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 Post subject: john n poppy's Saved by two sunset drives. Kruger August '13
Unread postPosted: Thu Sep 19, 2013 10:02 pm 
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11th August - Berg-en-dal

and so it began.....

we entered Malelane gate around 2pm and were surprised to see a bit of a queue. My SO joined the queue as I unpacked the cameras and Bino's.

as we drove into the park our eyes began looking and our ears began to try and pick out anything from out of the ordinary and we started to smile.....what would we see, would we get lucky, are the bee eaters around (our favourite).

Before we got to the berg-en-dal turn-off we spotted a hippo wandering through the bush, we were both surprised that this was our first sighting and as we drove along the tar road to camp we met our first few cars viewing some sleepy lions.

We met our travelling companions in camp who had flown in to Nelspruit and after a quick unpack we headed for the waterhole to look for bee eaters....we did see some but not close enough, but it was great to be in the park. As we sat there our great friends from SA pulled along side of us and later that evening we visited them for a Latte in the bush. :thumbs_up:

We returned to our cottage and driving companions and were visited by a very adorable genet.

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12th and 13th August - Lower Sabie

We began the early morning wake-ups and couldn't get out of amp quick enough, we first met a hyena taking his breakfast home.

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we drifted slowly along the crocodile river road and had some lovely bird sightings before turning of to head for afsaal past the gardenia hide.

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Who can resist a Birchels Coucal in the morning

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and while photographing this Brown hooded Kingfisher our SA friends re-appeared and after a quick chat we left them the very obliging kingfisher.

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we popped into a barren hide and then came upon a pride of lions...sleeping, we luckily decided to leave them to sleep and literally around the next corner I spotted a movement low down in a tree and there it was, our first leopard.

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in a tree and with a kill :D . Its always nice to see your first leopard as the pressure to see one seems to lift.
We stayed for nearly 30minutes but it was hard to get a free view through the bushes and we felt rude in a high vehicle hogging the best/only view. So we left to meet up with other forum friends from the uk for breakfast.

At afsaal we had a four way forum meet, 3 from the UK and our SA friends. We were tipped off about wilddogs in the river bed and so after a not seeing them for 2 years we headed off and luckily they were there, far away but 4 wilddogs :dance: .

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SAY NO TO HOTELS IN KRUGER NP...before its too late

Etosha - August 2014


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 Post subject: Re: Saved by two sunset drives - Kruger NP August
Unread postPosted: Thu Sep 19, 2013 10:18 pm 
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as we got closer to lower sabie we had a nice sighting of a blacksmith lapwing.

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we set up camp and then headed to sunset dam to watch some hungry crocs eating a dead hippo :?

further along was a fish eagle having his dinner.

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13th August

The next day we left camp early and were once again greeted by a hyena.

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we headed towards croc bridge as we were heading out of the park for the afternoon and couldn't resist our first lilac breasted roller in nice light

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we carried on and in front of us 2 wild dogs trotted onto the road, we couldn't believe the pace they kept up over such a long distance, I will try and post a pic of them later but the harshness of the sun and there non-stop pace left me with no pics of our second wild dog sighting in 3 days :big_eyes:

We re-entered the park and again had a nice LBR and even spotted some little bee eaters.


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We drifted past lower sabie and found a Bataleur in the tree, it was also with some vultures and a tawny eagle but we couldn't see why.

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After a long day out of the park we headed back to camp and finished the day with a pic of the marabou storks that rest in the trees next to the camp gate, definitely the undertakers of the park.

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Etosha - August 2014


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 Post subject: Re: Saved by two sunset drives - Kruger NP August
Unread postPosted: Sat Sep 21, 2013 11:17 am 
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here are two salvageable pics of the wild dogs...sorry about the activity :wink:

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 Post subject: Re: Saved by two sunset drives - Kruger NP August
Unread postPosted: Sat Sep 21, 2013 12:07 pm 
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Location: Middle of England
14th August - Lower Sabie to Satara

Today was going to be a long journey so we set off early up the H10 in convoy. We saw general game and a Honey Badger and tried to get some photos of the little birds and swallows but nothing really worked.
And then close to the junction of the S128 we saw some cars parked...as we got closer we could see a cheetah sitting on a mound, watching the Kudus, that seemed a bit big for it too hunt. As we sat I noticed another car a bit further on and so went to investigate if there were two cheetahs, at that moment the cheetah must have gone for it and we believe caught it caught the kudu but out of sight. Although we missed the chase it was amazing how close the kudu got without spotting the cheetah.

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We saw little else apart from a another very distant cheetah on the H1-3.

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That night we were visited by an African wildcat at our bungalow, sorry no pics :(

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SAY NO TO HOTELS IN KRUGER NP...before its too late

Etosha - August 2014


Last edited by john n poppy on Sat Sep 21, 2013 7:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Saved by two sunset drives - Kruger NP August
Unread postPosted: Sat Sep 21, 2013 8:04 pm 
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15th August - Satara to Shimuwini

We had another long drive today so we headed up the tar road to letaba, I enjoy the vast open spaces of this road as soon as you leave satara and this big boy was heading for a drink.

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At letaba while having breakfast we spotted a sunbird on the flowers..

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as we watched the sunbird we spotted this bruiser sticking out of the bank, and there were 2 of them.

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and this prinia was also keeping a close eye on them.

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as we left letaba we came across some marabou storks indulging in a bit of courtship.

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Shimuwini is a lovely camp with a great view into the river bed and this kingfisher was our welcoming guard.

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we ventured out for an evening drive but saw little and spent a great night in camp.

16th August

We left camp early and as the gate was open we drove out around 5.45, we spotted a young hyena who disappeared into the grass and just a little further up we met a slightly bigger hyena asleep in the road.

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 Post subject: Re: Saved by two sunset drives - Kruger NP August
Unread postPosted: Sun Sep 22, 2013 2:14 pm 
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We drifted past Mopani and did the tropic loop until we arrived at tihongonyeni waterhole, it was really different to all the close bush roads and we sat and observed animals as they came and went, it was really busy.

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we were due to meet our friends between 10 and 11 at Mopani so we left and headed to camp. Along the way we had to stop and ensure this beauty got across the road safely.

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and then as we neared the turnoff to Mopani camp we saw a couple of cars and in a tree right on the corner was the perfect cat in the perfect tree.

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we pulled up and rang our friends.....'get out of camp now' I believe were my SO words....no pleasantries needed and our friends arrived, with a smile as wide as the car we all knew we had got lucky.

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 Post subject: Re: Saved by two sunset drives - Kruger NP August
Unread postPosted: Sun Sep 22, 2013 2:26 pm 
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we sat with the leopard for 20 minutes before it got up climbed down the tree and before 10-15 cars it vanished....just magical :shock: :shock:

Never has a breakfast tasted so good...

from there we headed to back to camp and saw these bits and bobs..

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we arrived back at camp and spent a good few hours watching the elephants drinking and eating sometimes not 3 meters from us...what a camp..

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 Post subject: Re: Saved by two sunset drives - Kruger NP August
Unread postPosted: Sun Sep 22, 2013 3:23 pm 
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Image

as the elephants continued to browse the occasional fish eagle would call and fly over and then a saddle billed stork flew past.

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and all the time we were being watched.....

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by a bird with attitude...the crested barbet. :)

there were many great birds in shimuwini and I was disappointed I didn't get more time to shoot them...photographically of course.

next we were of to Bataleur and I haven't looked at my pics from there yet so I may be a couple of days...but until then...

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Etosha - August 2014


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 Post subject: Re: Saved by two sunset drives - Kruger NP August
Unread postPosted: Tue Sep 24, 2013 9:41 pm 
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17th - 18th August Bataleur

and so on the 17th we left the open and green shimuwini and headed for bataleur. We headed towards Tihongonyeni and found usual game as well as a lilac breasted roller..

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the up the old main road loop where we saw nothing except a something on the road in front of us that turned out to be a very shy caracal, unfortunately I only managed a fleeing shot. I don't think my screeching brakes helped either.....if anyone knows of a remedy for screeching brakes please let me know.

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At the turning of the S52 we saw this male lion, unfortunately the day was a hot one and the heat haze was terrible.

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Its a shame that check in has moved to 2 pm as the time between 12 and 2 was perfect for getting settled, having a snack and then getting ready to go out again, now you end up waiting around and then wasting time later when you could be out. At bataleur our welcoming guard was an angry squirrel.

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We then had a small drive out and spotted few water Thick-Knees.

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 Post subject: Re: Saved by two sunset drives - Kruger NP August
Unread postPosted: Tue Sep 24, 2013 9:58 pm 
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18th August

Although quiet I found bataleur a little closed in and dark, especially compared to shimuwini, but it is always nice to see new camps.

the next morning we headed out along the S52looking for leopard, unfortunately we didn't see any but did have some nice sightings especially a close up Klipspringer.

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We headed to a derelict shingwedzi and it was a shame the rear exit was closed and the shop was very basic and then went to babalala for an early lunch.

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Etosha - August 2014


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 Post subject: Re: Saved by two sunset drives - Kruger NP August
Unread postPosted: Thu Sep 26, 2013 9:51 pm 
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on the way back to bataleur from babalala we travelled along the S56 and were lucky enough to see two verreaux eagle owls roosting.

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that was it for the north and the next morning we were off to balule for 2 nights :D

We had little luck on our 4 days up north....would our luck change as we drift back into the central area?

:whistle:

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Etosha - August 2014


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 Post subject: Re: Saved by two sunset drives - Kruger NP August
Unread postPosted: Sat Sep 28, 2013 11:52 am 
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19th August - bataleur to balule

and so we headed south..

about half way to Mopani we came across a hyena den with mum keeping guard, we had her to ourselves and friends vehicle for quite a while and she was relaxed, where as her pup was not so bold and hid himself away.

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eventually 2 more cars arrived, we were all angled towards the den as mum had now returned to her pup, and our un-misable lenses were pointed towards them, an older gentleman then drove up right in front of our friends car and began looking around!!! he eventually drove off and I am not sure he saw the hyena :doh:

One of the cars tipped us off of a lion in the road further down and wet from the rain but we didn't see him :(

as we were driving along we did get a side striped jackal run between our friends and our car :big_eyes: this was first jackal we had seen so far during the trip...in fact we saw very few jackals this year.

On the letaba bridge we had a herd off ellis and another pied kingfisher.

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we stopped at letaba for brunch and visited the monitor lizards again, how nice it was pointing them out to a gentleman standing right below one!! :big_eyes:
drifting down the S93 we saw little and after a brief food stop at olifants we left our friends and headed to balule, as we turned onto the S89 we had the first a number of great bird sightings..

a Korhaan..

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a martial eagle..

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and then my SO's favourite bird in a stream right next to the road..

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we then pitched up at balule and had a small break before setting off down the S90 and soon came across one of my favourite sightings of the trip...

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SAY NO TO HOTELS IN KRUGER NP...before its too late

Etosha - August 2014


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 Post subject: Re: Saved by two sunset drives - Kruger NP August
Unread postPosted: Sat Sep 28, 2013 12:53 pm 
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and so we drifted down the S90 and before bangu waterhole a stream crosses the road. We could see something in it from a distance and so with our engine off we rolled towards the water, I used my hand break so as to not make as much of squeak, after a few shots we rolled again and again until we were at a really nice distance, we then waited for him to put his head in the water and have a full bath, but then another car came hurtling over hill and slid to a stop and the bataleur was gone.. :doh: :sniper: , as we pulled over to let them drive off I couldn't even look in their direction.....but we did get some nice shots of what must be the most majestic bird in kruger.

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we returned to camp and on the way the car that ruined our sighting sped past, we pulled over and they stopped to ask us what we had seen!!! :rtm: but my mouth remained closed and my SO politely said 'Nothing'.

that night we had any elli and hippo grazing close to our tent...and we slept well.

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SAY NO TO HOTELS IN KRUGER NP...before its too late

Etosha - August 2014


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 Post subject: Re: Saved by two sunset drives - Kruger NP August
Unread postPosted: Sun Sep 29, 2013 8:15 pm 
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20th August

we headed out of balule slightly early :D and we were the only ones on the road, heading down the S90.

Our first sighting was a Honey badger, it was darkish but he hung around long enough for a photo and then a spurfowl checking out his kingdom..

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we then came across our first black backed jackal asleep in the morning sun, he sat up for a while and then went back to sleep.

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we love the scenery on this road and I spotted a bird just on the ridge past bangu waterhole, I said to my SO it was flying like an owl and as we got there it was....a MARSH OWL :big_eyes: :big_eyes: how amazing to see an owl hunting and I even managed a far off pic.

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photos are lovely on this road with the open savannah in the background..

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one thing I need to do next year is to start to take more landscape and habitat pictures as this is what brings back that feeling from within.

along the road a black shouldered kite (I think) was hunting..

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we turned down the S41 and as we got close to gudzani dam we saw some cars at the side of the road....

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 Post subject: Re: Saved by two sunset drives - Kruger NP August
Unread postPosted: Mon Sep 30, 2013 8:32 pm 
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and as we reach the cars we can see a number of lions relaxing on the bank in various spots but very difficult to get a good view, we decide to have a coffee and wait and see. Several cars come and go and we notice a couple of the females shifting so we move to the bottom of the road just as they all decide to move off. Luckily a large 4x4 was viewing from the other side and prevented any cars coming closer from that side and we were all alone on our side.....but my lens was just to big for most of the shots but here goes....

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we noticed one of the cubs had lost some of its fur and hoped it was ok...it was definitely fierce!!

They soon disappeared and we headed off towards the S100 but would we see them again????

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