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 Post subject: Arks' KNP Trip Report: May 2006: Tamboti
Unread postPosted: Tue Jul 11, 2006 3:59 am 
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Joined: Sun Mar 20, 2005 5:53 pm
Posts: 3821
Location: Cambridge, MA (and home from home in Darling, WC)
Part One

Tamboti tented satellite camp
My introduction to Tamboti was hardly ideal — when I arrived it was cold and very windy, with torrents of rain! Not at all the sort of weather you'd choose for staying in a tent, and yet I loved the place despite and knew I'd love it even more once the weather improved. Together with Olifants, Tamboti is definitely my (other) favourite KNP camp. While I'd heard from many in the past that this was a particularly special camp, I'd been deterred from trying it by the lack of "fully equipped" units, so the introduction of the "semi-luxury" safari tents suited my needs. And given the horrendous weather my first night, I was glad that I had everything I needed right there, as it was even unpleasant to have to venture out to the kitchen area on the deck to boil water. However, apart from the power outlet for the fridge, I could find no other electrical outlets inside the tent.

The layout of these tents is a bit different from those at Punda Maria and while I shot video of the tent's interior, I neglected to make any still pix. These tents feature a double bed, rather than the usual single beds, and also have a small sofa that can fold out to make an extra bed. On this very cold night, I found this a great spot to curl up with a book, wrapped in a spare blanket — and wearing all my warmest clothes! My only criticism of the tent's appointments is that there is no bedside light, nor a light by the sofa, only the one central "ceiling" light, with a switch far from the bed, so it's important to keep a torch at the bedside. When the tent isn't closed up, there's some light from outside, but on this cold, wet and windy night, I had to keep everything closed up tight — and I can report that the tent was very snug and cozy despite the weather outside.

The deck and kitchen area are well laid out, and as with the setup of the Punda Maria tents, the braai is incorporated into the deck's railing. The fridge, with a shelf above for storing dry groceries, is inside the tent, in the passageway leading from the sleeping area to the shower and toilet area, which seems an excellent idea, now that so many camps have problems with baboons and vervets that have learned to open the fridges. This passageway also contains open shelving and closet space, with hangers (I'm still puzzled that my Punda Maria tent had no hangers, just a closet rail). And I was very glad that (perhaps because of the sofa that becomes a bed?) there were extra blankets as I really needed them that first night!

I was very lucky (thanks again to Jumbo for her help with putting in my request here and elsewhere) and had tent #40, which is at the very eastern end of the camp, with the dry riverbed in front and the boundary fence to the right. Despite the weather, I right away decided that if this tent or #39 were available for 16 May (when I'd planned to stay somewhere closer to Blyde River Canyon), I would book that for an additional KNP night. As it happened, #40 was not available for that night, but #39 was, so I had a further visit to Tamboti to look forward to. The tents are surrounded by trees, so there is lots of birdlife. On my second morning I was visited by a pair of redbilled woodhoopoes that appeared to be extracting insects from the deck's support posts. They were lots of fun to watch and to photograph, altho sadly my pix of them are all slightly out of focus -- my fault for relying on "idiot mode" in that shady early morning light. The learning curve for any new camera can be long and slow, and I was traveling with three new cameras, so inevitably had some glitches :wall: :tongue:

There was plenty of other such activity, and I regret that I never made time to walk around and really explore the whole camp as I'm sure I'd have seen far more just in the camp than I did. However, in addition to birds and squirrels, I saw some dwarf mongooses that appeared to live in burrows under the tent, there was lots of baboon activity in the trees on the opposite side of the river, and I heard hyena calling on both nights (but sadly, no lions calling, altho I'm told that they are often heard).

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views of tent #40
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views towards tent #39 from in front of and behind #40
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views of the Timbavati riverbed from the deck of tent #40

_________________
RSA 2014
20-16 Oct Joburg
27-30 Oct Mapungubwe: Limpopo forest tented camp, Leokwe camp
31 Oct-1 Nov Pafuri River Camp
2-15 Nov KNP: Punda Maria, Sirheni, Olifants, Tamboti, Skukuza
16-22 Nov Cape Town
23 Nov-20 Jan Darling


Last edited by arks on Fri Feb 29, 2008 5:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Arks' KNP Trip Report: 1, 2 May 2006: Tamboti
Unread postPosted: Wed Jul 12, 2006 12:00 am 
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Joined: Sun Mar 20, 2005 5:53 pm
Posts: 3821
Location: Cambridge, MA (and home from home in Darling, WC)
Part Two

1 May - Olifants - Timbavati - Tamboti
The wind had begun to blow quite strongly the previous evening and by morning it had increased considerably, but nothing was going to deter me from enjoying my last morning on my stoep at rondavel #9. I lingered, drinking coffee and writing postcards, as long as possible and only left very shortly before 0900 for the drive to Tamboti. By then the early sunshine was long gone, the skies were a steely grey, and the wind was blowing ever more strongly. And I was heading for two nights in a tent! :tongue: Thick, tall grass along the Timbavati Road (S39), combined with the darkening skies, made game spotting challenging, but it is a beautiful drive nonetheless.

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Can you spot the steenbok? :wink:

As this was the last day of the long holiday weekend, there was still a lot of traffic, even on the gravel roads. While I have no problem with people who choose to drive at or close to the speed limits (I'm one of them :wink: ), I do have a big problem with those who don't bother to even slow down when passing a car that is stopped. Today this happened to me when I was photographing a giraffe stretching to reach the topmost and tenderest leaves on a tree, and the speeding car spooked the giraffe and ruined my sighting — again. Yet likely these same people will totally block the road to get into a good position and sit for ages at a lion "sighting" where all you can see is the ears, behind branches and under a shrub 50+ meters from the road -- as happened further along this road. For me there is far more pleasure in watching a giraffe that I can see than in straining for a distant, fleeting glimpse of a lioness. However, both sorts of sightings are equally valid; I just wish people would be more respectful of others, even if they're not personally interested in stopping.

I continue to be shocked and disappointed by the bad manners of many of the drivers in KNP, as I had countless sightings of both the common and the smaller things spoiled by impatient and inconsiderate drivers, who just whizzed right by, not even slowing — because after all, it's only a giraffe (or bird, or mongoose, or ... etc, etc, etc). Is it it too much to ask that drivers at least slow down when passing another vehicle that is obviously stopped and likely watching something? To me this seems common courtesy, yet I found such courtesy to be extremely UNcommon. :twisted: :roll: :twisted:

Rain began to fall well before I reached the H7 and increased all the way to Tamboti. Even so, I spent quite a long time observing the pair of jackals that had appropriated what I was told was a kill made by cheetah (I never saw the cheetah and had only glimpses of the jackals), and the amazing number of vultures — both whitebacked and (I think) hooded — waiting patiently for their turn. I was amazed that these vultures didn't challenge the jackals, but apart from a few half-hearted attempts, they kept their distance.

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As it clearly was no night for a braai, I picked up what turned out to be a very tasty chicken sandwich at the Orpen shop, and had that together with a big mug of soup for my supper. And as by far the warmest spot in my tent was in bed, I had a very early night indeed!

sightings
H8: chameleon
S92: impala, zebra, waterbuck
S90: bataleur, grey heron, blacksmith plover, impala, zebra, hyena with cubs, wildebeest, giraffe
S89: impala, zebra, hippo, giraffe, whitebacked vulture
S39: steenbok, impala, wildebeest, giraffe, two separate pairs of ground hornbills, distant lioness, ?shrike
H7: giraffe, impala, zebra, bull elephant, whitebacked vulture, jackals on kill with whitebacked and hooded vultures, wildebeest, crowned plovers, marabou stork

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_________________
RSA 2014
20-16 Oct Joburg
27-30 Oct Mapungubwe: Limpopo forest tented camp, Leokwe camp
31 Oct-1 Nov Pafuri River Camp
2-15 Nov KNP: Punda Maria, Sirheni, Olifants, Tamboti, Skukuza
16-22 Nov Cape Town
23 Nov-20 Jan Darling


Last edited by arks on Fri Feb 29, 2008 5:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Arks' KNP Trip Report: 1, 2 May 2006: Tamboti
Unread postPosted: Thu Jul 13, 2006 3:25 pm 
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Joined: Sun Mar 20, 2005 5:53 pm
Posts: 3821
Location: Cambridge, MA (and home from home in Darling, WC)
Part Three

2 May - Tamboti - Satara - Tamboti
Although the rains had stopped by morning, the day was still grey and very windy and there was still a lot of moisture in the air. Clearly the warmest place I could be was in my car with the heater going full blast, so I brewed up a big mug of coffee and was if not first out of the gate, very close to it.

Today I again planned to drive some roads that were new to me, the S106 and the S126, en route to Satara. Along the Rabelais Loop (S106), I found fresh lion tracks in the damp sand and followed them until they eventually went off into the tall grass, but there was no other sign of the lions. Later, on the Sweni Road (S126), I spent quite some time enjoying the antics of a group of dwarf mongooses, with quite a few youngsters mock fighting and wrestling. These are such engaging creatures, and since I had seen none in 2000, I really enjoyed this first encounter with them in many years!

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Yet another excited report of a lion sighting turned out to be distant ears under a bush, but the day brought other rewards, including a martial eagle and my first ever slender mongoose — or at least the first one that stopped long enough for me to make a positive ID! And at Nsemani Dam I watched some interesting fish eagle behaviour. The eagle was wading in shallow water and seeing off some inquisitive vervets. A bit later, when the eagle tried to fly off, the tables were turned as what appeared to be forktailed drongos began divebombing the eagle. I've no idea what those little birds felt that the eagle was threatening, but they sure were fierce and persistent. The eagle first returned to wading in the shallows and then eventually managed to fly off in another direction.

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While it was still chilly that evening, I really enjoyed sitting out under the stars on my tent's deck, using what I'd learned from the Olifants Astronomy Experience to locate the Southern Cross and other features of the night sky and listening to the night sounds. It's always thrilling to hear hyena and lions calling, usually way off in the distance. This evening I was treated to a hyena "serenade" from directly in front of my tent, an unforgettable experience!

sightings
H7: impala
S106: impala, giraffe, emeraldspotted wood dove, crested francolin, doublebanded sandgrouse, grey duiker
S36: nothing
S126: doublebanded sandgrouse, impala, redbilled hornbill, ?brown snake eagle, dwarf mongooses
H1-3: pair of purple rollers, glossy starling, waterbuck, giraffe, zebra
H6: impala, paradise whydah in flight
S41: impala, laughing doves, lilacbreasted roller, zebra, giraffe, baboons, terrapin, wildebeest, leopard tortoise, purple roller, paradise whydah, distant lioness
S90: zebra, steenbok, laughing doves, waterbuck
H1-4: ellie bull, impala, forktailed drongo, whitebacked vultures
H7: impala and marabou storks, zebra, martial eagle, waterbuck, hippo, baboons, fish eagle, vervet monkeys
S106: doublebanded sandgrouse, impala, grey lourie, slender mongoose, waterbuck, giraffe, whitebacked vulture
H7: impala, wildebeest, marabou storks
Tamboti private road: slender mongoose

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_________________
RSA 2014
20-16 Oct Joburg
27-30 Oct Mapungubwe: Limpopo forest tented camp, Leokwe camp
31 Oct-1 Nov Pafuri River Camp
2-15 Nov KNP: Punda Maria, Sirheni, Olifants, Tamboti, Skukuza
16-22 Nov Cape Town
23 Nov-20 Jan Darling


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