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 Post subject: The Pardus Trip : KNP April 2006
Unread postPosted: Mon May 01, 2006 6:10 pm 
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Hi Everyone

It took me a while to settle back in the city and also to formulate my thoughts and experiences into something tangible. My trip to Tamboti was a spiritual one. I stayed there alone for a while about four years ago, and although I have returned for short visits, this one was to seek whether the same would happen to my soul. And it did!

Saturday 21 April

My daughter and I leave at 5:30. We decide to enter at Kruger gate so that we can start travelling in the Park sooner. As we stop on the bridge, we start crying. The African Fish Eagle greets us five times. We stand there and smile and cry. Silly women we are! :redface: As we pass through the gate, our first sighting was that of a Zebra and the customary Impala. I love April/May, as the rutting season is in full blast, and the humble Impala struts their stuff.
A quick stop-over at Skukuza. The toilets smell like Home.
We pass the low-water bridges of the Sabie and Sand rivers, and marvel at how strong it is flowing. We’ve seen it with very little water at this time of year on previous occasions, and we feel happy that the animals will have a good winter. The next sighting we have is of bathing vultures in a pool of the Sandriver. My daughter has never seen this before, and we sit watching their behaviour for a while.
By the time we reach Tshokwane, I feel a bit tired. The lush vegetation requires a lot of concentration. At some places, the grass is so tall, one cannot see the Impala’s legs.

We stop at Nsemani dam and marvel at how full it is. The last time my daughter was there with me, we saw the sad sight of fish struggling in a tiny puddle of mud. The abundance of nature is joyful.

At last we arrive at Orpen gate. I love the staff at Orpen gate, they have warm smiles and they are chatty. We head for Tamboti, armed with wood and ice. As we turn into the sand road, we are met by a herd of Wildebeest and Impala. The tiredness is seeping away.

17:30 – we had a good shower, our tent made home. We watch the tree across the Timbavati where we know a troop of baboons sleep. The sounds of night starts gently – the last excited gossip of the day-birds fill the large trees around our tent. And then, the familiar bark that eccho’s across the river. “Our Family” is coming in from day of foraging. The night concert starts, the gentle pruup of the Scopps Owl in the tree just behind our tent, the chatter and scolding of the baboons and the vicious snorting of an Impala ram to herd his harem in for the night. The White Faced Owl calls from the river bank and the Gaint Eagle Owl replies. On cue when the darkness finally comes, the evocative Fierynecked Night Jar sings the nightsong. And then it is very quiet. The sounds of human activity reminds us that a fire must be made. We get up, mesmerised and glad to be Home.

19:30 The mozzies are eating us alive! The PFS comes out and we almost spray out half a can. The camp is filled with delicious smells of meat roasting over coals. I also smell the beautiful fragrance of earth and grass mingling in the smoky air. The human sounds are becoming hushed. And then, from somewhere in the dark, she calls, her spine chilling Whoop! Whoooop! that no one can mistake as one of Africa’s dark magical songs. We don’t see her, but hear her as she comes through the tall grass outside the fence. And there she stands, looking at us in the dim light. We slowly walk down to the fence and eye her through the diamond mesh. She is a beautiful spotted hyena and she is nursing. She looks at us and sniffs the air, turns and becomes part of the night again.

We stumble around out of sheer tiredness. One last coffee on the deck and then to bed. The Zebra’s whinny and the lions roar shortly after. KILL! There’s a KILL somewhere in the darkness. Sleep – I don’t think so! So we sit on the stairs to the deck, sipping our coffee and listening for the intermittent roars that tear into the star-studded velvety black African night.

As we sit, a branch outside the fence is suddenly torn off. We jump up in surprise :shock: (ok) and a leisurely ellie saunters past us – not more than 30 feet :shock: !, snacking on our fence bushes. SLEEP? We have never been so close to a wild elephant, smelling it, listening to it’s tummy rumble. Bliss, heaven and cherries on top. At some stage we even get a long two minute stare from our visitor, and we are beyond any pleasure that we had ever known. The ellie moves on. Our adrenalin is way up. We MUST sleep now. So another hectic day in Africa ends amidst the chorus of roaring lions.

22 April to follow.


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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Mon May 01, 2006 6:16 pm 
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I'll just move this to recent sightings

Thanks for day 1 pardus. Lovely report. :D


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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Mon May 01, 2006 6:23 pm 
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Pardus

Soulfood 8)
I bet when i hear the first fisheagle again i might feel very close to you.

Shakespearian report
Words chosen with care.

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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Mon May 01, 2006 6:30 pm 
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Great reading, Pardus, thank you.
I probably was at Skukuza when you were, did not think I would be there as early as I was, so if I was, sorry to have missed you.
I'm looking forward to the rest of your report. :D

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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Mon May 01, 2006 6:36 pm 
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Fantastic report, Pardus.
I know the feeling :)


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Unread postPosted: Mon May 01, 2006 7:00 pm 
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Wonderful report! :thumbs_up:
I am looking forward to your next report. :)

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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Mon May 01, 2006 7:52 pm 
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Hi Jazil

Hope you had an incredible trip! We literally zapped through Skukuza, too much in a hurry to get to Orpen. Did you like B&D?


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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Mon May 01, 2006 8:43 pm 
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Hi Pardus,
Yes I did like BND, much better than I thought, did not see much game, but its beautiful there.
Dying to read the rest of your report

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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Mon May 01, 2006 8:54 pm 
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Part 1 truely mesmerizing Pardus. Your love of the great Kruger comes shining through in full force and makes it very real for all reading your report. :D

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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Mon May 01, 2006 10:00 pm 
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thank you Pardus.your report is amazing. :thumbs_up:


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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Mon May 01, 2006 10:07 pm 
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Very nice report :lol: :o :D

Greetings


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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Tue May 02, 2006 8:18 am 
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Whew! Beautiful reading -thank you. Kruger is a spiritual experience for me too.

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Unread postPosted: Tue May 02, 2006 9:03 am 
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Marvellous report, Pardus! Thank you for sharing! :thumbs_up:

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Unread postPosted: Tue May 02, 2006 9:59 am 
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Thank you Pardus, How true what you say, a spiritual experience that is truly soothing to the soul. Waiting for the next episode of your report. :D


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 Post subject: Pardus Trip Part II
Unread postPosted: Tue May 02, 2006 8:25 pm 
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23 April – Sunday

We are awoken by a hysterical francolin :big_eyes: . It’s still dark, just about 4:45. The blankets are snugg and warm. All the tent flaps are open, and the very cool breeze of early morning seeps through. The greyheaded bush shrike starts to call. My spine tingles. I just love this alarm clock of the bush.

Today we decided to do a pyjama run. That is, brush you teeth, damp your hair, flatten it, pull a track suit over your pyjamas, make a flask of coffee and zip out the gate when it opens. It works very well if you share ablutions, because when you return, the bathrooms are quiet and cleaned after the first session.

In the semi-darkness we head off. Our first sighting was two hyenas returning over the road. The Impalas were at it and the calm, morose Wildebeest just stood there looking with eyes asking “what’s all the fuss about.”

We take the S106 turn-off at Bobbejaankrans lookout after dodging the early morning ellie not-so-sanition works. Can anyone tell me why the elephants prefer to do it in the tar road?
Image
Image
We spot a herd of Impala and sit to drink coffee. Soon enough, five giraffes stroll into our vista and leisurely browse. They check us out underneath their long lashes. But the Impala’s are the main attraction. The ram chases the ewes and they keep on avoiding him, so us two girls enjoyed this intensely. “Go girl, give him a run for his money!” The snorting and grunting and displays were incredible to watch. Tireless and energetic behaviour of the Impalas, who otherwise, demurely go about their business.

On our way, we pass the Rabelais Hut – it is being renovated. We wonder if the lurking elephant bull who used to hang around there has moved on, but find his calling cards a kilometre or so onwards. Old habits die hard. We wonder if he still likes to surprise you and step on it ever so slightly…

Ablutions done and picnic packed, we head for the S39 – the beautiful road that meanders along the Timbavati. On our way we see an elephant bull and a few meters from it, a lone dagga boy grazing. Two old lonely bulls, magnificent and sad at the same time. The river, where there are lookouts or where the dense vegetation allows, has numerous pools of water. I am sure that the winter season will provide spectacular viewing. We encounter small herds of Impala, Giraffe and quite large herds of Zebra. Seems that the boys of this kind also have itchy pants, and they are up each others noses all the time.
Image
The afternoon sun releases the herbaceous smell of the potato bush and it’s time to finally do the plant ID. Out with the tree book and the search is on. I am almost ashamed to say that after many years, I can now correctly identify the plant. Close to the Timbavati picnic site, we see a small family of Waterbuck, but the road was long and the porcelain throne a vivid image. The grass too tall to risk a “veldtie”.

The resident Bushbuck still up to it’s tricks at the picnic site. We have a quick bite and head off on the S40. Our only sighting a lonely old male baboon that eats termites off the tree trunks. We stop over at Satara for some Amarula supply and better wood – the Tamboti shop only had leadwood which at best of times, works when you want a slow fire. We look at the sightings board and see that there were cheetah and wild dog seen close to the turn-off we took earlier the morning on our pyjama run. WELL! It starts raining on our way back, and the smell of rain mixed with dust wafts through the air. A large flock of guinea fowl decides that they need to have road-block. We take some incredible photos.

Back to Orpen, a large herd of Zebras where we spotted the two bulls earlier on, and giraffe a few kilometres from there. Close to the Tamaboti turn-off, we get about seven ground hornbills in a dry tree. The Wildebeest and Impala are still grazing in little groups along the road.

The sun sets, and we start marking off our bird sightings, downloading photographs and going about dinner. I bought yet another bag of leadwood, albeit smaller pieces this time. We are prepared for a long night. Our troop returns and start their noisy night-time settling in the tree across the tent. We sit on the stairs of the deck, watching the small flames dancing on the wood (I also bought a bottle of spirits to conquer the leadwood…). The Scopps starts to pruup. The night concert officially starts….


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