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 Post subject: lastpride Lastpride and Xswazi back in KNP February 2012
Unread postPosted: Tue Feb 07, 2012 2:37 pm 
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Its been nearly 12 months since I was last in the Park and 2 years for Rory. Having booked 8 nights we decided last week to extend it and now has 13 nights to include our wedding anniversary. I can't believe it will be 3 years on 16th that we got married at Biyamiti :D

Our itinerary had to be changed due the closure of Tambotie because of the flods but we are now booked for:

2 nights Orpen
1 night Letaba
1 night Shipendani Hide
2 nights Olifants
3 nights Biyamiti
2 Nights Skukuza
2 nights Crocodile Bridge.

We drove instead of flying from JNB this time and decided to take the scenic route outside the park to Orpen. I am currently sitting outside Spar in Graskop waiting for Rory to do the shopping, Umm exactly, will we ever make it into the park :wink:

I will try to post every days and as usual post the best pics of the day as we go. Hope to get in a couple of hours before Gates close tonight.

Alison and Rory x

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 Post subject: Re: Lastpride and Xswazi back in KNP
Unread postPosted: Tue Feb 07, 2012 7:33 pm 
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So funnt about my comment about Rory in the Spar. He came out and car wouldn't start. Had to wait 3 hours nearly to get someone to us. Think the battery is bad so we may end up with another breakdown this holiday.

So made it to Orpen Barrier just before half six for the 7 km to the actual gate.

Expecting to see nothing I even had my window up and no camera :wall:

Saw alovely family group of Ellies, lots of impala and then 3 beautiful white rhno standing in the road not happy to let us past. Stunning.

Good job i had my iPhone so will put up on Youtube and past the lik in laster.

The one rhino has a bum the size of Eleanor Binns' (hahaha just kidding Ellie but it was a Coe bum for sure)

Checked in at Orpen in number 8, fantastic, will definately stay here again it is lovely. Been tld not to leave food out. Not cos of monkeys or babs but a HONEY BADGER.

Not sure i will get any sleep tonight as has never seen one alive.

Anyway off for a quick walk whilst dinner cooks.
Catch you tomorrow x

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 Post subject: Re: Lastpride and Xswazi back in KNP
Unread postPosted: Wed Feb 08, 2012 7:29 pm 
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Back in Orpen for our second night here.

Had an eventful night, not much sleep. Lions roaring, a leopard seen just out side the gates (not by us unfortunately) and the Honey Badget raising the bins twice. He/She is lovely to see and we will try to get some video or pictures tonight.

I will post photos etc and videos when I get back to the UK i think unless I get a better speed connection later on the trip.

Today we took a slow cruise to Satara, then up the old main road, down to Nwanetsi and Sweni hide then back to Muzandzeni Picnic spot and back to Orpen.

So many Zebra it was unbelieveable and also more giraffe tan i have ever seen too. Lots of great Ellie sightings with really small babies, more rhino and lots of Tawny eagles.

Heading up to Letaba tomorrow so up early again.

32 degrees here today the car said, so sorry you guys in UK had it so cold. Sue said -12 :shock:

My poor chickens!

One thing though, the park is really quiet. Seems like nobody here and everywhere too. It is nice in a way but a little sad as i suspect money being lost. Also not so many people to tell you where things are :wink:

The flood damage is visible everywhere but water levels seem normalish to when we usually see them at most places. Be interesting to drive past Tshokwane tomorrow. The man at Muzandzeni said it was about 3 foot deep there and now not a sign. Spooky.

Anyway Rory has my dinner ready now, Steak, potatoes and peas. Yum.

Catch up soon x

ps. Norms thank you for the reminder about Rhino posts. I completely forot. When in such a beautiful place you tend to forget that not everyone treats gods creatures the way you do. Sorry :naughty:

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 Post subject: Re: Lastpride and Xswazi back in KNP
Unread postPosted: Thu Feb 09, 2012 10:02 pm 
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Rory writes for the first time. First an update on the Honey Badger. Unfortunatley we did not get to see it again despite waking again to loads of noise, bangs and crashes - he was trashing next door just before midnight. However, he never made it to ours as a ranger came and chased him away. We had thus waisted 20 minutes beforehand testing possible photographic capture methods. Shame. :(

Up and out the gates at 5:30. A cloudy cool morning soon gave way to a hot day. A day of two halves too. We had a great morning with two seperate Hyenas walking upto and past our stationary parked car, the first had the longest fluffy tail we have ever seen. Loads of Impala, Zebera and Wildebeest around Orpen as expected. We headed north to Letabe via as much dirt as possible. Lots of Girraffe again and a couple of nice groups of Ellies. One playing in a dam as a group for ages (too far away for pics).

Also a nice big group of buffs trying to coss the tar. They just do not like doing it. Caused a traffic jam. Frustration got the better of someone and they eventually went past the group who were still dillydallying about crossing. We waited a bit after all had passed through but the buffs had still had not got one single animal accross when we left. Funny. The whole morning was littered with Girraffe especially. Egyptian geese, Bateleurs and Vultures everywhere we have been in the park and today was the same. One daga boy - huge guy with two broken horns was a strange sighting of the day.

I must say the whole south of the park is just so green, some places are not recognisable. The main road north from Satara was beautiful because it is so so lush and green. So many birds on this route too. Loads of Eagles, kites, rollers (mainlky lilac), shrikes, flycatchers and bee eaters, hornbills (grey, yellow, red and ground) etc etc, but highlights were Ostrich pair and a Martial today. The Martial was very close but too bright for a picture. It was panting in the sun too. Little did we know that we were about to be too.

We stopped on the high bridge over the Olifants river to have a look at the flooding damage and try to spot the crocs and hippos (lots of hippos, few crocs). Turns out we spent too much time there as beeep beeep car would not start again :wall: . It was just before midday, 34 degrees, no breeze, on a solid chunk of tar that was soft underfoot, it was that hot. In summary we baked for 2 and a half hours before we managed to get going again. Both a lot pinker than before. About 90% of passing tourists stopped to see if they could help, so nice they tried. No one had jump cables though. The yellow billed kite is still at home on the bridge. I could have sworn I saw him try to steal food from someone, a bit like a gul at an english seaside town, only a lot more gracefull.

Booked into Letaba for the night. Dinner on the deck. Wonderfull, foods good too. Back to the room for shower etc and to write this. Whoa! Huge spider just came out from under Alisons bed and scuttled across the room. Even I was skitish. I thought it was a huge red roman (bites sore). We can't sleep with that in here. All cases etc on the beds. Alison out of bed and on the deck. Is the car an option for the night?

Turns out to be a sun spider, very pale pinkish one, very very big one with fangs to match. Not an actual spider, don't care it was still scary, I did not know they got that big. Eventually got it out via blankets it was hidding in in the cupboard I chased it in to. We may not sleep as soundly tonight as we usually do....

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 Post subject: Re: Lastpride and Xswazi back in KNP
Unread postPosted: Fri Feb 10, 2012 7:13 pm 
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My oh my can life get better than this?

Up at 5 and out the gates of Letaba at half past. Within 2ks had a lovely group of hyenas with their cubs back after a night hunting i guess. Not going anywhere much to the annoyance of a family group of Zebra and also a large family group of Giraffe with tiny tiny babies who just stood and stared at the hyenas forever.

As we couldn't switch off the engine we decided to leave the others who turned up in peace and made our way up slowly round a loop back to Letaba for breakfast and to swap the car (seeing 2 lovely BBJ's on the way). Black Backed Jackals sorry.

We managed to swap the hire car, all ok execpt no sunroof but rather have one that works.

We had a lovely breakfast on Letaba deck. Still my best place for food and service and of course the view.

Headed up to Mopani and checked into reception for Shipandani hide, then off round the Tropic of Capricorn loop. Still amazes us every time, round the corner and bam there is paradise. Zebra, Ellies, Wildebest, Ostrich, Tsesebee (spelt wrong sorry i expect). Big Ellies again Spud and Kori Bustards, Amur Falcons? and loads of the white storks.

Oh yes Spud, got fab pictures of a juvenile Haunting Goshawk? and a Fish Eagle in flight for you.

Now sitting in the hide, hippos, crocs everywhere, Rory doing te Braai, drinking beer, listening to lions roar not too far away.

Bliss. Life is goood in Kruger :D :D :D

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 Post subject: Re: Lastpride and Xswazi back in KNP
Unread postPosted: Sat Feb 11, 2012 2:20 pm 
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Oh i love the hide. We had a fantastic night of peace. Well as peaceful as it can be with that many hippos 8)

Got up early and went for a quick search for the lions we heard but no joy. Decided to go for another trip round the Capricorn loop but the other way and what should be at Mooiplas waterhole but TWO CHEETAH. :dance: :dance:

They were just lying in the road not a care in the world and we had them all to ourselves at am in perfect pink light for about half an hour.

Almost perfect except we had no tea or cofee to enjoy whilst watching. Still you can't have it all :wink:

Now back at Oliphants camp. So many roads closed here we have moved our booking for tomorrow to Orpen again instead. Wild dos been see today near here (the lookout point you can get out at where the road is closed i forget the name), so going for a quick look see now after doing some washing, (boring).

Hopefully have some more sightigs to report later.

Have a great time in Iceland Spud (babboon boys)

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 Post subject: Re: Lastpride and Xswazi back in KNP
Unread postPosted: Sun Feb 12, 2012 7:53 pm 
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Full update in a while but Sweni had loads of water. It was beautiful :D

Got stuck today between 2 low level bridges. Crossed one then couldnt get back or over the second on way to Nwanetsi from end of S100. Very scary crossing with mt=y eyes closed. (good job Rory was driving)

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 Post subject: Re: Lastpride and Xswazi back in KNP
Unread postPosted: Sun Feb 12, 2012 8:52 pm 
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Rory writes again. What a night we had in Olifants. Wow. The mother of all electrical storms hit just after we had finished our braai at around 7:30 pm. First the wind started. A few flashes in the distance. Then no electricity (from then on until the early hours). Left the fire alight, but the wind was so strong it started blowing sparks around. Worried about the bush and the thatch roof we promptly put it out. Just as well as the wind got much much stronger. Fortunately enough as the wind and soon to arrive in buckets, the rain cooled things down otherwise it would have been a real struggle to sleep. We had a river facing perimeter bungalow and so we sat on the porch with a fantastic view of the storm as it passed over us into the Olifants river valley. It was incredible.
It was the most lightning I have ever seen by miles, noisy too but not the worst. No close strikes on Olifants. There were so many flashes at times it was like daylight. The storm itself lasted about 3 hours. Sometimes there were more than 20 flashes a second and it was almost constant throughout. No disco has ever seen so many flashes in one night. During the storm a tree was blown over the fence about three huts down from us.
We are not sure if the storms have affected the animals, but the whole day has been a little subdued. Like the wildlife knows its Sunday...We have still seen many of the usual suspects, Impala, Zebra, Wildebeest, Elephants, Giraffe aplenty again (on sitting down that was nice), lots of waterbuck on the S100. The first highlight of the day was a group of Rhinos. We thought Black at first as could only see one and lip seemed round. But more emerged and it was clear they were Whites. A nice close and personal sighting. The second highlight was a Cheetah, in the distance, coming down the tar from Satara. A big boy. Laying under a tree some 200m away, but on a rise so easy to see. Swishing his tail and rolling about. He was far away enough not to be disturbed by the onlookers. Two cheetah sightings in 2 days, what’s going on?
Birding wise, lots of unidentifiable eagles again, two good Tawny eagles, White Backed vultures, a Saddlebilled Stork on the distance (sex undetermined). The road from Olifants to Satara was just bird heaven. Rollers, bee-eaters, wattled starling groups, even some queleas We also had so many Carmine and we think European Bee-eaters today near Talamati. Suicidal ones too, up and back in front of the car repeatedly. They are so beautiful though we can forgive them.
The other highlight was being stuck between to low level bridges between the S100 and Nwanetsi. We crossed one that was quite high. I had obviously misjudged it and the car was juddered sideways as we were just over halfway. We got a small fright. The next one though was higher and faster. So we were stuck. We waited a while and watched others cross in higher vehicles before we were able to cross too. It seems the trick is to go very slowly.
At Orpen again now as swapped a night at Oliphants, with the low level bridge closed and also the main road it was just too busy on the only open road out. Maybe we will get to take a picture of the honey badger at last?

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 Post subject: Re: Lastpride and Xswazi back in KNP
Unread postPosted: Mon Feb 13, 2012 8:10 pm 
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What a day! I'm exhausted!
Finally at Biyamiti though and still is the ost fabulous place in the world to be :dance:

Well last night at Orpen was a laugh. We were so keen to see the honey badger, well we got two and boy oh boy one was keen. One came first then another, we scared them off and put the bin on the hisgest shelf up and went back to bed. 1.30 am bang bang bang they were back. So very cheeky. One just looked at Rory when he went Rar and we laughed but seriusly he was not scared. He leapt on the counter, onto the next shelf and pulle dthe bin off the very top. I was so scared her would pull the crockery down with a crash but oh no what did he do?

Turned the kettle on! We just could not stop laughing for hours. Got a pic on my phone so will post up when back in the UK.

Anyway, alarm went off at 4.45am. We discussed and decided to stay in bed til 6 for a better change of Wild Dog at the gates at 7. By 4.55, we both gave up on that idea and NEEDED to get out the gates.

We headed along SLOWLY hoping they would appear behind us but no oy, even went to the waterhole to kill time. We gave up and headed along the tar dreaming of lion.

About 3k from the first view point we saw poo everywhere. We stopped, checked, Cat? Dog? convonced ourselves it was cat. Lion it must be! Backwards and forwards we went looking for lion.

Gave up! About 2 k's on I realised, the markers showed Wild dog yesterday headed from Orpen to Satara yellow dots all the way.....

Well over the hill we went and there they were... 17, 18 or 19 of them still not sure. In the road for about 45 mins. Got great videoa of the squeaking and squealing like mad at one point, will post when i get home. Eventually they all headed off.

Has a lovely chat with a forumite (Impece 08? - Zulu for Hyena) lovely to meet you and he told us of a Red Billed OXpecker at Orpen. Would have turned back to get a piccie for you Spud if i could.

Decided to head down the S36, stopped at Muzandzeni for Brekkie, carried on to Nhlanguleni and bridge closed. Uh oh. All the way round then. Tshokwane is incredible. We sat on the tar looking at the water level about 3 k's before and we would have been so far under water in the car. Moses at Nhlanguleni showed us pictures of a car stuck with tourists in near his site overnight in the car overturned in the river :shock:

Oh and saw a Rok Python cross the road. Apparently not a huge one but the largeat i have ever seen.

Headed to Skukuza and the damage there was far worse than I expected. So many closed roads it will take a long time to fix. Near Afsaal we saw 3 lionesses in the sand from the bridge - lovely. We then headed to Biyamiti, had a quick look at the weir - destroyed. :(

Had an amazing rhino sighting today too but won't post here. They sound like whales!!!!!

Hilda, I hope you have the luck we have had today :D
WendyA - We are at Skukuza on 17th then Crocadile Bridge for 18th/19th then home - hope to see you, we ave a yellow ribbon on
Soozy - OK with a duplicate? No different ones
Elsa - Have a great trip next week.

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 Post subject: Re: Lastpride and Xswazi back in KNP
Unread postPosted: Tue Feb 14, 2012 6:46 am 
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Quick update.

Out this morning and only got 300 metres in total. Car broken down?

No, LEOPARDS - plural :dance: :dance: :dance:

Firstly mum crossing the road, then along a little bit and a cub in the grass, then it disappeared. Along a bit and then a leopard cub in a tree. It climbed down and we came back into camp to get brekkie. Going out again now.

Does anyone know is mum is the leopard with the markings like a collar? One or two cubs etc?

Thanks

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 Post subject: Re: Lastpride and Xswazi back in KNP
Unread postPosted: Wed Feb 15, 2012 9:32 am 
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What a fantastic day yesterday.

So early Am out the gates to see one leopard crossing the road then to see the youngster in the tree. Rory's first LIT.

Came back into camp then back out again for a trip to Berg-en-Dal. Saw Raymond who told us he had just returned from a Biyamiti trip and there are 5 leopards at Biyamiti at the moment. Wow!

A lovely chilled out day with lots of the usual suspects, plus 2 big male lions near Gardenia Hide.

Bak to camp for 5 as we were booked on the sunset drive. We did however stop at Biyamiti lookout point (where we got married) for a quick glass of Amarula.

The night drive as always from Biyamiti was amazing. Jerry drove us and he really is such a helpful and knowledgable ranger. He drives slowly and has the keenest eyes ever.

We saw everything it seems. We saw a Snake eagle catch a snake in the road in front of us, a Pearl Spotted Owl (not seen one before), Vereauxs eagle owl (very close up), giraffe, buffalo, elephant etc.

Then we saw another Leopard can you believe it. Clearly lying in a tree facing the sunset. We got some great pics. She sat there for a while, then got up stretched, yawnd and slowly came down. We reversed up, turned off and along the road she came. Beautiful girl, not full size yet. After following her for a bit, we went of in search of some lions that Jerry thought were in a particular place, but unfortuanely they were gone.

We turned around to head back towards camp and saw a Genet, very clearly for a minute or two which was great. The guess what? ANOTHER Leopard. A big male again just walking along the road. Stunning.

Then to top it all off, we saw something i never even dreamt i would get to see. A porcupine. He ran along the road, so noisy and headed into the bush. Amazing ceatures.

Have decided to try to stay another night here. We will see.

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 Post subject: Re: Lastpride and Xswazi back in KNP
Unread postPosted: Wed Feb 15, 2012 8:54 pm 
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A slooooow day. I guess we used it all up yesterday, our luck? It was a hot day with not a lot to see at all, so it was a scenery and trees day generally. Not too many birds either. We saw we think, the same giant eagle owl as we did yesterday on the way out of Biyamiti on the leopard and lion hunt (no success on either front). Some buffalo today and one very nice Giraffe boy on the way back into camp, he blocked our way for a few minutes and was quite oblivious to us when we pushed past him at a crawl.
We have seen a few rhino today and some baby’s too. Very nice. Not telling where. There was one black rhino (yes finally a black) who looked like he might have been injured (we were told). We thought he had a limp, but could not be sure, so we have told as many of the responsible people as we can.

Wishing for a better day tomorrow. Though just being here is nice :D

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