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 Post subject: The great African Adventure for 4 Brits September 2008
Unread postPosted: Wed May 20, 2009 11:49 am 
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Location: In UK desperately waiting for the next trip to SA!!
I think it was Dotty who a few weeks ago said ‘It’s never too late to write a trip report’ and Anne Marie who said last year that I had the advantage of speaking English!!!

I was feeling particularly lonely for the Kruger and thought what better way of reliving it than writing it all down? So, I am now sitting in my very English garden listening to the Seagulls, wishing that the sound was hadida’s, hoping that I don’t start something that will take me an age to finish!

I hope that you enjoy it and can experience it through my eyes. I think that the most worrying thing when doing one of these is that others will find it boring!!! I do hope not!!

Saturday 20th September.

We had arrived in South Africa on 18th September 2008, but didn’t enter the park through Phalabowra Gate until 20th, giving us a couple of nights to catch up on our sleep after the long flight. I probably need to tell you a little of our group of 4, we are all aged somewhere between 50 and 60... Some of us a little more towards the 60! My
SO has been visiting SA for many years so has been to the Kruger on many occasions, it was my 3rd visit and for our friends, they were Kruger virgins!!

There was mixed emotions checking in at Phalabowra, great excitement and anticipation of seeing a lion in the wild for our friends, and an overwhelming feeling of ‘being back!’ for me!!! Although I was hoping that our friends would be appreciating the smaller just as significant animals, plants and trees before we left, I really wanted them to experience the feeling of 'nature' that becomes part of you whilst you are there.

Anyway I think you get the picture of our set up, we grabbed a new Honeyguide at the gate and started on our way up to Letaba for lunch.

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Left to right SO, myself and Jean

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This is our chief photographer (STOP!!!, Back a bit!, Forward a bit!…… Whooaaaahhh!, oh blimey I’ve got the wrong lens on!!) Dave!

We let the windows down and I took my first real gulp of the bush air!! Oh heaven! there is nothing like it!

So we headed up the H9 taking the loop up to Sable Dam and Masorini Archaeological Site, here are a couple of photos taken on the way up to Letaba.

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This Warthog looked a bit lonely!

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Once you see these guys you know you are in the Park!

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We would have liked to have spent some time here, but knew we had to push on as we were booked into Mopani for our first 3 nights. Also one of those chairs at Letaba had my name written on it!!!

We didn’t see a great deal of game on the way to Letaba, but after lunch made up for it!

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Mines the one on the right I think!

It had been a funny morning, our guests were going to take a while to appreciate the bush, one can’t imagine how it is going to be until you arrive, the vastness and endless looking then hits home, how hit and miss it is, ‘in the right place at the right time’ but we know that the animals ‘show themselves’ and we fully appreciate that later on with a herd of elephants and a one hour old baby…….. But that will have to wait until later…….

_________________
Sandie
If only EVERY day were a Kruger day!
Kruger 2010 Skukuza 10/09.. Lower Sabie 11 & 12/09..Satara 13 & 14/09..Letaba 15 & 16/09..Shingwedzi 17 & 18/09.. Punda Maria 19 & 20/09.. Mopani 21 & 22/09
Trip Report 2008


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 Post subject: Re: The great African Adventure for 4 Brits September 2008
Unread postPosted: Wed May 20, 2009 4:01 pm 
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We parked at the ‘visitors’ carpark at Letaba, I think this facility is new since the last time we visited, the swimming pool was full of children having a good time, and we entered via the ‘back door’ to access the restaurant. The famous ‘Perfect pie’ was on the menu for lunch, so we had that all round with a cool beverage and drank in the view in front of us.

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I have many photos of this view with different water levels and no doubt I would have a lot more since we were staying here overnight on the way back down from Mopani!
It’s incredible to think how huge the river must have appeared from bank to bank when you look at the marker where the water level rose to in the floods in Feb 2000. Everything you see in that photo would have been river, amazing!!!

Anyway, we headed out on the H1-6, and nearly missed this chap on the side of the road!

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There was great shouts of excitement from within the car as we reversed back, our ‘virgins’ first elephant and so close you could shake tusks with him!! We nearly missed him because we were all looking ‘in’ the bush and not what was directly under our noses!!

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These were up next!

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I just love the way the animals blend in with the bush!

We saw some zebra, giraffe and we had a fleeting glance of 2 hyaenas at we approached the camp gate at Mopani, but they were too quick for photos.

We bought our wildcards, picked up the key to our bungalow overlooking the dam, No 10, booked our table for dinner in the restaurant then drove round to settle in for the 3 nights.

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I love the big verandhas on the bungalows at Mopani

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View looking out…..

I love Mopani, even more so than Olifants, the quietness about it, sitting on your verandha watching the sunset!

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Stomachs were growling by this time and we had had a very full first day in the Park. Dinner was a most civilised affair, the wine was extremely welcome and my body was telling me it was time for bed, as I lay in the darkness I could hear something munching outside, was it my imagination? I started to drift off but no, there it was again something was having a right old feed…….. I was too tired to investigate tonight…….. Maybe tomorrow…………

_________________
Sandie
If only EVERY day were a Kruger day!
Kruger 2010 Skukuza 10/09.. Lower Sabie 11 & 12/09..Satara 13 & 14/09..Letaba 15 & 16/09..Shingwedzi 17 & 18/09.. Punda Maria 19 & 20/09.. Mopani 21 & 22/09
Trip Report 2008


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 Post subject: Re: The great African Adventure for 4 Brits September 2008
Unread postPosted: Wed May 20, 2009 6:02 pm 
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Location: In UK desperately waiting for the next trip to SA!!
Sunday 21s t September,

I am awakened by strange noises………. Hippos? Yes hippos!! It is only just light and we are all up early this morning for a game drive.

We pack 2 flasks of coffee and some rusks, now what are they all about ….rusks? :huh: We shopped at the Spar just before we entered the park and I said to Jean that all forumites eat rusks and drink coffee on their early morning drives so we had better get some!!! Now why didn’t anyone tell me that you needed teeth of steel to bite into these things? :wink: The faces we made trying to bite them absolutely had us in hysterics!!! Luckily nobody needed the dentist before we left, we dunked them in the coffee which made them a bit more palatable but for us Brits I think we prefer a good chocolate digestive if it’s all the same to you!!!! We like our teeth intact!! :wink:

Anyway I digress………. It is a bit nippy this morning and the wind that has been a feature over the last couple of days is now whipping round the bungalow, I am going to need my black jacket! Now I know that I left it on the back of the chair last night and now it is gone! SO is convinced I have left it in the car as he is sure I wasn’t wearing it last night, he would be right if we had been talking about the same garment!! At this point Dave walks in announcing that it is cold this morning (he has been catching the sunrise for prosperity on his camera!) ‘I have had to put on Jeans jacket as I couldn’t find mine’ ah so puzzle solved…….. I always suspected he was a cross dresser at the weekends…….. :lol: Better look out for my underwear!!!

We set off about 6.30ish.. Just outside the camp entrance the hyaenas were about.
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We expected to be out about 3 hours, taking in the Tropic of Capricorn loop, I have to say that a lot of the terrain in this area was burnt and sparse, miles of black on one side of the road and normal bush on the other, therefore the game was scarce but we enjoyed it all the same, the ellies seemed to elude us on this windy morning. Here are some of the animals that we did spot.

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Does anyone else have trouble getting LBR’s to sit still enough to get a good photo?

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As we crossed the Tsendze we saw this little fellow just about to start his late breakfast!

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We hit the cafeteria as soon as we got back to camp……….. Too much coffee and too long in the van…….. A dash was in order!! When we were all more comfortable we ordered our Carnivore Bushveld breakfast which went down a treat.

We now had the remaining afternoon to chill out on the verandha before our sunset drive and ‘special Boma Braii’ that we had ordered for our return at 8.30pm

There was plenty to entertain us sitting on the verandha…….

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These two were having a stand off!!

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It proved all too much for the squirrel!!

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At 4.00pm we made our way down to reception to meet Michael for our Sunset Drive………

_________________
Sandie
If only EVERY day were a Kruger day!
Kruger 2010 Skukuza 10/09.. Lower Sabie 11 & 12/09..Satara 13 & 14/09..Letaba 15 & 16/09..Shingwedzi 17 & 18/09.. Punda Maria 19 & 20/09.. Mopani 21 & 22/09
Trip Report 2008


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 Post subject: Re: The great African Adventure for 4 Brits September 2008
Unread postPosted: Wed May 20, 2009 10:49 pm 
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The sun was still with us when we piled into the safari vehicle, the blankets were to hand though and boy were we going to need them, previous experience had told us to wrap up warm for as soon as that sun disappears the fire is definitely turned off!!

Michael proved to be very knowledgeable and had the ‘eagle eye’…… We had a very enjoyable sunset drive with him, there were only 2 others with us in the vehicle….

We saw hyaena, giraffe, hippo, elephant, a lesser bush baby, impala, scrub hare, steenbok, sharpes grysbok and a common Duiker (all 3 of the smaller antelope) and last but not least some nyala.

The elephants were drinking at the watering place, Michael told us that you can spot a Mopani elephant because when they drink from this place they wear a shiney flat part on the underside of their tusks.
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Michael had a nightjar call recording on his cell phone and whilst we stood outside the vehicle watching the elephants and stretching our legs he started the call, sure enough a nightjar was soon dive bombing us, I have never seen a nightjar before, so it was a memorable experience, but much too quick to get a photo!!

At the Tsendze crossing Dave managed to get a photo of this hippo in the dark..

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It was freezing coming back in the open vehicle and we wrapped up in the blankets, the sunset was stunning and we returned with that windswept, rosy, heart warming glowing feeling you only get in the bush!

The sky was crystal clear and we were able to see the ‘milky way’ the Southern Cross, Venus was shining bright with Mars and Mercury at about 7.00 o’clock below.

We were ready for our boma Braii when we returned and sure enough it was all laid out and ready for us!!

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Wonderful staff gave us their undivided attention and made sure that it was a special meal for us, I for one that night went to bed feeling very privileged to be in one of the most special places on the planet……… that’s my interpretation anyway!!!

Tomorrow was another day ………….

_________________
Sandie
If only EVERY day were a Kruger day!
Kruger 2010 Skukuza 10/09.. Lower Sabie 11 & 12/09..Satara 13 & 14/09..Letaba 15 & 16/09..Shingwedzi 17 & 18/09.. Punda Maria 19 & 20/09.. Mopani 21 & 22/09
Trip Report 2008


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 Post subject: Re: The great African Adventure for 4 Brits September 2008
Unread postPosted: Fri May 22, 2009 12:36 am 
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Monday 22nd September.

Still at Mopani. :D

Had a bit of a lie in this morning…….. 6.30 to rise, Dave had already been out to capture the sunrise, He is in awe of how the light changes so quickly here, he says its like nowhere else he has been and it gets him up before the sun rises every morning.

Both he and Jean are loving the park, but they are surprised at the size of it. No matter how many times you tell people that it is about the same size as Wales at home they can’t picture it until they arrive….. Then they are amazed that you see any animals at all because there is so much area for them to hide out in!

For busy, industrious people who are always chasing the 9 - 5, I think it comes as quite a shock at the laid back attitude all around you, I saw this incredulous look on their faces on a number of occasions. For instance if you order breakfast, expect it when it comes, don’t look at your watch thinking it has been a long time, smile .....it has given you time to take in your surroundings!!! If you see agitated buffs or impalas blowing through their noses and stamping the ground, realise there may be cats in the area but expect to wait until they show themselves, if at all!! This may be hours.... I think that our newbies are starting to realise that it is about the ‘being’ not the seeing. Close your eyes, listen and feel the bush and store it somewhere deep to recall on a cold December, grey day when you need a ‘lift’.

Here are a couple of shots Dave took as the sun came up.

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Anyway back to Monday, we are going to have a fairly easy day today, I think emotions run high on your first trip, the air of expectation and all that! and you need a bit of ‘chill out’ time to take stock and charge your batteries, and your camera! We decided on an early game drive and were out of the gates by 7.00am armed with the obligatory coffee and rusks :( . .....We made our way up to Pioneer Dam......

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A lovely spot, very relaxing, the hippos were in fine fettle giving us their best chorus!
No fish eagles to be seen but it was a bit early for them! Shipandane Bird Hide was next on the agenda……… Jean had a good look for snakes before we settled ourselves there for a bit, the temperature had risen considerably in the last couple of days and it was nice to rest in the cool with the birds, hippo and crocs.

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I see no ships!!! A common 'derriere' sight all over the park!!!

We started our way back via the Tsendze loop

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We nearly drove past this little ‘cheeky chappie’ as we went through the water. His colours are wonderful.

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And these looked like a ‘mirror image’ they are so beautiful!

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We made our way back to the camp....... Still no lions and this was giving way to some concern for Dave....... Was he never going to see one? :huh:

_________________
Sandie
If only EVERY day were a Kruger day!
Kruger 2010 Skukuza 10/09.. Lower Sabie 11 & 12/09..Satara 13 & 14/09..Letaba 15 & 16/09..Shingwedzi 17 & 18/09.. Punda Maria 19 & 20/09.. Mopani 21 & 22/09
Trip Report 2008


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 Post subject: Re: The great African Adventure for 4 Brits September 2008
Unread postPosted: Fri May 22, 2009 2:26 pm 
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Sitting on the veranda back at the bungalow, there were mixed emotions, and everyone had gone a bit quiet, this was going to be our last night here……… Dave set up his camera with the ‘long lens’ on to capture some ellies that were playing on the opposite bank……



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It was a beautiful afternoon, the usual birdlife visited to see if we could be tempted into producing afternoon tea!!!…… :naughty:



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I know I keep on about the view… but it truly was stunning, how on earth were we going to be able to leave without a sad face? :(



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The hippos were singing their song and I sat back and closed my eyes to capture the moment…….



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When I opened them again it was more than a moment that I had captured!!!!!………. :roll:



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Memories of last nights Braii sprung to mind……… Chicken, steak, gemsbok sausages, potatoes, vegetables and some lovely bread stuffed with squash…….. Yes, time to hit the shower and make our way over to the restaurant……. If I hurry we can watch the rest of the sunset there.



Dinner was a leisurely affair, we sat for a while over a few glasses of wine discussing the day, nobody actually mentioning how much they were going to miss Mopani!! But you can feel when folks want to move on but are reluctant to leave something special.



We all turned in for bed and it seemed only a blink before I woke to the sound of the hippos again….

_________________
Sandie
If only EVERY day were a Kruger day!
Kruger 2010 Skukuza 10/09.. Lower Sabie 11 & 12/09..Satara 13 & 14/09..Letaba 15 & 16/09..Shingwedzi 17 & 18/09.. Punda Maria 19 & 20/09.. Mopani 21 & 22/09
Trip Report 2008


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 Post subject: Re: The great African Adventure for 4 Brits September 2008
Unread postPosted: Fri May 22, 2009 2:32 pm 
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Tuesday 23rd September.



We don’t need to rush today so I take the leisurely option…….. open the window behind me to feel the cool air, pull up the blanket around myself and lay and listen to the Francolins on the porch, the grey hornbills having a spat... and of course the hippos…… no whooping of hyaenas so far……… on previous occasions they have been the alarm clock but we have seen very little of them since we arrived. Still, we have some time yet to go and some travelling to do but only as far as Letaba today!



We pack up the bungalow; Jean has a naked encounter, as she leaves the shower, with one of the staff who is delivering fresh linen for the next guests!!! I don’t know who was more shocked her or him!!! we load the van, last minute photos are taken……….



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Then with a degree of sadness we head off in the direction of Letaba, no looking back, we WILL return!!!



We dropped the key in the box and headed off down the H1-6 and about halfway down to Letaba we make the left turn onto the H1-5 towards Giriyondo, which is the Mozambique crossing, 12 miles down here we stop at the Makhadzi picnic spot where there is a museum displaying artefacts from the outpost of the British Army who held the post until 1902, Boer war (Anglo) …. SO is very interested in this, it was hot by this time so we were also looking for a cool drink!!!



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Picnic area



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Museum



We made our way back to the tar road (HI-6), we had seen a lot of elephants this morning, some waterbuck, impala, some



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And some buffalo in the distance, too far for a good photo.

We turned left again on the S62 in the direction of Engelhard Dam, Spectacular views from the top but signs of the green/blue algae that has been a problem throughout the park killing many crocs.


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These two fish eagles didn’t seem to mind though!



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There is still a lot of talk about lion when we get back in the car…….. when do you think we will see one? How close do you think we will get for a good photo? Indeed Dave was now convinced that there were NO lion in the park!!! I was secretly hoping that we would see one soon or he would never believe a thing I told him again!!!



We hit the tar again and noticed that it was 36 degrees when we checked in at Letaba for our one night here, indeed we wished it had been longer, although I know that every camp has it’s charm and merits I was relieved to see that our newbie’s loved Letaba as much as Mopani!! A different view but just as stunning…..



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Accommodation no. 102 2 bed bungalow.



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View at the front.





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And this was our lodger!!!



I love Letaba, this was my 3rd stay….. I think it is laid out in a most charming way, we all felt extremely relaxed as our eyes kept being drawn to the view, a multitude of game right on our doorstep, of course this camp was going to be worthy of many photographs and I could feel an early morning sunrise was going to be on the agenda for Dave tomorrow morning.



I had tied our yellow ribbon on our wing mirror when I had found it in my bag at the dam earlier in the day, Lo and behold!, camping right behind us is another yellow ribbon, this one belonged to EkoJunkie….. :D She is off tomorrow with Imberbe to Balule for a wilderness trail, very exciting!!!


We unload the car, and make our way up towards the restaurant via the Elephant Hall, for those of you who haven’t visited here, there are many tusks mounted on the walls, the average is somewhere between 50 and 65 kilos each!! Most of the tusks have photos of the elephants that they belonged to and a brief history of the animal. There is also a history of the persecution of the elephants for their ivory, this I always find a bit distressing, I cannot imagine for one minute how a magnificent, beautiful animal can be killed for its tusks and then abandoned. But, I remind myself, this is not my Country and that is probably why I find it hard to understand.

One exhibit I was pleased to see and stood as a reminder to anyone who makes the decision to stray from their cars!! There were photos of some people who had left their vehicle 5 metres away to photo a female and her calf…. the remains of their vehicle after she had charged it and impaled it with her tusks, (after they had been unable to start it!) was a stark reminder of the dangers... luckily they had been able to bale out beforehand or they would have been looking at some nasty injuries!! This had happened in May 2008.



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We carried on to the restaurant, I was now wishing that I had asked EJ to join us……… ran back quickly but she isn’t around!! We sat for some time in those lovely chairs, with a cool drink in the gentle breeze, just whiling away the time, drinking in the scenery, Elephants, impala, warthogs and waterbuck were down for a drink, there was a troupe of Baboons……



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And this ground hornbill



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we laughed at the Maribou Storks lining up on what appeared to be their runway as they took off one after the other and landed, well if you can call it that!!!, more like ‘crashed’ landed into a tree, safety for the night, it was almost as if they had a take off schedule which everyone adhered to!!! ….. Heathrow airport in London could learn a thing or too!!!

We sat until the sky changed to that wonderful pinkie, orangey red glow and then darkness enveloped us. After a dinner of Calamari, line fish with veg and a few bottles of wine, we hit the perimeter fence with our large searchlight, SO and I had been fortunate to see a leopard and cub one year at that very spot by the restaurant, but tonight we saw 4 hyenas hunting in the valley and another cane rat, (this was what I had heard at Mopani one evening when trying to get to sleep). Sleep came easily that night……….. Maybe the lions will appear tomorrow………….

_________________
Sandie
If only EVERY day were a Kruger day!
Kruger 2010 Skukuza 10/09.. Lower Sabie 11 & 12/09..Satara 13 & 14/09..Letaba 15 & 16/09..Shingwedzi 17 & 18/09.. Punda Maria 19 & 20/09.. Mopani 21 & 22/09
Trip Report 2008


Last edited by sandiem on Fri May 22, 2009 8:16 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: The great African Adventure for 4 Brits September 2008
Unread postPosted: Tue May 26, 2009 10:17 pm 
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Location: In UK desperately waiting for the next trip to SA!!
Norms...... No trip to the Kruger is complete without them!!! :D

Wendy A ..... Thank you for your encouragement it is greatly appreciated... :D

Wednesday 24th September.

We are awake just after 4.30am this morning, isn’t amazing how quickly you get on ‘Kruger time’ !! I am sitting outside the bungalow in the dark drinking my coffee waiting for the sun to come up……. Dave is already set up with his tripod, I had had an overwhelming urge to creep up on him in the dark and make him jump but visualized his camera and tripod taking a nose dive over the edge and decided I wanted to live to enjoy the rest of my holiday!! :whistle: So I quietly took up residence on the seat overlooking the river. It’s funny but there is an air of expectancy about a sunrise, it’s as if the animals are waiting for the safety of light and the birds are waiting to air their lungs. The sky starts to change to pinks and reds, heralding the suns rise,

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by the time I have finished my coffee it is light. Bushbuck are around looking to be fed, :naughty: the noise of the Egyptian Geese drowns out all the other birdsong.... it is truly a racket!!! Dave can’t catch this with his camera so disappears inside to grab Jeans video camera to catch the noisy start to the day!

We are off to Olifants today for 2 nights, so we opt for an early breakfast and load the van to be on our way, Ecojunkie is up and about so we bid her farewell and wish her a wonderful 4 days with Imberbe, she is on her laptop completing the latest instalment of her trip report, that’s the way to do it if you can…. On the go!!!. :thumbs_up: We have loved our overnight stay in Letaba and look forward to our return. :wink:


We set off on the main road to Olifants, we hadn’t gone far when we came across 2 elephants right next to the road, one of them was pulling up tufts of grass with his trunk, he was pawing first with his foot, loosening the grass, pulling it up, then shaking and knocking it against the ground to rid it of the earth before he put it into his mouth, fascinating to watch. The sky seemed to be full of eagles this morning, but I find it so hard to identify which is which, by the time I get the right page on the bird book I have lost the best sighting of the flight patterns!!! Maybe I need to spend more time in the park to improve this…. :wink:

We saw many impalas, elephant and zebra but giraffe seem to be hiding!

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We arrived at Olifants at 10.40am but were too early to check in, so we had a look at the sightings board for yesterday and today to see if there was any lion in the area……… They had so far eluded us and the subject was getting a bit tense!! There were many lion, leopard, rhino and elephant on the sightings board, so we ventured into reception to book a night drive, hopefully our guide will be able to locate them for us!!!

We made our way over to the cafeteria, there are improvement works going on at Olifants. It was not as I remembered, the restaurant was out of bounds, the cafeteria wasn’t as I remembered, and indeed I wasn’t even sure that there was a cafeteria last time? I seemed to remember that you accessed the restaurant from outside, and the entrance is now inside, although the shop looked familiar. We had a cool drink and a rock cake, and then moved on to the viewing platform, this had also changed.

Whilst we were admiring the view, a chap standing next to me asked ‘Do you see that?’………. ‘What am I looking at?’ I reply scouring the river bed with my binoculars……. ‘Lion on the far bank’ he replied………. :D This got Dave’s attention!!! :big_eyes: Our first lion sighting on the other side of the near dry river bed, too far away for a decent picture, but relief!! The fever pitch lion search will now be able to calm down a bit now that we were all assured that the lion population of the Kruger Park had NOT gone into hibernation!!! The lion was dozing and other than lifting his head to shake off the flies every now and then, he looked like he was going nowhere in a hurry…….. BUT we had seen him and there was excitement for our newbie’s. I remembered the first lions I had seen in the park out on a night drive at Olifants, they were milling around our vehicle inquisitively, my heart racing with excitement and awe at these magnificent animals, they looked so fit and powerful and I was respectful of the bit of canvas separating us on the side of the vehicle!!! I can remember SO whispering ‘are you cold?’ as I was shaking and moving more to the middle of the vehicle……. No it wasn’t the cold, just the excitement; I was hoping that we would get a similar unforgettable experience for our friends before we left. :pray: I don’t know what it was about Olifants but the whole area had lost it’s charm, I know there has to be disturbance to improve the place, but somehow there was a kind of shabbiness about it, I had really looked forward to visiting again which is why we had booked 2 nights, and regretted not making that 2 night stop Letaba.


Anyway, we decided to kill some time waiting to be able to check in by driving up to the N'wamanzi look out point ... There were some very noisy hippos in a pool beneath us...... we were to have a closer encounter with them on foot!

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We made our way back to camp and checked in, we told the clerk on the desk about our lion sighting and he said that there had been many lion sightings in the area, the latest one a giraffe kill on the Satara road, he showed us some photos on his phone, he gave us our keys to the bungalow , 2 keys? this was puzzling...... No. 71 is bungalow Nkambuko which houses 2 seperate units under one roof with an outside kitchen for sharing...... perfect!!!

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We chilled out for a bit.... literally in the air conditioned room as it had been very hot, and showered ready for our meal then our night drive..........

_________________
Sandie
If only EVERY day were a Kruger day!
Kruger 2010 Skukuza 10/09.. Lower Sabie 11 & 12/09..Satara 13 & 14/09..Letaba 15 & 16/09..Shingwedzi 17 & 18/09.. Punda Maria 19 & 20/09.. Mopani 21 & 22/09
Trip Report 2008


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 Post subject: Re: The great African Adventure for 4 Brits September 2008
Unread postPosted: Wed May 27, 2009 4:53 pm 
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Location: In UK desperately waiting for the next trip to SA!!
Thank you everyone for your comments :D :thumbs_up: ... Kath U.K I am also feeling Kruger starved!!! Always thinking about how to get back as I am leaving the gate!!!

Cont....
We had to be at reception for our night drive at 7.45, so we had time for dinner first, as I said the restaurant was not an option so we used the cafeteria. I think I had given our friends the impression that Olifants was going to be probably the best camp, as I had such wonderful memories of it and it really didn't live up to expectations at all. :( I had been hoping for a lovely glass of wine sitting under the stars on the viewing platform which used to light up in the evenings, giving you a good view of the elephants having their end of day splash around. This is no longer the case. The cafeteria had a limited menu and the overspill from the shop into the cafeteria area made it noisy and a bit manic so we hurried our meal to get back out into the open, this made us early and first in line for our safari vehicle. I don't mean to harp on about this, as we were after all in the Kruger, so nothing could be that disappointing, :D I think it was because expectations had been high, the last time I had been to Olifants was 2004, it had won the 'best restcamp of the year' award.

Julius was our driver/guide for the evening drive. He was very knowledgeable and I was glad that we had booked it when we had arrived. The first thing we saw was a hippo and baby out of the water on walkabout! followed by a hippo bull that appeared to be hiding... Julius explained that as the hippo pools dried up in the winter the bull hippos are chased off when they try to move their families into another pool that is inhabited. The dominant bull takes all the females and ousts the poor male, leaving him on his own. :(

There were a lot of impala that night, as they moved across the road in single file, Julius explained that when they are frightened they secrete a hormone from a gland which the others can follow. He pointed out a scorpion that we would have missed, the we saw what appeared to be an old lion. He looked in poor shape, maybe he had been ousted from his pride by a dominant male and was struggling to feed himself or he could have contracted bovine TB which had been attacking the feline population in the park. Either way he had our sympathies I don't think I had ever seen a cat in the park before that didn't look powerful and in good condition, this poor chap seemed to have lost his dignity and it was pathetic to watch him. Still, this is a stark reminder that we are not seeing these animals in a zoo environment, these animals are wild and as such are susceptible to the laws of nature.

The usual scrub hares involved turning off the head lights to induce them to stop committing suicide under the front wheels of the vehicle!! :naughty: They are just drawn to the light and appear to have no control over their own destiny!!! and then we saw the most beautiful great eagle, just sitting on a tree stump looking at us. On the way home we were graced with the Company of a small herd of elelphants and calves, and this was the end of our very enjoyable night drive. :clap:

We headed back to our bungalow and finished off the evening with some cheese and biscuits with a glass of wine, then we hit the hay. We were booked in for a riverine walk the next day and I wondered what that would bring, the last one at Olifants had involved an encounter with 2 buffalo bulls that surprised us by charging up the side of the river bed at us, causing me to drop my camera and our guide to drop to his knees and cock his rifle, they were scared off though by them shouting and throwing debris at them.... scary at the time though I can tell you.

Thursday 25th September.

The riverine walk is booked for 9.15, so we breakfast in the cafeteria which seems a bit quieter this morning. :D

Julius and Pilot are taking us out this morning.

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We drove down near the river and start our walk to the hippo pool that we had seen previously from the look out point. It was very steep in places and the ground is very shingly, so it is easy to lose you footing, great care had to be taken to stay upright! Julius points out a fork tailed drongo, a fish eagle and in no time at all we are at the hippo pool.
Julius had found it amusing to inform us that the entry to the hippos was subject to how far we could spit the impala poo! We told him 'After him!' and 'On his bike!!!' This made him laugh!!

We sat on the bank no more that 25 yards away from them, I counted 18 pairs of eyes in heads that are all pointed in our direction.

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We had only just got there when this bull appeared to the side of the pool, he must have crossed the path that we had just walked down! :big_eyes:

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Since Julius had just explained that hippos were one of the most dangerous animals in the park and are reponsible for the most deaths, I was a bit uncomfortable about the fact that we had only just missed this great big bull by seconds on our path!!

As this bull approached the edge of the water, the resident bull in the water was having none of it!!! These were his females and he was not going to tolerate any competition!! :naughty:
There ensued the biggest display of teeth and agression I have ever seen in hippos, the noise was deafening....

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This wasn't going to be something that was gong to be solved in a flash, so after a while, we left them to it and started back towards the vehicle.
There was a lot of giraffe spoil near the vehicle, we played 'guess the poo' with Julius, the spoil that looks like big acorns are giraffe and the reason that they are hard like acorns, (Julius had to break one of them with his teeth!) is that the giraffe are able to use every drop of moisture that they take in through the leaves so that their spoil is almost dry and rock hard when it leaves their body. This means they are not totally water dependant and can go quite some time without a drink. As we approached the vehicle, Julius pointed out fresh leopard tracks coming away from our vehicle, so we hung back whilst they had a good look round before we finally alighted and set off back to camp. This probaly explained why they leave the vehicle doors open when we leave it so that they can see if anything is lurking when you return.

SO was waiting when we got back to reception and we still had the rest of the day to explore until we were on our 'Astronomy activity' this evening.............

_________________
Sandie
If only EVERY day were a Kruger day!
Kruger 2010 Skukuza 10/09.. Lower Sabie 11 & 12/09..Satara 13 & 14/09..Letaba 15 & 16/09..Shingwedzi 17 & 18/09.. Punda Maria 19 & 20/09.. Mopani 21 & 22/09
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 Post subject: Re: The great African Adventure for 4 Brits September 2008
Unread postPosted: Mon Jun 08, 2009 2:37 pm 
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We decided that we would go straight out for a game drive before it got too hot, so we headed out on the main road then took the S92 'Balule' loop, we went down to the Ngotso Weir road, S89 then joined the tar road H1-4 up to the H8 main road back up to olifants.

We stopped on the bridge for some time, stretched our legs and watched the elephants in the distance making their way towards the river

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A buffalo just below us took a drink, then decided maybe a bath would be better!!, he must have found it relaxing as he had a doze afterwards in the reeds........ unfortunately he was so well hidden in the reeds a photo was impossible! We watched 2 Egyptian geese flirting with death near an apparently 'dead' crocodile who was waiting for them to get careless and get near enough for him to 'strike', (I wonder what the longest time recorded for a crocodile to remain immobile is? must be hours!!!)
This cheeky chappie kept posing in front of the camera, so thought him worthy of a photo!

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There is so much to see from that bridge, every time you think you have seen it all, something moves and draws your eye back to investigate, time marches on and before you know it an hour has passed and you didn't even realise! It is the most wonderful changing landscape canvas!!! It was some grumbling that bought us all back to reality, no not from the buff or indeed the hippos, but from our stomachs!! it was time to head back to the cafeteria for some late lunch!!
This fellow gave a new meaning to 'zebra crossing'

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here are his mates!

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‘Anyone for a quick 'nap' before lunch?

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We got back to the bungalow to have a quick shower to wash away the dust when we saw that next doors fridge was wide open and had been raided by vervets! Little monkeys!!!

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You will notice the orange juice around his mouth, he had pinched the carton of orange juice from the fridge, ripped the top open, then by a series of depressions with his strong arms he was able to drink from the fountain that it created at the top, no need for a straw then!!! Goodness knows what else the little devils had seconded and escaped with!!! When we were on our walk Julius had told us that the day before vervets had been in one of the bungalows and in addition to food had stolen some sleeping tablets ….. They didn’t know how many had been taken, but later found a vervet staggering around, it was unclear as to how long he would sleep or indeed whether he would wake up!!!

There had been a lot of litter on our walk under the lookout point, tin foil, cartons, plastic bags etc……. Julius explained that once a week they had a clean up operation because the primates were getting into cars as people were getting out to take photos leaving their car doors and windows open, they were so quick that you probably wouldn’t even notice until you discovered that your lunch was missing!!

We hit the restaurant after our shower, we had been out for quite a while and it was later than we had anticipated, after 3.00pm..... We decided our meal in the restaurant was going to be our main one as we had to be ready and waiting for our astronomy as 4.45.

We tucked into 'Hunters Pot' which was some kind of 'Beef' stew, with new potatoes, squash and peas...... surprisingly good and a quiet time to eat in the cafeteria.

As we made our way up to reception for the astronomy activity, Pilot and a back up gun were loading up the vehicle with a very large telescope, chairs, drinks and snacks for us, we piled into the vehicle and set of as the sun was making its descent.

We made our way up to the N’wamanzi lookout point, the telescope was erected and our chairs were set out around it……… it was still light although the sun had nearly disappeared, Pilot explained that he was going to point out the Constellations as they appeared with a laser penlight which was very effective.

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The first star to appear in the West is Venus, and left of that and under in a line is Mercury and Mars, the two pointers of the Southern Cross appear next and a couple of the Scorpion constellation. Jupiter appeared straight above us with its 4 moons, 2 above and 2 below, we each took it in turns to look through the telescope at Jupiter, it was amazing to see the moons, I had no idea there were 4. We looked at Venus before it disappeared, some star clusters and Mercury which appears red. All the time that Pilot was trying to educate us in the wonders of the night sky, our hippos that we had met earlier, were still having a disagreement and the noise was at times deafening so that it made it difficult to take in all that was said.

We tucked into our drinks and snacks and for me it was a time to soak up the darkness of the bush under the big canopy of stars which appeared endless, it was an awe inspiring experience looking at the dramatic night sky, the milky way stretched above us and because the telescope had to be moved every few minutes you were aware of our planet rotating towards the East, giving you the feeling inside that we are moving, which of course we are!! All of the stars that we were looking at may no longer actually be there, as it has taken so long for the image to reach us, so in fact you feel like you are looking into the past in some way.

The second gun kept constant patrol of our perimeter to make sure that we didn’t get any unwelcome guests and about 8ish we packed up and made our way back to camp. Pilot spotted a chameleon on a branch on the way back………. How he saw that in the dark I have no idea but a real treat for me as I had never seen one before.

It was over too soon………. It was a short distance back to the camp, it had got a bit chilly and we pulled the blankets back up over our legs to keep out the wind in the open backed vehicle, I reflected on the way back at how knowledgeable our guides are in the park, whether it be on the ground, trees, or indeed the sky, how lucky we were to be there.

We thanked our guide for a most enjoyable experience, made our way back up to the bungalow, where we had a nightcap then turned in.

Sleep came almost instantaneously but I was awakened a short while later by the sound of thunder, so loud that I almost leapt out of bed, it rumbled on for a bit as I lay and listen to it, giving me a chance to reflect on our evening experience, there was something about being in the open listening to the sounds, the smells were different and looking at the milky way above had made me feel very small and insignificant, it was a lovely experience and one I would thoroughly recommend…….. Satara was next on the adventure……..but I was soon off again in the land of nod!

_________________
Sandie
If only EVERY day were a Kruger day!
Kruger 2010 Skukuza 10/09.. Lower Sabie 11 & 12/09..Satara 13 & 14/09..Letaba 15 & 16/09..Shingwedzi 17 & 18/09.. Punda Maria 19 & 20/09.. Mopani 21 & 22/09
Trip Report 2008


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 Post subject: Re: The great African Adventure for 4 Brits September 2008
Unread postPosted: Mon Jun 08, 2009 9:53 pm 
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Location: In UK desperately waiting for the next trip to SA!!
Friday 25th September

SO and I are awake first this morning, we drink coffee on the stoope and watch the baboons doing their early morning raids on any fridge that isn't turned towards the wall and any bin that they can get the lid off...... The party opposite are making an early start and a baboon is trying to investigate their car every time the woman puts something into it... A game of hide and seek ensues but the baboon is far too clever, he watches the womans feet under the car to see which way she is going, how clever they are!!! They are full of mischief!!

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The time ticks away while we sit on the verandha and we rally ourselves to pack up to move on to Satara... Breakfast first though!!!!

Now Breakfast no matter how many times you order it never quite comes up the same, so it is always a bit of a gamble as to what you receive, this morning SO eats toast that is destined for the underside of my eggs!!! So I whip it away mid bite when I realise what is happening, this caused our friends to nearly choke on their bacon!!! You would think that after 33 years of marriage he would know NOT to mess with my breakfast!!! :sniper:

I had filled in the guest satisfaction form relating the disappointment in Olifants but before we move on to Satara, SO had met Jeff and Jools from the forum (Yellow ribbon) whilst we were out on our riverine walk, they were staying in the 'Lebombo Guest House' all 20 of them as they were getting married at Olifants and were supposed to be having their wedding reception in the restaurant!!! When they asked what was going to happen now that the restaurant was out of action they said that they were going to lay it up in the Cafeteria!!!!! Apparently they suggested that maybe they could have it in their guest house instead, the staff did this and it all went off very well, maybe I have missed a trip report with photos? :D Anyway that now draws a line under Oliphant’s and we move on.

We posted our keys in the box as we left the camp and headed towards Satara, via the Timbavati loop, our picnic stop! On the way we stopped at the Ratelpan Bird Hide, which is sponsored by the Honorary Rangers and the Sasol bird publishers... There was very little going on here so we pressed on and spotted some impala scattering on either side of the river bank at a great rate of knots, we knew something must have spooked them so we stopped and turned off the engine to listen and watch, one of the bucks was snorting in alarm to the others, we followed it's gaze and saw an Elephant riveted to the spot, when we saw a lion!! this was obviously what all the commotion was about!!!

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We followed the lion with our binoculars until he went out of sight, the impala relaxed and started to move off again. We followed the road round hoping to catch a glimpse of him again and maybe a photo opportunity. We caught sight of 2 other lionesses and a cub under the shade of a tree, but other than flicking an ear to ward off the flies or moving to get more comfortable there wasn't much chance of a photo shoot!! We waited for a bit whilst they had a snooze until another car appeared and we pointed to where they were and moved out of the way so that they could get a better spot.

We continued up to Timbavati, now the first thing you notice at the picnic spot are the signs asking you NOT to feed the animals or birds. Bush buck wander freely in the area so you can imagine my amazement at a SA family that were setting up a braii for lunch and immediately produced a brown bag with food in for the buck!! The woman fed the buck from her hands and I looked in the direction of the guard in attendance to see if he would reprimand..... nothing!!! I regard myself as an ignorant townie at times, I do not presume to understand everything about the wild and acknowledge that we all have so much to learn, but I can read and know that rules are there for a reason!!! Still we were guests in this great Country and it wasn't our place to criticise those that have the privilege to live there. So we packed up our lunch, drunk our welcome drinks and moved on.

After a long time on the dirt roads we were all longing for some tar!! So we took the S127 back to the main road and checked into Satara ASAP.

It was very busy at reception and the temperature had soared to 29 degrees and despite the storm the night before, there was little rain and it remained very sticky. We were allocated our perimeter fence accommodation in 'A' circle no's 13 and 14.

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Both units have aircon and it was a welcome overnight stop!!!

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The sunset was as spectacular as usual!!

We had reserved a table in the restaurant for 7.00pm and I had noticed that there was roast beef and horseradish on the menu!! Perfect!!!

We had had a couple of very busy days and really wanted to chill out, this seemed a good opportunity to take it easy for the rest of the afternoon, catch up with my journal, take a leisurely shower and dress for dinner.

As predicted dinner was a grand affair, the restaurant had very comfortable chairs and the service and food was excellent, we enjoyed it very much, the idea of an early dinner was to give us some time to have a film show of the photos that we had taken so far, but when we returned to our bungalows we decided the heat of the day, it had reached 36 degrees, had taken its toll and we all wanted to turn in early and make a full day of it tomorrow when we would move on to Skukuza.

We didn't notice at first the 3 birds nests that were in the eaves of our bungalow, we did when we turned off the lights and tried to get to sleep!!! One of the nests sounded like it was inside the bungalow, I don't know which birds were nesting but one of them had an exceptionally shrill alarm call!! there was distant twittering for most of the night which I found quite relaxing and was not that loud over the aircon, but I was bought back to consciousness every now and again by an abrupt shrill call, this led to a bit of a fitful night, but it could have been worse, could have been bats dive bombing us!!!

I woke feeling quite excited as today we would take the famous S100 road that Dotdan so affectionately says 'sucks'!!! We shall see!!

_________________
Sandie
If only EVERY day were a Kruger day!
Kruger 2010 Skukuza 10/09.. Lower Sabie 11 & 12/09..Satara 13 & 14/09..Letaba 15 & 16/09..Shingwedzi 17 & 18/09.. Punda Maria 19 & 20/09.. Mopani 21 & 22/09
Trip Report 2008


Last edited by sandiem on Tue Jun 09, 2009 12:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: The great African Adventure for 4 Brits September 2008
Unread postPosted: Tue Jun 09, 2009 3:39 pm 
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Location: In UK desperately waiting for the next trip to SA!!
Saturday 26th September


We started the day having a look at the sightings board at reception to see if there were any lion in the area…….. Loads!! But not on the main tar road that we need to take down to Tshokwane. We had to watch the time today as it is nearly 95 kms to Skukuza which is our next overnight stop and anyone who has been to the Kruger knows that when it comes to animal sightings you can ‘lose’ hours when you come across something interesting!!! Anyway we decide to hit the S100 going in the opposite direction!!! So see if we can catch something before we head to Skukuza. So ‘Goodbye Satara’ until next time! :D
(Now Dotdan if you are reading this you really must take off your blindfold when on this road as we found it teaming with game!! :wink: )

We saw impala, kudu, waterbuck,

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Buffalo,

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Baboons,

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Giraffe

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And distant elephants all before we hit this lion and lioness.

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Task accomplished!!! We knew that we needed to turn round and head in the ‘right’ direction to reach Skukuza, so we took our photos, sighed and left the lions in peace. As we rattled over the metal road, for some of us our breakfast ‘hit the spot’ thus sending a ‘message’ which involved a quick detour back to camp!!! ‘Hello again Satara!!!’ I’m never one to look a gift horse in the mouth so after a visit to the ‘little girl’s room’ we were soon underway again, this time heading in the ‘right’ direction.

We hadn’t gone very far when a safari vehicle waived us down when he saw our yellow ribbon, another forum member, now I thought he said his name was ‘Gamespotter’ or ‘Master Gamespotter’ and that was what I wrote in my journal but I now think I was mistaken……. Anyway he kindly pointed out some of the sightings he had had that morning with his clients, including a lioness sighting under a tree on the Sweni 3 kms down the road after a herd of buffalo on the right, and then about a further 15kms were 2 rhino too. We thanked him and decided that it wouldn’t take long to detour for the lioness and buffs but was a bit too far out of our way for the rhino, anyway I was sure we would see some rhino in the Berg en dal area, if Lourens sightings were anything to go by!

When we found the lioness she was indeed on her own.

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We watched her for a bit, looking round for others as it seemed strange to find her completely on her own, when she stood up we saw that she was lame on her left back hind, which means she had probably been left behind by her pride, we hoped that she would recover and catch up soon and that it was just a thorn or something, made our way back up to the main road again to continue our journey onto our picnic stop.

We shouldn’t have bothered with the picnic fare that we had purchased at Satara, at Tshokwane there was a bar, a cafeteria serving bush breakfast, toasted sandwiches, hot pies, salads and fruit and cakes and outside a fire cooking kudu burgers and Eland sausages. We rested and filled ourselves up on our sandwiches and snacks before we set off again.

On the main road we had a disturbing sight of an elephant lying on its side, motionless, we watched for a moment or two, I was unable to bring myself to photograph it as it appeared to be dead, another car pulled in front of us, they must have thought the same as us as they had the same stricken look as we must have had. I made a mental note to ask when we got to Skukuza what had happened to the elephant and tried to put it out of my mind as we carried on.

About 20kms from Skukuza you have a choice of tar roads on which to reach the camp, we chose to go over the Sabie and follow the river into Skukuza, about half way down here we come across a ‘gaggle’ of cars looking at something on the side of the road, we looked through the binoculars and spotted a lioness, she stood up, stretched and changed her position so that we could get a couple of photos of her, thank you!! I noticed that Dave was quiet in the back, he was frantically routing through his camera bag, muttering something about wrong lens, wrong side of the car…… mutter…….. mutter……… He donned the name, ‘Wrong lens Dave’ from that moment on!!! I mean I ask you, she even got up and stretched for us!!! Still, the lion sightings were coming thick and fast now so I’m sure that we will have an ‘all singing and dancing’ lion shot for him before we leave. (Can’t think about that yet!!!) I hope we have as much luck with the Leopard and Cheetah!!!

We watch for a while, Dave changes his lens ‘just in case’ but we decide to crack on to Skukuza and get settled in for the night. That road into camp is really picturesque, there are lots of loops that you can pull into and watch the riverine.

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We drove into Skukuza, found the ATM machine to replenish funds and were allocated bungalows 12 and 17

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We booked a table at the Selati railway restaurant on the platform, the last locomotive (steam) that went through the station was in 1972, it is now settled on the tracks and forms part of the museum at the restaurant/ station.

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Dinner was great, we all had something different, T bone with blue cheese sauce, ostrich steak, mixed grill and chicken curry, a great menu to choose from, would thoroughly recommend it!!!

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These were our charming waiters and waitresses who were a bit shy about having their photos taken!!

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In all it was a very enjoyable evening, we had a fit of the giggles when we reflected on the day, we reminded Dave of his now ‘wrong lens’ title, and SO and Jean discussed the possibilities of writing the first ‘Kruger good bog’ guide which they have first hand experience of!! We will be hitting those metal roads again tomorrow on the way to Berg en Dal, about 30 kms of them, lets hope that SO doesn’t regret his choice of curry tomorrow!!

_________________
Sandie
If only EVERY day were a Kruger day!
Kruger 2010 Skukuza 10/09.. Lower Sabie 11 & 12/09..Satara 13 & 14/09..Letaba 15 & 16/09..Shingwedzi 17 & 18/09.. Punda Maria 19 & 20/09.. Mopani 21 & 22/09
Trip Report 2008


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 Post subject: Re: The great African Adventure for 4 Brits September 2008
Unread postPosted: Tue Jun 09, 2009 10:21 pm 
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Location: In UK desperately waiting for the next trip to SA!!
Sunday 28th September.

We wake at about 5.30, shower, load the car and make our way over for breakfast in the cafeteria, we order a sunrise bun comprising of scrambled egg on one side and bacon on the other accompanied by the best cappuccino in the park!!! We take it outside and sit under the lappa that strangely has seats all around its circumference but none in the middle!!! This photo shows you why!!! Sit in the middle and you may get more than sugar in your coffee!!!! :naughty:

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We counted 67 bats roosting in the middle of the lappa.
It made for an interesting breakfast and afterwards we said goodbye to Skukuza and set off for Berg en Dal via Lake Panic on the Paul Kruger Gate road.

The last time I visited Lake Panic we were supposed to exit the gate first thing in the morning to make a plane at Johannesburg Int airport………. I thought a quick stop at Lake Panic would be ok……. No such thing as a quick stop……….. Needless to say I made us late!! I wondered what we would see today.

When we got to the bird hide there were quite a few cars in the car park and inside there were only a few seats left. As we made our way to one side I was aware that there was a hippo directly under the boards, we were walking on her but she didn’t move!!!

We spent the most lovely hour or so watching the drama that was unfolding before us.

There were hippos

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Grey herons

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Some with crocs playing dead very close to spindly legs!!! How close they go those birds, dicing all the time with the hereafter!!! Large crocs with half open waiting jaws, still as a rock!

But we were all riveted by a pair of Goliath Herons that were making a nest in the trees, backwards and forwards they went picking up large sticks and taking them back to the tree.

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They were huge and they worked so hard.

There were the usual waders

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I am sure someone can tell you what they are! Look out behind you!!!

And some very industrious weavers!!!

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It’s an idyllic spot and we all agreed that we could spend half a day there but we needed to go on….. I’m not sure if this was because some VERY serious birders had arrived with some VERY serious lenses on their cameras, they seemed to be set up for the day, thought it may have caused some feelings of inadequacy in our friend Dave because he has talked of nothing else but buying a new super duper lens ever since!!! Mind you looking at the size of those things, he may have to work out just to be able to lift it!!! :whistle: However Dave you still need to have the right one attached to the camera to get the shot :wink:

The first part of the journey down to Afsaal picnic area which was about half way, we saw the usual game, there was impala, zebra, wildebeest and one giraffe.

We stopped for lunch, munching on some toasted sandwiches and some pancakes with coffee. We took a quick peek at the sightings board whilst we were there, we were on the look out for leopard and rhino now, both were showing on the board and lucky enough in the vicinity that we were headed. :thumbs_up:

We left feeling very full and content and hadn’t gone too far down the main road when we spotted the back end of a rhino disappearing into the bush, too quick for a photo.

Soon after that 2 lionesses crossed the road right in front of us……

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How well they blend into the bush.

We carried on at a snails pace on the S110 towards Berg en Dal for a leopard had been spotted on this stretch of road earlier in the day according to the info board, there were many hanging legs on branches!! :hmz: Spots in trees :doh: ....but we didn’t see it.

We arrived at Berg en Dal and agreed that we would book a night drive as soon as we checked in with Lourens, but sadly that wasn’t to be.

_________________
Sandie
If only EVERY day were a Kruger day!
Kruger 2010 Skukuza 10/09.. Lower Sabie 11 & 12/09..Satara 13 & 14/09..Letaba 15 & 16/09..Shingwedzi 17 & 18/09.. Punda Maria 19 & 20/09.. Mopani 21 & 22/09
Trip Report 2008


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 Post subject: Re: The great African Adventure for 4 Brits September 2008
Unread postPosted: Wed Jun 10, 2009 3:22 pm 
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28th September cont……

We checked in at Berg en Dal, asked if we could go out with Lourens to find that he was on leave and unavailable, :( that was quite a blow since we had been watching his sightings postings since they had started and was looking forward to meeting him and joining him on a trip out. So we booked a night drive anyway and then made our way up to family unit no 92 on the perimeter.

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Berg en Dal was a new experience for me although SO had stayed before, it is quite different to the other camps we have stayed in, they have a kind of Colonial feel about them, except Mopani which has a unique feel. This camp was new, the buildings were brick and it felt really modern in comparison. The accommodation though was in fact very comfortable if a little strange in the fact that the front door led into one of the bedrooms!! From sitting on the patio area we had a view of the bush through the perimeter fence, you never know what is going to present itself! It makes you feel like you are the caged ones and they are coming to get a glimpse of you!

We went back up to the restaurant to book a table for dinner and make sure that they would still be open at 9.00 for when we got back from our night drive.

After a quick shower and change we made our way back up to reception to get in our safari vehicle and find our guide, we were a party of 7, 4 of us and 3 other German guests for the drive. Our guide introduced himself as Obi (Obakeng) and straight away we knew we were in for a treat!!! Obi was a delight, he asked us what animals we had seen, we told him we had seen all the ‘big 5’ except for the Leopard.

We set off at a steady pace, saw some giraffe, impalas, a big herd of buffalo, Obi explained that the way to determine a bull from a cow was that a cow had a line down the centre of her horns and the bulls were larger, more bulbous and prominent. We then saw a Gennet, this had a black colouring on the end of its tail, proving it to be a spotted Gennet, some more impala (a herd of which is called a ‘rank’) A shy giraffe, (a herd of which is called ‘A Journey’ or ‘A Tower’). We then had the most amazing sighting of a male leopard right next to the vehicle, :big_eyes: he scratched up the earth behind his back feet, marked his territory, then stretched up in the bushes marking his territory again before disappearing to the right.

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We carried on past him, turned the vehicle round and came across him washing his paws by licking them and grooming himself like any domestic cat. He then got fed up with having the lights put on him and the barrage of camera clicks and disappeared once more into the night.

We felt very satisfied that our guide had been able to give us a sighting of the animal that has eluded despite the constant looking in ‘Leopard’ trees, well done Obi!! :clap:

We settled back into the vehicle, pulled the blankets up, it never ceases to amaze me just how cold it can be after being so hot during the day!!!

We talked about the leopard all the way back, saw a lone hyena that disappeared quickly into the bush, and mentioned to Obi that we had seen precious little Hyena this trip. On other trips we had constantly been woken by their whoop whooping in the morning and seen spoor around our accommodation in the mornings but this year there seemed a distinct lack of hyena, not even round the camp entrances where sometimes they base themselves for easy pickings from passing cars, sealing their dismal fate once they have accepted it. He said that nature always sorts its quota of predators out according to the amount of food in the area, and if there were a lot of lion, leopard or cheetah in the area they would move on.

Everyone thinks of hyenas as scavengers but they are successful hunters in their own right, they have powerful front legs which enable them to hunt over long distances in a pack wearing their prey down. They eat everything including the bones which is why their spoil is always white and contains up to 60% calcium. This is then eaten by other animals lacking in calcium like taking a vitamin tablet, how clever nature is, the animals know what they are lacking and where to find what is missing from their diets, they don’t overload it with things that aren’t necessary as we do. :wink:

Obi parked the vehicle under its canopy and handed us feedback forms, he will be getting top marks from us!!! He was most informative and I learned a lot, like the buffalo herds, he told us only the dominant male is allowed to dung at the side of the road, split it, tread in it to get the scent on his feet to enable him to mark the territory, none of the other bulls are allowed to do this within the herd. When moving they make a circle putting the fit males on the outside for protection, the females next to them and the calves on the inside giving them the greatest protection, following up the rear are the ‘old’ bulls, these have been challenged and knocked off the dominant position and struggle to keep up with the herd, often getting stuck in the mud, they call them ‘Dagga Boys’, these bulls can be particularly aggressive as they are out of the protection of the herd. Of the ‘Big 5’ most give a warning when attacking but both the hippo and the leopard are not known to make ‘a display’ of aggression first as the lion and elephants do. Once they start an attack they rarely stop making them far more dangerous and difficult to read than the others. We had a long ‘lesson’ and it was very agreeable!!! :D

After bidding our guide goodnight, we turned our attention to the restaurant, as we had booked we expected to find a reserved table laid up and waiting for us……. There was only one other diner who was really not happy with the food nor the service, I could see why. :( The self service hotplates looked like a herd of buffalo had been through them!!! There were no plates and we walked past a number of employees who looked unimpressed to see us and made no attempt to help in any way. :roll: So……… I grabbed some side plates from some other tables, loaded 4 with some starter salad, found a woman who seemed to be in charge and asked her to find us 4 clean dinner plates, there were some pork chops, chicken curry and veggies that were left on the hot plate, which we helped ourselves to and some fruit salad for dessert. The woman was very apologetic and discounted our bill, we were hungry so we didn’t make too much of a fuss!! It just gave a new meaning to ‘Self Service’!! I have to say this isn’t the usual service we had encountered throughout the park, and the following night it was different, we just put it down to 9.00pm being quite late for them, although they should have warned us when we booked.

Straight back to the bungalow, straight to bed…… we were late tonight it was past 22.00.… The leopard was still fresh in my mind and I wondered what sightings Berg en Dal was going to allow us tomorrow. :hmz:

_________________
Sandie
If only EVERY day were a Kruger day!
Kruger 2010 Skukuza 10/09.. Lower Sabie 11 & 12/09..Satara 13 & 14/09..Letaba 15 & 16/09..Shingwedzi 17 & 18/09.. Punda Maria 19 & 20/09.. Mopani 21 & 22/09
Trip Report 2008


Last edited by sandiem on Wed Jun 10, 2009 6:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: The great African Adventure for 4 Brits September 2008
Unread postPosted: Fri Jun 12, 2009 2:41 pm 
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Joined: Thu Sep 28, 2006 5:48 pm
Posts: 105
Location: In UK desperately waiting for the next trip to SA!!
Monday 29th September

Good morning Berg en Dal!!!

The air is much fresher today and the sun is shining, we are going to have an easy morning, some of the domestic chores, like washing clothes needed doing before we leave the park and continue back up to Johannesburg…….. Still don’t want to think about that!!! Coffee was very pleasant sitting in the sunshine whilst we sort out coins for the Laundromat and I had the first stirrings of returning to reality…. NO, definitely not ready to go there yet!!! We still have all of today and tomorrow before we have to think about that gate! I bury myself in catching up with my journal whilst the washing is doing its circular motion in the machine and soon we can put that behind us and move on to a far more agreeable game drive.

The temperature had started to build well into the thirties and all the animals seemed to be hiding in the shade, we saw the usual game, Kudu, impalas, an occasional elephant and giraffe. We took a loop on the S118 and on the other side of the dried up river bed we saw about 10 white backed vultures, occasionally circling but mainly in the trees. We can make out with the binoculars something that looks a bit like a lump of meat on the floor, can’t understand why they are not eating it, was there something guarding it that we couldn’t see? We scout the area but came up with nothing and decided to move on.

Just a bit further on we see what they have been feeding on, there is a the hollow shell of a giraffe on the side of the road

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Looking at it, it was plain to see that everyone else had had their fill and what remained was being devoured by the vultures. It was a pretty despairing sight. Both magnificent in the sheer magnitude of the kill, it is such a large animal….. but also saddening that such a once beautiful creature should fall foul to the savage lions that had wiped out its gentle life. We were to see even less of this carcass on the early morning game drive tomorrow.

We were all a bit quiet on the way back, reflecting on what we had seen, it brings into perspective how fragile things are in the wild, how you never know what you are going to see in the battle for ‘survival of the fittest’ and how you are inevitably going to see things that you would rather have not!!! This is nature as nature intended, everything having its place from the humble dung beetle to the mighty elephant, the circle of life.

We were all looking forward to our sunset drive which we had booked with Obi again tonight.

_________________
Sandie
If only EVERY day were a Kruger day!
Kruger 2010 Skukuza 10/09.. Lower Sabie 11 & 12/09..Satara 13 & 14/09..Letaba 15 & 16/09..Shingwedzi 17 & 18/09.. Punda Maria 19 & 20/09.. Mopani 21 & 22/09
Trip Report 2008


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