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Viking's In search of Wild dogs. KNP Feb. 24 - March 6 2014

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Viking
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Viking's In search of Wild dogs. KNP Feb. 24 - March 6 2014

Unread postby Viking » Sat Mar 22, 2014 9:05 pm

While I have been an active reader of the Sanparks Forum since our first SA visit in 2005, I have decided to become a bit more active, and write my first Trip Report.
Realizing I'm rather unexperienced in African wildlife I still hope the many SA residents will find it interesting, and at the same time I hope less experienced overseas travellers can find it useful for their own trip planning.

Plan for KNP visit Feb/March 2014:
Feb 22-23: Copenhagen-Paris- Johannesburg
Feb 23: Stay over in Louis Trichard
Feb 24-26: Tent in Punda Maria (will be first time in Punda Maria)
Feb 26-28: Bungalow in Mopani
Feb 28- March 2: Luxury tent in Tamboti (first time in Tamboti)
March 2-4: Cottage with view in Biyamiti (first time in Biyamiti)
March 4-6: Perimeter Bungalow in Lower Sabie
March 6-7: Hotel in Hazyview
March 7-8: Johannesburg - Paris - Copenhagen

I will skip the first travel days and let our story begin February 24 where we enter KNP.
Besides enjoying all the wildlife KNP has to offer, our overall mission was to find Wild dogs. We have not managed to see Wild dogs in any of our previous visits, and as a dog loving family we wanted desperately to see these cousins of our own family dog(s).
I'm the author of the trip report, while the majority of pictures is my husbands.

Let the story begin.......
Lisbeth
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Namibia & Botswana Oct 26 - Nov 14, 2015

Viking
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Re: KNP February 24 - March 6: In search of Wild dogs

Unread postby Viking » Sat Mar 22, 2014 9:38 pm

Day 1, February 24th, Arriving at Punda Maria

After an interesting drive from Louis Trichardt we arrived at Punda Maria gate at 11.15.

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The roads were still soaked after a heavy rain :(

Drove towards Punda Maria camp. Our first bird was an European roller. We discovered how common that particular bird is, but believe it or not, it was the first time we saw the bird (previous visits have been in July and October).

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We found the lush Bush to be beautiful compared to previous visits. Even though it was more difficult to spot the animals. We almost didn't see our first mammal ...... and it was an Elephant :D . It was eating close to the road.

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Along the way to Punda Maria camp we saw several birds, e.g. a group of European Bee-eaters, and Spotted Thick-knees

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Furthermore we spottede a Kudu with a calf, Impalas, Zebra, and a male Nyala.

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We went more or less directly to Punda Maria Camp, and checked into tent number 3 shortly after 13.00.

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What a wonderful place :lol: . Punda Maria tented camp is indeed a magnificent place.

From the porch we could see many birds. Among others we noticed two birds we haven’t seen before: a Trumpeter Hornbill, and a Blue Waxbill. Unfortunately we were not fast enough to get pictures.

After unpacking and a short break on the porch we took a drive around Punda Maria at the S99 loop. A number of general game, and a very beautiful Steinbok.

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Several Elephants as well. We had a short, and heavy shower, and after that we had the most wonderful light. Birds were catching insects in the water puddles back on the H13-2 tar road. We stayed at the tar road for a short while, but a huge elephant bull had decided that H13-1 was his property at that time. We followed him for a while in safe distance, and as he didn’t look like as if he would move into the Bush, and it was 30 minutes before gate closing time, we decided to turn around and go back to camp.

A wet Lilac Breasted Roller.

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And a Swainson's Spurfowl (I think.....).
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We had our first evening and braai in Punda Maria. Wonderful to enjoy all the sounds of the night, the stars and the warm evening.

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Highlight of the day: It's good to be back "home" in KNP.
Lisbeth
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Namibia & Botswana Oct 26 - Nov 14, 2015

Viking
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Re: KNP February 24 - March 6: In search of Wild dogs

Unread postby Viking » Fri Mar 28, 2014 6:36 pm

Day 2, February 25th, Pafuri area

We had both been looking forward to this day. We had never been that far north, and had heard the saying "that you haven't been to the real Kruger unless you have been in the Pafuri area". Luckily weather was fine, so we expected all roads to be open. We had asked at reception, and they didn't know -they said that some of the dirt roads might be closed. We were optimistic, and left Punda Maria Camp when the gate opened.

Drowe S60 and S61. Not much activity before we met a hug Elephant bull in front of us on S60. We were getting close to where S60 and S59 split up, so we decided to let the Elephant get first priority to select road. It decided to continue at S59, and we tool S60. It looked as if he thought the roads were made for him.
Along the road we saw Impala, Zebra, Kudu and some birds.


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Burchell's Coucal is often seen, still I enjoy seeing it.
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Among the highlights of the birds were Carmine Bee-eaters. It was the first time we saw Carmine bee-eaters. There were many in the northern part of KNP.

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Heading north at H1-8 there was not much to see, and we increased speed to roughly 40 km/h.
Went on S63 to the Pafuri Gate/ Mozambique border. In addition to Impala we saw a few Nyalas. Both male and female. We also met a single Wildebeast.

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After having seen the border, we continued to Crooks corner.
What a lovely road to drive. We stopped at a small dam, where we watched a Green-backed Heron catching fish.

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There was also a group of vervet monkeys where the young ones were showing us all their tricks.

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Reaching Crooks Corner we admired the view of the river. That was really special. As children we have both been reading a book about a boy who sneaked into a ship as a blind passenger. He ended up in Africa at the Limpopo river, and got a vervet monkey as his best friend. Now we were looking at the great Limpopo river, and had just passed a group of vervet monkeys. It was kind of jumping into our childhood book.

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We didn’t see much animals, but at least there was a group of birds a bit in the distance: A Grey Heron, a Hadeda Ibis, and 3 Yellow- billed Storks. Distance was too far to get good pictures.

In the nearby tree there were a group of White Fronted Bee-eaters, where the parants were feeding the young ones with insects they kept catching. We enjoyed them for a long time. They were very predictable - flying out to catch an insect, and then back at the same branch.

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Continued at S63, where we saw more Nyalas. These animals are really beautiful, and it was a great thing about being in the North that we were able to see that many.


After a short drive we arrived at Pafuri Picnic site. As we were bringing our cameras and food into the area we were met by Frank. He had noticed our yellow ribbon, and asked who we were :D . We spoke for a while, and Frank pointed us to a dead buffalo in the river. It was stuck in a dead tree close to the river bed. He had noticed it when he arrived this morning. The crocodiles were sneeking around, but they didn’t dare to try and eat – according to Frank they were afraid as they didn’t know if the buffalo was dead or alive. We decided to stay on the bench overlooking the dead buffalo. It became the first, and mostly likely last time, we had our lunch blended with the smell of a dead buffalo :roll: While we were watching the crocodiles became more brave, and they started to take a bite or two of the dead buffalo. It was the first time we watched crocodiles eating, and we could follow their smart technique: Take a bite, and then turn around in the water until it got a piece of meat. It was very interesting to watch.

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While we had watched the dead Buffalo and Crocodiles for a while I discovered a huge spider and web just over my head. I must admit that I suffer from arachnofobia, and seriously it was terrifying to learn that I had been sitting underneat it for quite a while. But as my husband said "it's still in it's web, and you are still alive, so why worry".
We spoke with a man from Pretoria, who had come to KNP for 40 years. He told us it was an Orb spider, and if we looked we would see many more along the road in the Mopane trees.
I later started to look for these spiders, and realized how right he was. I can't believe I hadn't noticed all these spiders before :redface:


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Day 2 to be continued...
Lisbeth
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Namibia & Botswana Oct 26 - Nov 14, 2015

Viking
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Re: KNP February 24 - March 6: In search of Wild dogs

Unread postby Viking » Fri Mar 28, 2014 9:54 pm

Day 2 in Pafuri area continued...


After a long lunch break we decided it was about time to return back to Punda Maria. In a small waterhole by the H1-8 we found some birds, which we hadn't seen before. A couple of which required us to take a look in a more comprehensive bird field guide, and not the Kruger map, which in most cases proved sufficient. Below are pictures of a Whitewinged Widow, Redbilled Firefinch, and Golden-breasted Bunting. I hope that we id'ed the birds correct, and if not... I'm more than happy to be corrected! :)

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After H1-8 we took the S59 and S60 back. There was only a few cars on the S59, and it was the most desolate road we had been driving on so far, and parts were only two tracks. Unfortunately, we didn't see anything during the almost hour-long drive back.
Back in camp I enjoyed the swimming pool, and my husband spent some time in the bird hide. Since no animals appeared near the bird hide, I'm still convinced that the pool was the preferred option :D

We took a 45-minutes drive just before gate-closing time. We stayed near the camp, and managed to spot yet another new bird - a Comb Duck. 10 days later we realized it was the only one we'd seen, maybe it isn't as common as we thought? It was sitting nicely in a tree.

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Even though we had loads of pictures of the Lilac-breasted roller, and the Southern Yellow-billed Hornbill, we had to take these picures

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On the short drive back we found some Elephants and Zebras, and just before entering the camp a giant herd of around 200 Impalas crossed the road right in front of us.

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The afternoon drive was short, but very intense.

Finally as small proof of how humid it was - mushrooms growing on Elephant faeces.

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Back in our tent I spent some time reading on the porch, and watching the sunset.

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Just before it got dark I heard some noises from the nearby trees, and I was able to distinct a silhouette, which looked like a monkey. It got really close, and even though it wasn't making any more noise, I could still sense its presence. I decided to move into the tent, and with a flashlight I was watching if a monkey appeared. An animal jumped onto the porch to check if there was any food, but it wasn't a monkey as I'd originally thought. It was a Thick-tailed Bushbaby, and not just one, but two of the kind. My husband joined me and we both watched them scavenge for food. When the small creatures found out, there wasn't anything to eat, they retreated back into the trees. We were able to hear them jumping on the tent. It was the first time we saw Bushbabies, but unfortunately no photos :evil:

We ended the evening with dinner at the restaurant, and spoke with a lot of people about what each other had seen during the day.

Highlight of the day: Being at Crooks Corner, it is truly a magical location.
Lisbeth
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Namibia & Botswana Oct 26 - Nov 14, 2015

Viking
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Re: KNP February 24 - March 6: In search of Wild dogs

Unread postby Viking » Fri Apr 04, 2014 6:42 pm

Thank you to everybody for all your wonderful and encouraging comments :gflower:
It makes it even more enjoyable to write the report.

Looking at these first days of the trip report I can see how over represented the birds are. We did of course see many mammals as well, so I started to think about why it is the birds we include... Guess the reason is that it is the first time we are in KNP in the SA summer time, and we start in the north, so there is simply so many wonderful birds to study. Many of them a new tick in the book :D

As we continue south there will be more mammals among our pictures - however, I promise there will be birds as well.

If the coming southern sightings will include Wild Dogs is still not to be revealed :whistle:

@Elsa - thank you, it was very nice to meet you and your family as well. And you are mentioned in my Day 3 summary which will be posted later this evening.
Lisbeth
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Namibia & Botswana Oct 26 - Nov 14, 2015

Viking
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Re: KNP February 24 - March 6: In search of Wild dogs

Unread postby Viking » Fri Apr 04, 2014 8:14 pm

Day 3, February 26th, Punda Maria to Mopani

We said a sad goodbye with our tent in Punda Maria. It had been a fantastic start to this KNP visit. As usual, we left as the gates were opening. There was a storm raging and darks clouds covered the sky, as we began our journey to the Mopani Camp. When we travel from camp to camp, we use the travel time as game viewing time, so even though it was a short distance to Mopani, we knew it would take a big part of the day to get there.

We passed some general game and a couple of Elephants, but it was still too dark to snap any decent photos. We merely stopped and watched the animals for a short while before continuing. We talked about the absurd amount of Elephant Bulls we had seen, the days spent in the north provided the biggest amount Bulls we had ever experienced.
Some time later it started to rain, and it continued doing so all the way to Shingwedzi :evil: . We stopped to look at the animals during the trip, but there weren't many of them.
At least we could see many turtles in the rain :) .

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We were even short of bird sightings. At one point the rain ceased briefly and we spotted a Little Bee-eater, and it was the first time we saw that bird.

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After having dealt with the rain, the raging storm and the limited number of animals, we were more than pleased to see a Black-backed Jackal in front of us on the road. It stayed on the road for some time. It sat down, then laid down, scratched its back etc. Time passed, but at some point it ran towards us and passed our car. We had never experienced a Jackal that close before, as they often disappear into the tall grass with a tremendous speed.

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As we drowe along the river heading to Shingwedzi the heavy rain started again. Hence we decided it was time to take a break and enjoy some breakfast in the Shingwedzi restaurant. We ran into a German man we had spoken to in Punda Maria as well, so we asked if we could join him. We all had breakfast together and talked about African countries and our home countries, as we both have been spending several vacations in each other's home countries. After about an hour and a good conversation, the rain stopped - for now.

We decided to head south by the S50 as it is one of our favourites. It displays a beautiful view of the river and of the Kanniedood dam. We found crocodiles, hippos and 3 waterbuck families.

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We stayed for a while in the Kanniedood hide, but there wasn't really anything to see. Except the photographer himself as I snatched the camera :cam:

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As we didn't plan to drive the full S50, we turned the car around, went back through Shingwedzi and continued on the main road. Back on the road we stopped on the Shingwedzi high level bridge, which was still severely damaged due to a flood. On the bridge we met another yellow ribbon, Elsa with her family. It was nice to say hello. I feel like I know many of the very active users on the forums, as I've been reading their travel tales :D . We also spoke with a family from New Zealand. And to think we were far from home, imagine a trip from NZ to SA and with 2 children! It turned out that our ways crossed quite a few times during the vacation, and I referred them to use the Forum. So welcome to Anzac_cookie (and family), who joined the Forum after returning from the KNP trip :thumbs_up: We enjoyed our conversations!
From the bridge we were able to spot a single buffalo in the distance and some vultures.

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Then we turned around again and headed south on the main road.
Due to the changing weather our sightings were extremely limited. We took a small detour to the Red Rocks where we spotted an African Fish Eagle feeding on a fish in a nearby tree.

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I think it is time for a page break... will continue day 3 right away.
Lisbeth
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Namibia & Botswana Oct 26 - Nov 14, 2015

Viking
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Re: KNP February 24 - March 6: In search of Wild dogs

Unread postby Viking » Fri Apr 04, 2014 8:45 pm

Day 3 continued:

Back on H1-7 we saw a Woodland Kingfisher. Actually our first, but there was many more to come further south. What a beautiful bird, and an impressive voice.

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Furthermore we also spotted a small group of Giraffes a Steinbuk and more Elephants. Also some more birds :D

Fork-tailed Drongo

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Happy birds - the sun was shining for a short while :D

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Magpie shrike

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Bateleur

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Not really sure about this one - a Wahlberg's Eagle?

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Once more the beautiful Lilac-breasted Roller manage to sneak into our camera

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Goliath Heron

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It turned out to be another good bird day :dance:

Finally we reached Mopani at 4 o'clock and checked in.

After checking in we went to the deck overlooking Pioneer Dam. There were some birds of prey, which we weren't, and still aren't able to identify. Tawny Eagle maybe? Or a juvenile?

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We also had the pleasure of a close look at a (juvenile I suppose) European Bee-eater. It was catching insects and went back and forth from a tree next to us. Every time it was back with us, it looked directly at us. It was strange - and wonderful - to feel so close to a wild bird :dance: .

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We then went for a walk around in the camp and searched for the Barn Owl in the baobab tree, but with no luck. It might have left? We asked the at the reception, but nobody knew if it was still in the tree.

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A view of the spectacular sky before sunset.

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The evening ended with a dinner in the restaurant and we got a table on the balcony overlooking the dam. Eating our meal we watched fireflies flying over the dam, and enjoyed the sound of the Hippos.

Highlight of the day: Our 1-1 encounter with the Black-backed Jackal
Lisbeth
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Namibia & Botswana Oct 26 - Nov 14, 2015

Viking
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Re: KNP February 24 - March 6: In search of Wild dogs

Unread postby Viking » Thu Apr 10, 2014 8:54 pm

Once again, I like to say Thank You to everybody for the many comments.

Also a big Thank You for the help with ID of the Yellow Billed Kite (a bit embarrassing I should have been able to see that :redface: ) and with the juvenile Carmine Bee-eater. I would never have reached that conclusion. I was pretty sure it was a juvenile European Bee-eater. On the other hand, this KNP visit was the first time ever to see Carmine and European Bee-eaters, so I'm for sure not an expert :whistle:
Lisbeth
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Namibia & Botswana Oct 26 - Nov 14, 2015

Viking
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Re: KNP February 24 - March 6: In search of Wild dogs

Unread postby Viking » Thu Apr 10, 2014 9:43 pm

Day 4, February 27th, Mopani

We left camp "late" this morning, around 6 am. Our first destination was the Mooiplaas waterhole, and on our journey we encountered a Giraffe and an Elephant. Unfortunately we encountered an absurd number of spiders sitting in their webs spun from branch to branch in the mopane bush as well. This gave me a reminder why no one will be able to convince me to book a trip on one of the wilderness trails ever! Because I would love to enjoy the experience of a wilderness trail, but the spiders alone are enough to be the makers of nightmares.

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At the Mooiplaas waterhole we had a cup of coffee and slice of bread while waiting for some game to show up. None of the big animals arrived though. However there were a large number of birds searching for food in the water.

Blacksmith Lapwing
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Crowned Lapwing
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And a few more cute feathered friends I haven't been able to get a name on yet.

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After our stop we continued north off the S50 and in the Nshawu march we were able to spot some unfamiliar horns. It was a Common Reedbuck displayed both in the male and female version :lol:

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The sun was shining and we took some time to take pictures of the beautiful birds on our way to the Tihongonyeni waterhole.

A white stork. This bird is very special to us / the Danish people. For us it is simply called a Stork, because it is the only Stork seen in Denmark. Last year we had 3 couples nesting in Denmark, unfortunately no chicks survived.

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And a Lappet-faced Vulture. Maybe it was trying to dry it's wings, or simply enjoying the early morning sun :D

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We also found Elephant and Zebras on our way.

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In close proximity of the waterhole we saw a group of vultures circling around on the breeze before soaring to the ground. It seemed promising :dance:
They went down far out in the bush and they were at the edge of our visibility both with the camera and binoculars. We could see the vultures moving around, but suddenly we saw a pair of "moving ears". It turned out to be two Jackals fighting for the meal with the vultures.

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After a while the Jackals ran off. We weren’t able to get a glimpse of the carcass since it was hidden in the tall grass. We searched the surrounding grass for a while as we felt certain that there could be lions nearby the location of the carcass. Far in the distance we spotted something, which looked like a lion’s ears, something we were sure was moving, but it was too far away to discern any proper visual. We stayed for a while hoping that “lion ears” would turn into something a bit more lively. Nothing happened unfortunately.

We gave up on the “lion ears” and turned our attention to the many other animals inhabiting the waterhole. Amongst those were a herd of Zebras and Wildebeests. In addition we spotted 3 secretary Birds and a large amount of smaller birds.

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Page break.... will continue right away.
Lisbeth
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Namibia & Botswana Oct 26 - Nov 14, 2015

Viking
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Re: KNP February 24 - March 6: In search of Wild dogs

Unread postby Viking » Thu Apr 10, 2014 10:13 pm

Continued...

Since it was an immensely hot day we decided that it would be wise to return and spend the warm midday hours in the camp. Along the way back some Elephants, and later Impala and Monkeys were in our line of sight.

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Instead of directly returning to the camp, we went to the Shipandani overnight hide and on the way there we saw a Black Stork and a Green-backed Heron sitting on the low water bridge.

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We have never been that close to a Black Stork and admired the colorful feathers.

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From the hide itself we watched a Goliath Heron fishing. I suppose the Heron was just as surprised as us when it realized that the "fish" it caught was a small piece of wood :D

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In addition a beautiful Water Buck turning in for a midday drink.

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Back in Mopani’s camp we spent time in their Conference Center, which was hooked up with an internet connect. (Which by the way is a great new feature since our last visit to the camp). After the Conference Center we enjoyed the very refreshing Swimming Pool, and to top it off, an ice cream cone. Those things combined made it a splendid break.

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While spending our break we had decided to go back to the Tihongonyeni waterhole. As the drive was quite far we knew it would become a longer afternoon drive than usually. So at 2.30 PM we left the camp and went straight to the waterhole. On our way we passed a couple of Elephants and some general game.
Back at the waterhole we parked in the exact same spot, which we had parked in earlier the same day. We continued our search of the “lion ears”. And since the “ears” had gone, we concluded that we were right: some lions had been near the carcass. But even if they’d still been there, we would have had very poor line of sight and no option of taking pictures.

A great number of Zebras and Wildebeest were still wandering around along with a small group of Warthogs, which had decided to take a bath.

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A lot of activity among the Zebras :dance:
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On our way back to Mopani we encountered a Kori Bustard.

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Back at the Mooiplaas waterhole we found that the activity was high during the afternoon. We saw a huge Elephant, many Zebras and Wildebeests, a couple of Impala, a Grey Heron and a flock of Egrets. Amongst those were also a great number of Egyptian Geese. We stayed and watched the scenery bathed in the evening light and left just after 6pm in order to get back into camp before gate closing.

We arrived back in the camp just in time to snap a picture of the sunset setting behind Pioneer Dam. The view seen from atop the platform in Mopani is truly among the bests in KNP :dance:

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We finished off the evening with braai and ejoyed the warm evening and the sounds of the bush.

Highlight of the day: Was our time at Tihongonyeni waterhole. It was wonderful to following the common game and their behaviour for so long. It was also interesting how excited we could get about a “pair of possible lion ears” :lol:
Lisbeth
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Namibia & Botswana Oct 26 - Nov 14, 2015

Viking
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Re: KNP February 24 - March 6: In search of Wild dogs

Unread postby Viking » Sun Apr 27, 2014 7:40 pm

Day 5, February 28th, Mopani to Tamboti

We left Mopani shortly after the gate opened, and headed straight for Tamboti.
Right after we left the gate we took a picture of the beautiful sunrise.

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We continued for around 100 meters, when we spotted a pair of jackals in front of us.
A closer look revealed that it was two Side-striped Jackals, a type of jackal which we
hadn't seen before. Due to difference is size we expect it was a mother and her young. They were only around for a short while, and in distance, but it should be possible to see that it is Side-striped Jackals.

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We headed south along the H1-6 and it was a nice sunny weather, but unfortunately a low number of animals. We stopped in Letaba to catch some breakfast and we enjoyed the beautiful view from the porch.
A couple of very loud Hadeda Ibis flew right by, and landed in one of the trees in front of the restaurant.
Furthermore a Yellow-billed Kite flew over the porch area. All in all an enjoyable breakfast :dance:

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After the break we continued towards Satara via the H1-5. There was an abundance of general game along the way.

Young Impala

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Tsessebe

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... and I need to add just a single bird photo...Carmine Bee-eater

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In one of the look-outs we saw a Pied Kingfisher trying to catch a meal in the river, without success unfortunately.

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When we reached Satara we had a quick icecream break, after which we decided to try the S100 even though it was midday. There was an absurd amount of animals present on the first part of the road. Giraffes,
Baboons, Wildebeasts, Waterbucks, Impalas, Warthogs, Kori Bustand, and Elephans, but sadly, no big cats.

Kori Bustard

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Enjoying a refreshing mud bath in the midday sun :lol:

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... page break - to be continued right away
Lisbeth
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Namibia & Botswana Oct 26 - Nov 14, 2015

Viking
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Re: KNP February 24 - March 6: In search of Wild dogs

Unread postby Viking » Sun Apr 27, 2014 8:00 pm

Day 5 continued...

We turned around after some 10km at S100 and headed west on the H7 towards
Orpen. The H7 was also home to a lot of general game, and even a couple
of Hippos and Woolly-necked Storcks in the Nsemani waterholde.

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We continued on to Orpen, where we checked into our luxury tent at the Tamboti bush camp.
On the way there we saw a single Black-backed Jackal scouting the area for food. It was running very close to both Wildebeasts and Impalas, but apparently that wasn't a problem for either of them.

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In the same area we encounted a group of Southern Ground Hornbills walking around.

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On our way to Tamboti for the first time

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Our tent in Tamboti, number 36.

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Our neighbour in 35 (with whom we shared the parking space) was already there. Just by looking at the text at his car we were very pleased :dance: :dance:

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While we were unpacking and preparing the Braai, without any form of notice an Elephant was standing right in front of us, just on the opposite side of the fence :D . It was huge when being that close. It was eating along the fence.

It was too close for any good pictures, so I'm including one from when it left :D

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My husband followed the Elephant along the fence and besides photos of the Elephant, it gave him a good opportunity to say hello to our neighbour. As the car had suggested he was working with a Wild Dog
conservation project. It resulted in some good advice on where to search for Wild Dogs. :dance: :dance:
Thank you to our friendly neighbour in case he is reading this :lol:

Close to our tent we also had these neighbours

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Finally we could enjoy our braai and the wonderful view from our porch.

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Highlight of the day: It's difficult to decide today, but it has to be the Side-striped Jackals.
Lisbeth
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Namibia & Botswana Oct 26 - Nov 14, 2015

Viking
Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger
Posts: 267
Joined: Fri Apr 21, 2006 2:15 pm
Location: Denmark

Re: KNP February 24 - March 6: In search of Wild dogs

Unread postby Viking » Thu May 08, 2014 10:16 pm

Day 6, March 1st, Tamboti

We left Tamboti just before 6am and began our search of Wild Dogs in this (hopefully) prime quality area for spotting them. As we turned onto the H7 the herd of Impalas and Wildebeests from yesterday was standing in the same location again. This time accompanied by a Giraffe. We took the S106 and after a short while a Scrub Hare hopped onto the road. It was running a bit back and forth between the road and the grasses, but it had enough manners to stand still for a moment so we could snatch some pictures of it :D .
It is the first time we have seen a Scrub Hare in daylight (except for those running outside our house in Denmark :D :D ). But previous Scrub Hare sightings in KNP have been at night drives.

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At Rabelais waterhole we stopped and had a cup of coffee. We stayed for a while and watched 3 Woodland Kingfisher taking their morning bath and flying back and forth from the small pools into the trees.

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The remaining parts of S106 and H7 eastbound revealed nothing new.

We talked about heading back west on the H7, but we decided to take the S39 towards the Timbavati picnic area. About halfway to the picnic site, we noticed a horrible smell. Followed by this view of vultures circling around.

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As expected we found a carcass nearby. Hidden in the bush was what remained of an Elephant. There was an abundance of vultures, we could count more than 100, dotted all around the carcass. Both on the ground and in the trees. Along with the vultures a Spotted Hyena had spotted an easy meal. Once in a while the hyena charged the vultures to scare them away, but it spend most of its time on eating. We could easily hear the crunching sounds, and some of the vultures were even eating inside of what used to be the stomach of the Elephant.

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The partly hidden carcass

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Vultures feeding on the carcass
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We couldn't resist to take this picture - what a difference in size between the vulture and the small bird next to it.

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At the Timbavati picnic area we stopped and had some fruit for breakfast.

We took the S40, then the S12 and finally the H7 back towards Tamboti.
We enjoyed the wonderful landscapes on our way back.

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There was also a huge, huge amount of animals along the roads. E.g. Elephants, Giraffes, Kudus, Waterbucks, Bushbucks, Steenboks, Impalas, Wildebeests, and Zebras.

Below examples of some of the various bucks we saw. They are so beautiful to watch, and they pose well for portrait photos.

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Time for a page break... will continue right away.
Lisbeth
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Namibia & Botswana Oct 26 - Nov 14, 2015

Viking
Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger
Posts: 267
Joined: Fri Apr 21, 2006 2:15 pm
Location: Denmark

Re: KNP February 24 - March 6: In search of Wild dogs

Unread postby Viking » Thu May 08, 2014 10:59 pm

Day 6 continued...

We encountered the first Rhino of our trip. It was "somewhere in the area we had been driving" laying in a river, so at first we thought it to be a hippo. But as it turns out, the weather was apparently just too hot for the Rhino's taste :lol:

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We had decided on a midday break, and enjoyed lunch in our tent with the beautiful view of the river.
Following the Rhino's example we decided to take a bath as well. We chose the swimming pool in Orpen instead of a muddy river :lol: . After the dive we had an ice cream before we went out on an afternoon drive.
On the H7 we once again had the pleasure of watching the Black-backed Jackal in its search of food. Like the evening before, it was running close to the large herds of Impala and Wildebeests.

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Zebras were around as well this afternoon.

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The Ground Hornbills were, like yesterday, searching for food in the same area.

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This will not be a normal episode unless we share photos of our feathered friends :D . So hereby examples of what we saw during the day.

In a tree we found a flock of Grey Go-away birds.

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Lilac-breasted Roller

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Carmine Bee-eater

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On our way back we found more Elephants.

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We also enjoyed a Baboon troop.

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Most of the troop disappeared, but a huge male stayed behind and kept an eye on us.
After watching us for some minutes, he found something more interesting. A small stick. He was so alike humans when he tried to figure out what it was. He used 4 senses - smell, taste, sight and touch - just as a child would have done. It was a great sighting.

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It was about the time when the gate closed and we had seen neither Wild Dogs nor Cats today :evil: We started to grow a bit impatient, but looking on the bright side, we had seen a stupendous amount of other animals, a lot more than what we could recall from previous visits.

After dinner on the porch, we heard some noise and it sounded as if "someone" was walking up the stairs to our tent. I went and had a look, and noticed it was a Honey Badger. When it saw me, it immediately turned around and left. We were unfortunately not fast enough to snap a photo.

Highlight of the day: The number of Animals we had spotted during the day. By far more than on an average day!

... and let me give you a preview of what to come. Next episode, day 7, turned out to be the most productive day we have ever had in KNP, and we had a very special sighting :D .
Lisbeth
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Namibia & Botswana Oct 26 - Nov 14, 2015

Viking
Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger
Posts: 267
Joined: Fri Apr 21, 2006 2:15 pm
Location: Denmark

Re: KNP February 24 - March 6: In search of Wild dogs

Unread postby Viking » Mon May 19, 2014 9:58 pm

Day 7, March 2nd, Tamboti – Biyamiti

This turned out to be a BIG (5 + more) day :dance:

We were up early, and today we had a long drive from Tamboti to Biyamiti. We didn’t decide in advance which route to use, as we wanted to have the flexibility to decide as we went along. We started out with H7 towards Satara.

The same group of Impala and Wildebeests were on H7 when we left the Tamboti road.

After 1-2 km two cars had stopped – they had just seen a leopard, but it went into the bush. We waited approx. 5 minutes before we and the other cars continued along. Still a promising start of the day :D

Along H7 we saw a huge amount of animals including Giraffe, Elephant, Buffalo, Kudu, Bushbuck, Waterbuck, Steinbok, and at the Nsemani waterhole there were Hippos.
Photos of a number of these are included below.

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Steinbok with scars

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Butterflies in Elephant dung.

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About 1 km before H1-3 there were a couple of cars which had stopped. I could see something brown in the middle of the road – we crossed our fingers, but it could of course be an Impala they had to stop for. It turned out to be a Lion :dance: . A lone, young male lion. It was standing on the road for a while, then walking slowly into the bush, where it found a nice open place to lay down. It was great to see the first lion during this visit.

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Still quite exited we turned south on H1-3. After another 1-2 km the car in front of us stopped, and reversed slowly. We stopped and took a look, and in the tall grass next to the road a small leopard was walking slowly. It stood still for a moment before it started to walk again, and it disappeared far too soon into the bush. A short, but still good Leopard sighting.

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Wow – 4 out of the Big 5 and it wasn’t even 8 am yet! What more can we ask for?
... A Rhino to make the Big 5 in one day :D
...And yes, the Wild Dogs ARE still on our wish list :D

There is much more to share from this day, and I will follow up with a new episode when I find some time :D .
Lisbeth
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Namibia & Botswana Oct 26 - Nov 14, 2015


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