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 Post subject: Courtship Dancing in the KNP Nov-Dec 2013
Unread postPosted: Sun Feb 02, 2014 4:08 pm 
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Award: Sighting of the Year - Small creatures and/or insects (2012)
After the guilt for taking so long to write up our 2012 trip, as promised, I have got somewhat better organised to share another memorable journey through Paradise. As in 2012 we were in country for 4 weeks and virtually the same dates so it has been very interesting to see just how different a trip it has been. So welcome aboard our ‘tour bus’ and share our journey.

14th November

After the problems with SO trying to sit comfortably in Economy, we bit the bullet this time and upgraded to Premium Economy. Apart from the obvious difference of space and comfort, it allowed us to bring 2 x 23Kg bags each in the hold ensuring we had no problems with medical kit and I filled up my second bag with sports kit and clothing for the charity I fundraise for in the UK and where we would be visiting at the end of our trip. This meant we both had a good night’s sleep and were well rested and ready to go when we landed at O R Tambo airport in the morning. Never having travelled the ‘posh’ way before, we also found that our luggage arrived first and we only took 30 minutes from landing, making our way through customs, collecting all our bags from the carousel and joining the queue at the car rental office.

No matter which company we hire our vehicle from, this always seems to be our first hiccup. As the office was very busy, I waited with our luggage outside the office whilst SO went in to pick up the keys and sign all the paperwork. The assistant quickly produced all the papers and held a set of keys in her hand, then hesitated and vanished to the back. As the time passed, I called out to SO, “I bet they have given our car to someone else” as you will have guessed, this has happened to us on several occasions! Eventually, the lady reappeared, smiling broadly and offering us an upgrade to some vehicle or other we had never heard of. “Is it manual transmission?” we asked. She retreated to the back office again, quickly returning to say “no”. We apologised and said that a vehicle with a manual gearbox was essential. As I do almost all the driving, I’ll have a go with most vehicles but I hate automatics with a passion. By now we were getting somewhat anxious about wasting time. We explained that we had a 5 hour drive ahead of us and we would really prefer to do it all in the daylight. Eventually we were offered a smaller vehicle (a Nissan Livina) but promised that they would find us something suitable as quickly as possible. Somehow we managed to fit in all our luggage but it was a very tight squeeze and the staff in the garage were somewhat bemused. As some of you may know, I fundraise for the South African charity by selling at Car Boot sales and I have to say, this is truly what we looked like. Still, we were finally on the road heading eastwards. A couple of hours later, our mobile phone rang: Car hire office “Are you stopping for lunch?”...”No”, “Where do you think you will be about 3.30pm?” “We hope to be near Hazyview”, “Oh, we’ll ring you back”.
An hour later, the phone rings again: “Are you stopping for lunch?” “No, we’re still not stopping for lunch”, “Where do you think you will be about 3.30pm?” “We still hope to be close to Hazyview”. Another pause, “Oh...would you like a double-cab bakkie?” “YES PLEASE” we yelled. Now we have had many an upgrade over the years but never such an amazing offer. As they were now having to get a driver to bring it from the airport to our first night destination in Hazyview, we went through all the details for their driver to find Rissington. On our arrival at the inn in Hazyview we encountered a small ‘visitor’ near the entrance to our room:

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We had soon unloaded our car and went up to the bar for a well deserved sundowner. At 6pm we spotted an Isuzu bakkie driving along the track and Richard rushed down to check if this was our vehicle. It had taken the driver 6 hours to reach us and having checked over the Nissan and the Isuzu, we asked the driver about having a break before he drove back to Tambo. I fully realise that Africa does not adhere to the same laws as the UK but we just could not let this charming man drive just get back into our car and return to the airport without a proper break. This Inn is as close to a second home for us in South Africa and we were pleased to get the cook to prepare the driver some food and drink which he had with us on the stoep before leaving for the long drive back to Jo’burg. We have often said that any Company can make a mistake but the way they resolve it is key to our final opinion of them. They are certainly at the top of our list when we next look for a car rental! It had been a tiring day but tomorrow we would be up early to load up our Bakkie ready to head into Kruger.

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http://www.sanparks.org/forums/viewtopic.php?style=2&f=27&t=58977Our 2012 Trip Report
... and how I miss being back in the KNP.


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 Post subject: Re: Courtship Dancing in the KNP Nov-Dec 2013
Unread postPosted: Sun Feb 02, 2014 5:46 pm 
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Carol,

Very happy to hear the flight was so much better...as well as the rental vehicle turned out tops. :thumbs_up:

Hope you don't mind I grabbed a seat :redface: ....ready for your adventure. :popcorn:

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“Nature is a volume of which God is the author.” ~ William Harvey

Kruger May/June 2014
Mokala June 2014


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 Post subject: Re: Courtship Dancing in the KNP Nov-Dec 2013
Unread postPosted: Sun Feb 02, 2014 6:59 pm 
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Award: Sighting of the Year - Small creatures and/or insects (2012)
15th November

Please note that any references to rhino are now more than two months old and hence location information, given approximately in the text, is now very old news. I hate to cause offence or upset to anyone so thought we had better make this point clear before we get cracking as we inadvertently upset one or two people with our 2012 TR.

We were up in plenty of time to re-organise our bags and load them into my new toy. Wow, what a lot of space these bakkies have and still leave plenty of space for a big shop at PnP before heading to Phabeni Gate. The sun was shining and the temperature rising quickly even as we waited for our paperwork at the Gate. It did not take long to have everything ready and, with another new Kruger map in hand, we were on our way. The causeway was quiet but we soon had our first sighting of the day – Impala – closely followed by a Fork-tailed Drongo.

We would be keeping to the tar roads as our first camp would be Satara and the thermometer was rising quickly so we were somewhat concerned about our shopping although it was packed in coolboxes. Not that this strategy means we would see any less along the way. Our first stop has always been a lucky stop for us. In fact there was so much to see that we joined the back of a mini traffic jam as the cars inched their way around the nearby tree. Elephants and Rhino

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were feeding close by, a pair of Egyptian Geese were taking their goslings out for a swim (the first time we had ever seen their babies and they were utterly charming),

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a pod of Hippo out in the Dam, Blacksmith Plovers along the water’s edge and White-breasted Cormorants settled in the tree in the middle of the water. We had only been in the Park a matter of minutes and what an amazing start to our trip. All too aware of the distance we had to drive, we could not stay as long as we would have wished.

En route to Skukuza we spotted Lilac-breasted rollers, African Hoopoe, several Woodland Kingfishers and a couple of Warthogs. We called into camp for a quick loo break and picked up a sandwich and cold drinks for our lunch. We had been drinking plenty of water in the car but, with the heat, the water was well past the ‘warm’ stage and rapidly approaching boiling point! Keeping to the south of the Sabie river, a Kudu bull was seeking shade, a Little Bee-eater perched on a branch,

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a Cape Buffalo had retreated to a large pool to cool down

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and we could hear Fish Eagles but did not see them. We spotted an Impala lamb who seemed to be all on his own so we hoped nothing untoward had happened to his family. Baboons were active along the high water bridge.

Heading north we found a Klipspringer posing by the Kruger Tablets

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and soon we took the short sand road to Leeupan. Despite its dryness the wildlife were wandering around – Giraffes,

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Warthogs, Wildebeest, Saddle-bill Stork and Egyptian Geese. Back on the tar we passed more Impala and a small breeding herd of Elephant who had several young babies to nurture.

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Pausing to watch a Giraffe cross the road, we soon pulled into Tshokwane for a comfort break and to change drivers.
Normally SO is quite happy for me to most of the driving whilst we are in the Park so that he can concentrate on the photography but I sensed he was somewhat reluctant to hand over the keys this time. I’d told him if he ever got his hands on one of these 4x4s he would love it! And it would certainly come into its own as our trip progressed.

I love very hot weather but as the temperature soared to 40+ we were both feeling a bit warm. Coming from the UK perhaps we needed a day or two to acclimatise! We found a small group of Ellies close to the road spraying themselves with mud to cool down – not sure I was ready to go this far to cool off myself. At Mazithi Dam we watched Hippos, White-faced Duck, Egyptian Geese and Knob-billed Ducks then Kumana Dam offered a watering place for Grey Herons, Waterbuck and Zebras. Moving on we found one Steenbok under a tree and shortly afterwards another one seeking some shade in the grass.

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As we passed herds of Zebra,

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Buffalo

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and Elephants we were glad to arrive at Satara in the late afternoon and dashed into Reception to book in. The lady attending to us seemed rather abrupt and after handing us the keys to Bungalow C61, we asked if we could book a Sunset Drive for the following day (“no” she said, “there are only 2 of you and we don’t have anyone else booked for that day yet” As we had never known at least one truck not to go out on a drive, this seemed a strange argument but she was insistent we would have to ask again tomorrow.) Do they really wait for a group of 4 to book to start with? Our request for a place on the Mananga Trail also met with a resounding “No”. Is it full every day we enquired. This also met with a loud “No” and when we asked further, we were told that the Trail was closed for the rainy season. This was our first day back in the Park and really we did not want to start with an argument so I am hoping that someone reading this will be able to give me some more information. When can you book the Mananga Trail?

We unloaded our vehicle as quickly as possible and filled up the freezer and fridge although some items had already turned to liquid. At least the spread could be used instead of cooking oil! Sitting down on the stoep with a couple of cold beers we were soon in conversation with our neighbours, Nick and Douglas, who were having a ‘Boy’s week away’ in Kruger and then down to Ngwenya for another week. Both South Africans they had been doing several Kruger trips a year since they were children and each evening we were at Satara we met up for a drink and to talk through our sightings that day. On our first evening we were also joined by the Honey Badgers and SO (Wildimage) had a go at photographing the moon.

Image
Moon by WildImageSANP, on Flickr

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http://www.sanparks.org/forums/viewtopic.php?style=2&f=27&t=58977Our 2012 Trip Report
... and how I miss being back in the KNP.


Last edited by hilda on Tue Feb 04, 2014 4:18 am, edited 1 time in total.
Specific name of Rhino sighting edited.


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 Post subject: Re: Courtship Dancing in the KNP Nov-Dec 2013
Unread postPosted: Sun Feb 02, 2014 9:27 pm 
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What a good start to your holiday. I love the moon picture.


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 Post subject: Re: Courtship Dancing in the KNP Nov-Dec 2013
Unread postPosted: Sun Feb 02, 2014 10:27 pm 
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Hi carolv and Wildimage,

Glad your flight was better but the car hire problems you could definitely do without.

Great sightings on the way to Satara :thumbs_up:

We haven't often come across rude staff but when you do it makes you wonder if they are in the right jobs! :wall:

Love the photo of the moon :D Must try that!

Please can we get on board this looks like it will be fun :popcorn: :popcorn:

Take care,
DD & PF

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A poor life this, if full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
(W.H.Davies)

---------------------------------------
SEPTEMBER 2014
4/5 - Berg-en-Dal
6 - Skukuza
7/8 - Tamboti
9/10/11 - Shimuwini
12/13/14- Shingwedzi
15-19 - Letaba


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 Post subject: Re: Courtship Dancing in the KNP Nov-Dec 2013
Unread postPosted: Sun Feb 02, 2014 11:15 pm 
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Great start to your trip (other than car hire....)
We were in KNP too in Nov - so looking forward to seeing what you saw at that time!!
(or what we missed.... :hmz: )
:thumbs_up:

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next best thing - a trip report! viewtopic.php?f=27&t=77226


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 Post subject: Re: Courtship Dancing in the KNP Nov-Dec 2013
Unread postPosted: Mon Feb 03, 2014 4:31 am 
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Carol...Your trip up to Satara was so rewarding ....with beautiful sightings and stunning :cam: :clap: :clap:

Looking forward to the rest. :popcorn:

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“Nature is a volume of which God is the author.” ~ William Harvey

Kruger May/June 2014
Mokala June 2014


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 Post subject: Re: Courtship Dancing in the KNP Nov-Dec 2013
Unread postPosted: Mon Feb 03, 2014 9:26 am 
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Hi carolv, great start to your trip (except the rude staff thing). I must say I love your photos, especially that moon.... very cool :thumbs_up:

Such lovely sightings all around and the park is looking lovely and green :mrgreen:

:popcorn:

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Birding Weekend 2014 - Satara 3

Exploring Letaba - '13-'14


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 Post subject: Re: Courtship Dancing in the KNP Nov-Dec 2013
Unread postPosted: Mon Feb 03, 2014 3:13 pm 
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Great to have you all on aboard with us.

We loved the Moon picture also. On past trips we have tried a few night sky shots but this was the most succesful to date. We once had a go at 'star trails' whilst staying at Punda but the bush babies kept knocking our equipment over which was both funny and frustrating at the same time. Perhaps they thought they should have been the centre of attention instead!

As for the Reception staff - we just let it go as it is very rare in our experience that they are not really helpful.

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http://www.sanparks.org/forums/viewtopic.php?style=2&f=27&t=58977Our 2012 Trip Report
... and how I miss being back in the KNP.


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 Post subject: Re: Courtship Dancing in the KNP Nov-Dec 2013
Unread postPosted: Mon Feb 03, 2014 3:25 pm 
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It seems we are going to have a wonderful trip with you! :thumbs_up:


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 Post subject: Re: Courtship Dancing in the KNP Nov-Dec 2013
Unread postPosted: Mon Feb 03, 2014 3:27 pm 
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Great start to your trip report Carol :thumbs_up: . I am glad that you got the Bakkie :D All the photo’s are excellent. The photo of the moon is very 8) I like it a lot.

Looking forward to read more - thanks for sharing your Kruger trip with us :popcorn: :popcorn: :popcorn:

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 Post subject: Re: Courtship Dancing in the KNP Nov-Dec 2013
Unread postPosted: Mon Feb 03, 2014 3:28 pm 
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Carolv..... :mrgreen: .....what a stunning "journey" and pic's.!!! Thank you for sharing. :clap:

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 Post subject: Re: Courtship Dancing in the KNP Nov-Dec 2013
Unread postPosted: Mon Feb 03, 2014 10:16 pm 
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16th November

We had both slept well and managed to crawl out of our beds reasonably early. It had been a pretty warm night and by 5am the temperature was already at 21 degrees. The rush for the gate had already passed and the roads fairly empty at 5am, no doubt they were checking out ‘Lion Alley’. Another guest at the Inn in Hazyview who had recently been in the Park for a few days had told us cheetah were being seen on a daily basis near Satara so we decided to head south along the tar road. On past trips we had often been lucky along this stretch of road in the early morning. Guineafowl were playing Russian Roulette across the road and Baboons sat down on the tar catching the warmth of the sun as they groomed each other. It was not long before we had our first big cat – lion.

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We enjoyed his company for a while but moved on as a traffic jam eventually began to form.

So much to watch and enjoy as we drove on, Elephant, Swainsons Francolin, a tree covered with White-backed Vultures,

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a herd of Wildbeest,

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Magpie Shrikes with their deafening call, Steenbok, Zebra, Impala,

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Warthog, Grey Lourie, Tawny Eagles and Giraffe.

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What a lot and we had only just driven as far as Kumana Dam where we parked up to enjoy coffee and biscuits. The residents from yesterday were still about – Waterbuck, Grey Herons, Hippo

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and Egyptian Geese – and we love this morning ritual of just sitting, drink in hand, watching whatever is out and about and soaking up the atmosphere.

Refreshed and in need of a comfort break at Tshokwane we passed Kudu, Rhino

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and more Warthogs as we headed south. Now I know that you do not need a 4x4 to drive Kruger roads but they certainly make some of the sand roads considerably more comfortable to drive down so we decided to try our luck on the S35 towards N’wanetsi. It is a long time since we have been down this route, no particular reason why not and we still hoped to find these elusive cheetahs. It was not to be though but plenty of other wildlife along the way – Wildebeest, Zebras,

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Hadeda Ibis, Steenbok, Giraffe family with a delightful baby,

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Lilac-breasted Roller,

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Burchells Glossy Starling and Crowned Plover.

By 9am it was already 32 degrees and the frequent drinks meant we needed to call into the picnic site before continuing our journey. Only a quick pit stop and we were back in the car driving along the S41. This a particularly quiet this morning but we did find a juvenile Bateleur,

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an Impala herd with lots of new born lambs and more Giraffe before heading westwards along the S100. No kitty cats along lion alley for us today but more Giraffe, Zebra, Wildebeest, Steenbok, Common Duiker, Waterbuck and Kudu. By the time we reached the tar road again, our tummies were grumbling loudly and we headed back to camp to cook up some brunch. The day was getting ever hotter and SO went inside for a rest. I sat down on the stoep with a cool drink and do a bit of birdwatching. By 3pm we were ready to get back on the road but had to pause near Reception as a large Water Monitor made his way along the track.

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If it was the same one we watched at Satara last year, he is growing well and soon had a fascinated audience.

Our favourite afternoon drive, when based at Satara, is along the H7 and we certainly made the right choice today. After watching 3 Ground Hornbills close to the road, we soon saw a veritable traffic jam ahead. We had found a large pride of lions, spread along both sides of the road and each with a kill. As you can imagine, the hot weather did not make this scene particularly sweet-smelling! As we inched along, we found our first YR this trip – WildCatZoo and SO – but so many vehicles jostling for position do not make it a great experience for us and as soon as we could find a space, we drove away.

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We paused briefly at Nsemani Dam where Hippos and a Bull Elephant

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were cooling off in the water and continued along to the S12 turning. Before Girivana we passed another Bull Elephant, Zebra, a family group of Giraffe, a white-backed Vulture

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and Arrow-marked Babblers. At the waterhole Saddle-billed Stork and a Woolly-necked Stork were feeding

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and just ahead of us a large herd of Ellies who seemed to be on a mission. They could have been drinking at the waterhole but with the hot weather rapidly evaporating the water, we thought it more likely they were on their way to Nsemani. They had several youngsters in their group and we kept well back to ensure they were not distressed by us. When they had all disappeared safely into the bush, we headed back for the Dam in the hope that we might see them come down to the water. At the Dam, the Hippo were starting to leave the water,

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Waterbuck and Impala had come down to drink, Knob-billed and White-faced Ducks were along the water’s edge and a Fish Eagle was watching over proceedings.

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Despite waiting for a while, the Ellies did not make an appearance and we also hoped to get some better photos at the Lion kill on the way back to camp. There were a few less vehicles in the jam and I suspect a few would be late arrivals at Orpen in due course.

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Finally back in camp, it was time to light up the braai have some sundowners,

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catch up with our neighbours Nick and Douglas and catch our breath from another full day in the Park. Our final sighting of the day was the latest camp resident, an African Wild Cat.

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http://www.sanparks.org/forums/viewtopic.php?style=2&f=27&t=58977Our 2012 Trip Report
... and how I miss being back in the KNP.


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 Post subject: Re: Courtship Dancing in the KNP Nov-Dec 2013
Unread postPosted: Tue Feb 04, 2014 4:52 am 
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Lovely start to your trip report Carolv! Awesome sightings with beautiful pictures of all! The Klipspringer was posing so beautiful as only they can do! :clap: :clap:

Beautiful bird sightings, lovely Rhino, Buffalo in the water, fantastic! :dance: :dance:

The picture of the moon is simply superb! :clap: :clap:

What a stunning Monitor, and the cutest little Zebra! Then the fantastic Lion sighting! You were so lucky to have had so many awesome sightings in such a short time already! :clap: :clap:

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 Post subject: Re: Courtship Dancing in the KNP Nov-Dec 2013
Unread postPosted: Tue Feb 04, 2014 5:17 am 
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What an eventful start to your trip, Carol. I am pleased that your car was eventually sorted out. :gflower: to the company for going the extra couple of hundred miles. 8)

What a day of sightings a your pictures, as ever, are a treat.

Looking forward to more.

:popcorn:

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