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 Post subject: Morkel777 The Really Epic Road Trip - August 2010
Unread postPosted: Wed Dec 21, 2011 10:56 pm 
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Virtual Ranger
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Location: Behind a Nikon camera...
I suppose I have to start catching up on all my trips to National Parks since my previous TR of my KTP-June-2010 trip has come to an end...
(find it HERE)

So, on Friday 20 August 2010, my wife and I along with 2 of our closest friends set off for a long-planned road trip. The itinerary would be as follows:

20 - 21 August: Giant's Castle, Drakensberg
22 - 24 August: Haga-Haga nature reserve, Wild Coast, Eastern Cape
25 - 26 August: Addo Elephant National Park
27 - 28 August: Mountain Zebra National Park
29 August: Heading Home

If I may, I will post some pics of our first 2 stop-overs...although Giant's Castle isn't strictly a SANParks location as per the definition of this forum, it is still part of Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife and part of the greater network of National Parks, and hey, you can enter for free with your WildCard so that's got to count for something, right? :lol: :thumbs_up: :tongue:

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 Post subject: Re: The Really Epic Road Trip - August 2010 (incl Addo & MZN
Unread postPosted: Wed Dec 21, 2011 11:20 pm 
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Location: Behind a Nikon camera...
Although we were going to Giant's Castle, I had not been able to secure a spot in the Vulture hide. That is something I will have to do next year as one cannot claim to be a bird photographer and not have visited this iconic hide... :hmz: :wall:

I thus spent my time capturing images of the landscape around the rest camp which is breath-taking...
I had to get up very early and trudge down the mountain into the valley for these images.

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After 2 nights in this wonderfully tranquil setting...it was time to move on...
:D

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 Post subject: Re: The Really Epic Road Trip - August 2010 (incl Addo & MZN
Unread postPosted: Thu Dec 22, 2011 10:00 pm 
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Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Tue Aug 18, 2009 9:41 pm
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Location: Behind a Nikon camera...
Thanks very much for the kind compliments, folks...

Next, we moved on to Haga-Haga, a quaint little town and nature reserve about 30km East up the coast from East London. We had to drive from Giant's Castle through Pietermaritzburg and Mthatha to get there...a VERY interesting stretch of road indeed! :big_eyes:

Here are some shots from the beach at Haga-Haga.

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Here's a shot from one of the Wild Coast hills at night, looking over the Indian Ocean...

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And here's a shot of the beach under a full moon...

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From here, we drove up through Grahamstown to the Addo Elephant National Park...images to follow soon... :whistle: :mrgreen:

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 Post subject: Re: The Really Epic Road Trip - August 2010 (incl Addo & MZN
Unread postPosted: Thu Dec 29, 2011 12:14 am 
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Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Tue Aug 18, 2009 9:41 pm
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Location: Behind a Nikon camera...
thank you so much for the wonderful compliments, folks...glad to have you on board...
:mrgreen: :clap: :dance:

Time to move on to Addo...after 3 relaxing days on the Wild Coast we drove up on the N2 through Grahamstown and on the gravel road past Shamwari up to the main road leading to Addo. Always a good chance of spotting something on this gravel road as there are private game reserves on both sides - last time we had a male lion in the open just lying next to the fence... :whistle: :wink:

Addo Day 1

We arrived at midday and checked into our safari tent. My only previous visit to this park was as a day visitor en route from East London to MZNP, so we were stoked to be able to overnight on this occasion.

This large bull was foraging in front of the units.

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I spent some time getting to know our local weavers...

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Eventually we headed out for a late afternoon drive...

Our first kudu of many...kudu seems to be to Addo what impala is to Kruger :big_eyes: :lol:

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This guy's horns were a bit skew...

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This big boy was in full-blown musth and we tried to keep our distance. Note the streaming fluids along the temple and down the inner leg...

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We had to pause to let this guy cross the road...

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And of course warthogs are plenty too in this park!

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On our way to Hapoor dam we encountered a bit of a roadblock...

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As well as this mongoose digging for grub...

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Time for a little guessing game...
Who can tell me what this fiscal shrike is sitting on??? :hmz: :wink: :shock:

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Let's have some guesses...answer to follow soon...

:mrgreen:

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 Post subject: Re: The Really Epic Road Trip - August 2010 (incl Addo & MZN
Unread postPosted: Sat Jan 07, 2012 12:39 am 
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Virtual Ranger
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Location: Behind a Nikon camera...
Thanks for the kind words, folks.
Time to continue now that the festive season is behind us :lol: :wink:

Addo Day 1 Part 2

So you can see here - the "mystery perch" is in fact the old elephant skull close to Hapoor Dam...

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This jackal came to quench its thirst at Marion Baree waterhole...

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As did this young ellie...

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Some guests on the way back to camp...

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This must be some kind of starling...and my bird book is nowhere near me...twitchers??

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Glossy Starling takes a curious look at my lens...

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We got back to the main camp and went to check out the action at the hide. Some old buffalo bulls were coming for a drink:

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So we came to the end of our first day at Addo...now if only we could find those Addo lions tomorrow... :hmz: :cam:

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Last edited by Morkel777 on Wed Jan 18, 2012 2:00 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: The Really Epic Road Trip - August 2010 (incl Addo & MZN
Unread postPosted: Wed Jan 18, 2012 1:58 am 
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Virtual Ranger
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Location: Behind a Nikon camera...
Thanks for hopping along and for the kind comments!
:D

Addo Day 1 Part 3

That night we had some visitors by the waterhole in front of our safari tents! Porcupines and some bushpigs came foraging all night long...

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Addo Day 2 Part 1

The sun rose that morning as the kudu's came out to graze. We were on our way to the southern section of the park where the fences had just that week been taken down.

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We headed to Marion Baree, and came across two young elephants who were trying to see who is the strongest...

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We watched them for about 40 minutes scuffling about...when they eventually settled down a mother and calf came out of the bushes for a drink.

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...more to come soon...

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 Post subject: Re: The Really Epic Road Trip - August 2010 (incl Addo & MZN
Unread postPosted: Tue Jan 24, 2012 12:58 am 
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Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Tue Aug 18, 2009 9:41 pm
Posts: 626
Location: Behind a Nikon camera...
Thanks so much for the wonderful comments, folks... :D

Here we go again...

Addo Day 2 (part 2)

So momma and baby walked towards the waterhole...

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The whole herd followed, and baby had a drink...

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The 2 young bulls calmed down and everyone hung around lazily.

We pushed on.

As we proceeded south, we came across a herd of Kudu walking along an elevated ridge. I liked the contrasty angle of light and played around with the images:

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This big boy was calmly grazing away at his breakfast...

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We crossed over the recently taken down fenceline to the southern portion. Wildlife was still scarce here and we hoped that many of them would make the transition as there are some more open areas in this section.

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We headed back to camp to go and muster up some grub. At Marion Baree the 2 youngsters were STILL at it!!! :big_eyes: :roll:

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Where were those darn lions hiding?? :hmz:

...to be continued...

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 Post subject: Re: The Really Epic Road Trip - August 2010 (incl Addo & MZN
Unread postPosted: Thu Jan 26, 2012 12:26 am 
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Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Tue Aug 18, 2009 9:41 pm
Posts: 626
Location: Behind a Nikon camera...
Thanks again, folks... :dance: :gflower:

Addo Day 2 part 3

We had a nice afternoon rest after our brunch...this guy was our companion for the afternoon in front of the safari tents:

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We headed out later in the afternoon for another game drive. This time we focused on the area around Zuurkop and Carol's Rest.

This large elephant bull was dwarfed by the landscape:

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Gwarrie Pan:
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I always love watching and photographing black-backed jackals...they always seem to be up to no-good and mischief or at least some sort of interesting behaviour.

This one was overturning piles of elephant dung in search of a snack. Does anyone know if they eat the dung beetles?? :hmz:

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A large family of ellies headed to the water...

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"One day I'll be as big as you guys!"
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At Carol's rest we saw these guys trundling away from the water...

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On the way back to camp - more kudu's (remember what I said, they are like the impalas of Kruger :lol: )

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I came REALLY close to this elephant! :big_eyes: :whistle: :tongue:

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A large herd of buffalo greeted us in front of our safari tents. The perfect way to spend the sunset here...

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Tomorrow morning we would have time for another quick drive before we had to pack up and continue our road trip...would we be able to spot those elusive lions?? :hmz: :wall:

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 Post subject: Re: The Really Epic Road Trip - August 2010 (incl Addo & MZN
Unread postPosted: Mon Feb 13, 2012 9:24 pm 
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Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Tue Aug 18, 2009 9:41 pm
Posts: 626
Location: Behind a Nikon camera...
Thanks for hanging on, folks! :wink: :D

One more image from our Safari Tent deck the previous evening:

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Let's carry on...

Addo Day 4 (part 1)

So we headed out first thing the next morning...in hope of tracking down those felines...

Kudus greeting the sunrise:

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We headed out to Carol's Rest and saw this monstrous buffalo:

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And the obligatory jackal...
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LBJ:
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Another Jackal:
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More kudus as per usual:
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A jackal with an itch:
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Bokmakierie? help me twitchers... :hmz:
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We then took the gravel road to Hapoor Dam...and look at what was lying in the road! :big_eyes: :dance:
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They were certainly fat and lazy from the previous night's feast...
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The spekboom foliage didn't make for great viewing angles...

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It was just us 2 guys out on patrol, so we decided to head back, pack up our things and bring the ladies here too...

This big bull was grazing close to the camp:
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Ear closeup:
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Back at the tent there were some buffalo grazing in front of our tent...

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...to be continued...

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 Post subject: Re: The Really Epic Road Trip - August 2010 (incl Addo & MZN
Unread postPosted: Sun Feb 19, 2012 9:52 pm 
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Virtual Ranger
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Location: Behind a Nikon camera...
Thanks folks.

A last few lion pics before the road trip moves north to the Mountain Zebra National Park... :cam: :hmz:

Addo Day 4 (part 2)

We picked up our SO's, packed the car very quickly, and headed out to the lions again...

They were still there, still being lazy...

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They weren't going to budge, and we needed to get going. We headed back to camp, filled up the SUV with fuel, and hit the road north towards Cradock...

:mrgreen:

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 Post subject: Re: The Really Epic Road Trip - August 2010 (incl Addo & MZN
Unread postPosted: Sun Mar 18, 2012 11:29 pm 
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Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Tue Aug 18, 2009 9:41 pm
Posts: 626
Location: Behind a Nikon camera...
Thanks for the kind comments and for sticking around, folks.

Time to continue (I worked in a 2-week Kgalagadi trip in the meantime in the real world :wink: :dance: but more on that later, MUCH later as I'm now 3x KTP trips, 1x Kruger trip and 1x Golden Gate/MZNP trip behind in writing TRs!! :wall: :tongue: )

MZNP Day 1

We left the lions, filled up the vehicle and headed north towards Cradock and the Mountain Zebra National Park, a favourite of mine and a real little gem in the Karoo.

This time, we were booked into the Doornkop guest house. We arrived and immediately loved the old-school farmhouse look and of course the setting deep in the fold of the mountains and away from the main rest camp.

Here are some images of the house...

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We took an afternoon drive up to the Rooiplaat loop. This is the view of the Doornkop Guest House from up there...

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Our first sightings were an ostrich (don't you just love the backgrounds that you get in your photos in this park??)

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...a blesbuck...

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...and of course some Cape Mountain Zebra...

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Some Red Hartebeest on the slopes...

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Our next sighting was truly special, but I will not be sharing it here in this TR for conservation reasons. Suffice it to say I was smiling very broadly! :mrgreen: :popcorn:

A herd of springbok was grazing down in the valley...

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These guys are always found on some of the open stretches in the valley...

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Just loved these Mountain Zebbies in great light against a stunning backdrop...

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The gemsbok in the Park have always been a bit shy IMHO, these stood still only for a moment before running away from us...

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Close to the guest house we found this little guy. Crappy photo, but thought it was interesting as it clearly LOOKS like a Common Duiker, but had a VERY red coat...yet it's not a Red Duiker based on its appearance...
:hmz:

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We arrived at the Guest House and started to prepare our braai for the night.

Stay tuned for some shots of the magnificent view from behind the house, including some nocturnal scapes to show the stars! :thumbs_up:

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 Post subject: Re: The Really Epic Road Trip - August 2010 (incl Addo & MZN
Unread postPosted: Tue Apr 10, 2012 11:47 pm 
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Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Tue Aug 18, 2009 9:41 pm
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Location: Behind a Nikon camera...
Thanks a lot for the kind comments and for hanging in there, folks. Got tied up with real-world stuff again for a while...ready to continue this one!


MZNP Day 1

Here are some scenes of the night sky from behind the guest house...

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This Aloe Ferox was right outside the back kitchen door and proved very photogenic!

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This one just won the Forum Photo Competition for DSLR Plants! Yeh! :dance:
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More nocturnal scenes to come in tomorrow night's TR...
We had a nice braai and sat under the vibrant stars before making our way to bed.


MZNP Day 2

I got up before sunrise and captured this pre-sunrise view from right in front of the guest house...

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And this one from behind the house:

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We promptly set off on the morning drive after some warm coffee (it was quite cold).
Would we find the cheetahs today??
:hmz: :doh:

...to be continued...

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 Post subject: Re: The Really Epic Road Trip - August 2010 (incl Addo & MZN
Unread postPosted: Thu Apr 12, 2012 11:21 pm 
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Virtual Ranger
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Location: Behind a Nikon camera...
Thanks so much for following along and the kind compliments, folks... :dance:

Michael Borcherds wrote:
Another awesome installment Morkel - you need to pick the pace up abit, still owe lots of KTP TR's :dance: (will be watching out for them :D )


Indeed!! :big_eyes: :wall: time to make fire under my seat... :rtm:


MZNP Day 2 (part 2)

Here are some more scenes from the day...

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This anthill was also behind the guest house - more images of this baby later!

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As the day drew to a close, we headed down from the Rooiplaat plateau taking the long winding cliff road into the gorge...and then down the slope we saw this...
:big_eyes:

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 Post subject: Re: The Really Epic Road Trip - August 2010 (incl Addo & MZN
Unread postPosted: Tue Apr 17, 2012 12:06 am 
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MZNPDay 2 (part 3)

As we came around the mountain I spotted movement...a looooong way down the slope...

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What is it? Looking through my lens revealed this:

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AARDWOLF!!! :big_eyes: :dance: :clap:
My first sighting ever.
I hated that it was so far.
Still - we watched it forage for a while.

Some HEAVILY cropped shots:

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We proceeded back to the Doornhoek Guest House, but not before these guys said goodnight:

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We started to get the braai going.
I first had to inspect my friends' handiwork:

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I told you I would return to the termite mound behind the house...here it is with the Milky Way in the background.

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And here it is with startrails in the background (multiple 15-minute exposures blended together to form the trails)...

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And lastly, my favourite nightscape of this trip (I had some help from the rising full moon to illuminate the hill in the background)...

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We enjoyed our last braai for this roadtrip.
Tomorrow would be the long road home for us...
We slept well, hoping to return sooner rather than later...
:wink:

(stay tuned for a few pics taken on the way out the next morning)...

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 Post subject: Re: The Really Epic Road Trip - August 2010 (incl Addo & MZN
Unread postPosted: Tue Apr 17, 2012 12:25 am 
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Virtual Ranger
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Location: Behind a Nikon camera...
So we woke up the next morning, all packed and ready to go...and after coffee we hit the long road home.
We didn't find our cheetahs on this trip...but always a reason to return!
It was a wondeful road trip.
Thanks to everyone for following along as I went down memory lane.

Keep a lookout for my upcoming TRs!! 3x KTP, 2x KNP and one Golden Gate + MZNP road trip! :dance: :clap:

As promised - a few pics of the animals that came to bid us farewell as we travelled back to the main road.

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:whistle: :thumbs_up:

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