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 Post subject: Kruger Madness
Unread postPosted: Wed Jul 22, 2009 10:18 am 
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Location: Cape Town
The Adventure begins:

This will be about my tenth trip to the Kruger and the excitement over the past year has definitely been building up. It usually takes so long for the annual trip to arrive and then wham, 10 days fly by and you are left planning the next visit! This year was no exception with the added joy of being able to take my two little girls to my favourite place on earth for the very first time.

Now for some the idea of dragging a 3 and 5 year old for hours in the car seems like craziness (i.e. are you totally bonkers!!!! ??? and an out of your mind kinda parent :) ) But for us it is the only way to introduce the next generation to the wonder of Kruger. Our parents did it for us and now the time has come to hand over the baton. Believe me it is worth it. Nothing beats the the African skies, sounds, smells and yes bring on those sightings. By the end of the trip, my kids (like us) just didn’t want to come home.

The build up was fantastic and the visit even better. This is my trip report for June 2009. KRUGER MADNESS AT IT’S BEST.
:D

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 Post subject: Re: Kruger Madness
Unread postPosted: Wed Jul 22, 2009 12:24 pm 
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14 June 2009: Our 2009 African Adventure begins at a very early time : 4 am on a Sunday morning! Ready to catch our 6 am flight to Jo’berg and hit the road to THE (and I use capitals to show that there is no place like it!) Kruger National Park! After a wonderful flight we hit the road in our Toyota Quantum (Ek Sê ! my broer) Taxi times for us. Our vehicle was named by my brother-in-law : “Days are dark and friends are few” because near our home there is a taxi that drives around with those words stuck in the window. Check out our driver (my hubby) and his cohort (the said taxi name giver)
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My brother and his wife brought up the rear of this posse in their little car.
Image You cannot see it in this picture but after we stopped at the AWESOME Spar in Nelspruit the need for two vehicles was very clear. Meat and drinks for 10 days takes up allot of space! Plus a the kids need a row all by themselves, leaving 2 tiny spaces for myself and my sister-in-law. So in total we are 8 on this Road Trip.

An uneventful drive from Jo’berg and we were still early enough to enter at Phabeni gate. Finally we make it into Paradise! As usual just being in the park is therapeutic and I make my husband stop at the first river bed crossing on the S1 and just soak up the sun, sounds and smell of the Kruger!
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Not far from here we spot a stunning Martial Eagle perusing the skyline.
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Sad to say on many of my previous trips to Kruger I didn’t give the birds much thought but this time I was determined to set that straight and from now on if we saw a bird I made sure that we could identify it in my trusty animal and bird identification book. Sometimes (especially with the eagles I think I got it wrong!)

Not too far along the Sabie River road we spot the tell-tale sign of predators!
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These lovelies in the tree were waiting for their moment. Amazingly we are barely a half hour into our trip and we get (if only a fleeting glimpse )of a lioness heading into the bush.
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What a start to our Kruger Odyssey! On our way to Skukuza for our first night and we still managed to see a Rhino and Elephant before entering the gate. It is, as usual, amazing to make a fire and braai our first steak to the sounds of the bush. As we tuck the kids in and have a last drink around the fire we all sigh in contentment and expectation of the day that lies ahead.

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 Post subject: Re: Kruger Madness
Unread postPosted: Wed Jul 22, 2009 9:33 pm 
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This is an adult ME Nicole. The head is brown and the belly is spotted.

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 Post subject: Re: Kruger Madness
Unread postPosted: Thu Jul 23, 2009 3:50 pm 
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Skukuza to Letaba – 160km madness? Yes; Fun ? Absolutely. Early starts are now our norm so what the heck let’s get our butts in gear and head to the next port of call LETABA.

Deciding to stick to the main road and get the journey started we packed the cars to the ceiling and headed up along the always beautiful Sabie River. Since we were all half asleep we found a little spot on the river and had the traditional cup of coffee and an Ouma Rusk.

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Much to the kids great amusement some monkey’s kept us company and entertained us with their acrobatics.

It was the Sabie River at it’s most beautiful when we crossed along the H12.

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Not much further we had some more entertainment from the Primates. This time some baboons.

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I love this drive in the Park. There is always lots to see and the change in vegetation as you head further north is always interesting.

We made time for a stop at Silolweni Dam, where we saw an ellie having a drink and 2 playful hippos.

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Even though they were pretty far away you should have heard the noises! The power in those cute looking bodies is totally underestimated.

Of course brunch was at Tshokwane, where I was impressed with the new extended section of tables. Where this sight was always cramped for space we thou rally enjoyed a large area to ourselves and the kids could go ape! Excuse the pun!

After the usual bacon and eggs, it was back to the car for some Johnny Clegg and hopefully a good sighting or two. The H1-3 did not hold much for us on this day until at Kumana dam we found a small herd of Elephant enjoying the joys of a mud bath.
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The babies are so cute but it is the teenagers that really seem to love the event. We spent quite a while watching the family scenes play out before heading to the baobab.

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The huge tree had my girls mesmerised with thoughts of climbing it because (here comes the logic of a 3 year old ): “it reaches the sky mommy” .

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The road to the Southernmost Baobab also had a lone Zebra waiting for us.
Back onto the H1-3 and heading towards Letaba. We were making great time and seeing some lovely herbivores along the way. Would we see another cat? For now we were more than happy just to be in the bushveld far away from the stresses of home and work. (Yes home can have it’s stresses!The routine itself can be murder!)

After a quick pit stop at Satara we carried on along the H1-4 and then near Ntomeni we spotted a sleeping Rhino Mom and baby.

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Even animal parentals need a break now and then!

For the most part the rest of the trip up to Letaba was pretty uneventful. We crossed the Olifants River at about 15h30 so the Sun was just starting to dip for this picture.

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It was great to see the river looking so green and lush.

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We did manage to see a male lion across the riverbed near Shamiriri but the picture is not that great because he was pretty far away.

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At lease we did see a predator before making the gate with 10 minutes to spare. It was an amazing night, right on the perimeter and the girls got their first glimpse of a hyena at the fence before we put them to bed. They were so excited I think they freaked out the hyena. Either that or their squeals and size might have seemed a good option for dinner:) .Once they were snuggling down we sat around the fire. The one thing that has really struck me on this trip was how warm it was, even at night we were still in our t-shirts and shorts. South Africans to the end!

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 Post subject: Re: Kruger Madness
Unread postPosted: Wed Jul 29, 2009 5:40 pm 
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16 June 2009 A Relaxing and slow day:
Our morning begins with a surprise visitor to our hut at Letaba.
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The bush buck kept the girls occupied while we loaded up the car to head out for some exploring in the Letaba area. :dance:
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What more can you ask for in a morning sunrise? :D

We decide to do a loop along the Letaba River Road and have breakfast at Makhadzi. We have never stopped there before so we are eager to see what it is like. The great thing about Letaba is all the Elephants you get to see and with kids in the car these are 1)Easy to spot and 2) always doing something. The drive itself is beautiful and very quiet. Near Hatlani we get to see a small herd crossing the road. There are quite a few young adults in the herd that are more aggressive than what we are used to. :shock:
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So Ray has his foot ready to hit the gas if he needs too. It is here that I manage to get one of my favourite photos of the trip. I love this picture of the Ellie in the front with the second one following. :cam:
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He stopped and looked right at me for a few moments and it was only later that I saw in the LCD monitor the second ellie in the background.

It is weird how we all have a couple of favourite moments in the park. Usually it is when you see a cat or some other predator but on this day it was this moment when a small herd of gentle giants crossed the road.

We went to the lookout point at Mingerhout Dam where this little Klipsringer found us very entertaining!
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The drive along the river was stunning and we stretched our legs at Das Neves Cross before heading up the H 1-6 .
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At about lunch time we enter the very quiet but lovely Makhadzi. :thumbs_up:
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The kids love it because there is a small hill of sand for them to run up and down on.
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Parents love it because it means a release of energy in young bodies. Which will probably lead to peace later :)

After brunch we head back down toward the always spectacular Olifant's camp. We arrive at about 15h00 and I am thrilled with our unit : Number 18! It has the most amazing view over the river which is a reminder why we come here every year. When you go to Olifants be sure to book units that say “Best River view” – you will not be disappointed.


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Before starting our fire we head out for one more sundowners drive at 16h00 and manage to see some lovely giraffe before dinner and a movie –the movie being the sights and sounds of the Olifants river.

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 Post subject: Re: Kruger Madness
Unread postPosted: Thu Jul 30, 2009 12:35 pm 
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17 June - Day of the Cats
Early start as usual and we head down the H1-4. After a bit of a debate on which road to take down to Timbavati picnic site we decide on the main road. This proved to be a great decision and we are rewarded with our first major lion sighting – right on the edge for the road. There were 4 male lions but 3 never moved from their shady spot in the distance. This young guy, spoilt us with the sounds of devouring a zebra carcass! Heavy breathing and panting were only stopped to take a gnaw at the bones!
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Check those scary eyes! He was freaky. I am sure once he is fully grown he will be an awesome sight to see on the charge. Pity about his bottom left canine. It looks like he broke it. I hope it doesn’t hold him back. As you can imagine the excitement after seeing this guy was running high.

Now it was time for breakfast and off to Timbavati we went for some gnawing of our own, another fry up! Surely we are going to roll out of this game park by the time we are done. My hubby - the chef!
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After a very hearty brunch we head back out on the s39. You know how it goes: Full tummies dozing eyes…… then it happens. I look out from my seat at the back and up ahead is a tree that is growing over into the road. There is a flick of the tail – I am sure of it. I yell and everybody is looking at all the trees except the most obvious one in the road. Once calm is restored we creep up to the tree so as not to disturb what lies in wait……

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It is beautiful. It lay there and watched us out of curiosity. I have never seen one so close and for such a long time. I am sure it is still pretty young because of the pink nose but the fact that a leopard is the most majestic cat of all is cemented in my mind for all time.
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I will not forget this day. Eventually the leopard ran into the bush and disappeared leaving us feeling like we have seen the sighting of the year! I am sure most of us feel this way after seeing one of these lovely’s. This was truly a day to remember. It was also our first time to Tamboti tented camp. Wow! the stories and legends of the magnificence of this place are all true. You feel like you are right in the bush. The sounds and smells are even better than the nights before (yes it is possible!) I will definitely be returning to this gem. Plus the cats were not finished with us yet.

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This little guy came right up close to our fire for a visit. Though I am not sure if the spotted genet is part of the cat family! What a day, what a night, what a fantastic trip.

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 Post subject: Re: Kruger Madness
Unread postPosted: Fri Jul 31, 2009 4:02 pm 
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Thanks Everybody! It was very special for us to see THE SPOTTED ONE (I like that reference!) They are my favourite so to see one like this was truly amazing. I am sure it is once in a life time and I am making sure I tell everybody!

The lion was very scary. His eyes had me captivated too. I think that the scuffles between him and the other 3 male lions in the group must happen often thus all the scars. It was the first time I saw 4 males together but I believe this happen often until they can take over a pride. From the look of these 4 guys I would hate to be a single lion defending my pride!

I will try and up date the trip report ASAP.

Nicole

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 Post subject: Re: Kruger Madness
Unread postPosted: Mon Aug 03, 2009 3:01 pm 
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18 June Tamboti to Satara

Our latest starting morning began today. Some how we just couldn’t get ourselves going at our usual early hour. Perhaps it was that we just did not want to leave Tamboti and realized the error of our ways for not booking 2 nights at this amazing camp. But eventually we got packing and discovered 2 beers that paid the price for the men’s ongoing efforts to have ICE COLD BEERS.

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The forgotten soldiers were left behind and we hit the road once again.

The morning drive down to the hauntingly beautiful Muzandzeni began with an early sighting of a Tawny Eagle (I think) near Bobbejaanskrans and then followed by a small duiker.

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On our drive down the S36 we saw 3 Bull Elephants roaming around. They were not to bothered by us and we managed to get pretty close.

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After lunch and a some very needed coffee we headed back up to Satara via the Sweni Road. It was a quiet afternoon but even those are better than any day at home! As usual we are greeted by some Zebra just outside of Satara.
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The afternoon was spent at the camp. My husband entertained the girls by playing “Monkey’s”
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and my sister-in-law and I sorted out our luggage and an ever increasing pile of laundry! That’s me with the blue and white shirt.
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There was still time for a sunset drive down to Nsemani Dam where we saw a Croc on the banks of the dam
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and these giraffe playing. Check how the Baboon watches them as he walks past. Such curious things.

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With 30 minutes to kill we took a short drive to Girivana Dam and enjoyed the African Sunset before heading back to Satara.

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Once we were back at camp we started the fire for the Mega Braai!

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A Mega Braai is when you have to braai a bit of every kind of meat to satisfy every craving! The “Head Braaier” usually hates this kind of braai but not all of us women can eat Steak every single night! So tonight we have an assortment of goodies for the fire, including black mushrooms with garlic and parsley – it was a feast.

And let me tell you the gentlemen enjoyed the veggies too!

The usual suspect was at the fence looking for a snack or two – but alas we were not going to break the rules! (Even though it can be very tempting!)

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The night ended with some of us getting in touch with our primate side. Brothers ! :roll:

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 Post subject: Re: Kruger Madness
Unread postPosted: Tue Aug 18, 2009 2:18 pm 
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Sorry about the delay! Been battling the flu and snotty kids at the same time. But here goes....
19 June 2009
Our morning begins pretty early with a sunrise over Girivana along the S 12.
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Now we are ready to hit one of our old favourites – S100 . Excited to maybe see something “cat-like’ we head down the infamous road – eyes peeled!

In the early sunrise we see a favourite taking a walk along the road side. Their gate is always captivating.
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8)

Suddenly we the tell tale sign of predator with numerous cars stopped along the way. :cam:
What a lovely pride of lions. As far as we could tell there were quite a few females and some adventurous cubs to match!
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We stayed here and watched as the cubs ate at the kill and tried to play with their mothers. Beautiful! :thumbs_up:

Not much further along the way we saw a big herd of Dugga Boys leaving the river, creating a cloud of dust and noise as the moved off.
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One of our favourite stops to see hippo up close, is the N'wanetsi River crossing and we were not disappointed. We were eyeballed from the water as we crossed!
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Finally we made it to N'wanetsi picnic spot. Definitely my favourite spot to have brunch. I love the view. While eating we spotted a little jumping friend nearby!
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He was ready to take off and believe me I nearly dropped my camera when he did because it felt like he was coming right at me! After eating we stretched the legs with a walk to the view point. I don’t want to clutter the TR with pictures of the kids but their faces in this picture speak a thousand words.
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:D :D They were loving this trip!

We took a quick detour down to Sweni Hide
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and spotted a couple of Ellies having a drink and a very algae covered croc!
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It was time to head back to camp and along the H6 we came across the laziest lions I have ever seen!
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They lay like this in the road, without moving, for 45 minutes! Snuggling together.
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Finally the one moved and actually looked at us!
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Freaky eyes.
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The fantastic day was topped off with a lovely potjie (just for a change) at Satara. What a great day! But then again everyday is spectacular when in Paradise.
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 Post subject: Re: Kruger Madness
Unread postPosted: Thu Aug 20, 2009 4:37 pm 
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20 June 2009
Today was one of those lazy days where were knew we only had a relatively short distance to travel from Satara to Talamati. We had a bit of a late start to the day but it began with a bang. Lion sighting near Sweni waterhole.
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Not to far from them we saw a Woolly-necked Stork. At least that is what I think this bird is.
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It was the first time that I had seen one so it was pretty exciting for me. Maybe it is a really common sighting but because I had not really paid much attention to birds before, it seemed like a very cool sighting to me.

Before we stopped for a breakfast at Muzandzeni we relaxed at the waterhole and surrounds watching a herd of affectionate Zebra. They are my eldest daughter’s favourite animal so we had to stay for quite a while. Especially when she noticed the foal in the background. She is 5 years old and determined to want to take photos too so I helped her take this one of the Zebra’s. I didn’t even see the ones at the back until I went through the photos. I will always remember this as one of her first photos (hopefully of many more in the future!)

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We checked in early at Talamati and spent some time at the hide watching giraffe come and go.
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Instead of taking another drive out we chilled at camp and went for a walk around the perimeter. The kids wanted a break from the car and it was a really nice change to make an early fire and enjoy being outside for a while.
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