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 Post subject: chirinda A very green Kruger in Jan 2012 (feb '12)
Unread postPosted: Sun Feb 12, 2012 5:26 pm 
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I booked on 12 January. I first heard about the cyclone on Monday evening, 16 Jan, and then watched in horror on the Kruger is Flooding thread as pics and reports came in during the following days. I monitored every weather website I could find, even trying to understand French on the one which was tracking the second cyclone, hoping desperately that it would go away and not spoil my plans to visit to Kruger at the end of Jan.

Well, the cyclone did head out into the ocean, I did visit Kruger, and I found it very green, very lush and VERY hot. No rain while I was there 29 Jan – 3 Feb. Lots of evidence of the flooding in rivers, and places where damage had been reported, but apart from closed dirt roads, and many places where springs of water came to the surface and causeways were still overflowing, there was generally not much “devastation” to be seen. So people, Kruger is still there, it has not been washed away. The animals are still there, although not always so easy to see in the high grass and thick summer vegetation, and the summer birds really made the trip worthwhile.

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The grass is as high as an elephant's eye...
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The bridge on the Nwaswitshaka river between Skukuza and Kruger gate which was out of action for a couple of days because of a washaway at the far side of the bridge.
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Plenty of these
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and these
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 Post subject: Re: A very green Kruger in Jan 2012
Unread postPosted: Wed Feb 15, 2012 8:33 pm 
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Thank you, Sharifa, Vlakvarkvrou, Melph68, Harrys, Grantmissy, Anri, Lionspoon, WendyA, Div and Boorgatspook for your encouragement. I also drive a short car and was always asking people what they could see that I couldn’t. :D Fortunately many animals also make use of the roads, and there are places where the vegetation is not so high and thick.

I drove from Joburg on the morning of Sunday 29 Jan getting to Malelane gate around lunchtime with an arrangement to try and see Ecojunkie if she was available. The car didn’t sound too happy driving down, and I was able to change my booking to a Malelane chalet for one night so that I could have it checked on Monday morning in Malelane. Had a quick visit with EJ before she had to go to BnD for a drive. My first animal was a bushbuck outside the fence at Malelane. EJ’s caravan behind the sign here.
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Malelane is a pretty little camp, peaceful and quiet the day I was there, with a feel of Orpen - similar large expanse of lawn and large trees - it was my first stay there. There are five rondavels and camping. The rondavels have shower, basin and loo, mine had four beds, and there is a bath in the ladies ablution block. Each rondavel has a braai and table and chairs outside under a thatch lapa, and there is a communal kitchen.
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There were several marula trees inside the camp with fallen fruit (which drops from the trees with a heavy “thunk” and ripens on the ground) very tasty. Glad none of them landed on me though! :D I wonder the ellies don’t come into camp to feed on the fallen fruit. They certainly enjoy the tree on the fence by EJ’s caravan.

Unpacked the car and took a drive to Berg-en-Dal, and as well as the ubiquitous impala, saw the first three of my big five before nightfall, a few buffalo, some ellies and, almost back at Malelane, a LIT :dance: :dance: .

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He was quite far away, a bit too far for my poor little camera to take a good pic, but here’s my proof anyway.

I had my supper of smoked trout and fresh bread from Milly’s, and started to unwind to the sound of hippo in the river. Tried to photograph some beautiful black and white moths but without success.

This yellow flame lily – one of my favourites - was in the hedge of the ranger’s house.

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Last edited by chirinda on Sat Mar 31, 2012 8:50 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: A very green Kruger in Jan 2012
Unread postPosted: Sun Feb 19, 2012 5:38 pm 
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Thank you Puppy.

I woke early the next morning, heard cars going out at 4.30 and decided I might as well go early too and have a short drive before I had to go to Malelane to get someone to look at my car, so I was up and away by about 5 am, still in the half dark, having to use headlights.

There was not a lot around but I did see two giraffe on the H3, this one against the background of the hills outside the park. It was cloudy and cool, and at one time tried to rain.
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This giant snail was crossing the road and must have been a good 15 cm long. :shock:
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I saw a few kudu, some impala and some pretty flowers, here Cerathotheca triloba, and does anyone know what the small red flowers are?
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You can tell it is marula time, the evidence is everywhere :D
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A JJ passed me and got the best of the sighting of 3 hyaenas crossing the road, but they were on a mission and didn’t stick around for pics. I managed to id a golden breasted bunting just past Mlambane bridge and decided it was time to turn round and go back to Malelane camp to pack up my stuff. A bakkie stopped and told me that they had seen five lions at a kill on the road a short distance ahead of me, and by the time I got there several cars and two JJs were there. I managed to squeeze between the two JJs and got these pics.
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You could hear the lions crunching on bones and snarling and snapping. The people in the bakkie must have seen the lions on the road, but they had moved their kill and just left a couple of bones on the road. They were not happy about all the cars disturbing them, and some people in another car were most concerned about my open window with these dangerous lions nearby. :naughty: When I went past a few hours later there was no sign they had ever been there.

I moved on and found a vehicle stopped on the bridge and asked what they could see, it was the fifth of my Big 5, the rhino far away and “busy sleeping”. I love our South African turn of phrase. So that was the first time I have seen the Big 5 in Kruger in less than 24 hours. :dance:

Back at Malelane camp I had breakfast, packed my car and left for Malelane town. I saw a green pigeon in the camp and some squirrels playing around the gate as I left. Just onto the H3 the only male lion of my trip, marching down the road.
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Apologies that some of the pics are hazy, some of them were taken through the windscreen.


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 Post subject: Re: A very green Kruger in Jan 2012
Unread postPosted: Thu Feb 23, 2012 12:28 am 
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Thanks so much for your comments and encouragement vlakvarkvrou, Sharifa, Crested Barbet, Cheetah2111, Anri, bert, Lionspoon, carocat, MM, billyf, and Dan.

Melph68, hope you get to see the Big 5 on your trip. :pray:

EJ good to meet you too. After searching in a couple of books I think the red flowers might be Hypericophyllum elatum.

RayK, you had me hooting with laughter, I'm sure the neighbours down the road wondered what was the joke. :D Marulas actually taste very nice - when you have gathered them yourself. I wondered whether these guys were searching for the ones ellie had collected. :D
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 Post subject: Re: A very green Kruger in Jan 2012
Unread postPosted: Thu Feb 23, 2012 8:44 pm 
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EJ, and Isaac at the Malalane Gate, gave me directions to a garage, and they sorted out the problem with my car. In a couple of hours I was on my way back to the park after picking up a few groceries and veg from the supermarket. In retrospect it would probably have been smarter to go straight to Crocodile Bridge on the N4, a shorter journey and therefore more time to relax, but I went back to Malelane Gate and drove up the H3 until I found a road that was open to cross to CB. Quite a search.

“Busy sleeping” was still where I left him but had woken up, and there was an ellie in the river on the other side of the bridge. I passed more impala, a leguaan probably half a metre long, a chameleon crossing the road and this dagha boy, showing how they get that name.
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I wanted to cross the Biyamiti weir but it was still being repaired so the road was closed for through traffic. I saw my first wildebeeste and zebra on the H3 just before Afsaal where I stopped for a cup of tea. The manager, whose name escapes me, showed me two Mauritian tomb bats and the famous scops owl, in the trees. There were photos on the shop door of celebrities who had visited Afsaal, but I only recognised Dave Pring, and a local soapie star. Wonderful and scary pics of a large ellie who also visited one day.
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Back on the road looking for a turning but only this
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White helmet shrikes and Paradise whydahs and debris visible in the Biyamiti and Mhlambamadvube rivers. Eventually the S112 was open and I started to make my way east. By this time it was early afternoon and hot, and all the animals were hiding in shade. Not many made themselves visible, a couple of ellies and some shade seekers. There was a lone lappet faced vulture and two Egyptian geese at Renosterkoppies dam. I made a note that I started seeing European bee eaters about this time, and also European rollers.
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I was hot and tired and glad when I got to the S25 turning and found that they had graded the road from there through to the tar. You couldn’t turn right there because the Biyamiti river bridge had been damaged, but the causeway at the junction was fine, and this hammerkop and three x three-banded plovers were fishing. This is not the best pic of the hammerkop, but I only noticed the croc in the water when I downloaded the pics onto my computer.
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A couple of buffs in a pool of water, these yellow eyed canaries in their ‘birdbath’, and a few impala were my sightings between there and Crocodile Bridge camp.
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The new reception is a nice looking building but faces the hot afternoon sun with no space to plant trees!! It was good to go inside and get cool though. There was a hiccup with my booking, which took a little while to sort out. I was allocated Tent No 4, the hottest tent with no shade on the western side, it was the furthest from the car and from the ablution block and the fan didn’t work properly. That was easy to fix, one of the staff exchanged it for me, but it took ages to cool down the tent. I didn’t complain because it was still early and I had no idea if the other tents were booked. It turned out they were not, but by then I was settled and hadn’t got the energy to make a fuss. I was ‘lights out’ before 9 pm and didn’t set the alarm.


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 Post subject: Re: A very green Kruger in Jan 2012
Unread postPosted: Thu Mar 01, 2012 8:30 pm 
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Anri glad you like the pics.

I slept late Tuesday morning and took my time getting going, eventually left CB at 9.45, a bit later than I would have liked, but what the heck, you can sleep late if you want to when you are on holiday. Before I left this guy was making his way towards my tent. He was a good 5 or 6 cm long.
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Quite often on this day and during the previous day I had swallows skimming the roads ahead of me, for all the world like mesmerised scrub hares running in front of a night drive vehicle. Plenty of swallows to be seen. It was wonderful to be driving with windows open and hearing all the sounds of the bush. I was heading to Lower Sabie and saw Zebra, wildes, giraffe, kudu, a couple of rhino, one ellie and loads of impala. I heard emerald spotted wood doves, but didn’t see any. I also heard a lot of puffbacks and saw Bateleurs flying, several white crowned shrikes, a couple of brown snake eagles, and a bird which flew alongside the car for a while then obligingly stopped and perched for an ID - a wattled starling. You know you are getting near the Sabie River when you hear the call of the fish eagle. I stopped for a lesser grey shrike in a small tree and was rewarded with a Diederick cuckoo as well. I knew it was him because the ‘dee-dee-dee-deederik’ call came out every time he opened his beak. :D

I went first to Sunset Dam to have a look before going into Lower Sabie. Well, due to all the rain it was actually Lake Sunset, I have never seen it so full. :shock:
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This wire tailed swallow sat obligingly for the photo, and I suspect the brown one is a juvenile.
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I bought a toasted sandwich (which was delicious) and was going to go to Mlondozi Dam but decided it was getting late as I was actually on my way to Skukuza, so I reluctantly turned back after crossing the LS bridge to have a looksee. I found a yellow billed stork, a goliath heron, and an ellie in the water. There seemed to be some washaway on the far bank.
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I stopped at Nkulu - the baboons and monkeys were there as usual - and chatted for a few minutes to an Irish couple who were on a 10 day visit to Kruger. After Nkulu this young bushbuck was alongside the road, and I came to the spot just south of the H12 bridge where the tar had been lifted by the water when the road was flooded.
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The bridge is 400 metres long and judging by the debris, the river must have been more than half a kilometre wide at the height of the flood. Scary stuff. I'm sure some of the railings ended up in Mozambique. :D I took pics of the debris in trees that showed the water level to have been way above the car. There was a pied kingfisher on the bridge as well as a pied wagtail and I started seeing carmine bee eaters.
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I arrived at Skukuza and was given Tent 301 “the hottest tent in the place” in my notes. Again I got the one with no afternoon shade, although I learned to close the blinds on the west facing windows during the day which did help. The ablutions were also a fair distance away.

I was sitting, relaxing, when these cute banded mongooses came into view and entertained me with their antics for a few minutes.
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A little later it was getting dark when I went to the kitchen to start my supper and saw a stream of bats, which sleep in the chimney, swooping out like smoke caught on the wind. That was magical. :dance: Very often small sightings give as much joy as the Big 5.


Last edited by chirinda on Sat Mar 03, 2012 8:33 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: A very green Kruger in Jan 2012
Unread postPosted: Sun Mar 04, 2012 1:34 pm 
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Hello Cheetah, Vinkie - surprised to see you here but thanks for your interest, Pumbaa, MM and Anri, appreciate all your comments.

I obviously shouldn't have confessed to sleeping late :redface: :redface: eish!

Wednesday dawned, and I was up early and out by 5.45 (you see!!). My friend Shirl was coming from White River to spend the day with me and stay overnight, and I decided to go for a short drive before she was due to arrive at Skukuza.

More debris in the trees alongside the Nwaswitshaka river showing just how high the water had been.
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I drove to Kruger gate where I found one of the staff clearing up the ellie droppings which had been deposited overnight when the ellies came to feed on marulas from the trees in the car park. :D

From there I took the S3, S4 and S1 Dosipane road back to Skukuza, and saw some zees, impala, kudu, and these giraffe. At least they were visible above the high vegetation :D
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The only Bateleur I saw that wasn’t flying
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Carmine bee eaters, 1 ellie, monkeys and a family of magpie shrikes were also seen.
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I took a short left to the Lake Panic hide which by then had been re-opened, and ticked half collared, woodland and malachite kingfishers, and 3 jacanas. Back on the road I found plum coloured starlings (violet- backed), yellow eyed canary and a black widowfinch (dusky indigobird now I think) at a ‘birdbath’ in the road.
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I met Shirl at Skukuza and heard about the ellie which shouted and charged at her and gave her an awful fright a short while earlier. We drove out in her car and took the H-1/S114 and just after the turning another jittery young ellie shouted at us and looked as if he wanted to come closer rather quickly, so I didn’t get time for a pic. I read in someone else’s TR (possibly adw’s) that he also found ellies to be jumpy and jittery at the time of the floods two weeks before.

Some distance down the S114 we came across about three cars on the left of the road and can be forgiven, I think, for having to ask what they could see - they weren’t very visible.
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We found a gap and watched such a funny interaction. A warthog was approaching from the right side of the road, he crossed between the cars and went to drink at a small pool to the left of the fallen tree. As he put his head down he must have either seen or scented the dogs, he got a big fright, did a quick 180 and fled the way he had come. The four dogs had not been aware of him and they all skrikked too, but calmed quickly and settled down again for a snooze. After a while we left the sleeping dogs to lie and found warthog trotting along further up the road.
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We saw comb ducks and Egyptian geese at Renoster pan and took the S112 where we found a mother impala with quite a small baby, but the mother was limping so I guess those two have become someone’s lunch by now.

Further on warthogs, an ellie, impala, wildes, impala, magpie shrikes, impala … We took the S65/S1 back to Skukuza and at one point on the S65 we came across a researcher using tracking equipment to find lions somewhere in the area. :mrgreen:

Back at Skukuza we had lunch and then went to the library building to see the museum exhibit, and also a very interesting wildilfe photographic exhibition of stunning pictures. On display in the building are some unborn baby animals preserved in jars, at different stages of gestation, with the details of the gestation period of each, and Shirl wondered why animals like wildebeeste or giraffe, even impala, should have such relatively long gestations while in lions it is much shorter. Her answer would come the following day......


Last edited by chirinda on Sat Mar 31, 2012 9:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: A very green Kruger in Jan 2012
Unread postPosted: Thu Mar 08, 2012 8:48 pm 
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ruthp, cheetatjie, Anri, Sharifa, big5spotter, puppy, Vinkie, MM, LS and Hilda, thank you for joining in my TR and for your comments and encouragement. Have a wonderful time all of you going to the cricket. :mrgreen:

To continue .....

This tree agama was my neighbour in the tree next to my tent.
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We decided to go for a drive later in the afternoon and stopped off at reception before we went out to check the progress of a complaint I had reported that morning. The lock on the tent door worked fine on the outside, but I couldn’t make it lock from the inside. Coming from the city, I am not comfortable not being able to lock the door at night, so I had asked that it be fixed. I was not surprised to find nothing had been done, but the office called the repairs department and they said “15 minutes”. OK, back to the tent to wait, but true to their word they were there in 15 minutes and proceeded to show me that a big strong man could turn a key that I couldn’t. However, when he saw how I struggled, out came the screwdriver and a tin of spray and in another 15 or 20 minutes it was working again.

We then left on our drive and decided first to cross the low level Sabie bridge to see how it looked after the flooding. You could not go further – the H1-2 was closed because of damage to the Sand River bridge. A rock in the water looked suspiciously like a croc, and was christened ‘crock’ as it actually was a croc.
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We then drove down Eloff Street as far as the high level bridge, seeing blacksmith lapwings, Egyptian geese, carmine bee eaters, a warthog, mongoose, terrapin, hippo with young ones a couple of times on sandbanks in the river, and impala several times including a large herd crossing the road.
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Shirl was amazed at the changes the flooding had wrought, having been there just a few weeks before.
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We discussed ‘dinner or a night drive’ for the evening and decided on dinner at the Selati Train Restaurant. It was a short distance from our tent, and so we walked. I had never been there and was pleasantly surprised to see how it looked. I had no idea that the actual restaurant was the platform of the station, with the engine alongside us. We had venison potjie which was served in the cutest little potjie pots on the plate, and was delicious. A very pleasant evening. I was tired and was glad we hadn’t tried to do a night drive as well. :D


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 Post subject: Re: A very green Kruger in Jan 2012
Unread postPosted: Sun Mar 11, 2012 8:31 pm 
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Thank you hilda, Anri, Pumbaa, Puppy and MM for your comments and for following this TR.

My first pic of the day and one of my favourites of the whole trip. :D
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Shirl left early in the morning, she had an appointment at 9, and shortly after she went, I followed but took the H 1-1/S114 route which we had taken the previous day. Impala were just outside the gate, before the crossroad and shortly afterwards 2 kudu, which was a promising start. No dogs this time though. I headed in the direction of the Stevenson Hamilton memorial. Unfortunately I was behind one of the private game drive vehicles going up the kopje, seeing klipspringer on the way up, and found their guests having breakfast at the site, so I withdrew and continued on the S22. Lucky for me. :dance: As I turned westwards onto the S112 I saw more jeep jockeys. One of them did a three point turn, jolting his passengers around so much, their heads bobbing back and forth like doves crossing the road. :shock: Then I saw why he had turned. I am amazed at the patience some of our wild creatures show to the antics – no, interference sometimes – shown by humans in their smelly vehicles. This lioness just patiently went on her way as if none of us was there.
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She went off the road to the right, and I drove past, but stopped to look at a striped cuckoo in a tree. I’m so glad I did because I looked back and saw her again, padding down the road, following me. :dance:
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I waited for her to pass me…
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Then I was in front of the line. :D
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She seemed as if she was looking for someone, or something - not hunting, but definitely on her way somewhere. Eventually the JJs left when she turned off the road into the grass, and “disappeared” from view just a few metres from the road. What a wonderful half an hour.
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Everything after that was somewhat of an anticlimax, but my sightings on the way back to Skukuza included impala, a zebra in the road, a lesser grey shrike which chattered to me in a chirpy/raspy voice for a while, bateleurs flying, warthogs, a tortoise I haven't identified, and a dark chanting goshawk, which I saw take a pale green snake off the road up into a tree to eat.
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At Skukuza I went to have a look at the W A Campbell hut, just at the edge of the chalets, beyond the large grassy area by the shop. You can see one of those old petrol pumps from the car park, and the hut is next to it. It was one of several huts which were built in the early days of Skukuza camp, with a pole in the middle to hold the roof up, and a peephole in the door to check if any lions were around before you went out to the ablutions. A tarriff sheet from 1932 showed accommodation in huts costing five shillings per night for adults, and six shillings if you wanted an inner spring mattress. They had permanent tents, too, at three shillings per night per adult. Bedding per night was two shillings per set, or sixpence per single item. Those prices are just small change in your pocket now, but it was probably a lot in those days. Definitely cheaper to take your own sheets and blankets.


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 Post subject: Re: A very green Kruger in Jan 2012
Unread postPosted: Mon Mar 19, 2012 7:28 pm 
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Thank you hilda, MM, Anri, vinkie, LS, kallis1786 and Cape of Storms for your comments and encouragement, and for following this report. There seem to be a lot of dog sightings lately :mrgreen: I've seen dogs about three or four times in a dozen visits, and not always good sightings, but dogs nevertheless. :dance:

Thursday continued.
The sky was full of small clouds and I took the opportunity to go “out in the midday sun” hoping it would cloud a bit more and be cooler. I left Skukuza at about noon and had another look at the low level bridge to see what was about. The hammerkop on the left was very active, rushing about chasing after insects which I couldn’t even see, and the common sandpiper was also getting lunch.
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I decided to visit the Day Visitor picnic site and was pleasantly surprised. The pool was very inviting….
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There is a small kiosk there and clean loos. I also went to look at the braai areas which were in individual little clearings. No pics because I saw this quite large bird flit across my view, and when I followed it it sat first with its back to me then flew a little further and sat facing me. I was totally intrigued by its uncharacteristic willingness to sit and be watched, and to watch me.
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My feeling at the time was that it was a juvenile Piet my Vrou, red chested cuckoo, and this has been confirmed on the Birds thread, although someone else suggested it might be a Eurasian cuckoo. Young birds amuse me, they seem to sit around not quite knowing what to do. A special sighting because cuckoos are not easily seen.

I again drove down Eloff Street, but it could have been a public holiday because all of the “pedestrians” were somewhere else. This goliath heron was in the river at the high level bridge and I had a flock of green wood-hoopoes fly past me too.
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I drove as far as Olifantsdrinkgat seeing few animals - impala and kudu, 2 warthogs, a tortoise and a waterbuck in the far distance,
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and on my return journey this ellie
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and a car stopped a little ahead of me which I thought was watching more ellies but turned out to be this chap.
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Before returning to Skukuza I took a drive to the golf course to have a look at the washed away dam wall. They told me that repair work on the wall was expected to begin that week. I also stopped at Lake Panic hide for a short while and saw two water thick knees on the small island with a monitor lizard behind them. This fish eagle surveyed the scene from high up in his tree
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when suddenly a very harsh and loud call came from some vegetation near the hide and a black crake adult and youngster emerged and padded across the waterlily leaves.
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I also saw a green backed heron and jacanas there, and heard the calls of a purple-crested turaco and a Burchell’s Coucal. On the way back to Skukuza I saw more European bee eaters, an emerald spotted wood dove and two black collared barbets, and booked for a night drive that night, when I got back to reception.


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 Post subject: Re: A very green Kruger in Jan 2012
Unread postPosted: Wed Mar 21, 2012 9:35 pm 
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Thank you, Anri, LS, Pumbaa, hilda, kallis1786, Cape of Storms and MM. Yes, I saw some nice birds. Someone once said to me that if you sit in the bush and there are no animals you will usually see birds. And yes, the impies are so cute and photogenic. I never get bored with them.

I had never been on a night drive before. I’ve been on sunset drives, but going out at 8 pm was new to me. I thought it might be cold and took a jacket and a blanket, but I didn’t need either, although some folk did put jackets on. It can be cold, and sometimes freezing, up on the truck, and in winter you need hats and scarves too.

Driver Sam drove the almost-full big truck and headed south on the H 1-1 / S114 route. Night drives always have the excitement of being out of the camp, and in the open air, with all the sounds and smells which are different from daytime.

There was a lot of ground water around, ephemeral pools and springs after the deluge of only two weeks before, and each time we came near to water the frog calls got louder, and then diminished when we had passed the pool and driven on. We saw a couple of impala, and then a single hyaena.
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As we drove through a more open area with shorter grass, I saw giraffe. There were four, including a small one, and three were sitting down and resting, with one standing, although they all got up when the spotlights were on them.
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Then came the answer to Shirl’s question of the day before about the relatively long gestation periods of ungulates against a very much shorter time for predators. Sam explained that those animals whose babies must be well developed at birth – all the antelopes, giraffe, elephants, rhino, zebra, wildes and buffalo – have long gestation periods so that the babies are ready to run just after they are born, and be able to keep up with the herd. Predators, on the other hand, give birth to helpless babies which need to be cared for, as the mothers would not be able to hunt if they had long preganancies. Obvious when someone tells you. :D

We saw more impala, a scrub hare running in front for a while, a couple of thick-knees and then an owl in the road at the turning onto the S22. We didn’t travel very far before we came to one of the dips in the road which still had a large pool across the road, left over from the recent rains. As we went up the other side an elephant emerged from the bush on the right. Sam stopped the truck and we sat and watched as a few other ellies also became visible in the lights.
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Then they started to show their dislike of having us there and we could hear quite a few of their ‘rumbling’ ‘grumbling’ sounds and also a bit of trumpeting as they made their feelings known. We were also treated to a couple of short mock charges, :shock: just like the ones you’ve seen on tv, :D although Sam assured us that none of the ellies would initiate a real charge without permission from the matriarch. There were at least two small babies, and quite a few young animals, and ellies are well known for their protectiveness of their young ones. We could hear feeding sounds alongside us too. They must have been in water recently because some of them had ‘tide marks’ high up on their bodies.
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The truck reversed short distances three or four times, but they still slowly approached us and eventually Sam reversed through the water and up the other side, thinking that they were perhaps headed for the water. But they still pushed us backwards, and Sam then turned the vehicle as it was obvious we would not get past them. At this point, one of the ladies sitting at the back became very unhappy about now being ‘on the front line’ and came and sat next to me behind the driver, to be further from them, as they were still slowly following us. :D
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As we had been with the ellies for over half an hour, Sam decided that we should head for home. We saw another scrub hare and another owl, the same giraffe were still where we had seen them, a couple more hares and back to Skukuza at 10.15.

What an exhilarating time we had with those ellies. That was one worthwhile drive. :dance: Thank you, Sam. :clap: :clap:

Apologies for the night pics. There was one gorgeous one of the hyaena – if only it had been in focus. :D


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 Post subject: Re: A very green Kruger in Jan 2012
Unread postPosted: Mon Mar 26, 2012 9:12 pm 
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Thank you Anri, vinkie, hilda, CoS, MM, Pumbaa, LS and kallis1786 for your comments and participation. Yes, it is nice to be on the only vehicle out at night. (It's even nicer when it's a smaller vehicle and a small group.) I didn't find it scary with the ellies, but I'm not particularly afraid of them, just very careful near them. As MM said, the ellie pics gave one a feel for the scene.

Friday, the day I leave. :cry: I woke up to the sound of hyaena, and shortly afterwards a lion roaring, and I decided to do a short drive downriver in the direction of the calls, before packing the car to go home.

I left Skukuza at 5.35 and turned left at the crossroad. The first sighting was this hyaena which looked like she had something in her mouth, until I had a good look and found that her whole right side lip was gone, with a small piece hanging - not a recent injury. She looked very tatty, obviously a survivor. She looked fine from the other side.
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I drove to the low level bridge to find it busy busy, like the streets of the city, with both cars and pedestrians. :D
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When my turn came I found pied wagtails on the bridge, hamerkops on the sand, and croc and hippos I the water.
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The morning was beautiful and still.
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I drove a short distance down the H4-1 finding whitecrowned shrike, impala, monkey, a dung beetle rolling a ball much larger than himself, more impala and several chongololos.
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I pulled into one of the river lookout loops and had breakfast to the sound of Piet my Vrou, hippo, woodies, and emerald spotted wood dove.

On my way back to Skukuza I stopped to look at carmine bee beaters perched on a dead tree, with a glossy starling on another branch, and a black collared barbet and a Jacobin cuckoo also in the tree. I watched the comings and goings and eventually there were four Jacobins. Also fish eagles, lesser striped swallow, European swallow and a white fronted bee eater in the same vicinity, with impala and baboons near to Skukuza.

I packed the car and had a last look at the resident monkeys and warthogs, a mother who was limping, and her three half-grown youngsters. It always amuses me that they seem to be walking on high heels.
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 Post subject: Re: A very green Kruger in Jan 2012
Unread postPosted: Sat Mar 31, 2012 8:04 pm 
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Thank you Cape of Storms, vinkie, tent dweller and hilda for your comments.

I left Skukuza at 8 am and headed for Numbi gate via the S1 / S3. Not far outside Skukuza I came across this tiny leopard tortoise which must have been all of two inches long. :D
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Impala, kudu, rhino, zebra, arrow marked babblers, bateleur flying, five giraffe, more impala, more zebra on the S1 and I decided to have a look at Phabeni gate and the Albasini ruins being as I was right there. Back on the road a redbreasted swallow, a courting giraffe couple which crossed the road ahead of me, some zebra, a tortoise and these gorgeous Bauhinia galpinii bushes alongside the road.
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I turned onto the S3 and a lizard crossed the road. I saw buffs cooling off in a small dam, and also what I took to be the nests of foam nest frogs, hanging above water.
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I took the road to Pretoriuskop via Shabeni and was rewarded with gorgeous views and two klipspringer.
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At Pretoriuskop the impala were inside the camp, and I also saw Bennett’s woodpecker and redwing starlings. The last animal I saw was an ellie. Love the trees in the Pretoriuskop area. I left the park at 12.45.
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The staff member in the office at Numbi gate was not aware that the Lake Panic hide was open - his updated information list of closed roads was not so up-to-date, and I was able to let him know that I had been there the day before. Even in the reception at Skukuza there was confusion about which roads were closed, and I felt it would have been so helpful for visitors had there been maps on walls in the various camps with the closed roads marked. These could have been updated as roads were opened.

My visit was too short, of course, but even five nights/six days was worth the effort. I didn’t see great quantities of animals, loads of impala, of course, in fact I saw impala on 147 occasions, either singly, small groups or larger herds. Quite a lot of giraffe, kudu, warthogs and monkeys, the nighttime breeding herd of ellies and just a few other small groups, not many zebra or buffalo, a couple of wildebeeste, klipspringer and hippo, seven lions, seven rhino, six hyaena, four wild dogs and a LIT. No saddlebill stork, ground hornbill, steenbok, nyala, duiker, cheetah, and not even one jackal. And sadly, other than ecojunkie’s, I never saw another yellow ribbon on the whole trip.


Last edited by chirinda on Mon Apr 02, 2012 8:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: A very green Kruger in Jan 2012
Unread postPosted: Thu Apr 12, 2012 9:24 pm 
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Thank you one and all for your comments and encouragement. :clap: roaneric, Pumbaa, WendyA, I really enjoyed all the flowers, hilda, Cape of Storms, Heksie, vinkie, Puppy, Lionspoon, yes, I do keep records of everything, but for impala it is just 1 1 1 every time I see some :D , SusieB, and melph68. Hopefully a friend will be visiting from England in August/Sept so we will have to try and visit one of the parks for a few days. :dance:

Here are a couple more pics as a farewell :D .

The beautiful flower of the snuff-box tree (Oncoba spinosa), this one was on the hedge around EJ’s caravan at Malelane.
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An odd sighting, a seedling at Malelane with white leaves in amongst a whole lot of normal ones under a tree.
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This impala has just such a funny expression, I caught her just as she shook her head.
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A beautiful lilac breasted roller
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A gorgeous kudu
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The big hand is on the 12 and the little hand is on the 9 ……
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Time to finish. Thanks for coming with me on this trip to Kruger. :D


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