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 Post subject: Cape of Storms Storming the Bushman Trail April 2011
Unread postPosted: Wed Jul 06, 2011 2:20 pm 
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19 APRIL 2011

A Bit of a late report but here it is....

Determined to do all the trails in the park we are here for our second! One per year is the aim and since our last one we hare definitely hooked on hiking in the bush!

Here we are back to our passion. Kruger National park and we are here to do our second trail!! Can't believe that this day has arrived. Bushman Trail here we come. Once again as per my previous trip reports the group is the same. Let me introduce you to the 4 musketeers.

Martin aka "Jan Peterman". Know for his ability to fix just about everything. On our last hike he walked out at the end with his boots duck taped so that he could complete the trip! Marty never to be spotted without his camera.

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Tracey is our give it your all kinda girl! There is very few things this lady is not willing to attempt . In this picture Tracey is lifting a rhino skull just as the guys did!

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Ray aka "Bulletjie" - NOT because he supports the Bulls - the troublesome Foursome are staunch Stormers supported. No this is a name given to him on our previous hike by our second Rifle, Andre, because of his pushing the limits behavior !!

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And myself Nicole aka Pink Lady. This tomboy who hated the color pink as a child is now frequently seen wearing pink in honor of her two very "Girly girls" back home. However on a hike we rough it and even pretend we are army gorilla’s !!
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Now that you have met all of us, I better get started with the report....

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 Post subject: Re: Storming the Bushman Trail April 2011
Unread postPosted: Wed Jul 06, 2011 4:53 pm 
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20 April 2011
After an afternoon flight from Cape Town and a long drive to Nelspruit where we crashed into bed only to wake up early and head off to Kruger. A little pit stop at Malelane to buy refreshments and then we are into paradise!

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Home Sweet Home!

We have about 5 hours in the park before we need to report to reception at Berg-en-dal so we take a little exploratory journey on the Crocodile River road where we see a few old favorites.
Kudu family
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Zeebedebedeeeee
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Leopard Tortoise
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It is amazing what you can see if you just spend some time around water!
Slowly we came through the Biyamiti Weir.
Here we spotted some birds and reptiles all within 10 m of each other!


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Since we are only four we are not sure who will make up the balance of the group and we are keen to meet our traveling companions of the next 3 days....

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 Post subject: Re: Storming the Bushman Trail April 2011
Unread postPosted: Thu Jul 07, 2011 9:32 am 
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3 o'clock arrives and introductions are made before the 1 hour drive to base camp. :D
Nicol is our lead ranger, assisted by Bento. We are joined by a German couple (Stefani and Sasha) and an American couple (Anthony and Anna) As the hike progresses we give them nicknames too!! But these involve stories around the camp fire.... :dance:

The bumpy ride to home base is followed by choosing your hut.
Image If you are tall you need to duck to get in...

2 per hut and two bathrooms to share between the 8 of us. The units are very basic. If you look down you can see the ground through the slats in the wood. Bugs, snakes and crawlies can definitely enter. :shock: BUT man this is exciting! Part of the wild once again....when we are all nside the “gate” is closed.

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As you can see it is just as wild inside as out. I think the fence is just for a sense of security because if anything wanted to come in.... it could. (There is always a small part of you that would like some of that excitement, :pray: then of course the sensible side of me says, don’t be daft you are in the hands of professionals here - your safety is their priority.) So after unpacking and the butterflies calming down we head to the meeting point.

We are all seated around the fire for our debriefing: camp life and trail rules followed by what happens when and where. All your own drinks are kept in a communal fridge area. (Yes, if you ever get to go on this trail - bring what you like to drink. Beer, Wiskey, Wine - of course you may not get “sloshed!” but a dram around the fire is what the bush is about. You won’t need to carry it so spoil yourself a bit.) Tea, coffee and water are available at all times. All meals are provided aswell as water and snacks for on the hike. Compared to the Olifants Wilderness Trail this is luxury! 8)

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 Post subject: Re: Storming the Bushman Trail April 2011
Unread postPosted: Fri Jul 08, 2011 3:13 pm 
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The debriefing included what is classified as an emergency warranting a wake up call for Nicol. Snake in toilet is an emergency, Spider in toilet is not. Also we are advised to use our flashlights at night when walking around camp. 2 months previously a Black Mamba was in the path near the fire less than 2 m from where I was sitting.....eeeeeeek! But we are very excited and after we settle in the drum is played for dinner. Our first night we are served a beef stew made by the camp overseer Elson. We spend the next few hours getting to know our new companions before getting to bed early since the next day it is a 5 am wake up.

21 April

At about 4:45 Elson knocks on our door and pours hot water in our outside basin. We have a few minutes to dress, use the ablutions and have some coffee and rusks around the fire once more. As we collect our water bottles we are all very excited to get going on our trail. The early wake up is rewarded with a brilliant sunrise.
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It is just an amazing morning. Nicol takes us walking through some thick bush toward the first of many rocky outcrops. We pass a few mud wallows with care, as sometimes buffalos lie in them and will get spooked if we stumble upon them. Spooking a buffalo could lead to a nasty end.... :sniper: For the buff or the spooker (hehe)

Here Ray is standing by a wallow. Amazingly these start out as a footprint in the sand that collects water and over time, as more animals scratch in the hole and more water gathers you end up with a wallow large enough to fit small and big animals alike.
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We start to track something as Bento and Nicol chat quickly before leading us towards some boulders. We hear before we see the Bull Elephant. He was vigorously breaking some branches off a tree. I had never been this close on foot to an elephant. I must tell you the heart can beat pretty loudly around one of these beasts and the feeling is AWESOME!
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Nicol is brilliant at keeping us out of harms way. To protect us he makes us climb onto a big boulder so that we can see the elephant. As you can see single file and close together keeps you safe.
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All this happens before 8 am and as I look back towards a hill I spot a “rock car” Too me it looks like a car parked on the hill. Maybe you can see it too!
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 Post subject: Re: Storming the Bushman Trail April 2011
Unread postPosted: Sat Jul 09, 2011 10:05 am 
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After about another hour of walking and a brief break on a rock Bento spots a Rhino below. Nicol says he will try and get us as close to it as possible. Walking with purpose we try and sneak up on the two of them. This takes about 30 minutes of quick and quiet walking. We manage to get within 15 meters of them before they (literally) turn tail and run!! Ok lift tale and leave us a present before they run!
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Seeing those to virile Rhinos running away made the next sight even harder. Nicol takes us to a 3 week old Rhino carcass. Sadly this is the ugly side of poaching in the Park. We can’t believe that this happened within the boarders of what we view as paradise. Less than 30 minutes walk from our camp this creature lost it’s life to the greediness of man.
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Nicol tells us about what is being done to help stop this plague of greed to kill Kruger’s now reducing rhino population. It is terrible to think that the anti poaching success story of the 80’s is now turning around as more people are “cashing in” on our rhino population.

He said that over a hundred rhinos had been killed this year already in South Africa. That was in April today I read that it is almost 200 in the first 6 months of the year. This to add to the over 300 of last year. I am devastated to say the least. My appreciation for Sanparks and their staff is greater than ever.

We walked a little further and stopped for a break and a few snacks. Needless to say conversation is all about poaching and how will it ever be stopped.

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 Post subject: Re: Storming the Bushman Trail April 2011
Unread postPosted: Tue Jul 12, 2011 8:15 am 
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Ok back to the trail. The great thing about walking in the park is that you see the small things too.

This baby tortoise easily fits into a hand.

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[url=http://www.flickr.com/photos/22842646@N08/5907958715/]Bushman Trail Baby


We see few Centipede’s along the way too. Alway careful not to step in them!
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Once again Bento and Nicol start to track another elephant! How lucky can we get? He moves away from us and we follow him for a bit.......

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that is until her turns and sniffs us out!
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To prevent “fight” we give him the space for “flight”. So he moves away and we are left behind in the happy knowledge that we were near to one of the greatest beasts on earth and he looked right at us! We head on back towards camp for lunch and a short siesta.

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 Post subject: Re: Storming the Bushman Trail April 2011
Unread postPosted: Wed Jul 13, 2011 9:15 am 
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Thanks for all the encouragement. I am really enjoying "reliving" our experience while writing it down. :D


For our sunset walk we take the vehicle and drive a bit further up before climbing out with our cooler box. The guys carry it for about 200m to mud wallow when Nicol stops us and asks if we would like to get really close to a dagga boy!!! Absolutely we say. We leave the drinks and try sneak around to see the old bull. Nicol explains because he is ruminating he is in kind of a trans and we can get pretty close. We need to sneak up and try not to make any noise while we tread carefully. :?

Here he is in the wallow.
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This is our view - nice and safe behind Nicol’s back!
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After a few pics he gets up and walks towards us. He is pretty relaxed we we get to be really close. This is me in the foreground with MR Dagga boy behind. :sniper:
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One last look at us before he leaves. :shock:
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We enjoy our sundowners, completely thrilled by having seen 3 of the big five in one day’s walking. What and evening! :dance: :dance:
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Thanks Nicol and Bento!

Once the sun is down we need to get back to the bakkie and head back to camp for supper. The bumpy ride produces a beautiful owl and a rather large chameleon!
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After a quick shower, supper was ready when we got back to camp and we enjoyed some interesting story’s around the fire place that night. Once my head hit my pillow I was out for the count. An amazing day that left us all well satisfied.

:dance: :dance: :dance: :dance:

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 Post subject: Re: Storming the Bushman Trail April 2011
Unread postPosted: Thu Jul 14, 2011 1:59 pm 
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22 April 2011
Once again we are woken early. As we gather for our morning coffee, Stephanie shares that in their toilet their was a snake in the thatch above her!!!! :shock: :shock: :shock: Eeeeeek ours has a permanent spider above the toilet but I guess if I must choose between the eight legged and the no legged I choose the the 8!!!! Bento and Nicol check it out but the visitor is long gone.

Rusks dunked in coffee and we are off. We walk out the back of camp this morning. The grass is very wet and and our legs are scraped and tickled all the way up the hill! I set a personal reminder to buy the pants that zip off into shorts for our next trip. Again we are spoilt with an Ellie sighting but a bit further off this time. As we cut more inlands we meet up with a herd of Buffs. Sooooo exciting. Again Nicol makes sure we are all safe behind him. :shock:
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At one stage 3 of the big bulls come towards us. Nicol cocks his rifle and they back off. :sniper: My heart pumps in my chest. You cannot describe the feeling. You would never feel so small and appreciative in your vehicle. This is a must for any and all who love being part of nature with a little extra adrenalin in the mix. :whistle: :whistle:

Nicol negotiates a route for us to the top of a rocky outcrop so we can watch the herd from above. There are a few babies in the mix which makes the guides even more attentive to where we all are.
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“Bulletjie” watching some buffs!

At that moment Anna needs to go to the toilet and Nicol takes her to a spot behind the boulder. As she is squatting down we hear the best words ever. “LION!!!!” (Ok Best for us :D not so much for the one taking the wee wee feeling vulnerable as it is )

Now let me tell you. The Klipspringer inside of me allowed Pink Lady to leap across those boulders fleet footed and speedy!! :whistle: :whistle: I had to see it. There about 150m away, a lioness was walking across the veld. To far for a decent photo but she was there. :slap:

She circles around us and positions herself on a hill where she can see us and the buffalo. We move slowly without making eye contact towards her. Hoping to get closer but allas she makes sure to keep a cool 200 m between us. Our next stop is up and behind a hill to see the Bushman paintings and to do this we need to cross near where she is lying. It is amazing to think a predator is lying right there. If we didn’t have Nicol we would not have even seen her there!!! :shock: :shock:

The stop at the paintings is a welcome rest and very interesting.
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I love the Giraffe!

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The hunter in this one is pretty cool too! :hmz:

So far on the walk today I am really thankful that Nicol and Bento carry theses babies! :lol:
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 Post subject: Re: Storming the Bushman Trail April 2011
Unread postPosted: Sat Jul 16, 2011 10:42 am 
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After our snack we take another route back to camp. This time when we get to a mud wallow we try some “Spa” treatment! :slap:
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The walk back produces another rhino skeleton. This time Nicol tells us that the rhino died naturally. He fell down a hill. Believe me that skull is heavier than it looks! :wink:
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To teach us a valuable lesson on only taking what you need, Nicol tells us all to collect one piece of wood. The criteria is as follows:

The wood is your ticket to sit around the fire that night so you want to take something that burns for a reasonable time. Next is once you pick a piece up you may not swop it for another. He does not tell us how far we are from camp. So leave picking your piece up to late and you won’t have one and thus “forfeit” sitting around the fire. Pick up a piece that is to big and too early you won’t make it back to camp.

All participate. In the end the walk back is about 3 km. It teaches us that if all humans only took what they can use we will not “burn” through our resources. One piece is ample per person but we are all tempted to take more why? Because the human race is used to taking more than what we actually need and the effect on our earth is often devastating. Not only do we use more than we need we also often use what is near us. What we were doing was taking wood from a bit further thus not using up all the wood near camp. Spreading the area of use in the wild also helps nature to be balanced. This is one major reason to bring kids as soon as they are able on this kind of adventure. The life lessons are vital. :D

Back at camp a drink is more appreciated! :dance: :dance: :dance:

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We all make it back to camp for our siesta and for some of us a little washing!
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 Post subject: Re: Storming the Bushman Trail April 2011
Unread postPosted: Mon Jul 18, 2011 12:22 pm 
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Once again we head on out in the late afternoon by truck to our next walking spot. This time some red win and Amarula in the cool bag to sip at sunset!

On our drive there we are lucky to to spot this fella!
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We park near some boulders and then take a walk into the unknown. Not long into our walk we are in the midst of another herd of buffalo. This time a far larger one!
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Here is Tracey in the foreground with the herd behind her. Very relaxed as they graze.

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On our loop we spot an ellie in the distance on a rocky outcrop. Here he is trying to reach something juicey above him! At the same time he takes a seat on the rock for a mini rest :D
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Further into our trek we also spot a pair of owls. But the light is bad and they flew off so my photo didn't even come out. As we sat and sipped our sundowners we are all very sad that this is our last outing on the hike. :cry: :cry:

The trip is not over but it is sadly our last adventure out on foot!

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 Post subject: Re: Storming the Bushman Trail April 2011
Unread postPosted: Tue Jul 19, 2011 2:58 pm 
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This is how we will remember Nicol: Gun in hand telling us something interesting!

That evening we sit till quite late chatting about what we have seen and learned on the trip. Plus a few extra tales from Nicol about his time as a ranger. Enjoying the silence around us for the last time but we promise each other that we will be doing our next trail soon! It is fantastic to have a group like ours that get on so well so that we can repeat our escapes over and over.

23 April 2011
The next morning we pack up and load the van for our trip back to Berg-en-dal. The journey produces a few more sights.

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As Elson called it a singing Pavarotti Terrapin because of the way he is stretched out!

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After goodbyes are said at Berg-en-dal we head to Skukuza for our next night in the park.
Right outside the gate, we spot a Nellie the Ellie!

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Not so scary from inside our rental car! Near to Afsaal we find one of Tracey’s favourites...
A Hotdog!

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A delicious boerewors roll at Afsaal while dodging the bees and then back on the road again. We continue up the H3, the next photo is not that great but we are so lucky to spot a leopard on the move! Ourselves and one other car saw it as it dashed across the road. A look over it’s shoulder and it was gone :(

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The rest of the drive up to Skukuza did not present anyting spectacular but a few cute sightings. These two ellies were saying “Who smell’s there?” in unison!

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And then we saw our friends who have the dirty job of “cleaning” up after the giants!

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A perfect ball!
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Above us were more creatures that clean up after others... Vultures!
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Personally the next is a first for me: Ground Hornbills in a tree.
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I even managed to catch one in flight. I am still learning so it is not perfect but I will get there :)
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Not to sure what kind of bird this is but he posed nicely!
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A “Zebra” crossing is always a photo op!
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Then right near Skukuza we another rhino. Really we have been spoilt with Rhino sightings and I would be devastated if poachers get there way, by killing these prehistoric beasts just because men in the East are not getting with the program called Viagra!! Come on guys it is small and blue and does way more for you than the horn on a beautiful creature....
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Our small bungalows at Skukuza seem like 5 star luxury! We grab a hot shower and settle for a late afternoon sunset around the camp fire. How blessed we are to be here in paradise.

Early wake up as we head out of the park to a private game lodge for some “spa” treatment. Some R n’ R after the hike. But we come back in for one night at Orpen on the 26th of April.

We have never stayed at Orpen and I must say that is a real hidden jewel! A Stunning 6 sleeper hut, lots of grass area and a great hide. Plus it is small and intimate. Here peoples still braai and sit around their fires :dance: :dance: :dance:


We head out to Nwanetsi Picnic Spot. One of my favourites. Refreshed and happy the Pink Lady :lol: is over joyed to be in paradise with hubby and great friends. :dance:
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After breakfast we head up to Gudzani dam where we are rewarded again with a fleeting sight of leopard. Too quick to even fire off a shot! :sniper: (A photographic shot that is!!)

Not far from the damn we are rewarded with a pride of lions. These two must be sisters or mother and daughter ... they look so alike!
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Sadly on our way to Orpen on the H7 we find a dead snake :( This would not happen if someone kept to the speed limit!!! :rtm:
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Right at the camp entrance we see this beauty.
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I love eagles and especially Martial's.

We book an early morning drive on the 27th of April and have an awesome time. I get to meet “KTP Hooked” :dance: on their final day in the park! What a lovely couple. So interesting to share their adventures. Wow it is great to meet fellow formites!

On our drive we see see hyena, lion, bush baby x 2 and the other usuals. It is rather dark so the photo’s are not really great. Our guide is amazing. She takes us to where she thinks there are wild dogs but alas nothing ;( As some of you may know I am chasing the illusive Wild Dog for 15 years now!!! It is the one major predator that I have not seen. So many trips and not even a glimpse. But hey, if it keeps me coming back!!!! Who am I kidding even if I never see one or if I see one every time.....

I’LL BE BACK!!!!!!

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 Post subject: Re: Storming the Bushman Trail April 2011
Unread postPosted: Tue Jul 19, 2011 3:49 pm 
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Thanks so much for sharing you trail and other drives with us, I enjoyed your last one and enjoyed this one as well. :clap: :clap:
Love the wood story, how true!

The posing bird you have is a Southern White-crowned Shrike, great pic. :D

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