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 Post subject: WELSH_ASH-Desperately seeking Leo-April 2011
Unread postPosted: Fri Jun 03, 2011 12:14 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jun 22, 2005 4:54 pm
Posts: 86
Location: South Wales, UK
Hi all! Firstly many apologies for not posting this trip report any earlier. I have had some manic times since coming back from South Africa. I now feel like I need another holiday :)

My trip to South Africa started from Heathrow on the 3rd April 2011, where my SO and I caught the flight to Joburg. After arriving on the next day, we had the short wait to catch our flight to Nelspruit Kruger. This is the first time for me flying with SAA and also to fly into Nelspruit, I was quite impressed. I was expecting a Daihatsu Terios as my rental vehicle for driving into Kruger, but I was informed by the rentals desk that none were available. Fortunately they upgraded us to a VW T5 minibus. OK, a little large for only 2 people but I wasn’t complaining! The ability to get out of your seat and walk back to the rear of the vehicle to take photos from different angles and sides was a great advantage! This is the photo of our VW ‘Beast’ outside the hut in P’Kop!

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Although this was my 4th visit to Kruger, this is the first time that I have come with half decent camera equipment as I wanted to get as much memories from this visit as I could. Especially as it would also be my longest trip in Kruger being 8 nights. As well as a Canon compact DSLR (Powershot SX10) which I took on my last trip report, I also invested in a second hand Sony Alpha A350k with 15-80mm and 75-300mm lenses. I have to say the 75-300mm lens was a great buy and I am glad of the help I received from some forumites on this subject. However, one part of advice I didn’t take, was which brand/model of camera! The Alpha was a good camera, but as easy for me to operate being a novice. You may even notice from some of my photos, that pictures taken with the old Canon appeared better than ones taken with the Sony Alpha! So without going off topic here, I have sold the Alpha on and I am going to invest in a Canon DSLR for my next trip!

So without angering the Nikon and Alpha fans, here is an opportunity to preview what is to come on my trip report and to also compare shots ;-)
Sony spotted Cat

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Canon spotted Cat

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More to follow……...although please bare with me as I am trying to post each day by day as I go along :D


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 Post subject: Re: Desperately seeking Leo
Unread postPosted: Fri Jun 03, 2011 4:34 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jun 22, 2005 4:54 pm
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Location: South Wales, UK
Thanks all for the kind words so far :D

Day 1

We entered the park through Numbi gate, taking the S7 then the S1 to get to Pretoriuskop camp where we were to spend 2 nights. Although we didn’t see any significant sightings on this report, it was fantastic to be able to say, ‘Yes, I’m in Kruger again!’ :D

Pretoriuskop was overcast and quite cool when we arrived, so we were quick to get the braai lit and cook the night’s effort at a Bush version of the Michelin star ;-)

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Before lighting the braai we took an afternoon drive taking the S65 where we came across elephants

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Then taking the H1-1 where seen a herd of approximately 60+ buffalo

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We were also very lucky to come across this White Rhino on this afternoon drive too

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More to follow….


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 Post subject: Re: Desperately seeking Leo
Unread postPosted: Sat Jun 04, 2011 11:47 am 
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Joined: Wed Jun 22, 2005 4:54 pm
Posts: 86
Location: South Wales, UK
Day 2

Early start this morning to join the Morning Game drive from P’Kop. The drive took the route towards Shabeni loop, taking the S7/S1 and H1-1.
Notable sightings on the drive were Snoobabs, White Rhino, Kudu, Waterbuck, Bull Elephant, woodland kingfisher and a lone hippo at Shitlave Dam

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Elephant skull

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For the rest of the day we decided to take the Voortrekker road to Afsaal. The first sighting on the voortrekker road was a Grey Rhebok, a first for me :D unfortunately the little fella was too quick for my poor reflexes getting to grips with my new camera. That was my excuse anyway!
Nice Zebra herd near end of Voortrekker road

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A visit to Afsaal wouldn’t be complete without a shot of the resident scops

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After leaving Afsaal we drove towards Renoster koppies spotting Giraffe, Kudu, waterbuck and a black stork

Giraffe with oxpecker

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Waterbuck crossing

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Black stork

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The rest of the day was spent slowly making our back to P’Kop taking the Napi rd on the way and had 2 lovely sightings of Ele herds…..

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…as well as 3 dagga boys by the side of the road

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This guy had some scars of previous experiences with Lions…

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Day 3 to follow…..


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 Post subject: Re: Desperately seeking Leo
Unread postPosted: Sat Jun 04, 2011 11:56 am 
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Joined: Wed Jun 22, 2005 4:54 pm
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Location: South Wales, UK
Day 3
April 6th and this meant a drive to Tamboti where we were to stay for 2 nights :D I was so looking forward to getting there after all the great reviews on this forum.

We left P’Kop taking the S1 and S3 towards Skukuza. Worthy sightings noted were this Martial Eagle

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We also came across some waterbuck taking a rest

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These little guys play fighting

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After a well earned cheese toastie at Skukuza, we took the H1-2 and H1-3 to Satara. It was on this drive that we came across our first Hyena sighting of the trip :D

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Along this route we also spotted a Saddlebilled Stork, a first for me…

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….African Fish Eagle….

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…and a Kori Bustard.

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When we got to Satara it was absolutely packed with Day visitors so we didn’t really stay long. Enough time for a comfort break and off to take to final road to Tamboti. Along the road from Satara to Orpen/Tamboti we came across Giraffe, Wildebeest and a Boomslang at Nsememi. Unfortunately the snake was too quick for me to get a picture.

We arrived at Tamboti and it didn’t disappoint one bit! The 2 night stay we had was awesome, it really cannot be beat for that total African Bush feel. Here are some photos that I took of the infamous tent 40 we were allocated :D

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The braai

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The view

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The first night at Tamboti we were luckier with the weather as it was very windy on the 2nd night. In the true words of Bush Baptist, “Tamboti is not for sissys!” Although to some extent, I do agree with BB on this, but I was lucky not to come across a black mamba like it has been reported previously! But it’s the nightly visitors that you get make this place extra special or extra scary if you are a sissy ;-) If its not the honey badger who I heard run up on the varenda when I was in bed or the Hyena that startled me next to the fence. It is all this that makes this place ‘Lekker’
Here are some of our visitors

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Day 4 to follow…..


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 Post subject: Re: Desperately seeking Leo
Unread postPosted: Sat Jun 04, 2011 12:18 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jun 22, 2005 4:54 pm
Posts: 86
Location: South Wales, UK
Day 4

Day 4, April 7th started with a bang! Well a first for me anyway, we were busy scanning for the Lion that we could here roaring near Tamboti last night and up ahead in the road we could see two tailed animals crossing. First I shouted Cheetah, then….Leopard! Then, Civet! Yes, first Civet, well Civets as there were two 8) They were very quick to move away from us so I only managed a few blurred shots

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We also managed to get another blurred shot of a jackal. I love seeing these little guys, but its just such a shame that they are so camera shy :(

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Can anyone id this raptor please?

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For this morning we took the H7 towards Satara (also driving the S106), aside from the above we spotted Bull ellie, 3 black backed jackal in all as well as this lone Wildebeest

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After a breakfast at Satara, we decided to take the S100 and even though the road was quiet in terms of predator sightings, the drive did deliver in terms of African plains terrain that you so typically imagine after only seeing Africa on the television back home! On the S100 we spotted Kudu, Zebra, Widebeest.

In the afternoon we took the S41 to Nwanetsi, there were Hippo and Crocs at Gudzani. Other sightings worthy of a mention were Maribou Storks and a Hammerkop.

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After a quick stop at Nwanetsi we then took the H6 where we had further sightings of Kudu, Zebra and Wildebeest.

From the H1-3 we spotted this Bateleur

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To head back to camp, we took the S126 where we came across 2 dagga boys in the mud and a steenbokkie. For the rest of the journey on the S36 and H7 it was quite quiet as we only saw Impala.

Unfortunately it was our last night in Tamboti, so we battened down the hatches for a windy night in the tent 40.

Day 5 to follow…..


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 Post subject: Re: Desperately seeking Leo
Unread postPosted: Sat Jun 04, 2011 1:06 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jun 22, 2005 4:54 pm
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Location: South Wales, UK
Day 5

It was the 8th April and it now meant the long drive to Mopani. We sensibly took the most direct route, covering the H1-4 after Satara to Letaba. On the H1-4 we spotted this Eagle Owl

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Also on the H1-4 were two Bull Ellies, one with aggro :D

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It was then time for a well earned break from the wheel when we stopped at Letaba. It was the second time I have visited this camp and I must say that the feeling of this place gets better every time I come. The breakfast at the restaurant overlooking the river was the best in Kruger or even South Africa! The service was great too, I wish I remembered the waiters name, to send back some positive feedback to Sanparks.

The H1-6 delivered Tssesebe with Zebra and Wildebeest near Twisapple

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And this big croc from one of the river bridges

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Next up was a road block but not for the big cats we were searching for. It was this magnificent Buffalo herd crossing quite close to Mopani

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The herd also included this little one

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At Bowkerskop we spotted more Tssesebe

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We arrived at Mopani after a long day behind the wheel, only to be disappointed by the quality of the bungalow assigned to us, as well as finding out the swimming pool was closed and having our evening drive boma braai combo cancelled because they double booked us :(

Fortunately we managed to swap to a different bungalow the next and the new one was much cleaner with no sewage smell from the toilet and no ant infestation. The reception desk at Mopani did deal with our complaints very well and full credit to them, they also managed to get us on the night drive instead of the boma braai drive combo.

Before settling down on the first evening we decided to do the Capricorn loop

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This road was very rewarding, plenty of Bull elephants near Nshawu

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As well as another first, Eland! This herd was quite close to Nshawu also

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Further along the Capricorn loop we came across another Bull elephant herd

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Included in this herd was a bull elephant who was standing very awkwardly!

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Just before getting into camp we stopped at Mooiplaas where we spent some time watching this breeding herd of ellies

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This little guy can’t quite reach :P

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More to follow…


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 Post subject: Re: Desperately seeking Leo
Unread postPosted: Sat Jun 04, 2011 1:44 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jun 22, 2005 4:54 pm
Posts: 86
Location: South Wales, UK
Day 6

For the morning of the 9th April we did a Morning bush walk. This was a fantastic experience and I would recommend this activity to anyone.

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On the walk we came very close to White Rhino following spoor and fresh droppings. We also spotted fish eagle, oxpeckers, giraffe and scrub hare on the guided walk.
After the bush walk, we thought it was best to continue the break from driving and relax at camp. Later we did the night drive which delivered some more firsts for us! We were extremely lucky to spend some time with a Cheetah near Mooiplaas, here are the best pics we managed in very poor light

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Our other first on the night drive was this African Wild Cat.

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More to follow….

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Please click here for my latest trip report


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 Post subject: Re: Desperately seeking Leo
Unread postPosted: Sun Jun 05, 2011 1:05 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jun 22, 2005 4:54 pm
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Location: South Wales, UK
Thanks to all for your kind comments :D

Day 7


After the excitement of the cheetah sighting on the previous night’s game drive, we rushed out of Mopani at gate opening time to try to see the Cheetah again at Mooiplaas. Here is the best shot of him that I could get as he was in the distance

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We also came across this Hyena

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The rest of the day was spent doing the long haul back down south for an overnight stay at Satara which I have never stayed at before and we were looking forward to.

We stopped at Olifants for breakfast which was amazing, again like Letaba, next time I stay in Kruger I have to have an overnight stay in Olifants, this in my eyes id the most majestic of camps.

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Notable sightings on the way down towards Olifants were Hippos sunbathing. From Olifants down to Satara we decided to take the S92 route past Balule. As we drove across Reitz pontoon with the windows down, I could have sworn that I heard a Leopard barking. I stopped closed the windows and came to the conclusion that it was Baboons in the trees on the river bank. They were sounding warning calls because in the distance was a male Leopard!! Unfortunately he slipped away quickly so I didn’t manage to get a shot.

Other notable sightings were Ostriches, Steenbok, Giraffe and this Bull Elephant

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Day 8 to follow….

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 Post subject: Re: Desperately seeking Leo
Unread postPosted: Sun Jun 05, 2011 3:24 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jun 22, 2005 4:54 pm
Posts: 86
Location: South Wales, UK
Day 8

Satara at night. Wow! I just love the sounds from this camp! This camp is a must to stay at and I think I will be staying 3 nights there next time I come to Kruger, as one was no where near enough. I echo BB and cheetah2111’s sentiments here where 1 night at a camp is a no no. too much packing/unpacking and driving about.

After a great at Satara, we decided to take the H6 to try and spot the well known 6 strong Male coalition of Lions that we were so desperately seeking!

We spotted these Vultures next to the road

And finally, another Cat! Not a Lion but a very playful Leopard who wasn’t camera shy like many others!

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Here is the Leopard just about to climb the tree

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Yes, a shot of a LIT!

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And him posing!

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He then decided he had enough of the tree

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Wandering through the grass

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And then to disappear out of sight!

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Other sightings on this successful morning were these Rhino from a distance

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Lappet faced Vulture

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And this Kudu Bull

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On the way down to Skukuza where we were staying for our last night, we came across this breeding herd of ellies near Tshokwane

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Also a bit of playfighting!

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Oh and I almost forgot….another Leopard, well a tail anyway!

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Had time to get this photo of Sabi bridge before settling down in Skukuza for the night

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The last morning we drove to our exit gate where we lucky to see these Hyenas next to the road

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Well thanks all for reading! I hope you enjoyed it as much as the trip really went! Just a shame that the Lions didn’t make an appearance..

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