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 Post subject: Rookie Kruger-Tranquility needed, but excitement found Dec11
Unread postPosted: Sun Dec 11, 2011 2:32 pm 
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Location: Cape Town
My daughter and her yet-to-be-met-by her-parents boyfriend were coming on holiday from the UK in Oct and she really wanted to take him to Kruger. We had taken our first trip to KNP as a family in 2010 and even though I swore blind that I was NEVER going to take 2 young adults who were more interested in their cell phones than the animals, to any game park EVER again, I found myself hunting for suitable accommodation exactly a year later. :rtm: :rtm: :slap: The plan was to go there for 5 nights and then they would fly out of Johannesburg back to the UK.

What seemed like an eternity passed very slowly, but soon it was October and they were coming, which of course that meant that our little trip was also getting closer. I had intially booked for a friend of my other daughter's as well, but as luck would have it, he could not come and so I was left with accommodation and an air-ticket which I could not use :evil: :evil: Not a happy bunny!

Shan and Jack eventually arrived and they had a stunning week travelling around Cape Town, taking in all the sights. The unfortunate part of their trip was that my father took ill, so could not join us for the family supper we had organised, but be that as it may, we were all looking forward to our trip. We were leaving at 06:00 on Sunday 30 Oct and were all ready and packed....so excited!!

We got a call at 04:00 in the morning to say that my dad had passed away!! What to do, oh what to do??? We decided as a family that there was no use in cancelling all our plans and that maybe a trip to the tranquility of KNP was really what we needed.

So with heavy hearts (and not just a little twinge of guilt), we flew to JHB and collcted the 2 hire cars we had booked. The one being a Terios and the other a sedan, with the plan being that we would all travel in the Terios during the day for better viewing. We started the long haul to Croc Bridge and already I was stressed as we were running an hour behind time, still had to collect shopping in Malelane (thanks to Werner at PnP) and then still travel up to LS for our first night. Having never entered at CB, I was relying on the good old Garmin to show us the way. I am sure that most people have given their satnav systems a nickname and ours was called Mrs Bucket (pronounced Bouquet). After our little trip, she was called numerous other names that my have rhymed with Bucket, but that was as close as it got to being endearing! :evil: :evil:
We turned off as instructed and started on a gravel road........to those of you smiling smugly....yes, we were on the OLD CB road whihc was under construation and was shocking!! Mud puddles, door deep to a sedan, were the order of the day and by the time I started panicing that we were definitely on the wrong road, it was too late to turn around. :doh: :doh:
We arrived at CB gate at 17:00 and had to do our booking in. We eventually got away wiht the gate attendant giving us the sage advice "Don't stop too long as the gates close in an hour!" Thanks, just what I needed to be reminded of at this stage. :tongue: :tongue:
I am afraid to admit that the first sighting that our UK visitor saw went past in a blur, with me pointing frantically out of the window as we went past the rhino, ellies, birds etc. I did promise him that we would stop at the animals the next day!
We got to LS with about 3 minutes to spare! :thumbs_up: :thumbs_up:

Will start to post some piccies in the next episode!

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Addo - booked 14-17 June
KNP - booked 21-28 Sept
KTP - booked 27/12 - 3/1/14


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 Post subject: Re: Kruger - Tranquility needed, but excitement found
Unread postPosted: Sun Dec 11, 2011 8:11 pm 
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I had had to book 3x 2 sleeper huts as the 5 sleepers were stil being renovated, but after such a tiring trip and draining day, we really just wanted to sit and relax. This was to be home for 2 nights.

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We sat and ate our barbequed chicken (my absolute standby for Kruger) and salad and then headed for an early night.

I was determined to be out the gate as early as possible and didn't care if nobody else wanted to get up and go with me...this is my time and what I want to do, but my older daughter graciously agreed to come with me, so wiht bleery eyes we packed the camera and headed for the gate. As we got to the gate, the big decision was "left or right". We opted to go right on the H4-1 and our first stop was Sunset dam. Now, given that the sun was not even up yet, AND that it was overcast, we didn't get any decent photos. Just let me clarify...even in the best of conditions, I don't get any decent photos! If you are hoping ot see travel magazine quality photos like we see in some trip reports, then stop reading right now, but if you want to look at piccies and feel good about YOUR photos, then please join me! :cam: :cam: :tongue: :tongue:

I have a little "mik en druk" with a 12x zoom and my hubby has a Nikon 3100 with a 75-300 mm lens (or something like that - all greek to me) and had recently purchased a Nikon P500 after giving his previous P90 to my visiting daughter ( :naughty: I liked the P90!), so that is my excuse!! :redface: :redface:

We didn't see much game, but did spot this little fella in the bush. Showing my ignorance, I think it may be a greay duiker and would love somebody to correct me if I am wrong.
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PS this will not be the only unidentified antelope, mammal, bird or other creature that I will ask for help with. :whistle: :whistle:

After about an hour we decided to head back to camp seeing as we had left the rest of the family there (or so I had thought). As we all know, if you see more than 2 cars stopped anywhere, it can only mean one thing....CATS!! We dutifully slowed down and ascertained which direction everybody was looking in and then we also stared into the riverbed...sure enough, there was our first lion sighting!

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We very smugly sms'ed hubby to brag about our lions, he totally took the wind out of our sails by saying that he had seen lion, cheetah and rhino! :big_eyes: :big_eyes: What the heck was he doing going out on his own....that is just not fair! :naughty: :naughty:

Convinced he was having me on, I demanded evidence....well here is some of it!

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The next photo is probably the reason for the grotty weather we were having!
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Be that as it may...it didn't stop us from venturing out for some more "photo" opportunities!

_________________
Addo - booked 14-17 June
KNP - booked 21-28 Sept
KTP - booked 27/12 - 3/1/14


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 Post subject: Re: Kruger - Tranquility needed, but excitement found
Unread postPosted: Mon Dec 12, 2011 10:13 pm 
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One of the more unusual, well for us anyway, sightings which we saw on the way back to camp that Monday morning, was a group of 3 ground hornbills apparently fighting over some sort of prey. Now I always believed that they ate…..well I didn’t actually know what they ate, but what we saw would definitely not have been on my list!

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They were fighting over a little scrub hare!
I also need to remember to STOP the car before trying to take a photo, they usually come out a bit better that way.

Another first for me...
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A brown headed kingfisher (I think)
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This beautiful Kudu

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We headed back to Sunset Dam in the hope of seeing something at least, but even the hippos there didn’t want to stick any more of their bodies out of the water than was absolutely necessary in that weather.

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We saw our first kill -

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As I said earlier, we had hired a Terios so that we could all go together and have better viewing from a slightly higher vehicle (we had only ever hired sedans before and wished we could have seen just a little bit more over the long grass), but my dear darling younger child whinged up a storm about not being able to see because she is the shortest one and was always on the middle etc etc. I really wondered how Bushcraft managed with his 3 little ones and whether poor Albert also had the same complaint! Needless to say, SO, whinging daughter and boyfriend got the Terios and other daughter and I took the sedan. We travelled everywhere in convoy and I have to admit, there was only 1 animal that we missed and they saw, but I doubt that us missing it had anything to do with being slightly lower to the ground!
Once the cars had been sorted, we made our way across the bridge and up the H10 towards Tshokwane. Why any self-respecting animal would want to be out on the rain I do not know…but then again, why would we want to be out in the rain??
We came across these very wet and not very happy lions. There were 3 females and 2 males lying in 2 groups.

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As we sat watching them, we caught site of a first for us….a honey badger trotted along, stopping and sniffing at the termite mounds.

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Further along the road, there was a mobile road block with a couple of hundred buffalo crossing from the left, right into the line of sight of the lion! We waited expectantly, but obviously they were not hungry as they watched them, without even making a move.

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We travelled further, only to have our way blocked by a lovely male ellie, glistening in the rain.

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I wanted to pass him, but he was not having any of it and each time I moved a little bit forward, he kindly wandered into the road until I backed off. After playing this game for quite a while, I decided that it was time to make a move and managed to get past him, leaving SO behind me to wait for a gap for him to take. We passed these beautiful zebra nibbling on the wet grass.

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Rhino could be seen in the distance so it was a 4/5 day for us so far. Would it turn into a 5/5 day??

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Addo - booked 14-17 June
KNP - booked 21-28 Sept
KTP - booked 27/12 - 3/1/14


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 Post subject: Re: Kruger - Tranquility needed, but excitement found
Unread postPosted: Tue Dec 13, 2011 7:51 pm 
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Thanks to Tobieo, RonelR, Puppy, WanderW, Elsa, p@m, RayK and RadMan for all the fantastic encouragement.
Now I am not very good at remembering which road we saw all our usual animals on, so will try to give a general indication unless there was a specific happening….and there were some! They come a little bit later in this report.

Sadly as the day wore on, we realised that our # 5 was not going to materialise, but we did see a couple more of those we had already seen. Just before the Nkumbe view site, we came across these young lions with a couple of lionesses, resting high on the top of the rocks.

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We stopped for a quick break to allow our visitor to inhale some foul smelling air from the burning end of a leaf (I don’t smoke in case you hadn’t noticed) and were able to take in some of the sights over the plains. It would seem that the Mampilini and Nkelenga rivers can be clearly seen as the green strips in amongst the brown grass.

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At Tshokwane, we ordered some toasted sarmies and while we were waiting, got accosted by the numerous birds that are there, all looking for the left over crumbs.

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We could hear crashing through the bushes alongside the river and this big elephant made his was along the little fence, within touching distance.

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We had a reasonably uneventful return trip to Lower Sabie, but seeing as I like to stop more often that my SO, I suggested that they go on ahead and we would come along later. We stopped to spend some time with a family of ellies and had a good giggle at the little one whom it seemed was intent on burying its head under a bush, so much so that we wondered if it was OK. However, mom soon moved off and little one went running after her, pushing past its slightly older sibling as it went.

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The lions from earlier were still in the same place with no kill in sight and the large herd of buff had moved off. We caught sight of a cute rhino calf and its mother. It was all ears.

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Wanting to see the cheetah that my SO had seen earlier, we thought we would get clever and snuk down the S29. Boy, did we get more than we bargained for…. No, not cheetah……, but the buffalo herd which had made its way along the same road!! They were on both sides and so we decided to give them some space and headed for the Mlondozi picnic site to take in the view. The water level in the river was very low and this raft of hippos were clustered together, taking advantage of what water there was.

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We also spied this lizard?? which we thought was maybe a rock monitor, but I am really not sure and maybe somebody could help me with the ID.

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We hoped that the buffs had moved off as we turned left on the gravel road towards LS. Now, remembering that we are in the sedan, these buffs looked HUGE. They were crossing slowly but surely, the main problems being they were doing it at about a 135° obtuse angle, so instead of getting it over and done with, it was taking forever and I was inching my way along, hoping to get a gap. As they say in the classics “Ja, so, no!” I was eye to eye with buffs to the left of me, buffs to the right and I was stuck in the middle……

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Sense got the better of me and with a deft 3 point turn, I decided to hightail it out of there and take the long way home. The guys in their high riding 4x4 behind me thought it was very funny….I did not!

Needless to say, we didn’t get to see our cheetah and the rest of the family thought it was very funny. They had spent that time back in camp taking photos of the birds and surroundings, but did they once of coming to see if we were OK….you gotta be joking! :lol:

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We finally settled down for a nice quiet braai and an early night.

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Addo - booked 14-17 June
KNP - booked 21-28 Sept
KTP - booked 27/12 - 3/1/14


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 Post subject: Re: Kruger - Tranquility needed, but excitement found
Unread postPosted: Wed Dec 14, 2011 9:10 pm 
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One of the things I love is vulture trees. This one was a great sighting, but what they were waiting for we will never know.

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Before retiring to bed, we took a wander along the fence and watched a couple of hyena pacing up and down, probably in the hope of getting some sort of tit-bit. They soon scooted when a small herd of waterbuck came wandering along, but I am not sure who got the bigger fright…the hyena, the waterbuck or US! Well, with our hearts beating wildly, we tip-toed our way back to the hut just as the rain started…again! :big_eyes:

After a gentle night of rest, I opted to get up early and was joined by the visitors from the UK. We headed off along the S28, but it was not in the mood for being nice to us and the only animals we saw were a couple of hyena running off with different parts of what looked like a Wildebeest kill. The lighting and rain did not allow for any form of decent photo, but it was nice to sit and listen to them yipping as they strode off proudly with their prize. We made our way all the way to hippo pools with little luck so we returned to pack up and head off to our next overnight at Tamboti. :cry:

We were intent (pun intended) on showing our visitor all the different types of accommodation available (so that when he can afford to pay for himself, he can decide what he wants to stay in) and had booked for 2 nights. We made our way back up the H10, wondering if we were going to see the same friends from the previous day, but unless somebody wiped out all our photos from that part of the trip (doubtful seeing as we had 5 cameras and a video camera between us), there was not much other than these few usual suspects. :tongue:

This fish eagle was sitting surveying his potential buffet.

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A bedraggled vulture (not sure if it is a hooded vulture)

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Giraffe

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Steenbok

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Very wet and very unhappy lions

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We stopped in at Satara, but didn’t manage to locate the bush babies I had heard so much about. Phone calls made (remember I was trying to change flights to allow me to fly back for a funeral) and legs stretched, we continued on our way to Orpen.
We took the gravel road, shaking our teeth out, down to the Girivana waterhole where we had the most amazing sighting of…...nothing!
I was beginning to think that all the excitement we were going to get, were the innumerable Impala that we saw.
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We had been there 2 days and we had still not seen a leopard – I was starting to get withdrawal symptoms. We knew that there was a leopard and her big cub in the LS area, but she eluded us the whole time and it was not for want of trying to find her.

We checked in at Orpen with no problem and then made our way to our tents at Tamboti. I love this camp, but with the rain we had been having, the roads were flooded and very slippery (and I felt seriously blonde when I was trying to work out the directions to our tent by trying to follow the number boards). The view from our tents (22 and 23) was lovely, but the rain did not make for relaxing animal watching.

Once unpacked and settled, we opted to go for a short drive before supper. We all piled into the Terios and headed for the Rabelais loop. We found a grader hiding at the end of the loop, but it really didn’t seem to have made its way very far along the rrrrrrrrrroad. We heard the strangest noise which sounded like a loud “clap” and on looking around, we realised that it was a bird making this noise. Soon, the “clap” was followed by a “whee” so we thought, quite logically, that there was a second one answering the call. Imagine our astonishment when we realised that the little Bird, was in fact, talking to himself. I know that the birders amongst you probably know exactly what I am talking about (and I just wonder who on earth makes up all the words for describing bird calls in the Roberts/ Sasol books).
The guilty party! A Black bellied Korhaan.

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There were plenty of tracks seen, but the owners were hiding.
We opted for Spaghetti Bolagnaise as we could not have lit a fire in that weather, even if we had wanted to!

Hopefully the weather will look kindly on us tomorrow and the sightings will pick up after a very quiet day.

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Addo - booked 14-17 June
KNP - booked 21-28 Sept
KTP - booked 27/12 - 3/1/14


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 Post subject: Re: Kruger - Tranquility needed, but excitement found
Unread postPosted: Thu Dec 15, 2011 6:37 pm 
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Based on the sightings and the rain I decided that we would give up our second night at Tamboti and move on to Pretoriuskop where we had a couple of nights booked. As was the norm, I headed out along the H7 very early, but again, other than another BB Bustard and lots of Rhino tracks which I had fun trying to identify, there was little to get excited about. :cry:

As I approached the turnoff back to Tamboti, I saw what I thought was a BB Jackal and having seen them there before, I really thought my assumption was right. As I approached, I saw my SO and visitors making their way towards the H7 and, probably at the same time, we both realised that YES there were BBJ, :dance: :dance:

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but there were also things that were right near the top of my list. :D :D :big_eyes: :big_eyes:

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Sleeping so lovingly

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We made the deduction that although the doggies were now sleeping blissfully, there may well be (have been) a kill in the vicinity due to the presence of the BBJ, these beautiful Tawny Eagles

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and this not so friendly vulture - white backed??

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I was now having second thoughts about my decision to move, but the expectations and excitement were growing as the sightings were more encouraging.

Will continue a bit later with the next instalment. :popcorn: :popcorn:

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Addo - booked 14-17 June
KNP - booked 21-28 Sept
KTP - booked 27/12 - 3/1/14


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 Post subject: Re: Kruger - Tranquility needed, but excitement found
Unread postPosted: Sat Dec 17, 2011 8:26 am 
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Thank you to Meandering Mouse, Pumbaa, Carocat, WandwerW, Rino and Granjan for the nice comments and helping me to turn the page, so here is the next instalment.

Having decided to make our move, we quickly had some breakfast on our deck and had some interested onlookers who were obviously hoping to share some of it.
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The squirrel looking very evil and threatening!
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We were to make our way down to P/Kop via Skukuza, taking the S36 and were ready as early as we could be (probably about 09:00) and quickly checked on the dogs, but they were still sleeping, so we made our way along the H7 until we got to the turn off.

We finally came across the elusive leopard………leopard tortoise that is and I suppose not really that elusive either! He was hot footing it across the road with his feet flying in all directions. We only awarded ourselves ½ point for that one (although, being one of the small 5, it should have been 2 points!)
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We spotted this brown snake eagle atop the trees
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And a less than fortunate buffalo’s skull.
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My daughter (the older one who was travelling with me), kept complaining that all the bones we were seeing were in clearings, in full sight, so how come we had not seen any kills with lions on them…..little did she realise what was to come a bit later.

We then came across a roadblock, so had to slow down, but this was no ordinary roadblock…it was not one of the big 5 causing our problems, but a flock of these little birdies!
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Being in front of our convoy, I had to clear the road and thus gave SO in the following vehicle, a slightly better photo opportunity…where DO serious bird photographers get the patience from? They flitted and flapped their way from tree to tree and branch to branch.
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We decided, with our really scanty bird knowledge, that they were European Bee-Eaters, but then again, their colours were what was confusing us so, although these are not great photos, I would really appreciate some confirmation from the experts.

It was lovely day for a family outing as this group of hornbills showed. Youngster was being quite adventurous, straying some distance from mom and dad.
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We decided to stop at the picnic site and have some brunch (can’t remember which one it was) and as we sat and ate, we watched the beautiful waterbuck having a drink. There were turtles and impala as part of the passing parade as well.
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Now when I ordered my groceries from Malelane PnP, I ordered 5 tomatoes seeing as we like them on rolls, but do not feel the need to eat them at every turn, and I had also ordered a punnet of cocktail tomatoes for nibbling on and putting in salads, but somehow, they didn’t quite get the same message and we ended up with 5 kg packets of tomatoes! No piccies as we were laughing so much, I couldn’t keep the camera still. The man on duty at the picnic site was more than happy to be given one of the packets to take home with him though.

Now, I suppose you could call it cheating, but my daughter subscribed to a BBM group called “Wildlife Sightings” and they post sightings that are messaged in from fellow members, with the time and location. As we were driving, we came across one of the roads that had been mentioned a couple of hours earlier as one of the sightings, but I really didn’t hold out any hope of seeing anything….I mean, since when do animals stay in one spot…unless they are lalapanzi lions, which this was not, but we turned off anyway and spotted vervets having a bit of a tussle, buffs and this ellie trying very hard to hide in the long grass.
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As luck would have it….our sighting WAS still there!! We claimed the R50 that had been put up for the first sighting of this animal, but SO wouldn’t pay it as he said we had had help!
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It was only about 5 minutes later that he decided that he had finished his photographic stint and came down the tree and disappeared into the long golden grass, never to be seen again…well at least, not by us!
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I can’t drive past a waterhole without having a quick squizz and so we stopped quickly and I was surprised to see a first for me, in the form of an African Spoonbill
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and maybe somebody will be able to identify this little tortoise that we also saw.
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We finally had a smile on our faces as we made our way towards the Hi-2 leading to Skukuza.

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Addo - booked 14-17 June
KNP - booked 21-28 Sept
KTP - booked 27/12 - 3/1/14


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 Post subject: Re: Kruger - Tranquility needed, but excitement found
Unread postPosted: Sun Dec 18, 2011 5:28 pm 
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Once on the tar road we decided to stop in at Skukuza for a rest stop and couldn’t resist looking at the beautiful pond and took these pictures of the lovely waterlily, 5 striped and Rainbow skink??

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We made our way to P/kop, stopping off at Transport dam to view this hippo and while thinking that this really reminded us of Table Mountain, we almost ran straight into this rhino grazing happily at the side of the road. :tongue: These cute baby hyenas were happy to be sleeping, with 1 eye open it seemed, along the way.

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While I did the checking in, SO, girls and visitor, took some time out to watch these cute slender mongoose….mongooses……mongi???? To the devil with it – this slender mongoose…and the one next to it! :twisted:

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They were living inside the projector box by the looks of it and playing hide and seek behind the bumps in the grass.

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We did a quick unpack and headed straight out again for a drive just before gate closing time. The area was really quite disappointing and we were starting to think that the big 5 had gone on holiday. :hmz:

We had a nice braai and decided to cook enough food for the following night as well seeing as we had planned to go on a sunset drive and nobody really wants to cook when they get back from that.

As morning rose on the following day, I again headed out on my own to catch the worm….you know the story of the early bird….well I saw a LBR out trying hard to look for breakfast, a little grey duiker trying hard not to became breakfast and then as I made my way back to camp, this beauty wandered out into the road! :dance: :dance:

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On collecting the rest of the family, we headed out along the S7 back towards Skukuza, with me leading the convoy as usual, when I suddenly realised that the SO was no longer behind me! I waited for a while and then slowly reversed until I could see them, realised that it was a bit far to reverse all the way and did one of my very smart 3 point turns (don’t ever say that a female can’t drive!) and headed in his direction. They were so pleased with themselves as we had MISSED a spotted one :redface: :cry: and our visitor had in fact called it. It was lying at the base of a tree….and our excuse was that we couldn’t see it over the grass because we had the lower car! (our story and we are sticking to it). :roll:
The view was not great, but it was a leopard none the less!

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It wandered out of sight so we moved off, expecting SO to follow, but no, he again was not behind me and so we repeated the whole procedure once more….reverse, 3-point turn, see leopard and all of a sudden, Flash, as we named it, darted across the road, behind my car, at full speed. :x We still didn’t really get a good look, but it got ticked off the list anyway. Needless to say, our visitor was very chuffed with himself for making such a great find. :clap: :clap:

We headed off towards to Skukuza, seeing this lovely LBR along the road (I looooove these little birds in case you hadn’t noticed!).

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Who can ever go to Skukuza without going to Lake Panic…surely not me!
The usual suspects were in attendance, with the masked weavers collecting long pieces of grass for their nests, the heron hiding in amongst the branches and the hippos giving their hearty laughs like rotund old men (aah hahahaha).

The wind was blowing a bit more than I have ever seen it do before there and this resulted in the heron looking more like Dumbledor from Harry Potter and this Goliath Heron showing off his “mane”.

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There was a croc sitting so patiently, just waiting for some potential dinner to come along, but luckily the waterbuck was on the opposite side of the dam.

I am not sure if this photo was supposed to be of the African Jacana or the unusual blue water lily.

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These Hadeda Ibis, White Faced Ducks and ??Green Backed Heron?? were enjoying the dam as well.

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We had a really strange experience with a scuttling bug…it looked almost cockroach like, but had pinchers at the front and 2 long feeler type thingys off the back of its body and the next minute it took off and the body beneath its wings was neon orange! It nearly had a head on collision with our visitor’s face and unfortunately we seem to have lost my daughter’s photos of it, but I have been told that it was in fact a water scorpion – quite a frightening bug I must say.

As we continued, this beautiful monitor (I thought it was a water monitor, but thanks to John for pointing out that he thinks it is a rock monitor!) was waddling across the road and it looked “pregnant” or it had eaten a really big meal!

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From here we made our way down the H3 to Afsaal, but that is for another day!

_________________
Addo - booked 14-17 June
KNP - booked 21-28 Sept
KTP - booked 27/12 - 3/1/14


Last edited by Rookie on Mon Dec 19, 2011 7:05 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Kruger - Tranquility needed, but excitement found
Unread postPosted: Sun Dec 18, 2011 5:52 pm 
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p@m wrote:
Which photo upload program did you decide on ?


I am doing as DB suggested, using Picasa to crop etc and then exporting the selection to a new folder, resizing to 640 at the same time and then doing a bulk upload with photobucket.
I still battle a bit trying to get the image code to copy, but I am slowly working around that one.

I write the text in Word and then copy it across and insert the piccies.

There is probably a quicker way, but at the moment it is working for me.
It also seems to post with big photos at first and then settles down to normal view and I am not sure why.

Thanks for following the story, the excitement is coming soon!! :D :whistle:

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KNP - booked 21-28 Sept
KTP - booked 27/12 - 3/1/14


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 Post subject: Re: Kruger - Tranquility needed, but excitement found
Unread postPosted: Mon Dec 19, 2011 9:14 pm 
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What a pity that work gets in the way of trip report writing! :?

The drive down to Afsaal was not very eventful and we had booked a sunset drive so have posted a couple of photos of what we did see. :cam:

Bird sightings were really the order of the day.

This arrow marked babler was doing just that - babbling and making a huge amount of noise
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However, it didn't seem to disturb the resident Scops owl.
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We grabbed a bite to eat and hit the road again. With Voortrekker road still being closed, we had to take the long way around and this gave us a chance to travel up the H3 which is the most confused road in Kruger - not sure it if is a gravel or tar road. :hmz: :hmz:

We did manage to see this martial eagle having a monitor snack :dance:
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This lazy croc
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We also caught sight of a wallowing rhino on the road back. Some ellies were spotted on the H1-1 and we also smelt and then spied a group of vultures which were feeding off an elephant which had apparantly died of natural causes.
This elephant had his left tusk pointing in the wrong direction and I wondered how this affected his ability to feed. :(
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it was time for our sunset drive and I was really hoping that we would see spotties as they had been reported in the area and started off on the Circle road and came across this bull elephant.
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My older daughter has a healthy respect for elephants (in other words she is petrified of them) :twisted: :twisted: and was not very happy as this ellie was mock charging the vehicle each time we tried to get past him. It became a battle of wills between the guide and the ellie, which eventually yielded to us and we were able to go on our way and he on his.
We saw a crested eagle, but photo opportunites were not great as it was quite far away. :slap:

We turned onto the S7 and, as the sun was setting, we saw these frisky Zebra.
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Young Kudu
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and sadly also saw the remains of a carcass of a poached rhino. :cry: :cry:

These little guys were doing what they do best. :)
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and we saw tracks of spotties, but no owners! :wall: :wall:

The sun set on a quiet day in KNP.
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I had booked a bush walk for my SO, younger daughter and visitor for the following morning and it was also going to be a sad day for me as they were travelling back to Jhb to fly home and I don't do goodbyes, airports, or anything else vaguely related, :cry: :redface: but on the lighter side, it did mean that my older daughter and I were to spend some quality bonding time alone in the park for a couple more days. :dance: :dance:

After their walk, during which they were able to see the stunning view around P/Kop, a monitor lizard down a hole, a huge herd of skittish buffs which the guide was of the opinion were like that because there were possibly lion in the area, a tortoise that had been smashed open by SGH old bones and various other odds and ends, we discovered that Voortrekker road had been opened and was going to be the short cut to Malalane where they were exiting.

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We said our goodbyes at the gate with our visitor happy to have seen all of the Super 7, even though it was not on the same day. He could at least go home having had an experience that some South Africans have not had. He fell in love with South Africa and could not say often enough what a beautiful country we live in!
We really are very lucky! :thumbs_up:

Our time alone will be following......we had more excitement in the last 2 days than we had had all week. I am sure some of you will be :mrgreen: :mrgreen: when you see what we did.

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KNP - booked 21-28 Sept
KTP - booked 27/12 - 3/1/14


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 Post subject: Re: Kruger - Tranquility needed, but excitement found
Unread postPosted: Wed Dec 21, 2011 7:01 am 
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Having said our goodbyes, we continued on towards BnD in a very sombre mood. It would be at least 2 yrs before we would see them again. :cry: :cry:

Our spirits were soon lifted as we made our way along the S 110 Matjulu loop as we saw 2 out of 5 in one shot!
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There were lots of, what we decided were White-fronted Bee-eaters, flitting from tree to tree, but no decent photos able to be taken. The lion and leopard that were supposedly on the S110/ S120 were definitely hiding from us in the heat of the day and I was actually concentrating rather hard on the road which was not in the best condition when you are driving a sedan…..yes, I got left with the sedan and they took the Terios back to Jhb!! I nearly lost my sump or undercarriage or whatever it is called on more than 1 occasion. Note to self: NEVER buy a car from a rental company, especially if it has been to KNP!

We headed up the S114 to the Byamiti Wehr in the hope of seeing the resident leopard……and we are STILL hoping to see the resident leopard! We did spot a big grey animal which did not have a trunk, a Wildebees which look a bit nutty as it ran down the road shaking its head from side to side and then sat watching this lovely ellie having a shower in a little puddle. It was hot enough for me to wish I could join him.

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We crossed the wehr being watched by this water thick knee. He didn’t look too happy that his quiet was being disturbed by idiotic humans who insisted on taking his photo.

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I am sure that I read somewhere that you can take clear photos of moving animals if you move as well……………did this batteleur not read the same book…the more I tried to drive and take the photo through the windscreen nogal, the more it swerved and rode the thermals

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Thank goodness my favourite birds were in good supply as it gave me numerous opportunities to try to get a decent photo.

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Now Now, I didn’t say that I had managed to get a decent one yet, but I will keep trying.

We made our way up to Afsaal to get some lunch and thankfully got there just before the huge tourist bus! This little common reedbuck?? was chilling under the trees. I didn’t seem in the least bit worried about the people at the picnic site.

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Again the babblers were causing a din and in amongst them was this Kurrichane thrush (No, I am not that bright when it comes to birds, I already asked the experts!)

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We decided to go back via Skukuza and visit Transport dam and Shitlave dam on the way. There were no hyenas to be seen, but we did see this wartie

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and as we sat at the water’s edge, this really ugly little bird landed in the tree next to us and shouted his discontent!

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I have a slightly better one of the Diderick cuckoo, but can’t remember where it was taken.

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There were lots of waterbuck hiding in the bushes around Shitlave Dam

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The little ones were so fluffy and huggable.

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These Red-billed Teals were paddling warily at the water’s edge

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the resident Fish Eagle was in attendance as well.

Before gate closing time, we made our way to Mestel dam and had a wonderful show of unidentified flying objects..….otherwise known as birds, the identity of which I did not have a clue!
I have since asked some of the experts and got credible answers so here goes.
Tawny eagles eating things which we couldn’t see, off the ground

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An African Cuckoo

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There were also bee-eaters (no photos) swarming in the air and I wondered if they were possibly catching flying termites that had just been released.

We were lucky enough to see this scorpion scuttling across the road and it was evidently not happy with me for driving on his road. (Sorry for the poor photo, but it was getting dark)

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It was a lovely end to a long day.

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Addo - booked 14-17 June
KNP - booked 21-28 Sept
KTP - booked 27/12 - 3/1/14


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 Post subject: Re: Kruger - Tranquility needed, but excitement found
Unread postPosted: Wed Dec 21, 2011 7:16 am 
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:hmz: :hmz: I am beginning to think that my common reedbuck, might actually be a female bushbuck.... :hmz: :hmz:

This is a common reedbuck, I think, but we didn't see it at Afsaal.

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I am pretty sure that it was Guy Fawkes that said "remember, remember the 5th of Nov.....", well we sure did have fireworks on that day - tale to come later. :hands:

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KNP - booked 21-28 Sept
KTP - booked 27/12 - 3/1/14


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 Post subject: Re: Kruger - Tranquility needed, but excitement found
Unread postPosted: Wed Dec 21, 2011 8:33 am 
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Pretty cool sightings and pix Rookie! :clap: :clap: :thumbs_up:
Rookie wrote:
:hmz: :hmz: I am beginning to think that my common reedbuck, might actually be a female bushbuck.... :hmz: :hmz:

Definitely not a common reedbuck. :thumbs_up:
More spots and some great sightings of cuckoos! :mrgreen: :mrgreen: Thanx Rookie! :D

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http://www.ast.uct.ac.za/~schurch/leopards/

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 Post subject: Re: Kruger - Tranquility needed, but excitement found
Unread postPosted: Wed Dec 21, 2011 9:50 pm 
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There was a lot of action in the LS area, so, being on our own and able to do as we wished, I suggested that we head up to Skukuza and then down towards LS and see if we could see anything. As we set off, I looked heavenward and said “Come on dad, you were the Leo, where are the cats?”…..and then smiled to myself. :) :pray: :pray:

As we got to the entrance to Shitlave dam, there was a minor traffic jam and it looked as if maybe, just maybe, Dad was answering our prayers….I mean why else is there ever a traffic jam in Kruger – it had to be a cat of some description! :big_eyes:

I wonder if any of you have ever had the situation where there are people in 1 car at a sighting who just irritate everybody with what they do? Well we had one of those – a little bakkie with 2 people in it and they popped up at EVERY sighting we had in the next 2 days and each time, they caused a problem! :wall: :wall:

They either pulled up in such a way that they blocked the view for everybody else, they drove alongside the animal so that it couldn’t cross the road, they pushed in instead of taking a turn etc and to top it all…they were taking photos on their cell phones!!!! :naughty: :naughty:

The animal involved in this sighting was a female leopard and her cub and all she wanted to do was cross the road. Eventually, I told them in a not so friendly manner to STOP! :rtm: :rtm: And she eventually scooted across the road, but needless to say, there were no photo opportunities.
But a leopard is a leopard, however you see it. :tongue:

Having gone round Naphe boulder the previous evening and seen diddley squat, I asked my daughter if she wanted to go that way again, but didn’t really wait for the answer as I sailed past. :twisted: :twisted:

We did see this little klipspringer
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These two hoopoes in a tree, but not a great photo
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This Eagle (I would be guessing if I said it was a tawny)
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And a large troop of baboons with this liitle one getting a "clip around the lughole" from his mom.
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Let me say first of all that I am an animal lover and can’t even step on a worm, :redface: so the thought of animals being killed by others really upsets me, much as I know that it is nature. :( I don’t mind seeing lions or leopards eating a kill as the animal is already dead and at least I didn’t see it suffer, but apart from the bones I mentioned earlier, we had not so much as seen anything that resembled a kill. :tongue:

Now, remembering that it was 5th Nov, we had hoped to see some fireworks. We got to the crossroad just outside Skukuza and were about to turn right when we noticed about 4 cars on the road towards the camp. Who can resist checking out a group of cars? :whistle: :whistle: The car in front of us did a U-turn and as he went past us, he said “Lion”. Hey Dad, you really were pulling out all the stops today, weren’t you!! :lol: :lol:

We also did a U-turn and filed in behind the other cars. In the bush on the right, we caught sight of a male lion walking very slowly through the bush, stopping every couple of steps.

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We soon realised that there was another one a little bit behind him and one a bit further into the bush. Everybody was engrossed in watching these beautiful lion – the one in particular had a dark mane and he was stunning.

I looked further down the road towards the camp and noticed a buffalo grazing in the bush on the side of the road. In a flash I realised that these beauties were on the hunt!! :dance: :dance: I opted to leave the people watching the lions and positioned my little car level with the buff. I checked out the fact that there was more than one buffalo, so what were the chances that the lions would be successful? :hmz: It seemed to be a herd of dugga boys (older males), with no small ones. As they moved along, grazing blissfully unaware it seemed of their followers, I drove slowly and was taking a video.

All of a sudden they bellowed and came crashing through the bushes right next to the car. I kept my eye on them as I was worried that one of them may run straight into the side of the car and the next thing I heard “woooooooow” from the other cars and OSV which by this time had moved up closer behind me and I swung the video camera around to the road in front of us and OMW!!!!! :big_eyes: :big_eyes:

The one buffalo which was not actually the one at the back of the herd, had stopped and was challenging the dark mane male! One of the other lions came running up the side of the car and joined his mate, much to the buffs surprise. :shock: By this stage he obviously reckoned that discretion was the better part of valour :slap: and turned to run into the bush to join the rest of the herd. :thumbs_up:

Sadly, he lost his footing and slipped on the tar for just a split second and the 1 lions was on his back in a jiffy!

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It was like watching a rodeo – the buff’s feet were off the ground as he tried to dislodge the lion off his back, the lion was being flung about and hanging on with claws on his front paws only.

This is NOT what I wanted to see, :cry: but I was not going to leave at this stage. I was videoing and my daughter was taking photos through the windscreen as they were literally right in front of us! They moved off the road and into the bush at the side of the road. By this time, the second lion had added his help as he went for the tendon at the back of the front legs to try to bring it down.

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The third one, whom we called Dopey, almost looked like he didn’t quite know what to do and hovered about a bit.

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We were rooting for the buff who, on a number of occasions, nearly broke free. As I said, I was taking a video and trying to position my car for the best view in the safest position. A huge OSV pulled up on the verge between me and the action and I was in no mood to let him block me out – he was much larger than I was and could have parked in LS and still seen what was going on. :twisted: :twisted:

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Eventually we had manoevered ourselves in such a way that we could see out of our side window and take a slightly clearer photo.
Daughter, but this stage was almost in tears and kept saying “Sorry Mr buff, sorry Mr buff”, but when I asked her if she wanted to leave, she said ”No, I just wish they would hurry up and kill it!” I was shaking like a leaf and could not believe that I was actually sitting watching the thing that I least wanted to ever see, but just couldn’t leave! :doh:

Dopey finally “helped” by leaning on the buff’s back to weight it down a bit more.
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The first lion was lying underneath it with his jaws firmly clamped around its throat. I couldn’t help wondering what would happen if the buff collapsed on top of him.

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After a lot of to-ing and fro-ing, lion # 2 clamped the buffs nose with his mouth and after about 15 minutes, it was all over bar the shouting. I now see that males are not the most adept hunters/ killers, but to their credit, there was no blood, no gore and no real injury to the buff, but what goes through that poor buff’s mind as it realises that it is not going to get away.

I looked around and realised that I was being boxed in and didn’t feel comfortable, so we moved out of the melee and went to the camp for a breather and pit stop. By the time we came back, the lions had begun to feed and the traffic chaos was worse than the mall at Christmas! It took me close on 15 minutes to thread my way through the cars and said that we would come back later as they would be there for a couple of days!

WOW oh WOW! The 2 of us were stunned and couldn’t stop saying how we could not believe what we had just seen! And this was all by 07:30 in the morning! :big_eyes: :cam: :thumbs_up:

For those who are wondering about the video….there were swear words that came out of my mouth that I didn’t even know I knew, so much so, that I actually apologised to the camera, :redface: :redface: so the only way I would try to post it would be if I could do it in MUTE mode!

What else did Guy Fawkes have in store for us! I wonder? :hmz: :hmz:

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Addo - booked 14-17 June
KNP - booked 21-28 Sept
KTP - booked 27/12 - 3/1/14


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 Post subject: Re: Kruger - Tranquility needed, but excitement found
Unread postPosted: Thu Dec 22, 2011 6:59 am 
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Morkel777 wrote:
Amazing lion sighting and kudos to you for having the foresight to park where the action was bound to happen instead of staying with the lions initially. I actually saw your video on Media24, and I don't think there are many forumites on here who wouldn't have uttered those words :lol:



:naughty: :naughty: I really must remember not to talk while taking a video! :oops:

We never realised that it would cause such a hoo haa, but the pics ended up in the newspaper and posted on the web (with our permission, but I did ask if they could edit the commentary out)!

Thanks to everybody who is following this report and for your kind comments. :clap: :clap:
This is my first attempt at a TR and had such a fabulous time there that I want to share it all, but I will write less and do more pics hopefully for the next one (Depends on what we see next week in KTP). :tongue:

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