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 Post subject: Kaapsedraai's Kruger: from south-to-north .... Dec. 2012
Unread postPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2013 6:30 pm 
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First of all, this is my first TR after visiting Kruger 4 years in a row…hope I am doing justice in adding value in the same way I have gained from all the forumites contributions.

Thursday, 13 Dec’12 we landed 08h30 at OR Tambo from Cape Town, was disappointed with car hire as I reserved a Nissan X Trail 10 months ago ending up driving a Kia Sportage (we drove one the previous year and loved it, but we were only me, SO and daughter then). The reason was that my in-laws accompanied us this time round, hence needed a bigger car for luggage etc. Nevertheless, all worked out fine with boot space just making it. :?

We set off to Nelspruit via N4, stopping at Crossings Spar (as per usual), then headed for the nearest gate, Numbi, but for some reason, I missed the turn off, then headed for Phabeni – a first time entry for me. Whilst driving through the towns towards the gate, SO and my in-laws (former northern Free Staters before they moved to Cape Town) were hinting at me stopping to buy some of those white mealies fom the local residents longside the road, but my mission was to get into Kruger and thought they were having me one - which they were not.

First things first before entering, put on the YR on the one side mirror and OR (orange ribbon – KNP sightings) on the other, cameras on my lap, and here we go, taking the S1 Doispane road towards Skukuza. Our first sightings were couple of hamerkop on the bridge over the Hlulamadvodza river followed by a large lonely elephant bull and then this fellow welcomed us with a ‘heads up’ gesture.
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These guys were also hard at work whilst we were on vacation... :hmz:
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Before booking in at Skukuza, I had an appointment with myself (that place you will visit giving you the feeling – you are home, peace and quiet) – Lake Panic! There was relatively little activity compared to our previous trips, but the quietness was good as one relax immediately and could hear how noisy the quietness actually is. (For some photos you can refer to Lake Panic gallery started by Jan van Wyk).

After settling in at the Elsie Clark unit as we normally do when visiting Skukuza, and visited the shop to get our Kruger passports with stamps, we did another first and that is to eat out at the Selati restaurant, just next door – and thoroughly enjoyed the food and the service was excellent. Yummy …
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It was also a time to pause and think – the morning we were still in Cape Town and now relaxing 1164 miles away in Skukuza.
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And so we have started our 16 days south-to-north-and-back Kruger trip i.e.:
Enter at Phabeni gate with 2 nights each at Skukuza, Biyamiti, Lower Sabie, Satara, Mopani, Punda Maria, Shingwedzi and 1 night at Letaba and Satara with exit at Numbi gate.

I might get carried away with detail and refer to previous trips (as per DinkyBird’s threat on “Golden Oldies – memories created over time”, but mine will not be ‘old’, just slightly matured moments…), so please advise if I must rather get more in slide show mode than detail.

Day 2 to follow …a one with dots and painted colours

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Trip Reports: Kruger NP, West Coast NP, Addo NP, Garden Route - Storms River & Wildernis


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 Post subject: Re: Kruger: from south-to-north-and-back
Unread postPosted: Thu Feb 21, 2013 6:38 pm 
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Thank you barryels, lion queen. Before I get to day 2, let me first answer Sheenaugh-Lee.
Quote:
Im interested to hear what type of run in you had in June 2012 and with what?

In June'12 on our last day we were slowly driving one of the loops in Addo when we passed ranger in his bakkie with an atenna going in the opposite direction. We continued for about a few hundred meters when another white bakkie with honorary rangers badge on the door went passed us in a hurry. We continued slowly and as it was bush both sides of the road we drove extra slowly to look for possible caracal or something alike. As we approached a high bush about 3 meters from it, a black rhino charged out from behind and hit our car's front bumper. Before I could do anything he stepped backwards and charged again, but thgs time he his horn hit the car's radiator. He moved back and ran into the bush. We were totally shocked :big_eyes:. :big_eyes: :big_eyes:

I waited a minute, got out to see what has happened and saw water running out and realised we are stuck. At that time the head ranger stopped behind me as the honarary rangers stopped him and told him that this rhino had charged them just before us, hence him turning back and was looking for this rhino as he has injured the calf that previous night.

John, that the Head Ranger's name, helped us and took us back to the Rest camp, but on our way he took the detour towards Addo police station so I can report the incident. The policeman on duty did not want to assist as the place of the incident does not fall under their area, but John was prepared and insisted and as a result they assisted. On our way back to the camp, I managed to contact the Insurance and on arrival at Reception, the forms were there already. The staff at Addo was brilliant and assisted me to get the forms faxed back to the Insurance and also offered an extra night without cost.

Later that afternoon, the breakdown phoned and was already at the car for pickup and another ranger took me their. On arrival, about 200m from the car, guess who was waiting and ready to charge .... :big_eyes:. As he was about to get ready for a charge, the ranger accelerated and managed to get away. At this time I could get a photo of the rhino. The car was loaded on the pick-up for transport back to Cape Town.

The next morning, my Insurance arranged a hired car for us and it arrived as we were about to depart to Tstsikamma, our next stop. I bumped into John at reception again and asked how the rhino is and he told me the sad news that this bull had killed the calf and the cow that night. :wall: :wall:

The good news is that the rhino is ok and we have not sustained any injuries, just the car damage but that is of a material nature. We are just glad that the rhino was ok. I contacted John again a few months later and he told us "I think it was a territorial issue and you happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. Normally this animal is very relaxed and is not flustered by vehicles"

I was hestitant to share this experience as to avoid any tendency in creating sensation. The lesson we learnt is that when you are in their territory, you can expect anything, but obviously with the necessary respect and precausion to be taken - does not matter in which park you find yourself in.

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Trip Reports: Kruger NP, West Coast NP, Addo NP, Garden Route - Storms River & Wildernis


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 Post subject: Re: Kruger: from south-to-north-and-back
Unread postPosted: Thu Feb 21, 2013 11:09 pm 
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It is Friday, 14 Dec’12, and right at the crossing outside of the Skukuza, 3 hyenas were walking around.
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Off to Lake Panic for early morning sunrise (as mentioned before, the Lake Panic photos have been uploaded on Lake Panic gallery thread) and on our way back later the morning as drove slowly towards Skukuza on H11, this beautiful leopard was posing in a tree just before staff village turn off. We went back later the afternoon and only saw a leg of an impala lying in another tree close by.
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The birds of prey were quite active and as we drove the roads around Skukuza we managed to get a few photos (I hope I have identified them correctly – you are welcome to correct me where applicable)
Brown snake eagle
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Wahlberg's eagle
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Tawny eagle
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The afternoon was equally eventful as we met some more predators around Skukuza. To be continued...

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Trip Reports: Kruger NP, West Coast NP, Addo NP, Garden Route - Storms River & Wildernis


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 Post subject: Re: Kruger: from south-to-north-and-back
Unread postPosted: Fri Feb 22, 2013 5:48 pm 
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As it is our accustom when in Skukuza, Lake Panic gets visited first on our early afternoon drive and then again just before gate closing. It continues to be relatively quiet sightings wise, but managed to get a few pics of the locals i.e. Jacana, grey heron, pied kingfishers and dragonflies. (Jan, if you are reading this – in my mind’s eye I pictured you sitting in the corner of the hide for maximum lake coverage – and a thought came up “maybe I must put a sign up saying – “Corner Reserved for Jan van Wyk”, knowing that you were on your way to LP following your trip to Kgalagadi and will entertain us with your magnificent photos).

After a while, we left Lake Panic and took the H11 towards Kruger Gate and came across a few cars looking at something in the long grass. As we drove closer, we spotted the wild dogs, but at first the visibility was poor. Later some got up and came closer to the road. I guess it was the Skukuza pack, but could only see a few of them.
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Whilst observing them, my wife complained that her camera struggled to focus, then we realized that there is something in the way… which was this spiderweb with Mr G Orb playing a waiting game, whilst at the same time disturbing the focus on the wild dogs. But…it turned out to be a bonus as could be seen…
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Next to us was a Toyota and the lady and gentleman have noticed our orange ribbon (KNP sightings bbm group) and we started talking. They were actually Nadav Ossendrywer’s parents on their way to pick up Nadav from Skukuza where he attended a seminar/course/training. What coincidence this was – just shows that there is benefit in identifying yourself via the ribbons.

We took the road towards Steven Hamilton where we saw this kudu with skin pigmentation which was a unique sighting in a way.
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Then close to Renosterkoppiesdam (S114) we encountered our first lion sighting. Although not a clear shot, but the fact remains - a lion sighting is a lion sighting, especially if it is the first one on the trip.
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Being bird lovers, this black collared babbler entertained us with calls in true babbler fashion.
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Just before gate closing, it was time to pay another visit to Lake Panic to see if the hippos have come closer to the hide and was once again rewarded by a spylike stare and this yawn… :hmz:
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At this fitting note, it was time to head back to camp for something to eat and a good night’s rest.
Day 3 proved to be equally exiting as we were making our way to Biyamiti, but first we enjoyed a magnificent early morning sighting of the Skukuza pack – all 16 of them…up close and personal :dance:

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Trip Reports: Kruger NP, West Coast NP, Addo NP, Garden Route - Storms River & Wildernis


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 Post subject: Re: Kruger: from south-to-north-and-back
Unread postPosted: Sat Feb 23, 2013 1:45 pm 
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When in Kruger one lost track of time and which day it is, I guess this is partly why a Kruger experience is so unique in a way. Our first stop, as we left Skukuza for Biyamiti, guess where…Lake Panic of course!

Whilst occupying the corner, trying to capture those blue waxbills busy building a nest, a gentleman was busy setting up his camera with a massive lens (poor birds – ‘tongue in cheek’) – on a tripod and taking photos with a remote device. Here I am with a 400 mm lens, just admiring his bazuka :big_eyes: – wondering how those photos will look like – must be brilliant. Maybe some of you might recognize the feeling :redface: … maybe I must leave now…crossed my mind???. But then I thought - :naughty: no, no need to feel intimidated… ‘one day when I am big….’. :hmz:

This was our last stop at Lake Panic and as we approached the T junction with H11, a gentleman stopped us and said we must go to the S1 Doispane road…we will not be disappointed :dance:. So, we turned right and off we went and just about 1 km from the H11 on the S1, there they were ...running in an effortless and rhythmic fashion down the road, all 16 of them – wild/painted dogs WOW :clap: . We followed them for a few hundred metres when they suddenly all stopped and decided it is time to rest. This was time to get up close and personal with them… photo shoot time! :cam: :cam: :cam: :cam:
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it is time out time...I got 14 of the 16 in this shot.
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A taxi came past and ran them all over.... :hmz: :naughty: :naughty: :naughty: just jocking, they were all sleeping or are they playing dead hoping we will all go home?
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It was just so interesting to see how they get on with one another - "if you rest your leg on my body, then I am using yours as a cushion".
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Jik, he was letting it all out and once done rolled in it and then started to eat it again... :big_eyes:
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With this face, one is tempted to put him in the boot and take him home...
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Heading towards Biyamiti on the H3, we met Adoons and family, but this guy, the main man, had other things on his mind – it makes one appreciate what such an animal can do with those teeth :hmz: .
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Further down the road we spotted this ‘trap-suutjie’ (verkleurmannetjie of is dit ‘n verkleurvroutjie?) or translated chameleon. I have read Sheenaugh-Lee's concern for them in B.B.B.B.B’s thread, hence thought – a must inclusion. This was 1 of 3 sightings of these ‘rolling eyes – guys’. :roll:
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Heading towards Biyamiti, we first did a brunch-stop at Afsaal. Although it was hot, we tasted some amarula coffee –“as Jan Spies used to say – mmm koffie kapitaal”. I did not spot the owl in the trees at the time of visit – wondering if the owl is still there – perhaps someone could advise, please. Then we were off to a spot that I had fond memories of - Biyamiti Weir!

To do justice to this unique spot, I have clustered all my sightings in one as we visited the area twice over the next 2 days. Look out for my next posting – where I will also share why I fell in love with this spot – Biyamiti Weir..coming up next…

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Trip Reports: Kruger NP, West Coast NP, Addo NP, Garden Route - Storms River & Wildernis


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 Post subject: Re: Kruger: from south-to-north-and-back
Unread postPosted: Sun Feb 24, 2013 12:12 pm 
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Thank you to all - barryels & hilda (enjoy KTP :mrgreen: ), Trrp-trrrrrrrr, Goronta, john n poppy, Meandering Mouse, Philip1, Sheenaugh-Lee. I really appreciate everyone's feedback :thumbs_up:

On the wild dogs matter, it might be approprate to share this experience: We were in Kruger 2009 & 2010 and never seen wild dogs. 2011 Dec we headed north starting 1st night at Sable hide and our friends that were with us parted half-way as they were heading south and we north - whilst in Punda Maria they sms-ed us they got wild dog sighting ay Crocodile bridge on their way out.
Impulsively we decided that we must go south as our last camp was Letaba and planned to exit Orpen gate, we contacted Satara and they got an open bumgalow so we extended our stay with another day. Now we can from Satara spend our time exiting south in the hope to see wild dogs. Last night at6 Satara, less than 2 hours before gate closing, heading west towards Orpen gate, entered the S39 Timbivati road and few kms up the road we noticed a bakkie flashing lights at us. As we got closer - there they were - pack of wild dogs - our first wild dog sighting! Our extra day paid off!!! :hands: Here is one of the guys showing teeth.

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Trip Reports: Kruger NP, West Coast NP, Addo NP, Garden Route - Storms River & Wildernis


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 Post subject: Re: Kruger: from south-to-north-and-back
Unread postPosted: Sun Feb 24, 2013 2:56 pm 
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It is Biyamiti time…but first the Weir. Unfortunately, I did not take a scenic photo of the Biyamiti Weir, but will be on my list for next year’s planned trip.

Down memory lane, I think is worth sharing, is that in Sep’10 we explored the S114 and stopped at the Weir – as you drive down to the causway, you find yourslf eye level with the calm flowing water from the dam. We stopped at the overflow section and within 3 meters of us, suddenly this crocodile appeared out of the blue and gave us a fright :big_eyes:
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This time round we spotted a couple of hippos and waterbirds...
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Pied kingfisher
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Little egret
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Three-banded plover
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Marsh sandpiper
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Hamerkop
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On the S139 gravelroad towards Biyamiti we encountered some ellies in the road, but slowly they crossed and we managed to continue. After settling in at Biyamiti and rested a bit, SO, daughter and mother-in-law went for a walk. Upon their return, my daughter was so excited, running towards me telling me the news that grandmother nearly stepped on a large monitor and they all got one big fright :dance: :dance: or should it rather be :naughty: :oops: :big_eyes:

As we wanted to braai, and in need for some braaiwood etc so we took the road to Crocodile Bridge where we had some wonderful sightings of general game and some birds at the different causeways across the rivers. The one sighting that was a first was upon our return, we spotted this pearl spotted owl (correct?) close to the camp.
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Day 4 – although no predator sightings, we were in for a treat – X and V shaped poses by the shy gentle giants of Kruger, rain and more rain awaited us…but not before an early morning scare…to be continued

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Trip Reports: Kruger NP, West Coast NP, Addo NP, Garden Route - Storms River & Wildernis


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 Post subject: Re: Kruger: from south-to-north-and-back
Unread postPosted: Sun Feb 24, 2013 3:05 pm 
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Correction - The owl should be rather a verreaux (giant) eagle owl? :oops:
The pearl spotted owl will be in next posting.

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Trip Reports: Kruger NP, West Coast NP, Addo NP, Garden Route - Storms River & Wildernis


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 Post subject: Re: Kruger: from south-to-north-and-back
Unread postPosted: Mon Feb 25, 2013 7:47 pm 
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It is day 4, overcast and rain forecasted. The plan is to take the S25 and drive towards Gardenia hide and Berg ‘n Dal via S110 Mutjulu-loop and waterhole. About 1 km from the Biyamiti camp on the S139, as we approached one of the downhills, a long large black snake jumped literally straight up into the air and disappeared like lightning into the long grass next to the road :big_eyes: . It all happened so quickly and is still today amazed at how high the snake had "jumped" or raised up in the air. The debate still remains who got the biggest fright - the snake or us. Now we all were awake and our concentration levels increased by 100%. (no photo available - apologies :( ).

Just as we got onto the S25, we came across these 2 giraffes who entertained us by this ritual necking encounter between them….what a brilliant display to watch. I tried to upload a video clip, but was unsuccessful…will try again…
...first an X formation giraffe ritual
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...then a V formation giraffe ritual
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As we continued with our drive along the S25, it started to rain, the gravel road getting slippery with waterstreams appearing everywhere. It is just amazing how quickly the soil gets saturated and water starts flowing. Just before Gardenia hide, this guy was rolling his eyes…I guess the scare of the snake earlier contributed to the senses of everyone in the car to be more alert resulting in my in-laws spotting this pearl spotted owl.
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Gardenia hide was quiet and no sign of the leopard we saw 2 years ago – looks like he went head-butting somewhere…
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The S110 Matjulu road and waterwhole was also quiet and at Berg ‘n Dal we enjoyed a nice ‘koppie boeretroos’ (filter coffee) whilst it was raining cats and dogs outside. Now, can I forget during our last stay here in Sep 2010 when I bought some property here! :redface: :redface: – we were walking next to the fence in the direction of the restaurant and as we walked up the steps, some visitors came down and greeted us friendly. At this time I was about to take the last step and as my attention was with them, not realizing this step is slightly higher than the other, my foot hooked and I lost my balance with camera and heavy 500mm lens attached in all. All I was interested in was to protect my valuable possession and I fell, fortunately no camera damage, just knee bruise and an arm muscle strain. :redface:

On our way back to Biyamiti, we took the H3 tar road, stopped at Afsaal and again Biyamiti Wier (photo’s posted already). The afternoon we did a circle route towards H4-2 (direction Lower Sabie), but then it started to rain heavily again and the roads get soaked with streams flowing and mudpools appearing. Travelling back and taking the S25 – S139 roads with its steep down- and uphills, the roads got worryingly slippery, eventually made it without any incidents back to camp – and then this beautiful rainbow appeared as could be seen from the Biyamiti camp.
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Across the river from the camp, some ellies came down for a drink and with hippos in the river and Egyptian geese chasing each other provided beautiful bushveld background music.
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I wanted to add that although we had some wonderful rhino sightings, I will not post any photos or make reference of them in my TR for obvious reasons (which got nothing to do with my Addo experience as mentioned on page 1 of this TR). During our trip we got 7 rhino sightings consisting of 12 rhinos of which one was 5 together with a baby (special).

Our stay at Biyamiti was most enjoyable with lots of game around. The next day…we left for Lower Sabie…where our 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th lion sightings awaited us, but at the 3rd sighting, I was nearly lionfood… but that was the elephant’s fault …

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Trip Reports: Kruger NP, West Coast NP, Addo NP, Garden Route - Storms River & Wildernis


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 Post subject: Re: Kruger: from south-to-north-and-back
Unread postPosted: Tue Feb 26, 2013 9:39 pm 
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It is day 5 (17 Dec’12), all packed up and on our way to Lower Sabie. Following the previous day's rains and the condition of the gravel roads deteriorating fast, I was really worried that further rain the night might cause some problems for us. Fortunately, the rain stayed away and the roads were fine, so off we went (no snake this time although I was driving extra slowly hoping to spot him).

We were approaching LS the way one should approach a giraffe, not directly, but with a sidewayish detoured angle which meant heading slowly to Crocodile Bridge (to get our Kruger passport stamped, fill up the car and enjoying a very good breakfast that was on a special – it was really really good – compliments to CB shop-restaurant.), then LS via the S29. If one have read one of Kobie Kruger’s books ‘All things wild and wonderful’ one could only imagine their life as rangers around here and the adventures they have had whilst nurturing the lion cub named Leo who had an identity problem thinking he was a dog, not a lion, despite their efforts to teach him to be like a lion :lol: . (If you intend reading this book, read 'Mahlangeni' first..still struggling to get ’Wildernis family’ though).

On our way to CB, we came across a mega-troop of baboons – I stopped counting at 50 – they were all over the show as you can imagine and all ages and sizes...(Observing these entertainers par excellence, I recall Kobie Kruger’s stories when observing them and gaining their trust whilst filming in Shingwedzi - refer 'Mahlangeni').

After we had our scrumptious breakfast at CB, just about a km or so on the H4-2, we got our 2nd lion sighting (I guess they could be part of the Vurhami pride?).
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Then it was time for the S29, with wonderful sightings all round and with this great spotted cuccoo interested in something right next to the road.
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On our way to Duke’s waterhole I struggled to get a good photo of the green winged pytilla which really tested my focusing skills, even with camera setting on manual focus, and for the life of me I just could not get it to sit still long enough. Nevertheless, this bird was a first time sighting for me, hence deserving to be included in this TR (sorry for it not in focus).
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This elephant was walking through the gap of a fallen tree whilst plenty of open space around him… :hmz:
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There was a thread on large buffalo herds, especially the one close to LS, o-boy were we lucky to have come across them – I tried to count, but too many of them – definitely more than quite a few hundred. It was amazing to see… Seems like these guys were discussing tactics for next Stormers clash :hmz: :hmz: seems it proved to have paid off… :warn:
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We arrived at LS which was extremely busy like Tygervalley shopping centre on Saturday morning – I guess it could have been the extreme heat, being lunchtime and the start of next visitor influx. We booked into the 2 BU3U units next to the restaurant and rested a bit. The afternoon it was time for Sunset dam and Sabieriver causeway (H10) which I will provide information on with bird and sunsets pics later.

Keeping in touch with what happening on the Forum, Bert’s question interested me when he wrote:”Can’t remember any comments on the S82. The gravel near Sunset. Stood in front of it a few times and never took it. Anyone done this road and what were their findings.” Here I am, standing in front of the S82 (just opposite LS entrance) and it is the last hour before gate closing, hence decided to explore the road and let Bert know via BB on findings.

Travelling down S82 and after passing a herd of impalas with about 2km down, we got 2 male lions lying in long thick grass about 15m in on the Sunset dam side of the road. At first one could only see the tails wag now and then. We waited and waited. In front of us zebra and some impalas were moving into the bush close to the lions. At this time we were 2 cars parked back to back.

From the Sunset dam direction, we saw movement – it was a herd of elephant approaching moving in our direction. The lions did not move and was sleeping. The elephants came closer and closer, so close that one could clearly hear them breaking branches. Still no movement….

Now we were getting really excited as something is going to happen. Then one youngish elephant walked directly in our direction and less than 20 metres from the lions, the one lion closest to us suddenly jumped up. At this stage, my car’s window was down, car switched off and as the 2 cars were blocking their escape route the one lion ran straight in my direction looking me straight in the eyes.
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With lion fast approaching, I struggled to get windows closed, then realized car must be switched on first. With lion about 5 meters away and getting an earful from SO next to me, I luckily managed to get the car switched on so the window could work. The lion realized there is no way out, he then changed direction.
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He went past us and ran into another bush closeby where he directed his attention at the passing elephants.
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So, they then looked around a bit and when they were satisfied all is safe, they literally fell down and continued to sleep. My heart was pumping and were so relieved, but managed to get these shots in – nearly lion food and ‘een waanzinnige ondervinding!’ It all went so fast… :big_eyes:

I guess Bert’s question was answered. It was time to get back to camp (enjoying a nice cold Peroni :D ) and so the day ended with 2 lion sightings in one day, but as they say in the advertising business, “…and wait, that is not all… there are more…”…and this we were experiencing the next day – with double action on S82 to follow.

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Trip Reports: Kruger NP, West Coast NP, Addo NP, Garden Route - Storms River & Wildernis


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 Post subject: Re: Kruger: from south-to-north-and-back
Unread postPosted: Thu Feb 28, 2013 12:17 am 
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Location: Bellville, Cape Town
Day 6 arrived, up early with quick check-in at Sunset dam and then back onto the S82 again, maybe our friends will be in the area. It is still relatively dark and about 500m down the road, we stopped behind a few cars. About 50+ meters in, we spotted them…lions, yes, other lions :clap: . The visibility was poor due to the light, distance and bushes. Then we spotted another and another. How many were there? Then all of them got up and were moving back in the direction of LS camp, eventually counted 7 of them as they moved through the bushes and open areas. We reversed all the way back to the tar road. Then they disappeared. We drove slowly down the H4-2 tar road towards Sabie river, and suddenly they all appeared and ran across the road into the bushes next to LS camp towards the Sabie river. Now, there were lots of cars to negotiate with – just a wonder no accident between us all.
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Whilst all the cars moved down the H4-2 tar road, we turned back down the S82 again. About 5km down, 2 cars were stationary. Guess what….more lions…some were in the bushes with 1/5 visability, but right in front of us on the gravel road, 2 young lions were relaxing, minding their own business. It was photoshoot time again… :cam: :cam: :cam:
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We stayed there until they moved into the bush and then headed down to Duke’s waterhole, but first had to negotiate with a herd of elephant, and eventually arrived at Duke's waterhole where we saw small herd of buffalo and large herd of zebra coming down to drink.
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This mother was giving the little one a lesson in grooming and these youngsters were experimenting with other techniques…
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I love visiting hides, so we stopped at Ntandanyathi hide, but it was very busy with lots of cars around although relatively quiet sightings wise, so we headed back on S28 to LS. After a km or so, we hit a major roadblock – cars everywhere and a struggle to get through. The reason …. a couple of cheetahs with 4 cubs someone said, but they were far away and could only get a glimpse of this guy (could he be the Habanna of the wild team :hmz:).
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It was our only cheetah sightings in 2 trips. But I was not disappointed as we had our share of brilliant encounters in May 2009 and Sep 2010….
May 2009: On the H5-gravel road direction Mpondodam we got this mom with 6 cubs approaching us and walked right past us with the cubs playing. We were alone on the road with sighting all to ourselves (Apologies if you have seen this before)
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Sep 2010: We were driving to our bushwalk location on S29 Mlondozi road, when these two guys were relaxing right next to the road – this was before the gates opened.
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That was our cheetah encounters from the past, but back to the ‘future’ – Dec’12. We managed to get through all the cars and just as we thought we had seen all the lions in the area, we got to another roadblock, this time a mating pair resting on the S28 close to the H4-2 T junction. This was sighting no 6 (15 lions in counting….with more to come).
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The morning was a real ‘katterige affêre’. So, we headed back to camp for some refreshments and a sieta before we tackled the S36 in search for sable.... to be continued

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Trip Reports: Kruger NP, West Coast NP, Addo NP, Garden Route - Storms River & Wildernis


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 Post subject: Re: Kruger: from south-to-north-and-back
Unread postPosted: Fri Mar 01, 2013 12:51 am 
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Virtual Ranger
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Location: Bellville, Cape Town
Following a morning with 3 lion and 1 cheetah sightings south of LS, it was time to head north to see what Kruger will offer us by means of sightings. After spending some time on the Sabie river bridge we were on our way to Tshokwane picnic where a martial eagle was observing the area from up high with a white backed vulture not far from it.
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After stopping at Tshokwane, we headed east on the S34 road with aim to see if we can spot any sable on the S36. We drove the S36 slowly, extra slowly as we do not want to miss an opportunity to see sable. Only spotted a few ellies in the road and impies around. Stopping at Jones se dam we observed a few waterbirds in the distance and waterbuck grazing.
Saddlebilled stork
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Then another elephant herd were arriving, but this guy did not like the waterbuck standing in his way and chased him away.
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We did not see any sable, hence a bit disappointed, but continued along the road heading back east on the S30 road hoping to see cheetah on the open field (reference was made to this stretch as the cheetah’s training ground with open grass lands on the one side and Sabie river on the other). We did manage to have a klipspringer sighting, though.
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Arriving back at the H10 tar road we encountered 2 elephant bulls busy testing each other’s strength. This went on for quite some time, first on the one side of the road, then in the road, then on the other side…
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It was quite a distance we had covered which I underestimated and feeling tired. After a bit of refreshments, we headed down the H4-1 towards Nkuhlu picnic spot and back to see what the bush will present us with. We did see this beautiful fisheagle busy munching away.
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It was relatively quiet, but the time at Sunset dam with breathtaking sunset made up for the afternoon session with lots of bird sightings which I will share in the next posting. Next attraction…one for all birdlovers…

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Trip Reports: Kruger NP, West Coast NP, Addo NP, Garden Route - Storms River & Wildernis


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 Post subject: Re: Kruger: from south-to-north-and-back
Unread postPosted: Fri Mar 01, 2013 8:38 pm 
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Location: Bellville, Cape Town
Feedback on the photos and the narration is much appreciated and thank you to all for comments. :thumbs_up:

The 1st year we did not see leopard and wild dog, the 2nd we got a few leopard sightings and still no wild dog. The 3rd year on last day we saw wild dog and although we exited Kruger from Satara via Malelane gate, we drove the S36, no sable :(. On the other side we did see roan in the north. In Dec'12 (4th trip) lots of wild dogs, still no sable. I guess it is good enough excuse to go back in search for sable as a focus as it makes the trip more exciting - with the element of surprise :).

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Trip Reports: Kruger NP, West Coast NP, Addo NP, Garden Route - Storms River & Wildernis


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 Post subject: Re: Kruger: from south-to-north-and-back
Unread postPosted: Fri Mar 01, 2013 11:16 pm 
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Location: Bellville, Cape Town
The Sabie river bridge (H10) and Sunset dam are both favourite spots with an abundance of birdlife. During our 2 days stay at LS, we visited these spots at the start and end of each drive and everytime we saw something new or different. I have clustered all the visits in two sets i.e. first Sabie river bridge sightings and then with next post Sunset dam.

The only exception of the next couple of birds which were sighted from the Sabie river bridge is this African paradise flycatchers that was spotted in LS camp.
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Flock of Fulvous duck had just came down to land...
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Crocodile - 'tande man'
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Water thick knee - the less colourful one, but appears always humble
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Goliath heron - they are really testing your patience when trying to catch something.
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Yellow-billed stork
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Giant kingfisher
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Trip Reports: Kruger NP, West Coast NP, Addo NP, Garden Route - Storms River & Wildernis


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 Post subject: Re: Kruger: from south-to-north-and-back
Unread postPosted: Sat Mar 02, 2013 5:51 pm 
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Location: Bellville, Cape Town
Sunset dam delivered some wonderful sightings with an ubundance of bird-, water life and beautiful sunsets.
Here are some of the unique ones worth sharing with all.

On the day of our arrival day at LS, we got this wonderful view of Sunsetdam.
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The next day some wonderful bird sightings with the Pied kingfisher splashing in the water, but seemed to be unsuccessful.
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Following our dissappointed drive via the S36 in search for sable, Sunset dam presented us with these wonderful birds - White-crowned lapwing.
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I got quite excited with these 2 Diderik cuckoos - seems to be male and female (please correct me if I am wrong)
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This Black-winged stilt was playing with his life by walking very close to the crocodile (seems as if he was walking on top).
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On the last day of stay at LS, we enjoyed a magnificent sunset with some kingfishers, hippos around.
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On this sunset-note we were on our way to Satara for 2 more wonderful days. A Mega pride of lions was awaiting us, a vulture 'airport' and most beautiful leopard pose we got as well as others. But as we departed the next morning, the bush presented us once again with unique sighting...this will be shared in the next posting... to be continued

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Trip Reports: Kruger NP, West Coast NP, Addo NP, Garden Route - Storms River & Wildernis


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