Hey all, please excuse the long report, get a cuppa before reading!
Kruger Report 24th Ã¢â‚¬â€œ 30th December 2005
3 nights Satara
1 night Talamati
2 nights Biyamiti
Entered Paul Kruger Gate at about 8:00, could not believe my eyes on how the park had changed so much in only 2 months. From brown and burnt to green, was amazing, rivers flowing and dams full. Experienced my first road block in the park by traffic cops at the intersection of the S3, did not stop me, but stopping quite a few cars, apparently just checking licenseÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s and firearms etc. Met up with dad in other car at Skukuza, had breakfast and off we set to Satara. Weather was nice. Plenty of general game. Nyala on maroela loop. Saw a lone sable bull close to kruger tablets but was quite far into the bush. Couple of kmÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s later pride of about 9 lions lying under the trees. Missed a leopard by a couple of minutes, lots of cars but no leopard. Elephant calves bathing in Nkaya pan, sometimes completely under water. Was enjoyable. Arrive at Satara.
Afternoon drive was quite, saw a herd of giraffe and a couple of impala. Nsemani dam is low funny enough, and other dams have water than usually donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have.
Next morning, its Christmas, Merry to all, out at 4:30, clan of about 15 hyaenaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s right outside camp, all over the road, still dark, used spotlight. And then did that bloody road again S100, and saw a lone lioness far away into the bush and believe it or not that was it for the S100.
Afternoon drive was quiet again, plenty of impala and saw 1 herd of zebra and a coupld of wildebeest. Then driving over the dam wall at Nsemani, about 15 cars stopped looking at dam for sundowners. Drove along slowly, looking right (away from dam) there is a little gorge/river running away from dam, and there I caught the outline of a leopard, quickly reversed and there it was, far away but clearly in the open, climbed down the bank, and then sat staring at us licking itself. Had to laugh as all cars are still looking at dam for the sunset etc but no one realizes we were looking at a leopard, he sat there for about 3 minutes before it started to rain and off his was gone. Then the rain fell heavily.
Back to camp, got reservations for Christmas dinner at restaurant. Biggest mistake I made, was up all night been sick. Been a strong solider, still went out at 4:30 the next morning, raining still, basically sick the whole drive, saw very little due to the weather, get back to camp and get into bed and their I lay for the whole day until 17:00, felt a bit better and went out quickly, saw a couple of waterbuck, baboons and some giraffe.
Up at 4:30 again, head towards Orpen, a herd of about 200+ buffalo all lying down, while filming them, heard lions roaring, and they were close. Left buffalo and traveled about 1km and their were 4 male lions, 2 lying down and 2 walking towards the others, stayed with them for a while hoping something would happen, but not to be.
Did the Leeubron road, S39, not much to see, eventually came across some impala and then a couple of minutes later a big male lion with 2 cubs lying right next the road, car that came around corner as we got their scared male lion off but cubs stayed for a while, car started and then off the cubs went, within seconds nothing could be seen. Return to camp, off to Talamati.
Nothing much to report on drive to Talamati, was quite hot, so many animals taking shade. Saw some impala and zebra. First time at Talamati, was impressed. Stayed in unit no.1 which is very well placed. I really enjoy the peace and quiet as apposed to madness at the big camps. Also the bird hides are great. Had a kip, and off again in the afternoon by myself, head off towards Orpen, ellie right next to the road, and then a first for me, a Woollynecked Stork, it is a red data book species. Was quite impressed with my sighting. Later on, saw another couple of ellies and impala aswell as some waterbuck. Stopped off at Rabeleis, amazing how that dam still looks the same but no water ofcourse. On the road back, big bull ellie walking towards me, stood my ground and he ventured of the road casually grazing, very relaxed.
Next morning left Talamati at 5:00 for Biyamiti, (heard lions roaring while packing the car) and about 2km from camp there was 2 lionesses and 1 male lion hiding under the bushes. Decided to do the S36, having not done this road for many years was looking forward to it, scenery and vegetation was really enjoyable, but no animals to be seen, saw a jackal quickly, think it was a side striped jackal as it was very light in colour but cannot confirm, so we leave it as a jackal sighting. Some waterbuck at Lugmag, and some impala and nyala a couple of kmÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s later. 4 RhinoÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s at Nkumbe. Couple of ellies, waterbuck and zebra on the way down to Lower Sabie. Arrive at Biyamiti, love the place, very nice, river is flowing. Stayed in unit no.7, brilliant view. Bush was very dense around the area though. Did not see much on the S139 Biyamiti road at all. I think it is a camp for winter, when river is dry and bush dry. Strom came over, heaviest storm I have ever experienced in the park ever, lightning, thunder, wind, had no electricity for 2hrs. Stayed in.
Next morning out early, after all the good sightings reports about the area was very excited to travel this road. As we left camp, caught a quick glimpse of a civet running across the road. Later on saw a couple of rhino in a mud bath. Ellie herd cross the road. The started following lion tracks in the road(H2-2), came to the end right by Afsaal and saw 4 Jock of the Bushveld game vehicles and 1 car from the park. Asked whats there. 1 lioness with 4 small cubs, cant see. What I experienced next was very interesting. They came in the open and wanted to cross the road, now about 10 cars there, got scared of all the noise and ran back into the bush. The lioness was determined to get across, one of the rangers asked all to turn cars off and sit still so they come. Eventually they came and what irritated me next as they started coming the 4 Jock vehicles started moving forward to get a better view blocking mine and a couple of other people. Got to see a little which I managed to get a bit on video. Off into the bush, cant see them, tried to track them down the H2-2 towards Pretoriuskop, but no luck. Mid morning drive to Croc Bridge saw 4 lions on H5, parents saw them later on the hunt but impala picked up on them and ran. That afternoon revealed some more rhino and impala, and later on vervet monkeys.
Next morning out early again, head off towards Crocodile bridge doing the S25 Ã¢â‚¬â€œ S108 Ã¢â‚¬â€œH5 and down. Was very quiet until we got onto the H5, look ahead of me while driving and there was a big male leopard half across the road, buy the time I get to where it crossed, you can bearly see it going through the thick bush, back tracked trying to pick up on it but no luck. Later on came across a big herd of giraffe. Lion on the H4-2 sleeping in the distance. Ellie on the S25, and then came across a group of cars, asked what they seen and say a leopard, but its gone now, and then asked us if we saw the cheetah cross the road and head into the bush about 100m back. After hearing that the roof of the car was almost off. If only we didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t back track for the other leopard, but then again things happen for a reason. Head back to camp, pack and head out Malelane. Quiet on the way out. Very sad.
All in all the weather was terrible, had 2 out 7 days decent days the rest of was rain and overcast. Bird life was really good, got 91 species. Bird calls all over, really enjoyed it. Some highlights of birds,
Woollynecked, Yellowbilled, Saddlebilled Storks
Lots of eagles, raptors and vultures, pale form of Wahlbergs eagle.
Kingfishers all over, first sighting of a Diederick Cuckoo at Satara. African Cuckoo, Jacobin Cuckoo.
Lots of bee eaters, and rollers, green pigeon, Scops Owl.
Photography was not that great cause of the weather, and some sightings were far, and all my dad wants me to do is video!!!
Always good to be in Kruger, till we meet again in April.
While at the coast, saw redwinged starling, long crested eagle and purple crested lourie, all new for me.
Pics will follow shortly!
Planning next KNP trip!