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 Post subject: Six weeks and seven SANParks - September 2007
Unread postPosted: Mon Nov 12, 2007 4:40 pm 
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As promised I will start with our trip report of a once in a lifetime holiday of six weeks in Southafrica. :dance:

Just as an appetiser some numbers: we

- took more than 2000 photos
- travelled 6940 km with a red Ford Focus 2.0
- needed 126 tea bags and 1 1/2 kg sugar ( yes, my SO is a sweetheart...)
- burned 13 kg charcoal and 1 1/2 packets fire lighter
- had 5 wonderful meetings with friends from SANParks forums

our agenda

23.09.2007 Pretoria – Marakele Tlopi Tented Camp
26.09.2007 Marakele – Mapungubwe (not Limpopo Forest Tented Camp as booked, but...) Leokwe
29.09.2007 Mapungubwe – Punda Maria
02.10.2007 Punda Maria – Mopani
05.10.2007 Mopani – Tamboti
08.10.2007 Tamboti – Skukuza
11.10.2007 Skukuza – Piet Retief
12.10.2007 Piet Retief – Cape Vidal Beach Camp
15.10.2007 Cape Vidal Beach Camp – Amanzimtoti
17.10.2007 Amanzimtoti – Gonubie
19.10.2007 Gonubie – Addo Camp Matyholweni
22.10.2007 Addo – Tsitsikamma Storms River Mouth Restcamp
24.10.2007 Tsitsikamma – Wilderness Ebb & Flow Restcamp (South)
26.10.2007 Wilderness - Capetown (TMNP)

Renewal of Wildcard in advance was no problem, updating at Marakele ditto. Thanks to Debbie for efficient and friendly service! :clap:

Booking of camps was easy, friendly and quick as a "blitz", thanks to D.S Mateme! :clap:

Allocating of universal accessible units (my SO is in a wheelchair) was correct everywhere, with one exception at Mapungubwe, but that got really quick sorted by Norman Mudau - thank you again for giving us a place to sleep! :clap:

Lots of people assisted with information while planning our trip, just to name a few: Rassie Erasmus, Norman Mudau, Christa van Elling, Addoelefant, Rudi Potgieter, Dinky Bird, Owl... Thank you very much, you made this trip a truly memorable one :clap: (if I forgot to mention someone: only my fault, I apologise)


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Unread postPosted: Mon Nov 12, 2007 5:08 pm 
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We left Germany on 20. September 2007 in the afternoon, flying with BA from Dusseldorf to London. Travelling started with a shock: BA "lost" SO's wheelchair at Heathrow. Those of you who have been there can imagine, what that means. We were ready to go home again - but eventually, after several tours of Terminal 1 and nearly at least 1 1/2 hours of searching it was found.

Luckily we catched our flight in an empty plane with just half of the seats booked to Harare and arrived there on time. We spent about 9 hours in transit Image(I don't think I will travel to ZIM in the near future..) and finally arrived at O.R.Tambo International Airport at 07:30 p.m. the following day.

Tried to collect the car from the rental company (The H* Corporation) - just to discover they had "forgotten": "yes we have got your reservation, but no car..." This prob got also solved, we got chauffeur service to the hotel in Midrand and the promise of car delivery the following morning at 08:00 a.m.

Do I have to say what happened the next morning? No car at 8, no car at 9, but eventually a car at 10:00 a.m. and a telephone call from the rental stations manager (with her I had before changed several e-mails concerning our reservation and the special request for hand controls) telling me she is so sorry, but they have to fit the hand controls and they can't do this as promised on the right hand side of the steering wheel but only on the left hand side.... Just to get started we take the car and spend the day in Pretoria, visiting the city centre and the Voortrekker Monument, buy food and things in the afternoon and get started first thing in the morning of Sunday, 23.09.07.


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Unread postPosted: Tue Nov 13, 2007 10:36 am 
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On Sunday we get an early start to Marakele. We travel via N1 to Bela Bela (Warmbaths), where we stop to shop the last things we didn’t get yesterday. SO stays in the car. When I come back he looks miserable and rather pale. He complains of headache and feeling dizzy. As a strong man he will not let me drive, he still can manage this…

After another 100 km on R 516 to Doornfontein he gives in and lets me do the driving (so I know he is really feeling unwell…), he sleeps and dozes on and off.

Via Thabazimbi we arrive at Marakele at 2 p.m. Image

Check in procedures and updating of Wildcard are handled professionally and very friendly by Nomboniso Nyhodo. We receive a map and directions how to find our way to Tlopi Tented Camp and our tent named Jacana.

Marakele National Park is divided into two parts, the “Kwaggasvlakte” section and the Greater Marakele National Park, by a public road (the Hoopdal Road). There is a gate and a kind of tunnel through which you can cross and reach the eastern part.
Image


We reach Tlopi Tented Camp (Tlopi is the name that the locals call the river, which feeds the dam on which the camp is situated) and settle in quickly. SO goes to bed immediately and sleeps through to Monday morning 5 a.m. Then the tummy bug hits him completely and he spends the day predominantly in bed or in the bathroom.

Image
(for more pics of Tlopi Tented Camp go to the Marakele advice thread)
I stay at the tent till the afternoon when I decide to go on a drive on my own and look for some animals. I decide to give it a try and take the Lenong Drive all the way up to the Sentech towers.


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Unread postPosted: Tue Nov 13, 2007 11:26 am 
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I stay at the tent till the afternoon, spend the time on the terrace and look at the animals, which come past. A lizard keeps me company for a while.
Image
The Camp is situated directly on a dam of the Tlopi River, the view is peaceful and the surrounding landscape spectacular. Image
Image
To see there are above all birds, large and small,
Image
Image
in addition, there comes Image
Water monitor, some Impalas to the water.

At half past three I decide to give it a try and take the Lenong Drive all the way up to the Sentech towers. The route leads via a beautiful mountain road, a steep and close pass high up to the Sentech Towers, transmitting poles on a mountain. The road is well developed and even asphalted, but in addition, very narrow... More than once I wonder what I will do if a car comes down the road I am driving up. The only option remaining would be driving backwards down again... fortunately this didn’t happen and on the way I meet the first giraffes of this journey.
Image
(Can you find them, gold in the field of gold?)
Arrived on top I enjoy the scenery,
Image
a violent wind blows and many birds are around. On rocks fat Dassies are sitting.
Image
From the colony of 800 breeding Cape Vultures I do not see anything.

Image
Image


Last edited by Zypresse on Thu Nov 15, 2007 10:40 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Unread postPosted: Thu Nov 15, 2007 9:44 am 
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christo, Spotted Cat, Meandering Mouse, Toddelelfe, p@m, sable:
Thanks for your comments. Yes, you should definitely go to Marakele, the landscape is breathtaking, it is truly worth a visit.


One thing we noticed as a minus of Tlopi Tented Camp: the tents are build too close to another. During our stay a family occupied two tents next to us. They were a little bit noisy. Especially one of the women laughed a lot. It sounded like an animal close to death…. And actually she laughed constantly.

Tuesday morning, 25.09.07, we are glad that our tent did not fly away during the night. Between landing and tent wall sometimes there was a gap of at least 50 cm, so hard did the wind blow. It was loud, lightning made everything look light bright daylight. I did not sleep very much that night and occasionally we considered whether we should rather sleep in the car. But it was much too cold outside compared to the bed, in which we settled so smugly.

SO feels well enough to go for a drive, so our way leads us first to Thabazimbi, in order to buy some food (medicine against tummy bugs). Slowly and on detours we drive through the western part “Kwaggasvlakte” of the park.
Image
The landscape is beautiful, it is very dry – and no animals to see. Well, not quite right: we see an ostrich.
Image
Image
After returning from our shopping therapy we take the Tsessebe loop. And when we already think also here all animals are actually on strike: Tsessebes, about 6 to 8 in the bush.
Image
We drive past Tlopi Camp and take the Mbidi Loop. In the middle of the thick bush beneath the dam we hear and suspect three elephants, sometimes little bits of skin flash. The rest of the loop is quiet in terms of animals.
Image
However the landscape, the views in the in the afternoon sun are wonderful.

thought of the day:
Today well lived makes every yesterday a dream of happiness... (unknown)


On Wednesday, 26.09.07, we vacate our tent in Marakele Tlopi Tented Camp early and hit the road to Mabungubwe. (sorry, no pics for the day!) The driving is smooth, the storm is blowing heavily and: did it rain already??? (answer to self: no, it didn't) We follow R 572 from Thabazimbi via R 510 to Lephalale (Elliesras), continue to Alldays. Here we stock up on fresh food, refuel and reach Mapungubwe in the afternoon.
Image
At the Main gate reception we are checked in and receive a map with references, how to find our way to Limpopo Tented Camp in the western part of the park: back toward the main street, drive in direction to Alldays, turn right on the Den Staat gravel road. Follow this road, through the gate and then there are signs posted. But be aware, once passed the gate you have reached the game area, drive slowly, animals are present. So back we start, we happily look forward to three nights in the tented camp. Upon arrival a new shock: the assigned tent (no. 7) is totally unfit for a wheelchair, steps without end, and a bath much too narrow. Finding out from the attendant we are told the universal accessible tent is actually no. 3. But this one is occupied. The people staying there do not want to change tents. They are travelling with friends. These people stay in no. 4 and they all want to stay together. No way to convince them otherwise.

So, now we have got a problem. What shall we do? Going back to reception (I admit, we must have been speeding then…). The way to Limpopo forest tented camp took us 45 minutes, the travel back approx. 20 minutes. Worries on the way: what, if they are fully booked and can’t find another place for us to sleep? Can we find accessible accommodation somewhere else around? Are we going to sleep in the car? When we arrive back at main gate at around 5 p. m. the ladies at reception first don’t know what to do. But then our knight in shining armour arrives and sorts the problem. Obviously the error is “in the system”: SANP’s reservation system has no 7 as unit for the physically challenged, although this is actually tent no 3. Norman Mudau takes care of our problem. We get allocated to a bungalow (No. 18) at Leokwe Maincamp. This unit unfortunately has 2 giant steps in front of the door but got lots of space inside. The promise is that we can change to a wheelchair-accessible bungalow first thing next morning. Meanwhile it is pitch dark, the day was exciting and exhausting so we decide just to have a little snack and then go to bed.
Image


Last edited by Zypresse on Thu Nov 15, 2007 10:23 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Unread postPosted: Sat Nov 17, 2007 6:40 pm 
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27.09.07 ( – this part written by SO – you’ll soon know, why…)

My wife looks at me with dark circled eyes from a pale white face and whispers now it got her also. And like lightning she disappears. The sounds from the bathroom are well-known. Oh dear, we must vacate this bungalow at 9 o'clock and can only check in to no. 16 later in the morning!

We pack, with interruptions, as good as it gets. The transports (suitcase, bags and other things) into the car are obviously exhausting and the two high steps at no. 18 which I must be taken down don’t make it any easier. Once we have eventually reached no. 16 my wife goes to bed at once. She takes the tablets we had actually bought for me on Tuesday and drinks very courageously the electrolyte beverage. How good it tastes I can read from her face. Fortunately I do not need them any longer. I organize the kitchen (there is even a microwave, which I use for the chicken remainders of Tuesday’s Braai). Then I enjoy the windy terrace for reading.
Image
In between I get visited by a millipede.
Image
During the night it begins to rain and does not stop, the whole next day not. Image
Image
Nevertheless we do a little drive through the park.
We admire the ancient Baobabs
Image
and their bark
Image
and take a glimpse at Schroda dam
Image
The Heritage-Tour is cancelled, to wet, to dangerous (and after all, my wife doesn’t feel that well at all).

In the evening we are having potatoes with carrots and Boerewors... from the pan. At the grill I would have drowned.

On the next morning, 29.09.07, wife is feeling nearly completely well. We pack our things and after a quick breakfast (with toast – the kitchen even supplies a toaster!) we leave Mapungubwe. Off to Kruger, for the second time this year.

Intermediate stop in Musina. Wife goes shopping and I guard the car. Somehow deep down I have a bad feeling, if everything is in the car and we both leave the car alone.

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Unread postPosted: Sat Nov 17, 2007 7:09 pm 
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From here we follow R 504 to Tshipise
Image
and then turn on R 525 to Pafuri gate. And finally we enter KNP through Pafuri gate. We follow the H 1-9, the first animal, which we see are a warthogs. Some Crested Guineafowls flee from the road when we approach.
Image
Via the Luvuvhu Bridge, where we enjoy the view
Image
and discover an African fish-eagle
Image
we reach Pafuri Picnic Spot. On the way we see the first Nyalas of this tour.
Image

Image
We enjoy our break and eat triple decker sandwiches we prepared at Mapungubwe. Because the sky threatens with rain we stay in the car and yes, the rain comes.

Our way continues via H 1-8, H 60 and H 1-3 to Punda Maria. On the relatively short distance of H 60 we see 9 highly loaded commercial vehicles, speeding, no question - obviously this is a new shortcut to Mozambique. At Punda we get checked in to tent no. 1. On the terrace everything is completely wet. After settling in we read a little, have a nice cup of tea and have a rest.

The nearly already mandatory Afternoon - drive leads us along the Mahonie loop. On return to camp we start to Braai. Just a few raindrops, mostly it remains dry in the evening and we can have dinner in front of the tent. I believe it rained again during the night as well. But I’m not sure. The further the time progresses, the better I sleep. Sunday begins with still 8 cigarettes.

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Unread postPosted: Sun Nov 18, 2007 10:46 am 
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First of all, thank you to timbo, Freda, p@m, MATTHYS, Meandering Mouse and anne-marie for your comments.
:D

Yes there is more to come (I've still got about 12 1/2 pages of German Trip report to translate - and it ends at Addo, so there is more to be written...).
But today first I have to work on some of the pics - otherwise only written trip report without illustrating photos (and you won't like that - right?)
Mishaps? Well, just wait for the time to come...

But we enjoyed our trip enormously and could start again just tomorrow (if someone please provides us with airline tickets and a little money to spend?) :lol: :wink:

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Unread postPosted: Thu Nov 22, 2007 1:50 pm 
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Sable, anne-marie, Pumbaa - thanks for your comments.

I am sorry for being so late, but my parents celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary and you can imagine, that was a lot of work (and lots of fun, people not be seen for ages, many presents, talks and and...) But today I will post at least a little bit...

29.09.07
The nearly mandatory afternoon-drive takes us along the Mahonie Loop. We do not see many animals, but nevertheless a pretty multicoloured lilac-breasted Roller,
Image
the always present Kudus,
Image
Image
a bird, which we cannot identify
Image
and in the end a ground squirrel sitting on the middle of the road, feeding and not being disturbed by us.
Image

On return to the Camp we begin our evening with a nice Braai (and a glass or two of wine for me). The evening remains dry and we enjoy sitting and eating in front of the tent. Did it rain during the night? We don’t know. The longer we stay, the better we sleep. Sunday begins with still 8 cigarettes for SO.

Our first drive next morning from Punda Maria brings us via H 13-1 up to something small and malicious green on the road. The first chameleon.
Image
Watching it cross the road is funny, the way it walks makes us laugh. Particularly fascinating, as it can direct the eyes to the rear.
Image
We continue via H 1-8, S 59 and S 60 back to the Camp. We saw nothing more, it is obviously very calm in terms af game-viewing.

On return to the Camp we meet Richard Harris and his friend Ray. Two cars with Yellow Ribbons, a short talk from car to car. Appointment to an Amarula on our terrace in the evening. Nice gathering, Richard Harris talks almost without stopping, Ray is probably rather the quiet type. Both bring along some Castles, which they also carry home again. In tent no. 1 no one drinks beer. It is simply amazing how you can meet up with people you don't know before and nearly at once start talking as if you had known each other for years. One of the miracles of this forum.

Since we enjoy our company we arrange a forum dinner at the restaurant for the next evening. SO had no cigarette since 5 p.m. and he wasn't grumpy (and I wasn't grumpy either, dear Richard!).

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Last edited by Zypresse on Thu Nov 22, 2007 2:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Unread postPosted: Thu Nov 22, 2007 2:09 pm 
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On Monday, 01.10.07 we start quite early and drive leisurely over the H 1-3, H 13-1 and S 58. The first animal we see is a single elephant with a broken off left tusk (no, it was not Duke...).
Image
We follow the H 1-7 through a rather devastated area by bush fires. At one time a big herd of large antelopes, surely 20 - 25 animals. We do not trust our eyes between Vklakteplaas Ranger and Babalala Picnic Spot. Are those actually Roan?
Image
Image
Image
The animals are extremely rare, so we are definitely very, very lucky to have seen them. Richard Harris hates us for having seen them now. As he said. That makes me sad. :cry: :cry:

We follow the far H 1-6 meeting another Kudu
Image
a giraffe
Image
and reach Shingwedzi just in time for an early lunch. After having enjoyed spicy burgers on the terrace we spend some time with the weavers beside the Shop. They are busy building and improving nests. It is spring time in Kruger.

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Last edited by Zypresse on Thu Nov 22, 2007 2:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Unread postPosted: Thu Nov 22, 2007 6:33 pm 
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Freda wrote:
Wow, what a lovely roan herd and you thoroughly deserved them :D

Thanks - yes, I think we did... :D

Here are some of the pictures I took of the masked weavers at Shingwedzi.
Image Image Image

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Unread postPosted: Fri Nov 23, 2007 9:50 am 
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Pumbaa, sable, Elsa - thanks for your comments.
richardharris wrote:
...
Still very jealous even if I don't hate you any more. ... Richard
Thank you, that makes me very happy at last!:wink: :D :D


We decide to go back via H 1-6, S 57, S 56, H 1-7, S 58 and then H 13-1, H 1-3 to Punda Maria. These roads lead us through the heavily burned bush. Some trees are still smouldering.
Image
It looks devastating – but then also: obviously the rain during the last days brings out the fresh green grass already. For me this is a symbol of hope and the circle of life: today dead, dry, burned and just a day or two later new life beginning to spring. We see a Nyala along the road,
Image
a small vervet monkey sucking his thumb
Image
and the first Impalas begin browsing the first fresh green.
Image

Our evening meal with Richard Harris and Ray was very pleasant. Lots of talk, laughter and a bottle of wine finished. When we return to tent no. 1 we see a Bush baby crossing the road in the beam of the light. This is our last night at Punda for 2007.

The next morning starts dreadfully early. We pack the car and leave the camp at 7:00 a.m. Temperature is only approximately 20 º and partly it rains. We drive along H 1-3 and H 13-1 and H 1-7 to Babalala Picnic Spot. There we enjoy breakfast from our thermal cups and the sandwiches we brought with us. We are to meet Jose between 11:00 and 12:00 o'clock at Mopani. Shortly before 11:00 we arrive at Mopani via H of 1-6, past at the Tropic of Capricorn.Image

Close to Babalala Picnic Spot we see some Zebras
Image
and some Kudus with Oxpeckers.
Image
Just before we arrive at Mopani we see a Giraffe.
Image

In Mopani
Image
we get checked in but cannot go into the room (they are still cleaning). So we decide just to go and look from the outside where we shall spend the next days. This time we didn’t get allocated to no. 17 but the second universally accessible bungalow, no. 66. The one we shall stay now has got a long and steep path leading up to the bungalow and in addition there are construction works in the bungalow next to the right. Construction workers have set up a fence on the path, now it is not only too steep but also too narrow to drive on it with a wheelchair. We decide to go back to reception and try to change the bungalows. Thanks to Busie at reception that was no problem we can, once more this year, stay in no. 17, to which we are already so accustomed: it feels like home.

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Last edited by Zypresse on Mon Nov 26, 2007 11:08 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Unread postPosted: Mon Nov 26, 2007 11:05 am 
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aboon and Ralph vV: Thanks for your very much appreciated comments. :D

I will go on today with a bit of our trip report - but I will be away to Berlin till Thursday, so next instalment maybe Friday... :roll:


Also at no. 17 cleaning is still in progress thus we drive up to the restaurant. Since Jose hasn't arrived yet we sit on the viewing platform
watching a pair of Loeries
Image
and an Ellie in the far distance at Pioneer Dam
Image
until my mobile phone rings. “Where are you, I have arrived?” “Hi Jose, yes, we can see you!” waving and happy greetings and we proceed together to the Fish Eagle Terrace for a light lunch (we had Sandwiches, burgers, coke and white wine – questions anybody?)

Jose talks about her beloved Big Tuskers. She tells us that she is able to tell them all apart. After approx.. 2 hours Jose sadly has to leave. She wants to see as much as possible today, because tomorrow she is going first to Phalaborwa (to visit Cees and Corinne at their new B+B) and flies from there the day after to Botswana to see other friends (I remember, it was someone from the forum, but don’t know who?).

In the meantime it became warmer (approximately 30°). After settling in at no. 17 we spend some time on the terrace, visited by a starling
Image
Around 4 p.m. we go for an Afternoon - drive
first to Shipandani, where we see a Blacksmith Lapwing
Image
a Giraffe in the afternoon sun
Image
and then along the Tsendse loop up to the Confluence Viewpoint
Image
Image
and back over the H 1-6. There a rock monitor crosses the road just in front of us. It is the first time we see this ancient looking “dragon”.
Image
In the evening we enjoy a Braai in best South African tradition. SO still smoked no cigarette.:clap:
Image

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Unread postPosted: Mon Dec 03, 2007 3:54 pm 
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On the next morning, 03.10.07, we are already by 06:10 o'clock on our way through the park. In the early morning light spider webs are glittering, we are still tired, watch an egyptian goosa at Mooiplaas tank. The next we see is a threebanded plover Image
It brings us luck. Already at S 50 the first elephant, a large bull meets us. According to Jose it isn't Alexander (the left tusk is broken) - but nevertheless the remaining tusk is impressive. Image
At Nshawu water hole we see a pride of 7 lions in the distance.
Image
They are rather far away and only the binoculars and the camera bring the proof that there are really lions. obviously very lazy, scarcely moving, full stomach. We are the only car at the waterhole and watch them for quite a while.

From here we follow S 142 Capricorn loop and see the usual game. I enjoy the early morning light a lot, especially the still “autumnal” colours are beautiful.
Image
At Tihongonyeni waterhole we watch a lot of Gnu, Hartebeest, Zebras,
ImageImage
ostrich with chicks. Image
Something suddenly disturbs them but we can’t find out the reason. Image
Then we watch a bird - is it a blacksmith plover? Image
Later at S 144 we meet an elephant at Nwambu pan.
Image
Via H 1-6 and a small detour to the Tsendse and Shidlayengwenya waterhole
to admire the waterlilies Image
we return to Mopani around 10:00 o'clock to have a big breakfast (however the daily paper was missing).


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Unread postPosted: Tue Dec 04, 2007 8:49 am 
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WaC, pumbaa and MM: thanks for helping me to get to a new page... :wink:


In the afternoon we do our drive to Stapelkopdam. On the way we watch a Jacana near Shipandani. It admires its reflection in the water...
Image
And then we decide to have a first stop at Pioneer Dam Hide. Always a lovely place, tranquil and lots of little things to see. Today we enjoy the company of two turtles, tortoises or terrapins – I never know the differences apart... Can someone please help?
Image
Then a small water bird comes to visit.
Image
Going up to Stapelkop Dam we see a Roller in a tree.
Image
At the dam it is unusual quiet, when we visited in February we saw Waterbuck, Crocs and lots of birds – but today there is just the beautiful lake glistening in the afternoon sun.
Image
On our way back along the road we see a single waterbuck.
Image
Crossing the Tsendse we see the Hippos preparing to go for feeding Imageand just a little speeding :wink: we were back still in time. Dinner was Pasta with tomato sauce – yummy!


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Submitted by Jurie van Vuuren at 12:26:03 Submitted by teddy_rsa at 13:37:01 Submitted by Eloise01 at 14:31:12 Submitted by woodsy at 07:34:20