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 Post subject: BluTuna Another day (or 14) in paradise March 2011
Unread postPosted: Mon Sep 19, 2011 1:06 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Thu Mar 10, 2011 11:45 am
Posts: 375
Location: Back home in the ratrace.
Greetings fellow Mites.

I've been lurking (mostly) on the TR threads for quite a while and having lived vicariously on the excellent reports I feel it's about time I contributed something.

Over the past 24 years my SO and I have visited the KNP almost every year for at least two weeks and have witnessed some amazing things, the most memorable being a fight between a clan of hyaenas and a single lioness which, thankfully, ended with no serious injuries. I'm currently trying to sort out a video clip of this and hope to post it later in this TR - if anyone is interested.

We are currently counting the days until our next trip to paradise (see signature below) which is in about 5 weeks time. I'm planning to post a trip report while we are in the park but this will depend on the internet access - my current CellC 3G contract expires shortly and I won't be renewing that as there is almost no signal in the park. Has anyone had any luck with any of the other providers?

Meanwhile, I thought I'd post a report on our last trip which was in March this year and add some of the pictures I shot.

My son is a great lover of the KNP and has with us for at least one trip per year since about 1987 when he was around 5 years old. He's now living in Japan and we haven't seen him for 4 years so I've been sending him daily trip reports during our visits to make him jealous and to give him an extra incentive to get his butt over here and visit us. So luckily I have something to crib from!

So here goes......

Saturday March 12 2011
Arrived a Pretoriuskop close to gate time as usual so no time to do a quick drive.

Sunday March 13 2011
Pretoruiskop to Orpen

Took a slow drive via Skukuza and the Nhlangulene road. Shot a bat in the bellfrey at Skukuza's shop. Wahlberg's epauletted fruit bat if I remember correctly. This one looks quite happy to be hanging around.

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Big male lion hiding in the bushes near the Orpen waterhole. You had to look really hard to see him.

Met 'mites DavenJan in the swimming pool - hi guys!

The SO got woken up by the resident honey badger raiding the dustbin. I remember being quite miffed that she didn't wake me up :evil:. She did make up for this later when she met a keeper from Jo'burg Zoo and arranged for us to "go walkies with her HB" :D

Monday March 14 2011
Orpen to Balule

Slow drive.... a JJ and a car coming slowly the other way and..... leopard! It ran across the road 5 metres in front of the car and vanished into the bush. Any leopard sighting is a good sighting, no chance for pictures though.

Now the trip really starts.

3 nights camping at balule... Ahhhh, one of my favourite camps when it's not too hot, which it was....

Tuesday March 15 2011

Up at sparrow er.. burp and drove to Satara for breakfast on the S90. Weather overcast and dull again so not much photography done. I think the animals were all on holiday anyway because we didn't see much except for...

A rather surprised looking BBJ

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who quickly reverted to the regular inscrutable look

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According to my crib sheet we saw "loads" on the return journey (h1-4, S89, S91) but it doesn't say what except for another fleeting leopard!

We did get a peek at the sun just before sunset

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....To be continued.....

_________________
15-17 November 2013, day visitor at Croc Bridge gate.
18 November 2013, Lower Sabie


Last edited by BluTuna on Tue Sep 20, 2011 3:53 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Another day (or 14) in paradise (TR March 2011)
Unread postPosted: Wed Sep 21, 2011 11:02 am 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Location: Back home in the ratrace.
Wednesday March 16 2011

Up at Sparrow's again and started to drive on the S91 to Timbavati picnic spot, still cloudy but we did get a lovely sunrise
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Then we realised we had no drinks in the car - oops! :slap: Back to camp and out again over the bridge as it was now light. Along the S92 to the H1-4 and south towards the olifants river bridge. Bingo, lions! Two males and 5 females lying in the road and the sun came out, we'd have missed these if we had continued on our original route!

Who said that humans are the only animals that sleep on their backs?

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and with battle scars aplenty

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They were doing what Lions do best - "lion around" and they weren't moving for anyone. We eventually had to drive around them to get past.

At Timbavati picnic spot

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And on the way back I finally got the shot of a European roller I was looking for - after several unsuccessful attempts. Perfect light and it didn't fly away :)

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...More to come...

_________________
15-17 November 2013, day visitor at Croc Bridge gate.
18 November 2013, Lower Sabie


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 Post subject: Re: Another day (or 14) in paradise (TR March 2011)
Unread postPosted: Wed Sep 21, 2011 2:24 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Thu Mar 10, 2011 11:45 am
Posts: 375
Location: Back home in the ratrace.
Flutterby wrote:
Love the lazy lions! :lol: Beautiful pics. :thumbs_up:


Glad you enjoyed them :)

steamtrainfan wrote:
We do believe that when something happens and you have to change plans it happens for the best.


It does seem to happen that way, we've had some great sightings when we've just decided to go "that way".


steamtrainfan wrote:
We are at a loss of words on the European roller. What a perfect position.


Thanks for the kind words, they are much appreciated. The thing that impressed me was the performance of my lens - Sigma 150-500mm APO etc...etc...

I took the shot on 500mm zoom and then cropped out this bit at 100% zoom on the image software so its basically pixel for pixel.

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I'm sure that some of those bazookas that cost the price of a car could do better but this is good enough for me!!

_________________
15-17 November 2013, day visitor at Croc Bridge gate.
18 November 2013, Lower Sabie


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 Post subject: Re: Another day (or 14) in paradise (TR March 2011)
Unread postPosted: Thu Sep 22, 2011 12:12 pm 
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Joined: Thu Mar 10, 2011 11:45 am
Posts: 375
Location: Back home in the ratrace.
Thursday March 17 2011
Balule to Shingwedzi

A lazy day, got up with the sun as we have to pack up the camp site and move it to Shingwedzi.

Managed to get out for an afternoon drive down the river loops but the only subject matter on offer was this mean critter

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Friday March 18 2011

Off down the S56 this morning. We call it the elephant road because we once nearly got caught in the middle of a herd of about 150 on this road - scary experience!

A lovely drive but there was not much to see, mainly because of the dense bush and tall grass although according to my crib sheet, we saw 4 x 100+ herds of Buffs during the day.

I managed to get another of the birds I was after, a Carmine Bee-Eater.

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We did spot a very distant lion in the river bed through a tiny gap in the trees. Way too distant for a picture though.

Took the afternoon drive down the river loops again, one of our favourite drives in the park.

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and in a puddle next to the low-level bridge

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.....coming up, the Redrocks yawn (almost)!

_________________
15-17 November 2013, day visitor at Croc Bridge gate.
18 November 2013, Lower Sabie


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 Post subject: Re: Another day (or 14) in paradise (TR March 2011)
Unread postPosted: Thu Sep 22, 2011 12:15 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Posts: 375
Location: Back home in the ratrace.
Saturday March 19 2011

The Redrocks YAWN (almost)!

Another cloudy day, we decided to do the Redrocks loop and saw a few Imps and Zebs. We got to the lookout and it was raining so we just had a pit-stop.

Continuing onwards, the SO had fallen asleep and I was having a jaw-cracking yawn when, strolling down the middle of the road....

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typical KNP! Just when you think you'll have a ordinary day, something catches you by surprise!

This beauty walked alongside us for about a kilometre, the light was awful but I couldn't let this photo-op pass. I'm always amazed by the power and grace of these magnificent animals.

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Eventually, he got closer and closer to us - I was trying to drive while shooting out of the passenger side window - I had to crop the car door off the bottom of this shot...

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He crossed the road almost under the front bumper and jumped into a huge tree.

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Then another car came from the opposite direction and asked if we were looking for the Giant Eagle Owl which was calling from the same tree. No, there's a leopard in the tr...... It was gone! We could hear impalas snorting their warnings as he walked deeper into the bush. I felt sorry for them, missing it by seconds but then I've lost count of the number of times it's happened to us! That's just the luck of the KNP!

Down the river loops again in the afternoon. the bush is so thick that I think we should rename the dam from Kannedood to Kannesee :)

Managed to shoot a rather splendid immature Martial Eagle

Image


.....To be continued......

_________________
15-17 November 2013, day visitor at Croc Bridge gate.
18 November 2013, Lower Sabie


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 Post subject: Re: Another day (or 14) in paradise (TR March 2011)
Unread postPosted: Fri Sep 23, 2011 2:27 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Thu Mar 10, 2011 11:45 am
Posts: 375
Location: Back home in the ratrace.
Sunday March 20 2011

Had a lazy morning, got up with the sun and went for a short drive. We were planning to go to Pafuri but we couldn't get any breakfast provisions from the shop - no bacon or eggs, so we decided to give it a miss for this trip.

At the Lamont water hole....

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and a different creature with spots...

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River loops again in the afternoon...

More buffs and a Giant Eagle Owl

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Monday March 21 2011

Got up and packed up the camp site. We have a night in a rondavel at Olifants tonight - Ahhhhh, aircon :)

Here's a panorama (about 8 shots stitched together) of the view from the new restaurant at Olifants.

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Click here for a bigger image

And an Owl Moth (I think) on our verandah.

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......More later....

_________________
15-17 November 2013, day visitor at Croc Bridge gate.
18 November 2013, Lower Sabie


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 Post subject: Re: Another day (or 14) in paradise (TR March 2011)
Unread postPosted: Fri Sep 23, 2011 5:21 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Posts: 375
Location: Back home in the ratrace.
Tuesday March 22 2011

Travelled to Lower Sabie and set up camp.

This Tree Agama (ID?) was waiting for us at the camp site.

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After setting up the camp in 35+ heat, I needed to cool down a bit so we went for a short drive with the aircon on to start with.

A Goliath Heron at the causeway.

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We also saw Rhino, Ele and when we were rushing back to camp worried that we would be late, another Leopard walking down the road!

A major storm passed us by during the night. It only dropped a few spots but the sky was flickering like a strobe light and the thunder was continuous for well over an hour! I'm still kicking myself for not going to the lookout to try for some lightning shots.


Wednesday March 23 2011

This morning - "The Rhino Road" and "The Leopard Tree" (Gomondwane Loop). This road has been really good to us even though the bush is very thick, we call it "The Rhino Road" because we saw more White rhino on it than anywhere else in the park in our early days.

We have also seen our only ever sighting of Caracal and Black Rhino on this road. In the past couple of trips we had one of our best sightings of a Painted Dog pack that had just taken down an Impala 2m from the road - we must have missed the kill by seconds as they were still eating - and a fantastic leopard!

(Shot in April 2010)
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"The Leopard Tree" is a Milkwood about 50m south of the S137 junction (Duke waterhole road). About 15 years ago, this was in it....

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Every time we go past, we look into the tree but have had no luck since.

As we approached this time, I muttered "one day we'll look in this tree and there will be another leopard in it.... And there is!!!!!!!!" :dance: :dance: :dance:

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And my favourite shot from the whole trip...

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And it was gone!

I couldn't believe it, a leopard in "The leopard Tree", we'd long since given up hope of that ever happening again! We laughed all the way to breakfast at Croc. Our fifth Leopard this trip :D

On the way to Croc, a European (Goldenbacked?) bee-Eater, one of my favourite birds. Any fashion consultant will tell you these colours do not go together!

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Back to LS via the S28 - another great road, especially for cheetah. The grass was very high and I didn't expect to see much but I had an image in my mind as I drove.... And there it was...

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It was miles away and at first I thought I was hallucinating :), the shot above was taken with my 500mm at full zoom.

Here's a blurry crop of the centre of the picture.

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Excellent! Two spotty cats in a morning :Dance:

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15-17 November 2013, day visitor at Croc Bridge gate.
18 November 2013, Lower Sabie


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 Post subject: Re: Another day (or 14) in paradise (TR March 2011)
Unread postPosted: Mon Sep 26, 2011 2:33 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Posts: 375
Location: Back home in the ratrace.
The afternoon drive wasn't so exciting but produced the following...

This young Warthog who was obviously enjoying his tucker

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Some Greater Horned Tanks in perfect light

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This one reminds me of Martin Clunes or it is Mick Jagger? :)

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Buffs after a mud bath

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And finally a lady Imp with the sunset in her eye.

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_________________
15-17 November 2013, day visitor at Croc Bridge gate.
18 November 2013, Lower Sabie


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 Post subject: Re: Another day (or 14) in paradise (TR March 2011)
Unread postPosted: Mon Sep 26, 2011 11:00 pm 
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Location: Back home in the ratrace.
Thursday 24 March 2011

Another scorching day - I don't think we had a single day of this trip where the temperature was below 35C. I'm glad we bought the electric fan with us or it would have been unbearable.

We saw lions today in the distance, the first we'd seen since the sleepy ones in the road near balule!

The drives today produced the following...

Giant Kingfisher

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More Buffs, this one looked a bit bruised and battered

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Dwarf Mongoose

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Wildebeest

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Tree Agama

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Kudu in the classic pose

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And a lovely sunset across the LS dam.

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....Last installment coming up....

_________________
15-17 November 2013, day visitor at Croc Bridge gate.
18 November 2013, Lower Sabie


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 Post subject: Re: Another day (or 14) in paradise (TR March 2011)
Unread postPosted: Tue Sep 27, 2011 2:39 pm 
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Location: Back home in the ratrace.
Friday 25 March 2011

Our last full day :( It was overcast so we just packed up the tent and trolled off to Croc Bridge for our last night - in a rondavel so the aircon will be most welcome.

We did see this very sleepy dagga Boy on the afternoon drive

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and we spent the evening sharing the verandah of the rondavel with 3 frogs and 7 geckos like this one

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Just before I hit the pit, I looked up to see the biggest insect I've ever seen hanging from the thatch. It was at least a foot long (30cm)! The roof beam is about 3 inches (7.5cm) in diameter. I tried to get something in the picture to give an idea of scale but I was worried that if I got too close it would eat me :)

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Saturday 26 march 2011

All good things come to an end. With that horrible empty feeling in our stomachs we took our last drive along the Crocodile River road and exited at Malelane gate. The last thing we saw was this Warthog with the most impressive tusks

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A big thank you to all of the mites who contributed to this TR, It's great to share with others who share my love of the bush.

Roll on our next trip to paradise - in just over 4 weeks time :dance:

The promised video (see my first posting on this TR). I'm still having fun trying to copy it from a video cassette to DVD. I'll try to put it on the forum in the next few days.

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15-17 November 2013, day visitor at Croc Bridge gate.
18 November 2013, Lower Sabie


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 Post subject: Re: Another day (or 14) in paradise (TR March 2011)
Unread postPosted: Thu Oct 06, 2011 10:40 am 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Location: Back home in the ratrace.
As promised, here is a clip of our most memorable event in the KNP.

I have posted this as a new thread but although there have been over 40 views, no-one has thought it exciting enough to post a comment :(

We now go back to January 4th 2000 - queue suitable visual and sound effects.

We were camping at Tamboti and had booked on a night drive after much deliberation as the weather looked a bit iffy.

I turned out to be the most miserable night drive we've ever taken.

Everything was fine until the sun went down and the guide handed out the spotlights, then the sky opened and the rain poured down for the rest of the drive.

Huddled in our leaky ponchos, sitting on waterlogged squelchy seats we shivered our way down the H7. Returning to camp along the Rabelais' Road (S106), we saw nothing (I don't think we even saw an Impala) except a very damp African Wild Cat and just before the H7 junction, a clan of 10 or so Hyaenas.

I think the guide was getting desperate to see something because she turned onto the N'wamatsatasa waterhole road and found the lioness and witnessed Round One of the event. After Round One, the lionesses stalked off into the bush we moved back to the H7 for Round Two.

The video was taken by my son who was still coming to grips with the camera. I’ve edited out the bits that show his feet, the truck, sky and various other bits that don’t show the action.


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15-17 November 2013, day visitor at Croc Bridge gate.
18 November 2013, Lower Sabie


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