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 Post subject: Nov 2011 - New Friends and Kruger Sightings!
Unread postPosted: Tue Jan 24, 2012 7:14 pm 
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A few days in the park in December was booked but how was I supposed to last until then???

Over a month had gone by without a Kruger fix and I was having withdrawal symptoms! I’d been working long hours at work and had plenty of annual leave to take before the end of the year. Hmmmmm .... Kruger in November, rainy season, ... after my experience last April, I don’t think so!

But wait, I could check out availability in the huts ...

Sorted! Saturday 19 November to Tuesday 22 November booked; 4 nights at Lower Sabie – awesome!

I knew that CrestedVal was in Phalabowra with Dungie and wondered if it would be possible to meet. We’d both commented on each other’s trip reports in the past and I was reading her latest one at the time on the daily visits she and Dungie were making in to the park from Phalabowra Gate – I felt as if I knew this woman and wanted to meet her in person! I checked out travelling times ... Phalabowra to Satara and Croc Bridge to Satara were both about 5 hours ... it would be possible; a long day, but possible.

I PM’d CrestedVal and we made plans to meet. I was getting excited about my time in Kruger and decided that taking just 2 days off of work and having 4 nights in the park wasn’t enough so I booked an extra couple of days’ off - Wednesday 16 to Friday 18. Unfortunately there were no huts left at Lower Sabie but I could stay in Komatipoort for those extra 3 nights ... no problem! Then I got thinking about my meeting with CrestedVal and Dungie and decided that rather than stay in Komatipoort for those 3 extra nights I’d check out accommodation in Phalabowra. I found a guest house and PM’d CrestedVal to tell her that neither of us would have to make the long drive to Satara to meet as I would be in Phalabowra; next thing I got a PM back saying that rather stay in a guest house I was welcome to come and stay in the cottage with her and Dungie! AMAZING!!!

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18-22 April - Camdeboo National Park
22-26 April - Karoo National Park


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 Post subject: Re: Nov 2011 - New Friends and Kruger Sightings!
Unread postPosted: Wed Jan 25, 2012 11:47 am 
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Wednesday 16 November

I was awake before my alarm went off at 4am and was on the N1 to Polokwane just after 5am. I phoned Val after going through Polokwane; it was just after 8am and the GPS reckoned only a couple of more hours. The GPS obviously wasn’t aware of all the roadworks and the stop/go signs I sat at for ages. Anyway, I finally arrived in Phalabowra around 11:00am and followed CrestedVal’s instructions to the cottage she and Dungie were renting whilst there.

It was lovely to finally meet them and after no time at all it felt like we were old friends! After a quick catch up (we actually found out we had quite a lot in common, having both lived in South Africa years ago - not only at the same time, but in the same area in Jo’burg!) we jumped in our cars and made the quick 2km journey to Phalabowra Gate.

Val and Dungie were going to take me to “their Causeway”. It was a hot afternoon and game was sparse. We saw impala, warties, a martial eagle, zebra, kudu, ellies, then I thought I saw a rhino. Val and Dungie were yet to see one around Phalabowra. I stopped the car and got the binocs out … it wasn’t a rhino, it was a big buffalo all on his own, having a snooze in the shade!

There were lots of vultures circling in the air, there were obviously a number of kills around though none were visible from the road.

We stopped for lunch on a bridge … all was quiet; we then continued on to Val & Dungie’s Causeway (where the H1-4 crosses the Letaba). There was a lonesome ellie in the riverbed, a couple of saddle-bills (who you could see through binocs – though if you look carefully at the photo of the ellie, you can just about make them out over by the rocks) hippos and crocs. We could hear a fish eagle but couldn’t see him …

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We turned around and made our way back, stopping at Sable Dam on the way. I’d heard about the overnight hide there and wanted to have a look … another one for my wish list!!! How amazing it must be sleeping in that hide overnight …

Just as we were approaching Phalabowra Gate, Val’s worst nightmare … a large herd of ellies on either side of the road. Dungie manoeuvred their car past the herd whilst I’m sure Val’s eyes were tightly closed and she was saying a little prayer!

I love elllies, and this herd, though close to the road, didn’t seem bothered by the cars. One of the ellies had a tusk which stuck out to the side rather than the front …

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Val and Dungie were waiting for me on the other side of the gate; we went back to their cottage where Val had prepared a delicious chilli con carne for dinner.

We sat in their lovely garden and exchanged many stories over drinkies, dinner, more drinkies and, of course, a few Amarulas!

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18-22 April - Camdeboo National Park
22-26 April - Karoo National Park


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 Post subject: Re: Nov 2011 - New Friends and Kruger Sightings!
Unread postPosted: Sat Jan 28, 2012 8:14 am 
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Thursday 17 November

I was awake around 4am … I was excited, I was going to be in the park for the whole day!

Val and Dungie had assured me that they were early risers and that it wouldn’t be a problem for them to let me out of the cottage gate around 5:20am so I could be in the park when the gates opened at 5.30am!

They emerged from their bedroom around 5am and we had a quick coffee together before I set off.

My first stop that morning was Sable Dam where I met the couple who’d spent the night before at the hide! They were a young English couple who told me that the sounds of lions roaring had kept them awake all night!!! They didn’t have a strong flashlight and had absolutely no idea how far (or close) the lions were!

Back on the Sable Dam road and I saw what I thought was some sort of pretty mousebird but which Val later told me was a great spotted cuckoo – a first for me!

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At a view point of the dam and hide, I spotted this impala on the bank and wondered if he had spotted the croc in the grass next to him …

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I sat for a while and was glad that the impala joined the rest of the herd, leaving the croc to find something else for breakfast that morning …

Back on the tar road towards Letaba and I added white back vultures, waterbuck, a brown snake eagle, klipspringer, a red-crested korhaan and a Wahlberg’s eagle to my sightings list.

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and then a herd of impala ewes … Val told me how she and Dungie had been on the lookout for baby impies but that they still weren’t about.

But then, what was this …???

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(Sorry Val! I know you tried to convince me that it was a vertically challenged impala and not a baby but I knew better!!!)

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18-22 April - Camdeboo National Park
22-26 April - Karoo National Park


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 Post subject: Re: Nov 2011 - New Friends and Kruger Sightings!
Unread postPosted: Sun Jan 29, 2012 5:25 pm 
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Thursday 17 November cont ...

At Erfplaas there was this lovely ellie who’d recently cooled himself off …

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then another first for me … a Temminck’s Courser (I think???). It was very fast and difficult to get a shot of but I managed this one …

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At Rhidonda Pan there were a few zebra. Along with the zebra were Mr & Mrs Ostrich with their chicks – I counted 6 in all!

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Further along at Nhlanganini there was a huge herd of ellies …

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I drove to where you can get quite close to the water’s edge and sat there for a while. It was great watching them make their way down to the water, splash around, then wander off into the bush again.

I continued on to Letaba where I got out and went and sat by the river for a while. Mummy bushbuck and her baby were in the grounds; by the river I could make out a couple of large storks but wasn’t sure if they were saddle bills or black storks, a couple of buffalo, and some egrets. Again, I could hear a fish eagle calling but couldn’t see it. I also heard the Woodland Kingfisher in Letaba but couldn’t see it … actually it was Val who enlightened me as to the fact that it was the Woodland Kingfisher who made that “tut-trrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr” call. She was very excited that I’d heard it as they’d yet to see woodie this trip …

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I drove the S46 river road where I came across zebra and a large herd of buffalo lying in the shade …

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Further on and the remains of something …

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I wonder if this guy knew anything about it …

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18-22 April - Camdeboo National Park
22-26 April - Karoo National Park


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 Post subject: Re: Nov 2011 - New Friends and Kruger Sightings!
Unread postPosted: Mon Jan 30, 2012 6:43 pm 
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Thursday 17 November cont

Back on the tar road and it was only midday so I decided I’d head south to N’wamanzi. It was hot and apart from some life on the banks of the river, there wasn’t much about …

Ellies were huddled together in the shade …

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Some had ventured down in to the river and were splashing about …

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At N’wamanzi I was just about to get out of my car when I saw them …

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Mum was quite inquisitive and, with baby hanging on to her, jumped onto the front of my car. Further to my monkey attack in April, a friend of mine had given me a couple of plastic snakes; I got one out and threw it on to the dashboard … it worked, the monkey was off my car in a flash!

I turned around at N’wamanzi and headed back

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On the main road to Phalabowra I came across 4 ground hornbills, one of whom was very proud of the small snake he’d caught …

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Back at Val & Dungie’s cottage we exchanged our stories and sightings for the day over Savannas, G&Ts, wine, smoked chicken and salad … and this was, of course, topped off with a few Amarulas!

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18-22 April - Camdeboo National Park
22-26 April - Karoo National Park


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 Post subject: Re: Nov 2011 - New Friends and Kruger Sightings!
Unread postPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2012 5:57 pm 
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Friday18 November

Tomorrow was going to be a long day in the park for me as I had to drive down to Lower Sabie so I decided that this morning it wasn’t necessary to be up and in the park at the crack of dawn. I woke up early but spent time on my laptop downloading photos (I still had all the ones from April and September on my memory card!). Val and Dungie got up at about 7am and we had coffee together and looked at a few of each other’s photos before I took off into the park again at about 8am. I’d seen Val’s photos of “her dassie” and she’d explained to me where I’d find him … in the rocks opposite the rocks where her klipspringer was!

I found both her dassie and her klipspringer!

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Some nice zebra, impala (no little ones today!), steenbok, buffalo, a big lonesome ellie and another Great Spotted Cuckoo as well!

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At Nhlanganini there was another large herd of ellies … I switched the car off and just sat watching and listening to them for quite some time; I just love hearing them splashing about in the water.

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They were doing other things in the water too …

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I don’t know what was going on between the ellies and hippos but there was a lot of trumpeting going on and the ellies seemed to be chasing the hippos away from them with their trunks …

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18-22 April - Camdeboo National Park
22-26 April - Karoo National Park


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 Post subject: Re: Nov 2011 - New Friends and Kruger Sightings!
Unread postPosted: Wed Feb 01, 2012 6:29 pm 
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Friday18 November cont ...

I continued on … at one of the little bridges on the main road these guys were checking things out …

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On the little S69 loop road I came across this big boy …

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and these fellas cooling themselves off …

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this guy has a fair pair of tusks on him …

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At Letaba there was a herd of ellies in the river but nothing much else going on. I did the S46 river road again and was awarded with this magnificent kudu …

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Not only was he absolutely gorgeous, he was talented too and showed me his skills at cleaning his nostrils with his tongue!!!

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18-22 April - Camdeboo National Park
22-26 April - Karoo National Park


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 Post subject: Re: Nov 2011 - New Friends and Kruger Sightings!
Unread postPosted: Thu Feb 02, 2012 6:48 pm 
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Friday18 November cont ...

Later that afternoon I did the S95 loop but didn’t see anything … it was very hot. I decided I’d do the S47 to Mingerhout Dam … ellies, ellies and more ellies!

This breeding herd had a teeny tiny baby amongst them … can you see his little bum in the middle of the photo … too cute!

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I was a little nervous; I knew the females would be VERY protective of their little newbie so I stayed some distance away from them … I did manage these shots …

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The herd then crossed the road but made sure that the little one was well protected …

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Having made sure they’d all crossed, I continued on, and what do you know … more ellies!

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On the main road on the way back to Phalabowra and these little lovelies …

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and the final photo of the day was “Val’s dassie” … or is it now Cheetah’s “Desmond the Dassie”??? Anyway, whoever he belongs to he looked gorgeous in his rock watching the sunset!

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Back at the cottage there was no electricity. Val had some candles ready and I got a couple of flashlights out but within about half an hour (if that) of me returning, the electricity came back on. Poor Val and Dungie though, they’d been at the cottage all afternoon and were sweltering … at one point they even went and sat in their car in the drive way with the a/c going to cool down!

It was my last night with my new friends in Phalabowra … time had just flown. Had it really only been just over 2 days since I’d met these fellow forumites who I now felt as if I’d known forever?

We had a lovely dinner consisting of fillet steak, boerewors and butternut done on the braai, accompanied with a salad. This was washed down with Savanna, wine, and the obligatory Amarulas before we retired to bed!

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18-22 April - Camdeboo National Park
22-26 April - Karoo National Park


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 Post subject: Re: Nov 2011 - New Friends and Kruger Sightings!
Unread postPosted: Sun Feb 05, 2012 3:19 pm 
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Ok, so you’ve seen the animals trying to cool down by standing in the shade and splashing about in the water …..

I’ve told you about Val and Dungie spending the afternoon sitting in their car in the driveway with the air conditioning going …

You must be wondering what I did to keep cool in the car whilst driving through the park … remember I’m one of those people who drives with the windows down to appreciate the sounds and smells of the bush.

:hmz: :hmz: :hmz:


Well, I took 4-5 litres of frozen water in the car with me which meant I had plenty to drink throughout the day to keep me cool and hydrated.

“Hmmmm” you may be thinking … 4-5 litres of water … what goes in has gotta come out … and we all know loo stops are few and far between in Kruger. Guys, you’ve got it easy :mrgreen: … it’s a little bit more difficult for us gals! :redface:



I’ll let you into my little secret …..



Are you ready …




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:dance: :big_eyes: :dance: :big_eyes: :dance: :big_eyes:


It works like a treat; just kneel on your seat
and if a car pulls by just look them in the eye
they won’t have a clue that you’re actually on the loo!

Boys and girls, please don’t try this with a cardboard Pringles tube … need I say more???!!!

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18-22 April - Camdeboo National Park
22-26 April - Karoo National Park


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 Post subject: Re: Nov 2011 - New Friends and Kruger Sightings!
Unread postPosted: Mon Feb 06, 2012 5:54 pm 
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OK, diversion aside (which I fear was a little TOO much information for some people!) I continue …


Saturday 19 November

I was up early and almost had the car all packed and ready to go by the time Val and Dungie got up at 5am.

We had our final morning coffee together before saying cheerio. What a lovely couple; I really hope to meet up with them again when they are here later on this year.

I had a long drive ahead of me today … Phalabowra Gate to Lower Sabie. The Kruger book says 213kms which should take about 8 and a half hours … I knew it would take me a lot longer!

Impala, tree squirrels, Val’s dassie and klipspringer, then a breeding herd of ellies and another little baby …

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a leopard tortoise, buffalo, zebra, a kori bustard, and an eagle (tawny?????)…

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At Nhlanganini this morning it was quiet apart from the snorting of hippos.

A quick stop at Letaba for ice was required before continuing on my way. I noticed this sign in the parking area which I hadn’t seen before and could just imagine the confusion this must cause to foreign, non-English speaking tourists!

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The drive on the main road between Letaba and Satara added the following to my sightings for the day:-

Bateleurs, klipspringer, steenbok, white backed vultures, waterbuck, korhaan, wildebeest, kudu, ostriches (a male and female), a brown snake eagle, a pair of eagle owls, southern reedbuck, warties, and a secretary bird.

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18-22 April - Camdeboo National Park
22-26 April - Karoo National Park


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 Post subject: Re: Nov 2011 - New Friends and Kruger Sightings!
Unread postPosted: Tue Feb 07, 2012 7:09 pm 
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Saturday 19 November cont …

A quick stop at Satara to see little Scopsie outside the main reception …

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Kumana was very dry as was Mazithi …

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There were a couple of saddle bills at Mazithi, including 2 young ones …

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After a quick stop at Tshokwane, I decided to take the H1-2 where I came across this little thing sitting at the side of the road …

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It stood up, took a few steps …

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Then promptly fell over again …

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After a couple of minutes it again got up …

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I couldn’t see any impala around and wondered where it’s Mum was …

It was 3.30pm and I still had quite a way to go so had to continue on my way. I told myself that, like the baby buffalo I’d come across back in April, Mummy impala would come back and find her baby.

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18-22 April - Camdeboo National Park
22-26 April - Karoo National Park


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 Post subject: Re: Nov 2011 - New Friends and Kruger Sightings!
Unread postPosted: Wed Feb 08, 2012 6:03 pm 
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Saturday 19 November cont …


Further along on the tar road and I came across this terrapin who seemed to have lost his way …

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… more klippies …

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a beautiful bateleur …

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and more baby impies …

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… other babies

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… and further along, this big guy at the side of the road …

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but more interesting for me were these two beauties in the tree next to me …

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I’d never seen a purple-crested lourie before and was amazed at how well camouflaged they were.

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18-22 April - Camdeboo National Park
22-26 April - Karoo National Park


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 Post subject: Re: Nov 2011 - New Friends and Kruger Sightings!
Unread postPosted: Thu Feb 09, 2012 7:52 pm 
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Saturday 19 November cont …

Further on and another gorgeous kudu I couldn’t resist taking photos of …

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… then another first as far as birds go … a Jacobin Cuckoo …

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and this beauty which I still haven’t identified … (help from stiffnecks required please!)

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At Sunset Dam there were a couple of saddle-bills and yellow-billed storks as well as the grey herons who were still doing their “hippo-surfing stunt”!

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I pulled into the car park at Lower Sabie and was just getting out of the car when Bushcraft came over to introduce himself to me. It was his last night at Lower Sabie and he was about to go on a sunset drive. Good to meet you Bushcraft!

I checked in at Reception then went to find my hut. I was very pleasantly surprised - the room was great with a comfy bed, (linen, towels and even a little bar of soap supplied!), loads of hanging and shelf space, a fridge freezer, sink and a/c. In the area outside my hut was a table & chairs and a braai; I was close to the kitchen and ablution blocks - perfect!

I introduced myself to my neighbour, Johann, who also lived in Pretoria. We chatted and I heard about the amazing sightings he’d had during the few days he’d been in the park.

A strong wind got up … it looked like we were in for a storm. He he he … I wasn’t camping; I wasn’t going to have lie awake listening to rain dripping on my tent like Chinese torture nor was I going to have to worry about my gazebo or tent being blown away in the middle of the night – luxury!

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18-22 April - Camdeboo National Park
22-26 April - Karoo National Park


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 Post subject: Re: Nov 2011 - New Friends and Kruger Sightings!
Unread postPosted: Sat Feb 11, 2012 2:08 pm 
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Sunday 20 November

After a very peaceful sleep, my alarm went off … it was 4am; 30 mins till the gates opened! Being the organised person I am (it drives some people crazy!) within 20 mins I was good to go …

This morning’s route was going to be the tar road to Skukuza then on to Lake Panic.

At Sunset Dam, the marabou storks, saddle bills, grey herons, crocs, hippos and green backed herons were all doing their thing …

I came to the N’watimhiri Causeway … hmm, do I take the Causeway or stick to the tar …

I stuck to the tar and glad as I did as about 2kms further up, in amongst the dried out bush, were these lovelies …

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I think there were 3 females and a young male. It wasn’t a great sighting; I waited about 15 minutes to see if there was going to be any action …

The young male stood up, had a look around, then promptly plonked himself back down again.

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I continued on …

There was a troop of baboons in the road … I don’t like the big ones, but I think the little ones are so cute …

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A little further on and a pair of white-crowned lapwings at the side of the road …

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There were loads of the big black centipedes (or are they millipedes?) around and you really had to keep an eye on the road so as not to squash them.

I was amazed to see this one which was a kind of creamy-yellow colour with black stripes … the colour did not come out that well in the photo …

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Another Jacobin cuckoo …

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(isn’t is strange how you suddenly see something you’ve never seen before then seem to see it all the time after that?!)

dung beetles doing their thing …

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then more ground hornbill and ANOTHER one with a snake (sorry CrestedVal!!!). As you can see, the juvenile was tagged …

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18-22 April - Camdeboo National Park
22-26 April - Karoo National Park


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 Post subject: Re: Nov 2011 - New Friends and Kruger Sightings!
Unread postPosted: Sun Feb 12, 2012 7:15 pm 
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Sunday 20 November cont …

I continued on my way …

A little duiker …

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More young saddle bills …

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A very proud pied kingfisher …

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Then this giant kingfisher …

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A sight I love to see … the weavers at work …

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At Lake Panic the resident Goliath Herons had their eyes fixed on the water, looking out for brekkie …

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The one in front spotted a fish and managed to grab it …

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Just then, a fish eagle appeared out of nowhere and tried to grab the fish from the heron! I wasn’t quick enough with my camera and I got such a fright at hearing the fish eagle’s call so close (it was deafening). These guys also got a fright by the look of them …

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I didn’t actually see what happened to the fish, whether Golly swallowed it; whether Mr Fish Eagle got it; or whether it had a lucky escape …

The herons took up their stances again, and the fish eagle stayed close by …

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These other feathered friends were around …

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It was my 2nd time ever seeing a Malachite (the first time was also at Lake Panic but a long time ago …)

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Mr Fish Eagle was keeping his beady eye on the herons fishing for their breakfast …

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and the herons fluffed up their feathers hoping their new hairdos would attract the fish …

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18-22 April - Camdeboo National Park
22-26 April - Karoo National Park


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