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 Post subject: avon vosloo The 2012 Floods and the days that followed Jan12
Unread postPosted: Wed Feb 01, 2012 6:46 pm 
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Location: Kempton Park
We arrived back home safely and it is time that I start posting our trip report. We had to go through another traumatic experience this morning when I had to let our Border Collie Jessie be put to her final sleep after she had been part of the family for 12 years. We saw death many times before, in the park and in our family, but somehow this morning I experienced something different. She looked me in the eye one last time as if to say thank you and goodbye – our male Collie crossbreed is not making things easier by crying softly outside for his lost companion as I sit and type this.

The Park is beautiful and I have never experienced such amazingly quick recovery of the vegetation anywhere else in the Limpopo province. Please join me for a while whilst I try to put into words our experiences during the fourteen days that we were there. Let me take you along and tell you the story about this caravan standing out there on a lonely road…………

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Day 1
We arrived at around 10 o’clock in the morning at Maroela to find that we had the whole camp to ourselves. Being able to pick the prime camping site underneath the big old jackalberry tree was almost surreal. We parked the caravan, had some coffee and slowly pitched the rally tent. We were there for fourteen day so why rush. Everything is beautifully green and we have already seen the usual plains game, this time with plenty of babies around.

I just had to go and check up on Nsemani dam – we were there at the end of October when the first rains started to fall after a very long and dry season. The change in the vegetation growth is almost unbelievable. On our way there we saw a few single bull ellies, the bachelor herd of buffs and plenty of impis, wildebeest, waterbuck and zebs. We spent some time at the still rather empty Nsemani where we saw a monster of a croc (a bit too far for decent photos) as well as quite a few hippo and the resident fish eagles. Then it started to rain, magic, wind sweeping across the dam, hippos starting to play even though it was still relatively early in the afternoon.

On the way back we saw two ellie bulls about to cross the road and at the same time a cheetah sitting in the classic pose up on a dry tree stump. The ellies must have disturbed them (two more cheetahs were behind the tree) as they were walking straight towards the cheetahs. Before I could even switch off the vehicle they took one look at the ellies, one look at us and the disappeared into the long grass. What a magic moment, even though I missed out on taking any photos.

A pair of striped cuckoo accompanied us for a few hundred meters and close to Maroela we spotted hyena hunting impala – they started pretty close to where we were, impis snorting like crazy, but the hyenas disappeared into the distance. What a great day to start our visit!!

Debris on the Olifants Bridge
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Damage at Tshokwane picnic spot
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TBC


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 Post subject: Re: TR – The 2012 Floods and the days that followed
Unread postPosted: Thu Feb 02, 2012 3:10 pm 
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Location: Kempton Park
Day 2 & 3

Firstly thanx for all the kind words - a few more flood related photos

Damage on the Olifants Bridge
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Kumana dam filled to the brim
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Maroela starting to flood
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Maroela Prime Camping spot
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I woke up at around midnight with the sound of falling rain and had to quickly make sure there were no leaks in the caravan roof. Sleeping dry is one of my very few must haves in life. The alarm sounded at four in the morning – still the rain kept pouring down. We had to dig around in all the cupboards to find a raincoat – I knew we had two sets somewhere and a caravan is only so big. We managed to find one of the jackets and had to take turns to get to the ablution block.

The rain let up at around six am and we decided to take the tar road out to Tshokwane. Very quiet animal wise – even at Nsemani there was little too see – unless you do not mind watching guinea fowl and Egyptian geese with chicks – which we don’t. We had a brief pit-stop at Satara and then carried on towards Tshokwane. The Kumana dam where we saw a buffalo kill during our previous visit had a bit more water but still pretty muddy.

A few kilometres from Tshokwane there were a number of lions right next to the road. Mostly females from what we could see in the rain – I did manage to get a few photos of them. About three kilometres up the road we spotted two male lions about a hundred meters from the road. The Bigma lens could barely reach – must get that converter before my next trip.

At Tshokwane the rain really started to get serious, so we headed back to Satara. They had a braai going at the restaurant which smelled very promising. Let’s just say I was not impressed with the quality and/or taste of our traditional pap, wors & sheba. We went pass Girivana dam which is slowly but surely filling up. Back to Maroela in the pouring rain, a quick two hour nap and then back to sitting under the rally tent watching the now pouring rain.

Day 3

I woke up at around three in the morning and thought that there must surely be something wrong with my hearing. I heard this rather loud swishing noise and thought that it must be the wind and the rain pounding against the plastic raincoats hood, but strangely I could not feel any wind blowing. I walked up to the ablution block pondering about life, old age and loss of hearing. Knowing the campsite very well I walked back in the dark towards the caravan against the fence. Nope, surely I did not lose my hearing overnight. So I fumbled around in the dark caravan to find the Maglite.

It’s not old age; it’s the Timbavati in flood like I have never seen it in all my life. I cannot find the words to describe the panic felt when you can see the rising water level a mere four meters away from the fence – in the dark. We sat there for two agonising hours waiting for daylight to appear. The rain kept on pouring down by the bucket load.

At around seven the area ranger (Richard) came to check to see if we were still ok. His first priority was to get the people out of Tambotie tented camp. He witnessed the floods in 2000 so he knew where to start with the evacuation. He told us that he would come back to tell us if we must move. I can picture what must have been a logistical nightmare. The cell phones were going crazy, cell reception coming and going with friends and family trying to contact us to find out if we were still alive.

Well, by the time Richard made it back to Maroela after about two hours, common sense had already kicked in and I have hitched the caravan and moved to higher ground next to the kitchen and ablution facilities. He told the other two people camping in their tent to get moving very quickly. We watched the water level creeping into that prime spot about ten minutes after we have moved the caravan. Ten minutes later we watched the water level creeping into the whole length of the fence facing the river. Every now and again there was a short break in the rain; enough time to walk down towards the fence (only about fifty odd meters) to try to get a few photos with the Coolpix. Trying to get back to some cover from the rain in the kitchen area – I got soaked again. Rolling waves at the height of two metres thundered past taking along with it everything in its path, including uprooted massive sized trees.

Richard decided to evacuate the camp at around two o’clock; only problem we had was that we could not use the normal road. The three vehicles (us, the tent campers and Richard) left via an emergency “road” around the back of Orpen alongside the old fence. No ways I could tow the caravan, so where the road split to Tambotie tent camp I had to unhitch the caravan and leave it there. Streams feeding the Timbavati from around the Orpen camp surrounded us at I distance of a few hundred metres on each side. When I wrote this we were safely checked into one of the chalets at Orpen, with our caravan sleeping in the bush for the night. My compliments to the great service provided by Dumisane Ntlemo, Tinyiko Mtsetwene and Richard Sowry – well done gentlemen!!

I can but hope and pray that we will be able to continue our stay at Maroela and that they got the guard at the gate (George) out safely as well. Funny what my wife and I thought the important things to be to get out of the caravan. Let’s just say our entire food supply for the trip was still in the caravan fridge maybe running on water power? :wink:

Whilst all this was going on – visitors at Orpen saw wild dogs making an impala kill and feeding right next to the tar road about ten kilometers from the gate. I hate them!!!!! Nah, just joking, maybe one day our luck will change.


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 Post subject: Re: TR – The 2012 Floods and the days that followed
Unread postPosted: Thu Feb 02, 2012 6:47 pm 
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Location: Kempton Park
Day four – the aftermath part 1

About camping in the rain.

In my younger years I once even slept in a sleeping bag next to my vehicle. Then one night the rain came and I sat in the vehicle shivering waiting for daylight. Next step up was to buy a tent, then a bigger tent, then inflatable mattresses, then camping beds….you get my drift. Then I got lured into buying the kitchen extension to the tent with all the paraphernalia that goes with it.

Then I started visiting camping and outdoor shows and suppliers of camping equipment and spent some more money buying whatever I thought you cannot do without. Then we decided to get a caravan, a big one that even included the kitchen sink. What to do with all the camping gear already bought over the years (some only used once) – you take it with of course.

We humans are funny creatures – we do not want to easily admit that we made a mistake. Especially men, maybe pride prevents us from saying that we bought a piece of junk, hehehehehe. Then experience finally starts to dawn and we recently bought the smaller caravan. After a rainy trip to Frankfort on the banks of the Wilge river about two years ago I decided that enough is enough. The bare minimum is to be packed for any future trip. That decision made moving the caravan so much easier and we did not miss any piece of equipment left behind at home. Remember, those things you thought that you could not even consider getting along without.

Next step? Bungalows – I don’t think so – we like clinging to the fence to watch the nightlife.

First two more flood related photos - Gotcha :)

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Well, surprisingly the fridge seemed to have worked on water power the night before. We got up early itching to go and see if the caravan was still intact. At around seven the duty manager (Dumisane) accompanied us back to Maroela to pick up the wet rally tent and some stuff we left in the hurry to get out. I confess, the second time in as many days we broke one of the rules of the park, we got out of the vehicle to hook up the caravan. At Maroela the water level had subsided down to about twenty meters from the fence revealing magnificent new sandbanks. Dumisane suggested we rather move camp to Satara – guess he had enough trouble without having to worry about stubborn campers that wanted to go pitch camp back at Maroela.

He had to think about what must be done to fix Tambotie tent camp where ten tents as well as part of the fence washed away. He had to first make sure that we could even get to Satara so he phoned the ranger over there. The water level of the Timbavati had flooded the tar road at that nice spot where the massive old trees make a canopy over the road and around the bend – yes, that one, before you get to the confluence of the Timbavati and the Phelwana rivers. As he was still on the phone a vehicle came from the Satara side and informed us that it’s a bit muddy, but we will be able to get through.

So off we went, only ten kilometres down the road guess what – at least seventeen wild dogs that must have spent the night – finally, after more than twenty years of visiting the park. At that very same bend mentioned above there stood a stranded vehicle with mud and debris up to the windows. We were told later that the guy did manage to get his wife and kids out safely and back to Orpen – apparently dressed only in his T-shirt & underpants – I’d rather not comment……….Nsemani damn filled up overnight, what a beautiful sight.

Low Level Bridge at Balule
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We set up the wet caravan next to the fence on another prime camping spot in a very empty Satara campsite and hoped that everything will dry out. Had a quick something to eat – brekkie, lunch, supper – not sure, we lost track of time. We decided to go have a look at Tshokwane, at the time all access to any dirt road was prohibited till further notice. So it’s going to be up and down the tar roads for us for some time. You will probably not believe the flood damage done at Tshokwane; it’s shocking to say the least. We saw some people still stranded across the Munyiwini/N’waswitsontso Rivers that were still a rolling mass of water.

We sat for about an hour watching a number of tawny, brown and other eagles harvesting flying termites on the ground. In the air numerous species of bee-eaters and swallows joined in the feast in an aerobatic spectacle. On the way back at Kumana dam we watched two saddle billed storks feeding in the flooded grass alongside the overflowing dam. We spotted a rhino and an ellie, but no sign of the famous Sweni pride, or the local Dhagga boys. Guess what; they came to visit us right next to the fence just when we started our braai – first time we had a break in the weather to even consider starting a fire. We said goodnight to them sleeping but five meters in front of our now dry caravan and dirty rally tent.

Gudzani Dam
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Nsemani Dam
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 Post subject: Re: TR – The 2012 Floods and the days that followed
Unread postPosted: Fri Feb 03, 2012 7:12 pm 
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Day five – the aftermath part 2

The view from Timbavati Picnic Spot a few days after the flood
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Eye level view across the Timbavati in Maroela a few days after the flood
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We got up at daybreak to watch our first visible sunrise since we entered the park. No brekkie, just coffee and rusks and off we went to have a look at the Olifants bridge. Saw the local dhagga boys as well as a small herd of buffs in the distance. What a sight awaited us at Olifants Bridge - all I can say is that they built bridges well all those years ago – the photos will tell the story. The tar road between the bridge and Olifants camp was still closed so we had to go via the Balule road. I must say that it’s the best condition I have ever seen that stretch of dirt road; probably maintained daily because it’s the only way to get from Lethaba to Satara.

We were told that all the people at Balule had to be airlifted out by helicopter. We missed our good friend (Titus) from Balule at Satara this morning – I believe he insisted to get back there to start working to get the camp which is his pride and joy back to his normal high standards. The view from Olifants camp is even more spectacular than normal and the low water bridge near Balule was still under the raging water.

On the way back buffs, buffs and more buffs, ellies, ellies, breeding herd of ellies and some more ellies. At the Olifants Bridge we saw an army helicopter crisscrossing the area – alarm bells rang but I’m not going to speculate as to what they were searching for. Lonely rhino crossing the road in front of us marked his territory and walked off into the distance when a jeep jockey ventured closer. Male and two female ostriches posed quite nicely for us some distance away and I also got a few shots of another saddle billed stork.

Back at Satara a Diederick cuckoo welcomed us at our now completely dried out caravan. Well it’s now four o’clock and the golden hour is about to start – so let’s see what the rest of the day will bring. I promised myself that from tomorrow I will be back in my normal Kruger mode. Morning drive for one hour, turn around and get back to camp to relax and same thing in the afternoon. If it’s just up and down the tar road on this visit, so be it.

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I took my own advice and took a leisurely drive out to Nsemani dam. The light was perfect with the terrain just starting to come to life after the recent rain with very short grassland. We saw some wildebeest and zebs with every other vehicle just rushing past without giving them a second look – you know the issileusie visitors. Scanning the terrain carefully more and more birds appeared as if out of nowhere. I got a few nice close-ups of bronze winged coursers. A big waterbuck bull did a classic pose for us with his lady friend’s close-by. A very curious little jackal also ventured closer to investigate the quiet vehicle parked on the side of the road.

At Nsemani I got very close to water dikkop and managed a few shots – using the flash to see how it will work during the day. Also tried a few landscape shots of Nsemani – it’s not my cup of tea really, because I don’t like changing lenses on the fly. Driving around with two cameras is bad enough methinks. On the way back marabu storks were posing on the ground as well as in a dead old tree. My best shots on the trip so far I’m sure – and I have not even downloaded them to the laptop. The daggha boys were close to their normal sleeping spot but my new neighbour next door decided that one spotlight is not enough, so he kept two of them blasting bright light that covers almost the length of the fence into the night sky - bear in mind that Satara was still running on generator power. :(

A few teasers just in case you are losing interest :wink:

Three Little Piggies - Nah - Jackal
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I wonder............ :twisted:
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 Post subject: Re: TR – The 2012 Floods and the days that followed
Unread postPosted: Sun Feb 05, 2012 12:06 pm 
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Leopard Sighting.

OK, enough about the rain. All is not doom and gloom, the sun is shining in the park and it’s about time I get into some specifics of a few sightings. I usually spent some time on a daily basis in the park to write a few notes of our experience during the day. Last night I read some of my notes and realised that I said a few controversial things and also made some rather harsh judgements. A rethink and rewrite is in order methinks. It helps to keep me sane and it brings me to the point that I want to try to put into words today:-

Exactly what is meant by the term sighting from your point of view?

Let me try and illustrate what I’m trying to say by describing our experience with a female Ingwe I even gave a name - Tulani:-

Our daily routine settled into heading up north towards Olifants and then turning east again into the dirt road towards Nwanetsi. There were usually very few vehicles on the road and we saw quite a number of vultures feeding on a kudu carcass the first time we took the route. We had to cross a small stream of water about halfway up the dirt road. After about two more kilometres my time was up for the day (golden hour) and we headed back to Satara. We had to catch up on some laundry and I just wanted to have a relaxing day in the camp anyways.

Bear with me, the above paragraph is a hint towards territorial behaviour. Not very easy to pinpoint exactly because I could not get out and walk to try and establish the exact boundaries.

The first time we saw Tulani she walked across the road about eighty metres in front of us and disappeared into the tall grass. More vehicles arrived but I think the occupants of the five vehicles at the sighting did not have much knowledge about leopard behaviour – I got the perfect leopard in the tall grass shot to prove it. Have we experienced a leopard “sighting” at this point?

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The following day my faith in some of humanity was restored when Tulani again walked across the road and disappeared into the vegetation. I carefully scanned the area and saw a steenbok in the only large tree in the vicinity. She must have caught it during the night and I was certain that she would return to feed some more. I turned the vehicle around and got into position for a nice photo session and waited. More vehicles appear and I tell the couple in the first vehicle what I saw and what we can expect to happen any minute.

They listened and somehow believed this complete stranger and switched off their vehicle. Then we waited, cars come and go, you know the drill, what ya looking at? explain, OK thanx and off they go. A few more regular visitors also waited. Well we waited for at least two hours and then………… The couple that took my advice and waited with us all the time were rewarded with a few once in a lifetime photos. (I’m not posting the best shots here though and I’m old-school – single frame shots, not rapid fire)

Up she goes to claim her prize
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Finding her footing
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Down she comes
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On the way back from Balule we just had to say goodbye to our lovely lady. She was now lying down with a full belly resting and sleeping in the shade. Was this a leopard “sighting”? I had a good laugh at the reaction of a jeep jocky when we told him about the leopard. I had to tell him twice to just hold on a second and LISTEN to me, because just about three hundred meters up the road a pair of male lions were sleeping it off. I did see the pair earlier the morning close to a large herd of buffs – looks like they were well fed and not interested. It was in the same area where they must have fed on the kudu a few days earlier (another territory indicator).

We turned around and went back on the tar road when another jeep jocky came, uhm… screaming? I mean driving past. Must have heard the news I guess………

Sleeping time
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The next day - you guessed it - we took the road up north again only to find Tulani for the third time in as many days, this time at a roadblock unfortunately. Someone parked behind our vehicle frantically tried to get my attention when she walked across the road and I could not see her between all the traffic. So much so that he had to blow the vehicle’s horn to satisfy his eagerness to let me know that there is a leopard around. She responded by spoiling everybody’s chance of getting a good photo by walking straight into the morning sun. I was told by a very enthusiastic person that she was stalking the herd of wildebeest nearby. We spent some time with the local jackals when everybody left. Please accept my apologies if I offend but I cannot find better words to describe what I just said.

On our last day for this visit we just had to go and see if we could say our last goodbye to the lovely lady ingwe. She did show herself again briefly by crossing the road about hundred metres ahead of us at her favourite tree; but she clearly had enough of any vehicles and lied down in the now very tall grass before we could even get close. Sleep peaceful and eat well dear Tulani and I wish you a successful future that you can pass on to your next generation in this magic place. Some of us in the human race are certainly not making life easier for you……

Now you tell me when we had a leopard “sighting”.


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 Post subject: Re: TR – The 2012 Floods and the days that followed
Unread postPosted: Mon Feb 06, 2012 5:37 pm 
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Lion, rhino, ellie & buff encounters.

Me and my theories about animal behavior and the patterns of where you may or may not find the lions, can only make me laugh sometimes. The generator was still going and we have not been able to clearly establish the direction where the roars originate from in the evening. So I developed a new strategy and we only left after everybody else raced down the road to have a look at the dead ellie at the end of the S100. Dead ellie with the tusks still attached isn’t going nowhere in a hurry methinks and we headed north (again) towards Olifants. Less than 1,5 kilometres outside the gate in perfect sunlight something stepped onto the tarmac. I quickly slowed down and turned the vehicle with the driver side window facing the correct way.

I switched off the vehicle and before I could even get the beanbag ready this beautiful young creature approached me and walked past VERY close staring me in the eye. I had no time to even close the window as he turned around to take a sniff at the rear end of the vehicle. He walked back again and sat down, staring towards the rising sun. Then the females started to appear, lying down in the road, playing, and sitting up, staring into the rising sun when another ventured closer. After about fifteen minutes (looks like they were still in hunting mode) one after the other they started heading south. When the last one stepped off the tarmac another vehicle appeared and they just saw a lion butt disappearing into the tall grass. Not because they did anything wrong though, the lions just had enough with one photo shoot for the day.

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Moral of the story and my new theory (for today at least) - head up north from Satara just about half an hour later than the gate opening time risers.

We found two beautiful male lions just as they were moving to a shadier spot to lie down for their daily rest. We watched them for a while before the next vehicles began to arrive. We marked the spot on the GPS to visit them again in the afternoon because they were only about 10 kilometres out the gate. We went back to the pair of lions in the afternoon and had a good laugh when one of them decided to go and lie down on the other side of the road walking (with millimetres to spare) right past and in between two vehicles that parked a bit too close to his liking. By the way, we have spotted the pride females in the same area for three successive days and now we have also seen the two pride leaders.

During the afternoon encounter with the two males I also confirmed my suspicion about some of my fellow South Africans visiting the park. Not many cares to really listen to what people say and most of them just want to talk about their own sightings. One guy asked me if he could play his lion CD to get reaction from the lions – huh? I told him in no uncertain terms what I thought about his brainwave and even convinced him to just switch off his vehicle and in a short while he will be able to show his visitors from Spain something they will not forget in a hurry. I noticed that one of the males were getting itchy and indicated to the visitors to get ready with their cell phone cameras. I knew that the male will sit up, take a look around and then yawn a few times. It was a good feeling to see the big smiles on the visitor’s faces.

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For obvious reasons I’m not going to mention where we saw rhino during our visit. My wife raised an interesting point though by asking exactly where you draw the line when reporting on rhino sightings? Is the fact that we have stayed at Satara for about two weeks and me reporting sightings here not a good indication that there were quite a few in the area? I have not reported on rhino as yet, not because we have not seen any, but I am sure that by the time I post this on the forum they will be long gone anyways. Be that as it may; one day we saw seven of them, three, two, and one, and then one again in the afternoon, in that order.

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One day we saw a large ellie bull some distance away walking together with his askari. I did manage a few distance shots and maybe Aat will be able to help with an ID – all I’m sure of is that he is one of the biggest we have seen, and we have seen quite a few of these magnificent tuskers. If you reading this and can ID him Aat please drop me a PM and I will let you know exactly where we saw him. The only other vehicle took one look at the ellies in the distance and drove away. I’m sure they never realised exactly what they were missing – it’s just some more ellies I suppose.

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Buffs? We did not see any, hehehehehe, Nah I just did not take any photos of them on this trip. You must try it someday; forget about the camera and just sit and drink in and enjoy the experience of what you are privileged to see. I have so many beautiful shots of these amazing animals already anyway.

That takes care of the Big Five methinks – one day I’m going to write a TR without even mentioning them. :lol:


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 Post subject: Re: TR – The 2012 Floods and the days that followed
Unread postPosted: Tue Feb 07, 2012 9:52 am 
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A few special moments.

I had a difficult time as well as some good laughs trying to get some photos of diederik cuckoos mating behaviour antics. We took a short drive late afternoon to Girivana dam and back to camp for an early braai. I got a fire going and then witnessed pirate/squatter behaviour by two species of birds that I least expected it from. I had a look at the few shots from the previous day where I used the flash on birdies during daylight hours and I’m glad that my experiment worked out. I posted a photo earlier of a pair of male and female cutthroat finches taking over a lesser masked weavers nest. Late afternoon they just hijacked the nest for the night for a quickie and sleepover and left again early next morning – I swear I can see the contentment of their small victory on those cute little faces.

We also found a male cheetah in hunting mode at Gudzani East one morning and spent an hour or so watching him disappear in the distance until we lost sight of him. One day we took a short detour to the ellie on the S100 and got a few shots of the rangers removing the tusks. Photo not suitable for the faint hearted. The vultures had a feast; we could not even begin to try to estimate their numbers as well as the variety of species present when we got back from Nwanetsi lookout point about an hour later.

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One day we also visited my favourite picnic spot (Muzandzeni) and I’m glad we did. We saw a flock of lesser black winged plover – a lifer for us. Have you ever heard the ‘peu-pe-pe-pe-pe’ and ‘queeo,queeo’ begging calls of juvenile martial eagle calling from the same tree two days in succession? Enough said! We saw a smallish croc at Gudzani East – yes at the cement drinking spot. Very funny when he quickly dived into the water when two egyptian geese landed on the edge of the water next to him disturbing his newly found pond and morning heat-up session.

We also watched the magic sunsets that only Kruger can provide. The weather had been very kind to us without getting unbearably hot during the day, but not a drop of rain has fallen at Satara since our ordeal at Maroela. The highlights for us one day were not the five young lionesses walking away from us on the road, but we saw a secretary bird doing the snake dance. Unfortunately only from a distance, but not being able to get some photos did not spoil the occasion for us. Neither did not having any photo evidence of the honey badger running along the road for about fifty metres at ten o’clock in the morning before disappearing into the thick vegetation.

We took the golden highway back to camp one morning out of curiosity about how well the vegetation had recovered – you all know there are no animals on that road, don’t you? But the S100 threw me a curveball today. I have taken hundreds of photos of waterbuck on this trip as well as in the past, males, females and teenagers because they make such easy targets for that perfectly framed and exposed shot. This must have been the very first calf born for the season in the park to a very proud mum. We watched them for a long time after the issieleusies left.

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We also had a brief sighting of a harlequin quail and only had a second or less to fire off two shots – very difficult to focus clearly on the bird in the grass from the driver side of the vehicle as well. Unfortunately it is only an evidence photo, nothing more. I include a few more nice surprises below of two species of snakes that we have been lucky enough to see. The one I saw at the flooded Maroela campsite when George showed me the snake trying to get away from the flooding Timbavati. And another one at the Sonop drinking spot on the Shingita Highway.

I suspect one is a very wet Bibrons blind snake and need help to Id the other – I used the flash on both.

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Our spur of the moment trip had come to an end and we must now make plans to make amends with Maroela by visiting there again soon. But how can we not visit Satara again after the great and wonderful time that we had. It is only when you stay for a number of days in the same camp doing the same route every day that you can start to confirm territory and do better predictions of what you can expect to see and where to see it. I’m sure I left out at least thirty per cent of our experience even though I tried my best to share it with you. I thank you all for the kind words – it made the effort of putting the report together so much more worth my while.

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I hope you enjoyed my musings and hope to see you in the park sometime.

Ps. we were busy hitching the caravan very early when something came to say goodbye to us. Believe me I tried not using the flash on this beautiful creature but even the F2.8 with a very slow shutter speed could not cope in the dark. I thought about editing out the piece of string, but decided against it; fortunately it was not attached to the cat.


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Addo Nossob Orpen Satara
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