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 Post subject: Elsa and Klystron's Trip : KNP 16 to 24 Feb 2006
Unread postPosted: Sat Feb 25, 2006 12:19 pm 
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Location: Ballito, KZN North Coast, South Africa
Hi everyone
We can't believe our long planned and eagerly awaited trip is over already and we had to face the harsh realities of rush hour madness on the way home from the airport last night and get used to life in the "concrete jungle" again.
To say I have never seen the park looking so green, lush and thick would be an understatement.
We found sightings to be extremely difficult and despite driving over 1100 kms in the 8 days, literally combing the park from Tshokwane in the North to Lower Sabie and B & D/Malelane in the South, East to West, sand roads and tar roads alike, the best we could do was 3 of the "big 5" at any time.
We combed the S65 no fewer than 3 times, taking up to 2 hours to travel the 13 kms length.
We also seemed to not only chase away the leopards etc but the rain as well as the days seemed to get progressively hotter as our trip progressed and only on Tuesday evening was there a little bit of a shower over the Skukuza area after the temp has risen to what must have been a scorching mid 40's with the other days not reaching much less despite a couple of them starting off overcast and a bit cooler in the early mornings.
But, I am not complaining as it was really wonderful to see the park looking so good, with water everywhere but without the awful flood conditions and accompanying damage of 6 years ago.
We have had some really special sightngs tho, don't despair, have taken over 300 pics!! we won't subject you to all of them, never fear but sort through them and try and recreate the magic we have experienced with the little things, the wonderful bird sightings, the unusual, and our one really good lion sighting.
It was wonderful to meet up and have lunch with Ton and Herma at Afsaal and then Freda on the Lake Panic Road right next to some lions resting up deeper in the bush.
We spent many hours at Lake Panic and have some really fantastic stories and pics from there, saw the boardwalk still under construction at the nursery, listened to the constant call of the Woodland Kingfishers and Emerald spotted dove wherever we went, and watched in wonder as the Elephants and others gorged on the ripening Marula fruits.
I hope to have my full report completed during the week and my SO will hopefully try and get the pics ready as well.

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Where ever you go, go with all your Heart.


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Unread postPosted: Wed Mar 01, 2006 8:56 pm 
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Location: Ballito, KZN North Coast, South Africa
Part 1 of our trip.....more to follow. Hope you enjoy.

Day 1.

Great excitement and anticipation.
Arrived at Kruger Int. Airport, picked up our hire car, and headed for Numbi Gate, arriving at 1pm.
Open the car windows and what did I hear, Woodland Kingfishers calling aplenty, what a welcome!!
Paperwork completed and through the boomgate, "Honey, we are home"
Attach our bright yellow ribbon to our bright blue car!!! very visible.
First animals are 3 Kudus with 2 young ones.
We stopped off at P/Kop for a necessary pit stop and something to drink. What a lovely shady camp this is, we remind ourselves, a real oasis.
Back on the road and take the S7 and see a chameleon making his way across the road, then on to the S10 loop road, Redbilled Woodhoopoes cackling away, EmeraldSpotted Doves calling their characteristic bushveld song continuously.
As we pass the Shabeni Hill we notice water streaming down the rock face in several places, just in case we hadn't noticed how much surface water is lying everywhere.

Image

Continue up the S7 and then the S3, nothing too much more.

S1
A few biggish herds of Impala, 2 Giraffe, stop off at the Nyamundwa Dam, a few waterbirds, otherwise all quiet.
Then a single Buffalo with huge horns having a lovely wallow in the mud, a bit too far for a good pic.
Some European Rollers, always lovely to see. A Steenbok, some Kudu, an Ellie, a W. Rhino, Wildebeeste, another Ellie, some Zebra with babies, a bushbuck, tortoise and warthogs.

Arrive at Skukuza, check in to our bungalow and head for the shop to get a few provisions and something to drink. We admire the new look deli and internet cafe, very smart. indeed.
Took our drinks and sat on a bench overlooking the fairly fast flowing Sabie River, bliss, then a troop of monkeys arrived and the little ones entertained us till almost sunset with their endearing romping and antics.

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Off to Selati Train Restaurant for dinner, what a super place, the service, food, price, all excellent, but boy was it hot, we resorted to wrapping our hands around the ice bucket just to try and cool off!!
Driving back we came across a little duiker startled in our headlights.
Back to our lovely air conditioned bungalow and a good nights sleep.

Day 2.

Out the gates just after 5.30am and off down the H4-.1A Duiker, then a Bushbuck, almost overtaking the Impala count!!
At one of the loops overlooking the river we watched as some Hippos had fun, snorting, grunting, splashing and rolling over and listened to the myriad birdcalls.
Found a strange looking blind/snake in the road.
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Plenty Impala, and Baboons in the road and on the H12 bridge. Seen there as well were Wire tailed Swallows and a Diederick Cuckoo.
Then it was back to camp to check out.

Left Skukuza at 10am and headed down the S114 for a rendevouz at Afsaal with Ton and Herma.
Red billed Hornbill, not yellow.
At Renosterkoppies Dam, Impala, Wildebeest and Warthogs.
A little further on 4 White Helmetshrikes together.
Met a guy at the H5/S114 intersection who had come up the entire length of the H5 without seeing a single thing, not even Impala!!! He was most annoyed.Then something seemed to happen to our map reading ability and we found ourselves well on our way down the H5 instead of the S114,Oh dear, anyway carried on and took the S102 and S26 Bume road to bring us back to where we wanted to be, now a bit late and anxious not to keep T & H waiting.
Not too much to be seen at Mpondo Dam and then a female elephant with 2 youngsters trumpeted her disapproval on the S26.
H3
An ellie seen from the bridge over the Biyamiti River.
Giraffe and more Imps.
Afsaal Picnic Site.
Met up with Ton and Herma, had a good natter and some lunch, great to be able to meet them and hear some of their experiences of the past month.

Off to Malelane to get our provisions for the week, never have I shopped so fast before in my life!! A very nice new Spar shop with good selection and fresh veges, meat, bakery, etc.

Back into the park and off up the H3,
Just after Afsaal, a speed trap, we give him a thumbs up and a cheerful wave.
H1-1
An Ellie ambling up the middle of the road causing a bit of a road block, car in front of us has a youngster watching with his head and shoulders out of the sunroof.
Eventually get past and onto Kruger Gate with 5 minutes to spare where there is another Ellie eating Marula Berries.
At least the gate officials can see us waiting, so we sit and wait but he is very laid back and intent on his supper, so we manage to slip past easily.

_________________
Where ever you go, go with all your Heart.


Last edited by Elsa on Wed Mar 01, 2006 9:59 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Thu Mar 02, 2006 4:56 am 
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Location: Ballito, KZN North Coast, South Africa
Next Installment
Day 3.

We wonder why the gates to the entrance of the Kruger Gate Bridge are closed when we arrive and have to be opened for us but in our non curious mood we do not ask and only find out later that it was because some lionesses were trying to make a break for it and were up on the bridge mere minutes before. Frustration!!!
S3 River Road.
We drive very slowly along and see Impalas, Baboons, Dwarf Mongooses and Zebras.
Then a Steppe Buzzard in the tree

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And a Brown Snake Eagle

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On one of the little loop pieces a tree with a strange growth or protuberance.

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On to Phabeni Gate, first time view and then to the Albasini Ruins, I remember them from many years ago and they seemed to have shrunk quite a bit, I'm sure the reason behind the fence around them now.
S1
Came across a small tortoise struggling across the road and on investigation found that it had been obviously hit by a car and its shell badly cracked at the back. We were in a bit of a dilemma as to what to do, pick it up and hand it in or leave it. Such a sad thing.
A few Hippo in the Nyamundwa Dam.
Further on 3 Female Nyala, such pretty antelope.
Giraffe
S4
A largish water Monitor at one of the little streams
Then a sms from Freda with her e.t.a
Halfway down the S42 L Panic Road came across Freda looking at some lions who were lying deep in thick bush with only a flick of tail and ear and the back of one that could be seen.
Anyway a nice little chat, also great to get to know another face.
We then proceeded to Skukuza for a spot of lunch, Buffalo Pies, not really as I remember them.
Back to our chalet as the heat was getting unbearable.
Went to the Kruger Gate Bridge at 6pm to see if there was any more sign of the lions, gates still closed, and officials not allowing anyone out of the car.
Apparantly the rangers had chased them with rubber bullets sometime in the morning and they were hiding up in the reeds along the river. Only Buffalo and Hippo visible.

Day 4

Drove along the S1 until the S65 intersection, only seeing Impala and a crested Barbet.
S65
Drive along here with great expectations!!!
But only Giraffe, Zebra, Duikers x2,
Grey Lourie (Go away)
Blacksmith Plovers and Jacanas
H1-1
Buffalo, warthogs.
Back to chalet, v. v. hot.
In again at 3.30pm
Some impala keeping Paul Kruger company ouside the gate.

Image

L Panic
Wonderful spot.
A pair of Jacanas and 4 of the cutest little chicks are busy striding about on the lily leaves.
Frantic nest building and attracting mates among the thick billed Weavers.
A pair of water Dikkops
A greenbacked Heron
and of course the ever present resident hippo family snorting away.

Image

More to come on Saturday

_________________
Where ever you go, go with all your Heart.


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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Sat Mar 04, 2006 3:26 pm 
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Location: Ballito, KZN North Coast, South Africa
This is the next installment, hope you all enjoy. More tomorrow (hopefully the final).

Day 5

S3 River road again.
Impala
Coucal, Red Billed Wood hoopoos, Emerald Spotted Doves all over.
S4
Another Crested Barbet posing on a fallen tree in the road.
Giraffe x4, one who had lost half his tail which was not helping with his fly problem.

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A group fo zebra with foals having a good roll in the sand.

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Some young impala who seemed to be all alone.
4x crowned Plovers
Then we sat and watched as some impalas ran huge circuits around the car, jumping almost clear across the road in one leap. This went on for nearly 10 minutes, so much energy in such heat!!!

S1
2 ellies, one of which pushed over a tree, just because he could.
1more ellie Bull

Image

Back to L Panic.
This time the Hippos were down near the hide end and one seemed to be causing "trouble" with the others and chased them up and down the length of the lake causing near tidal wave conditions!!
The water dikkop were present again, Black Crake, Pied Kingfishers and the thick Billed Weavers still as busy as ever.

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Just outside Skukuza,at the H1-1 and H4-1 a beautiful young male Lion lying in the shade at the side of a tree.
On to the H1-2 and a hippo in Sabie river at bridge and on the rocks at least 50 Marabou Storks

Image

Then a huge troop of Baboons crossing the bridge over the Sand River.
Hamerkop fishing.

H4-1
Impala+++
Warthogs, Ground Hornbills x3 panting from the heat.
Back to intersection and lion moved across the road and lying next to multi directional signpost.

Image
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H11
Ellies, Baboons, Duiker, Impala and Warthogs at Kruger Gate.


Day 6
Overcast and slightly cooler today, some relief.
S1 and H11 intersection
A police roadblock checking for licenses etc. We chat to the officers and they show great interest in our YR and want to know all about the forum, we may have some new converts!!!
H11
5 giraffe with one in bad condition, looks like a mange of sorts
Nyala and Warthogs
The H1-2 bridge has our hippo and even more Marabou Storks this time, seems to be the general meeting place for the entire population it seems!!
A bushbuck and a Francolin with a chick crossing the road and narrowly escaped being killed by a crowned Plover who swooped down on it. Well, it looked like that was his intentions anyway!!
Leeupan
Plenty of tree Squirrels on road to dam, huge herds of Impala.
White faced ducks giving aerial displays
Silowini Dam
Hippo, more E Ducks, very muddy.
Pit stop at Tshokwane
H10
Giraffe and a lovely male Kudu

Image
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Nkumbe Viewsite
Never fails to take ones breath away, never have I seen it so green before.

Image

Down the H10, I swear nothing stirred, onto the Munchie Loop, grass higher than the car, impossible and road surface very rutted.
An ellie eventually far in the distance and a three Banded Plover at a little stream crossing.

Image

Mlondozi Picnic Site.
What is it about this picnic site that makes people shout and make so much noise despite the sign board asking for quiet.!!!
Plenty of water in Dam below, even overflowing the wall slightly.

Image

Hippo in dam, bickering among themselves, giraffe and Impala in distance.
Back to H10 and just 3 more giraffe.
Butterflies seen throughout the park, especially fond of whatever was in the ellie dung.

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Storm clouds all around, looking threatening.but heat like never before.
Sabie river flowing strongly at L.Sabie bridge.
Goliath Heron fishing.

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Lunch at Lower Sabie
Ate an ice cream at Sunset Dam, all the usual animals and birds there but just too hot to sit for long. A big touring bus stopped but keeps his engine running, no chance of any video footage or peace with that noise.
On up the H4-1 big baboon troop near Nkhulu . Took the S79 causway loop and a Saddlebilled Stork in the river.
Big Lizard crossed the road in front of us. More Baboons and a Monkey troop.
Took quite a few of the little loops and more common Duiker.
Warthogs, Impala.
Back to the H4-1 some beautiful Carmine BeeEaters, a family of Warthogs.
H11
Leopard Tortoise

Image

To be continued.......

_________________
Where ever you go, go with all your Heart.


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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Sun Mar 05, 2006 1:33 pm 
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Location: Ballito, KZN North Coast, South Africa
The final part

Day 7

Checking in at Kruger Gate and evidence of an Ellie the night before right there in the parking lot.!!!
H11
2 Tree squirrels
S1
Martial Eagle

Image


S65 again, we are persistent if nothing else!!!
Zebra herd with the cutest and most inquisitive foal with most of its face covered in black, he stood by our car and I had the longest conversation with him!! Altho it was pretty one sided unlike the story in Oumie's report!!!!


Image
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Helmeted Guineafowl. Young ellie with a broken tusk already.
Huge herds of Impala with very young ones and a few still heavily pregnant.

Image

Came across an ellie at the N'waswitshaka water hole. At first he seemed to be leaning against the reservoir taking power naps and then he plopped his trunk over the edge and slurped in a huge amount of water most of which he spilled on the ground. He was totally relaxed and we enjoyed his company.

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Further another European Roller.


H1-1 P/Kop Rd.
5 Giraffe,

Transport Dam
A lovely tranquil spot to spend a bit of time. Firstly some Carmine Bee eaters, Hornbills, Red Billed Weavers nesting in huge colony type nests. A few Hippo in the water.

Across the water lots of Water buck, Impala
Then we spotted a very nervous female Waterbuck behind us with her young calf, trying to bring it across the car park, we sat dead still hardly breathing and as she was about to step into the area another car pulled in and she fled. Unfortunately she seemed to lose her nerve and we never saw her again.
Back on the road another Chameleon crossing, stopped to make sure he got to the other side safely.
Roads covered in Ellie evidence then 2 big ones spotted, and the smaller of the two had the biggest tusks.
S11 Napi Loop. Zebra and Imps.
Suddenly around a corner towards us appears a car with the woman passenger sitting on the window ledge with her whole upper body out the car and this at most probably nearly 40kph
We unfortunately didn't have time to get a pic but only to yell at them and gesticulate as they
passed us!!!

Shitlave Dam: Water buck with youngsters

Back to H1-1
2 European Bee Eaters in tree, most excited as this is a first sighting for us.


Image

Lunch at P/Kop, checked the sightings board, nothing really reported, sigh.
Beautiful white flowering tree in camp ground.


Image

Back to H1-1 Ellie walking down centre of road for approx 2 km, nice little road block, and plenty of patience needed.

S3
Mestel Dam. Imps, Kudu and a few water birds

2x 3 banded Plovers in stream.
Then a great sighting, 1st time a Dark Chanting Goshawk and 500 metres further on another one.
.

Image
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European Rollers hunting, swooping down catching insects right in front of car.
Further on a newly destroyed tree by an ellie nearly blocking the road.

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S1 Ellies crossing road, we are a bit wary of getting caught up in a road block again.
Zebra herd trying to cross road to get to Dam, OSV determined to sit it out at entrance and block them!! wonder why?
S4. Really only our ever present Impala


Day 8

H11
In early again, wow, just as well we are getting to bed early!!
Suicidal Black Kite swooping down right in front of the car, catching insects off the road.
Helmetted Guinea Fowl, Impala and another Brown Snake Eagle sitting in the tree.
Then a spotted Hyena, looking beautifully clean and lying dozing in the morning sun, must have been a busy night.


Image

H4-1
A Fish Eagle, we certainly haven't seen many of them during this trip so enjoy his company.
Then a troop of baboons romping, rolling and tumbling up the road and what.... we rub our eyes, one of the smaller ones is playing with and sucking a green baby's dummy(pacifier) Had to be one of the funniest moments so far. It gets passed from one to the other and seems to be causing minor squabbles in the troop. The question is how did they get it? was it found on the road or taken from a child!!! Took a few pics and then some video footage as well.

Image


On bridge, more baboons and European Bee Eaters, what stunning birds.
Drove to the end of the H12 and back to try and find the lions reported on the sightings board but no luck unfortunately.
Back down the H4-1
Warthogs having a wonderful meal on some berries etc that a troop of baboons had knocked down from a tree. Free lunch so to speak or breakfast in this case!!

Image
Image

Stopped in at Nkhulu Picnic Site, to sample some of the famous pancakes, just as good as before.
Very quiet there at that time, 8.30am. Lovely and peaceful, not even the monkeys to contend with. Only evidence of them are 2 catapaults lying on the walls!!!
Onwards....
Herd of Ellies crossing the road with youngsters, obviously returning from their morning bathe in the river.
Then another Leopard Tortoise, plenty of them around.
Turn off onto the S21 N'Watimhiri Road.

Huge 2metres plus Black Mamba lying sunning itself across the road. Very glad I was in the car!!

Image
Image

Small dam a little way down the road, completely covered in bright green algae and 1 hippo in it who has taken on a decidedly green tinge. We remember reading in one of the Kruger Times that this is not very good for the health of the Hippo and other animals that drink the water and can cause severe liver problems. Do hope that this is not the same algae, will follow it up tho.
A lot of different birds are nearby and a couple of tree squirrels.

A bit further on another large green snake that was lying in the road does an abrupt U-turn and slithers rapidly into the grass. We didn't get a good enough look at this one to even guess at identification.
A bit further on the road is being graded, so we continue on with difficulty, dodging huge mounds of sand and rocks and not seeing anything else due to the human activity.
Much further on a breeding herd of Ellies with some very young ones.
And Warthogs.
Sat a while at the Renosterkoppies Dam and had something to drink but only a family of Warthogs coming down for their drink as well.

S112

Huge herd of impala. Baboons playing on rocks, 1 adult very tired and needs a nap in the tree!!

Image

Take the H3 and H1-1 to get back to the S65 for one last shot at seeing the W Dogs or Cheetah.
but no luck this time either, even tho we had seen some reports the day before of WD.
and all we see are scattered herds of impala. Well, nobody can say we didn't try!!
On the way out for a break we see Buffalo in the river from the bridge.

Back in at 4pm, take a drive to the nursery, which is closed by the time we get there but have a look at the new boardwalk still under construction. It looks wonderful and something I have definitely earmarked to do next time.
Back to Lake Panic.
A Green backed Heron, sitting in the middle is trying to swallow a fish nearly the same size of itself and eventually after half an hour achieves it. But we don't see him again, hope he didn't explode!!!
Suddenly a snake swims effortlessly and fast across the water over the lily pads and up into the reeds
A pair of Pied Wagtails are nesting in holes in the dead tree stump right in front of the hide.
All 4 Jacana chicks are still alive and happily foraging from one pad to the other, cheeping away all the time. The parents don't seem to be very protective at this stage and are more or less leaving them to their own devices.

Last Day.

H11
2 Ellies just in from the gate. Our ever faithful impalas everywhere.
Find 2 lizards locked in combat, the one with a good grip on the others throat, we stop next to them and try and persuade them to go do their fighting off the road where they would still have a chance of at least one of them making it alive.
Plenty of Baboons and one sitting right in the top of the tree as the lookout.
A Giant Kingfisher sitting on the wire above the N'waswitshaka River Bridge.

H4-1
Nyalas, Females and one Male.
Tree squirrels all over.
As are the Woodland Kingfishers

Image

H3

An ellie spraying himself, the wet mud is flying high into the air, how he doesn't get it into his eyes, we will never know.

Image

Just North of Afsaal a huge breeding herd of Ellies, with the tiniest baby I think we have seen, it would have fitted easily underneath the mothers stomach. We estimate the herd to be at least 30 to 40 but unfortunately not good photographic opportunities.
A quick stop in at Afsaal, no Scops owl, they think the female might be nesting somewhere else currently.
Zebra, Wildebeest Giraffe and Impala on the plains south of the picnic site.

Some more Giraffe at the Mpambane Bridge.
And our last Leopard Tortoise
We would have liked to go up to Berg en Dal but time had caught up with us and it was time to leave so we reluctantly exited at Malelane Gate with the usual heavy hearts.
Bye Kruger, we will be back again.

_________________
Where ever you go, go with all your Heart.


Last edited by Elsa on Mon Apr 03, 2006 6:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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