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 Post subject: Jay trip to KNP again : 25-27 April 2006
Unread postPosted: Thu May 04, 2006 8:07 pm 
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My mother and I arrived at Phabeni gate terribly impressed with ourselves: not only had we found our way to Cape Town International Airport, but had also made our way to Kruger, with only one wrong turn!
After being helped by a very friendly lady at reception, we were on our way.
The first sighting was of an Impala killing a tree. Ok, that’s what it looked like it was doing! After watching with some amusement we pulled up next to it, and I asked him what he was doing? With an indignant snort and kicking of heels, he galloped over the road, clearly unimpressed that we weren’t in awe of his macho display.

We also spotted some kudu, including a beautiful male and of course lots more impala. A Lilac Breasted Roller dived in front of the car, a brilliant flash of rainbow colours, before flying off with something caught in its beak. My mother said it was an apt greeting for someone who had not been to Kruger for some 10 years.

Our first night was in Skukuza in a safari tent. I have not stayed in one before, and what a treat, camping with none of the hassles! We scooted off to the deli to get dinner and then back to our tent, which situated was next to the fence. I suppose I had better admit to driving in little circles before finding the tent.

Just as the sun sank below the horizon, I saw something skulk past the gap in the reeds along the fence. It came back a little later and looked me square in the eye: a very large hyena. I politely informed her I was not braaing, but that the guys round the corner were. Not entirely sure if it was me or cooked meat she was after. I saw her again later that night and then it was off to bed.

I woke long before sunrise and lay listening to the hyenas and jackals calling. Eventually I woke my mom and after a quick cup of tea we set off for an early morning drive. We had an appointment outside of Kruger at 10am, so we headed along the H4-1 for a while. Not far along the road, we were stopped and told of a lion sighting “after the next S-bend, turn left onto the sand road, then left again.” So we set off, found and s-bend turned left ….but found no other turn before we were back on the tar road again. Hmmm…. the wrong turn. But we did now come cross 3 ground hornbills, one of which stalked across the road stopped in front of the car, did a slow turn and walked back into the grass. An aspiring ramp model we presumed. Ok, so looked for an s-bend again, took a left…hmmm, no other turn before we were back on the road again?! But we did see a family of piggies on the road. Ok, so found another s-bend, took the left, and…. well need I go on? Yup, we were going in circles…that same dead tree we had spotted appeared again.

So, now we found the s-bend, skipped the next turn and then turned left after, and left again and WOW…. A male and female lion lay right next to the road... and we had the sighting all to ourselves! The male looked rather pooped; the female was doing a thorough grooming session, before her interest was piqued by some impala passing, but she decided it required too much effort and went back to grooming. Eventually we had to leave for our meeting. But not before succumbing to the temptation of seeing the Lake Panic bird hide. Awesome! A mommy and baby hippo surfaced, a darter preened on a tree and just as we got up to leave, I spotted a croc that had being eyeing all the delicious people sitting in the wooden box. He was awfully close and quickly drifted away once he was spotted. Tic tock tic tock…..


After the meeting we drove back into Kruger and headed for Lower Sabie, where we would be spending the second night. We stopped to admire the bushes which were literally “flowering” with butterflies! And my mom spotted a striped cuckoo, a first for me, cool!

Just after my mom commented on whether there were any terrapins around, I spotted a few lounging on a rock in a terribly green pool. Big as dinner plates, they were!

Ah, and then for the fun…we approach quite a few gathered cars…ellies….eish, looooots of ellies appearing out the bush everywhere!! But our attention is grabbed by two young bulls strutting their stuff; chasing one another across the veld. But by this time we are literally surrounded by ellies and we decide its time to get out of there. So I say “go now” as an opening emerges between all the cars, mom puts foot just as the two young males chase one another up the embankment: we meet, ears flapping, trumpeting and a full on adolescent tantrum was thrown! Fortunately we were doing about 55km/hr by then, yes I know above the limit, but hey, we were being chased! I watched out the back window as the one flippin’ naughty young male chased another vehicle, before packing up laughing. It all happened so quickly! We decide it was time to get to camp for a much deserved cup of tea. Not before spotting lots more ellies on the side of the road opposite Sunset Dam… and the cutest thing I have ever seen….a big mommy ellie crosses the road with her tiny little one, who stops in the middle of the road and does a dog stretch, just like in The Jungle Book! Man, that was sooooo cute!

At Lower Sabie we are once again in a safari tent, yeah. But a toasted cheese sandwich beckons and we sit on the deck at the restaurant admiring the awesome view. Then it’s back to the tent to gather warm clothes and camera gear for the sunset drive.

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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Fri May 05, 2006 8:46 pm 
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Our guide was knowledgeable as well as amusing, but I won’t divulge his name due to a little encounter……
The drive started off like any other, a pep talk and an iconic sighting of a Marabou stork perched atop a tree, watching the sinking sun. Hyena, bushbuck and some huge hippos were spotted. Crossing over a bridge he stopped to pick up a little brown house snake, which, once it had “settled down” we could touch, if we wanted to. The guide was a little taken aback when he pretended to make the snake bite me and I informed him I was not afraid of snakes! Well not that little thing anyway, a huge mamba, maybe!

And then….in the pitch dark we come across a herd of ellies, he drives past, we watch out the back. What followed next depends entirely upon whom you ask; my version: the guide has switched off the engine and is fiddling with something in front; a mommy ellie is in the mean time climbing the embankment with a baby, when the rest of the herd suddenly starts crowding them. Mommy gets nervous and decides to chase the truck which is in her way. She is serious and the people at the back get so close they are actually go quiet…after shouting “she’s coming!” Well, he got that truck started up and going pretty quickly, but to be honest I think he got a fright himself….never had the chance to ask.

The rest of the drive paled in comparison. We finished off the day with a lovely meal in the Lower Sabie restaurant, then off to bed.

2am in the morning I sit upright in bed and say “Mom!!! I left my camera bag with the PDA in the truck!” Oddly enough mom patiently answers me, not to worry; we’ll fetch it before the morning drive departs. While we discuss my absent brain, something is running back and forth across the tent roof. It is only much later that I realize it was probably a bushbaby! Now we need tea, but it’s a jungle out there! Lion, leopard, hyena, jackals and hippo are all creating quite a racket. My mom casually asks how high the electric fencing is before she shines the torch outside so that I can dash out to fetch the kettle.

Even after the tea I don’t fall asleep….finally at 4:30am I say, no, now it’s time to fetch that bag. So we set off in the dark, find the trucks; mom parks so that our headlights illuminate the trucks and I climb into the 1st one, and there hangs my camera over the back of the seat, yeah! Search and rescue is a success. We head back to our warm beds where wait for the sun to rise before taking a walk to the river. It’s a spectacular morning with mist floating over the water, and when the restaurant opens, we have breakfast on the deck. We are the first patrons that morning.

Unfortunately this ends up being our last day in the park, try as we might, we can not get another night, as the park is filled to the brim. So, we set off to Tshokwane. The drive is a quiet one, but the scenery is stunning, what with the park being so green. We do see zebras and a group of 7 giraffe, which was really nice. At Tshokwane we eat ice creams before heading to Skukuza along the H1-2. Along the Sand River a whole bunch of White backed vultures are sitting on a sand bank. As we watch more and more arrive, what for, we don’t know.

At Skukuza we have lunch, say goodbye to the bats and head for Phabeni gate.
It is not the end of our adventure though: the following day we drive to the airport, only to have our rental car breakdown; with the help of a knight in shining armor, we make it to White River where the hire company fetches us. At the airport we end up babysitting a 6week old miniature sausage dog, until her perplexed owner arrives. She keeps us on the hop; I never knew such short little legs could keep going for so long!

Our plane is 2hours late and we arrive back home very late……. but it was all worth it!


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