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 Post subject: Koen Family NZ Long Road to Eden:14 Days in Paradise Oct'12
Unread postPosted: Tue Oct 09, 2012 9:00 am 
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Joined: Wed Mar 01, 2006 9:14 pm
Posts: 16
Location: New Zealand
Fuelling our addiction for Kruger in between trips, we thought it was time to contribute to the forum.

My SO introduced me to the Kruger Park in 1996. This is my seventh trip to Kruger.

The long journey for us (myself, SO, Marco 13 and Maia 9) started in Dunedin, New Zealand. We drove to Christchurch, flew to Sydney into Johannesburg. Altogether it took us 26 hours to get to SA.

The first couple of weeks we spent in Pretoria with my SO’s family and renewing our love for Biltong.

Day 1: 7 April 2012
We left Pretoria early in the morning to make it to Chimp Eden for a tour.

It was extremely sad to hear about the lives of these chimpanzees and what some humans had put them through for their perverse entertainment. We were fortunate to visit Chimp Eden before the incident in May. We had all loved the Chimp Eden programme shown on Animal Planet.

We arrived at Malelane gate around lunch time. Check-in went smoothly and we were on our way into Kruger. We had a competition among ourselves as to what was seen first. My choice was elephant and that was what we saw first. The bush was very thick all the way to Afsaal where we had a pit stop. It was quite busy due to the Easter break. The road between Afsaal and Skukuza was very quiet. We were staying at Skukuza for three nights. We had requested huts on the left hand side of the restaurant but when we booked in, was given one on the right hand side. My SO spoke to the camp manager and made a couple of changes and arranged a hut for us on the left. Great service.

Afternoon drive: Went for a short afternoon drive on the Skukuza-Lower Sabie highway. The road was very quiet but it was a powerful sight to see the damage from the floods in January. We went back to camp and had delicious ribs and toasted sandwiches on the braai - so yummy!

Image
Untitled by Koen2317, on Flickr

Even though the first day was a quiet one as far as sightings were concerned, it was great to be back in Africa – but more and exciting sightings were to come …

Day 2: 8 April 2012
On our travels we were extremely lucky to see this – a black rhino (a first for me and the kids).

Image
Untitled by Koen2317, on Flickr

We travelled from Skukuza to Nhlanguleni, especially to look for sable. When we arrived at Nhlanguleni we watched two elephants at the waterhole and impala acting extremely nervous and running but couldn’t see what was making them so edgy.

We saw the usual array of animals on the morning drive with a couple of breeding herds of elephants on the S36. We were going to take the Vutomi road (S33) back to camp, but this was closed due to the flooding so decided to travel a bit further up and follow the S125 back to the H1-3 and back to camp. This was our first opportunity to see Tshokwane after the floods.

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Untitled by Koen2317, on Flickr

I love taking a picture with more than one type of animal in it

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Untitled by Koen2317, on Flickr

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Untitled by Koen2317, on Flickr

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Untitled by Koen2317, on Flickr


Last edited by roaneric on Sun Jan 06, 2013 11:08 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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 Post subject: Re: The Long Road to Eden: 14 Days in Paradise
Unread postPosted: Tue Oct 09, 2012 9:44 am 
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Joined: Wed Mar 01, 2006 9:14 pm
Posts: 16
Location: New Zealand
Afternoon drive: H11, S65, H1-1, H3

Image
Untitled by Koen2317, on Flickr

I love LBR's, but you have to be quick to get a pic

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Untitled by Koen2317, on Flickr

Approaching the low water bridge on the S65 we could hear alarm calls from monkeys on the opposite bank. We slowly drove across the bridge.

Coming up the embankment on the other side I uttered (stuttered more like) the words I thought I would never say “ah … LEOPARD!” This was the first time I had actually spotted a leopard myself!! Yay. My heart took a while to calm down after that.

I had just caught a glimpse of its face as it was starting to come down the bank. Obviously seeing us, the leopard changed its mind and sloped back into the bush. I managed to get a picture but you can only just see some spots in the background. We realised the leopard was still around with the noise the monkeys were making. Other cars were turning up in their droves being the southern Kruger and before long there was a traffic jam occurring so we decided to head back to camp.

Day 3: 9 April 2012

Morning drive: Skukuza-Lower Sabie-Mlondozi-Skukuza

Our first exciting sighting of the day were about four to five wild dogs, albeit a bit hard to see as they were amongst trees and lying down and also lots of people around. We had not seen wild dogs for a few years so they were great to see. We couldn’t stay for long due to traffic and also other people wanting to have a look. Very hard to get any decent pics. Maybe later?

We had a pit stop at Nkuhlu where the moneys were being a bit annoying.

Image
Untitled by Koen2317, on Flickr

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Untitled by Koen2317, on Flickr

A big breeding herd came out of the river and crossed the road behind us.

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Untitled by Koen2317, on Flickr

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Untitled by Koen2317, on Flickr

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Untitled by Koen2317, on Flickr

We did the obligatory stop at Sunset Dam before heading off to Lower Sabie. It was noticeable to us the lesser amount of animals next to the river as the last two trips were in July/August with prolific game viewing next to the river. We had a pit stop for food at Lower Sabie which was toasted sandwiches that were really good. We took the short drive up to Mlondozi and then headed back to Skukuza via the S30. It was very hot and the car temperature gauge rose up to 47 degrees. You sure don't get those temperatures in New Zealand!! Lucky for air con!

The wild dogs were where we had left them the morning with one huge traffic jam. We got to spend about two mins with them before we had to head off.

Image
Untitled by Koen2317, on Flickr

Image
Untitled by Koen2317, on Flickr

Later we went for a beautiful swim in the Skukuza pool to cool down. We had the pool all to ourselves for ages. Went for a short afternoon drive but didn’t see much.


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 Post subject: Re: The Long Road to Eden: 14 Days in Paradise
Unread postPosted: Tue Oct 09, 2012 10:50 am 
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Joined: Wed Mar 01, 2006 9:14 pm
Posts: 16
Location: New Zealand
Day 4: 10 April 2012: Skukuza to Croc Bridge

Morning drive
Driving between Skukuza and LS was pretty quiet. When we got to the S79 my SO stopped and said “we never take this road, should we do it for a change?”. Myself and Marco said “yes”.

Coming through the river bed, out on the other side, a female leopard was standing right in the road. This was our second leopard sighting in two days - great luck. She disappeared into the bush down towards the river. We sat there for a while seeing if she would reappear and drove on a wee bit further, when we heard leopard noises coming from the river. We followed the noises up the road a wee way, around the corner and there she was. She disappeared again into the bushes. We stopped and waited. After about 10 mins we decided to turn around and go back down the road. We saw her in the distance. We drove down the road and SO excitedly yelled “what’s lying over here, it’s a lion ... no, it’s a leopard – it’s a breeding pair!!!”.

Image
Untitled by Koen2317, on Flickr

Image
Untitled by Koen2317, on Flickr

We stopped when we got to the male leopard, he turned around, looked at us for a while. The female came walking back towards him. They got up and went back into the bush. We did not see them again.



After a short stop at LS, we headed down to Croc Bridge.

Image
Sunset Dam by Koen2317, on Flickr

Image
Sunset Dam by Koen2317, on Flickr

By the time we got to CB, it was not even lunchtime as the road was very quiet. We decided to head back to LS on the S28 as there were lots of pins on the sighting board.

Heading up the S28, we were lucky enough to spot our first lion of the trip way in the distance but she was walking towards the road. We rounded a bend and my son said "3 .. 2 .. 1" and there she was - crossing right in front of us - how was that for perfect timing! Our first Big 5 ticked off.

Image
Untitled by Koen2317, on Flickr


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 Post subject: Re: The Long Road to Eden: 14 Days in Paradise
Unread postPosted: Wed Oct 10, 2012 7:42 am 
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Joined: Wed Mar 01, 2006 9:14 pm
Posts: 16
Location: New Zealand
Day 4: 10 April 2012 continued
Had lunch at LS. Arrived at CB at about 3.00pm. While unpacking at Croc Bridge there were lots of monkeys around the camp. These monkeys turned out to be real pests from sunup to sundown. On our second day they had disappeared but were back by the third. One monkey’s arm was down to the bone.

Image
Untitled by Koen2317, on Flickr

Image
Untitled by Koen2317, on Flickr

Went out for a quick drive to Gesanftombi Dam before the sun went down and watched some elephants drinking and rolling in the dirt.

Image
Untitled by Koen2317, on Flickr

Day 5: 11 April 2012 - Morning Drive
We drove to Gesanftombi Dam and on the rocks in the distance were two lion cubs and three females catching the first rays of the day.

Image
Untitled by Koen2317, on Flickr

We were to see these lions just about every day we were in the Croc Bridge area.

We travelled the S25 with very limited sightings, then the S24 because of the road further on being closed. Went up to Mpondo Dam to look for sable (still have not seen them - been looking for them for 10 years). Had breakfast at the dam. While we were there a lone lioness walked over the dam wall but quickly disappeared into the long grass.

Image
Untitled by Koen2317, on Flickr


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 Post subject: Re: The Long Road to Eden: 14 Days in Paradise
Unread postPosted: Wed Oct 10, 2012 9:04 am 
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Joined: Wed Mar 01, 2006 9:14 pm
Posts: 16
Location: New Zealand
On the way back to camp, spotted usual game. These zebra had a quick drink before marching back up the road.

Image
Untitled by Koen2317, on Flickr
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Untitled by Koen2317, on Flickr

When we reached Gesanftombi Dam the lions we had seen earlier had moved to some shade beneath the bridge.

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Untitled by Koen2317, on Flickr
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Untitled by Koen2317, on Flickr
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P4117801-copy by Koen2317, on Flickr

There was a lot of traffic on the bridge. Some of the lions left and we watched as one cub tried to get across the road to its mother but couldn’t as it was being chased by the cars.

Image
Untitled by Koen2317, on Flickr

Day 6: 12 April 2012

Went up the S28 and saw a couple of big herds of buffalo, and elephants and then onto Mlondozi picnic for breakfast. My SO and daughter went to buy a drink. As he went to step over a rock, he saw a black and yellow striped snake slither away into the bush. What a close call!

I love this silhoulette of a gymnogene

Image
Untitled by Koen2317, on Flickr

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Lower Sabie by Koen2317, on Flickr

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Untitled by Koen2317, on Flickr

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Untitled by Koen2317, on Flickr

Moved onto Nthadanyathi hide which was very quiet apart from the resident hippos and egyptian geese.

Much later went on the S28 and saw huge herd of buffalos and our eye was caught by this recent arrival
Image
New born buffalo by Koen2317, on Flickr

Last shots of the day:
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Untitled by Koen2317, on Flickr
This wee one was having fun playing with a stick

Image
Untitled by Koen2317, on Flickr

I love the sunrises and sunsets in Kruger! You can never take enough photos and they look great on canvas.


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 Post subject: Re: The Long Road to Eden: 14 Days in Paradise
Unread postPosted: Wed Oct 10, 2012 10:25 am 
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Joined: Wed Mar 01, 2006 9:14 pm
Posts: 16
Location: New Zealand
Day 7: 13 April 2012
We left Croc Bridge to head up to Olifants for one night. I was looking forward to the magnificent views that can be seen from camp.

Stopped off at Orpen which was a first for me and the kids - very peaceful and serene.

Settled in at Olifants and chilled out for the rest of the afternoon doing some bird spotting in camp.

Image
Untitled by Koen2317, on Flickr
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Olifants Rest Camp by Koen2317, on Flickr
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Olifants Rest Camp by Koen2317, on Flickr

Day 8: 14 April 2012
We said goodbye to Olifants, travelled down to Satara and eventually back up to Lebata. Our daughter piped up from the back and said “where’s my pillow”. She had left it behind at camp and as it was Ouma’s, we decided to go back and retrieve it. If it wasn’t for the pillow, we would have missed our next couple of sightings.

Back on the road again we spotted our first hyenas of the trip - unfortunately sucking on a beer bottle.

Image
Untitled by Koen2317, on Flickr

Not 10 minutes down this quiet road, I found myself saying words that I don't usually say as there are always better spotters than me ... "there's a leopard". "Where" my SO says. "Right over there on the left", I say. It was coming down towards the road, weaving in and out of the bush, but the moment it saw us, it changed its course and went back into the bush. No time to take photos but did manage a little video. This was our fourth leopard of the trip.

Another car came while we were still watching the leopard go further into the bush and for once it wasn't someone saying to us "... you just missed it" or "it just crossed the road" - we were telling them! Anyway, neither of us saw it again.

A bit further down the road - three more hyenas and on the tar road more hyenas sniffing around the cars - wow, so many in such a short space of time.

Later in the day we arrived at Letaba and checked in. The hut we were given was beside the restaurant - the best view in Letaba.


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 Post subject: Re: The Long Road to Eden: 14 Days in Paradise
Unread postPosted: Thu Oct 11, 2012 9:41 am 
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Joined: Wed Mar 01, 2006 9:14 pm
Posts: 16
Location: New Zealand
Day 8: 14 April 2012 continued

We were unpacking when my SO noticed a commotion in the river bed. Watch these videos.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YlpkhnxoAqI

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8BXpf9wfJSw

Day 9: 15 April 2012
Drove up to Mooiplaas and had breakfast – we were the only ones there. We went and travelled the loop of Capricorn. We were lucky to see some Tsessebe.

Image
Untitled by Koen2317, on Flickr

At N’wambu Pan we saw a big herd of eland in the distance approaching the pan. There were general game including tsessebe at the waterhole. After sitting there for a while we noticed the saddest sight. A skinny baby elephant all by itself was walking around and around the concrete dam. There were no other elephants in sight. My daughter wanted my SO to catch it and take it to the camp.

Image
Untitled by Koen2317, on Flickr
Image
Untitled by Koen2317, on Flickr

On the way back to camp we saw general game. They were not plentiful and few and far between but going next to the Letaba River sightings picked up and we saw Mahlahini (identified by Aat).

Image
Mahlahini at Lebata by Koen2317, on Flickr
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Mahlahini at Lebata by Koen2317, on Flickr

Back at camp, we had a swim and waited for the rest of my SO’s family to arrive: Oupa (65 years going to Kruger), Ouma (50 years going), sister-in-law (43 years going) and brother-in-law (about 24 years going).

Visited the Letaba Elephant Hall. This is my son (in the front) and his cousin in 2001 and my son now in 2012.

Image
Untitled by Koen2317, on Flickr
Image
Untitled by Koen2317, on Flickr

and my daughter
Image
Untitled by Koen2317, on Flickr

Day 10: 16 April 2012

Image
Letaba Rest Camp by Koen2317, on Flickr

Tonight we were staying at the Sable Hide which was a first for our family, Ouma and Oupa. Went for a short drive down the river, came back to camp for breakfast. Did not see much. Then went to Phalaborwa Gate to collect bedding. It was sad to hear that the people who were there the previous night had not returned the braai so we had to wait while they went and bought a new one. Arrived at the hide and set up just before darkness descended. Three elephants decided that it was time for a swim and play. They were swimming and playhing for a good couple of hours, making noises while we were braaing and they continued long after we went to bed. It was great drifting off to sleep hearing them in the background.

Image
Sable Dam by Koen2317, on Flickr

The kids and their aunty Petro packing up:
Image
Sable Dam Hide by Koen2317, on Flickr
Image
Sable Dam Hide by Koen2317, on Flickr

While having coffee the next morning some lions roared in the distance.

A great experience which we all thoroughly enjoyed.


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 Post subject: Re: The Long Road to Eden: 14 Days in Paradise
Unread postPosted: Thu Oct 11, 2012 10:20 am 
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Joined: Wed Mar 01, 2006 9:14 pm
Posts: 16
Location: New Zealand
Day 11: 17 April 2012
We went back to Phalaborwa Gate to hand the bedding over then started the long journey to Lower Sabie.

This trip was pretty uneventful until we got to the view point over the Olifants River. While driving up there, we were joking with Ouma who had had her muesli bar stolen out of her hand in 2009 after warning her about the monkeys. We told them that there were no monkeys anymore, probably because of the lack of tourists going up there after the floods and as we had been there 3 days earlier and not seen any. We got out of the car and low and behold a lady said “there’s a monkey in your car”, as SO had left his window open. The monkey had made its way from the front of the car to the back and taken my newly purchased salt and vinegar chips (at least he has got good taste!). We opened all the doors and chased it out. The only evidence of its visit were dusty footprints all over the car.

From here on the road was pretty quiet, with signs near Tshokwane of herds of zebra and blue wildebeest making their migration towards greener pastures.

We got to Lower Sabie later in the day and checked in. Today was also a special day for my son who turned 14. We had pre-ordered a cake which was made in Skukuza and delivered to Lower Sabie for us. What an amazing cake. Thanks to the staff who made us such a wonderful and yummy cake.

Image
Untitled by Koen2317, on Flickr

Day 12: 18 April 2012
Early morning saw us travelling down the S28 when we saw cars up ahead in the distance. These cars seemed to be looking at something in the bush but coming towards us were a mother cheetah and her two cubs. It was strange that these cars up the front did not follow the cheetahs but stayed put. The cheetahs also showed signs of nervousness by looking over their shoulders all the time. We proceeded to follow the cheetahs backwards for quite a distance and had some great sightings of them posing.

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Untitled by Koen2317, on Flickr
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Untitled by Koen2317, on Flickr
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Untitled by Koen2317, on Flickr
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Untitled by Koen2317, on Flickr
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Untitled by Koen2317, on Flickr
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Untitled by Koen2317, on Flickr

Eventually one of the cars that was previously parked up the front that had disappeared returned. The man asked us if we had seen lions. After we said we hadn't, we asked if he had seen the cheetahs. He said yes but they heard lions roaring in the bush and were more interested in seeing if they could see them than seeing cheetah. My SO calls him a "leeu jagter". Travelling on down the road, we saw numerous game, returned via the tar road between Croc Bridge and Lower Sabie. We found this in a tree between Croc Bridge and Gesanftombi dam. It hadn’t been there earlier on. We waited around for a while and watched the vultures trying to get to the kill.

Image
Untitled by Koen2317, on Flickr
Image
Untitled by Koen2317, on Flickr

For the afternoon we decided to take our new lucky road, the S79. Travelling down the road after the dip we saw this in the middle of the road

Image
Untitled by Koen2317, on Flickr
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Untitled by Koen2317, on Flickr
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Untitled by Koen2317, on Flickr
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Untitled by Koen2317, on Flickr
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Untitled by Koen2317, on Flickr

We followed it for a while. Eventually it disappeared.

We turned around and went back on the same route when we saw this honey badger (rather obscured) – a first for me, my son and daughter.

Image
Hiding Honey Badger by Koen2317, on Flickr


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 Post subject: Re: The Long Road to Eden: 14 Days in Paradise
Unread postPosted: Sun Oct 14, 2012 3:55 am 
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Joined: Wed Mar 01, 2006 9:14 pm
Posts: 16
Location: New Zealand
One story I forgot to tell was from Letaba. On the verandah at our hut in Letaba we had a pair of swallows and their nest. After returning from our second day’s drive, someone had smashed the nest (obviously so they didn’t have to clean up the poo which was on the side of the hut every day). While we were sitting outside that night, the swallows started rebuilding their nest and got it half finished by the end of the night.


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 Post subject: Re: The Long Road to Eden: 14 Days in Paradise
Unread postPosted: Sun Oct 14, 2012 6:22 am 
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Joined: Wed Mar 01, 2006 9:14 pm
Posts: 16
Location: New Zealand
Day 13: 19 April 2012
We had breakfast today at the Skukuza day visitors picnic site and a beautiful swim in the pool. Both are lovely spots.

Image
Untitled by Koen2317, on Flickr

These two provided a bit of entertainment:

Image
Impalas rutting by Koen2317, on Flickr

We couldn't miss the S79 and again it delivered a python slithering across the road and going towards a tree where we caught a glimpse and then it was gone.

This fellow was having lunch:

Image
Fish Eagle by Koen2317, on Flickr

It was a relatively quiet afternoon and we spent the end of it at Sunset Dam where there were lots of animals to watch.

Image
Sunset Dam by Koen2317, on Flickr

We watched as a big crocodile started stalking a smaller crocodile in the water. The little one was onto him and moved out of the water on the bank near where the carparks are. We watched the bigger one over the next 15 mins or so slowly move itself closer and closer to the little one. When it got too close for comfort the little one made a beeline for the water, literally running on top of the water for the first couple of metres and then swimming as fast as it could to the safety of some hippos.

Image
Sunset Dam by Koen2317, on Flickr

A video:


Later on we watched the guinea fowl flying in and securing the best spot to bed down for the night:
Image
Sunset Dam by Koen2317, on Flickr

Day 14: 20 April 2012
Today we packed up and left Kruger. We were now heading to St Lucia via Croc Bridge. Not far down the road we spotted a few cars. Wondering what they were looking for as they were looking into a bush, a leopard appeared (our sixth leopard of the trip, and they were all very close - we were so lucky with all our leopard sightings). It walked in between all the cars, sniffing them as it went. It was being very inquisitive and curious. It would go into the bush, then come out again. There were now many cars following it. We followed it for quite a while and it was a great last cat sighting to round off our trip. We could only stay for about 10 mins as we had a long way to go that day. I think this has to be the most time we have spent with a leopard close by. It didn’t seem bothered by all the noise of the traffic as there was one very loud truck.

Image
Lower Sabie, Kruger Park-April 2012 by Koen2317, on Flickr
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Lower Sabie, Kruger Park-April 2012 by Koen2317, on Flickr
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Lower Sabie, Kruger Park-April 2012 by Koen2317, on Flickr

Some videos:




Well sadly, this trip report has come to an end. I will definitely do one next time.

Thanks to everyone who posted comments. It certainly motivates and inspires you to carry on. :)


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 Post subject: Re: The Long Road to Eden: 14 Days in Paradise
Unread postPosted: Sun Oct 14, 2012 7:38 am 
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Joined: Wed Mar 01, 2006 9:14 pm
Posts: 16
Location: New Zealand
Here are some random pics:
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Untitled by Koen2317, on Flickr
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Untitled by Koen2317, on Flickr
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Lower Sabie by Koen2317, on Flickr
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Puff Adder by Koen2317, on Flickr
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Klipspringer by Koen2317, on Flickr
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Untitled by Koen2317, on Flickr
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Untitled by Koen2317, on Flickr
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Untitled by Koen2317, on Flickr
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Untitled by Koen2317, on Flickr


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 Post subject: Re: The Long Road to Eden: 14 Days in Paradise
Unread postPosted: Sun Oct 14, 2012 7:47 am 
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Joined: Wed Mar 01, 2006 9:14 pm
Posts: 16
Location: New Zealand
Image
Untitled by Koen2317, on Flickr
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Untitled by Koen2317, on Flickr
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Untitled by Koen2317, on Flickr
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Untitled by Koen2317, on Flickr
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Untitled by Koen2317, on Flickr
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Untitled by Koen2317, on Flickr
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Untitled by Koen2317, on Flickr
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Untitled by Koen2317, on Flickr
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Untitled by Koen2317, on Flickr
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Untitled by Koen2317, on Flickr
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Untitled by Koen2317, on Flickr
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Untitled by Koen2317, on Flickr
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Untitled by Koen2317, on Flickr
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Untitled by Koen2317, on Flickr
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Untitled by Koen2317, on Flickr


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