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 Post subject: Re: Cry (for) The Beloved Country
Unread postPosted: Sun Dec 09, 2012 2:40 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger

Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2010 6:50 pm
Posts: 189
Location: Anaheim, California USA
Hello friends and forumites,

I am safely home and must say that I had an awesome time with some of the most amazing sightings ever.....

We left the Park around 0900 hours on Wednesday morning and headed straight to Johannesburg. We went to the African Craft Market at Rosebank Mall so people could do some shopping and then headed to the airport. Everyone but me flew home that evening. I had booked separately and could not get on the same flight, which also gave me an extra day to spend a little time with Inyosi and family. It would have been a shame to have travelled so far and not been able to at least say hi.....

I left JNB at 2030 on Thursday evening and arrived at Los Angeles International around 1200 hours on Friday. I rushed home and made it in time to surprise my son by picking him up from school. Once my wife made it home from work and my daughter home from school, we went out for dinner as a family. It was so good to be with them again, but I was sooooo tired. I tried to stay up, but crashed out while trying to post on the forum to let everyone know I was home.

I then went back to work this afternoon and worked till 0330 hours. As good as the trip was, it was far from relaxing. We were out of the gate most mornings by the time the gate opened and I was up late downloading and backing up pictures. I had a bad experience and lost all of my pictures a few years ago so I know save them on the computer and an external hard drive at least once a day. Sometimes on really special sightings I downloaded immediately.

My back held up much better than I expected. I did have some days that it started hurting pretty bad, but it could have been much worse. With the long flight and the amount of driving, much of it on some very bumpy dirt roads, I expected worse. It did finally let me know I was overdoing it the day before we left the Park.

I took over 5000 pictures and am beginning to sort through to throw out the junk and pick what I want to post in my TR. I hope to be able to at least start the TR in a few days. I had several camera issues (mainly operator error) during the trip so don't expect anything to rival Morkel or the likes, but I do have some shots that I am proud of and some others that aren't that good, but are proof that I did see what I am going to tell you about. Without them I don't know that I would believe I actually saw what I saw. Yes, some of the sightings were that special......

In addition to the great sightings, I had the privilege of meeting several forumites. Some of the meetings were planned, and some were by pure chance. Either way it was really fun. I will talk about the meetings in more detail during the actual report, but we met Wild one, Porridge and Jaxiedean, Crested Val and family, WendyA, Heksie, Cheetah2111, EKoppen, Lost Pride, Eco Junkie, Flying Cheetah, Raymond Khosa, and Waterbuck.

So that's all for now, but I promise to get going as soon as humanly possible.

Till then......

Daron

_________________
Marakele May 2-4, 2014 (First time)
Tlopi Tented Camp

Kruger May 6-15, 2014
Satara May 6-10
Skukuza May 10-12
Crocodile Bridge May 12-15


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 Post subject: Re: Cry (for) The Beloved Country
Unread postPosted: Mon Dec 10, 2012 1:06 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger

Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2010 6:50 pm
Posts: 189
Location: Anaheim, California USA
Is everyone ready to start????


Day 1: The Adventure Begins:

Unfortunately the bus got a later start than planned. We spent our first night at Madi a Thava Mountain Lodge and planned to leave around 0800 on Sunday morning in an effort to be at Punda Maria gate by 1000. When you have a group as diverse as ours was, things don't always go as planned. The staff prepared an amazing breakfast for us consisting of yoghurt with fresh fruit, croissants, fresh bread, eggs, bacon, and tomatoes. Yum... I think we finally finished breakfast around the time I had hoped to be at the gate. Better late than never though.

After breakfast we loaded into the two Nissan X-Trails we had rented and headed into Louis Trichard to stock up on groceries.

I should probably start by introducing this mixed group to you....

Obviously me, my twin brother (deamole), and my 14 year old nephew. We then had Mike and Dave from my brother's work, Mike's parents who were celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary, and Dave's girlfriend Veronica.

So we made it to the Super Spar and set off in our own little groups to shop. By the time we stuffed the food into every nook and cranny in the cars I don't think a grain of sand would be able to fit. Those cars were jam packed!!!

The weather was cool and cloudy and the drive was pleasant. By the time we reached Punda Maria gate, a light rain had started to fall. Check in was smooth and easy and the gate staff were pleasant. And now it was time to start our adventure....

We were all excited, each with our own hopes and expectations.

Of course our first sighting was an Impala. But, this wasn't just an ordinary Impala. This was a mom with a newborn baby. What a great way to start....

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We decided to make a quick trip up to Punda Maria camp since we had never been to the northern part of the park. A small herd of wet buffalo greeted us as we turned onto the H13-2.

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A little further along we had a mother warthog and some youngsters

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After turning onto the H1-7 we had our 1st Elephant sighting. It was so cool to watch the newbies to the Park and see how excited they were at every sighting.

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A little further along we had a spectacular sighting of several Eland. This was my 1st sighting of Eland in KNP since I was a teenager. The pictures aren't great because of the gray skies, but they do offer proof.....

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And then some more wet Buffalo and Impala.

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You can actually see the rain coming down

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We turned onto the Mphongolo Loop (S56) and had a Leopard walk slowly across the road in front of us....

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What do you mean that's not a Leopard? Oh, did I forget the tortoise part????? Sorry. I did say walked slowly though, right?

We also had more Ellies

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A shy Nyala

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And a Vervet whispering to his buddy to be careful because the Yanks had arrived

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We also had some great birdlife. Unfortunately the gray skies prevented decent photography other than a couple of hornbills.

I think the 1st is a Gray Hornbill, but I'm open for correction

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And a Yellow-Billed Hornbill

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We finally arrived at Shingwedzi around 1630 hours. Fortunately the staff was on top of things. We believed we had booked a Sunrise drive for the following morning, but as we checked in they reminded us that it was actually for the day after. It wouldn't have made for a good start to be standing at reception at 0345 hours for no reason.....

By the time we got settled everybody was tired and jet-lagged so we decided to eat dinner at the restaurant. What a disappointment!!!!!! The menu selection was extremely limited, the staff were indifferent and as slow as sloths, and the quality was terrible. I was shocked by the decline in the level of service. I know that the concessions are not run by SANParks and are outsourced to an outside vendor. However, with as well as SANParks does with maintaining the Park, I would expect that they would require higher standards from their vendors......

And so off to bed we went with high hopes for tomorrow and a planned trip to Crooks Corner. So stay tuned for more......

_________________
Marakele May 2-4, 2014 (First time)
Tlopi Tented Camp

Kruger May 6-15, 2014
Satara May 6-10
Skukuza May 10-12
Crocodile Bridge May 12-15


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 Post subject: Re: Cry (for) The Beloved Country
Unread postPosted: Mon Dec 10, 2012 1:12 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger

Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2010 6:50 pm
Posts: 189
Location: Anaheim, California USA
noel wrote:
Hi Daron,

Welcome to SA and (:() Goodbye too. You've come and gone, seems just the other day you were getting ready. So glad you had a worthwhile trip to South Africa. Yep, after 36 I will also begin to wonder if it is worthwhile. But you had a fabulous trip to a fabulous place, and fabulous friends and Forumites too. Looking very much forward to this TR.

:popcorn: :popcorn: :popcorn: :popcorn:



Hi Noel,

It does seem like yesterday that the trip was in the planning stages. It is hard to believe that it has come and gone. My brother called today and asked if I was ready to go back next month? Ready? Yes!!! Able? Unfortunately no. Even without the cost even Angels only tolerate so much. My poor wife had a lot of added responsibility while I was gone and it wouldn't be fair to her. So I'm going to have to live vicariously through trip reports again for the next 17 months until I can come again. But trust me, I will be back!

Daron

_________________
Marakele May 2-4, 2014 (First time)
Tlopi Tented Camp

Kruger May 6-15, 2014
Satara May 6-10
Skukuza May 10-12
Crocodile Bridge May 12-15


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 Post subject: Re: Cry (for) The Beloved Country
Unread postPosted: Mon Dec 10, 2012 2:35 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger

Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2010 6:50 pm
Posts: 189
Location: Anaheim, California USA
hilda wrote:
Ah! A lovely trip report has started! What a beautiful Impie mom and baby Tedredrum! So very small! Adorable! :clap: :clap:

What a variety of animals on your first drive! Some lovely wet Buffalo, the cutest Warthog family, a huge Ellie, fortunately not angry, and awesome, stunning Eland! :dance: :dance:

And your Leopard .... tortoise .... gorgeous little thing! :D

Then you came across more Ellies, Nyala, Vervets and a few Hornbills! All in one drive shortly after you arrived there! Awesome! :thumbs_up:

Sorry about your disappointment at the restaurant! We have stopped eating there long ago, and rather do self-catering. But after such a long trip as yours, one can understand that you were too tired to prepare dinner as well. :(

Looking forward to the next episode! :popcorn:


Hilda,

We certainly had a spacial trip, especially for those who were in Africa for their 1st time. They all left saying they would return. Of course we warned them of that before the trip began.

We usually stay away from the restaurants as well. This was the only dinner at the restaurant but we had a few lunches at restaurants at other camps. Unfortunately, the experience was no different.

We did have some very nice braais with lots of wors and pap. And of course Inyosi sent us off with some of the best biltong I've ever had, as well as a bottle of Amarula....

Daron

_________________
Marakele May 2-4, 2014 (First time)
Tlopi Tented Camp

Kruger May 6-15, 2014
Satara May 6-10
Skukuza May 10-12
Crocodile Bridge May 12-15


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 Post subject: Re: Cry (for) The Beloved Country
Unread postPosted: Tue Dec 11, 2012 5:57 am 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger

Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2010 6:50 pm
Posts: 189
Location: Anaheim, California USA
Sorry, but I need to back up a minute. This should have been included in yesterday's post.....

Arrival at the gate - an awesome feeling.....

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Day 2 - Monday November 26, 2012: A REALLY long day:

Part 1 - Shingwedzi to Babalala:

Day 2 started at 0330 hours so we could be out the gate as it opened. I was really excited because this was the day we were going to Pafuri picnic spot and Crook's Corner. I had never been further north than Mopani and had heard such great things about the far north.

As we walked out of the front door, this huge beetle was buzzing around. It hit the wall and flipped upside down

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We got the cars packed up and the cameras all set up and were at the gate as it opened. The seating arrangements were set with deamole driving the lead vehicle with his son and Mike's parents, while I drove the the second vehicle with Mike, Dave, and Veronica.

As we were preparing to leave I snapped this quick picture of deamole discussing the previous day's sightings with Mike's dad

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The weather was gray and gloomy, but the cars were filled with a sense of anticipation of what was to come. We left camp and stopped on the bridge to see if anything was moving in the riverbed. It was pretty misty and it was still pretty dark. We didn't see anything so off we went.

My nephew who at 14 is taller than his dad and me.......

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We turned onto the S55 and then the S56 again. We saw a breeding herd of Impala and then had long periods with no sightings at all

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I'm not very fond of rainy weather, but it seems that it is much better for seeing birds of prey. We had several sightings of Martial Eagles, Fish Eagles, and Vultures. Unfortunately there were not many photo opportunities because of the poor lighting. I took several pictures, but all you can see in many is a silhouette.

What I believe is a juvenile Bateleur

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And a Fish Eagle

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We then had the usual Hornbills.... A Red Billed Hornbill. Funny I didn't even notice the squirrel in the foreground until I posted the picture

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And a Yellow Billed Hornbill with breakfast

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We had more long dry spells and then a large Elephant, Giraffe, Buffalo, and Bushbuck

Large Ellie with a chipped tusk

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A young Giraffe

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Buffalo taking a break

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And a little help here...... Young bushbuck or Nyala?????

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And a Fever Tree in the misty riverbed

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As stated previously, deamole was driving the lead vehicle and literally stopped for EVERYTHING. As a result, it took 6 hours to make it to Babalala. I was concerned that we wouldn't have time to make it to Crook's Corner. We stopped for a quick bite to eat at the picnic spot and then forged ahead.....

More to follow.....

Daron

_________________
Marakele May 2-4, 2014 (First time)
Tlopi Tented Camp

Kruger May 6-15, 2014
Satara May 6-10
Skukuza May 10-12
Crocodile Bridge May 12-15


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 Post subject: Re: Cry (for) The Beloved Country
Unread postPosted: Wed Dec 12, 2012 1:14 am 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger

Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2010 6:50 pm
Posts: 189
Location: Anaheim, California USA
Day 2 Part 2 - The Road to Babalala continued:

While we experienced significant periods with relatively few sightings, the road to Babalala was still productive for us including some great scenery.....

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We all found the trunk of this tree to be fascinating and somewhat mysterious.....

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A lone Spotted Hyena walked out of the bush and into the road. We followed it for a few hundred meters before he/she sauntered back into the undergrowth and disappeared

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And this pretty girl

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And a handsome ram

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Our last several Kruger trips have been in June/July so I was amazed at how green everything was.

This pair of young Nyala also graced us with their presence along the S56

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And this Woodland Kingfisher posing nicely

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Stay tuned for the remainder of the drive to Crook's Corner.....

Daron

_________________
Marakele May 2-4, 2014 (First time)
Tlopi Tented Camp

Kruger May 6-15, 2014
Satara May 6-10
Skukuza May 10-12
Crocodile Bridge May 12-15


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 Post subject: Re: Cry (for) The Beloved Country
Unread postPosted: Wed Dec 12, 2012 11:03 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger

Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2010 6:50 pm
Posts: 189
Location: Anaheim, California USA
Day 2 part 3 - Babalala to Crook's Corner:

So as I said previously we left Shingwedzi at 0430 and only arrived at Babalala at 1030. We had a quick bowl of cereal at the picnic site and then moved on towards Crook's Corner. As we pulled out of the parking lot deamole said he didn't think we would make it all the way to Crook's Corner. I was not a happy camper! The only thing I was adamant about wanting to do during our stay was make it to Crook's Corner. I strongly suggested that he should not stop for 10 minutes for every Yellow-Billed Hornbill and off we went.

The day continued as before with clusters of animal sightings and then long periods with no sightings. All the same, the area was gorgeous and everyone was in awe of the surroundings.

Our first sighting after breakfast was a couple of Buffalo bulls. This one had a twig stuck in it's horn.....

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And this one had his own personal groomer.....

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On the other side of the road was a little Steenbok

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And then another big Elephant

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I must admit I was a little surprised at the Elephant population in the north. I had always heard that the northern part of the Park was the place to see large herds of Elephant. That just didn't happen for us. A majority of our Elephant sightings in this part of the park were lone bulls or very small herds. They were still awesome to see, but was not what I expected.

We stayed on the H1-8 and saw Black shouldered Kite

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I wish the lighting was better, because I love those ruby red eyes.....

And help me out here....Tawney, Brown Snake Eagle, or something totally different?????

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And then we finally made it to Baobab Hill

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As you can see, the skies were still gray, but at least we had made it this far.....

And then on the S63 to Pafuri Picnic Spot we had several Nyala..... This guy was awesome

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He wasn't too shy and posed nicely for some pictures.

Once we made it to the picnic spot everyone piled out of the cars for a quick break and a very quick look around. We were all amazed at the flood level from 2000. I can't imagine how destructive that must have been.

Their was a nice grouping of Nyala and Impala drinking on the far side of the river with Baboons playing as well.

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And another Fish Eagle on the far bank

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Unfortunately we felt very pressed for time. It was now 1430 and we hadn't even made it to Crook's Corner yet. We had been on the road for 10 hours and hadn't even made it to our turn around point yet. I checked in at the Picnic Spot, but Frank was not there and we moved on towards Crook's Corner.

Fortunately we didn't have far to go.....

There wasn't much going on when we arrived, but it was awesome to be there and sense the historical significance of this place.

There was a Crocodile in the river bed

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And a Pied Kingfisher

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A quick photo opportunity and we were back on the road heading south.

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I was disappointed that we had come so far and had to leave almost immediately. Both Pafuri Picnic Spot and Crook's Corner were places that I would liked to have spent some time just enjoying the ambiance, but I wasn't in charge this time around.....

Hopefully there will be another opportunity in the future....

Stay tuned for the trip back to Shingwedzi.....

Daron

_________________
Marakele May 2-4, 2014 (First time)
Tlopi Tented Camp

Kruger May 6-15, 2014
Satara May 6-10
Skukuza May 10-12
Crocodile Bridge May 12-15


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 Post subject: Re: Cry (for) The Beloved Country
Unread postPosted: Thu Dec 13, 2012 7:16 am 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger

Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2010 6:50 pm
Posts: 189
Location: Anaheim, California USA
Day 2 Continued - The trip back....:

Based on the time we decided it would be wisest to stick to the tar on the way back to Shingwedzi and to only stop for "special" sightings. The difficult part of that was that in Kruger, every sighting is special. And the trip back was full of special things.

As we left Crook's Corner we found a Southern Ground Hornbill sitting in a tree

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We saw a nice looking Secretary Bird. However, by the time everyone else got their pictures taken and I tried to maneuver for my turn, it had moved into thick bush and I couldn't get the picture.

We then found a small herd of Zebra, including a mom and baby who was nursing.

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And a pair of Ostrich

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Then the largest group of Elephant we had seen so far

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And yes, yes, yes..... more Eland

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We then found this Buffalo bull who decided to wallow in the mud

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Day 2 was very productive, but it's not quite over. Standby for the final piece of the day coming soon....

Daron

_________________
Marakele May 2-4, 2014 (First time)
Tlopi Tented Camp

Kruger May 6-15, 2014
Satara May 6-10
Skukuza May 10-12
Crocodile Bridge May 12-15


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 Post subject: Re: Cry (for) The Beloved Country
Unread postPosted: Fri Dec 14, 2012 6:15 am 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger

Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2010 6:50 pm
Posts: 189
Location: Anaheim, California USA
Day 2 - The finale - Kanniedood Hide:

After our long day we ended up getting back to Shingwedzi with about 45 minutes to spare. We drove across the easement towards the back gate and saw a big Crocodile and a couple of Egyptian Geese.

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We continued on to the Kanniedood Hide and saw Hippo in the riverbed, along with Baboons, Bushbuck, Waterbuck, and Nyala.

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And a Maribou Stork

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Everybody was searching intently and enjoying the view

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Mike's parents (Bob and Jeri)

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My nephew Garrett, Mike, Veronica, and Bon

As we left this Starling was sitting on a branch

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And just before camp we found these Baboons with a baby. Mom was being very protective of the baby...

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And to top it all of we had this gorgeous African sunset sending us home through the gate

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All in all it was an awesome day.

We settled back in to our accommodations and started the fire to braai some boerewors. My brother made a pot of pap with tomato and onion sauce and we sat on the stoep eating, talking about what a great day we had, and sipping on Amarula. The perfect ending....

Porridge and Jaxiedean came by for a drink and a chat and then it was off to bed since we had the Early Morning Drive scheduled for the next morning.

Till then.....

Daron

_________________
Marakele May 2-4, 2014 (First time)
Tlopi Tented Camp

Kruger May 6-15, 2014
Satara May 6-10
Skukuza May 10-12
Crocodile Bridge May 12-15


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 Post subject: Re: Cry (for) The Beloved Country
Unread postPosted: Sat Dec 15, 2012 7:23 am 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger

Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2010 6:50 pm
Posts: 189
Location: Anaheim, California USA
Day 3 Part 1 - Early Morning Drive:

0315 came very quickly and it seemed like we had just laid down and the alarms were ringing. But, as we got dressed and began walking towards reception to meet the guide, we could hear Lions roaring very close to camp. We had spoken with others in the camp who had seen two large male Lion close by and we were all hoping that today would be our day.

We met our guide, Shadrach, and drove out the gate just before 0400 hours. Surprisingly, Shadrach drove in the opposite direction of where we though we had heard the Lions roaring. Maybe Shadrach knew something we didn't????

We had a quick glimpse of a Side Striped Jackal and a Small Spotted Genet, but too quick for pictures. We then came across a lonely Giraffe

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And a Giant Eagle Owl

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And then we watched the sun come up

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As we continued it seemed that today was going to be for the birds......

We had Yellow-Billed Hornbill

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Fish Eagle

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Broad-Billed Roller

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I know the picture is terrible, but it is proof

A Wahlberg's Eagle

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European Swallows?????

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European Bee Eaters

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And a Stork in the riverbed.

Mixed in along the drive we had Squirrels, Zebra, Widebeest, more Giraffe, Steenbok, and Elephant. Shadrach explained how the Steenbok bury their defecation to hide their presence.

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And finally some Vervets in a tree

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Including this tired little guy riding on mom's back

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And so ended our early morning drive.... No lions

We took a break for breakfast and then headed back out. Stay tuned for more.....

Daron

_________________
Marakele May 2-4, 2014 (First time)
Tlopi Tented Camp

Kruger May 6-15, 2014
Satara May 6-10
Skukuza May 10-12
Crocodile Bridge May 12-15


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 Post subject: Re: Cry (for) The Beloved Country
Unread postPosted: Mon Dec 17, 2012 10:08 am 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger

Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2010 6:50 pm
Posts: 189
Location: Anaheim, California USA
Sorry I was not able to post an episode yesterday. Work got in the way. But, I'm back now....

Day 3 Part 2 - Shingwedzi to Mopani:

So after returning from the Early Morning Drive, we decided to drive south towards Mopani. The original plan was to head south on the Old Main Road to the Tropic of Capricorn Loop, and then back to Mopani for lunch. We headed out of camp and our first sighting was this Elephant in the river bed with skewed tusks.

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And then a stork

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The Old Main Road was very spotty for sightings, but we did find this Bee Eater perched on the branch of a dead tree

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And then an alert herd of Buffalo that did not seem to like our presence.

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All of the Buffalo seemed to be very mindful of the fact that we were there and seemed apprehensive.

We then came across a slow moving Leopard Tortoise

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And then as the lead vehicle stopped to take pictures of an Elephant on the left, they were surprised by an angry guy who charged them from behind. We were stopped further back and watched it unfold. I must admit I debated whether or not to warn them because I probably could have gotten some great pictures. In the end though we yelled at them overt the two-way radio and they made a narrow escape. Once they were in the clear it ended up being a good story....

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The plans changed a bit when I realized that my car was getting low on petrol. I was afraid that if we continued on with the Tropic of Capricorn Loop that we would have to draw straws to see who would push the car to camp. So instead, we drove directly to Mopani.

Of course we stopped for some pictures at the Tropic of Capricorn

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And then the tree near the Ranger's house.

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The contrast between seasons was amazing. This is the same view during the June/July season

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We finally made it to Mopani around lunch time.

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We walked along the deck, but portions of it were closed for remodeling. There was a lizard basking in the sun

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And a bunch of hungry birds looking for lunch

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We went to the picnic site and had wors rolls and crisps from the leftovers from last night's braai. Sorry, but I just don't get tired of boerewors.

After lunch it was time to make the drive back north to Shingwedzi. Stay tuned for more fun.....

Daron

_________________
Marakele May 2-4, 2014 (First time)
Tlopi Tented Camp

Kruger May 6-15, 2014
Satara May 6-10
Skukuza May 10-12
Crocodile Bridge May 12-15


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 Post subject: Re: Cry (for) The Beloved Country
Unread postPosted: Tue Dec 18, 2012 7:39 am 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger

Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2010 6:50 pm
Posts: 189
Location: Anaheim, California USA
Thank you to all who are following our adventure and commenting. It really makes the effort of writing the Trip Report worthwhile.

I am going to have to finish Day 3 in three more installments because of the number of pictures involved....

Day 3 Part 3A - Mopani to Shingwedzi:

So after finishing lunch at the Mopani picnic site we left the camp and drove to the Shipandani Hide. The hide was deserted, but it was beautiful. As we approached the bridge there was a group of Waterbuck and Impala on the river bank

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The view from the bridge was gorgeous

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From the hide we were able to watch these Egyptian Geese and a Heron on the opposite side of the river

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And more Waterbuck were grazing just outside of the hide

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As we left the hide and crossed back over the bridge, this guy was eating his lunch. Personally I think my wors roll was more appetizing

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We drove the other direction towards Mooiplaas and had good general game sightings with Zebra, Giraffe, Buffalo, and Elephant

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And then the sceneray around the waterholes with the windmills was just awesome

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And I loved this one with the Elephant underneath

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To be continued.......

Daron

_________________
Marakele May 2-4, 2014 (First time)
Tlopi Tented Camp

Kruger May 6-15, 2014
Satara May 6-10
Skukuza May 10-12
Crocodile Bridge May 12-15


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 Post subject: Re: Cry (for) The Beloved Country
Unread postPosted: Tue Dec 18, 2012 5:36 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger

Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2010 6:50 pm
Posts: 189
Location: Anaheim, California USA
Day 3 Part 3B - Mopani to Shingwedzi continued:

From Mooiplaas we travelled the S50 up to Grootvlei. Again, the views were just extraordinary. The sad part was that all of these were places that you literally could spend hours at each place just sitting and watching, but we just didn't have the time to do that.

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And then an attempt at some creativity

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We came across this Korhaan on the side of the road

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We drove up the hill to Shibavantsingele and were able to see forever. This is the view travelling back down the hill

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The road was quiet for a while. Then as we neared Kanniedood Dam we found a group of Vultures rummaging on the ground. We couldn't see a kill and were curious as to what they were up to. We stayed for a bit, but never found out.

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This guy was looking at me like he was evaluating how long before I died. Kind of creeped me out.....

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And then this Saddle-Billed Stork

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And at the turn off to Kanniedood was a group of Waterbuck including this bull

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They are such good looking animals.....

So now we are arriving at Kanniedood and it is almost time for the gates to close at Shingwedzi. There was a brief discussion in the car as to whether we should risk taking a drive down to the dam or not. The consensus was to go give it a quick look.

Stay tuned to see if we made the right decision.....

Daron

_________________
Marakele May 2-4, 2014 (First time)
Tlopi Tented Camp

Kruger May 6-15, 2014
Satara May 6-10
Skukuza May 10-12
Crocodile Bridge May 12-15


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 Post subject: Re: Cry (for) The Beloved Country
Unread postPosted: Wed Dec 19, 2012 5:43 am 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger

Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2010 6:50 pm
Posts: 189
Location: Anaheim, California USA
Day 3 Part 3C - A Fantastic Finish:

So with me, Mike, Dave and Veronica in the car; and having lost deamole and the other car somewhere along the way, we decided to gamble with our time and do a quick check of Kanniedood Dam. We pulled down to the end of the road and there was absolutely nothing in sight. It was very pretty though with the sunlight glimmering off the far side of the dam.

Just for the fun of it I picked up my binoculars (a brand new pair purchased just for this trip) and started scanning the bank on the far side of the dam. All of a sudden my eyes played a very nasty trick on me and my brain registered that there was a big male Lion basking in the sun on the wall of the dam. With this being our third day in the Park we had seen our fair share of Lion Rocks, Lion Grass, Lion Shrubs, well you get the point. I dropped the binoculars to see what I could see with the naked eye and my suspicions were confirmed....there was nothing there.

So I started scanning with the binoculars again and this little speck that looked like a Lion was still there. I simply stated, "Lion" and was met in triplicate with "Where??????" I directed everyone to the speck that was literally about 600 meters away and everyone agreed. Yes, there was a big male Lion over there. He was so far away that without binoculars you simply couldn't see him. In fact, I was the only person who could get a picture of more than a speck, and that was only with my 300mm lens with the 2x converter attached.

This first picture is what he looked like through the viewfinder with the 600mm.

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The following pictures are all cropped, not heavily, but they are still cropped

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He was absolutely majestic sitting up on the dam and proclaiming his kingdom. Knowing that there was supposed to be a pair of big males together in the area, we all started looking intently for his companion. Unfortunately, we never found him.

We watched for about two minutes before he stood up, walked down the bank, and slowly strode out of sight. I was snapping away the whole time with Mike helping to support the lens as I was shooting across the car and through the passenger window.

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[img]http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8355/8283618387_64e65523b1_z.jpg/img]

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I didn't want to crop too much because of the pixelation.....

The attitude in the car was now one of excited delirium. For Mike, Dave, and Veronica this was what they had come for. The distance didn't matter, they had now seen Lion while on safari in Africa. I was pretty chuffed as well. He was a very good looking and healthy male.

Time was really starting to run short now and I told everyone I needed to start moving right away if we wanted to make gate closing time......

So off we went feeling ecstatic at our decision to check out the dam. We somehow arrived at the back gate of Shingwedzi with 5 minutes to spare. Deamole pulled in two minutes later and we asked if they had seen the Lion. After some bantering back and forth and assuring them that we had photographic proof, they actually conceded that they had not gone down to the dam and had not seen Lion.

Sorry guys, you should've stayed with us.

As we were unloading the cars the sun was going down and a beautiful full moon was coming up.

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And as the title says, it was a Fantastic Finish to a totally awesome day.

Of course we had to celebrate with an Amarula.......

This was our final night in Shingwedzi before heading off to Olifants.

Stay tuned for more.....

Daron

_________________
Marakele May 2-4, 2014 (First time)
Tlopi Tented Camp

Kruger May 6-15, 2014
Satara May 6-10
Skukuza May 10-12
Crocodile Bridge May 12-15


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 Post subject: Re: Cry (for) The Beloved Country
Unread postPosted: Wed Dec 19, 2012 5:38 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger

Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2010 6:50 pm
Posts: 189
Location: Anaheim, California USA
Day 4 Part 1 - A Family Affair:

Today was Wednesday November 28th and was the day we were to leave Shingwedzi and head to Olifants Camp. After several days of very early rising, everyone was beat and were asking for a chance to sleep in. We decided that if we left camp around 0800, we would have plenty of time to make it to Olifants in time to get settled and checked in for our first scheduled Bush Braai. Additionally, we had a pre-arranged meeting with Crested Val and family at Letaba on the way down.

Deamole and I told the group that everyone needed to be ready to leave at 0800, but that we would be heading out around 0500 if anyone wanted to join us for a drive. There were no takers so it was just me, deamole, and Garrett.

We took a quick drive around the main roads surrounding camp with some Impala and a lone Elephant, but not much else. We were really hoping to find those big male Lions, but no luck there. So we decided to drive out to the Kanniedood hide and the dam to see what was going on there.

We came across Giraffe

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And a Sharpes Grysbok

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And then a very shy Bushbuck who peeked up at us from below the river bank

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When we got to the hide their were a couple of Hippos walking around

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Some very pretty young Waterbuck

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And Nyala

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After spending some time at the hide we then continued on to the dam, but there was nothing there. Along the way we ran into Porridge and Jaxiedean again.

On the way back to camp we saw more Waterbuck

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A mom and baby Vervet

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Bushbuck

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And some nice Woodland Kingfishers

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We arrived back at camp lionless again. Of course we saw Porridge later in the day and they had a great sighting of the two males a few kilometers past Kanniedood Dam. Seems like we turned around too soon. But then again, we all know that it is all about timing and being in the right place at the right time....

As we were loading the vehicles there was a woodpecker wood pecking away in a tree

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So looking back on our time at Shingwedzi I must say that it was very enjoyable (except for the restaurant) and well worth the visit. I had been prepared for the sightings to be far fewer than what we were used to in the south and was actually pleasantly surprised because we saw more than I had expected, including Eland - TWICE.

Stay tuned for the drive south and a meeting with Crested Val......

Daron

_________________
Marakele May 2-4, 2014 (First time)
Tlopi Tented Camp

Kruger May 6-15, 2014
Satara May 6-10
Skukuza May 10-12
Crocodile Bridge May 12-15


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