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 Post subject: Raining cats and dogs.
Unread postPosted: Wed Dec 10, 2014 8:03 am 
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Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Mon Mar 23, 2009 4:15 pm
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Location: Kyalami, South Africa.
This TR covers two shortish trips - I just didn't get round to "doing" the first trip before the second one came along.

During our stay at Punda Maria in October (see TR "Random observations, comments etc. Oct. 2014 KNP) I received a WhatsApp message asking for a volunteer to help with cooking, cleaning etc. at a bush camp. I had always wanted to get involved with the bush camps, so quickly phoned and a few hours later was told that I had got the job!

So, early on 12th November I set off to Kruger again. It has become a tradition with us to stop for a breather at Milly's on the N4, so I did just that. The other 3 camp helpers, who I had never met before, were also there by chance and we sat and had our snacks together. We then went off separately towards Kruger - they had things to do in Hazyview, so we just arranged to meet at the camp later. I was processed through Phabeni Gate and entered the park.

On the S1 tar road I saw a variety of general game - impalas, kudus, warthogs, zebras and some elephant in the distance. I prefer the sand roads, so took the S65. I then saw my first baby impala of the season! On the Napi Road (H1-1) I saw a klipspringer on his rock, some buffalo bulls and an elephant bull. I stopped briefly at Skukuza Camp and heard and then saw a purple turaco in a tree - catching the sun on his beautiful feathers. There was a small breeding herd of elephant in the Sand River when I crossed the bridge.

As the guests were only arriving the next afternoon, we 4 "workers" went for a short drive. We saw a hyena, obviously pregnant, eating something next to the H4-1 road. Then, as we were going along the H1-2, we spotted a leopard in the road. He/she then duly obliged by walking along the edge of the road right next to us, until eventually going down the bank towards the river. ( First cat of the TR!)

The next day, when I was going round putting pillows etc. in the guests' tents I spotted two snakes in a bush next to a tent. I called the others but we couldn't identify them - they were quite thin and greyish in colour. On checking later, they had gone, so all was well!

When we went to Skukuza to collect ice and a few odds and ends we spotted a Wahlberg's eagle in a tree, eating a lizard. We also saw hippos in the river, some bushbuck and some nyala.

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Skukuza 5-8 Mar 2015

Marakele (Motswere Guest Cottage) 29 Mar -1 Apr 2015

KTP May 2015


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 Post subject: Re: Raining cats and dogs.
Unread postPosted: Wed Dec 10, 2014 11:12 am 
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So glad to see this new TR Hippotragus! I would love to read all about your Bush Camp experience! :dance: :dance:

Lots of awesome sightings so far, especially the Purple-crested Turaco! The baby Impala must also have been a very exciting sighting, and a Leopard walking next to you! Stunning! :clap: :clap:

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"Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can't help them, at least don't hurt them." Dalai Lama


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 Post subject: Re: Raining cats and dogs.
Unread postPosted: Wed Dec 10, 2014 12:37 pm 
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Looking forward to reading about your experiences at the bush camp Hippotragus - :thumbs_up:

Some nice sightings on your way in!

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 Post subject: Re: Raining cats and dogs.
Unread postPosted: Wed Dec 10, 2014 1:06 pm 
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Great start to yet another visit to Kruger with wonderful sightings :clap: :clap: .

Looking forward to the rest of the trippie :popcorn: .

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 Post subject: Re: Raining cats and dogs.
Unread postPosted: Tue Dec 16, 2014 10:39 am 
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Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Mon Mar 23, 2009 4:15 pm
Posts: 1063
Location: Kyalami, South Africa.
OK, I'm back - had grand-daughter staying last week (say no more!). Glad you are enjoying my TR so far.

The guests arrived on the Thursday afternoon - a group of 8 in their late-20's/early-30's. Some of them had never been to Kruger before, so it was going to be quite an experience for them - walking in a remote area. That evening we heard a leopard near camp, but did not see it.

We got up at 3.30 a.m. on the Friday and boiled water for coffee and rusks. I had been told I could accompany the guests on this first walk of their trip. I felt so privileged! We set off in the vehicle just after 4.00 a.m. and drove for about half an hour before leaving the vehicle and walking behind our 2 guides with rifles. We walked for about 2 hours in quite cool weather (I actually kept my anorak on) before stopping for a light snack and cool drink. On the way we saw some white rhino in the distance, including a cow with calf. I particularly enjoyed seeing many wild flowers up close - white, pink and yellow. You tend to miss them when driving on the tourist roads. After our break we walked for about another hour and at one point saw a herd of sable antelope in the distance - they are my favourite antelope (hence my Forum name), so I was very excited. On the drive back to camp we saw some general game - waterbuck, zebras, kudus, giraffe and some dear little dwarf mongooses. In the driveway to the camp we came across 2 elephant and an impala female and baby.

We "workers" managed another drive while the group was out with their guides. We saw plenty of nyalas, kudus, bushbuck, elephants, more baby impalas, hippos. Interesting was the sighting of a Broad-billed Roller on the banks of the Sabie River - I have only seen them before round Punda Maria. We heard Purple-crested Turaco, Black Cuckoo and Black-headed Oriole.

The rest of the time at the camp was spent preparing meals for the guests, tidying up etc. It was lovely to see the group relaxing as the days went on. They were all from the same company and had been sent by their boss as a "thank you" for good work. One guy was as quiet as a mouse the first day and then came out of his shell and was chatting and asking all sorts of questions about the bush, animals etc. Great to see what being out in the bush with no TV, no cell, no internet can do to people.

On the Sunday we said goodbye to the guests and the 2 guides. The 4 of us then set about cleaning the camp and packing the unused food etc. At noon the next group of camp hosts/workers arrived and started stowing their food etc. in the kitchen. In the pouring rain we went back to Skukuza to retrieve my bakkie and we bade each other fond farewell. I really enjoyed the experience and the other "workers" were great. Over the few days I learnt a lot of Afrikaans, as everyone else (guides, guests and workers) spoke Afrikaans.

I didn't want to drive home that day, so had booked myself into Pretoriuskop for the night. The weather was not great, so I didn't see much. A very kind gentleman waved me down and told me about a leopard up a tree on the road to Transport Dam. I went there but there was such a traffic jam that I turned round - we had had such a good sighting just a few days before, it was not worth waiting for a glimpse!

I had a nice burger from the Wimpy at Pretoriuskop and had an early night and a good long sleep - something I needed after the bush camp.

The next morning I set off home - but I never take the shortest, quickest route! I went round the Fayi Loop and saw a common reedbuck, waterbuck and a Gabar Goshawk. On reaching the Voortrekker Road I saw a couple of cars and stopped behind them. There was a lion and lioness lying close to the road. After a while she got up and "said" something to the male, whereupon he mounted her and they mated (cats 2 & 3 of TR). I continues down the road and saw a vehicle I recognised coming towards me - it was friends from home! We had a quick chat and I told them about the lions mating. Another interesting thing on the S114 was to see 4 giraffe, all lying down. They do not often lie down and, when they do, the have to keep their head and neck upright.

I exited Malelane Gate and drove home. The only "interesting" thing on the way home was a dreadful hail storm near Bronkhorstspruit on the N4 highway. The hail was not large hailstones, but wetter and became icy slush on the road. Many people had stopped under the bridges, but I kept going. At one point I almost lost my wheels - I felt a slight spin in the ice.

Next "chapter" soon.

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Skukuza 5-8 Mar 2015

Marakele (Motswere Guest Cottage) 29 Mar -1 Apr 2015

KTP May 2015


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 Post subject: Re: Raining cats and dogs.
Unread postPosted: Tue Dec 16, 2014 12:21 pm 
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What a comprehensive trip report. :thumbs_up:

What a thoughtful boss to have given such a lovely "thank you". I wish there were more of those around.

I feel rather :mrgreen: :mrgreen: about your Reedbuck, but not the hail storm.

Great to have to back.

I look forward to more reports. 8)

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 Post subject: Re: Raining cats and dogs.
Unread postPosted: Tue Dec 16, 2014 12:44 pm 
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What a lovely time you had at the Bush camp Hippotragus! The herd of Sable antelope must have been very exciting, because one seldom sees them! Lots of awesome sightings during the walk as well as your drive! :clap: :clap:

A Broad-billed Roller on the Sabie River banks! Also a very unexpected sighting I think! :dance: :dance:

I can just imagine how slippery that road must have been! Glad you made it home safe and sound! :thumbs_up:

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"Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can't help them, at least don't hurt them." Dalai Lama


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 Post subject: Re: Raining cats and dogs.
Unread postPosted: Wed Dec 17, 2014 5:40 am 
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What a great time you had Hippotragus :clap: :clap: .

Must have been exciting to see the sable on foot :dance: .

Must agree I am also not fond of hail :shock: .

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 Post subject: Re: Raining cats and dogs.
Unread postPosted: Sat Dec 20, 2014 10:33 pm 
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Well done to you for offering to get involved in the bush camp and be prepared to work! Glad there was some return for all the effort you put in. :clap: :clap:

One thing that struck me in a book of Ian Player's was what he wrote as to why he felt wilderness trails were so good for people, and especially for groups of people - seems the same happened with your group of guests.

So enjoyed reading all your adventures from the time, and am very :mrgreen: at you hearing a leopard. I have thought I have heard one at times, but never been 100% certain that it was one.

And now I know what your forum name means too :D

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 Post subject: Re: Raining cats and dogs.
Unread postPosted: Sun Dec 21, 2014 10:59 am 
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Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Mon Mar 23, 2009 4:15 pm
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Location: Kyalami, South Africa.
Thanks for your comments DB, barryels, Hilda, MM and norms.

Well I was home for 12 days before I set off again - this time with hubby and for a holiday! We left midday on the Saturday and stopped over at a guest lodge in the Schoemanskloof Valley. The weather was foul most of the way down and we were looking forward to spending time in the lounge, watching the Springboks' match. As we were about to go to the lounge in the main building, Eskom decided to load-shed the area. The Springboks lost the match, so not being able to watch saved my hubby some angst moments - though I followed the scores on FB and relayed them to him!

After a nice breakfast we set off to Phabeni Gate and, after being processed, we were back in Kruger! We saw general game on the way up towards Skukuza - zebras, giraffe, kudus, waterbuck and four buffalo bulls. When we got onto the Tshokwane Road (H1-2) we saw some stationery cars. We then saw an impala lying a little way from the road with something sticking out of her rear end - a new-born baby! Some of the people had watched the whole birth and we only saw the very last bit!!

We stopped at Tshokwane picnic site to stretch our legs and then continued towards Satara. I like dirt roads, so took the N'waswitsontso Loop road - a 4 km loop along the bank of the same-named river. On the main road (H1-3) we stopped at some stationery cars and saw a lion and lioness. In due time they got up and mated. It was my second lion mating in 13 days and my hubby's first-ever!! (cats 4&5 of TR).

When, a little further on, we saw another sign "N'waswitsontso Loop", I turned off, thinking it would also be a short LOOP road. Well, about 19 km further on we came to a T-junction I recognised - the S36!! If the sign on the main road had read "N'waswitsontso ROAD" I would have either looked at my map or just not taken it!!! Well at the S36 I said to hubby (now cross that we were so far "off course") that I would just continue up the S36, past Muzandzeni, and enter Satara from the H7 direction. Taking the wrong road did have some compensation however - along the way we came across a nice breeding herd of elephant, some bull elephants, 2 buffalo bulls and a rhino cow and calf.

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Skukuza 5-8 Mar 2015

Marakele (Motswere Guest Cottage) 29 Mar -1 Apr 2015

KTP May 2015


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 Post subject: Re: Raining cats and dogs.
Unread postPosted: Mon Dec 22, 2014 3:14 pm 
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Hippotragus wrote:
When, a little further on, we saw another sign "N'waswitsontso Loop", I turned off, thinking it would also be a short LOOP road. Well, about 19 km further on we came to a T-junction I recognised - the S36!! If the sign on the main road had read "N'waswitsontso ROAD" I would have either looked at my map or just not taken it!!! Well at the S36 I said to hubby (now cross that we were so far "off course") that I would just continue up the S36, past Muzandzeni, and enter Satara from the H7 direction. Taking the wrong road did have some compensation however - along the way we came across a nice breeding herd of elephant, some bull elephants, 2 buffalo bulls and a rhino cow and calf.


Hilda and I just have to :lol: when we read this bit of your report :wink: . Exactly the same happened to us when we also took that loop :doh:

Thanks for sharing :thumbs_up: .

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 Post subject: Re: Raining cats and dogs.
Unread postPosted: Mon Dec 22, 2014 3:59 pm 
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Virtual Ranger
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Location: Kyalami, South Africa.
Thanks barryels!! We were so confounded that, when travelling back down the tar road a few days later, we both had a good look at the sign to make sure we had not misread it previously. It really does say LOOP and not ROAD.

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Skukuza 5-8 Mar 2015

Marakele (Motswere Guest Cottage) 29 Mar -1 Apr 2015

KTP May 2015


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