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 Post subject: lemonbalm's Botanist Family Steals 3 Nights in KNP. Nov. '13
Unread postPosted: Fri Nov 08, 2013 8:21 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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So we are at the stage of semi-organised mayhem as the botanist family prepares for another trip. This time we will be leaving on Monday to Pretoria for 2 weeks of work and field work, but! we will be stealing the weekend in between to visit Kruger :dance: :dance: We will be spending next Friday in Tamboti, Saturday camping at Satara, and Sunday in a hut in Balule. :dance: Tamboti and Balule will each be a first for all of us, so the excitement is mounting! Once again, this is a fairly open ended trip depending on how and where the plants are - this time though the field work is mainly my plants and they can finicky about where and when they flower :naughty:, but we should be back by the 24th Nov, all going well.

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 Post subject: Re: Arrest Them!! The Botanist Family Steals 3 Nights in Kru
Unread postPosted: Sun Nov 24, 2013 6:14 pm 
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First off, some general comments. I had read about the bad state of some of the gravel roads in the Orpen/Satara area, BUT, we found them to all be in good nick, and not too corrugated :thumbs_up: Whether this was because previously we have only been to KNP in a sedan and now we were in a bakkie, or the bad roads we had the previous week got us used to them is unknown, but still they didn't look badly corrugated.

Secondly, roll on the new restaurants! We had decided to have breakfast at Letaba on our way out on the Monday morning. What a rip off for cheap, bad quality food!

Thirdly, a huge :thumbs_up: :thumbs_up: to the new SANParks Security! The chap (whom we sadly didn't get the name of) at the first Orpen gate was efficient, super friendly and had a lovely sense of humour! The second gate was just as friendly and efficient (although we were held up by my getting out cameras and taking pics!), but without the extra sense of humour. And the lady at Phalaborwa at least made some attempt to look in the back of our once again over-loaded bakkie and thoroughly checked our exit permit was in order. And All the check-in staff at both Orpen and Satara went out of their ways to be helpful!

And lastly, we may have stolen 3 days but Kruger and specifically Balule got us back by stealing our hearts!

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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: Arrest Them!! The Botanist Family Steals 3 Nights in Kru
Unread postPosted: Sun Nov 24, 2013 6:29 pm 
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So the main reason for our trip up country was work. Here are some pics of some of 'my' plants we found. I might be biased here, but I think they are pretty 8), awesome plants to study!

Asclepias aurea
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Asclepias brevipes
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Gomphocarpus glaucophyllus
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Pachycarpus schinzianus
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Another interesting little fact is that it is these plants(well this whole group called the Asclepiadinae (milkweeds)) that make the Monarch Butterfly poisonous - the caterpillars eat the plants and accumulate the toxins that make the adult poisonous. The latex of most of these plants is not too lethal to humans, but tastes awfully bitter! (I speak from experience!), and contains cardiac glycosides - chemicals that will affect your heart.

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 Post subject: Re: Arrest Them!! The Botanist Family Steals 3 Nights in Kru
Unread postPosted: Sun Nov 24, 2013 8:48 pm 
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Friday 15th November: Day 1

We were stationed this week at Dikhololo - a bit of a schlep for working in Pretoria, Yes - so we decided to leave early at 5am - which amazingly for our family, we achieved spot on! :dance: The only traffic we had on route was at the Doornpoort Toll Plaza, but then it was plain sailing - traffic wise. Both mom and I found the bakkie unusually unsteady - like we were ice skating rather than driving on a highway, so we pulled off at the Alzu Petroport (after trying Ultracity where they were not willing to help us) to check tyre pressure, and sure enough, we were over-inflated by quite a margin, and the left front significantly less so than the right! So after that was sorted, we were back to plain sailing! We then had a stop at Dullstroom for Trout and Beer :D and continued, where we seemed to get behind every truck and slow moving vehicle (idiot :evil: ) in Mpumalanga! But we finally got to the first Orpen Gate at about 14:30 with nerves and tempers a bit frayed, to be greeted by one of the friendliest guards we have encountered! :thumbs_up:

The drive to the second Orpen gate only delivered Impala, which only my mom saw, but still she won the condensed milk (our family tradition for whomever spots the first animal in the reserve) - she spotted more Impala after checking in that we all saw, so there was no arguing that she was the deserved winner! :P

At the 2nd Gate
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Check in was simple and efficient, even though there were several people trying to do so all at once. Mom and I took the opportunity to buy the firewood and stickers for our car, whilst dad enjoyed the aircon in the queue :twisted:. We were allocated tents 15 and 16 and departed to set eyes on Tamboti for the first time :dance:. We had stayed in Maroela soon after it and Tamboti had first been opened, but that is as close as we have ever been. We found our tents and then set off to find ablutions on foot. I noted that people weren't lying when there were comments about it being quite a walk! We then started unpacking the basics so we could have our late lunch, but first I went to check out no. 16 which my parents had decided was to be mine, to discover there was no bedding or mattresses :big_eyes: :(. So because of the frayed tempers we had a quick lunch and mom and I went back to reception to see what could be done. We would have been moved to 27 and 28, but seeing as my father was left to make himself comfortable on a bed, that was no longer an option, so I was moved to 14, which besides the long nightly walk, was perfect in every other respect! :dance:. We returned, finally got the yellow ribbon on, and went on an afternoon drive, down the H7 up until the Rabelais Loop and back, spotting many flowers and some 'common' game that we were delighted to see :D

First up were these Pregnant Impala and teenage Kudu on opposite sides of the road.
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And then a Zebra celebrating Movember in style :lol:
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Some of the flowers we saw included this Dwarf Boer-Bean (Schotia capitata)
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and Poison Apple (Solanum cf. panduriforme)
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And just behind the poison apple was this cute Steenbok
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And then it was the birds time to shine :D

First up on the gravel road down to N'wamatsatsa waterhole, a Magpie Shrike
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and an action shot from a Yellow-billed Hornbill Sies! :shock:
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Heading back on the H7 we were supposed to have seen a leopard through a Kruger Jam :hmz: and then caused our own Kruger Jam with this Brown-hooded Kingfisher
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Thnakfully by the time we stopped for this Ostrich and Sunset, all the Big 5 Seekers had rushed past us in a huff! :naughty:
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And we returned to camp for our first Kruger braai in a long time! Unfortunately I was simultaneously assisting with the final unpacking and braai master with an uncooperative fire that kept going out every time I wasn't watching :evil:, but finally got it going and cooked our pork rashers, which we had with mom's potato salad and asparagus - Yum. Whilst sitting round the table a head popped up the stairs :dance: so I spent a happy hour or so, trying to get a decent pic of our rather friendly visitor - a Large-spotted Genet!

'Care to throw something down to a hungry 'kitty'? Pleeeasssse'
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'Peek-a-boo' (or 'ok, fine then, I'll go into this grass and sulk where you can't photograph me!'
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I must say, watching him/her I really can see how they are more closely related to Mongooses/geese than to cats. Sadly I just couldn't get the extraordinarily long tail they have into the pic. But what a fantastic time we had watching them. There were at least three of them, but only this one was brave enough to come out to be photographed. We never did meet the honeybadger, which is maybe a good thing :hmz:

After our long walk to wash up the dishes and ourselves, we settled down for the night with a beautiful full moon illuminating the riverbed in front of us. Ah, Bliss!...Zzzz

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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: Arrest Them!! The Botanist Family Steals 3 Nights in Kru
Unread postPosted: Thu Feb 06, 2014 8:34 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Hi All, Sorry for badly neglecting this TR. Sadly it is due to first field work, and then ill health, which is now necessitating a colonoscopy next week :cry: Even more sadly, I don't think I will be able to finish, what with the continued illness and the warning that this TR is going to be cleaned up. BUT! Don't despair, I have to get better because we leave on the 25th for Nelspruit and then Kruger for a longer trip and some field work for Mom's plants (outside the reserve). Sorry for the disappointment, and many Thanks for all the support with my 1.5 attempts at TRs. :gflower:

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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: Arrest Them!! The Botanist Family Steals 3 Nights in Kru
Unread postPosted: Sun Feb 09, 2014 5:12 pm 
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Thank you all so much for the kind wishes! :gflower:

Feeling much better - murphy's law with the colonoscopy due later this week - still hope it will give us some answers though - have had problems for the last 6 years!

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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: Arrest Them!! The Botanist Family Steals 3 Nights in Kru
Unread postPosted: Sun Feb 09, 2014 5:40 pm 
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Going to try finish this report :) or at least get all the pics up, so you can hopefully enjoy them.

Saturday 16th November: Day 2

Today started out hot and only got worse!! The mere effort of packing up at Tamboti resulted in floods of sweat and this was at 7:30 am! Naturally all the objects needing to be packed complied by not fitting in as they were supposed to, and the bag of wood totally gave up on life, which didn't help matters at all. So again tempers were frayed. Thankfully, this was Kruger, and they didn't stay that way once we were on the road enjoying the beauty around us! We were making our way to Mudzandzeni to have a 'Kruger Cook-up'.

First up on the Tamboti road was this Leopard Tortoise beating a hasty retreat (by tortoise standards a very hasty retreat!)
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Then along the H7 some Wildebeest already huddled in the shade! Did I mention it was Hot :roll: 8)
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Then my favourite Peek-a-Boo
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A Polite pose for a change. Red-billed Hornbill. My Gran always called hornbills 'silly pants'- apt I think, especially when they hopping along the ground.
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TBC

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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: Arrest Them!! The Botanist Family Steals 3 Nights in Kru
Unread postPosted: Sun Feb 09, 2014 5:42 pm 
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Along the Rabelais Loop (the H7 was still closed) was a field of these pretty shrubs - Something related to the mint family I think.
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And of course, A November trip is not complete without seeing some babies! Impala
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We then stopped at Bobbejaan Krans for a bit of a leg stretch. Always a lovely a view, especially when you get the opportunity to look down on Giraffes for a change.
Image

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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: Arrest Them!! The Botanist Family Steals 3 Nights in Kru
Unread postPosted: Sun Feb 09, 2014 5:52 pm 
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On the S36 this shy Steenbok was really wishing we hadn't him.
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and some more Kruger babies with this Zebra foal
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and this sadly somewhat past Crinum - Crinum buphanoides I think just at the turn-off to the picnic site.
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Finally we arrived at Mudzandzeni where we thoroughly enjoyed our Kruger Cook-up of grilled german sausages, tomatoes, bacon and potato rostis, toast and poached eggs. Yum!! Whilst there an Elephant kept us company at the waterhole.

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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: Arrest Them!! The Botanist Family Steals 3 Nights in Kru
Unread postPosted: Sun Feb 09, 2014 6:02 pm 
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Back on the road, we turned south back onto the S36, and were first greeted by these warring Waterbuck.
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At Shimangwaneni pan these Buffaloes had the right idea in their attempt to keep cool!
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And a handsome Kudu also trying his best to stay cool and out of the HOT sun!
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Then at Mhisanamond waterhole (I think) we came across a car parked in the middle of nowhere in the blazing sun. They were evidently waiting for these to do something...
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Evidently the natural instinct to do everything possible to keep cool is not universal within the human species! Especially as they were likely in for a very loooong wait! I certainly hope it was a very long time before those Lions got up because we saw these not too far down the road from them! Too cute!!
Image
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TBC

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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: Arrest Them!! The Botanist Family Steals 3 Nights in Kru
Unread postPosted: Mon Feb 10, 2014 5:08 pm 
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Saturday 16th November: Day 2: Continued

We took the S125 across to the Satara tar road (H1-3) and only saw this Warthog
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At the tar road we decided to turn right to quickly take a look (Again!) at the southern most Boabab, and came across this lovely herd of Waterbuck enjoying the shade just before the turn-off to the Baobab.
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After the Baobab tree we headed up the road to Satara. Along the way we saw this sleepy Hyena.
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And then along a road to waterhole not shown on the map we sat a while watching the Red-crested Korhaan calling.
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It was fascinating as part of their throat is inflated as well during the call - sadly not visible in this pic.

The last pic for the day was the scenery just before the H6 turn-off.
Image.

We checked in easily at Satara and went in search of a camping site. We eventually decided on one with loads of shade and privacy along the boundary of the guest houses, right at the dividing fence between the two. This meant we had a slight view of the bush in front of Stanley GH, and managed to spot some Wildebeest there. After putting up tents we went off to the shop for some ice creams and then sat watching the webcam waterhole until the sun started setting, by which time it was time to get the braai going.

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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: Arrest Them!! The Botanist Family Steals 3 Nights in Kru
Unread postPosted: Mon Feb 10, 2014 5:34 pm 
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Sunday 17th November: Day 3

We got up early (6am) in order to get the tents down and packed up, and then we were off the N'wanetsi picnic spot for another 'Kruger cook-up' :D

First up on the H6 was this Giraffe holding the tree up. :lol:
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This area was really very beautiful with all the young grass and leaves coiming out after the burn. :D

Next was an Elephant. Miracle upon all miracles that we were allowed to stop and photograph him, as my mom is very wary of them!
Image

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 Post subject: Re: Arrest Them!! The Botanist Family Steals 3 Nights in Kru
Unread postPosted: Mon Feb 10, 2014 5:36 pm 
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Before reaching N'wanetsi we took a slight detour down to Sweni Hide where we saw these Hippos and Blacksmith Lapwings,
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Wood Sandpiper (I think)
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Three-banded Plover
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Green-backed Heron
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and last but not least Giant Kingfisher
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 Post subject: Re: Arrest Them!! The Botanist Family Steals 3 Nights in Kru
Unread postPosted: Tue Feb 11, 2014 10:26 pm 
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After our brunch we set off up the S41 and S90 to Balule (We had checked in already the day before all in one go at Satara - very organised!).

We passed a couple of trees with some very hot White-headed and Lappet-faced Vultures
Image
Image

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 Post subject: Re: Arrest Them!! The Botanist Family Steals 3 Nights in Kru
Unread postPosted: Wed Feb 12, 2014 2:30 pm 
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Sunday 17th November: Day 3: Continued

Closer to Balule we came across this herd of Zebras with a loving youngster.
Image
Image

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