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Olifants Astronomy Activity

Discuss activities available in the Kruger National Park, and follow all the sighting reports.
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Wild@Heart
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Unread postby Wild@Heart » Wed Nov 02, 2005 6:45 am

Loams mentioned eBucks in the Spotlight thread ...

If you have any ... why not spend it on this ... $$ Click Here $$

eBucks wrote:Astronomy Game Drives Kruger Night Sky eB3 300

Image Experience the spectacular night sky of Kruger National Park on an evening outing into the bush where Sky Rangers set up telescopes and take you on a voyage through the stars,planets and other heavenly bodies. Book with your eBucks travel consultant in conjunction with your Visit to the Kruger National Park. Includes a late afternoon game drive, snacks and sundowners available on cash bar basis during sunset. Learn from Sky Rangers about the southern hemisphere skies and African Star Lore. Telescope viewing on the stars, planets,moon and other heavenly bodies. Terms and conditions apply.


BTW ... 10 eBucks = R1,00
NO TO HOTEL DEVELOPMENT IN KRUGER

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The star watching

Unread postby PygmyFalcon » Fri Feb 24, 2006 8:47 am

Hi

Few years ago my late dad, my mom and i were at letaba and we set up my dads telescope to check out the river bed. the staring i got for our tourists!

I was sitting at Olifants for a early lunch on the 8th of Feb and i saw rangers walk in with boxes and a tube. it was raining so they were forced to set up the 'stuff' indoor and next to my table. :roll:

after watching them for some time i figured what they were setting up the famous telescopes. they were so cool!! :clap:
all i know is once this is really off the gound and all 'hic coughs' are over, i want to go on one of these 'rides'.

Fantasic Kruger! Great thinking! :yaya:

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Unread postby KampRunner » Thu Aug 24, 2006 8:59 pm

Image

I gave SO a KNP Night Sky gift voucher for his b/day this year. We had a WONDERFUL time and JUanita Grobler and her team treated us like VIP's even though it was just us two! :clap: We cannot recommend it enough but you must be prepared for a cancellation if the clouds close in ( it was touch and go for us). The activity included a mini night drive & we were lucky to see a puffadder and encounter a pride of young lions on our way back to camp! If you have never seen Saturn and its rings thru a telescope be prepared to be amazed!! We will be back for more..
I dreamt of the red dunes again last night.....

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Unread postby Hawk » Mon Oct 16, 2006 9:48 pm

Sky Rangers ! The words conjure up images of Luke Skywalker and Han Solo patrolling some planetary system in a far of Galaxy, but we're very far from any sort of Star Wars scenario here. We're in the reception office at Olifants Camp in the Kruger Park, reading a beautiful glossy poster advertising a very exciting new adventure. For a very reasonable fee, Kruger Sky Rangers will take us out into the bushveld at night from where we will view the magnificence of the night sky through an 8” telescope.

Well, having always fancied myself as a bit of a Sky Ranger as well, we quickly decide that this is a must. A big part of our Kruger visits has always been enjoying the brilliance of the bushveld night sky. We tell the friendly young receptionist that we're keen but we have a problem. The activity starts at the Olifants camp, but we're staying at Balule. “No problem” she says, the driver will pick us up at Balule at 5.30pm. So we sign up and head back to Bulule to get ready.

It's 5.30 and DB and I and one other enthusiast from Balule are ready and waiting. I gaze a little sadly up at an almost full moon already high in the twilight sky, realising that only the brightest stars are going to be visible, but decide not let that worry me. Her mystical light will add her own magic to the bushveld. The truck soon arrives and Lourens, the young driver and guide introduces himself and we set off.

It's a beautifull warm evening with the earth rising in the west to challenge a tired sun and chase the moon across the night sky. It's a photographic opportunity not to be missed and Lourens stops to allow us a chance to capture the magic. He produces his own camera and joins in.

We continue on along the S91 chatting to Lourens and wondering what our destination will be. In between pointing out game Lourens talks to us with enthusiasm about astronomy and how his love for the subject has developed. We turn onto the H15 and it soon becomes obvious where we are headed. Yes it's the n'Wamanzi Lookout and there we are met by the other two Sky Rangers, Juanita and Chris. The setting is magical; the horizon a bright crimson, the water far below a silvery glint in the last light.

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There is a table on one side, bedecked with white linen and an inviting array of drinks and snacks. A neat row of chairs and the beautifully made and sophisticated Meade reflector telescope stand waiting to give us our glimpse into the heavens. Juanita will give the presentation. She is vivacious, and bubbles with enthusiasm for her task. In a wonderfully warm and friendly atmosphere we gather at the table, enjoying a sundowner and chat about astronomy, the Sky Rangers and just how special this is. There are no fences, no electric lights, just the paraffin lamps, the bushveld, and the sky.

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Juanita introduces us to a little astronomy enthusiast from the bushveld. He is “Pluto”, a little mouse who she tell us arrives for the lesson each night.

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Lourens gives a quick rundown of the technicalities of the telescope and then with drinks over, we take our seats, and with the bushveld bathed in La Luna's silvery light we turn our attention to the stars.

Juanita eases us into the vast scale and complexities of the universe with an introduction to our solar system, the relative sizes of the planets and their positions from the sun, which are gas planets and which are solid. She gives a tip on how to distinguish between planets and stars, which have moons and which have rings, information on our moon and eclipses and lots more. We move on to our old favourite the “Southern Cross”, its stars and their distances from earth. We cover the celestial poles, the ecliptic, the constellations,
galaxies .....

In spite of the bright moon light, Jupiter, the Southern Cross, Scorpio and others are clearly visible. Juanita talks of the vast dimensions of the universe, the distances between galaxies, the measurement used for the such immense distances: the “Light Year” and more.

The presentation is relaxed but professional, The obvious passion Juanita and her team have for their subject is infectious. I'm already imagining what DB will say when I pack my old telescope for our next trip.

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It's time for a glimpse through the window of the 'time machine'. As Lourens enters the co-ords of Jupiter into the telescope it magically turns and tracks Jupiter. We each in turn peer into the eye piece and find that we are hundreds of thousands of km closer to the planet. Jupiter is no longer just another little “star”, it is now a yellowish white disc with it's little silvery orbs dotted around it. We look at star clusters and other marvels of the universe. But perhaps that's enough from me. Being out in the bushveld studying the heavens is not something one can easily describe in words, it must be experienced. Hopefully Sky Rangers will soon be established in all the Kruger camps for many more visitors to enjoy.

All too soon a wonderful evening has ended and we must leave, but the drive back to Balule with Lourens is special. His ability to spot activity along the road, and his knowledge is enviable..

We are already looking forward to our next trip with the “Sky Rangers”, but we will arrange it for a time when the Lunar Goddess has extinguished her light and is asleep.

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arks
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Unread postby arks » Mon Oct 16, 2006 10:45 pm

WOW, Hawk!! Thanks for this great report on the Astronomy Experience at Olifants — you've really captured the essence and specialness of this activity. 8) I did it in April, checking to make sure that I was able to book it for the dark of the moon :wink: I recommend this activity highly, Juanita and her team do a great job of making a very complex subject both understandable and fun. I enjoyed the brilliant KNP night skies even more once I knew more about the stars and planets and constellations that I was seeing each night.

Thanks for posting such a comprehensive write-up, Hawk. Your words and pix bring back wonderful memories!!
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Unread postby restio » Thu Oct 26, 2006 4:03 pm

I think this is a fantastic activity, it would be great to see it extended not just to other KNP camps, but also to other National Parks. Parks such as the Karoo, Kgalagadi and Augrabies would be wonderful locations for stargazing.
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Unread postby wildtuinman » Tue Jan 16, 2007 6:54 am

Had an awesome sighting of the McNaught comet last night. From Kruger is should be so much better. Have a look for it towards the south west this evening just after sunset up to about 30mins after sunset... Just aove the horison. Truly spectacular. Try this activity or even a sunset drive to see it.

PS: Got some pics of it, but will try and get some better ones tonight. Only folks in the southern hemisphere can see it. You guys up north had your chance last week.

Jumbo

Unread postby Jumbo » Thu Jan 18, 2007 9:25 am

I’m currently in the Garden Route. Last night, for the first time, we were able to see the comet. It was a magnificent sight….looking across the bay, seeing the comet “hovering over Mossel Bay 8) (unfortunately I did not bring my camera along :cry: ).
While looking at the comet, I could not help but think about the view from Olifants Camp. I think that must be one of the best places now to view this phenomenon. I really hope there are some forumites visiting the camp that will be able to share it with us.

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Unread postby wildtuinman » Fri Jan 19, 2007 7:12 am

Enhanced a little... It looks like this!

Image

Nice looooooooooong tail.

Bucknutz... I think the Rietvlei dam area on a nigth drive will be perfect. :wink: Also... Imagine the view of it from the Union buildings? Oh wow! Romatic, ek sê. :wink:

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Unread postby Lourens » Sun May 27, 2007 9:22 am

:) Dear all,

The astronomy activity is only available in Olifants Rest Camp. I know that before I left Olifants it was put on hold, because there was no one to the hosting. But the guides over there have training from tomorrow for the week and I believe after that the Activity will start going out again.

I always loved it, but luckily the stars are here in Berg en Dal as well. It is definitely an activity to do, highly recommended, but unfortunately it would not be me, ha ha ha.

Good day.

Lourens.

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Unread postby dianne » Tue May 29, 2007 8:25 pm

Hi Lourens! Great to see you online!

Re the Astronomy activity...I´ve heard it will also be available at the ´new and soon to be proclaimed park´ 8) near Kimberly-Hein Grobler is Hospitality Manager there...which means Juanita is there too...

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Unread postby Lourens » Wed May 30, 2007 1:49 pm

:) That's right. Hein and Juanita is now in the Old Vaalbos National Park.

I believe they will start there as well, but Hein Grobler will have more detail on this matter. :)

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Unread postby dianne » Tue Jun 12, 2007 12:56 pm

The activity is back in full swing. I'm adding this to the website, but here is some info for now

NIGHTLIFE IN KRUGER NATIONAL PARK

We run unique nightly ASTRONOMY GAME DRIVES from Olifants Camp in Kruger National Park. These drives combine –

*Late afternoon/sunset game drive to a remote viewing point on the Olifants River

*Welcoming drink/sundowner and snacks (included in the price) at sunset and cash bar for remainder of evening

*An introductory talk about the southern skies and African sky lore by a Sky Ranger (guide trained in astronomy)

*Night sky telescope viewing through a large, state-of-art telescope set up and operated on site for the evening

*Return to Olifants Camp on a night game drive

*Total 3 hours, price R215 per person (inclusive)

Bookings are essential as there are only 22 seats available per evening on the vehicle taking guests on the ASTRONOMY GAME DRIVE. However, more vehicles can be made available if required for larger groups.

Reservations -

Olifants Camp 013 735 6606

SANParks Central Reservations 012 428 9111 reservations@sanparks.org
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Astronomy

Unread postby CGPS » Wed Jun 18, 2008 6:15 pm

Hi, I went on the Olifants Astronomy evening in April 08 and it was fantastic. A great guide (Matthew) is essential. Wine, snacks, a stunning evening with several shooting stars and satellites!! Must do it at least 3x per year!

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Unread postby saraf » Wed Jun 18, 2008 11:10 pm

We went on this activity at the end of May. Wonderful experience. But a word of warning - the night sky in SA is very different to that in the North :lol: Stating the obvious, but some constellations are a bit skewed so you can't look at exactly the same things when you are home. But we learned loads and its a real incentive to go out and look at the sky at home. If you can get away from the light pollution, that is.
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