Skip to content

SANParks.org Forums

View unanswered posts | View active topics






Post new topic This topic is locked, you cannot edit posts or make further replies.  Page 1 of 1
 [ 12 posts ] 
Author Message
 Post subject: Mel123 Pretoriuskop nostalgia Jan 2012
Unread postPosted: Fri Nov 11, 2011 12:59 pm 
Offline
Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger
User avatar

Joined: Mon Aug 27, 2007 3:36 pm
Posts: 343
Location: North West
The SO and me have booked a stay at Pretoriuskop in the KNP from 26 to 30 January next year. That is to say, I've booked the stay after nagging SO mercilessly into agreeing. :lol:
As is my custom I'll once again do a trip report about the trip. I am very excited, seeing as I havent' been in the KNP all year ( :cry: ) and Pretoriuskop is one of the camps known for wild dog sightings, spectacular animals which I saw once when I was a little girl and never since. Add that to the fact that I've never stayed in Pretoriuskop before...

But wait. That is what I thought. Then a bit of sleuthing uncovered something weird that has made me think a bit, and that is why you are getting the first post in what is to be my travel tale today already.

In order for you to understand the weirdness a bit of background is needed. Please bear with me.
When I was a little girl our family wasn't regular visitors to the KNP. I can in fact only remember one trip clearly, when the whole family (uncles, aunts, nieces, nephews, grandparents etc) went on holiday to the KNP. I was quite small still and I do not remember a lot. My brother was stung by a bee and turned out to be allergic. And one day, after a long boring drive, we found wild dog resting in the shade. We nearly missed them, so well camouflaged were they. I remember that moment very well!

In terms of other vacations we toured the whole of South Africa, and somehow we often went to the sea. We once visited Kgalagadi (then Kalahari Gemsbok park) which was a blast, but not the KNP. I don't remember why this was, but the others in my family maybe didn't like the long gamedrives. They preferred the beach.

When I grew up, and met SO, I had this yearning that had basically been building up my whole childhood, to visit KNP. We first went in 2001 I think, visited Skukuza, Olifants and Satara, and I was hooked. Since then, we've been there almost annually, although sometimes the time between trips is longer than I'd like - like now.

The depth of my passion for the place is something many people around me don't themselves feel, and sometimes don't understand. I really feel as if somehow my soul, my entire being is simultanuously at rest, peaceful, excited and utterly alive when I am there.

I NEED to go there periodically to be refreshed and recharged. It's a fact of life, not something I can really change. It's like needing air to breathe.

SO doesn't like walking about in the bush on guided walks much, although I have done a few. It makes me feel part of nature, feel as if I belong there, as if I'm finally home, close to nature. One time he asked me, what if a lion attacks and kills you? And I told him truthfully that I would not mind that too much, because I feel that that would be a great ending to my life, to become part of my beloved KNP. He thought I was a bit mad in the head... :)

To get back to the present. After I booked our Pretoriuskop trip, I decided to talk to my father to try and figure out if what I suspect, might be true: That during our family trip (the one with all the aunts etc) we might have stayed in Pretoriuskop.
It turns out that this was in fact the case. We stayed in Pretoriuskop and Skukuza.
While we were talking, my dad was trying to figure out when we'd been in KNP previously and which camps and he told me that we might have had another family holiday (him, my mom, two brothers and me only this time) and that we also stayed in Pretoriuskop that time. Swimmingpool. Makes sense? :D

I was surprised to discover that I've in fact stayed there twice, and not never as I previously thought. But then he told me that when he and my mother first got married and she was pregnant with me, they went on holiday in the KNP and that they had to cut the vacation short and leave via the Malelane gate and rush home because she had a threatening miscarraige while they were there. :shock:

I didn't know this before! But when he said it, I just felt sort of a click in my head. The way I feel about the place seemed to make a lot of sense suddenly, in light of this information that I had nearly died there 36 years ago.
And my dad laughed and jokingly said that I probably liked it so much, even unborn, that I just wanted to get out. Probably wanted to go and look for leopards or something. :roll:

Anyway, it is weird, but what if there really is this connection between the place and my soul, which I've always felt before, but now seems to be somehow validated independently in a strange unknown way?
SO, who is very practical and down to earth, says it's a coincidence and I shouldn't read too much into it.

What do you think? Am I letting my imagination run wild? Possible, I'll admit. :tongue:


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Pretoriuskop nostalgia
Unread postPosted: Wed Jan 25, 2012 11:16 pm 
Offline
Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger
User avatar

Joined: Mon Aug 27, 2007 3:36 pm
Posts: 343
Location: North West
It's finally arrived. Yay! We are all packed up and heading to Kruger tomorrow bright and early.
I can't wait!
For the past few nights I have been dreaming that I'm in my beloved Kruger, and it feels very real suddenly.

I packed a nice piece of the best biltong we get in town, and my treat for the holiday will be to go and sit on my stoepie, slicing off slices slowly and listening to the sounds, breathe the air, feel the atmosphere. To me, that feels a bit like heaven. 8)

We packed some alcoholic refreshments as well, so we'll see how it goes at the gate. :whistle: Having a cold liquid refreshment as well, I might just refuse to leave, ever! :lol:
Our meat is vacuumpacked and freezing and the platboom potjie is packed for making potbrood.

Camera is ready, so are the binoculars and a trove of reference books. I'll definitely do more birding, and look for the doggies, try to take some nice pics and see how the park has fared with the recent floods.

:thumbs_up:


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Pretoriuskop nostalgia
Unread postPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2012 1:47 pm 
Offline
Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger
User avatar

Joined: Mon Aug 27, 2007 3:36 pm
Posts: 343
Location: North West
Thank you everybody!
@ forrestgump - I visited the pool once to do some birding, but there were no kids at that stage. I also didn't spot any giants. The camp was really quiet with not a lot of guests around, unfortunately.

Ok, so let's start, albeit a bit slowly. It gets up to speed a bit later on, I promise. 8)

Day 1 – Arrival
We left home at about 6 o’clock in the morning. I find it a bit difficult to function at full capacity that early and had to think and rethink whether everything had been loaded, packed and remembered.
My two cats were not impressed that we were leaving, as usual. :?
After some breakfast at the Petroport before Witbank, we pressed on and made it to the Phabeni gate just before 2 o’clock.

We filled in the form with our registration number and with remarkably few formalities were allowed to enter. I was expecting some comment about the alcohol I was bringing in (as allowed as an overnight visitor), but there was nothing. No search, no hassles.
We took the S1/3 in the direction of Pretoriuskop. The road was freshly graded. So freshly, that we in fact encountered the grader on the road. :)

Near the river we saw two hamerkops, one of which was preening his feathers to look beautiful on the forum.

Image

The first game we spotted was no surprise. Impala.

Image

The grass is thick in places and very green and I immediately know that game spotting is going to be a challenge. Apart from a grey hornbill, we don’t see much else. It is hot and quiet.
But I am so thrilled to be back. An air of expectation hangs over every leaf!

At the camp we book in and head immediately to the restaurant. Our stomachs have long forgotten our roadside breakfast and we are feeling faint with hunger.
I try the new-fangled three slice toasted sandwich, which is different but not totally unpleasant and SO has a chicken salad.

On advice from safarigal we asked for and were allocated unit nr 14. It is very nice with a big stoep, nice braai and an iron sliding doorthing that hides the fridge and the shelves with all the plates etc. I think it is an ingenious design, and monkeyproof. It does mean that if you want a glass of colddrink however, you first slide the doors to cover the fridge, so that you can get your glass, and then slide the doors to the shelves so that you can access the fridge for the colddrink. You can never access both at the same time, and after a while it gets wearing to have to move the sliding doors around all the time. Since they are a bit heavy and do not slide as easily as one might hope, this gets tiring and noisy (at 4 in the morning it positively echoes around the camp if you want to get milk or a coffee cup, for instance. :redface:

There are only five other guests staying in our circle of 26 units – and the camp is very quiet. We were the only people at the restaurant as well. I spot a Purple crested Turaco in the tree beside our bungelow and have no luck in getting a nice photo. It keeps hiding behind a branch.

There are impala grazing on the lawns and the whole picture that greets you is very tranquil and serene. I like the atmosphere a lot.

A flock of helmeted guineafowl make a beeline for us when they spot us and it is clear that they are being fed by unscrupulous guests. They hop onto the stoepie and make pleading noises, but SO and I harden our hearts and after a while they move off. I also spot a squirrel and a dwarf mongoose going about its business. Some monkeys and a baboon are also about and I know we are going to have a war on our hands.

I brought most of our foodstuffs from home (vacumepacked and frozen) and we head to the shop to buy some cold drinks, bread, butter etc. Some basics.

About an hour before gate closing time we head off to explore the Fayi loop. We see two beautiful grey duiker, which doesn’t hang about for any photographs, impala and a giraffe peering through the leaves at us.
Back at camp I make two minute noodles and chicken strips and after unpacking and sorting out our stuff, we decide to grab a shower and go to sleep.

Getting up at 3:45 in the morning all of a sudden is not something which comes easily to me, and the more sleep I get in before then, the better.
Since the Voortrekker road and Napi road are both closed, we’ll be using the S1 to go to Skukuza before heading to Nkhulu tomorrow morning.
The lack of roads to drive is a bit frustrating, but I decide to make the most of it anyway. Even if we have to drive the same road every day, it is still far better than being at work for instance! :thumbs_up:


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Pretoriuskop nostalgia
Unread postPosted: Wed Feb 01, 2012 10:12 am 
Offline
Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger
User avatar

Joined: Mon Aug 27, 2007 3:36 pm
Posts: 343
Location: North West
Day 2 – The Occupy the Toilet movement strikes

We are up at 3 o’clock to prepare for our game drive. I feel a lot better after a cup of coffee, because it is truly early! But we are the second vehicle at the gate, arriving just before it opens at 04:30.
We take the S1 Doispane road towards Skukuza, seeing this beautiful steppe buzzard just as the sun is rising in the East.

Image

A bit further on we cross the Mtshawu river, which is beautiful, but note the debris mark in front. It is unbelievable to imagine that just a week ago water was flowing over this road! :shock:

Image

We find this black-bellied bustard (korhaan) right next to the road, showing off his beautiful plumage and paying no mind to admirers.

Image

The road is getting busy and there are loads of Jeep Jockeys entering in Phabeni with day visitors using this road. It causes an almost immediate roadblock to stop for anything on this road, including this mystery eagle, which according to the experts on the forum might be either a juvenile bateleur or a steppe eagle. Unfortunately in the scrum I am unable to take more photographs with identification characteristics and this will probably remain a mystery.

Image

An elephant has thrown a tree branch in the road, next to a puddle, and this lilac breasted roller is using this as a low hunting perch for insects etc falling victim to the traffic.

Image

This tortoise is also living recklessly and crossing the road. We stop to make sure he makes it safely across. :|

Image

A short while later we find another smaller tortoise doing the same daredevil thing, and a small black snake, which struggles to get across the hot tar. It is early, but the Bushveld is cooking already.
A single elephant browses leaves far off to our right.

Near Skukuza, we find a male Bushbuck in a riverbed, and then we are at Skukuza. We stop at the shop to see if they have a newspaper for SO to read this afternoon during our break, but have no luck.
At the dayvisitors area we are pleasantly surprised by the facilities and find a quiet picnic table tucked away in the lush bushes. Some muesli and joghurt with orange juice really hits the spot. This is the first time I’ve been here, but I’ll definitely be back. It is one of the nicest picnic places in the whole park. Obviously, you do not want to go there when there are large crowds, but for a quiet breakfast during off-peak times, it is perfect! :thumbs_up:

Packing up, we head onwards on the H4-1, one of my favourite roads in the whole park. The damage done to the riverbanks and the beautiful old trees is marked and making me more depressed by the minute. Everywhere there is debris from the flood, with the tar stripped off the road in places and dumped in the bush besides the road. My heart aches for this beautiful riverine drive that is now so open and exposed. :cry:

We find some buffalo near Skukuza. Seeing these animals always makes me think of my dad. He loves them and longs to see a herd, but has never seen a buffalo herd while in KNP. Granted, he doesn’t get here nearly as often as I do, but I always wish he was here when we have a sighting like this.

Image

We also find these hippo in the water.

Image

A cute speed limit sign of 30 kmph with a picture of Southern ground hornbill on it draws my attention and I’ve hardly started saying something to SO when we find two hornbill foraging beside the road.
I really love this picture. Such photogenic birds, but his breakfast does not look appetising at all. :shock:

Image

We also find this juvenile martial eagle, on the lookout for some breakfast of his own.

Image

At Nkhulu we stop to stretch our legs, and walk down towards the river. Not much damage that I can see. A few monkeys are monkeying about in the trees and a huge baboon comes rushing down towards us with what looks like a stolen orange or bun of some sort? I’m not sure where he found this, but he gets comfortable to enjoy it. :evil:

Image

We go to the toilets for a needed bathroom break and when I get to the ladies’ I am amazed at finding a huuuuge lump of umm... excrement... in the middle of the floor in front of the mirrors. The mind boggles at where this came from. I cannot believe that any lady could produce this amount, which would easily fill a dinner plate from side to side, but it looks human in origin. And why there, 1.5 metres away from a fully functioning toilet? Or might it be a baboon’s? I am not too familiar with the dung of baboons, but since they are related to humans, they might be relatively similar in this way too? It is a mystery, but the baboon did come from this direction. :hmz:

Bemused I rush outside, fully intending to have SO peep in to see this, while I keep watch. However as I wait for him to get out of the men’s bathrooms two girls head towards the bathroom, so amusedly I move off a bit. I wonder what they might think when they get in there and whether they might not somehow think that I was the responsible person! Oh dear! :D

They are still in there when SO emerges, and so we leave with him relying on my description of this smelly surprise only. We debate in the car whether this might not be some sort of political protest from the baboon at the regulations prohibiting feeding him. Telling the staff at Nkhulu what he thinks of their policies? :lol:

We drive onwards, intending to take the S21 Nwatimhiri road back towards Skukuza, but unfortunately it is still closed and driving to Lower Sabie and taking the Bume road will be too far. We turn around at the S79 loop and head back to Pretoriuskop the way we came. :wall:

During our drive we also see giraffe a few times.

Image

We also encounter loads of impala, which I find beautiful to look at. :cam:

Image

The drive back is uneventful and without great sightings animalwise, since it is by now very, very hot. Everything breathing is already in the shade and we head that way also.
Back at Pretoriuskop I make a chicken salad for lunch with some leftover chicken from last night. After lunch SO decides to take a nap and although I’m tired I’m not sleepy. I head off to do some birding in camp...

To be continued...


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Pretoriuskop nostalgia
Unread postPosted: Wed Feb 01, 2012 4:07 pm 
Offline
Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger
User avatar

Joined: Mon Aug 27, 2007 3:36 pm
Posts: 343
Location: North West
Day 2 continued – By the skin of our teeth

Walking around camp with my camera I am amazed at how empty it is. There are almost no other visitors to be seen.

I start scanning trees as I make my way towards the swimming pool. The first bird I find is a crombec of some kind, but before I can get a really good look it disappears into the foliage and I spend a lot of time scanning the tree without success.

I do however spot a purple-crested turaco in a nearby tree. This is the best shot I came up with – they are very difficult to capture with a camera. :evil:

Image

At the swimming pool and surroundings I walk around, and also spend some time remembering the place from a previous family holiday when I was a little girl. The only people who were in the pool left just before I came.
I do spot an obliging woodland kingfisher in one of the trees.

Image

Closer to the gate I find two Bennets' woodpeckers scrounging on the ground, with a Bearded woodpecker as well. I initially thought they were all Cardinals, thanks for pointing out my mistake, Vlakvarkvrou. :k

Image

Then I hear a noise in a tree. Scanning it I don’t find anything at first and then I’m thrilled to spot my first ever wild parrot.

Image

While sitting on the verandah earlier I spotted a male violetbacked starling, which was too far away to photograph. However I do spot a female I am able to photograph.

Image

Back at the bungalow I listen in amazement as our new next-door neighbours arrive. Some people are just noisy wherever they go. The minute they get there, you know about them. Talking loudly, sounding as if they are demolishing the metal door across the fridge, dragging firewood to the braai, talking about how they have dragged firewood to the braai and how good it looks etc etc. Sigh.

When the monkeys approach to make their afternoon raid on the dust bins, our neighbour runs up with a kettie
and shoots rocks at them. This is also something I’ve never seen before. :sniper:

About an hour before gate closing time we head off on the Fayiloop. We spot a kudu far away but apart from impala, do not see much else. Driving to Numbi gate and back also leaves us with some time to spare and I suddenly have a thought.

Remember when this morning we were the second car in line? Well, the first car just vanished at one stage and I’ve been wondering where they went. Now, as we drive past the Napi road turnoff and the board announcing “Road closed ahead” I wonder exaclty where ahead it will be closed. I’ve just assumed that it is near the Voortrekkerroad turnoff close to camp, but what if its not? What if you can drive further, maybe even to Transport dam? :hmz:

We take a drive down the road to see how far we can go and surprisingly this turns out to be quite far.
We spot some impala and a black tailed mongoose who runs away before I can photograph him as well as a Gabar Goshawk which stays put long enough for me to ID him.

Contemplating the day I realise that we only saw one elephant far away where we usually see many every day, and that we also didn’t see any bateleur or francolins. This is quite funny, since these birds are a constant companion whereever we go in the park?

At one stage we decide that it is time to turn around if we are going to make gate closing time, but I ask SO to drive to the top of the next incline, so that I can see what’s ahead. When we get there, we continue on for quite a bit more. And then, like magic, just as we are about to turn around we see them.

Image

Oh my goodness! I am so excited I can hardly take a photograph. The pack starts loping down the road towards Shitlhave dam and we follow them, and then overtake them, and then turn around ahead so that they are now running towards us. Beautiful.

It is such an awesome sight. Somehow, I am surprised at how slight they are. You almost cannot imagine them taking down an impala, with their diminutive build.

Image

Wow, I am speechless. And there are no other cars around.

However, we realise that we have to get back to camp. We are probably not going to make it, even though we are about 4 or 5 km away from the gate.

As we start driving back at 50 km ph we see some giraffe, which we don’t stop for. We also spot the nightdrive coming towards us and stop them to tell them about the wild dog. Even though we are late, it is such a special thing that we cannot let them go by without giving them a chance to catch up to the doggies.

The bush is a blur as we head to camp, and as we approach the gate, the attendent is walking towards it, starting to move the rock keeping it open and as we sail in with a sigh of relief, he closes it firmly behind is.
I am so excited about the wilddogs that I can hardly contain myself.

:dance: :dance: :dance: :dance: :dance: :dance: :dance: :dance:

I am however, drawn out of my reverie by our neighbours who have got friends over to braai with them and are taking turns walking around and taking endless photographs of the group as they sit on the stoep, switching photographers every few minutes. :D

The photosession continues for almost half an hour.

I make hamburgers for supper and as we are getting up early again tomorrow, we are tired and go to bed quite early. Luckily, if the aircon is on, you don’t hear loudtalking neighbours as clearly. :|


Last edited by mel123 on Wed Feb 01, 2012 9:03 pm, edited 3 times in total.

Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Pretoriuskop nostalgia
Unread postPosted: Wed Feb 01, 2012 9:07 pm 
Offline
Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger
User avatar

Joined: Mon Aug 27, 2007 3:36 pm
Posts: 343
Location: North West
Vlakvarkvrou wrote:
Hallo Mel123,
Like the Birdies and Doggies :dance: :dance:

Your woodpecker is a Bennetts Woodpecker :D One of those at Pretoriuskop once attacked "himself" in my car mirror :D :D


Thank you! I took a closer look at my photos and discovered that there were in fact two species of woodpecker together, which I didn't expect. I didn't check which one I posted. However, the right photo is also not a Cardinal upon closer examination, but a Bearded woodpecker if I'm not mistaken!

Image


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Pretoriuskop nostalgia
Unread postPosted: Thu Feb 02, 2012 10:20 am 
Offline
Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger
User avatar

Joined: Mon Aug 27, 2007 3:36 pm
Posts: 343
Location: North West
Day 3 – A busy Saturday morning

We wake up at 3 and leave for the gate at 4:30. I must say, having a cup of coffee with a rusk sitting on the stoep in the morning is quite heavenly. Everything is quiet, the day is full of promise and expectation.

During the night I heard a noise outside in the kitchen, but when I looked to see what it was I didn’t see anything. I thought it might be a nocturnal scavenger at the dustbin but no. This morning when I make the coffee I find a frog on the eyelevel shelf where the coffeepowder and cups are. :shock:

How on earth it got into the cupboard I will never know, but I suspect that this was the noise I heard. Why, is another good question. :whistle:

We leave the gates with it being still dark out. You are reduced to seeing eyes glow in the headlights of the vehicle and whatever is in the road as you pass.

On the tar road to Numbi we have a great sighting of three spotted hyena ambling on the road, investigating strange smells, checking out possible targets etc. Unfortunately, with them being on the move and the light being so low, my photos are reduced to vague beige blurry blobs. :wall:

On the S1 we stop at the hamerkop’s house, but it’s too early for him, so I take a general photo instead.

Image

The sunrise, a bit later, is beautiful.

Image

Today we find loads of elephants, and the francolins are back as well. I wonder where they all went yesterday!

Image

We also stop to admire this confiding African grey hornbill.

Image

Four zebra runs along the road, playfully affectionate with each other and finally stop for a portrait photosession. Such personality!

Image

The road to Skukuza is getting busier by the minute (this being a Saturday morning). When we get there we have breakfast in the restaurant, which although a bit pricey is a real treat. The waiter is friendly, the service is good, and the food is delicious.

It is in fact, my second favourite KNP restaurant breakfast of all time. It is still beaten by an unforgettable breakfast I had at Olifants years back and comparing the two, the view at Olifants is unbeatable.

After breakfast we head on down to Afsaal, via a detour onto the S114 due to the causeway at Delaporte being damaged. The traffic on the road is disconcerting and SO is getting edgy because everybody is driving fast, too fast. :?

On the S114 we are stopped by a man and his wife coming from the other direction, asking whether we’ve seen anything on the road. He’s looking for lions and have spotted fresh tracks besides the road. He also tells us that there were lots of lion activity on this road the day before.
We don’t find lions, but we do spot some blue wildebeest.

Image

A big snake sails across the road, but we only catch the tail section and can’t ID it.

We do spot his enemy, a brown snake eagle keeping out a watchful eye for breakfast.

Image

That snake had better watch out! This eagle looks like he means business.
We also magage to see two steenbuck, but unfortunately they do not hang around for a photograph.

At Afsaal SO has a scone and I drink a Slushy, it being very hot already. The place is packed!

We turn around and drive back towards Skukuza, with the number of cars speeding on the road only increasing.

At one stage we were caught up in a speeding convoy of cars near Skukuza, with the other cars driving so fast and close that we were unable to stop at a giraffe sighting, because the other cars behind us would have tailended us. SO is getting really cross and tells me to mention this on the forum. We can’t figure out what they are doing? Why come to KNP at all if you are only going to race from one place to another. And how much chance do you have to spot game? :evil:

In our time there, we don’t unfortunately spot any speed traps or law enforcement sorting this out. :(

At one point on the road between Skukuza and Paul Kruger gate, a Jeep Jockey (the same company Martie had a run in with if memory serves correctly), speeds past a bunch of cars (all doing 50 kmph), driving much faster than this and overtaking on a blind incline with no idea of the traffic that might be coming from the front. Very dangerous driving and something you do not expect to encounter in Kruger. In Johannesburg, yes. Shame on you!

Back on the S1 things calm down a bit and we spot four warthogs in the road. Unfortunately another motorist spoils the sighting soon thereafter because he believes he’s spotted something bigger and greyer in the bush and scatter the warthogs in order to get to the other sighting, which I’ll not mention.

Image

We take the S8 (seeing that our choice of roads are so limited, we want to explore each and every one) and very cautiously have to slowly maneuver to get past this lone elephant, standing next to the road, flapping its ears when anyone gets too close.

Image

Back at camp we make a fire and I bake a Potbread on the coals. I download some photos onto my laptop and update my journal. A very relaxing afternoon following a bit of a harrowing morning.
We tuck into the bread, dripping with butter and jam. The guineafowl REALLY want a piece of the Potbread action, but we can’t. :(

Good news is: Our neighbours with the kettie have left, and all is peaceful.

This afternoon we’ll drive the Napi road again. Some exciting sightings ahead! :wink:


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Pretoriuskop nostalgia
Unread postPosted: Fri Feb 03, 2012 11:11 am 
Offline
Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger
User avatar

Joined: Mon Aug 27, 2007 3:36 pm
Posts: 343
Location: North West
Day 3 continued – A beautiful surprise

Two hours before gate closing time we head off to explore the Napi road in its entirety (or drivable entirety rather).

It seems the whole camp (which luckily is only about 10 cars) has the same idea.

We encounter a few waterbuck close to camp, as well as some kudu, more elephants and of course a lot of impala.
The one nice sighting of the afternoon is a large herd of buffalo right next to the road.

Image

Image

On our retun, we are gobsmacked to find, in the same general area as yesterday, the same pack of wild dogs! I can’t believe it.

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Wow. I am speechless.

Back at camp (with a bit of a margin to spare this time :D ) we have a delicious supper of steak and potbread.
Life is good. :clap: :clap: :clap:


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Pretoriuskop nostalgia
Unread postPosted: Sat Feb 04, 2012 6:43 pm 
Offline
Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger
User avatar

Joined: Mon Aug 27, 2007 3:36 pm
Posts: 343
Location: North West
Day 4 – Sleeping beauties

This morning I wake up having slept like a log. The early risings and demanding driving schedule is catching up with me. This morning we’re third from the front at the gate.

On the Napi-road there are some elephants browsing on the trees and one making for a beautiful, typical KNP, early morning picture.

Image

At Transport dam we find these three who feel as sleepy as I do, apparently. They are quite relaxed and so I have a great time practicing taking beauty shots of hyenas. :D

Image

Image

Image

Image

At the dam itself, we watch the sunrise. :cam:

Image

Image

There is a juvenile Dideric cuckoo in a bush close to the road.

Image

I also spot some Whitefaced ducks, who while flying overhead give me a chance to practice Bird in Flight photography. Not nearly at the standard that I’ve seen on this forum, but a picture I like nonetheless. 8)

Image

I spot this Jacana, but because I’m not at full mental capacity I identify the correct picture but for some reason link it to the text for the Lesser Jacana and so spent the morning thinking I had seen quite a rare bird for KNP. :tongue: :roll:

Image

I am thrilled to see these European bee-eaters.

Image

We head towards camp where I make a delicious breakfast using the leftover steak from last night, with some eggs, tomato and toast. I also have some more coffee. Luckily the frog didn't drink it all in our absence!

Next: we head towards Skukuza again for a sighting I'll always remember. :thumbs_up:


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Pretoriuskop nostalgia
Unread postPosted: Mon Feb 06, 2012 12:58 pm 
Offline
Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger
User avatar

Joined: Mon Aug 27, 2007 3:36 pm
Posts: 343
Location: North West
Day 4 continued – The 11 054th tree

After breakfast we head off towards Skukuza on the S1/3 again. We find more elephants, zebra and at Nyamundwa dam I am sure that there are lion around, based on some vague shapes I can make out far away with the binoculars, but more importantly the way the impala drinking at the dam are acting.

The road is filled with huge donga’s making maneuvering very difficult and to boot there is a huge traffic jam of people wanting to get to the dam, and those leaving in the limited space.

We leave without being able to conclusively say that there are lions around, but I know in my heart that they’re there. We will come back on our return journey to check again.
Close to Skukuza, this warthog runs close to the road.

Image

At Skukuza I see a lone buffalo dhaggaboy and I take a photograph of the photogenic old train bridge.

Image

Image

As background I must tell you that, ever since my first KNP holiday on my own, 11 years ago I have always made a habit of scanning big trees for a leopard, especially early in the morning and late in the afternoon.

Over the years, we’ve seen lots of leopards, and even one in a tree, which we saw because we stopped at a traffic jam to see what they were watching. Over the years, I have never scanned a tree and found a leopard in one of them. With annual trips and lots of driving I guesstimate that I scan 10’s of thousands of trees every trip.
Today, however, as we’re driving back to Pretoriuskop, and I’m doing my usual leopard scan, I can almost not believe my own eyes when I, for the first time, find a leopard in a tree.

Of course as soon as we stop a traffic jam starts building up and building up as others look to see what we are watching, but I am very proud to have spotted the leopard first and by myself. I am chuffed to bits. Here he is. First standing around on the branch, turning his head this way and that way.

Image

Image

Later lying down with his tail draped over some branches.

Image

Image

This is one leopard sighting I will remember for the rest of my life. My favourite photo:

Image

Since traffic is building up, we leave after a while and head back. We find an elephant in the road and have some trouble getting past him. Another traffic jam builds up, with the elephant not having a care in the world.
We detour onto the S65 to see what we can see – these whitecrowned shrikes draw attention immediately with their beautiful plumage.

Image

We also find a two for the price of one.

Image

At Nyamundwa I can see vultures circling around deeper into the bush, but there is nothing to be seen. I “know” however, that the lions probably caught one of those impala.

At Metsel dam a family of kudu.

Image

Back at camp we have a lunch of cold meat and salad, which is quite refreshing.

To be continued...


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Pretoriuskop nostalgia
Unread postPosted: Wed Feb 08, 2012 12:47 pm 
Offline
Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger
User avatar

Joined: Mon Aug 27, 2007 3:36 pm
Posts: 343
Location: North West
Day 4 continued and Day 5 – Some more Napi-road specials and a sad goodbye

We head off to Napi-road for our last official game drive. On our way out we stop to get an exit permit.
I finally manage to capture on of the elusive black tailed mongooses we’ve been seeing.

Image

At Transport dam the whole clan of 11 hyena is out and resting in the road. I have a field day. Scroll to the end if you don’t like hyenas, but I couldn’t help myself.

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Other game spotted include a giraffe, elephants and a raptor that is probably a dark chanting goshawk, but who wouldn’t co-operate in showing us his front.

Image

Back at camp we decide to head to the restaurant for some dinner and I make the unfortunate choice of ordering a pizza. SO’s chicken burger is OK, but the pizza is bland, tastes like cardboard and I can only manage a slice or two of it. The service, though friendly, is very lackadaisical.

SO says that while he respects the fact that I like eating food I hadn’t cooked myself sometimes, he must point out that any meal I’ve made this holiday was better than this and that he thinks this is overpriced and a waste. I have to agree with him.

As we head of to our bungalow, I am sad that this is our last night and that I now have to start packing up our stuff. Kruger has been good to us this year and I don’t want to leave.

The next morning we get up at our usual time and leave at about 5. On the way out at Phabeni-gate we see a beautiful kudu ewe.

We also spot a family of elephant with a small baby.

Image

The last animal to bid us farewell is this cutiepie.

Image

Image

At the gate, I check the sightings board and am not even surprised to see the red dot for lion at Nyamundwa dam yesterday. Sometimes you just know. :thumbs_up:

It is drizzling outside and with spirits refreshed we head home. We’ll be back in October at Olifants – the perfect birthday present: a river view bungalow in my favourite camp in my favourite place in the whole world.

The end.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Pretoriuskop nostalgia
Unread postPosted: Fri Feb 10, 2012 12:46 pm 
Offline
Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger
User avatar

Joined: Mon Aug 27, 2007 3:36 pm
Posts: 343
Location: North West
Bonus:

During our stay at Pretoriuskop we saw loads and loads of Rhino. I told SO at one time that I thought they all seemed depressed, because they were keeping their heads down, hiding behind the grass and generally not co-operating with anybody wanting to take photos of them.

In the end I did manage to take these photos of some who seemed to shake off a bit of the depression. Maybe I was feeling the depression due to the poaching problem, and projecting it onto them? :roll:

Image

Image

Image

May these beautiful creatures continue to be safe from immoral and evil poachers and live peaceful and happy lives in our beloved KNP. :thumbs_up:


Top
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic This topic is locked, you cannot edit posts or make further replies.  [ 12 posts ] 



Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Powered by phpBB © 2000, 2002, 2005, 2007 phpBB Group

Webcams Highlights

Addo Nossob Orpen Satara
Addo Nossob Orpen Satara
Submitted by Stampajane at 18:36:53 Submitted by Philip1 at 18:50:56 Submitted by haileyidaho at 21:17:22 Submitted by Ton&Herma at 13:37:01