudzani Dam where we saw this huge Kudu Bull who would not pose nicely for us. At least this pic shows off his magnificent horns.

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Whilst driving down the S41 we spotted something lying in the road. As we drew nearer we could not believe our eyes - an African Wild Cat was lying in the road suckling her two kittens. Unfortunately they took fright and disappeared into the long grass before I could take a pic.

Nwanetsi was a bit crowded so we did not stay long. We went up to the viewpoint but unfortuntely the view is obscured by the lush growth on the bushes in front so there was not much point in hanging around. We did see this croc on the far bank

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Then it was off to the Sweni Hide expecting to find it full of ardent twitchers - well there was only one other vehicle in the parking area and believe it or not it belonged to good friends and work colleagues of ours so there was plenty of time to catch up and compare notes! The water was covered in the green algae which was a pity. We saw plenty of birds here and the special sighting being a Woodland Kingfisher which was a first for us, believe it or not. I suppose the reason for this is that we had previously only visited the park in August. This Water Monitor was on the causeway at the Sweni Hide.

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We could not stay long because there was along drive ahead of us. We continued down the S37 Trichardt Road and then branched off along the Lindanda Road (S35). This was a first for us and what a beautiful quiet drive this turned out to be. We never saw another vehicle till we hit the tar road near Tshokwane. The game were so peaceful and there were a number of massive Elephant bulls grazing on the plains.

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We avoided Tsokwane (a couple of busses at just arrived) and headed for Lower Sabie along the H10. We stopped off at the Nkumbe Lookout and saw a few Rhino on the plains below. The usual Klipspringers were not to be seen in the hills around Nkumbe. We made good time with not much to see until we spotted this very unusual worm crossing the road - I have no idea what it is called (HELP)

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By now it was midday and getting quite hot which ment that we were unlikely to see much activity on the way down to LS. This Hippo was grazing near the bridge over the Sabie River.

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Toasted sarmies on the deck at the restaurant were great (if you did not mind sharing your meal with the birds!). However, This Burchills Cougal did not bother us

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These critters were having a good bath outside the restaurant.

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A quick visit to Sunset Dam was essential. The dam was really full and as usual plenty of activity to keep you occupied. However, we had a long way to go still so took a pic of this Pied Kingfisher and a Blacksmith Plover and headed south along the H4-2

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Crossing over the Biyamiti River and soon turning onto the private S139 road to Biyamiti always gives us a thrill because it is like home to us when visiting Kruger. This is a beautiful drive to a great Bushveld Camp which has become synonymous with Kruger for us. This squirrel welcomed us to Biyamiti and this Pied Kingfisher showed off its meal to us when we crossed the river.

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We were booked in No 8 as requested and how strange it was to see green grass in front of the Chalet. We unpacked and spent the rest of the day in the camp.

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Sunset on the S139 near Biyamiti Bushveld Camp

_________________
WE ALL HAVE TWO CHOICES : We can make a living or we can design a life

29/12/14 - 05/1/15 MZNP
02-07/4/15 Addo
26/6 - 5/7/15 MZNP
4 - 7/8/15 Richtersveld NP
17 - 26/8/15 Kgalagadi NP


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 Post subject: Re: KRUGER TRIP IN APRIL - NEW EXPERIENCE
Unread postPosted: Sun May 08, 2011 9:59 pm 
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Location: Grahamstown
Thank you for all the comments and interest in my trip report. One forumite enquired what camera equipment I use. I am very much an amateur but really do enjoy wildlife and sport photography. I use a Canon EOS 50D camera with two Sigma lenses (100-500 and 25-250). Still have much to learn, especially as far as exposure goes. I always use the AV setting - prefer not to use Automatic because then you do not have to think and learn!

13 APRIL 2011

We really looked forward to our first drive along the beautiful 18 km strech of the S139 in the direction of Biyamiti weir. This drive must be taken slowly (20km/hr) in winter because it is so easy to miss something in the dense growth along the Biyamiti River. However, we were in for a not so pleasant surprise. This bush was THICK - so much so that you could not see the river and were only likely to see animals if they were on the road or in the trees. Nevertheless this drive is so refreshing irrespective of whether you see game or not. Our first notable sighting was of this African Harrier-hawk sitting high up in a tree. The light was very poor so please excuse the quality of the pic

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At the junction of the S139 and the S114 there is a little loop that goes round the koppie at the Biyamiti Weir. Legend has it that a huge male Leopard lives here. Every time we visit Biyamiti we do a few circuits of this koppie hoping to see the spotty cat but to no avail. We tried our luck this time but no go, AGAIN! There was plenty of bird life at the weir, a spot that kept us entertained many times during this visit (as you will notice as this trip report progresses). There was obviously more water than usual and clearly there was plenty to feed on in the water.

This Grey Heron spent ages stalking and snatching twigs out of the water the water - either stupid or inexperienced!

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His ear itched from time to time

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Other water birds in attendance were the ever-present Pied Kingfisher, Hamerkop and Green-backed Heron

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We were in our 5th day in the park and had not had a decent Lion sighting yet which had started bothering us somewhat. We had seen a tail bobbing in the grass near Satara and two male Lions in the distance near Sunset dam but nothing worthwhile yet. Having crossed the weir we turned left onto the S23 Biyamiti Loop road. This is also a drive that must be done slowly - always looks like prime Leopard terrain. About three km down this road we spotted two Lionesses lying on the sand. They were about the only really healthy looking Lions that we saw during this visit. It makes one wonder if ther TB is under control?

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A little further on we stopped at one of the viewpoints over the river and were very excited to see this Green Pigeon close by. It seemed to eating the red berries on this bush - not sure what they are. We saw a couple more of these birds in the same bushes in this area. These must be of the prettiest birds in Kruger!

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Just before mreaching the S114 we bumped into a large herd of Waterbuck. Up untill now we had not seen many of them.

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The Banded Mongoose is always difficult to photograh because they don't sit still for one moment. This fellow gave me half a chance, albeit behind some grass.

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From here we proceded up the S114 and then turned onto the Randspruit Road. It was very queit along this stretch - we hoping to see the elusive Cheetah and Black Rhino in this area. A huge herd of Buffalo held us up for a while - got a few beady stares from the mothers with calves. A Rock Monitor (not sure)was hunting in the holes on a termite mound.

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The Mpondo dam was full to capacity which ment that game on the far side were too far away. It was really good to see this huge dam full - certainly must be a life line in dry times. This African Jacana was pottering around on the edge of the water

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The drive back to Biyamiti via the S25 yielded a few interesting sightings - notice how the Oxpeckers are cleaning the Rhin's eye and then both nostrils! The Woodland Kingfisher is my fierst ever pic of one and the juvenile bateleur provided the perfect pic for the sunset of another great day.

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Next up - 14 April 2011

_________________
WE ALL HAVE TWO CHOICES : We can make a living or we can design a life

29/12/14 - 05/1/15 MZNP
02-07/4/15 Addo
26/6 - 5/7/15 MZNP
4 - 7/8/15 Richtersveld NP
17 - 26/8/15 Kgalagadi NP


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 Post subject: Re: KRUGER TRIP IN APRIL - NEW EXPERIENCE
Unread postPosted: Tue May 10, 2011 7:03 pm 
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14 April 2011

We decided to head down towards the S25 and then west on the S25 along the Crocodile River in the direction of Malelane. The first part of the drive was marked by two road blocks. The first was a group of 5 White Rhino who took ownership of the road and simply refused to move. They must have held us up (and entertained us) for at least 20 minutes. We had them all to ourselves because the traffic from Malelane Gate still had quite a while before they reached us. These Rhino had clearly slept in the road - wonder if they realize that they are sitting ducks for poachers especially when so close to the Crocodile River. We must have disturbed them and clearly they were not sure what had arrived on the scene. They would stalk nearer and nearer and then dash off snorting and stamping their feet and then simply stand still for a while before following the same procedure again. Eventually they moved off into the bush giving us a send off as we passed them by!

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A little further down the road were saw this Egyptian Goose sitting in this tree which is not something that they often do. She was clearly disturbed - making quite a racket. We were wondering if there were possibly chicks on the ground that were in some sort of danger

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Just before we turned onto the Mlambane Loop (S118) we encountered our second hold-up. A small Elephant herd were grazing on the side of the road, one of which was a cheeky young cow who had a small calf with her. She decided that she was going to play cat and mouse with us - mock charging and then doing all sorts of fancy dance moves before backing off. Each time we inched forward hoping to sneak past the same routine would be followed. This eventually became quite irritating but there was nothing we could do - Kruger is their territory. She also eventually got bored with harassing us and disappeared into the bush.

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The Mlambane Spruit road has a number of little off-ramps to expose a great view of the river below. At one of these viewpoints we saw these White Rhino in a very relaxed mood. The one fellow looked as though he was still in dreamland!

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We decided to have a break at the Gardenia Hide, having never been there before. The pan at the hide was full but apart from a bit of bird life there was not much to see. I suspect the plentiful supply of fresh clean water in the nearby Mlambane Spruit was far more enticing. Nevertheless this is a very pleasant spot and well worthwhile visiting. We saw a couple of my favourites, Green Pigeons, coming down to drink and a couple of Blacksmith Lapwings were pottering around on the waters edge.

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Just before we left a bird which I suspect was a Burchill's Coucal sttled in a bush nearby with a juicy breakfast that he had caught. I am not 100% sure about this bird - are the stripes on the feathers normal or is this another type of Coucal?

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As we left the parking area at the hide we found a large Turtle sunning itself in the road. He seemed a bit lost but very content.

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We left him in peace and moved on. We Turned right onto the S114 and decided to head up to our favourite spot - Biyamiti weir. En-route we came across this Swainson's Spurfowl with her solitary chick. I wonder how many she started with? Most likely about 6.

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This Giraffe was enjoying a tasty meal next to the road. It is amazing how deftly they wrap their long tongues around the branches without pricking themselves on the thorns!

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........to be continued......

_________________
WE ALL HAVE TWO CHOICES : We can make a living or we can design a life

29/12/14 - 05/1/15 MZNP
02-07/4/15 Addo
26/6 - 5/7/15 MZNP
4 - 7/8/15 Richtersveld NP
17 - 26/8/15 Kgalagadi NP


Last edited by canon on Thu May 12, 2011 3:29 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: KRUGER TRIP IN APRIL - NEW EXPERIENCE
Unread postPosted: Tue May 10, 2011 8:27 pm 
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........14 April contd........

We arrived at Biyamiti Weir and first did our customary circuit around the koppie in search of the illusive leopard. However, still no luck :cry: The weir was once again full value with a number of birds present

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Hamerkop

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Green-backed Heron

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Three-banded Plover

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Malachite Kingfisher

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Pied Kingfisher

We then continued up the S114 and turned left and followed the S23 Biyamiti Loop back down towards the weir. This Rock Monitor (not sure of the ID) was sunning himself on the rocks on the banks of the Biyamiti River

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As the road nears the weir the numerous koppies and rocky outcrops form the perfect habitat for Klipspringers. We spotted a pair standing quietly on the rocks which makes them very difficult to spot when driving past. They can certainly move with deft precision when startled.

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Midday was approaching so we decided to head back to Biyamiti camp via the S139. Just past the 1st windmill we spotted this stately Martial Eagle really posing for a good photograph.

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We really enjoyed seeing these Woodland Kingfishers which had novelty value for us. The really are beautiful birds

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When we arrived back at camp I heard the very distinctive call of the Purple-crested Turaco and a real game of cat and mouse ensued. These birds do not sit still for a photograph. I eventually got this shot which was not great - round 1 to the Turaco!

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There were Elephant in the river in front of the camp so we opened a nice cold beverage and let the ellies entertain us before grabbing some of last night's braai for lunch.

Afternoon drive to follow......

_________________
WE ALL HAVE TWO CHOICES : We can make a living or we can design a life

29/12/14 - 05/1/15 MZNP
02-07/4/15 Addo
26/6 - 5/7/15 MZNP
4 - 7/8/15 Richtersveld NP
17 - 26/8/15 Kgalagadi NP


Last edited by canon on Wed May 11, 2011 9:19 am, edited 3 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: KRUGER TRIP IN APRIL - NEW EXPERIENCE
Unread postPosted: Tue May 10, 2011 8:49 pm 
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......cont

We drove out on the S139 again at the start of our evening drive. About 12 km from camp there was a terrible stench which we had not noticed earlier. Clearly a large animal had died in the area. There were a number of Vultures (White-backed and Hooded) perched all over, obviously keen on what had died/been killed.

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This mean looking fellow was basking in the sun on the Biyamiti Weir - I am sure he was keeping a good look out for an early supper!

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There was still sufficient time to head home via the Gardenia Hide. En-route we saw more birds

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Brown Snake Eagle

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European Roller

As we approached the Gardenia Hide we saw a few Vultures and this Bateleur perched on a dry tree right next to the road. We immediately got excited assuming that there was a kill in close proximity. We stopped and scanned the area but did not see anything. As we started moving SO saw something lying in the road directly below these Vultures. We could not believe what we saw - it was a squashed Turtle virtually in the same spot that we had seen it earlier in the day. Some IDIOT had ridden over this helpless creature. I am afraid that this sort of behaviour cannot be condoned because their is absolutely no excuse. We were so p....d off that we did not even go into the hide and went home instead.

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See you all tomorrow

_________________
WE ALL HAVE TWO CHOICES : We can make a living or we can design a life

29/12/14 - 05/1/15 MZNP
02-07/4/15 Addo
26/6 - 5/7/15 MZNP
4 - 7/8/15 Richtersveld NP
17 - 26/8/15 Kgalagadi NP


Last edited by canon on Thu May 12, 2011 3:38 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: KRUGER TRIP IN APRIL - NEW EXPERIENCE
Unread postPosted: Wed May 11, 2011 9:31 pm 
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15 April 2011

An eerie misty morning greeted us today. We had our early morning cup of coffee out under the trees in front of our chalet and it felt as if we were in some fairy wonderland. The mist was thick and everybody in camp still seemed to be fast asleep. We decided to head towards Crocodile Bridge along the S25 and then decide from there we we would go. We could not see very far due to the mist but had a vehicle in front of us which always helps with the spotting. We travelled behind them for about 20km without seeing an animal! They then decided to turn back - what a pity for them. As we rounded the next bend not far from the Hippo Pools turn-off we found these two male lions lying right next to the road. The one fellow was not in good nick. He had a very bad limp in his front leg so we assumed that this would hamper his agility. The other Lion seemed very concerned about his mate, constantly waiting for him when walking down the road and then gently nuzzling him when he lay down to rest. We must have followed them for nearly 2km as they walked down the road towards Crocodile Bridge.

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We thought it would be a good idea to haed up to Lower sabie so we turned left at the T-junction and drove north and then turned on to the Gomondwane Loop (S130). This section had been good to us in the past and it is a pleasant drive. There were plenty of antelope around and many Vultures. We saw these youngsters at a pan next the road

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The then entered Cheetah country in the Duke water Hole area. I have seen so many photographs of Cheetah sitting on the road sign at the turn-off to this water hole but no luck for us. This stately Kudu bull was in the vicinity

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We continued east along the S137 and saw a few huge Elephant bulls in the distance. This fellow was heading in our direction so we waited for him. It was certanly worthwhile

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It was our plan to stop off at the Ntandanyathi Bird Hide for a while but saw that there were so many cars already parked outside so decided to give it a try on the way back. At the turn-off to the hide we spotted this immature Bateleur

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We headed to Lower Sabie for a quick breakfast spotting this Slender Mongoose on the way

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A plate of oats porridge re-charged our batteries and we filled up our trusty steed with diesel (the pump attendants always seem so grumpy!) and headed for Sunset Dam to spend a while there.

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Green Sandpiper

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Sleepy Hippo

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Grumpy Hippo

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Grey Heron

From here it was back down the S28 with a stop over at Ntandanyahti Bird Hide. It always amazes me the number of dirty looks that you get when you walk into a hide. People seem so territorial and think that the space belongs to them. In this particular case we got such a dirty stare from a very fancy looking lady who was dressed in the latest fashionable bush wear (plenty lipstick too nogal) that we decided to have a quick look and get out. There was an Elephant bull having a drink - standing in his drinking water!

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We visited the Nhlanganzwani Dam not realizing that it had been breached. Plenty of Giraffe and Impala along the way. There was not much to report on for the trip back to Biyamiti except for this sighting of an immature African Harrier-hawk. We watched it for a while hoping that it would scratch around in a few holes in the tree stump to show of his "double jointedness" but not to be

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Sadly we had to pack up when we got back because we would be leaving for Tamboti in the morning. Here is a pic of No8 as well as a pic of the view in front of the camp

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_________________
WE ALL HAVE TWO CHOICES : We can make a living or we can design a life

29/12/14 - 05/1/15 MZNP
02-07/4/15 Addo
26/6 - 5/7/15 MZNP
4 - 7/8/15 Richtersveld NP
17 - 26/8/15 Kgalagadi NP


Last edited by canon on Fri May 27, 2011 10:12 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: KRUGER TRIP IN APRIL - NEW EXPERIENCE
Unread postPosted: Thu May 12, 2011 8:45 pm 
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16 April 2011

We bid Biyamiti a sad farewell and set off on what was going to be a long day. We took the S139 slowly for the last time and bumped into this Spotted Hyena at the place where the horrible stench was. I should imagine that was why this Hyena was patrolling the area. These animals had been scarce thus far on our visit to Kruger.

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At the S114 - S139 junction close to Biyamiti Weir we again took the circuit around the koppie. At the top of the hill be witnessed a great sighting. We saw a Brown Snake Eagle swoop to the ground right next to us and grab this snake (looks like a Puffadder). We never saw it kill the snake because the grass was too long. We must have given the BSE a scare and it flew up into a close-by tree and had a good look around before starting to eat the snake. Unfortunately the light was very poor so pics not great.

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Suddenly the BSE looked up and looked a bit startled - it had spooted a Tawny Eagle swooping down to steal its prey. Fortunately for the BSE it was not robbed - flew off and left the Tawny sitting empty handed!

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Phew, what a sighting. About 100m further along we encountered this roadblock. The White Rhino was lying fast asleep on the road and had no intention of moving. We waited a while and the back-tracked and drove down to the weir.

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We were very excited to see a female Giant Kingfisher perched on the weir - had not seen one on this trip. Another first at the weir was a Thick Knee.

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Giant Kingfisher

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Green-backed Heron

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Thick Knee

.......to be continued....

_________________
WE ALL HAVE TWO CHOICES : We can make a living or we can design a life

29/12/14 - 05/1/15 MZNP
02-07/4/15 Addo
26/6 - 5/7/15 MZNP
4 - 7/8/15 Richtersveld NP
17 - 26/8/15 Kgalagadi NP


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 Post subject: Re: KRUGER TRIP IN APRIL - NEW EXPERIENCE
Unread postPosted: Mon May 16, 2011 7:53 pm 
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......continued...

Thanks for all the replies that came in over the weekend.

Micetta I hope Canon read your comment. Would love some sponsored equipment!!

Friedrich your photos are stunning - read your report. I love the pic of the Wild Dog with the Impala head in its mouth - brilliant. We are hoping to do the Kruger trip over Xmas one year so watch this space.

Before I continue with my report I am going to take a bit of a gap here and recount something truly amazing that happened this weekend. This does not involve a SAN Park so mods rule me out of order if necessary.
We spent the weekend in Plettenberg Bay with our son and daughter who are currently studying in Stellenbosch. We decided to visit a nearby animal wildlife awareness centre on Saturday morning in an effort to get over the Stormers loss to the Chiefs. These animals are all in enclosed camps which is not my favourute but nevertheless I did get to see the illusive Serval which has eluded me for 9 years in Kruger - for those of you in the same predicament this is what they look like!

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I have never seen a Caracal in either Kgalagadi or Kruger and have hunted and hunted the Narina Trogon also without any success. In fact the Narina Trogon is/was No1 on my most wanted list. This is the amazing story -

We entered the Caracal camp with our guide and while looking at the Caracal which was lying on a mound about 15m from us a movement to the right caught my eye. I could not believe it - perched right in front of me was a Narina Trogon! The bird flew off and sat on the fence about 2m from the ground. In a flash the Caracal took off and in one spectacular leap grabbed the Narina Trogon and ate it!!!! How is that for my first sighting of this beautiful bird? The poor bird was first plucked whilst still alive and then devoured. This pic shows the desperate bird in the clutches of my first Caracal sighting. We did not know if we should laugh or cry!

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Right, back to the Kruger report.

Having left the Biyamiti Weir we continued up the S114 as far as Renoster Koppies Waterhole. Here we saw two jeep jockeys parked with a vast array of lenses all pointing in one direction. We immediately thought that something really exciting was on the go only to find that there was a lone Kudu cow drinking at the waterhole! They left and we decided to hang on a while because we had the place to ourselves. Soon this nice Elephant bull arrived and had a good drink

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We have an aversion for the Skukuza area because of all the traffic so we decided to cut across to the H4-1 via the N'watimhiri Road (S21). This is really a lovely drive (road somtimes too corrugated though). We had good sightings of antelope and Giraffe along the way.

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There is a lovely unmarked pan about 5km from the T-junction on the right hand side of the road. We stopped over there for a while and were astounded to see both Crocodile and Hippo present. You get nice and close to the water's edge so viewing is really good. Unfortunately we had to hurry along so left and headed for Nkulu Picnic place.

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Soon after turning onto the H4-1 we saw a magnificent Martial Eagle having its breakfast. We stopped to admire this huge raptor and were soon joined by another vehicle. We were asked what we had seen so duly pointed to the ME. The occupants looked at us as if we were daft and drove off. I wonder what thy were doing in the park - CATS CATS CATS I suppose!

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_________________
WE ALL HAVE TWO CHOICES : We can make a living or we can design a life

29/12/14 - 05/1/15 MZNP
02-07/4/15 Addo
26/6 - 5/7/15 MZNP
4 - 7/8/15 Richtersveld NP
17 - 26/8/15 Kgalagadi NP


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 Post subject: Re: KRUGER TRIP IN APRIL - NEW EXPERIENCE
Unread postPosted: Mon May 16, 2011 8:48 pm 
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............contd

A quick stop for coffee at Nkuhlu was just the tonic we needed before setting sail for Tamboti. A kind lady told us to look out for a pair of mating Lions on the H1-2 which would be close to where we were heading. We took a slow drive along the "Golden Highway" and crossed over the Sabie. There were plenty of Crocs and Hippo about and the river was running very strongly. When we got to the H1-2 junction we decided on the spur of the moment to turn left in search of the love birds. Soon we came across exactly what we expected - a traffic jam which was made up mainly by 7 jeep jockeys parked in all directions and scrambling for the best spot - I suppose in an effort to earn the best tip. I felt very sorry for an elderly couple who were completely blocked out by these guys who clearly did not care if these old folk saw the Lions or not. We waited our turn and stuck to our side of the road but it was soon evident that nobody was going to budge as long as all the LOOOONG LENSES were clicking away. The Lions were lying down in long grass but fortunately for us the Lion sat up briefly which allowed me to get these shots. He looked pretty bushed, I might add!

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We decided to call it a day, did a U-turn and headed off on our merry way to Tamboti. SO spotted this small raptor in the bush. We were not sure of the ID but decided that it was a Little Sparrow-hawk (please help here). The pic is not very clear but was the best I could do

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We saw this Fish Eagle before turning left onto the long S36

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Just before turning onto the S36 we passed a Lion kill next to the road - a few Lionesses had pulled down a Wildebeest. We did not feel like another scrum so pushed on.The next section was very quiet, SO nodded off and it was left to me to soldier on. It was very pleasing to see how lush and green the vegetation was. The Lugmag Dam was nice and full and had plenty of Zebra and Impala on its shores slaking their thirst. Just before reaching our next pitstop, Nhanguleni Picnic Place we saw this Saddle-billed Stork wading in a small pool next to the road. Good excuse to wake SO up!!

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The Nhlanguleni Picnic Place is one of our favourites - such a sense of remoteness. The attendant (think his name is Jordan) told us that he had worked at this picnic place for 37 years which is unbelievable. He is such a jovial fellow despite his handicap and is no doubt very proud of Nhlanguleni. He did inform us that he was out of airtime so we undertook to bring him a "top up" later in the week (we honoured our promise).

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This little fellow was dashing up and down the tree stumps

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Near the Hamiltons turn-off - another mini road-block. There was a lioness lying in the shade and she certainly was feeling the heat. I suspect there were other lions in the vicinity, most likely lying under a tree somewhere

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A little way further up the S36 this lovely scene unfolded

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We turned in at the Mondzweni waterhole and there we saw game rangers dragging a dead giraffe down to the waterhole. It had been found lying dead in the road. The rangers informed us that it had most likely been bitten by a Black Mamba!. We were told that if we hung around for about half and hour the Vultures, Hyenas and possibly Lions would start arriving. They cut the dead Giraffe's gut open and left it near the waterhole. We did not have time to wait but did visit the scene for two successive days and never saw any action - the Giraffe was just as it had been left! We are not sure what the reason for this was?

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There was plenty of action at the Shimangwaneni dam when we arrived there. The Elephants were enjoying a swim. The pics tell the story

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With Orpen in our sights we spotted our first European Roller - fortunately they had not left yet!

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Check in was once again very efficiently handled and the staff were friendly. We were allocated No 40 at Tamboti which what we had requested. This tent is right at the end of the row.

...to be continued

_________________
WE ALL HAVE TWO CHOICES : We can make a living or we can design a life

29/12/14 - 05/1/15 MZNP
02-07/4/15 Addo
26/6 - 5/7/15 MZNP
4 - 7/8/15 Richtersveld NP
17 - 26/8/15 Kgalagadi NP


Last edited by canon on Mon May 16, 2011 9:22 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: KRUGER TRIP IN APRIL - NEW EXPERIENCE
Unread postPosted: Tue May 17, 2011 9:02 pm 
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17 April 2011

We were greeted by a cold and wet morning. We decided to continue with our plans for the morning drive despite the unpleasant conditions. We had hardly left the Tamboti Gate when we saw this BBJ that looked pretty wet and miserable

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The morning was very quiet as far as game viewing was concerned so I am simply going to post a few pics of the better sightings that we had.

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Martial Eagle on the H7

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Hippo in the Shimangwaneni dam

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Dabchick (Grebe) in the Shimangwaneni Dam

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Giraffe in a very vulnerable position on the S126 Sweni River Road

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Bateleur on the H7

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caring Zebra mother on the H7

We returned to camp rather early and had a really decent siesta - the weather was perfect for this. SO decided to stay in for the afternoon drive which meant that I would be solo which is not always easy, especially in the current conditions. I drove the Rabelais Loop and returned along the H7. This group of Giraffe were in the road near the Rabelais Dam (that was). It was soon clear that there was a real lover boy in their ranks

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Threesome!

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The charmer

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The Stud

A little further on there was a rather wet Korhaan in the road followed by a Purple Roller also looking a trifle miserable!

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On the way back down the H7 these waterbuck were grazing close to the road and I could not resist taking a shot of the "wet freshly painted toilet seat"

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The lousy weather really seemed to have got the testosterone levels up - this Waterbuck Bull was also doing his best to woo the damsels

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A few kilos from the Tamboti turn-off I spotted a car that had stopped next to the road - they had spotted a Lion about 150m from the road. They had the perfect gap through which to see him. I drove another approx 100m up the road before I could find a gap in the bush which afforded me a decent view of him. He seemed very agitated and kept looking straight at me. Suddenly he got up and ran directly towards me - this was indeed strange. He crossed the road right in front of me and disappeared into the bush on the opposite side of the road. Suddenly all hell broke loose with huge numbers of Vultures flying up into the trees. I can only assume that I had got between him and a kill which the Vultures had got stuck into. This was a good end to a rather dull day. The pics are no good because he caught me unawares by moving so fast. Here is the proof!

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It now started raining quite steadily and got very cold. We were really sad about the conditions because it was close to full moon which would have made our evening on the deck of No 40 quite spectacular. Anyway I suppose we should always be grateful for the rain, especially in the KNP.

_________________
WE ALL HAVE TWO CHOICES : We can make a living or we can design a life

29/12/14 - 05/1/15 MZNP
02-07/4/15 Addo
26/6 - 5/7/15 MZNP
4 - 7/8/15 Richtersveld NP
17 - 26/8/15 Kgalagadi NP


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