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 Post subject: bigal-sa-Mapungubwe: and then my bakkie broke...
Unread postPosted: Tue Sep 27, 2011 10:47 am 
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Joined: Thu Sep 22, 2011 9:39 am
Posts: 13
Location: Pretoria
Let me try my hand at a trip report. :think:

There we were, with months of anticipation behind us, due to leave for our first visit to Mapungubwe on Woman's Day. Over the weekend, everything was packed ready to be loaded on the Monday evening. The bakkie was filled with fuel, extra fuel in the reserve tank, tyres pumped, oil and water checked - everything ready for the trip :thumbs_up:

Then on the Monday (Tuesday was Woman's Day), I decided to take the bakkie for a drive. I have no idea why I wanted to do this, but I'm very glad that I did, as when I got home, cooling fluid was *pouring* out of the radiator (now 16:00). PANIC! I must have phoned every single vehicle service centre in Pretoria that Google could find with the search term 'radiator'. And I got the same response from every one, "Sorry, we're packing up for the day. It's been very quiet, so we're going home early" and "No, we aren't open tomorrow".

So, next was to try the car hire places to see if I could hire a 4x4. Two didn't answer their telephones, one didn't have any 4x4-type vehicles available in Gauteng :doh: and then at last Avis said, "We'll get back to you shortly". After shortly had passed (about an hour), they phoned back to say they couldn't get a vehicle to me as all their Pretoria offices were closed for the public holiday...

By now we were very despondent - should we cancel the Mapungubwe leg of our trip? After much discussion between us, and calls to wife's colleague who had been to Mapungubwe in February and June, we decided to go by car - a Corolla.

Of course, this entailed a complete repack...


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 Post subject: Re: Mapungubwe: and then my bakkie broke...
Unread postPosted: Wed Sep 28, 2011 8:04 am 
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Joined: Thu Sep 22, 2011 9:39 am
Posts: 13
Location: Pretoria
Thanks for your interest Flutterby, DinkiBird, Rino, Bushbuddies and Tobieo. I meant to put more up yesterday, but got held up by a meeting :(

The repacking was quite an issue. What I didn't mention in my first post that our trip was 3 nights at Mapungubwe, 3 nights at Punda and 2 nights at Mopanie, so the packing included all supplies for the whole trip.

The first problem was the cooler box - a 64l Coleman. If that went into the boot, nothing else would fit. Fortunately, I had two smaller cooler boxes which could take the contents of the Coleman. Clothes for both of us had to be squashed into one ammo box, only two bags of charcoal could fit, plenty of snacky stuff had to be left behind, but all the camera stuff had to fit :)

So, daybreak on the 9th saw me driving around trying to find an open petrol station. Believe it or not, only the third one I went to was open! The Corolla does virtually no long distance travelling, so I even had to look in the handbook as to what was the correct tyre pressures for the open road!

Anyway, to cut a long story short, we managed to get away by 08:00. (By Warmbaths, the Corolla had now travelled its longest distance in one stretch!) Because of the public holiday, traffic was unbelievably light, so we reached Messina just after 13:00 and filled up (it was hardly necessary as the Corolla managed better than 18km/l!). Just for interest, we went via Messina, rather than the recommended Dendron/All Days route, as my wife's colleague had said that road was badly potholed.

Finally, around 14:00 and *very* tired, we arrived at the reserve (and just ahead of six other vehicles!)

[To be continued...] :redface:


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 Post subject: Re: Mapungubwe: and then my bakkie broke...
Unread postPosted: Thu Sep 29, 2011 9:51 am 
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Joined: Thu Sep 22, 2011 9:39 am
Posts: 13
Location: Pretoria
@JenB: a motorbike :shock:
@ Bushbuddies: the back seat was pretty full - the camera bags & stuff, the basket, lunch cooler bag... :D

At reception, I was thankful for the ease at which we got through with an internet booking (such things weren't available the previous time we stayed over in a SANPark). After handing over the key, the receptionist asked whether I had a 4x4. With my reply, I got the following map, with the pink showing the roads 'suitable for a car' (all pics are clickable):

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I thought, Oh dear (not quite :lol: ), and she didn't even mention the western part of the reserve.

The road to Leokwe was pretty badly corrugated, which made me wonder whether we should have skipped Mapungubwe...

...but once we'd unpacked and had lunch and a beer...

We were very fortunate to have unit 11, which is furthest from the pool, and closest to the cliffs. View from front steps:

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Some views of the cliff from the stoep:

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There was also a klipspringer lying in the bushes close to the stoep :lol:

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So at this stage, a *very* happy start to proceedings!

[More soon...]


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 Post subject: Re: Mapungubwe: and then my bakkie broke...
Unread postPosted: Sat Oct 01, 2011 10:07 am 
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Joined: Thu Sep 22, 2011 9:39 am
Posts: 13
Location: Pretoria
Thanks for looking and commenting Flutterby, Bushbuddies, kite and Pumbaa - much appreciated!

I couldn't get to do my update yesterday as my photo hosting service was down for maintenance, then there was something important on between 0930 and 1130, and then there was a post-something celebration, and then I was tired :lol:

Klipspringers having ear inspection:

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What is quite interesting in these pics is how large the Redwinged Starlings are (or conversely, how small the klipspringers are!)

Some views of the cliffs around no 11. I was a bit wary of venturing too far from the unit as there were elephant droppings between no 10 & 11. Of all the animals around, I think I'm most petrified of elephants. There is no fencing whatsover around Leokwe.

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A lookout:

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Lookout eating:

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Moon:

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A very pleasant end to day 1, in spite of the problems 24 hours earlier! :dance:


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 Post subject: Re: Mapungubwe: and then my bakkie broke...
Unread postPosted: Sun Oct 02, 2011 11:42 am 
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Joined: Thu Sep 22, 2011 9:39 am
Posts: 13
Location: Pretoria
Thanks to Touareg, Flutterby (hope the weather improves!), Bushbuddies, billyf, Meandering Mouse and DinkyBird - the Corolla's suspension is rattling a bit, but here we go.

Day 2 - early tea and rusks ready for sunrise:

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This massive baobab is close to Leokwe. You can judge its size from the width of the road on the left.

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Our next stop was the Treetop Walk to the hide overlooking the Limpopo:

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Some "arty" :D against the light shots:

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Looking towards the hide from the walkway (it was unbelievably cold in the hide with the wind coming off the river):

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Views of the walkway:

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And just for fun, here is another "arty" shot (read blapsie :lol: ) of a Redbilled Helmetshrike (you only get one chance - be prepared) taken from the walkway:

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 Post subject: Re: Mapungubwe: and then my bakkie broke...
Unread postPosted: Tue Oct 04, 2011 8:46 am 
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Joined: Thu Sep 22, 2011 9:39 am
Posts: 13
Location: Pretoria
Thanks for staying onboard Meandering Mouse, Pumbaa, Bushbuddies and Elsa (hope no-one got hurt falling off!)

Our next stop was the picnic site for breakfast. Unfortunately, the exit road from the picnic site had this bit of bad news:

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The end of the road for the poor Corolla...

I didn't take any pics of the picnic site, but Mrs bigal-sa did, so will put up some of her pics in the next installment.

I haven't mentioned it, but we are really avid birdwatchers (not birders :D), and have travelled extensively in southern Africa in search of new ticks. So, we really enjoy seeing things that are out of the ordinary. And, while we were having breakfast, we had one of those out of the ordinary experiences, which for me was the highlight of the trip: a Black Eagle display flight. (I'm not into bird in flight photography, it's too difficult, so please forgive me for the quality of the pics :()

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...and then to make me even happier, the mate joined in:

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...and then, to finish off with breakfast, this 'almost posing' Longtailed Glossy Starling:

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[I hope that wasn't too boring :cam: ]


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 Post subject: Re: Mapungubwe: and then my bakkie broke...
Unread postPosted: Fri Oct 07, 2011 8:37 am 
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Joined: Thu Sep 22, 2011 9:39 am
Posts: 13
Location: Pretoria
Thanks for keeping me company Pumbaa, Bushbuddies, kids@camping and Crested Barbet.

@Bushbuddies: the difference between the two is WATCH :D You need to read chapter 2 of Bill Oddie's Little Black Bird Book ;)

I did promise some pics of the picnic site, but haven't gotten around to uploading them yet, so I'll show some pics from the confluence view site instead. I took these pics with my ultra-wide zoom lens, but the light was already against me, even though it was only 09:00, so one loses the feel of height and depth.

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The actual confluence, with the Shire being the light brown patch on the left (dry grassland):

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A view of the Shire and the Limpopo

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A view of Mrs bigal-sa taken a pic of the view of a viewing platform :lol: There are four viewing platforms:

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(Note the jacket - it really was that cold!)

I had been hoping to get some pics of the Black Eagles from above, but they had decided enough for the day.


Last edited by bigal-sa on Wed Oct 12, 2011 7:27 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Mapungubwe: and then my bakkie broke...
Unread postPosted: Mon Oct 10, 2011 9:27 am 
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Joined: Thu Sep 22, 2011 9:39 am
Posts: 13
Location: Pretoria
After visiting the confluence viewsite, we went on to the viewsite south of the picnic site.

A few metres from the picnic site's "information" centre, we came across a klipspringer family resting on a rock very close to the path. Unfortunately, I still had the ultra-wide lens on my camera and when I stopped to take my backpack off, the group jumped up and moved off. I only managed to get a couple of shots, and none of the group:

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(Thanks to DinkyBird for finding the fix to getting this image to show :k )

Some views from the viewing platform:

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The viewing platform:

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Last edited by bigal-sa on Mon Oct 10, 2011 5:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Mapungubwe: and then my bakkie broke...
Unread postPosted: Tue Oct 11, 2011 2:12 pm 
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Joined: Thu Sep 22, 2011 9:39 am
Posts: 13
Location: Pretoria
Thanks for travelling with me Vlakvarkvrou, Pumbaa and Son Godin. The landscapes are something completely different to what I'm used to.

@Son godin: I must admit this was the first time that I've seen so much water in the Limpopo, but very interesting that it's all gone. It was really flowing quite strongly in August.

We decided to chill out for the afternoon to discuss what we were going to do on the next day. The options being: the same route; the western half of the park; the archeological site; or a game drive. Now I don't like game drives, as one never knows what the guide is going to be like and whether he'd be patient with photography. I really do want to see the dig, but they only had two tours per day at quite odd times. So, we decided to do the treetop walk again and hope that there would be less wind.

Another view from the chalet, we called it Bobbejaankrans:

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and of course the moon:

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Next day we headed off to the treetop walk bright and early to see what birds were around. Instead of birds, we found a small herd of bushbuck:

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Unfortunately, the birds didn't want to be seen. We had what may have been a couple of Meyer's Parrots disappearing into the distance and a Scop's Owl calling (at 07:00!!), and that was it. So we moved on.

Just outside the parking enclosure we ran into some giraffe:

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There were also some impalas and zebras around, but I couldn't get decent shots of them. Mrs bigal-sa did, so will put some of her pics up soon.


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 Post subject: Re: Mapungubwe: and then my bakkie broke...
Unread postPosted: Thu Oct 13, 2011 11:48 am 
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Joined: Thu Sep 22, 2011 9:39 am
Posts: 13
Location: Pretoria
Thanks for staying onboard Elsa, Bushbuddies and Granjan.

@Bushbuddies: if you want klipspringers, this is the place!

I'm rushing the last day a bit, as we're off to Mount Sheba and I can't do everything I wanted to for the TR, so unfortunately, some will have to wait until I'm back.

Just before the climb up to the picnic site, we ran into a good sized bird party (for those that don't know, bushveld birds form groups of mixed species during the winter. Finding one of these bird parties is the best way to watch birds.).

A Threestreaked Tchagra who went out of his way to avoid getting his pic taken:

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This Greyheaded Bush Shrike also kept his distance:

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During breakfast, this very friendly Sabota Lark was hopping around just wanting to have his pic taken. He didn't take into account the positioning of the sun though :)

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He did give one nice profile shot though:

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On the way back to Leokwe, we got this Little Bee-eater *right* next to the road. It was on the passenger side of the car, which meant I had to hold the camera without any support (2+kg of lens and almost 1kg of camera!). In my bakkie, I can rest my elbow on the seat as it has a bench seat in front - bucket seats don't allow that :(

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He then flipped off to hawk an insect, but settled a bit further off:

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Like the Black Eagles, being able to take these pics made the trip worthwhile for me.

When I get back, I'll share my impressions of the reserve as a whole. Be good while I'm gone :D


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