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 Post subject: FlorisCathy-On a Wild Dog Mission in Kruger-July 2011
Unread postPosted: Wed Aug 03, 2011 11:00 pm 
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Dear Forumites,

We are just back from 2 weeks Kruger and we enjoyed it very much. During my trip I started writing my first trip report. I am not finished yet, but I will post our first 2 days, as an introduction, because this is mainly our journey to Kruger. In the next week I will try to post all reports including the nice pictures we made. Hope you enjoy reading and suggestions / comments are welcome.

Greetz Floris and Cathy

Quote:
Monday 18th July 2011 Traveling to Kruger

Finally the waiting is over… After an almost sleepless night (finishing my thesis for school, packing my stuff and re-install my notebook), today is the day of departure. Cathy, my 31 year old girlfriend is already awake. She stood up at 8:00 am to check her stuff for the thousands time and after loading it into her suitcase, she found out that it was 4 kg overweight. She came into the bedroom and woke me up gently. It was certainly over 10:00 am, so I had about 5 hours sleep (still 25 years young, but feeling a bit older). She told me her suitcase overweight problem, as she always ask me to discuss problems. We always take some cookies and fast breakfast cookies to ensure our stomach wouldn’t be the ones that growls on a drive. We could leave those kg home… No, just take some clothes out and put the half of all our morning cookies into the hand luggage. After all, we both had our suitcase filled up to the maximum 23 kg load and our hand luggage was the next to fill, included the cookies, we would need those if both our suitcases would be missing. But that won’t happen right?

After a last visit to Cathy’s parents, her mother celebrated her birthday, we put all our stuff in the car, gave a last hug to our two lovely dogs (who both hate those two suitcases, cause that means a long holiday for their bosses). Luckily they are in good hands with my father in law, no one could take care of them better. We checked in online for our flight from Amsterdam to Paris and from there to Jo’Burg, so we only had to check in our suitcases. Just double checking the labels, yes, that’s right, they will be sent to Jo’burg via Paris. That can’t go wrong, can it?

Our pleasant flight to Paris was landed a bit to late for the schedule, and we didn’t had much time for the transfer. Luckily it wasn’t that busy late that evening, and asked some ground assistants for showing us the way. They were kindly help us to go through the passport check and we made it on time. We double decked A380 wasn’t even started boarding yet. Finally we were on the plane and after an first movie, we both fell asleep.

_________________
I am a heartless person,
Not because I am cruel.
No, it's because I am in The Netherlands right now,
And my heart is still in South Africa

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 Post subject: Re: On a Wild Dog Mission in Kruger
Unread postPosted: Wed Aug 03, 2011 11:01 pm 
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Quote:
Tuesday 19th July 2011 Bad luck

When I woke up, it was 8 am. I had a good sleep, only woke up a couple of times. But hey, did I had a choice after a short night before? 2 More hours before the schedule landing time. Just check the flight computer on my personal screen. Just 2,5 hours to go. So a small delay. We could handle that. Just get our suitcases fast and then down and up the elevators at OR Tambo to get our rental car. But a large plane has got a lot of suitcases, and we had to wait a long time to notice that with the final suitcase, both our cases were not in Jo’Burg. Not only our cases, no, the line to report a missing suitcase was long, very long. The lady at the desk told us that the cases were still in Paris and they would send it to us. Just see the positive site from it, we don’t have to carry our suitcases. And one day without clean clothes isn’t that worse. We went to the car rental and collected our Renault Koleos. We had such a car when we were in SA in April 2010, and were happy with that. By the time we sat in the car, it was 13:00. Driving to Kruger would take about 5 hours for a non-stop driving. So we were in a small hurry. Especially my right foot knew how to gain some time, but the policeman who stopped us had other thoughts about that. After paying our ticket and setting the cruse control on 120, we enjoyed the beauty from the South African country. Back in Holland we already have had thoughts about setting up our own lodge in Africa. That feeling became stronger when we drove through the mountains. But we also realize that it is very hard to establish.
After seeing some traffic accidents and driving through the dark, we arrived at the Paul Kruger Gate at 18:30. In April 2010 we were also late and knew that there is a escort service for people who are late, so no worries. The gate guards called to Skukuza (our first stay) and told us that the escort would be on his way. We know that it’s about 20 min. driving to the gate, but after 1 hour, still no sign of an escort. I asked the guard to let me drive on my own to Skukuza, I know the way, have been there before. But that wasn’t possible. Meanwhile, other people who had to do business in Kruger got entrance to the park. I do understand that this is because of the poaching (that is what the guard said), but why let us waiting for so long? After 1,5 hour waiting he called again to Skukuza. The woman who picked up the phone the first time forgot to ask someone to escort us. Finally after more than 2 hours waiting, at 20:45 we drove through the gate. We didn’t see any game, but I think that isn’t possible when driving 60 km/h to keep up with our escort. He brought us to our first horizontal sleeping place in the last 36 hours, a bungalow, while we booked a tent. We also didn’t had to pay the R200 for the escort service. Our bad luck seems to turn into good luck, so we went to the Selati Train restaurant, as we did before last year in April and October. The nice lady told us that the kitchen was already closed, but the camp restaurant would be open until 21:30. We speeded us that way, but heard that also their kitchen was already closed at 21:00. She could make us a sandwich. We decided to life on our own cookies. At the bungalow we had a shower, how nice, and fell asleep.

_________________
I am a heartless person,
Not because I am cruel.
No, it's because I am in The Netherlands right now,
And my heart is still in South Africa

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 Post subject: Re: On a Wild Dog Mission in Kruger
Unread postPosted: Thu Aug 04, 2011 11:12 pm 
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Thanks all for your nice comments. I didn't expect that one comming. It stimulates me to post the next day. I will enrich it with the most prescious pictures of that day, to make it a bit more imagineable for you what we exactly see.

Quote:
Wednesday 20th July 2011 After rain…

Waking up in the dark, I was loaded with energy to spot some game. Cathy didn’t knew where she woke up, but it was a pleasant wake when she got everything on place. The gate opens at 6.00 am, so we sat in the car by that time. We didn’t ridged our car with the yellow ribbon yet, as the yellow shawl we were planning to use for that purpose was in my suitcase. We started driving a small morning drive and went to the S65 (watergatpad). In October we saw to young male lions next to the road and thought it would be a nice road to have a morning drive. On the H11 and the S1 we saw our first Impala’s. As usual, we stopped at all first sightings of a new species. But soon we were back on track. There were two cars in front of us, also driving very slow to spot if there is any game walking by in the morning. On the S65 we saw a male Impala posing, so we stopped to make some good pictures. The other cars drove further.
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But only two minutes after the last Impala picture I shot my second species from this Africa experience. Guess what, it was a male Leopard. He walked toward me as I stopped the car. I told Cathy, “a Leopard, just walking behind us to your side of the car.” She didn’t believe me until she saw it with her own eyes. We both shot some pictures, but the sun wasn’t there yet at 7:38 am. As a photographer knows, light is very important on making a good picture. so we really needed our light sensitive lenses.
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After this very short meeting without introducing or goodbye, we were on to our next sighting. A Steenbok and some birds were posing in front of our lenses as we stopped behind some cars. The sun just rises as we saw a glimpse from a Lion. This couldn't be true. The second predator this early on our trip. Most of the common species we haven't seen yet. If this luck continues in this manner, the Wild Dogs would be an easy target to reach. But yet we are with the Lions, they became active, as we stood right in front of them. It were three young females and one young male we suppose. They started to play with each other and one was scratching the nails on a small tree. After that they walked away and we decided to drive on.
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But not much later, we saw some cars standing still again. We placed ourselves in the line, but before we could ask what they see, an adult lioness with four teenager cubs walked by on about two meters away from our clicking cameras. How amazing. They were watching us very closely as we continued filming and shooting pictures.
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Some very aggressive people turned their cars and drove very fast in the direction of the Lions, what disturbed them and caused them some stress which was displayed by running away from that car. We decided to leave the scene, as all the animals should not been stressed out by humans. We are guests in their environment, unless we sometimes feel home. It’s a pity some KNP visitors has other thoughts about that. After nothing special on the H1-1 we arrived back at Skukuza. After buying our Wildcard, the book “Birds of Prey” and a lunch we set course to Satara where hopefully our suitcases had arrived.

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On the H4-1, our first Kudu this trip was a fact.

We also saw different birds, a male Nyala, Bushbucks, Vervet Monkeys and Baboons (and yes, we also saw Impala).
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We first went to Nkuhlu, where we saw four Elephants crossing the road, and then drove back to the bridge on the H12, always a nice spotting place where some Buffalos were drinking and grazing. Via the H1-2 we drove to Satara. At the side of the Mantimahle pan, we saw about three lionesses laying down on their backs. We have some pictures, but they are not of good quality, so I won’t spent time to post the prove. Every time we drive on the H1-2, we go to the Leeupan, but we never see any spectacular sightings. Maybe because we always go on dry season and then the pan hasn’t got any water. But further down the H1-2, we saw some Ground Hornbills posing for as long as we wanted to make pictures. Cathy loves them and keeps on shooting, which results in some very good pictures.
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And if we wouldn’t have had enough, we did see a young bull Elephant next to the road. He was also waiting until we had a good shot.
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Later on the H1-3 we would see another three bulls, but they were in a hurry to a breading herd with lots of fertile females or so. There was one with big tusks, unfortunately we had no time and no perfect spot to make determent pictures. Our first Giraffe let us waiting long this year, as we saw the first one at Marheya dam. Some nice pictures were taken and before we saw another bachelor group of bull Elephants in front of Satara Rest Camp, we did see some Waterbuck. The bulls at Satara were also with large tusks. Don’t know if there are any big tuskers among them.
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After checking in at Satara, we asked for our suitcases. We would love to wear some short pants instead of a long warm jeans. Tomorrow it would be around 31 degrees, so some summer clothes would have a warm welcome. Unfortunately the suitcases weren’t yet at Satara, maybe tomorrow. We uploaded all pictures and movies to our notebook and checked them one by one. We thought it would be a nice idea to introduce an award for best picture of the day. The winner would be next days V.I.P. and decides which road to drive and is treated as a winner. We are our own jury and bring in the pictures that could be a winner. I took the Lion in close-up, because of the thrill and the sharpness of that picture. Cathy choose her Ground Hornbill, which became the first winning picture, because of the entire detailed picture and because it are beautiful animals. If we don’t see them, we would really miss them and we always stop if they are on a sighting. After all, the sun shines after the rain of bad luck the last days. Only no Rhinos from the Big5. How to overdo this in the coming 2 weeks?

_________________
I am a heartless person,
Not because I am cruel.
No, it's because I am in The Netherlands right now,
And my heart is still in South Africa

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 Post subject: Re: On a Wild Dog Mission in Kruger
Unread postPosted: Fri Aug 05, 2011 11:02 pm 
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Thank you all for your kind replies. Here a new day from our trip:

Quote:
Thursday 21th July 2011 Yellow Ribbon on air

Because Cathy is the V.I.P. today, she decides what way to go. She chose the S100, as we saw there a pride of twenty Lions and our first wild Leopard sighting ever in April 2010. For us the S100 is like a song on which you kissed each other for the first time. Although I think that Cathy liked that first Leopard more than our first kiss, and no, that doesn’t have anything to do with my kissing skills. But this time the S100 wasn’t that loaded of game. We did see some animals, but not the impressive ones (yes, on day two the regular game becomes normal). We did see this beautyfull sunrise:
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At the T-junction we went north to the Gudzani dam, where we saw an African Fish Eagle busy with some branches. There were also Hippos in the water.
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After not seeing a lot more up north. Cathy asked me to turn the car to take the H6 back to Satara. And that turns out to be a good decision. On the S41 we saw about 6 Hyenas and one of them was posing quit long. As it was on my side of the car, I could go for a nice close-up and tried to gain the best picture of the day award.
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We also saw Wildebeest, a Kori Bustard and Zebras as a new species of this trip. At the Sonop waterhole we didn’t see a lot more than that and a bicycle from an African worker at the windmill.
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Back on the H6, we saw two cars standing still and asked them what they had spotted. “Walking Lions, towards the Sonop waterhole.” We all went back and waited there on a nice Lion sighting. We became chatting partners with that South African Lion spotter for the next hour. Meanwhile we were treated on a nice Wildebeest sighting playing in the water. But no Lions. We drove on, back to Satara, still no suitcases, so we were planning to call to Jo’Burg Airport, to ask for a Track and Trace, because they would be at Satara yesterday. Because the coin phone doesn’t work properly and we couldn’t buy a phone card, we went to the camp manager and he was so kind to let us use his phone. Cathy is good in those things, I only have the big mouth about how to do it and that it’s not normal that we don’t have our suitcases yet. So Cathy phoned and she was told that the suitcases were on their way, and could be there any minute. We went to our bungalow, waited while watching some squirles and indeed, the suitcases arrived with Tsessebe Express, our hero. The first thing I did was improvising a Yellow Ribbon with the shawl which was in my suitcase. With a small relieve we could go for a last drive before the gate closes.
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On our way to Nsemani pan, we saw an Elephant with a young calve suckling. What a nice sighting was that.
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On that H7, there were a lot of cars, just before the T-junction with the S12. Lions were spotted, but as usual when the sun shines, they were sleeping and we didn’t see more than just a tail and some ears through our binoculars. Back at the dam, we enjoyed the beautiful view of the sun going down. An African Fish Eagle gave us a show by flying from the right to the left and back, parallel to the road. At the other side of the road, some Zebras walked through the burned area. Close to the Zebras, a Roller sat in the tree and lent himself for a nice photo shoot. After seeing the sun going down again, we drove back to camp.
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After having diner we uploaded our pictures again and decided that I had won the best picture of the day award with my Hyena close-up. Cathy’s picture was an European Roller, but she agreed with awarding the Hyena without hesitating. With 2 out of the Big5, it was a regular day, unless the Lion sighting wasn’t that good.

_________________
I am a heartless person,
Not because I am cruel.
No, it's because I am in The Netherlands right now,
And my heart is still in South Africa

http://sanparks.org/forums/viewtopic.php?style=2&f=27&t=54927


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 Post subject: Re: On a Wild Dog Mission in Kruger
Unread postPosted: Sat Aug 06, 2011 12:47 pm 
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We were so happy with our clean clothes, although we did do some shopping in charge for AF / KLM. That driver from Tsessebee express must have had the day of his life with that warm welcome. :lol:

The Best Photo of the day award is a nice thing to keep us sharp on making good pictures, but it is hard to make a choice sometimes as our tast of what is a award winning picture can differ on some aspects (like sharpness, scarcity of the animal, feeling we had on that sighting, behavior of the animal, colors etc.) If you sometimes think an other picture must have gained that award for that day, we would like to hear it. Offcourse also with arguments, so that we can discuss that. We can twist taste...

_________________
I am a heartless person,
Not because I am cruel.
No, it's because I am in The Netherlands right now,
And my heart is still in South Africa

http://sanparks.org/forums/viewtopic.php?style=2&f=27&t=54927


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 Post subject: Re: On a Wild Dog Mission in Kruger
Unread postPosted: Sun Aug 07, 2011 12:19 pm 
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Quote:
As we were still staying at Satara, we booked a morning walk. Before the sunrise, we were at the place where the walk would start. We were in nice company from six Americans and two guides. After the do’s, don’t and a bit more sunlight, we started walking. Cathy and I already did some bushwalks, but never in Kruger. Soon our guides spotted three Elephants, a mother with two suckling calves. They asked us if we should go any closer, don’t ask twice if you ask me. And all others gave the same answer. When we were at about 40 yards, the Ellies started running away from us. But not very far, so we could take some pictures. We couldn’t get that close to them as we can when in a car for our own safety.
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We moved on while the sun was visible every now and then because the clouds hinders that sometimes. We heard some Baboons screaming and walked in that direction. And indeed, after about 10 minutes walking, we saw some Baboons in a bush next to the water. The fuss was solved already, as they were eating in silence, maybe they were impressed by seeing us walking there. They kept gazing at us. After a nice provided break at a nice spot next to a small stream, we walked on and saw a herd of Waterbuck running away from us. We hoped a Lion would have caused the running, but all we saw was the very fresh footprint of a Lioness, walking in the opposite direction. The guides told us that she probably smelled or saw us and hides herself to keep an eye on us. And I was walking in last position, you can imagine that I was watching my back every second. During the walk, we learned a lot of new things. Also about White Rhino bulls walking in their own dung and spreading their smell to mark their territory.
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On our way back to Satara with the truck, we saw some Warthogs running. How amazing with their tails up. Unless we didn’t see a lot of animals (we are spoiled with drives), we enjoyed our first Kruger walk.
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We know that around midday it is to hot for animals to show themselves but we decided to take the car and drove my route to Timbavati by using the H1-4 (we didn’t took any picture on that road, which would say enough. Normally Cathy sees the whole trip through her lens). But on the S127 we had more luck, as we drove just a few kilometer on the dirt road as we saw our first two Rhinos laying down in the grass. Far away, but enough to take some pictures in case we wouldn’t meet one again this trip.
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Finally, our first Rhinos this trip. After we enjoyed the sighting, we moved on, as it became warmer and warmer. We had a quick stop at Timbavati where two Bushbucks walked through the picnic spot.
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Not much game showed themselves on the S40 and the S12. Although we did saw a herd of Buffalos at the Nsemani pan. Driving back to Satara, some cars were standing still at a tree. A bird was sitting on one of the branches. With our bare eyes we could see that it was a Bird of Prey.
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Checking with the binoculars reveals it was a Martial Eagle feeding himself. Getting closer Cathy took a lot of pictures. We had some time during his meal, so we were able to swab some lenses between the two cameras we have. Cathy was on the right place to shoot the pictures, unfortunately for me, the winning picture was one out of 74 pictures from that eating Eagle.
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And the winning picture:
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I didn’t even try to put one of my few shots into competition with her beauty and accepted my loss. We did see an Elephant just before camp, but couldn’t take any competitive pictures. It was a good day for unspoiled people, but we are to spoiled with nice sightings, that we think this was a regular day with 3 out of the Big5.

_________________
I am a heartless person,
Not because I am cruel.
No, it's because I am in The Netherlands right now,
And my heart is still in South Africa

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 Post subject: Re: On a Wild Dog Mission in Kruger
Unread postPosted: Sun Aug 07, 2011 9:17 pm 
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Quote:
Saturday 23rd July 2011 Elephant day

Early in the morning, we had to pack our suitcases, which was quit a new experience for us this trip. Our Bungalow in Pretoriuskop was waiting for us to arrive, so we had some km to drive. We took the H1-3 in southern direction, we took some blurry shots from different birds of prey who were to far away to use our 50 mm F1.4 or the 80 – 200 mm F2.8 and there was to little light to put on the 400 mm. We also have a Sony H9 hybrid camera which give an solution to this problem. Very good zoom and quit nice pictures in less light circumstances. Not very far from Satara, we saw our first of the Big5, a female Elephant with a calve. They were standing next to the road, so with a flashlight and the F1.4 50 mm we could make some pictures, but still not worth it to post them here. When the first rays of the sun touches the African bush, we were at the Nkaya water pool. No animals were drinking, but there was a Giraffe on a dirt road next to it. The sun warmed up his spotted skin as we took some nice pictures. We love Giraffes, the way they walk, how they eat, their innocent face when they look curios into the lens and off course how they look. What an amazing animal. How could nature let something like that be evolved?
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As we were driving about 30 km/h, Cathy’s sharp spotting eyes won’t let her down and she asked me to stop and drive a bit back. And yes, there it was. An Pearl-Spotted Owlet was sitting on a branch facing us directly into the eyes. We quickly took our pictures, before it flew away. Our new species of the day was found.
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The sun still had some trouble braking through, although there were no clouds. At Marheya we saw the second of the Big5, a herd of Buffalo. One was limping and she was the only one that crosses the road. Away from the herd, we hoped to see Lions approaching, but that wish wasn’t fulfilled. Before our first stop at Tshokwane, we did see an other big herd of buffalos. Nice animals, but we both don’t have a click with them. We like to see a Giraffe more than to see a Buffalo.
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We also saw a male Kudu running. I was lucky to get a very nice picture from him, this would be my chance to gain the best picture award today. But making a picture from a standing animal is one. Making a picture from a moving animal is a different story. But criticize the photo yourself.
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The other new species of the day was the Ostrich, a male and a female walking. Last year we saw two adults with about 12 young ones. Amazing animals. On the bridge on the H12 we saw our first Giant Kingfisher this year. It’s a pity he sat on the green bars from the bridge, it’s a close-up, but no natural environment. In the water, a hippo was walking, the sun still wasn’t that bright today, so he didn’t had to stay underwater for his skin protection.
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A bit further, on the first dirt road to Skukuza, I think it is called the S76, we saw a big breading herd of Elephants. Everywhere we looked were Ellies, and they were very calm, unless the busy cars around them. It was about 11 a.m. on a Saturday, so a lot of day visitors. Some of the Ellies were very young, who gave us a good opportunity to put some nice pictures on our memory cards (new kind of technology which replaces the light sensitive negatives).
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After Skukuza we took the H11, S1, S3 and the S7 to Pretoriuskop and we did see something excitement, a Giraffe with a strange shaped head, well, judge for yourself by looking at the pictures.
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We also saw another breading herd of Elephants taking a bath at Nyamundwa dam. A nice playfull sighting.
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In Pretoriuskop, my Kudu came out to be the strongest in the best picture of the day award. Cathy did bring on some good competition with her Elephant waving at us with it’s trunk while he was chewing on a branch. But be honest, everyone could have made that picture. A fast moving object is much more difficult. At least Cathy agreed with me. We decided we had seen the car from the inside long enough this day and didn’t go on a drive before the gate closes. We went to the restaurant and had some diner. In all restaurants, they made the card the same and also the opening time from Selati at Skukuza is shortened, now only diner is served there. It’s a shame, because it’s the only place in Kruger where you can find a good quality of food. But, we were in Pretoriuskop and it was quit busy for three waiters. The food was ok, not very brilliant, but when we left we saw our waiter standing in the kitchen, preparing the meals as well. Double respect for him to cope with that, but we think SAN-Parks should shame herself to let her people work under these circumstances. Also the quality of food is needed to improve drastically, but hey, TIA.

Some other pictures from this day to end with a positive mood:
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_________________
I am a heartless person,
Not because I am cruel.
No, it's because I am in The Netherlands right now,
And my heart is still in South Africa

http://sanparks.org/forums/viewtopic.php?style=2&f=27&t=54927


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 Post subject: Re: On a Wild Dog Mission in Kruger
Unread postPosted: Mon Aug 08, 2011 5:26 pm 
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Merel wrote:
Bushwalks are great. :dance:

Maybe my favorite photo is the one off the yellow/green bird (what's its name?) in the yellow/green flowers; lovely colors.
And spotting an owlet is always a great bonus.

We have an other picture of that same bird:

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As lettuceleaf711 mentioned, it looks like a Cape White-Eye, only his throat is orange and confirm my birding book, a Cape White-eye has got a yellow throat. Maybe anyone knows if these colors change / differ.

_________________
I am a heartless person,
Not because I am cruel.
No, it's because I am in The Netherlands right now,
And my heart is still in South Africa

http://sanparks.org/forums/viewtopic.php?style=2&f=27&t=54927


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 Post subject: Re: On a Wild Dog Mission in Kruger
Unread postPosted: Tue Aug 09, 2011 12:19 am 
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Owkee, here it is... It took me a lot of time to think which pics to post, because we made almost 550 pictures the 24th. Just wanna say: Enjoy :popcorn:

Quote:
Sunday 24th July 2011 The day that began with almost no sightings…

We left Pretoriuskop on the dirt road. The high grass on both sides makes the ride excitement, although we didn’t see animals. Soon on the H1-1 we saw a big one-tusked male Elephant standing and posing next to the road.


After a beautiful sunrise, we came along an other male Elephant.
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And then a long time, we only saw Impala’s, Bushbucks and Francolins. Halfway we did see two White Rhinos walking in the open grass, but that was to far away to get nice pictures. We decided to go to the Transport pool by taking the S66. At the water, some cars had already found their parking, so that their owners could search the area for animals. Before Cathy could park our car, she thought that see saw two walking Lions. She took the binoculars, but they just went of at the backside from the hill they walked on. Cathy asked some people next to us if she also saw the Lions. “No, where are they? We did see two Cheetahs.”, was the answer. What, two Cheetahs, quick, go search for them. She drove backwards and took the right turn and parked the car with my side of the car to the place we could spot them first, without trees and bushes in front of our view. And yes, there they were, two Cheetahs walking towards us. More cars came and closed the road for a quick pursuit. But that wasn’t necessary, we were on the best spot when the Cheetahs climbed up the hill again and posed there in the morning sun. We took several photos and eventually I took the 400 mm as there was enough light. The Cheetahs were on about 100 meter away from us.
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After ten minutes, the started walking again. Maybe they were hungry and on their pad to the take-away. They couldn’t have walked in a better direction, straight towards us. There was a rock at about 50 meters away from us. Again they took different posses in the sunlight. And we kept shooting pictures and also made some movies.


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Winning picture of the day award:
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After all, they began to walk again, now in the direction where we stood in the beginning. From the place we were standing at the moment, we couldn’t get to see them very good, because of the high grass. Cathy turns the car (she’s getting better in driving since she got a real car instead of her former shopping cart) and drove towards the Cheetahs. We had to stand in a line, because more people wanted to see them. When they had enough and drove on, we were in about 20 meters away from them, amazing how close, but the sun was in our view direction. In total, we took 221 pictures from the two spotted cats in about 40 minutes. What an amazing view.
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Later we saw on the pictures that one Cheetah was hurt on the right hip. A big open wound was shown, he wasn’t limping, so we expect that he will recover. We decided to move on, back to the S65, where we saw a Leopard and two groups of Lions the first day. Now we only saw a Rhinos ass. When we informed some other cars about our Cheetah sighting, they told us about a mating pair of Lions on the S1. We have been searching that part of the road where they have been seen, but we couldn’t spot them and went back to Skukuza. And on our way, we did spot two Buffalos. Not an very clear sighting, but it was there clear enough to tick the box for that day. At the camp, we collect our safari tent key and made us some delicious pancakes in the communal kitchen. With a full belly, we placed ourselves in the sunset drive truck from Opa. Nice name, especially because in Holland that’s the word for ‘grandpa’. Let it be that my grandpa gave us money for a drive, that can’t be a coincidence anymore. Opa drove to the H1-2. Lot’s of cars came back to be inside the gate on time. And right now, when the cats are going to be active, we would be driving and spotting them. The sun wasn’t down yet, so there was a bit light. Opa just wanted to get to the S83 when he said: “Hold on guys, a Leopard crossing the road and turned on the gas. On his crossing place, we could see him, looking back at us between the bushes. It was a big healthy male Leopard. We had to make our pictures quick, as he walked on, further into the bush.
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Wow, what a good start to this first drive. Opa explained something about a Leopards behavior and we drove on, still exited from what we just saw. On that S83, someone at the left side from the truck spotted a female White Rhino with two calves. When we stood there for a while, we saw more Rhinos approaching them. There was a dominant male Rhino chasing a young male away. Wow, unbelievable how fast they can run through such thick bushes. As a walking human, you wouldn’t stand a chance. Opa explained that the dominant male chases or even kills young male Rhinos, as the can be competition in a few years when the grew older and are ready to challenge the dominant male for the territory. As it became dark, we turned on the spotlights. I had situated myself on a spotlight seat, then a can’t blame someone else that we didn’t put enough effort in spotting. Believe it or not, but last year we had a drive in which a girl shines to the stars to check if she could light them up to make a better picture of it out of a driving car. And we hate it when people only shine up to 2 meters besides the road, we even had a guy who turned on the light and let it hang over the bar of the truck. Till so far my complaints about tourists who think they go to a cinema where the movie will be displayed and they can sit down and relax. Soon after searching with the light on, we found a mother Elephant with her youngster. Still love Ellies, such friendly and social animals. Back on the tar road, Opa said that there are Lions in front of us, just on the road. And indeed, there they were, “Short-tale” and “One-eye”, as one of them misses his last end of his tale (missing only his first part of his tale would be more difficult) and the other lost one of his eyes during a fight. They were very lazy, laying down on the tar. For us the ideal opportunity to make some nice pictures. One-eye looks very skinny, but Opa told us that these two Lions are a very good hunting team.
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When all people had very nice pictures, we moved on toward the bridge to the H4-1. On that bridge, I spotted some red light eyes in the water and it was moving. Would it be a Croc? Maybe, it also can be a Hippo. Opa put the truck on a good position and put the spot right on it, so we could see it. Yes, it was a Crocodile, but not just a crocodile, he was eating something big he just caught. We still don’t know what it was, but Opa said that it would be the size of an Impala. Amazing experience in our mind, because our pictures weren’t from good quality. On our way back we saw different other animals like a Pied Kingfisher, Civet, White Tailed Mangoes, some Hippos and at the very last, Opa spotted a Chameleon on the side of the road. He must have put the animal there before we left, how else could he spot them with his bare eyes? Short summary, what an amazing day. Entire big5 plus two Cheetahs very close.

And one pic I don't want to keep behind for you, just because it's so sweet:
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_________________
I am a heartless person,
Not because I am cruel.
No, it's because I am in The Netherlands right now,
And my heart is still in South Africa

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 Post subject: Re: On a Wild Dog Mission in Kruger
Unread postPosted: Sat Aug 13, 2011 1:19 am 
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Joined: Mon May 31, 2010 11:41 am
Posts: 103
Location: The Netherlands
Quote:
Monday 25th July 2011 Wild Dog Area

In our Safari Tent we woke up early. We always do when we have an excitement day in front of us. As the title of the trip report tells us, we are on a Wild Dog mission. We never saw them in the wild. The last days they were spotted by different people around the S114 and some side roads, so we decided to search that area. We first took the H1-1 in southern direction. And soon went left to the S114. We almost never drive fast on the dirt roads, so that we can search very carefully. Just before the crossing with the S23 and the S26, we did see something on the road. But what’s it. You’re kidding me, don’t tell me we did just found our Wild Dogs. Carefully we drove closer, to don’t disturb them. But as the distance reduces, our eyes could tell our brains that we didn’t find Wild Dogs. It were Hyenas. There were two youngsters, a pregnant mother who was raising them, a laze male and an very old grandpa who was also been taken care of by that pregnant female, lot’s of respect for her.
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For about half an hour we stood there, all by ourselves and that Hyena family. The two youngsters keep on walking towards us, while there mother keeps pushing them away from us. Every time when she was busy pushing one of them aside, the other one took a short run in our direction. They were very curious. This gave us the very nice opportunity to take some pictures from their faces.
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Suddenly the female was bored of getting her offspring away from us and gave up. Instead of that she tried to investigate us. She walked to us, looking straight in our eyes and circling around our car. Then she stopped next to my door and came close, very close. To close to feel comfortable with an open window. It just put my window a bit up, so that I wasn’t in a direct line with here strong jaws. She kept staring at me, as if she was reading my mind. Then she took an other step and took a small bite into my door handle. All I could do was taking this blurry picture.
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After she saw us taking pictures, thinking that we would not harm her family, she let the kids play in front of our car. When she was taking care over her father, one of the small Hyenas found a stick and started to walk around with it, just like our dog at home also does. The female stopped the washing ritual and took the stick from her little one. He wasn’t aloud to play with a stick I guess. Mother decided that playtime was over and pushed the whole family into the bush where they seemed to have their den. It was an beautiful sighting this early in the morning and only we witnessed this showpiece.
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We drove further to the Afsaal Trader’s Restplace. On our way we saw a Fish Eagle, some Warthogs, a Mangoes Hotel and a Wildebeest.
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After a short brake we continued our Wild Dog mission in Southern direction to turn left on the S118. After about 3 km driving on that S118, we saw some cars standing still with some cameras out of their windows. So there must be something. We watched with the binoculars to a bush where every other lens was pointed to. Yes, it’s a spotted animal. It’s a Leopard. After a short while, some cars had enough and drove on, so we could take their place. We took some pictures, which aren’t very clear, but they are worth it to post them.
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And where do you think that this spotted friend is watching at?
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On our drive somewhere between Berg-en-Dal and Skukuza we did see a lot of White Rhino’s, some where posing in a very nice way, so we could put them on a portrait. Judge the photo’s for yourself.
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Winning picture of the photo of the day Award, take by me:
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I almost forgot to say that we most of the time stop for birds which are close to the road (unless it are grey pigeons or other commons) or who are in a flight, searching for a prey. At Afsaal we saw this youngster flying in circles above the road. We just had to put our cameras out to safe am image from it. As we are still learning how to photograph a flying object (identified of unidentified) I think these are a good start.
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On the tar road back to Skukuza, we were a bit disappointed that we didn’t find those cursed Wild Dogs. But we were also pleased with that Hyena sighting and the Leopard with an Impala in the tree. Afterwards the Rhino pictures turned out to be very sharp, our best Rhinos so far. I drove 50 km/h as I hit the brake pedal. A big Secretary Bird next to the road. He was walking away from us, so we tried to get his back sharp on the film.
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Back at Skukuza, we went to the riverside to see if there would be some game. And yes, Vervet Monkeys took over the terrace, a Bushbuck was standing next to the fence wandering how to get safe in without being electrocuted (a Leopard wouldn’t have to do his best to get in). At the river, a Nyala family was having the drinking moment that day.
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After all, unless we only saw 2 out of the Big5. The ones we saw were nice and the Hyena sighting makes up a lot. It was such an intimate encounter and they showed real behavior, “how to raise your Hyena Cub lesson one”.


_________________
I am a heartless person,
Not because I am cruel.
No, it's because I am in The Netherlands right now,
And my heart is still in South Africa

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 Post subject: Re: On a Wild Dog Mission in Kruger
Unread postPosted: Thu Aug 18, 2011 11:12 pm 
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Joined: Mon May 31, 2010 11:41 am
Posts: 103
Location: The Netherlands
Quote:
Tuesday 26th July 2011 Wild Dog Area Part II

We have been three times in Kruger together (April 2010, October 2010 and now July 2011) and we have never been to Berg-en-Dal. We also never saw the Wild Dogs in the wild. Back in the Netherlands we life at 5 km away from a safari park where they do have Wild Dogs. But seeing them doesn’t make me feel great, not even when we were standing on a kind of balcony 2 meters away from them. I did get that WOW feeling with the Lions, Cheetahs and Leopard. So I am still searching why I would love to see Wild Dogs in Kruger. Am I not overestimating them? Do I expect more than there is? Or are these doubts just to cover myself against a disappointment not seeing them again? Well, fact is that today we drive of to Berg-en-Dal from Skukuza. A distance which is very much doable. Last days we saw people spotted Wild Dogs At the H4-1 and H4-2 near Lower Sabie. So we planned to drive to Lower Sabie, have a breakfast there and drive over the S25 to reach our night stay. When we started driving, the sun had some big troubles getting through the clouds. On this picture you can see the most rays of sunshine which we had the whole day.

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After a Bushbuck, some Impala’s, and Kudu’s we were halfway the H4-1 and saw a tree with a lot of Vultures. After a desperate search to predators between the underlying bushes we drove further.

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Some km’s before Lower Sabie we had to stop for a herd of Buffalo’s. Not just a herd, no, it were over 500 of them. They were crossing the road towards the Sabie river. It was nice to see them crossing the road. The funny thing was that there were some bulls who kept the herd calm, as some females and youngsters were afraid from walking over the tar. Some of them didn’t want to cross the road and after gathering some courage they ran to the other side to slip halfway the road. Then one of the bulls came and all the ladies were lined up and crossed gently.

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At Sunset Dam we saw some Yellow Billed Storks strengthening their nest to stand in the upcoming bad weather. Also there were some giant Crocodiles at the side in the sand.

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In Lower Sabie we went to the restaurant to get some breakfast. The wind was blowing hard towards their terrace, so it wasn’t a comfortable place to have something to eat. We were not aloud to sit inside, as that was only for the diner. After we ordered at the take-away side, we found us a table. On the table next to us, we saw some guys drinking beer on their breakfast. We thought there was a liquor ban in entire Kruger for day visitors? We did see it at Skukuza as well on all hours of the day. I think that when you introduce a rule, you need employees who obey that rule.
After seeing some other people ordering after us and receiving their food (the same as we had) before we did we got the wrong egg. We both had scrambled eggs and got a fried egg. After sending it back we received it cold. And also the hot chocolate milk we got was not good. Cathy had to less powdered chocolate and after going back, she just got some powder which didn’t dissolve anymore. Selati Train Restaurant proves that it’s also doable to prepare good food in Kruger. The restaurant from Lower Sabie is not even trying to improve their skills, as it’s getting worse in our opinion, which is a shame, because they have one of the nicest views from Kruger to have something to eat.

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Continuing our trip we drove over the H4-2, H5, S108, S25 and the S114 it started to rain. The most animals were gone, hiding themselves. We did see a Giraffe and a Yellow Ribbon on the S25. Next to the Krokodil river we saw two African Fish Eagles and one of them was posing a while for us.

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There were also some Kudu’s crossing the road.

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But that was all we saw on our way to a camp where we haven’t been before. But we fell in love. The people were very nice and helpful as the changed our next night in Pretoriuskop into Skukuza. The H2-2 was closed due to reparation on the road and we had to collect our forgotten water heater in Skukuza (we forgot it in Satara and after a call from the Lower Sabie reception to Satara, they arranged that we could collect it in Skukuza). We did some quick shopping to prepare ourselves an meal. We had a very nice bungalow / cottage with a bar and a nice bathroom. It was a pity that it was raining, because also the private terrace was very nice. Only last year we had a better accommodation when we were at Olifants where we had a riverside bungalow.
Before the gate closed, we decided that it would be nice to have a self-drive to the place where we saw the Leopard yesterday. It’s a very nice area around Berg-en-Dal and I was searching those Wild Dogs as it became dry.

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On the H3 we went north to check the Impala in the tree at the S118. And yes, the Impala was still there. The Leopard must have had some hunger, as he ate some more. Checking the bushes around the tree delivered us our spotted friend. We took some pictures and could spent about 15 minutes before driving back to camp.

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We enjoyed our cottage and shower and in company from a cup of tea we decided that the sunrise was the winning picture of the best photo of the day award, as it was distinctive for today. It was a sad day with only two out of the Big5 and a lot of rain. But we did see a Yellow Ribbon and we had a very nice accommodation.

_________________
I am a heartless person,
Not because I am cruel.
No, it's because I am in The Netherlands right now,
And my heart is still in South Africa

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 Post subject: Re: On a Wild Dog Mission in Kruger
Unread postPosted: Wed Aug 24, 2011 9:32 pm 
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Joined: Mon May 31, 2010 11:41 am
Posts: 103
Location: The Netherlands
Quote:
Wednesday 27th July 2011 Be there on the right place, at the right time (not 5 min. later)

As we left Berg-en-Dal, the weather was a lot better. And just outside the gate, two Marabou Storks were sitting on a tree next to the S110. It was still a bit dark, but the beautiful sunrise didn’t let us wait very long. Between the mountains around Berg-en-Dal, with less clouds, the sun found his way up.
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We couldn’t resist going to the place where we saw the Leopard at the S118. But there was no sign that there has been a Leopard with his prey last two days. Even the Impala in the tree was gone. Well, maybe I am to negative about the no sign part. Just a bit further down that road, there were some Vultures in the trees. The theory says that the Vultures are there where the predators are or have been. But I think that Vultures are as lazy as the cats are and can loose tracks in the morning, so they have to search when the sun warms up mother earth. Besides the Vulture, also a Martial Eagle woke up that morning in a tree on the S118.
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After a quick stop at Afsaal, we continued our way to Skukuza over the H3, where some male Elephants popped up out of the bush.
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A bit further, already on the S113 we saw an other bull, now it was a young one. He was still on his own, but we could see he enjoyed his life.
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On the S114 I spotted some ears in the grass. It was a curious, but lazy Hyena. After taking a few shots he fell down (no, we didn’t shot him, he just fell asleep after taking some pictures).
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A bit further tree cars drove towards us. We were standing still to check what road to take, so the last car could easily tell us that they saw a Lioness near the Renosterkoppies Pan. We pumped down the gas up to 40 km/h (it felt like speeding) to check if she was still around. When we came there, we didn’t see anything. But as there are a lot of rocks over there, we could imagine how easy it was for a Lioness to hide herself in this area. As a car came down the S112, we hold them and asked if they saw anything. Yes, the did see a Lioness. And guess what, we were just 5 minutes to late to see the show. At the Renosterkoppies Pan she caught a Baboon an carried it all the way to her hide somewhere next to the S112 between the rocks. Standing there with the engine off, we could hear her cubs. Wow, we would love to see that, but now she has food, she won’t show herself anymore the next half a day. After some driving around in that area we decided to drive on to Skukuza. But not far from where we were, we saw three White Rhino’s laying down next to the road. How magnificent. They were only a couple of meters away, but we knew they couldn’t see us. Well, let the pictures do the talking:
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Best picture Award winner:
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After a while standing there, we couldn’t resist to go back to the Renosterkoppies Pan. On our way there we warned an approaching car about the three Rhino’s. Unless we told them to be quit and drive very slowly, they drove on fast. We also continued and over there an other two White Rhino’s were there, walking in our direction. After some pictures and still a terrible feeling from missing that kill, we now really go towards Skukuza, because it went hotter and hotter. Back on the place where the three Rhino’s were relaxing, we saw that they were gone. It must have been caused by that rally driver.
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Back at Skukuza we took entrance in our Safari tent next to the fence. After a relaxing afternoon, Cathy recollected our water heater. And guess what. It was ours which she took back to the tent. SAN-Parks is scoring points on that one. Forgetting a heater in Satara, let the reception from Lower Sabie phone to Satara that we want to collect it at Skukuza with the question if they could bring it there. We thought it would be to much to ask if you want it to be arranged on time on a western manner (right at once). We just underestimated the service SAN-Parks could offer.
As the weather was good and we were in a good spotting area, we decided to go on a sunset drive. We didn’t had Opa as a guide, but now I forgot the name from the man who guided us. But he was good. Unless we drove the same road as we did with Opa a few days ago, we enjoyed it. An other Dutch family with three young kids joined us at the drive and two boys used that spotlight very well, unless it was their first drive. We stopped for a some Impala’s, but better safe than sorry. Soon on the H1-2 our guide saw three male Lions on the road. He drove towards them and we could take pictures from the last one, as they were walking and calling the females.
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Later that drive we saw some Buffalo, but they were in the bushes so we couldn't get a clear picture. And a Hyena was walking on the H12 – H4-1 junction. Well spotted by our new Dutch friends. On our way back we saw a Civet, a Genet, some Hippos, Bushbabys eyes and last but not least, a Porcupine. We couldn’t take any photo’s because I was pointing the spotlight on it and it was running back into the bush. But we saw it, and that image is never going to fade. Back at Skukuza we went to Selati Train Restaurant and together with our new friends we had a lovely evening.
I think no-one would be surprised that the three Rhino’s on the picture came out to be the best picture of the day and so on won the Award. With a four out of five with some very nice Rhino, Lion and Elephant Sightings, this was an other great day. But the missing kill still makes it a bit sad. I rather not hear about someone else hits a great sighting when we just missed it.

Here we have some more pictures from this day:
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_________________
I am a heartless person,
Not because I am cruel.
No, it's because I am in The Netherlands right now,
And my heart is still in South Africa

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 Post subject: Re: On a Wild Dog Mission in Kruger
Unread postPosted: Fri Aug 26, 2011 10:42 pm 
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Joined: Mon May 31, 2010 11:41 am
Posts: 103
Location: The Netherlands
Quote:
Thursday 28th July 2011 Animals on the move…

Today we left Skukuza for the last time. Our Safari tent was waiting for us in Lower Sabie. As Lower Sabie is not a very long drive from Skukuza, we thought it would be nice to take the tourist route over the S114, S21 and the last piece over the H4-1. In the bush on the first dirt road we saw our first Big5 animal. An Elephant was hiding himself behind a small bush. As the pictures are not very bright, I won’t post them. Soon after our first Big5 animal, two Rhino’s walked deep into the bush. Also now we couldn’t take great pictures. But after only two hours we already saw 2 out of 5. On the place where we heard the Lion cubs yesterday, we now saw some Klipspringers and a male Kudu.

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At the junction from the S114 and the S21, we saw this nice sighting from a bird which I don’t know by name yet. Maybe some of you have the right answer.

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As we drove further down the S21, the temperature rises and we thought all animals would be at water places or in the shade. But nothing is less true, because we came across four bull Elephants who were testing each others strength. We were right in the middle of real Elephant behavior. They didn’t mind the few cars that were around, so we could enjoy their behavior for over an half an hour. Sometimes the Elephants can very close to us, and I can imagine that such an animal could do a lot of damage to a car. But the luckiest part is that Elephants are very kind animals if you respect them. Then they show what you want, some nice poses to photograph them.

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A bit further, a we had a beautiful sighting with two Giraffes, some Warthogs and lots of Impalas. Also different species of Birds were present at the Mhlupheka waterhole.

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Back on the tar road, the H4-1 we did see some nice Baboons. One was suckling with his mother, next to the road. After some pictures we drove on.

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In a glimpse we saw a cat crossing the road in front of us. Would it be a Lioness? We thought it was. When we reached the place where some other cars were standing still, we couldn’t see anything anymore. But the people who drove in front of us told us that it was a Leopard, which disappeared into the bush. Wow, that’s number 3 out of 5, but again without photographic prove. Meanwhile the temperature was about 28 degrees and we needed a cold drink, so we ended our morning drive… At least, in our mind we were already at Lower Sabie on the terrace with a cool breeze and a cold drink. But to reach Lower Sabie we had to pass the traffic jam at sunset dam. Back in Holland I hate traffic jams. But in Africa I love cars. Then there must be some animal presents nearby. With Cathy on the wheel again we were guaranteed to have the best spot if there are some animals. But this time it was a challenge for her. About 50 cars were fighting for a good place. We were also looking for a good place, but we didn’t even knew where to look for. “Lions at my side”, said Cathy. As they were on the move, we had to position the car in that way that we would have a great view. As an expert Cathy reversed the car to a gab between the bush. No one thought about driving so far away from the sighting, but that gamble was going to pay off. The Lions also found that gab between the bushes and came straight towards us. We have some great pictures.

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Winner picture of the day Award:

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When the two Lions went to the river to drink, we took a quick look at the sunset dam. Some nice photo’s were shot over there.

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Meanwhile it was 13:30 when we checked in. The nice lady at the reception asked us to not disturb the housecleaning if they were still busy. We collected the key and went to our Safari tent for the next two days. When we first arrive in a new accommodation, we always take a look how it looks like. This time we were surprised to be welcomed. Not by humans, but a nest of bats took over the place. Cathy asked a lady in SAN-Parks clothes who was wandering around there for advise. She called someone and within five minutes a man drove our lane and stopped at our tent. We showed him the problem. After trying to remove them (and released only three of them) he told us that it wasn’t possible to sleep there tonight. They would keep us awake all night. Both SAN-Parks officials drove of and told us to wait until they arrange something for us. After waiting one hour, a screaming Fish Eagle flew over our Tent. But that was all we heard.

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As we booked a night drive this night and we wanted to cook some meal before we would leave, we went to the reception to change accommodation. Over there nothing was known about our situation, but she called the man who helped us. After a lot of discussion behind the desk, we got a new Safari Tent which smelt much better and everything was clean. We prepared a quick meal and went on our first activity in Lower Sabie. Letters took us on his night drive. There were two experienced spotters from the USA and Canada on the spotlights in the 9-seater. So we wouldn’t miss anything. They also told us to give feedback if we thought they could do better in a certain manner. I love those people, they have the same goal, don’t miss any nice sighting. We were just out of the gate and we saw an Elephant. We asked Letters whatever we wanted to know about Elephants as the massive Ivory Carrier was calmly doing what he does most of the time, eating. A bit further a whole breading herd was walking next to the fence and also some Hippo’s were crossing the road. For every blinking eye we stopped. Everyone in the truck agreed with us that we could better be safe than sorry. After a shot while we stopped for some eyes below the ground. It could be an crouching Impala, but I would bet on a Genet. And it was, as we saw when we drove in reverse. We also saw lots of Hyenas that night, some were just staring at us. And there it was, our missing Big5 animal, a big Buffalo bull next to the road. Our Big5 is complete for today. But that’s not the end from the drive yet. A lot more was waiting for us. We even saw an Bushbaby and an Civet. Somewhere on a the H4-1 we did see six Rhino’s. Letters told us that the truck we drove in was been attacked by a Rhino on a night drive. They are afraid of their own shade (when you turn the light on them) and run away from it, so in the direction of the car. We took some blurry pictures, but the experience is what counts most on a night drive.
Later, one of the spotters stopped Letters and as we stood on the place where she saw the animal, Letters told us that it was a White Tailed Mangoes. But it was to blurry to take a picture. After that we even saw an other Genet up in the tree. What a nice spotting. And an other Civet joined us on the last 10 minutes of the drive. What a beautiful day with 5 out of 5, and don’t forget the White Tailed Mangoes, genets and civets.

_________________
I am a heartless person,
Not because I am cruel.
No, it's because I am in The Netherlands right now,
And my heart is still in South Africa

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 Post subject: Re: On a Wild Dog Mission in Kruger
Unread postPosted: Sun Aug 28, 2011 11:35 pm 
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Joined: Mon May 31, 2010 11:41 am
Posts: 103
Location: The Netherlands
Friday 29th July 2011 How to miss a Leopard

After a great experience in a Safari Tent at night (we heard Hippo’s, Lions and Baboons near the camp), we woke up without being awakened by our alarm clock. It was a partly clouded road and we decided to make a morning drive ourselves to the other side of the river. It was a bit of a gamble, because the last days, there wasn’t much seen there the last few days. First we took the H10 up north. We were first out, so we would be the ones that would see all animals flight away from the tar into the bush. The car behind us stood still at the crossing with the S29, I think they didn’t decided what way to go yet. I was pleased with that, because now we had the time without pressure from a car behind us. The sun wasn’t risen yet when we saw our first sighting. Three White Rhino’s were grazing next to the road. Still no one was there yet, so we had our private sighting. After some pictures from distance in the dark (so not worth it to post it) we drove on. Only thirty minutes later we saw the second sighting, also a Big5 sighting, the Elephant. Sometimes a bit to close to be comfortable.

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But we also enjoyed being close to that Ellie, and stood there long enough to let the car behind us catch up with us. They told us that we just missed a Leopard. How could we let that happen? He told us that the Leopard just went out of the bush when we did just passed him. They did blinked with their car lights, but we didn’t see that. We only saw that they stopped. So people, take a good lesson, it’s not always better to drive in the front. Sometimes it’s better to drive behind some cars, then there are more eyes to spot. Unless we missed the Leopard, the spotting goes on and we saw our first Reedbuck in Kruger. We have shot it with the 50mm lens and we now regret that we didn’t used the H9 Hybrid camera, because it was a bit to far for that lens.
With the sun rolling high, through the sapphire sky we saw some Vultures, Wildebeest and Ostriches on the dirt road. But the best sighting we had on the S129 was a herd of Zebras. There was also a foal among them. As they weren’t shy at all, we took our time to take some nice shots.

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Back to Lower Sabie on the S128, we saw the third Big5 animal, some Buffalos crossing the road. After some pictures we drove on, as we don’t like Buffalos that much, but they are a tick in the box.

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On the last piece of the S128 we saw a Hyena running through the bush with something in is mouth. It was something he scattered and right next to our car he began to eat it. Luckily I had Cathy with me, she’s so damn good in making the photos at the right time in the right composition. At some places the grass was as high as the Hyenas ears, so when he looked up, we had to stand at the right place. That was my job, to let Cathy get the great positions. As I am a bit better and faster with handling the car (as most man are, hehehe), we were in our best casting today. The results:

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Back on the tar road, we stood still at the bridge for about three quarters of an hour because about fifteen African Fish Eagles give away a flight show. It was great to witness the juveniles and a few mature ones fly up against each other and circling everywhere around our car. It looks like the juveniles had a flight and fight course. Well, to much words now, let the pictures do the talking:

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Right before we entered Lower Sabie, we just have a quick peek at the Sunset dam, you never know what happens over there at the moment. We did see some regular game, nice sightings though from some of the Yellow Billed Storks.

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After a relaxing afternoon and an early homemade dinner, we hopped on the vehicle from Bridgeman. There was a man sitting in the front who act like he was the best spotter on the truck. He was with a spotlight and so did I at the back. So the battle was on. I love people who can handle a spotlight, but I don’t like them when it’s only words and no animals sightings they produce. But Bridgeman took us on a Sunset drive and started to drive over the no-entry road between the S82 and the H4-2, because on the other roads it would be to busy with all people who desperately try to spot something before the gate closes. As Cathy and I were sitting on the right side of the truck, the sun was shining in our face. But see it as an advantage, in the golden grass, we could see the dark shade from the animals out there. And that is exactly what we both saw on the same time. Cathy asked me: “Did you also see that? It looked like a Lioness.” Her doubt was already confirmed to be true by my brains, because I also thought it was. But it would be our first sighting that drive and to stop the truck for nothing at first, people won’t take you serious anymore. But fine, both our doubts together was enough to shout “STOP” at Bridgeman and he reversed the truck. And yes, I saw the shade again, it was far low in the grass, but I could see it very clearly. I told everyone in the truck that it was a Lioness. And suddenly everyone in the truck came to our side and started to grab their camera equipment. Whaha, those tourists. After a short while searching for a good place to spot her, we saw about seven cubs with her and also some teenage females. Some of them started walking and these are the best picture we have got from them.

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Further on that road, Bridgeman holds on with the remains of a Porcupine, killed by a Leopard and he explained something about it.

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As the sun went down, we turned on the spotlights. Suddenly Bridgeman stamped on the brake pedal and turned the car, but we couldn’t see any animal until he pointed us at a tree where a snake was laying down on a branch. That was the last animal I would expect to see in summer.

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On the tar road again, we saw Hippos and something what looked like a Genet. Also a lot of Scrub Hares risked their lives in front of the truck. Later on we found two big Lions. They were calling some females from their pride. Amazing to see them walking, they don’t do that a lot. A bit further, close to the camp, we saw a young Hyena. After shining on him a couple of times he walked back into the bush. We drove on and spotted two other big male Lions at the other side of the truck. But because we didn’t shine on that Hyena anymore, he walked back to the tar road, as that is a far more easy way than through the thick bush. The Lions also noticed his presence, didn’t mind our truck and took a sprint to kill that hyena. The action was mostly in the bush, but when the Lions came back and we still heard the Hyena, we knew that the Lions weren’t successful. Our best picture from the Lions:

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What a day, we nearly saw the entire Big5 again. But with 4 out of 5 we had an amazing day. And don’t forget the Bird Show from the Fish Eagles which delivers a great experience. But still it’s difficult to get a flying bird sharp. Maybe it’s the absence from a high speed motor in our 400 mm lens.

_________________
I am a heartless person,
Not because I am cruel.
No, it's because I am in The Netherlands right now,
And my heart is still in South Africa

http://sanparks.org/forums/viewtopic.php?style=2&f=27&t=54927


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 Post subject: Re: On a Wild Dog Mission in Kruger
Unread postPosted: Mon Aug 29, 2011 1:24 pm 
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Joined: Mon May 31, 2010 11:41 am
Posts: 103
Location: The Netherlands
Kamadejo wrote:
Just caught up here, wow what a lovely TR :clap: :clap: :clap: You were really lucky and your pics are gorgeous. The Raptor you weren't sure about looks like a juv. Martial Eagle to me, but I'm not an expert. :D
Looking forward to the next episode. :thumbs_up: :popcorn:

A juv martial would also be our first guess.

Thanks all for your great reactions on my tr.still a few days left which I want to finish soon.

_________________
I am a heartless person,
Not because I am cruel.
No, it's because I am in The Netherlands right now,
And my heart is still in South Africa

http://sanparks.org/forums/viewtopic.php?style=2&f=27&t=54927


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