I'll try and split this report into several replies, based on location and categories.
At the outset, I must make an excuse regarding photography. I have a 1GB (good for around 280 images) card in my Nikon, and tend to take a few photos of each subject, to choose the best when doing processing back behind the PC. The SO on the other hand, thought she'd be doing us a favour, by deleting multiple images on the camera, using the miserable screen to judge, in spite of still having loads of space on the card. My first squizz through my photos shows that indeed, some images that look OK on a 2.5" LCD, are poor on screen.
The Route and Roads
Pretoria - Polokwane - Phalaborwa - Olifants (via Letaba) - Satara - Pretoriuskop - Out at Numbi - N4 to Home.
It all started with melodrama on the N1 north. I had some juice in the tank from a Natal trip six weeks ago, and the idea was to go as far as possible on it, to enable us to get to the south of the park to top up, because it's cheaper. At the first Engen 1-stop at Kranskop, the OBC said I had 140km left to empty, and the light normally comes on at around 100km. I don't like running with the light on for too long. The sign said fuel at Naboomspruit was 44km (?) away. Perfect. It didn't say that one had to leave the highway to get it. So we cruised through Naboom, looking for the second 1-stop, with the light having been on for 15km. It remained on for the next 40-odd to the 1-stop at Potties. Filled up, she took 67 litres, with a capacity of 70. :eek: I was sweating bullets. The tribe were all asleep and were none the wiser.
Generally though, the N1 is a lovely road.
From Polokwane down through Moria, the road itself is fine. Double carriageway, and a decent surface. There are however, some daft speed limits, e.g. 80, when 100 would be quite safe and far more appropriate. Once into the hills, the scenery is lovely, but the road is narrow. So don't do this stretch in the dark, or if tired.
Turning right at Haenertzburg, there are some chronically slippery patches, but the surface is generally good, with no potholes or big bumps.
Once through Tzaneen, one can cane it. The road is super, wide, in good condition, and with excellent visibility.
Coming back from Numbi side, although the R538 appears to be more direct, you would be well advised to use the R40 to Hazyview, it is just better. There is still a plethora of trucks, taxis and buses to obstruct and annoy, but you would be ill-advised to use the alternate.
My small tongue-in-cheek rant against moron drivers may be found as a reply at another forum I frequent, here
21 May, Phalaborwa to Olifants
Firstly, it was JUST SO GOOD to be back!
12h00-ish. It took around ten minutes to sign up for a Wild Card and pay the shortfall due to the accommodation change, and we were in. The first thing that struck us, was how dry it was. And it was hot... between 31 and 33 degrees.
Our first spot was the ubiquitous Lilac Breasted Roller. Which dictated an explanation of what LBR stood for to my daughter. As well as the differences between LBR and LBJ! She has phenomenal spotting eyes, and the many many birds in particular she spotted were fantastic.
We also saw some Lappet-faced vultures on a tree top, took some photos, but these were deleted. Grrrrr.
Very little fauna on the trip to Letaba, because we'd decided we just wanted to get to camp, and that meant tar all the way. Our first find of significance was buff. A loner, standing right next to the road...
Shortly thereafter, our first funt. Behind a tree on the right hand side of the road, that we almost missed him!
And then a giraffe. But look how dark he is...
Down at one of the loops to the dam / river, we found our first hippo...
(A case of having taking a few photos, and the SO only having kept one, and it's a bit of a shocker.)
In the vicinity of Nhlanganini waterhole, a herd of funt were heading north across the road, having been down to drink. 40+, and lots of babies. The head honcho was this chap. Definitely one of THE biggest elephant I have ever seen. Tusks edging toward the metre mark.
We drove into Letaba to have a bio break, and of course found the resident sentinel at the gate...
(Apologies to Letaba residents and regulars who were prevented from entering or exiting the camp by Mrs P furiously snapping away, while Perks was rolling eyes at the kommin-ness of it!)
In the shop, a jeep jockey who had seen us keeping our distance from the breeding herd, told Mrs P that that specific herd was one of the more tolerant herds around, and wouldn't mind cars drawing alongside for pics. So noted!
It was now truly heat of the day, and we saw very little on the drive in to Olifants. Olifants is a lovely camp, perched high on the hillside. It's not the most kid-friendly camp though, with little by way of grass or even dust for them to muck around in. But neat and quaint, and with some good route potential.
We were given hut 28, which was one row back from the river front units, and a short walk to the lookout. We unpacked, set ourselves up, and went to have a look from the top of the cliffs. We saw some lovely fish eagles, couple of herons and the like, and some impala off in the distance.
Tangent - The Primate Problem
I know I'm preaching to the converted, but why oh why do monkeys and baboons rule the roost in every camp? Do people not understand that the minute we remove the food source, they will go elsewhere? Yet they (I'd love to know precisely who 'they' are, to give them a good smack) continue to feed the little bast@rds, which keeps them coming back for more. Gawd, it grates my nuts.
At Olifants, the brazen little sh!ts harassed one young lass, to the extent that she was screaming, running for the shelter of the restaurant / shop, with a furious little vervet attached to her trousers, hoping for the something she was carrying in her hands. It's just not acceptable.
Back on track...
We decided since we'd had a long drive in, we'd take a short afternoon trip, to the view site north east of camp, and call it quits for the day. We had a lovely sunset over the bush, and spotted this big fella basking on the bank of the river. We'd switched the 55-200 for a 70-300 by now, and with the poor light, and no beanbag, we battled for a decent image...
It got quite dark very quick after 17h00, and we drove back to camp in the twilight.
After a good braai, dishes done, and shower, we hit the sack. 21h00 or so... laughable!
Didn't even have the energy to read my Car magazine saved for the trip, or to make a start on my new book.[/b]