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 Post subject: Re: A Wayward Circumnavigation of Lesotho
Unread postPosted: Wed Jul 31, 2013 4:29 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Sat May 19, 2007 12:07 pm
Posts: 259
Location: South Africa
May 25- Day 17

Today was moving day, and thankfully no tents to take down in a rush! :dance: We left Knysna via the Prince Alfred Pass to Uniondale where we stopped for a very necessary pick-me-up cup of coffee. Our next stop was just below the dam wall of the Beervlei Dam where a rare plant of mom's was supposed to be growing. The dam itself is empty, but below the dam wall there appears to be a permanent spring providing a pool of water. Unfortunately, the dept. of water affairs doesn't seem to want anyone anywhere near said pool... So we didn't get to see if mom's plant was there or not. We will need to do some pleading with Water affairs for that... We were then going to go cross country on some dirt roads, but decided instead to continue up the N9 due to the ever marching time (on holidays it seems to go in full gallop actually!). We reached Camdeboo National Park just in time for a late lunch (more tea time really...).
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We went to reception as requested by the sign at the gate, but were nonchalantly showed the boom gate where someone would apparently help us. The people at the gate where not the most helpful and took forever to finally let us in. We then proceeded to a picnic site, which was very nicely kept, had a quick lunch and made our way out. Near the gate, the 2 ladies that had been manning the boom gate met us (yes, walking casually around in the game area) They stopped us to say our wild cards were not valid - huh - and demanded payment. She showed me a very tatty, aged, yellow slip that was purportedly ours as their 'proof' but wouldn't let me have it to see the date it had been printed or to compare card numbers. So we showed them our renewal letters that clearly stated they expired in 2014! We eventually got away with a distinct feeling that all they wanted was for us to pay cash so they could pocket it...(We didn't). It was very sad experience that has tainted our only experience of Camdeboo NP. :( It is also very sad that being some private security company's staff, their behaviour reflects on negatively on SANParks, who's staff on the whole, are very good.

Anyway, enough moaning, and on with the TR!

We then headed straight for Mountain Zebra NP, where our faith in SANParks was restored!! :thumbs_up: The man at the gate was super! (and clearly a SANParks employee, which does seem to make all the difference) and we were checked in in no time :dance:
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We made it to reception where we were further checked in and assured there was absolutely nothing wrong with our wild cards! and directed to the campsite. We then spent some time deliberating on which campsite to choose, as the sun sank steadily lower behind the surrounding mountains. So once again we set up camp in the dark... Thanks to the forums :dance: I had read there was a microwave, so we got some woolies lasagne to quickly heat up for supper. And then we sank into bed for a lovely nights sleep. Unfortunately though, mom continued to sink all night through - her air mattress had developed a slow leak... :doh:

P.S. - Apologies for the highly cropped photos in this episode, I only had my zoom lens handy - the wide angle lens landed up being packed in the depths...

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"I would feel more optimistic about a bright future for man if he spent less time proving that he can outwit Nature and more time tasting her sweetness and respecting her seniority." ~ E. B. White


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 Post subject: Re: A Wayward Circumnavigation of Lesotho
Unread postPosted: Mon Aug 05, 2013 11:24 am 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Sat May 19, 2007 12:07 pm
Posts: 259
Location: South Africa
May 26- Day 18: Part 1

We decided to set off and have a 'kruger brunch' at one of the picnic sites. We had just got out the camp gate when I realised I had left the birdbook back at camp, so we went back for it. Finally after our false start, we got to the Doornhoek picnic site, where we had chosen a table and mom was backing the car in, when a 'car guard' appeared to direct us.... A small grey car guard with black face who was standing on our chosen table... Having experience with Vervets back at home and at Kruger, we decided to disobey the 'car guards' directions and head off for the next picnic site along the Kranskop Loop.

At Doornhoek Dam, you will see that Crested Val was indeed correct - MZNP do have their ducks (Egyptian Geese) in a row (sort of) :tongue:
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Upon leaving the dam, we came across this Mousebird - I think a white-backed mousebird
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We then had our brunch unaided by any little grey monsters! and went on our way. On leaving the picnic site we spotted this Moraea cf. polystachya (the cf means that I'm not certain on the species, but something close to this.)
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All along the Kranskop Loop there were loads of flowers - in winter nog al! For examples this Felicia
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These Nemesias
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These cute Pelargoniums
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These stunning little purple flowers - I would say they are part of the mint family (Lamiaceae)
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A miniature daisy garden
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and last, but not least, this White Daisy - with fascinating little leaves.
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The route wasn't totally devoid of wildlife, but it was a cold and overcast morning so things were a bit slow. We saw this hoopoe foraging about for tasty grubs (Yuk!)
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and the clouds did make for interesting scenery shots
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We had been told the game was mainly on the Rooiplaat Loop, and given that we had the time, decided to take it before coming back to complete the Kranskop Loop. We were not disappointed!
..............TBC.............

_________________
"I would feel more optimistic about a bright future for man if he spent less time proving that he can outwit Nature and more time tasting her sweetness and respecting her seniority." ~ E. B. White


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 Post subject: Re: A Wayward Circumnavigation of Lesotho
Unread postPosted: Thu Oct 03, 2013 1:02 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Sat May 19, 2007 12:07 pm
Posts: 259
Location: South Africa
May 26- Day 18: Part 2

So we turned off onto the Rooiplaat Loop, and we were greeted by these sleepy and cold Blesbok having their afternoon siesta.
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and an equally sleepy and cold Springbok
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At least a couple of the Black Wildebeest were up and about!
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The Cape Mountain Zebras were at least further into their post siesta routine - the dustbath stage :lol:
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Further along the loop, we came across this Aloe broomii fruiting. It must have been pretty spectacular when it was in flower!
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We then came across a bare patch of ground with these LBJs hopping about - I instantly took up the challenge of photographing one - challenge as they weren't about to sit still and pose... :naughty:
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Finally at the junction of the Rooiplaat Loop with the Link road, a herd of Springbok had finished their Sunday siesta and were up and about eating high tea? - pretty dry and uninteresting meal if you ask me...
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We then came across this bush with cute flowers - it belongs to the Lamiaceae (Mint Family)
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and finally made our way back to camp, where we repumped the mattress (thankfully we use airbeds on stretchers - yes, that does partly account for our overloaded bakkie, :redface: but not as much as collecting equipment!), and got supper (the braai) going! :D
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_________________
"I would feel more optimistic about a bright future for man if he spent less time proving that he can outwit Nature and more time tasting her sweetness and respecting her seniority." ~ E. B. White


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 Post subject: Re: A Wayward Circumnavigation of Lesotho
Unread postPosted: Thu Oct 24, 2013 11:58 am 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Sat May 19, 2007 12:07 pm
Posts: 259
Location: South Africa
May 27- Day 19:

Today was a very slow start - we had lots of 'Admin' to catch up on seeing as it was Monday. All the admin was good though! First and foremost, the weekend had also been filled with numerous sms's between us, our supervisor, and another Prof. in the department about a ginger kitty that needed a home urgently. Newws had spread fast about our loss and subsequent vacancy... So we phoned the cattery and made arrangements for 'Ginger' to be taken to the cattery so that our kitties could meet him and get to know him in neutral territory. Secondly, this trip has been pretty much our first trip ever that was open-ended, leaving us the option of staying a day our two longer if we wished, and the parents had conferred the night before and decided they did wish to stay an extra night! (It would also give the kitties a bit longer to get acquainted) :dance: We then phoned our friends near Port Edward to hear if we could come a day later, and with that confirmed, discussed our options of camping or a chalet. The chalet won as we had a long day of travelling to get to Port Edward. So we went to reception and booked our extra night in a Chalet. All this was done whilst cooking and eating breakfast at camp - porridge for the ladies to keep warm!

All the while we were kept in close company with these chatty White-browed Sparrow Weavers
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After all was finalised, we took ourselves on drive - straight up to Rooiplaat Loop, then down Link road and then an unplanned emergency trip to the gate for a loo (I drank too much coffee :redface: ), and then back to complete the entire Ubejane Loop. The journey up to Rooiplaat Loop was uneventful in terms of sightings. Our first sighting of note up on the plateau was this Cape Longclaw (A first for me :D)
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Next up on the plateau was this Blacked-backed Jackal sniffing around for any edible bits (perhaps left overs from the new lions, who knows)
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Then we drove down Link road stopping only for a pair of Ground Squirrels, these South African Shelducks, and another Jackal as the need was getting pretty dire!

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Upon our return to Ubejane Loop, we stopped to watch the antics of this Ant-eating Chat
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And then this comedy show put on by these Squirrels.
'Hmm, one of those canned humans. Think I must go and investigate'
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'Well, you gonna feed me or what?!' (Answer was No!)
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'Oh well, then I better go and get back-up'
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'You still not gonna feed us?'
'Nope, cute as you are, we still not gonna feed you'
'Well we'll just have to see about that then won't we!'
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We then beat a hasty retreat as they all decided to try out car tyre for lunch! Kgalagadi may have its tyre eating lions, but MZNP has squirrels! (I know which I prefer, and its not the lions!)

Next up was a Secretary Bird
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and some Ostriches
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and finally, our first Gemsbok for MZNP :dance:
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and what I think is a Yellow Mongoose - I wasn't aware that they also stand up like that, but it doesn't look right for a meercat.
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And last but not least, my first photo opportunity of a PCG
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We then returned to camp to just chill and cook supper before heading off to bed. Tonight was particularly freezing, and when I got up in the early hours to replenish my hot water bottle and spend a penny I saw why!-I was no longer sleeping in a tent but rather a nylon-lined igloo! The frost was about 1cm thick over my tent!

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"I would feel more optimistic about a bright future for man if he spent less time proving that he can outwit Nature and more time tasting her sweetness and respecting her seniority." ~ E. B. White


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 Post subject: Re: A Wayward Circumnavigation of Lesotho
Unread postPosted: Mon Oct 28, 2013 11:09 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Sat May 19, 2007 12:07 pm
Posts: 259
Location: South Africa
May 28 - Day 20: Our bonus day!

Today we started out pretty late - I think we were all frozen solid!! We did about an hour of sun worshipping - moving our chairs every ten minutes to remain in the full sun - whilst eating breakfast. Then we started on the task of taking down our tents and packing up - always sad when it is the last time for the unforeseeable future. We made use of the campsites on either side of us to lay out bits of tent to get dry - the ice had thawed, and well, everything was wet! It must be noted that there were perhaps 3 (groups) of us in the camp at the time, so we were not (I hope) making a nuisance of ourselves. So, needless to say, packing took all morning and some of the afternoon, and all the while we were praising our intelligence at having booked an extra night in a chalet! :lol: Of course this pack up had to be perfect as we know very well that no matter how many time you promise yourself you will put the tent up immediately on arrival home to clean it properly, that never happens, until the last weekend before the next trip, by which time the damage is invariably done. Just after 2pm we headed to reception to book in, and were given the keys to number 16 :dance: We then moved in, and wow! What a view! Which way to look?!
First up out of the side window was this Black-shouldered Kite
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Out the front in the distance were these Eland - our first for MZNP, and high on my list of 'want to sees'
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And right outside, our feathered friends followed us to our new abode - ever hopeful!
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Keeping a its distance a bit more was this Fiscal Shrike
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And of course, there is the scar from where a boulder rolled down the mountainside.
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After my folks had a bit of a nap and I explored the veld in front of the cottages, we went on a drive down the main road to Ubejane loop, and then back up to Doornhoek Dam, and then 'home'.

At the entrance to our parking was this stunning Daisy (Gazania) to welcome us.
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Our first siting of the drive was this Kudu doe - again she'd been at the milk! :naughty:
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And some Monkeys came out to wish us well with our trip home
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And then, an unexpected sighting. This Brown-hooded Kingfisher, which according to my rather elderly bird book, claimed it shouldn't have been there :hmz:
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A Zebra family also came out to wish us well
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And then on Ubejane loop itself, we saw most of the characters from yesterday, plus a few more - Springbok, Gemsbok, Hartebeest, and a Black Wildebeest.

On our way up to Doornhoek Dam, we met up with the Eland herd we had seen earlier from our verandah.
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And with that, we returned to camp. We treated ourselves to dinner at the restaurant - we had planned to do a night drive, but the weather and other bookings for the guides conspired against us. So we will simply have to return one day! :dance:

With full bellies, we turned in to our nice warm beds! I love camping, but sometimes, being warm has a lot going for it! :lol:

_________________
"I would feel more optimistic about a bright future for man if he spent less time proving that he can outwit Nature and more time tasting her sweetness and respecting her seniority." ~ E. B. White


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 Post subject: Re: A Wayward Circumnavigation of Lesotho
Unread postPosted: Mon Oct 28, 2013 11:27 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Sat May 19, 2007 12:07 pm
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Location: South Africa
Trip Home

Today we drove from MZNP to our friends near Port Edward. It was long, tiring trip. And writing this now, is a bit sad, because little did we know that that would be the last time we would see our friend and colleague. Sadly, he passed away a couple of weeks ago from an infection he picked up in hospital. The world is truly worse off with the loss of this wonderful person, whom I consider a real legend, both in the way he lived his life, and his knowledge of botany and the nature around him.

Anyway, enough of being sad, because arriving home was also an exciting time for us. We got to meet Ginger, who quickly got renamed Mungojerrie, although we now realise Garfield might have been more appropriate. This is him relaxing a few days ago. As you can see, he settled in very well. It hasn't been without its teething problems - the other two kitties weren't overly joyed with the new arrival, but now it is quite comical how my Danica follows him everywhere and if not then it is vice versa.

Image

_________________
"I would feel more optimistic about a bright future for man if he spent less time proving that he can outwit Nature and more time tasting her sweetness and respecting her seniority." ~ E. B. White


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