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 Post subject: Bushbuddies-KNP: A Southerner's View of the North-June 2011
Unread postPosted: Sun Jul 03, 2011 8:33 pm 
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Virtual Ranger
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Posts: 1221
Location: Centurion
We are Southerners. No not like American Southerners - KNP Southerners. We love Kruger. And we love the South of Kruger. Mostly because that is what we know. We've always been going to the Southern parts of Kruger and we've always enjoyed it. For most parts we've had great sightings in the South.

I have been in the North before. To Letaba a few times (although some will count Letaba amongst Central Kruger). Once to Mopanie as a child with my parents. I remember that visit as one continuous boring stretch of Mopanie veld with an elephant here and there. Furthermore, as a child when we were on holiday at Tshipise, we took a daytrip into Kruger - from Pafuri gate, a stop-over at Punda camp, and out at Punda gate. I can't remember us seeing much then either, and I remember that the milkshakes at Punda tasted terrible! :lol:

SO has only been as far North as Letaba, and ALMOST vowed never to go North of Olifants camp again because the Mopanie shrub was just too monotonous for his liking and there was an intense deficiency of cats for a cat-lover as himself. :roll:

So that is our background. We are Southerners. And huge KNP-fans.

Yet, most die-hard Kruger fans swear that the Norhtern parts of Kruger is just so much better. :hmz: And most of them do this North-to-South or South-to-North thing - which sounded like a great trip to have - right through the entire park - but time plays a bit of a factor here... :wall:

We managed to get a week's leave in June and decided it was time we check out what this story of "the North being so nice" was all about. A week seemed a bit short for a full North-to-South trip, so seeing as we know the Southern parts so well by now, we decided to do a trip from North-to-central. Our intenerary looked as follows:

2 nights Punda Maria
1 night Sirheni
2 nights Shingwedzi
1 night Letaba
3 nights Satara (one of our favourite camps - just in case the North did not deliver... :wink: )

Join me on our journey as these Southern folk discover the Northern parts of Kruger.

_________________
3-4 Dec 2014 - Aghulhas National Park
5-6 Dec 2014- Ebb and Flow - Garden Route (Wilderness) National Park

13-18 June 2015 - Lower Sabie
19-23 June 2015 - Satara
24-28 June 2015 - Letaba


Last edited by Bushbuddies on Sun Jul 03, 2011 8:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: KNP: A Southerner's View of the North
Unread postPosted: Sun Jul 03, 2011 10:06 pm 
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Virtual Ranger
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Posts: 1221
Location: Centurion
Pumbaa: I must agree with you on that one! We really did enjoy seeing the diversity of nature up North. And I must admit - there is much more than just Mopanie shrub... :redface:

Bushcraft: You should definitely read this - it is sometimes a good thing for us Southerners to explore beyond our "comfort zone"... :D

So let's get started....

We left on the morning of 17 June at about 7:30 after SO returned from night shift. We hit the N1 North and had a very pleasant drive up North - especially the first part up to Polokwane. It was still relatively early when we arrived at Louis Trichardt, so we decided to head up further North and enter the park at Pafuri gate, and then take the long drive down to Punda. It meant a whole day on the road, but we were very pleased with our decision. We arrived at Pafuri gate at approximately 13:00 and at 30,5'C! It was so nice to leave the winter weather behind!

We had a relatively quite drive down untill just before the bridge over the Luvuvhu river. All of a sudden it was teaming with birdlife! The welcoming party consisted of a White-fronted Bee-eater (Rooikeelbyvreter)...

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...a Fork-tailed Drongo (Mikstertbyvanger)...

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...and a group of White-crested Helmet-Shrikes (Withelmlaksmanne):

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We got out and enjoyed the view of the Luvuvhu River. It was a lovely area!

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Our next stop was at the Pafuri picnic spot. We immediately fell in love with this picnic spot! Its setting is just so beautiful with all the old majestic trees on the river bank, with Nyala patrolling the area and abundant birdlife! We also met up with the famous Frank Mabasa! :D

We got to tick off quite a few birdies on our quick lunch stop at Pafuri - including this Ashy Flycatcher (Blourgys Vlieevanger):

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An African Paradise-Flycatcher (Paradysvlieevanger) - not a great pic, but proof:

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Another new tick - an Black-backed Puffback (Sneeubal):

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An Orange-breasted Bush-Shrike (Oranjeborsboslaksman):

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And this special little Black-throated Wattle-eye (Beloogbosbontrokkie):

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We were totally overwhelmed by the amount of birds around us! The temperature had now risen to 33'C and we were being pestered by flies (which could explain why we saw so many Flycatchers... :wink: ) We had been on the road for a long time already and although there were still many more birds - we decided to return the next day to lay eyes on them.

Pafuri moved up to my nr 1 Picnic site in KNP - the North was doing very well thus far in impressing us... :thumbs_up:

_________________
3-4 Dec 2014 - Aghulhas National Park
5-6 Dec 2014- Ebb and Flow - Garden Route (Wilderness) National Park

13-18 June 2015 - Lower Sabie
19-23 June 2015 - Satara
24-28 June 2015 - Letaba


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 Post subject: Re: KNP: A Southerner's View of the North
Unread postPosted: Tue Jul 05, 2011 9:47 am 
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Posts: 1221
Location: Centurion
So we left Pafuri picnic spot - with all its lovely birdies - to return there the next day to id some more. We took the H1-8 South to Punda Maria. For the most part - this was a quiet road again - typical of the North we thought... :roll:

Then all of a sudden SO slammed on the breaks! Okay - that's sounding as if we were speeding :naughty: . He brought the car to a standstill... 8) "What?" I asked :huh: ...

"There is a leopard that was walking towards the road!" :big_eyes: , and he put the car in reverse.

"Say what?!?!? Here in the North?" :o

And for sure - there she was! But she was a typical leopard - did not like too much attention. And we found the animals up North did seem not to be as used to the cars as the ones in the South - so she crouched down low...

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After I got this one poor photo-opportunity - she got up and ran back deeper into the bush... :doh:

WOW! What a sighting - our own leopard! We were smiling from ear-to-ear and SO, the cat-lover, was starting to warm up a bit towards the North now! :thumbs_up:

The rest of the trip delivered a Magpie Shrike (Langstertlaksman):

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And around Klopperfontein area we got to meet some buffs. This one gave me a lovely smile as it was smelling us

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And this old dagga boy had a lovely mudbath:

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This ellie was quenching his thirst at the end of the day...

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...followed by a NAP! We could hardly believe it - but this guy felt quite comfortable resting his head and trunk on the wall and taking a 5 minute nap!

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Next up - we saw the Vulture-Hotel:

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And some close-ups:

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One of our last sightings before driving through the camp gate - a Marabou Stork (Maraboe):

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We checked into our bungalow - nr 20. It was already late, and we had been on the road the whole day. It was a great day! :thumbs_up:

The only drawback of the bungalows at Punda is that you don't have your own braai area - but there is a communal one. So SO went down to go and braai our steaks and as he was busy there - he called me to come and see who came for a visit...

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Our first ever gennet sighting in a camp :dance: !

_________________
3-4 Dec 2014 - Aghulhas National Park
5-6 Dec 2014- Ebb and Flow - Garden Route (Wilderness) National Park

13-18 June 2015 - Lower Sabie
19-23 June 2015 - Satara
24-28 June 2015 - Letaba


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 Post subject: Re: KNP: A Southerner's View of the North
Unread postPosted: Wed Jul 06, 2011 8:19 pm 
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Location: Centurion
We slept and we woke up. It was our first full day in the park! :dance: With excitement we got up, packed and got to the gate at gate opening time. The plan was to head North via Klopperfontein to Pafuri - where we were to have a lovely greasy brekkie! :D

Our first big sighting was a huge herd of buffalo in the Klopperfontein Dam area. It's just always so amazing to see a big herd of these animals. I think the young ones have the prettiest faces!

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After a while with them we decided to leave the herd behind and continue. It was probably about 1km on when I suddenly shouted:"STOP - go back!". It was exactly the same thing as SO experienced the previous day with the leopard. You are driving along when your brain suddenly registers - "I've just seen a cat!". REVERSE.....

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This lovely collared lioness was sitting next to the road and looking in the direction of the buffalo. She looked at us for about 15 seconds...

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...and then moved on into the bush - in the direction of the buffalo herd.

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We drove back to the buffalo herd to see if we could possibly see her hunting, or maybe get to see one of her fellow pride-members. But the buffalo herd had moved on further into the bush by now, and we saw no other lions. SO was now = :D :D :D !!!

Our trip was great so far!

We headed on North towards Pafuri. On the way we saw these Dassies - not a sighting one will see in the South:

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As we turned on to the S63 towards Pafuri this lovely Nyala was there to greet us:

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It was about 8:30 by now - but it was still too cold to get out of the car and start breakfast! You see - that cold front we had been driving AWAY from the previous day, had now arrived in the North! The maximum temperature on that day that we recorded was 22'C! Now that is not cold - I know, but for Pafuri - that is FREEZING!!!

So we decided to continue on the road and stop at Crook's Corner before returning for our brekkie.

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On the way there we spotted these playful squirrels:

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A group of White-crested Helmet-shrikes (Withelmlaksmanne):

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Joined by a group of Red-billed Buffalo-weavers (Buffelwewers):

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When we arrived at Crook's Corner - this young monkey just set the mood - with his hair just catching the light as he is sitting in a bush overhanging the river

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Some birdies around Crook's Corner included this Chinspot Batis (Witliesbosbontrokkie):

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...another Ashy Flycatcher (Blougrysvlieevanger):

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...and a closer experience with a White-fronted Bee-eater (Rooikeelbyvreter):

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We also quickly spotted a Pied Kingfinsher (Bontvisvanger), Giant Kingfisher (Reusevisvanger), a White-crowned Lapwing (Witkopkiewiet) and a Yellow-fronted Canary (Geeloogkanarie).

And for those of you who like crocs - many of these on the banks:

Image

_________________
3-4 Dec 2014 - Aghulhas National Park
5-6 Dec 2014- Ebb and Flow - Garden Route (Wilderness) National Park

13-18 June 2015 - Lower Sabie
19-23 June 2015 - Satara
24-28 June 2015 - Letaba


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 Post subject: Re: KNP: A Southerner's View of the North
Unread postPosted: Sun Jul 10, 2011 8:30 am 
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Location: Centurion
We had a lovely, but cool breakfast at Pafuri. Got to see a Giant Kingfisher (Reusevisvanger), some Red-billed Firefinches (Rooibekvuurvinkies) and apparently there were some Crested Guineafowl (Kuifkoptarentale) - that I really wanted to see - on the other side of the riverbanks, according to Frank. We never spotted them... :?

The birdlife was all of a sudden quiet this morning with the cold, and we wished we stayed longer the previous day in the heat to look at some more... :redface:

Anyway, we left the lovely picnic site, and went on to do the Nyala Road - Frank promised we would see many more birdies on this road. And he was right!

We saw some more Red-billed Buffalo-Weavers (Buffelwewers):

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Another White-fronted Bee-eater (Rooikeelbyvreter) posing nicely:

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This one (and many others during this trip) - I thought of you, Val, as I took these - Crested Barbet (Kuifkophoutkapper):

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A new tick for us - these Meves' Starlings (Langstertglansspreeu):

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Just to show you that there is life on this road other than that of birds - a lovely mother-and-child pic:

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On the road back to Punda we met up with a big herd of buffs again - a common sighting up North it seems...

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But hey - wait! There are some passengers on these guys... Another new tick for us - Yellow-billed Ox-peckers (Geelbekrenostervoels)! :dance:

At Punda we arrived at about 14:00 and checked in to our new accomodation - a Safari tent! Now these units are lovely - WITH YOUR OWN BRAAI AREA! :dance: You feel all isolated and in the bush - units I'd recommend any day!

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_________________
3-4 Dec 2014 - Aghulhas National Park
5-6 Dec 2014- Ebb and Flow - Garden Route (Wilderness) National Park

13-18 June 2015 - Lower Sabie
19-23 June 2015 - Satara
24-28 June 2015 - Letaba


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 Post subject: Re: KNP: A Southerner's View of the North
Unread postPosted: Sun Jul 10, 2011 9:25 pm 
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Posts: 1221
Location: Centurion
It was our last day at Punda, and we wanted to make the most of it. We've been up to Pafuri area now twice - something I was very happy about and really enjoyed. But now it was time to also do the other famous drive from Punda - the Mahonie Loop. We did some research on which routes to drive beforehand - and many swore by this loop!

So Mahonie loop it was for our afternoon drive. We were very pleased with our first sighting on the loop - a new birdie to add to the list again! :dance: This lovely Crowned Hornbill (Gekroonde Neushoringvoel)...

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...and his friend having a berry!

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Next up was a pajama parade!

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There seem to be a lot of ellies in this area - this little one was quite interested in our smell... or maybe it was the smell of naartjies in the car...

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Another sighting we had - only our second one ever in the park was a Sharpe's Grysbok. I did not manage to get a decent pic - but had more opportunities later in our trip. :whistle:

This ellie's teeth had me wondering how this happened... Born with it that skew, or was it an injury to the tooth at a young age... Who knows - but he can sure do with an orthodontist!

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One of the last sightings again before the gate - same as the previous day! Seems these guys are regulars in this area:

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The way everyday in Kruger should be ended:

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We had a lovely braai and shower and off we were to bed... ZZZZzzzzz

When all of a sudden at about 2:00 in the morning I got woken up by a noise from our stoepie. You see - the dustbin of this unit's lid was loose, and I could hear as it fell off the bin. I woke up SO - "somehting is raiding our dustbin". "Zzzz....HUH?.... I'm going to see what it is!" Out with the flashlight and soon enough I got called to come and check out who the culprit was - it was a thick-tailed bushbaby! He quickly ran off as we shone the torch on him. A nice visit indeed!

_________________
3-4 Dec 2014 - Aghulhas National Park
5-6 Dec 2014- Ebb and Flow - Garden Route (Wilderness) National Park

13-18 June 2015 - Lower Sabie
19-23 June 2015 - Satara
24-28 June 2015 - Letaba


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 Post subject: Re: KNP: A Southerner's View of the North
Unread postPosted: Wed Jul 13, 2011 7:57 am 
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Location: Centurion
So the next morning it was goodbye to Punda and off to Sirheni - our first stay ever in a bush camp in KNP! :dance: But we did not feel we had seen enough of the Mahoni Loop. Decided to get up early, go around Punda on the Mahonie loop, rusks and tea back at our tent, and then up and off to Sirheni.

And the Mahonie loop was... QUIET! Right place, wrong time! :lol: Anyway - this is a lovely scenic drive, and we still saw a lot of common game in the area. It will definitely see me again!

So after a quick breaksfast - off the Sirheni. First up - another new tick for us - a whole group of Bronze Mannikins (Gewone Fret) - a proof pic:

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Followed by a lovely display by a Brown-hooded Kingfisher (Bruinkopvisvanger):

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After he caught a bite for breakfast:

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And looking around for the next bite...

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Next up - another Sharpe's Gryskbok - a not so uncommon bokkie around here:

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We decided to do the Dzundzwini loop and to go up to the "viewpoint" - not on my to-do-list again. A bad road leading to no real viewpoint... :? Anybody else had any good experiences there?

Well, at least I got this Brown Snake-Eagle (Bruinslangarend):

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The H1-7 seemed relatively quiet. We had a quick loo-stop at Babalala - where these ellies could be seen drinking from the waterhole:

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The light was becoming quite harsh by now. But it was not yet time for check-in. So we decided to head down with the H1-7 and return Northwards on the Mphongolo Loop (S56) to Sirheni.

Along the road down we got this one-horned Steenbokkie:

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The road up along the S56 was very beautiful. We saw a few Nyala, some impala and ellies in the distance and then also - some birdies.

A Fork-tailed Drongo (Mikstertbyvanger):

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Some Green Wood-Hoopoes (Rooibekkakelaars):

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And of course - another one for the two crested ones reading this TR:

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At about 13:30 we arrive at:

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_________________
3-4 Dec 2014 - Aghulhas National Park
5-6 Dec 2014- Ebb and Flow - Garden Route (Wilderness) National Park

13-18 June 2015 - Lower Sabie
19-23 June 2015 - Satara
24-28 June 2015 - Letaba


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 Post subject: Re: KNP: A Southerner's View of the North
Unread postPosted: Fri Jul 15, 2011 9:55 pm 
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Location: Centurion
So we arrived at Sirheni. As I already mentioned - this was our first "Bushveld Camp" we stayed in in KNP. And we were so impressed! :thumbs_up:

For those of you that don't know what the bushveld camps are about: They are smallish/exclusive camps in KNP. Sirheni, for example - only has 15 units in total. I think all these camps are built with views over dams or riverbeds, and they have their own hides for use by residents only. There are no shops or restaurants, and also no electricity (gas stoves, solar lights - all you need is provided for...). Absolute rest and relaxation, peace and quiet in the bush! When we were there - only 4 units were occupied! PEACEFUL!

Our unit - nr 8:

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The view from our unit:

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The previous days had been pretty full. The morning's drive had been a long one. We were in the most beautiful camp. So we decided to stay in camp, and drink in the beauty of Sirheni that afternoon! We walked around, looked at birds (saw more than 20 species in the few hours of daylight - and we were not looking for birds specifically - just saw them as we strolled along), and enjoyed the views from camp.

So let me share some of our views that afternoon from Sirheni camp with you...

Ellie coming to drink from the Sirheni dam:

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A four in one pic - an old dagga boy (buffalo), a crocodile, an African Darter (Slanghalsvoel) and one of the Egrets (Witreiers) sharing an island in the dam:

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One for cheetah2111 - a lot of big old krokkodelle:

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An Egret (Witreier) looking for something to eat:

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Sunset from the hide:

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And to end of the day - one of SO's creations (he's a real firey guy :wink: :tongue: :lol: )

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And some lovely lambchops for supper... Hmmmm!

Although we never saw the Sirheni leopard, we are pretty sure we heard her that evening as we were lying in bed...

_________________
3-4 Dec 2014 - Aghulhas National Park
5-6 Dec 2014- Ebb and Flow - Garden Route (Wilderness) National Park

13-18 June 2015 - Lower Sabie
19-23 June 2015 - Satara
24-28 June 2015 - Letaba


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 Post subject: Re: KNP: A Southerner's View of the North
Unread postPosted: Sun Jul 17, 2011 9:09 pm 
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Location: Centurion
So a lovely stay at Sirheni. The next morning we were off to go to Shingwedzi - another first for us. We've heard so many people talking about this camp as their favourite in Kruger, so we were really keen to now go and experience it for ourselves. It would also be the first time we would be staying in the same accomodation for 2 nights in a row - and I was looking forward to less packing and unpacking! :P

We were not too impressed with the H1-6 after the previous day's drive on it (those Mopani's get a bit much... :wall: - not too many sightings), so we decided to drive down the Mphongolo Loop again. It is a very scenic drive! Now somewhere along this drive we came to a little offramp that lead to a collection of water in the riverbed. It was still early in the morning (that's right cheetah2111 - we are also early birds :wink: ), but the area was teaming with birdlife. It was so beautiful and peaceful. We parked our car, switched off the engine and just enjoyed the scene.

In one tree a Fish Eagle was sitting - looking for breakfast. To the left we there were about 4 Hammerkoppe calling and flying from one spot to the next. Only after some time we realised the rocks we thought they were sitting on were actually hippo heads! :shock: The African Pied Wagtails (Bontkwikkies) were wagging their tails to one side of the dam, while the Pied Kingfisher (Bontvisvanger) was trying his luck in catching some fish on the other side. Right in front of us, the Blacksmith Lapwing (Bontkiewiet) was begging for some attention.

Then there was also this immature Wooly Necked Stork (Wolnekooievaar) with his wooly scarf protecting him from the cold (EDIT - actually an immature Saddle-billed Stork (Saalbekooievaar) - thanks Lionspoon :wink: ):

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And this Grey Heron (Bloureier) strutting his stuff:

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PEACEFUL!

Now before we came to Kruger, I had a chat with someone I knew about this area. He reckoned the Mphongolo route was a route to be avoided. Apparently the ellies on it could get very rude, and you could get yourself in a corner. Well, we had never had bad experiences with ellies - so why would that start now? We did, however, decide beforehand that if we were to meet an ellie on this road - we'd give them their space! :thumbs_up:

So we did exactly that when our next sighting came up:

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See - enough space!

But before I knew it - while I was still taking pictures of this cow, my SO shouted at me to look out and he started reversing. An elephant suddenly appeared (out of nowhere...) and trumpeted and mock charged us right next to the road. The one in front heard it and joined in. Blurry photo - but proof that these ellies have no respect for yellow and red ribbons! :naughty:

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So our first bad experience with the North - they have very RUDE ellies! :rtm: Never had this kind of experience with their Southern counterparts... :naughty:

After our adrenaline rush of the morning, we got another lovely sighting of a Sharpes Grysbok - and a :cam: opportunity with it!

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Cute little face...

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Next up was a whole group of Banded Mongoose - but only one gave me a quick photo opportunity:

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Another Northern lady:

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And that was the morning sightings on the Mphongolo Loop. We turned right towards Shingwedzi. The tar road has got sand on it in this area - does anybody know why they do this? :huh:

Anyhow - we saw a car parked in the distance. We drove up to the guy and asked him what he was looking at? "Well," he said, "I was actually just looking at some old buffalo, when all of a sudden I looked up this big maned lion walked right across the road in front here. But now I can't find him..." :wall: Words that my SO did not want to hear. You can't mention to him you saw a lion and he just missed it - it gets him a bit worked up, you see... :slap: So we drove up and down a few times, but no lion...

We stopped off at the Lamont Waterhole to see this interesting site. It was about 9:00 in the morning and still very cold. This old buff had decided it was a good time to go and lie right smack in the middle of the waterhole! :roll: At first we thought he was dead. He lied that still. And which buff in it's right mind would lie in icy water in the early and cold morning hours! :huh: But he did breath, and now and then close his eyes...

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After a while, we drove on and decided to have breakfast at Shingwedzi's restaurant. It was still WAY to early for check-in, but a great time for breakfast, and with that a look around camp. Really found it quite a lovely camp! The restaurant is built on the riverbed with a lovely view. And in the camp gardens - lot's of aloes attracting some beautiful sunbirds:

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White-Bellied Sunbird (Witpenssuikerbekkie)


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Marico Sunbird

And another lovely flower in the garden - my favourite:

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_________________
3-4 Dec 2014 - Aghulhas National Park
5-6 Dec 2014- Ebb and Flow - Garden Route (Wilderness) National Park

13-18 June 2015 - Lower Sabie
19-23 June 2015 - Satara
24-28 June 2015 - Letaba


Last edited by Bushbuddies on Sat Jul 23, 2011 7:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: KNP: A Southerner's View of the North
Unread postPosted: Wed Jul 20, 2011 7:45 am 
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Location: Centurion
We had a lovely breakfast at Shingwedzi's restaurant - and loved the view over the riverbed. I can just imagine how beautiful this place must be in summer when the river is in full flow!

It was still way to early to check in - so we decided to take a drive down to Kanniedood Dam.This is also a scenic route along the Shingwedzi Riverbed. One gets to see many Bushbuck and Nyala here.

Even some real close-ups:

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Now before we left for our trip of N-KNP, I was off course all over this forum reading about the North and what to expect, where to drive etc. And through my readings I stumbled upon a thread about a white impala with leucism. He has been spotted in the Shingwedzi area and has been spotted by Aat, Mgoddard and Mike1916 amongst others (check out the thread here). Well - guess who I spotted when we were sitting in the hide? Not any interesting birds, no big crocs - but an interesting impala!

He was on the other side of the riverbed, quite far - so pics a bit cropped:

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He lives with a whole herd of rams - and doesn't seem to be rejected by them as some would think he'd be.

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So no cats for this morning - but a very interesting impie! :thumbs_up:

We decided to head back to camp and book in at our accomodation. On the way back - a bird that'll always make me think about KNP:

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And then back in camp - another birdie begging to have a :cam: taken - a Black-headed Oriole (Swartkopwielewaal):

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We got our accomodation - unit nr 68 - lovely renovated units!

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After we unpacked, walked around camp a bit, and had an ice-cream :P - we decided to hit the road again. We headed South again and first checked out the low water bridge.

Our first Saddle-billed Storks (Saalbekooievaars) of the trip! :dance:

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Mr SBS decided to get up...

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...and go do some fishing!

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On our way to Kanniedood Dam Hide - we saw these flea-seekers:

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From the view at the hide - this was such a lovely pose, demonstrating our country's "rainbow nation" once again - some African Spoonbills (Lepelaars) living in harmony with crocs, a Grey Heron (Bloureier) and a Yellow-billed Stork (Nimmersat):

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Our last drive for the day, was up to Lamont Waterhole. We found animals here on every visit to this waterhole. Earlier today - the old buff, now this family of ellies:

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_________________
3-4 Dec 2014 - Aghulhas National Park
5-6 Dec 2014- Ebb and Flow - Garden Route (Wilderness) National Park

13-18 June 2015 - Lower Sabie
19-23 June 2015 - Satara
24-28 June 2015 - Letaba


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 Post subject: Re: KNP: A Southerner's View of the North
Unread postPosted: Sat Jul 23, 2011 8:47 am 
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Location: Centurion
It was the 21 June - our wedding anniversary! :dance: 8 Years of being married to the most handsome, loving and kind husband anyone can imagine :D (not to make you girls :mrgreen: , but he really is all that and more!).

As usual - we got up early to be at the gates at 6am - when they opened. As I was in the bathroom brushing my teeth I heard it - lions roaring! :dance: It was so loud - they HAD to be just outside of camp. As Abel came to open the gate - we asked him where he think the lions were? He reckoned just other side of the bridge. So off we went...

We went left, we went right - and.... NO lions. They had just been teasing us. Lying behind some or other bush where no one can see them! We kept on checking the sightings board - that whole day not a single red dot was up on the board! :wall:

Anyway - the plan for the morning was to drive down to the famous Red Rocks and then on to Tshanga Lookout point where we would have breakfast. We took our "WEG" or "GO" - Kruger guide with. It said that one should keep an eye out for hyena in the region of Joao waterhole. So we did...

...and we spotted them! A pack of them were out on the road. This one either had some battle scars around its neck or some snare scars (we've seen a hyena with a snare around its neck once - and the picture came to mind :cry: )

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There were some younger ones too.

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They did not seem to enjoy the attention - so off they were back to their den.

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We were looking forward to our planned drive to Red Rocks and capturing these beautiful rocks in the early morning light. The weather, however, had other plans. This morning yet another cold front hit KNP - it was slightly cloudy with an icy wind blowing.

Dimmed Red Rocks:

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The scenery around this area is absolutely beautiful!

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We continued onto Tshanga. We walked up to the loolout point - where that icy wind seemed to be at its coldest! :shock:

We took a quick pic as the sun came out for a bit:

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...and then proceeded to have our breakfast on the backseat of the car. :doh: It was just too cold outside!

On the road back - these Little Bee-eaters (Kleinbyvreters) gave me some excellent photo opportunities - which one is your favourite?

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With not too many sightings on the Red Rocks loop - we decided to first check out Lamont WH and the low water bridge before returning to camp.

And as always - there was life at Lamont. This poor Zebra had a bad wound - I wonder if those roaring lions had something to do with it...

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A special pic for Micetta:

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And then the low water bridge still had the Saddle-billed Storks (Saalbekooievaars) around:

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...a Pied Kingfisher (Bontvisvanger) trying to fish:

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As well as this lovely Emerald-spotted Wood-dove (Groenvlekduifie) taking a drink:

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_________________
3-4 Dec 2014 - Aghulhas National Park
5-6 Dec 2014- Ebb and Flow - Garden Route (Wilderness) National Park

13-18 June 2015 - Lower Sabie
19-23 June 2015 - Satara
24-28 June 2015 - Letaba


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 Post subject: Re: KNP: A Southerner's View of the North
Unread postPosted: Sun Jul 24, 2011 2:41 pm 
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Location: Centurion
Back to camp to go do some chores that had to be done. Seeing as we had a full day at one camp - we took the opportunity to do some laundry and while waiting - get some ice-cream! :P Walked around camp, and again enjoyed the sunbirds flying around the aloes in the garden.

Looked at the sightings board - not a single red dot... :?

So off we went on our afternoon drive. First spot - the low water bridge again. This time around we got some action from the Fish Eagles. This guy had caught a HUGE fish and judging by the size of his crop he had already ate quite a bit...

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He tried a few times to get his prey airlifted - but it was just too heavy!

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Eventually he decided he had enough - he called his mate - who came down to have the rest, while he was drinking a bit of water.

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Pics are a bit cropped - but we really enjoyed this sighting!

We then decided to head North and of course stop at the waterhole guaranteed of life - Lamont!

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We continued up North, to a few km's before Babalala, but then had to turn around due to (gate)time constraints... :wall:

On the way back - this guy was lying in the road. He had definitely not been there on the way up, and it was obvious that he had just been killed - still twitched every now and then. A few bloody marks on his sides. I guess it could have been dropped there by a predator - but there was no sight of it. Most likely roadkill... :(

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I wondered who would come and help themselves to his meat... :hmz: Never got the chance to return there - and probably would have been taken up by an owl or something through the night.

That evening we decided to go out for dinner to the restaurant again. It was lovely on the verandah. The only negative comment is that they have a TV on the verandah - that is on ALL the time. Earlier the day - Generations or something was on. That evening we had Wimbledon with our supper! :roll:

As we were sitting there, waiting for our food - a special visitor came out - specially for our anniversary! A civet walked right into the spotlight area! What a sighting! :dance: As quickly as he appeared - he disappeared, not giving much opportunity for photos. So you'll just HAVE to believe me - this IS a civet okay! :lol:

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After supper we treated ourselves to a night drive - our first NIGHTdrive in the park. It was very cold, but we really enjoyed it. Sightings included Marabou, genet, buffalo, elephant, impala, scrubhare, bushbuck and bushbabies. Very nice guide! :thumbs_up:

_________________
3-4 Dec 2014 - Aghulhas National Park
5-6 Dec 2014- Ebb and Flow - Garden Route (Wilderness) National Park

13-18 June 2015 - Lower Sabie
19-23 June 2015 - Satara
24-28 June 2015 - Letaba


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 Post subject: Re: KNP: A Southerner's View of the North
Unread postPosted: Tue Jul 26, 2011 9:39 pm 
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Location: Centurion
So today we left Shingwedzi for one night in Letaba. I would have never guessed that today would be a good day sightings wise - seeing as we were driving through dense (and boring) Mopani-areas, but I was pleasantly surprised! :D

First up this morning, just South of Shingwedzi - we met up with our first tusker sighting! :dance:

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A lovely guy who seemed to have a calm temperament compared to the rest of the Northern ellies... :doh:

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Post a pic to Aat - and he identified him as Mandzemba! Thanks Aat! :thumbs_up:

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Further down the road, in the region of the Joao WH we again met up with the hyenas! One of the young ones spoiled me with some lovely pictures...

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...as he sat soaking up the first rays of sun before returning to his den.

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We spotted our SECOND tusker for the morning at Nkokodzi Waterhole - ladies and gentleman - I introduce you to the famous Tihongonyeni:

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Not the longest of tusks - but believe you me - they are THICK! :shock:

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We made a quick stop at the Tropic of capricorn:

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...but did NOT alight from our vehicle, as this was the view of across the road:

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2 Bulls bumping heads! :shock:

We started getting a bit bored with the Mopani trees, and decided to do the Loop of Capricorn in the hope of getting some nice sightings here - we had heard a lot about this loop...

Now if I were ever to stay at Mopani camp - I would drive this loop ALL the time. It really has a lot of life on it and seemed a bit more diverse in nature than along the tarred road.

How cute is this - a baby Steenbokkie - ag my moeder!

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And then - for the FIRST time on this trip so far (can you believe it) - blue wildebeest! :o I couldn't believe that I had been in the park 6 days - and this was my first sighting of them! Lesson: If you love blue wildebeest sightings, don't go too far North! :P

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At Tihongonyeni Waterhole it was teeming with life! We got to see our first sighting of Tsessebe in the park! :dance:

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Zebras and Kori Bustards...

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Further down the loop - got to see another friendly steenbok - look at the interesting ears!

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One of many Rattling Cistocolas (Bosveldtinktinkies):

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And just before we drove into Mopani Camp - our THIRD sighting of a tusker - Nshawani:

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It was time for breakfast/brunch!

_________________
3-4 Dec 2014 - Aghulhas National Park
5-6 Dec 2014- Ebb and Flow - Garden Route (Wilderness) National Park

13-18 June 2015 - Lower Sabie
19-23 June 2015 - Satara
24-28 June 2015 - Letaba


Last edited by Bushbuddies on Wed Jul 27, 2011 12:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: KNP: A Southerner's View of the North
Unread postPosted: Fri Jul 29, 2011 7:16 am 
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Posts: 1221
Location: Centurion
We stopped off at Mopani for a lovely breakfast. Now Mopani must have on of the nicest restaurants - purely for its view over the lovely Pioneer Dam. You can easily spot hippo, crocs and numerous types of waterbirds while sitting there!

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In camp this older African Grey Hornbill (Grysneushoringvoel) greeted us:

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...as well as this young one:

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After a lovely meal and a short walk around the camp, we decided to hit the tar road South towards Letaba.

A quick stop over the Letaba river for a :cam: :

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Just North of camp - we spotted some very nice sightings again. First up was our second Fish Eagle (Visarednd) with a kill. And another BIG fish - this guy had a Barbel:

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He also struggled to get it airlifted, but after eating a bit of his prey he could just... just get it in the air - and he was off!

Our next sighting was our 4th Tusker of the morning. As well as the biggest one for the morning. In the distance in the riverbed - Masthulele! He was quite far off, so the pics are a bit cropped:

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We booked in and got a lovely perimeter unit with a view of the Letaba river. The welcoming commitee, consisting of a buskbuck and guineafowl, were there to make the experience complete!

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Our afternoon drive to follow after a quick visit to the elephant museum...

_________________
3-4 Dec 2014 - Aghulhas National Park
5-6 Dec 2014- Ebb and Flow - Garden Route (Wilderness) National Park

13-18 June 2015 - Lower Sabie
19-23 June 2015 - Satara
24-28 June 2015 - Letaba


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 Post subject: Re: KNP: A Southerner's View of the North
Unread postPosted: Sat Jul 30, 2011 5:24 pm 
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Posts: 1221
Location: Centurion
A nice visit to the elephant hall, an ice-cream and back to the road! The choice of road this afternoon - the S47 to Mingerhoutdam and back.

Saw some lovely birdies posing nicely for the :cam: :

Bateleur (Berghaan):

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Brown-hooded Kingfisher (Bruinkopvisvanger):

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But the rest of the drive to the dam was relatively quiet. Lovely view over Mingerhout Dam, but then the time starting catching up with us and we had to return to camp. On the way back, though, we had to stop some more and enjoy the sighting of a huge herd of buffalo coming down the other side of the riverbank for a drink:

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It was amazing - there were so many of them. I always find it so difficult to capture the size of these huge herds on picture. But with them being on the other side of the riverbed, a bit further away - and all the dust with the setting sun falling on it - I think one starts getting the idea.

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Another family coming to drink some water and walking down the riverbed:

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Just before reaching camp, there was a bit of a car pile-up. We stopped to have a look. A leopard had just made an impala-kill and dragged its prey up into a tree right next to the road. The kill was clearly visible, but the leopard did not like all the attention from the cars - so he took off. We waited 'till the last minute for him/her to come back... but alas - the gates were closing. The decision was made - tomorrow first thing... :whistle:

Back at camp, SO was starting to suffer from cat-withdrawal symptoms. He had just missed the lion-sighting at Shing, and now just missed the leopard sighting at Letaba! :wall: I gave him some reassurance - "tomorrow, my Love, we will be going to Satara - cat-heaven of KNP!"

To cheer his spirit even more - we got some night visitors! :dance:

A genet:

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And finally - photographic proof of a bushbaby:

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A lovely braai and a lovely meal. Off to sleep - for tomorrow we go down South, to the place we know as Cat-heaven! :D

_________________
3-4 Dec 2014 - Aghulhas National Park
5-6 Dec 2014- Ebb and Flow - Garden Route (Wilderness) National Park

13-18 June 2015 - Lower Sabie
19-23 June 2015 - Satara
24-28 June 2015 - Letaba


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