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 Post subject: CLEAN>Johan van Rensburg Balule Bash Nov 11
Unread postPosted: Fri Nov 25, 2011 3:14 pm 
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Hear Ye, Hear Ye!

I am predicting that the Balule Bash will become one of the most sought-after birding events on the KNP-calendar! With the Pooh Bear and her Mid Rand HR crew nothing is done half-measure… You are assured of 5-star treatment, plush comfort and a superlative bush dinner experience, two nights running. And then there await the drives Friday evening, Saterday morning and afternoon and again a morning drive on Sunday… approximately 18 hours of close encounters with the wilderness around Balule. The “farewell breakfast” after the Sunday morning drive is another pinnacle in a weekend studded with highlights. But I will leave describing that treat ‘til much later.

We were told to be at the Olifants Reception by 14:00 on Friday. Son Sammy and I entered the Park at Phalaborwa Gate ensuring the shortest distance remaining between entry point and destination. We had been on the road from Standerton since 02:30 Friday morning and were only JUST running on schedule. Not too many stops were made along the route to Olifants. The only planned stop was a detour to the Sable Dam, always one of my favourite spots in the KNP.

The water was substantially lower than when I last visited the dam.

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Last edited by Johan van Rensburg on Sun Nov 27, 2011 9:25 am, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Balule Bash
Unread postPosted: Sun Nov 27, 2011 9:23 am 
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Image
Large view

An impressive bull ellie stood in the shallows while another was frolicking in a deeper part of the dam. I think that this fellah must be one of the ex-tuskers, looking at the girth of those tusk stumps! I have not yet been able to match him with any of the KNP ellies on record.

In the background one can see the Sable Dam hide. The last time I visited the water's edge was right up to the green bush in the background.

Bacause of the 14:00 deadline we didn't stop much on our way to Olifants Camp.

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 Post subject: Re: Balule Bash
Unread postPosted: Sat Dec 10, 2011 7:19 am 
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At Olifants we booked in at reception and parked the landy under a shady tree. The transfer of our baggage, greeting of old friends (Dave, Pooh Bear and 'mite / mate Agraham), and meeting of new ones (HRs Paul and Gene; our guides Brenden and Craig) and the introduction of the St Anderton affiliates (Sammy, Cicelia, Tobie, Gail, Jan-Sweis and JvR) took a few minutes. We were then briefed that we were to determine our own game viewing itinerary! Depending on what we wanted to see… Heheheeee… what a nice one, Brenden! Pull the other one a bit too!

When I heard of the Balule bash, I must have listened with half an ear ‘cause my head is always up in a birding cloud! In spite of a lone dissenting voice from Gail that tried to get a Big Five vote in, Brenden quickly understood that we were there for the feathers and then we were on our way.

I got a heads-up from birding buddy Niall that Brenden “knows how to spot a bird” and I can affirm that! And a whole bunch of stuff on top of that: his bush-knowledge is astounding!

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 Post subject: Re: Balule Bash
Unread postPosted: Sun Mar 04, 2012 10:25 am 
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Hmmm... It looks like a TR cannot be left idle too long... I got a moderate nudge to either get on with the trip report or watch it shrink into the archives. :shock:

Problem is that I got very lucky as far as trips to our National Parks go. And, to top it all I got an overseas trip in as well. So my excuse for neglecting the Balule Bash TR is just having too many irons in the fire.

The Balule Bash actually paved the way for another wonderful, on-going adventure of which I posted a TR: Atlassing Kruger... on foot! in the birding forum.

Before continuing with the Bash report, let me appologise for keeping those of you that started following the Bash waiting so long...

The main objective of the Balule Bash was to get a day-light sighting of the elusive Pel's fishing owl. I had two other entries on my agenda, but they were secondary to the Pel's owl; white-backed night-heron and grey-rumped swallow.

Deep in the heart of the Kruger National Park, in the most exquisite topography, lies a small satellite camp named 'Balule' after the Tsonga word for the Olifants River. This camp is one of the best places for guests to experience nature first hand. Situated more or less in the centre of the Park, just south of Olifants Camp, Balule lies on the banks of the Olifants River. With only the most basic of facilities and no electricity, a low fence is the only barrier that separates you from the wilderness, resulting in an authentic, old time bushveld experience. It is this unique wilderness feel of the camp that makes it a firm favourite with backpackers, the caravanning community and other visitors who want to get away from it all.

Six rustic 3-bed huts with communal ablution facilities and a communal kitchen with scullery and gas stove make up the camp propper. The huts have no windows - only vents. Normally there are no cooking utensils, crockery or cutlery, but the Mid Rand HRs saw to it that the catering part of our trip allowed us every convenience.

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