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Unread postPosted: Fri Sep 28, 2007 4:20 pm 
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Location: Sabie
It's only meat - they had a kill right there on "Lion Rock"


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Unread postPosted: Sun Sep 30, 2007 4:39 pm 
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June 18th, Tenth day, Fighting in the dark . . . , Monday – Part 2


A short stop at Lower Sabie camp. But I can’t find the guy with the slingshot.
Then it goes to the bridge crossing the Sabie.

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Here I see a Goliath heron. I’m following it with the camera when it suddenly jumps forward covering the surface in front of it with its wings and darts its bill into the water. When it comes out again a struggling fish is in its bill. The heron is holding it mid-body and if you have a look at the fish it seems it is only some kind of surprised not panic by knowing its fate. But we all know. As long as animals are not crying on most of them you can’t see the pain on their expression.
It takes a long time till the fish is in the right position and can be swallowed and then it has left this world behind - for ever.

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Some meters behind my car a Giant kingfisher has landed and I try to get some pics of him. I can come closer and closer till I have to stop because my camera only works at a range of more than 1.8 meters distance. Beautiful! I tell him if he remains here I will take special pics of him and make him famous. After that he is posing like a fashion model and I have to come to the question: Is he really male?
Once he closes his eyes by covering it with his nictitating membrane. Then he shows his bright eyes again and I can see the bridge, the river, the banks and the blue sky mirroring.

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When we both have done our part of the work he flies away to new grounds and I concentrate on the heron again. It seems he will also become famous. A soft wind is blowing and brings up his feathers to a unique composition and I shoot off.

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Duke waterhole would be a good choice now. Here I meet beside some wildebeest, Vervet monkeys and Warthogs the first Ostriches of this journey. But first I try to get some pictures of an African wattled lapwing that is walking in good light.

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Go on to Nhlanganzwani dam. An elephant is moving away when I come but some others are splashing in the water in the distance. On the opposite bank many hippos are lying in and next to the water.

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I’m following the Nhlowa road – S28 now and I see some duikers, a Secretary bird and many other birds. Then a big herd of Impalas and many zebras are completing the beauty of this road.
When I meet some warthogs most of them are running away but one is more interested in me than frighten and stays.

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When I’m still standing there trying to get my pictures I suddenly see an elephant quite close angular behind me. These very small animals are often overlooked by keen photographers I suppose and move on fast.
I c see the warthog is leaving too. Was it working with the elephant and has put a trap for me?

Shortly after coming to the H4-2 again I’m approaching the bridge crossing the Vurhami River next to Gesanftombi dam. But today there is no easy crossing the river. Traffic jam at the bridge.
In the shadow of the concrete dam nine lions are lying lazy on the stairs of the dam. The riverbed and the dam that were so beautiful when I was here last time are nearly totally dry and only a small brackish pool remains below the dam.

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I drive on to Crocodile Bridge camp. I will come back later when it will be less crowded. When checking in I ask whether Daniel is at the hippo pool today. He is.
I get the key for bungalow #2 but drive on without having a look for it towards the hippo pool at the Crocodile River.

In the past I always came to teh hippo pool and Crocodile Bridge via the S25 – Crocodile River Road. Staying the night before at Berg-en-Dal it was always a highlight following this road along the Crocodile River. When I was planning my trips I always tried to put this on the very beginning. So when I travelled in Kruger before I arrived there most of the time I was travelling this road in my fantasy seeing so many pictures of these surroundings from the past. But when I started with this then it was the first what was over. But not at this time. I already had so many beautiful sights and adventures and Crocodile River Road is still to come. But today it “only” goes a few kilometres on this road till the S27 branches off.

As everybody knows who red “Seventh day, Climbing elephants . . .” of this report I have some pictures with me showing Daniel. I will bring them to him and I look forward to meet him again. It is already late in the afternoon when I go to the left into S27 the road that leads to the pool. Here halfway a ranger is coming in my direction pushing his bicycle.
Daniel!

I stop and go to him. We shake hands. It’s so great to see him again. He remembers me immediately. We are talking and I give him my present. One of the pictures showing him is framed in a wooden picture-frame covert with glass. Asking him “You know who this is?” he answers “It’s me!” He tells me when these pictures were taken because the tree where he was sitting under has lost one of its bigger branches over the last years and so it’s easy for him determining the date.
He takes the framed one very carefully and tells me he will push his bicycle till he is at home not to destroy the picture.
We change some more words. He tells me where he sees a leopard in the morning from time to time when he comes along with his bicycle (Daniel, not the leopard! :wink:) and some more interesting things.
Finally I go back to my car and we are going on in different directions. In the outside mirror I can see him pushing his bicycle walking home slowly. Tomorrow we will meet again.

My destination is still the hippo pool. When I’m here I take many pictures of the vicinity . . .

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I stay here for a while then I drive back towards the dam. I hope there will be less traffic at the lions.
Hope can change a lot but not everything - especially at lion sightings. There is still heavy traffic and it is difficult to get a space where I can see the lions.

I’m at the Vurhami bridge for some time and waiting for any movement of the lions. I suppose they will come down to the small pool between the dam and the bridge. I’m still standing there when more and more cars arrive.
One of them is a micro bus. It is behind me and I try to let him pass to give him the best place in front of me. That means I’m driving backwards and can’t see anything of the lions now. When he passes me I drive a little more backwards to give him more space. What I have not seen he has a trailer and I run into it. Cost me some because of the damage on my car . . . .

Later when some cars have left I drive to the other side of the bridge and park here. I’m looking for a place where I can see the pool and I can find the only spot where no balustrade is between my camera and the expected place the lion will come to drink. Here I wait for more than an hour to get the expected pictures.

Many cars arrive and sometimes there are three parallel lines formed on the bridge. Between them many 4x4 loaded with tourists. It’s funny watching the newcomers. Do you know this feeling if you are at the scene and other come trying to see what you were already watching for a certain time? Is it predominance? But it is different if you have found this animal. First you enjoy being alone with your sight. But when you are going to leave and an other car comes then you are some kind of satisfied by showing them “your sight” .

I’m waiting, writing my diary, eating and drinking, reading, waiting, watching tourists, waiting . . . . I nearly forget about the lions . . . . . and I’m still standing here when a lady disturbs my daydreams asking me to move a little bit further . . . to give up the place where I have been waiting for so long. . . . driving to where I would have the balustrade in the focus when the lions will come . . . .
I refuse to do this and the woman in the other car seems to be quite upset. There are some but no kind words in Afrikaans that I don’t understand like @%$*&^%! and @##@*&7. . . . .
My Afrikaans very poor but I have some fantasy . . .

If I follow Meandering Mouse’s signature “The shortest distance between people is laughter”, I have to tell you there is no laughter and we are very far from each other at this moment.

Finally the lions don’t come down and all the waiting and argument were for nothing.

On the way to the camp I take some pictures of a vulture sitting in an old tree against the dark sky in the fading light of a beautiful day.

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The bungalow is super. So nice and clean like I have never seen it in Kruger before.
Put some of my stuff in and decide to fill-up my stock.

Go to the shop shortly after 6 p.m. and have to learn: The shops at Kruger are closing at 7 p.m., but at Crocodile Bridge it’s different. Here they close at 6 p.m..
Closed!
But someone inside the shop sees me and they re-open. A nice guy helps me to get my stuff. I only have to tell what I want and he jumps on and brings it. What a brilliant service!
I even find a diary the same make I have. I have been looking for this in every camp and now I find it accidentally in this small shop. When paying we are talking and I see a beautiful picture of a leopard next to the cash-point. This makes me to tell them about the cheetahs in the tree. They don’t belief me and argue that was a leopard. I say no, they say leopard again. No cheetah, they say leopard again.
If you know I always have my equipment with me. This is very hard to stand but sometimes useful.
I take out my Hard-drive and show them the cheetahs and they tell me: “It’s cheetah!” That’s what I told them. We go through many pictures and when I leave they have worked some overtime.

Coming back to the bungalow a couple tries to take some pics of the moon and a star very close by.
It looks so beautiful, but my neighbors are not satisfied with their results because of their camera.
After a few minutes when they have left I try to make the same pictures. Then I go to my neighbors to show them the result and they are happy when I promise I will send them the pics.

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When back we learned this was a special constellation of Moon and Venus and it will happen next time in four hundred years.
Will try to be there in Kruger and see it again.

They invite me for a beer. It’s my first “Black Label” and we talk for a long while. It is so nice to talk to them and I feel as if I have met good old friends again. They are from Witbank and have the woman’s mother with them. He is a doctor (would have needed him yesterday) and he tells me my other neighbor at #1 is the brother of Christian Bernard the famous South African. So I secured if things will happen like the night before.
They also seem to enjoy our talk very much and there is nearly no time for them to have a proper look for their braii. So I leave after two hours to give them more time.

Dinner? Mussels and oysters you think? No!
But you are very close.

I’m supposed to eat this when my nice neighbor brings me a plate with braii when I’m phoning with my girl friend.

A very special day: The constellation of the Moon and Venus and braii instead of mussels and oysters.
A day to remember - especially because of these nice neighbors.

By the way. During these days I had to learn the upset woman in the car at the lions and the nice neighbor were the same. After we have changed some nice emails after returning she told me she was in this car and what she was thinking about me at the lions when I refused to move only one meter. She also gave me some impressions what she was telling me and her passengers and what could mean @%$*&^%! and @##@*&7. . . . . .
Not surprisingly it fits quite well with my impression.

To avoid misunderstandings like this in future she is planning to make a plate for me like this: Eccentric Photographer At Work - Please Pass.
I recommended adding: But he is quite nice if you meet him twice.

And not to forget: She is also the nice lady I mentioned this morning explaining the Eagle-Owl.

Before I went to my neighbors I had put my purchase in the bungalow and the Whisky and Coke into the freezing compartment of the refrigerator. Do you remember my Berg-en-Dal experiences? They are now completed by “what happens to whisky and Coke by putting it in the freezer”.
It doesn’t do so much to the whisky because of the alcohol but the Coke is frozen.
After a day temperature of 33° now it’s only 20° and . . . . . yes! I’m freezing again. Maybe the main influence today comes from the very cold whisky-Coke I have to drink . . . . So I add more whisky . . . . . only to warm me up . . . .

My favourites of the day:

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To be continued . . .

_________________
http://www.naturfoto-wildlifefoto.com/books.htm


Last edited by Ludwig on Tue Feb 26, 2008 4:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Unread postPosted: Sun Sep 30, 2007 5:27 pm 
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Excellent report, Ludwig. :clap: I enjoy it very much.
Great story and pictures.

I saw "your" lions before in a trip report. After some searching I found out that this was in Bucky's trip report.


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Unread postPosted: Sun Oct 07, 2007 5:26 pm 
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Location: Bavaria
June 19th, Eleventh day, Meeting at Crocodile River . . . , Tuesday – Part 1

When I wake up I go out of bed immediately and I’m at the gate at 5.50 a.m. but I’m only fourth or fifth in the waiting queue. It’s because of the lions I think. Everybody will be there first.
And no I’m not so early because I cancelled the shower. I took one!

Then we can leave. Everyone drives to the dam but will be disappointed. No lions here. But when we are waiting at the parking lot above the dam we can see elephants in the very dark. To get a better view I use my night vision system watching them.
Especially a youngster is enjoying us by playing with a big tree.

When I move on following the H4-2 I still have to switch on the headlights and the night only hesitant takes its blanket away and a new beautiful day has to wait to replace it. But then a new sunrise is framed by a partly cloudy sky.

It’s early morning again and I’m driving with open windows. On one side it is useful to be ready on the other it’s so cold!
Like so often I try to solve the problem by closing the windows that close to me and if necessary easily to handle. Beside this I switch on the heating and let it blow against the cold airflow from outside. At this time of the day my pullover is my best friend.
When I stop or slow down the cold disappears and the warm air is bringing comfort. I switch off the engine and stay next to the first beauties of the morning taking some pictures or watching them. I smell the fresh cold air and take it in . . . . . feeling just harmony.

The first beauty of this day to be photographed is the rising sun. But when I stop to take some pictures of it I don’t make friends on the road . . . .

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That is going better when I spot some rhinos between the dense bushes some time later. But they are to far away and there are too many bushes between us to get decent pictures.

I’m forced to an early morning decision. No, not what you are thinking again - to drink a beer or milk first.
No its: To stay and wait, maybe with no success – or to drive on and have the meeting of my life, or nothing.

Okay, I will wait. Waiting again . . . . I’m waiting like written in the lines of a Rolling Stones song. “I’m not waiting on a lady”, and opposite to the song “I’m not waiting on a friend”. I’m still waiting for the rhinos to come closer - what they don’t do first.

They are three in different sizes moving mostly parallel to the road. Then they come a little bit closer. Hope! But then everything changes again and they turn in the other direction. Beside this I will stay with them. When they come closer again I can take a few pictures to have at least something.

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Other cars come, stay and leave. I remain. Then within minutes everything changes and goes in my direction: Luck and the rhinos. Here they are - standing most of the time in the morning light. I’m shooting picture after picture and when I have selected them during the last few days there are still more than one hundred remaining to be posted on my homepage – whenever this will be.

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Do you know what this means to me to choose out of them only the few I have posted here to show it to you?
Not so much. Fortunately it is done by my girlfriend like for so many postings before. I would never come to an end if I would have to do it by myself.

So the Giraffe I meet next has to look in its best way to keep up with the rhinos . . . . . and I think it does.

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A few minutes later a car parking on the wrong side of the road is going to leave. A good sign. They won’t have looked into their map only. I ask them what they have seen. They tell me “Spotted hyena, but it is gone”. I’m too late?
No! When the other car has left I can see it.
After a while it goes into the morning light and I can shoot off again.
This is going to be a successful day of great meetings and photographs.
It takes not so long and another two hyenas arrive and stay around for some time.

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When they go away from the road deeper into the bush and lay down I leave too but only to be stopped by a Dagga Boy but seeing it first in the rear mirror.

After watching him for a while I drive back to the hyenas hoping they have come back to the road closer. But they are still lying where they were before I left them. There is no chance for good pictures but now I can see five Blue wildebeest walking in their direction. When the wildebeest recognize the hyenas they stop in their tracks and then. . . . .

No exact the opposite happens.
The wildebeest start restrained running towards the hyenas chasing them away several times. The hyenas seem to be rather upset and have to go backwards again and again.

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I follow the H4-2 for another five kilometers and turn left going the H5 till the S108 branches off. Here I stay some time with Impalas. An oxpecker is sitting for a long time on an Impala ram but it seems to be not very welcome. The Impala tries to get rid of him many times but even when he bird flies away it comes back again taking its place at the same ram. Once the bird is very close to the Impalas ear and seems to tell it something. I don’t know what it was but afterwards they are good friends and the bird is tolerated by the antelope.

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A few minutes later I try to get some pics of a Tree agama that is climbing up a tree stump. It’s difficult to get the camera focused and so I take many pictures expecting some will be okay. But the result is rather disappointing.

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A Giraffe is drinking from a puddle in a dry riverbed but not in a position for good pictures. Soon I’m compensated by a Fork-tailed drongo, Warthogs, fighting Impalas, another Giraffe and a beautiful landscape all around.

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A short visit to the camp and back on the road it goes directly to the hippo pool.

When I arrive at the very end of the S27 Daniel the field ranger is down by the River. Then he sees my and comes up to the road – walking slowly. He prudently sets his feet as if he were away in a confused wilderness.
The gun strap hangs over his left shoulder and his hand keeps the gun in balance. Now he is moving the last few paces through the reed passing sandy areas. I take some pics of him till he comes too close. . . .

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To be continued . . .

_________________
http://www.naturfoto-wildlifefoto.com/books.htm


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Unread postPosted: Wed Oct 10, 2007 6:59 pm 
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June 19th, Eleventh day, Meeting at Crocodile River . . . , Tuesday – Part 2

. . . When I arrive at the very end of the S27 Daniel the field ranger is down by the River. Then he sees my and comes up to the road – walking slowly. He prudently sets his feet as if he were away in a confused wilderness.
The gun strap hangs over his left shoulder and his hand keeps the gun in balance. Now he is moving the last few paces through the reed passing sandy areas. I take some pics of him till he comes too close.

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You may know Kobie Kruger’s book “All Things – Wild and Wonderful” and you will remember when she tells how Leo the lion she raised was found by a ranger: “On the 1st of December 1992, security guard Daniel Mabasa had been on duty at the hippo pool. When he returned in the evening he reported to Kobus that, since the previous day, he had heard an animal crying somewhere along the rocky slope. . . . “.

I know Daniel for many years and whenever I come to Kruger I visit him at the hippo pool where he does his duties for more than seventeen years now.
He likes his job to bring down people close to the river and show them the hippos, crocodiles, footprints from most recent nights and to tell them some interesting things from the African Wild. If you are interested he will bring you also up the rocks and show you the San painting and other places.
Some of my wilderness stories will be based on his narrations. Told to me by sitting under the big tree some paces uphill where he was waiting during the day till some years ago.
Nowadays he is sitting at the end of the road next to a rock face his bicycle placed close by.

Today we first climb up the rocks together. We will go to where he found the young lion many years ago . . .

I remember when I was here so many times before at a time when Daniel was still waiting and sitting under the big tree some hundred metres up the road.
At these times I left the car and went up the same way we are going right now. When I was climbing the metallic ladder and enjoyed sitting on the softly falling plateau watching the river, hippos and crocodiles.
In these earlier days I always considered whether there are lions or leopards around. Today I know they were because Daniel shows me were he has found the young lion in front of a small cave. A stony broken plate is rising up in front of it and this was an impregnable barrier for the young lion to come back to the cave. There was no help from his mother that must have been gone for days and did not return. Her fate was never known. Here was it where he and Kobus Kruger picked up the unlucky cub to avoid his deadly destiny.

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. . . the broken plate and the cave


Some years later it was the same cave that was chosen by a leopard to give shelter and raise two young. Also some other stories told by Daniel are indicating very busy surroundings and give me a nice feeling. I still like to be here – today together with Daniel.
And it is also nice to think and know: Stepping into baboon droppings haven’t been the most dangerous parts of being here alone for a long time so often, walking around and taking some pictures.
I still don’t know whether it is allowed to leave the car at this spot when no ranger is present and I avoid asking this question to anybody for certain reasons.

Now I do some pictures of the landscape and of Daniel. His favourite position to be photographed still is presenting his gun in a discreet manner.

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When we walk back we have a look for the San painting of two Giraffes. Unfortunately a part of it has gone with the big flood.

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Then we go down to the lower rocks and walk to the river. Here in the sand we can see lion tracks from the previous night. Going the same path the lion was walking through the night and not seeing tracks that would show us he came back and has left the reed is making walking there a special experience. But Daniel will know more about it – I suppose.

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Daniel is still walking in front of me when we come to the current. Today only one hippo is in the water not willing to lift the head.

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We stay here for a while. Talking quietly - watching. Then we are going back to Daniel’s resting place below the rock face.
Here we are sitting and talking for a very long time. We are sharing stories from the past and Daniel explains me some trees. He is telling from his family and children. It is so nice sitting here with him and enjoy the beauties on the bank of the Crocodile River and bringing me in mind there are still five days left for Kruger.

Like so many other days only few tourists are coming to the hippo pool and Daniel feels sorry about this. He likes his job and explaining the beauties around him. But today it is okay staying alone and enjoying the time here together.
Sitting here and taking in every sound and sight makes me jealous and I would like to change my job with Daniel’s a least for a while.
When others tourists come Daniel guides them to the river and I take some pics during waiting. One lady remains by the car. No not to protect it from me. She has problems with her hip and can’t walk in a proper way.

I tell her what can be seen on the rocks and when the others return they go up them leaving the lady behind again. When they come back they look like having enjoyed this little excursion.
The tourists leave and after sitting together for some more time with Daniel I leave too. We say good-bye. I give Daniel something for the kids and promise when I come back I will visit him. Next time - when I’m travelling in paradise again . . . . . .

Driving back the S27 and S25 I see some Swainson’s francolins or like they are now called Swainson’s spurfowls and Helmeted guinea fowls. These guinea fowls are mostly too restless to get decent pics - but not today.

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When crossing the Vurhami Bridge on my way north at the H4-2 I’m still looking for the lions hoping they are at the muddy pool. No lions are there but a Waterbuck is drinking at the pool. When I stop he is leaving. That would have been a tremendous picture like he was standing there. I try to cut his way waiting at a clearing. And here he comes in beautiful light.

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I branch off into S28 and soon I meet some Zebras, Impalas, a Warthog and Burchell´s coucals. The coucals are trying to avoid being photographed not by flying away but crawling deeper into the bush.

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At Nhlanganzwane Dam are hippos in the water and some francolins around.

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I’m observing a fish eagle that flies to a dead tree landing there very elegantly. What a beautiful bird it is. But when it tries to jump to another branch it misses it and falls down. It comes closer and closer to the water beating its wings in panic. When it is only a body length above the water he can manage to come back in flight and flies to safer realms. It’s so fanny to see this. I laugh so much that it is difficult to catch it in flight to have a memory of it. It seems it is ashamed and tries to fly as far away as possible to be out of my sight not hearing my laughter anymore.

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. . . a magical bird is leaving . . .

When I’m driving towards Duke Waterhole within half an hour many clouds come in. Still driving on the S28 I meet some kudus and on the S137 wildebeest next to the road.

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It’s going to be cloudier but the sun still tries to send some rays to earth wrapping up the surroundings in a mystic light. I enjoy travelling in this light and meet some kudus again. Then I drive into S 130 – Gomondwane Loop to start my way back to the south.

The surroundings change totally here. Skinny bushes with thick, rigid sticks stand around and remind me of wandering in a ghost woods. Fitting in this ghost world a hyena with a thick belly comes out of nowhere and is crossing the road. She is running and totally exhausted. I stop the car and unexpectedly she suddenly stops too and soon afterwards lies down only some paces next to the road unfortunately in front light of the late afternoon sun. So I can’t see so many details but take some pics. Some time I have the impression she is going to give birth and for this reason not able to come up again. Next to her I see something like an entrance to a small cave but I’m not sure. But it still seems as if something is fixing her on the ground. Maybe she is injured but it was not looking like that when she was coming at high speed.

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Now weeks later when I was working on these pictures on a larger monitor I realized: Maybe she was pregnant again but where she is lying is her den too and a young went out suckling on her teats. And I had also to realize what a chance I missed in not coming back the next morning to look after them in good light. :mr green: :mr green: :mr green:
Especially when I remember that I was considering coming back the next morning to look for her when I drove to camp.
Some vultures, zebras and impalas are the last sightings on the way to Crocodile Bridge.

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Today I will eat Spaghetti with tomato sauce but when I have opened the can it’s more like a soup. There are no soup-plates available and I have to eat this soup-like meal from flat plates.

Tomorrow I will go the Crocodile River Road and the S114 to the Biyamiti Weir and then following the H2-2 to Pretoriuskop.

Compared to yesterday it is not so windy when I’m writing my diary at the terrace. Today the maximum temperature was only 26° and I switched on the heating in the car several times during the day and finally was wearing my pullover too.

But now there is another big problem. Whisky is out and the shop has already closed!

It still has 21° and I don't know whether I shall go in or stay outside. So I start walking along the fence – without my torch of course. I am not bored and I still could stay for some more weeks. But when I come to a bungalow where many candles are burning placed along the terrace wall in a very romantic way memories come to my mind and I go back . . .

My favourite of the day:
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To be continued . . .

_________________
http://www.naturfoto-wildlifefoto.com/books.htm


Last edited by Ludwig on Tue Feb 26, 2008 4:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Unread postPosted: Tue Oct 16, 2007 7:07 am 
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June 20th, Twelfth day, Escape of the millions . . . . . , Wednesday – Part 1


Today I have to leave Crocodile Bridge and I feel sorry about this. I would like to stay here for some more days but Pretoriuskop is waiting for me. I will travel via the Crocodile River Road and I’m expecting interesting sights.
I leave at six and my way first goes to the Vurhami Bridge again passing some wildebeest just outside the camp. Am I looking for the lions? Maybe . . .
Like so often I go back to a place where I had seen something special on previous days or some times on earlier visits. But no day is like another and mostly I’m disappointed by not finding the same sight again but being compensated by other interesting discoveries.

But there are no lions but kudus on the S28. They are looking ghostly out of the dark. I turn and go to the Crocodile River Road – S25.

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. . . ghostly kudu

When I take some pictures of Impalas other cars arrive but having a look to the passengers I soon decide to drive on where I can take my pictures without these reproachful looks.

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Entering the S25 I soon see an eagle sitting in a tree obviously still sleeping. I consider waiting for a while to have a look whether it falls down like his relative yesterday . . . there is no success so I move on.

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The light of the morning first only dully gives way to a new bright day and I can see the first starling starting its search for food. Then I meet some tree squirrels. I stop next to the tree they are sitting on and can take many pictures of these cute animals.

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Some Impalas and then a group of Giraffes are shortening my time. The youngster the Giraffes have with them looks quite funny.

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After some Warthogs my “very close friends” the Vervet Monkeys are next. Most windows are closed and I can concentrate on making pictures of them. They are everywhere enjoying being warmed by the morning sun.

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This day seems to become an Impala day because the next herd is waiting for me when I have left the monkeys. A ram is roaring or announcing all animals along the road that I will come and meet them soon. To look really attractive, he cleans.
Trying to compete makes a Yellow-billed hornbill posing in the best way moments later.

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If I would know how difficult it will be to photograph the mongoose I will see in a few minutes I would have spend more time with the three buffaloes at the bank of the Mhlambane River that I see next. But they are deep in the bush and there are too many branches between us and I’m afraid to miss something more exiting when staying longer with them.

At Gardenia Hide only two doves can be seen and I leave but will remember this hide for later visits.

When I come to the crossing at S119 I’m stopped by a Tree squirrel. I spend some time with it as the already mentioned Dwarf mongoose arrive and are playing around me. They are so exited and it is very hard to get some pictures. Finally more than eighty percent of the picture I take will be scrap even if they have been in good light.

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I drive on and meet a herd of Impalas. Around them some adult rams and it is interesting to see how they are chased away by the leader of the herd.

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When I see some rhinos on the S114 not far away from the Biyamiti Weir partly hidden by some bushes I will wait whether they will com closer to the road. I use the time to copy the morning pictures from the card to the hard drive. That takes some time but less then the rhinos need to come some meters closer. So I go on to the weir where I can see two crocodiles. Soon they move into the water directly in front of me but the camera is not focusing. What a sh..! They where in such a good position and I got nothing. I know it was because of the mirroring water but that doesn’t help me too . . . . :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen: .
Such an opportunity and I miss it! :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen: .
One of my favourite animals so close and I got nothing!

But now I’m really in excellent form. When I drive from the weir up the road to the small “parking lot” behind these big rocks I see a huge Nil monitor coming. But I drive so silly and avoid the monitor to come in good light. So no picture of this impressive animal but some more :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen: .

I drive down to the weir again and I take some pictures of the always present small Nil monitor on the opposite bank. Then I have a look for the crocs again but I can take a picture of one of the crocs eye only.

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Another car comes and I drive away to give them a look. When they leave and I come back I see one of the crocodiles is coming out of the water and disappears in the reed. What a huge crocodile! How beautiful to watch but there is no time for pictures.

Driving the Biyamiti Loop – S23 first I see some Kudus then two elephants – a cow and a young. They both seem to be very nervous and I don’t know why they are alone and not with their herd. When I’m going to take some pictures they start running straight in my direction.
They are not trying to get me – I think. They just running away but they are still running in my direction. I start the car and drive on. Not so very fast but at least faster then the elephants come.

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Compared to this the remaining way to the H3 via the S113 is rather calm. But the partly rocky landscape is beautiful and the always present Impalas provide some alternation.

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Following the H3 to the south I see a troop of baboons below the Biyamiti Bridge and then three Ground hornbills searching for food. It is always worth to stop for these colourful birds.

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Close to Afsaal the H2-2 branches off and I enter these gravel road. Even if I know this road from travelling it many times I’m captured from the landscapes again. Koppies painted with colours of the African wild.

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An elephant bull is walking along the road. I stay long with him and sometimes he is coming close – very close. Later it moves to a nearby tree. First he feeds on several bushes and then he breaks down some branches of the tree he is standing under. Another car arrives and the driver says to me I should look for the other elephant behind me. I’m not sure whether he was kidding me. If he was, I don’t find it as funny. I’m not afraid of close encounters – no I like them. But if there is something behind me too I want to see it or not know about it.

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I pass the Outspan Plaque, go to the first concrete dam and stop at Thomas Hart’s Grave. All the way here I can see clouds of smoke in the direction of Pretoriuskop.

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Newu

In the southwest Newu a 666 meter high mountain dominates the landscape. It rises majestically from the dense mountain bushveld overlooking the bush savannah in the east and tree savannah in the west. It must be beautiful to be at its top waiting for the sunrise or sunset. Waiting, a glass of whisky in hand and watching the sun go down in the far west. Of course (or maybe?), drinking coffee instead of whisky at sunrise – if mandatory.
Sitting there following the changeover from day to night when all the day sounds disappear. Moments before the voices of the night start. For a few moments there will be nothing to hear - absolutely nothing. The sound of silence . . .

But it is still around noon and there is no way to spend the night at Newu but a good time for a cold beer. Later I share some moments with Kudus.

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For a longer time I see no animal but then next to a waterhole I think it is Komapiti a Microbus is waiting. I stop too looking around what they can see. But I can’t see anything and when I ask them they explain me they only take a rest and having some pick nick. And it seems they are not going to invite me and so I drive on again.

My next aim is Jocks birthplace. All the South Africans will know this famous and true story by Sir Percy Fitzpatrick of “Jock of the Bushveld” wherein he tells about his travels with this brave Staffordshire bull terrier in the bushveld of the Transvaal. The dogs destiny was decided. Being the runt of the litter his fate was to be drowned but he was rescued by Fitzpatrick. Kicked by a Kudu he lost his hearing and was . . . . . But I wont tell you too much about it. I only can recommend everyone to read it. But if you do so then you should read the old original version.
So I branch off opposite to the Ship Mountain following the small gravel road for two kilometres. Not far in front of me I can see heavy clouds of smoke going straight up to the sky. Bushfire!
Soon I’m at Jocks birthplace where many workers in their yellow-black uniform come towards me. It is a manmade bushfire and these workers are following the fire prepared interfering when necessary. I go out of my car and we talk. Most of the girls and boys are sweating and they don’t have something to drink. So I offer them all my beverages I have with me and they are taking them thankfully. We talk for a while and I tell them the only drinks I still have is beer and I assume they are not allowed to drink beer during work but I will do this for them later.
In the meanwhile one worker followed by a “supervisor” I suppose and a field ranger is walking through the high grass the worker setting the grass on fire. When I drive parallel to them it starts. And it is like I have never seen and experienced it before.

To be continued . . .

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Unread postPosted: Thu Oct 18, 2007 11:27 am 
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Ludwig, your report is absolutely brilliant. I love your photos. We were also there from June 8 until 16 and the photos from S100 of the lion pride with a kill were very familiar. (It was a giraffe that they had killed)

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What camera and lenses do you use?

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Unread postPosted: Fri Oct 19, 2007 9:12 am 
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Thank you Jehoshaphat and welcome :D,
Then you know very well like it was at S100 and we were on the same place at the same time. I just hope you were not the nice one with the big argument with his wife from “June 14th, Sixth day, Really coming home - my Olifants, Thursday – Part 1” who let me park in front of his car and run into this big trouble.
Here again one of my favourite pictures of these days.
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At this trip I used a Canon 5D with a Canon 24-105 IS and a Canon 100-400 IS - - and sometimes a 1.5x Kenco Converter.


Thank you Hippo and welcome :D,
So I have to take you with me for some more days. And there will come more . . . . .


Thank you Elsa, :D
Yes, the meeting with Daniel was a highlight and very special.

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Unread postPosted: Sun Oct 21, 2007 9:22 pm 
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June 20th, Twelfth day, Escape of the millions . . . . . , Wednesday – Part 2

An invasion of insects comes towards me although I stand behind the fire and the fire burns in the other direction. Small and big Grasshoppers, flies, everything that can fly or jump comes into my direction. Not hundreds but thousands, many thousands of these animals fly or jump towards me. Of course I have most of the windows open again and hundreds come into the car. It crawls and fidgets everywhere. Many jump into my face, to my neck, on my clothes. It seems it is like a living thundery shower what comes towards me.
They come in and some immediately jump or fly to the opposite window out again. But many don't find any way to the open. They remain in the car trying to solve their problem by jumping at me.

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The flames beat highly. Two meters and more they blaze up away over bushes and small trees.
Red and orange tongues of flame pant after everything that is attainable and dry. The air around the flames seems to cook and releases only a view like through cloudy glass.
The invasion of the insects is still going on and I drive back to the main road to come in front of the fire to have it burning in my direction.

Here it is the same and the wind comes in towards me too. Insects on the flight again but also Impalas and a duiker are on the run. The fire comes closer and I can hear its sound becoming louder and louder.
Crashing and crackling it gets closer and closer. Then I can feel the hot air when the wind is blowing stronger now.
I can hear the crashing of trees when they are taken by the fire giving sometimes a sound as if they are exploding. The clouds of smoke become more and bigger and above them hundreds of birds are having their banquet. Many of the flies try to escape by flying up carried away by the hot rising air coming from one danger into the next one.
Especially swallows make use of this opportunity to catch their prey flying in high speed above in the lighter smoke.

The smoke takes away most of the sunlight now and the sun itself can’t be seen for a long time already. Where I stand it becomes so dark as if night has started.
The wind is still blowing in my direction and brings beside the smoky smell, dust, ashes and smut. It comes into my car together with the still ongoing invasion of insects and falls down everywhere. With the attempt to strip the cinder it disintegrates.
The smoke blowing into the vehicle becomes thicker and more disagreeable. It is going worse and worse till I nearly can’t stand my ground. When the smoke thins out for a moment I can see the charred still glowing and smoking trees, bushes and grass leftovers.

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It smells not bad more interesting and exciting bringing back memories of campfire, freedom, adventure and braii. But there is nothing similar to eat available so I keep my promise to the workers and drink the mentioned beer.

My shirt, the bolster, and my camera everything smells of smoke when I leave. I open all windows and drive faster to get out some of the dust and ashes with limited success.

From time to time a grasshopper or other insect jumps onto me to remember me - today I’m not driving alone. This will last for some more time till the last grasshopper leaves me days later.

I drive the Fay Loop and see a Steenbok, Impalas and a Crested barbet. I try to photograph this colourful bird but the camera is not focusing and when it works again the barbet is gone.

At the crossing of a creek that remains as small muddy pool I stop and take some pics.

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Shortly after that I meet another car. I know this couple. They are from Colorado and we already had some talk the day before at the hyenas. We talk for a while by blocking the road and when a Micro bus arrives we have to move. Soon we drive on in different directions again.

I pass Pretoriuskop and go into S7. I will drive to the Shabeni Hill to look for a good place watching the sun down.

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Then I come to where the loop S10 around the Shabeni branches off. Here in the fading light the ears of the grasses seem to float like fairies over the ground giving the world around me an enchanting ambiance.

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Looking at the Shabeni again I remember Kobie Krugers book and the pictures showing her family and Leo the lion on top of this large granite boulder that looks like a single rock. Oh how would I like to climb up this impressive koppie and have a sun downer there? That would be the place I’m looking for to get a good view of the sundown. It would be no problem to climb up but going back after sundown will be rather adventurous. And the gates will be closed. . . .

As it is not aloud to do this I drive into a small road hoping I can come to a place where I can see the sundown from this road that branches off from the S10. But I have to find out this is not a public road and it is rather difficult to drive the hole way backwards because I can not turn here. Would be nice to get stuck here and spent the night outside.
Finally I find a place where I have a nice view.

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It is a beautiful sundown obviously influenced by the smoky air that can be seen and smelled even if I’m many kilometres away from the burned area. The sun and surroundings are appearing in such a special way and it is sad not to be able to join this spectacle . . . . . .

Going back to Pretoriuskop I’m some kind of disorientated. No, it’s not because of alcohol or something like that. I always have the impression my map doesn’t show the actual situation of the different roads around. I will have the same problem the next morning but to tell it in advance. No one of you have to worry about that I will get lost. And to them who would be happy when I would be lost I can tell them there are coming more dangerous situations where the chances will be better. :D :wink:

Coming to reception I get bungalow #110. But first I go to the shop and fill up my stock. It is difficult to find the bungalow because I can’t see the numbers at the buildings. This comes from the week light and not from any sun downer at Shabeni!

It’s a huge bungalow with two sleeping rooms, two bathrooms and a big kitchen-living room.
After choosing the sleeping room and putting in my stuff I change my mind. Take out the stuff again and move to the other room. So the right bungalow for me would always be the one with only one room I suppose.

Then cooking is next. I do the cooking with one hand and writing my diary with the other by holding my glass with the next one. :doh: :hmz: :( :doh: :hmz: :(
Impossible? So I put my diary down and concentrate on food and drinks only.

Later I’m sitting on the terrace still only wearing a T-shirt and write my diary eating spaghetti with meatballs and drinking Whisky-Coke. Yes I bought another bottle. Or why do you think I was shopping? It’s only a 0.7 liter bottle and there are still some days to go. And have I ever mentioned when I gave my beverages away I spent my Whiskey too? No. So I kept the beer and Whiskey for me to be prepared if things go wrong. For the worst case only. . . . :D :wink:

When I was starting “cooking” I was hungry despite I was eating dry worst the last hour of the drive. So I took 250 grams of spaghetti still considering whether it will be enough. Now I know it is enough – more than enough.

The view from the terrace only goes a few meters towards the trees and I always hear some kind of rustling out of this direction. When I go up and have a look for it I find out it comes from the Impalas walking through dry leaves and feeding.

When it is becoming colder I move in and go to bed early. While I’m deleting pictures I sleep soon and I’m dreaming of Africa . . . . .

My favourite of the day:
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To be continued . . .

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Last edited by Ludwig on Tue Feb 26, 2008 4:08 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Unread postPosted: Thu Oct 25, 2007 6:34 pm 
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June 21st, Thirteenth day, “The most dangerous encounter” :D, Thursday – Part 1

I wake up early again and continue deleting pictures at four o’clock.

First, still in the dark I look for the Impalas and try to make some pics.

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At 5.30 am I put in my stuff and start.

At the gate I’m second but we all have to wait till exactly six o’clock to be allowed to leave. I’m confused with the roads again but finally find my way in the direction to Skukuza.
Driving the H1-1 now the brake lights of the car in front of me are showing up. When I come closer I can see three White rhinos next to the road feeding peacefully between the bushes.

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A few moments and some hundreds meter later an elephant is crossing the road. It is still dark and I see more a shadow then a real elephant.

The smell of smoke is in the air and heavy clouds meander in the valleys in the early morning. But I have to learn not everything comes from outside. Some of this smoky odor still comes from inside the car. Sometimes a grasshopper is jumping through the car in happiness be pleased to go on a big journey with me.

I turn off to the right to have a look for the Shitlhave Dam. Here I see a fish eagle. It is not sitting in a tree as it would be normal. Instead of this it is walking on the ground next to the shore. Maybe it is the one I saw at Nhlanganzwane Dam that by jumping missed the branch and fell down. And now he is avoiding flying and jumping not to get in trouble again.

Travelling back and first driving the H1-1 again and later following the S11 I’m passing the Napi Rocks. The most interesting sighting is a 4x4 loaded with some tourists. These poor people seem to be frozen nearly to death and I feel sorry about them.

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Billi is visiting friend he likes
so much he could eat them up


Some kilometers ahead the turnoff to Transport Dam a Puff adder is lying in the road. Lying on its back it looks like it is dead. I take some pictures of the snake and branch off to the dam.
Soon I see a young Waterbuck. First it crosses the road rather fast but then it stops and is waiting for me in the best light.

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At the dam itself are some birds but no mammals. I drive around. Below the dam the vicinity is beautiful.

Back at the H1-1 I drive back to where I have seen the snake. I will try to get some more but different pictures if it is still here.

I don’t know whether the snake is really dead. Or was there some movement since I left it? I will turn it! But should I take it with my pure hand? Why not?
But if it is only paralyzed and will become conspicuous when I touch it?

Still considering what to do I remember when I was very close to a Puff adder last time.
It was in Namibia at the Mokuti Lodge just outside the Etosha National park. At this lodge they have a snake park where you can walk around by your own and watch a lot of different African snakes. Among them Mambas, Cobras, Tree snakes and Puff adders.
Most of the snakes like the Mambas, Cobras and Boomslangs are in terrariums or catches framed with glass or wired fences but the Puff adders are in an open enclosure and no glass or fence is used to keep out the world and the Puff adders in.
The concrete wall around is not very high and it is easy to touch the ground inside by bending down. I would only have to lean forward and I can touch the snakes. If I have never touched a really dangerous living African snake this will be a good possibility. I only have to go down a little and lean forward. Only reach out my arm and get it.
This slow moving so clumsy appearing snake will be no real danger as fast as I am – I think.
But there is still another problem. When I was leaving the pool I promised my girlfriend not to touch the snakes. It seems she knows me quite well and now it is up to me to make a decision. Shall I touch the Puff adders or keep my promise. Next time I say to myself I will never agree to such silly things like this promise and decide to make at least a test.
No, not by touching it with my hand. I collect some small pieces of a twig and place my hand in save distance above one of the snakes and let fall down one (stick not hand!). It hits the snake close to the tail end. At a speed like lightning the snakes head comes around.
O man! I would never have made it. I would never have managed to be fast enough to get my hand out of the way if I would have touched it like I was strongly considering.
These memories come to my mind.

So finally I look for a stick find one and turn the snake. But it is dead and all the carefulness was waste of time. And I know one day I will touch one of these snakes. A Mamba, Cobra or Puff adder – still living. . . . . .

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Driving towards the H3 there is very little activity.
The next sighting is at the S114 where a Slender mongoose is posing at a fallen tree stump. It would be easy to photograph it if not some White-crested helmet-shrikes were flying into the picture. So I take the opportunity to catch them too.

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At Renosterkoppies Dam no rhino is present but zebras, impalas and wildebeests.
A Red-billed hornbill and a Steenbok are next when I have left the dam and I’m driving the S21.

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Minutes later I see six Ground hornbills and I spend a lot of time with them. The young one is rather shy and it takes time till I can come so close to take decent pictures.

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When I’m crossing the Mhlupheka River I see two rhinos. They are drinking from a small pool but leave when they see me. Only once they turn around before going deeper into the bush giving me one last chance to take a picture of one of them.

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Joining the H4-1 the road is very busy. Not by sightings – by traffic. Despite or because of this I find the most relaxed Impala that I have ever seen. It is lying on the ground and placing its chin on the soil.
There is no movement as long as I stay and only its eyes take control of the surroundings.

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After passing Nkuhlu I meet a troop of baboons that comes out of the bush obviously looking for Bavarians. When they find me they sit around my car waiting to be photographed or to be told some stories.

Some hundreds meters later a kudu bull with a crippled horn is walking along the road giving me only a chance to take pictures from behind.

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This changes when I see some Vervet monkeys. The blue color of their skin below their fur is unbelievable. No one would ever expect to see a color like this on a mammal.

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I drive into every loop along the Sabie River but the most interesting sight is two hippos lying at the bank.

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The next stop is at some Vervet monkeys again.

A Bushbuck, a Kudu and some Warthogs enrich the last few kilometers to Skukuza and the next loop provides me with a Saddle-billed stork, a Marabu that is trying to make a nap and some vultures.

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During the last hours the sky became cloudier and I drive to Skukuza to check in.

At reception they tell me I will get a beautiful very special bungalow and bungalow #206 is my next destination.

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After taking some pictures of the Impala lilies on my way back to the parking lot I drive down to the riverside, find my bungalow, open the panoramic door and go in quite fast but stop in my tracks immediately. . . .

To be continued . . . .

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Unread postPosted: Mon Oct 29, 2007 8:56 pm 
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June 21st, Thirteenth day, “The most dangerous encounter” :D , Thursday – Part 2


. . . At reception they tell me I will get a beautiful very special bungalow and bungalow #206 is my next destination.

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After taking some pictures of the Impala lilies on my way back to the parking lot I drive down to the riverside, find my bungalow, open the panoramic door and go in quite fast but stop in my tracks immediately.

All curtains are closed and in the half-light I notice a movement. I affright dreadfully and what I see is what I have never expected.

A woman is sitting in a chair obviously surprised or should I say shocked in the same way as I or even more thinking this will be a holdup.
When we both have recovered from our shock I ask her whether she is late in checking out showing her my key and telling her this is my bungalow. She goes up is grapping a key and shows it to me. It is a key for bungalow #206 too. When I look around I see a small child lying on the bed sleeping between lots of stuffed animals.

I’m going to leave. I will go back to reception when I see some five or six women from the service watching me. They chatting some paces away still looking at me. “This silly tourist” they will say, “he is not able to find the right bungalow even during daytime”. “Men!”, they will think.
Nearly sitting in my car I go out again moving to the ladies and show them my key. I just hope I could avoid getting a wrong reputation but I’m not sure. It looks more like this event fits exactly to what they are expecting from men.

Anyway back at reception they explain me I’m wrong. There will be no one in bungalow #206 because it is free. I tell them when they were promising me a “beautiful very special bungalow” I expected this in a different way. I though of beautiful surroundings, nice furniture or something like that - but not this. They still don’t believe me but after some additional discussion they take back the key to #206 and give me #207 and the feeling I only get it they can get rid of me.

When I’m back at the bungalows I open #207 very carefully prepared to have the next life threatening encounter. But this time the bungalow is mine as I can ensure by checking all rooms. I put some stuff in and fill the refrigerator with the remaining food from yesterdays buy. Then I have a look for the river in the direction of the Old Railroad Bridge and give me a short rest at the terrace to recover from the close encounter from bungalow #206 – happy to be alive. :D :wink:

If it would have been a leopard or an elephant I would have known what to do – but with an unknown women? :D :wink:

When I take some pictures of myself I’m trying to look easy and play cool. Later I have to find out I look rather knackered and weary. And the deep shadows of my eyes show me how I will look in ten years or later.
This is no miracle after this dangerous meeting.

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So here you can see me recovering
from a tremendous shock. There was
no need to sit down at a terrace
before the gates close till today.


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I fill up my car and the filling station attendant is cleaning the windows with great accuracy. To shorten my time I talk to a young South African who is standing next to his car and ask him whether everything is okay. He answers “99% is okay!” Asked by me why not hundred percent he tells me with a smile: “There is always anything that makes it not to be hundred!”
Maybe he is married - or is it because he is not? :wink:
I do not ask him but I will remember his answer.

When I drive the H11 next to the road a park worker is handling some equipment in the bush. I think he is preparing a speed trap and I hope to remember this when I come back.

I am going to Lake Panic now. I have never been here before but know so many positive descriptions from the forum. This hide partly build above the lake is beautiful. But photographers take care when you change something on your camera. If it falls down and goes between the floorboards then it’s gone – gone forever. Now you can imagine how I’m handling my equipment especially the cards at this hide.

On the opposite bank many hippos are relaxing. Terrapins, crocodiles, bushbucks and many birds are around. This hide and Sweni bird hide are the best ones I have ever been. There is always some movement and every few minutes I discover something new.

When I take some pictures a South African arrives and shows me a bushbuck next to the entrance tunnel quite close.

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An older couple comes and is sitting next to me. He has a Non-Canon-Camera-Camera and we talk shop. He is not accepting the superior quality of my Canon-Camera.
When an African darter comes and I take some pics of a Goliath heron we stop for a while.

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When we start discussing again his wife calls us and explains this is no discussion for a hide. She is right but he is not and so we still argue. Every now and then we are getting bad looks from her but they do not make her husband accepting my better arguments . . . .

When the light is becoming too bad I leave. On the H11 I still remember the speed trap but it is gone. The worker was leaving when I passed him I suppose.

After passing the Skukuza camp still on the H11 I come to a traffic jam. Lions?
No, it is a Martial eagle with prey. Feeding on a Guinea fowl it is standing on a limb obviously not very amused by this agitation around it.

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It takes some time till I get the second best place and can take some pictures. But as the car at the best place is not leaving as I hope I drive on now following the H4-1 and will go in the direction to Lower Sabie. When I come to the T-junction I see the next traffic jam in northern direction.
Three, four lines of cars are blocking the road totally. First there is no space to come in the front row but finally I can come at least in second.
A breading herd of elephants is crossing the road and all the cars are waiting at least forty or fifty meters away. When the elephants disappear in the bush I drive on and branch off in a loop hoping I can cut their way.
When I meet them the question arises who was cutting whose way. Suddenly they are all coming out of the bush and appear from behind trees in front of me some only three or five meters away but they all stay quite calm.
Just hoping they will remain so quiet I take some pictures. But here between some high trees the light is not so well and I have to use the flashlight. Luckily they are not disturbed by that and so we both do the things we like: They feed and I take pictures.
Sometimes I have to move some meters back but finally we create a peaceful situation. When I stop taking pictures the elephants are still feeding. One of them still stands only five meters away. I stay with them for some more time having one eye on the elephants and the other concentrating on my camera deleting pictures.
Another car comes and the driver warns me telling the elephants are dangerous. I thank him and stay where I am.

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When some other cars come I leave further following the loop that is more a bypass along the H4-1 to the South-east and I see some vultures sitting in a dead tree already waiting for the night.

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Going back via the H4-1 to Skukuza I join baboons with a young. I stay with them till it becomes late and I have to hurry to reach camp before the gates close.

The young is not feeling well so close next to me and seems to tell: “Mami, I’m afraid by this guy in the car!” to get to hear “You don’t have to worry about him. He’s a Bavarian. They are quite harmless . . . at least against nice baboons like we are! But don’t tell him you have a camera that is better then his.”

I can’t understand why so many people pass so fast when they are meeting baboons. It is always so entertaining to spend some time with them. You can find out so many things that are so close to human behavior.
Or is it because of this? Do these people try to avoid looking in this natural mirror not to get shown how they are behind their mask? Maybe they feel or try to be so special and now they are afraid to learn they are not so far away from these relatives . . .

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A lonely Warthog walking in a dry riverbed is the next sighting.
I’m in a hurry but I’m stopped by a Marabu. It is sitting in the fading light of the day in a dead tree and I take some pictures against the gray evening sky. Some cars already in a hurry stop by braking hard hoping to see a member of the Big Five . . . . I don’t have to tell you!

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Arriving at the camp I go to the shop buying some Coke and sesame rolls. I’m looking for a wooden Giraffe too and find one in the right size but I don’t like their color. A smaller one would have exactly the desired color but it is missing one ear and it is actually too small.

One hour after sundown I’m sitting at the terrace when flies and mosquitoes start attacking me. I switch on two “mosquito shocks”. If you are wonder what else of all kind of other equipment I do have with me too let me explain it in the opposite way: My television set, refrigerator and freezer are still at home.

Some minutes ago I had to get rid of another insect that was crawling up my back and forced me to a partly striptease. I don’t know what it was but I feel better without it.

Somewhere at the river not far away there is big trouble. I can’t see anything but it sounds like the baboons have lost one of their members or detected a hunting leopard very close to them.

I’m too lazy to cook spaghetti today and so I’m back at smocked mussels.

Then I’m writing my diary. As a snack I have chosen Cherry-tomatoes and I drink some Whisky-Coke – or some more. Maybe I still try to recover from this dangerous encounter at bungalow #206 today. If I will have problems tomorrow morning I will tell you that I become drunk by those vegetable because as everybody knows they consist to nearly hundred percent of pure alcohol. :wink:

Suddenly next to my bungalow a young couple comes out of the dark. I’m frightened because I haven't expected that. The two follow the fence and shine with her torch the area behind.
Then they disappear between the bungalows again.

It’s 8.30 p.m. now and I’m still writing and improve my time by drinking. Or shall I say I’m still drinking Whisky-Coke and shorten my time by writing my diary. Anyway I still eat some tomatoes too and take some pics of the bungalow.
Some time later I can feel the alcohol from the tomatoes takes its toll. So I stop eating not to get too much drunk and stay with Whisky-Coke only. . . .

The hippos are calling bringing in mind life outside the camp doesn’t make a rest.
All clouds have disappeared and millions of stars are shining in African harmony.

Around the terrace goes a socket. As made for placing candles and spending a romantic evening. Alone?

Soon I go to bed.
Having a look into the mirror it tells me: It has been an exhausting day . . . . . Too many tomatoes?


My favourite of the day:
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To be continued . . . .

_________________
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Last edited by Ludwig on Fri Jul 25, 2008 11:23 am, edited 3 times in total.

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Unread postPosted: Mon Nov 05, 2007 6:53 pm 
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June 22cd, Fourteenth day, Another day in paradise, Friday - Part 1

A new morning again. I didn’t sleep so well. Most of the night I was dreaming of snakes and I couldn’t take pictures of them because my camera was not ready. What a horrible dream. Not because of the snakes – because of the not working camera.
When I wake up at three o’clock I delete pictures again. Or was I dreaming this as well?

Go up shortly after five and I’m at the gate at six o’clock.

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First I’m going to make other visitors crazy by photographing a vulture in the first light of the day. :twisted::dance::twisted: Every now and then a car stops. The passengers are looking for the hoped-for Big-Five-member. When they recognize I only take pictures of a vulture they drive away giving notice how angry they are by torment their engine.

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A first Bushbuck doesn’t like to be photograph till it has finished putting on some make-up to look better. Later I take the risk and stop again this time to take some pics of a beautiful sunrise.

Some Impalas and a duiker are my friends of the early morning and shorten my time when I’m driving the H4-1.

Where the H12 branches off crossing the Sabie River I stop and take some pictures of the river. Beautiful and peacefully the river is flowing in the warm morning light first to the east then changing its direction and going to its south-eastern destination. The water is mirroring the morning sky in a majestic blue and the trees and bushes on its banks are taking in the soft shine of the early sun. I take in these beautiful sights for a while then I drive on.

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Today I will go the Salitje Road. First I see some Impalas and then a troop of baboons. They are in a wide-spread wooden area enjoying to be warmed up by the early sunlight. An older male is sitting peacefully between some bushes when an Impala comes and chases him away.

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This looks a little bit strange and fits to the next sighting of two Impala rams. What ever they are but they are definitely not interested in females. When I ask them there is no answer but a profound look. Soon they concentrate on each other again leaving me back with an unanswered question. When they start fight to change my impression it is too late. I will never believe them because soon they start cuddle again. Looking in a way that tells: “If there all females belong to other males let’s make the best out of it . . . .”

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The baboons are still next to the Impalas. One is carrying a stick in a way it looks he is smoking a cigarette. Another one is holding his head as if he was sharing my Whisky last night. The next one is sitting in the sun dreaming with his mouth wide open and other start climbing up and down the trees.

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Another two look like to make me sure I have missed a big baboon party this night. Totally shattered they are sitting around afraid there will be any disturbance by noise or movement.

Again I spend more time than scheduled but these baboons are so entertaining.

The sun is still shining when I drive on and I take out my head of the car let the wind blowing through my hair and smell the taste of the African savannah, and I feel it.
Something different, something beautiful and free: Africa

I will go to Lower Sabie now and stay on the S30 till I reach the crossing with H10.
Close to H10 and all along this road is Burchell’s coucals, Lilac-breasted rollers and Cheetahs County. Every fifty meters one of these birds is sitting on a bush or a small tree in the bright sunlight and I can take picture after picture.
I know Cheetahs are no birds and so I take pictures of Burchell’s coucals and Lilac-breasted rollers only.

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Once a Burchell’s coucal is not moving rightly. First I think it’s injured because one of its wings goes in a different direction, but it was just kidding me.

I pass the tree where the cheetahs were sitting on some days ago and scan the surroundings. But today there are no Cheetahs to see.

When I come to the Sabie River the Low Water Bridge is occupied by a troop of baboons. But when I come closer they leave by climbing down to the riverbank leaving only one sub adult behind them. He is forced to stay with me till I get some pictures. Then he is aloud to leave too.

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By crossing the river several times more I discover a crocodile, a fish eagle far away and a Barn swallow or as it was called former an European swallow stays with me for some minutes.

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At Lower Sabie I go to the shop and look for a Giraffe. But the only one they have is missing an ear. It’s always the same in all shops – Giraffes with a missing ear. Can anybody tell me what the South Africans do with all these missing ears? There will be a big stock of ears somewhere without Giraffes.

Before I leave I go to the restaurants terrace. Only the river and its surroundings can impress me at this time.

So I drive to the Sunset Dam and can park on the far right next to this shady bush directly at the water.
Here is so much to see. Hippos, crocodiles, Impalas, Hadeda Ibises, African jacana and more.

On the right some Impalas are drinking next to a huge crocodile. It appears they are even searching its nearness because in this way they are protected by this comparatively slow and predictable predator from the faster ones. No cat or hyena would try to get an Impala so close to a much stronger competitor. It soon would loose its prey to this merciless dinosaur of the present.

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It’s a beautiful place here in the shadow. There is always some movement and the variety of animals is unbelievable.
Some Impalas come closer and closer to where I’m standing and an ibis and a jacana are also walking straight in my direction.

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I can take many pictures and when I’m going to leave I discover two Nil monitors. One of them is tremendous and I try to draw nearer. I can come pretty close and today I’m getting the pictures I missed some days ago at Biyamiti weir. Between them impressive pictures of its head! A big mistake is eliminated. So today no Mr. Greens! There are only: :dance: :dance: :dance:

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When I leave I pass another sedan. The passengers are using a very large tele lens and I ask what size it is. The driver explains me it’s a Canon 500. We talk for a while and he tells me they are only on a journey through. They are professionals and normally they use a 4x4 with a canopy sun top to have a 360 degree open space. They are travelling a lot in Botswana where it is aloud to leave the car. As long as we are talking the woman on the passenger’s seat is taking pictures from the opposite bank where a Saddle-billed stork, White-faced ducks, a Grey heron, a hippo with a young and a crocodile are close together.
Now I take many pictures too and try out some different adjustments on my camera because the scenery is quite far away. I just hope I will get at least one decent picture out of it.

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When an Egyptian goose flies in the White-faced ducks are getting in panic and take up in every direction. In some of the pictures it looks like as they are attacking one of the hippos.

In some paces distance to this group another large crocodile and some Impalas are close together. Are these Impalas seeking shelter from other predators too?

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When I drive back towards Skukuza I pass my lion rock next to the Lubyelubye River. One day . . . . !

Some hundred meters later a group of Impalas is on the run. Most of them are crossing the road in front of me quite fast. Four or five remain next to the road looking back to where they came from and they are giving their alarm call. There must be a predator in the bush that was the reason for the flight. I scan the vicinity towards the Sabie River very intensely but can’t find what it is. All Impalas leave to the left or right but a young ram is still next to my car and can’t decide where to go. A few paces going to the right are eliminated by coming back and looking undetermined in both directions. Finally he has a look in my direction chooses the way to the left and disappears. I just take a picture of him as a memory.

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Some Kudus and Bushbucks are the highlight s for the next kilometers. Later I pass some Impalas beautiful standing in a dry riverbed.

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When I meet a troop of Vervet Monkeys ahead the Sabie Bridge at H12 I take some pictures. They are standing in the wrong light and I have to use my flashlight to get decent pictures. One of the Monkeys has an old injury and I feel sorry about him. His arm and his shoulder were seriously damaged and its fur does not hide the skin and I can see its unbelievable blue color.

When I take the camera into the car he stands up. When I focus him again he goes down and is only sitting next to my car before I can shot off. This game goes on several times but finally he gives me the chance to take the picture I want.

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A few moments later when I’m travelling still on the H4-1 an Elephant is coming from the left and passing in front of me.

I’m crossing the Sabie Bridge where the H12 starts and scan the river on both sides accurately but can’t see animals. The Riverview compensates this by showing itself. Maybe I have mentioned this already many times but you will hear it again whenever I describe a crossing of the Sabie via this bridge: A beautiful and breathtaking view.

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The next view is not so nice. A francolin is lying in the road – dead. A road kill again. How many road kills did I see during these weeks? So many. And despite how often it was I feel sorry for every bird, mammal or reptile.

To be continued . . . .

_________________
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Unread postPosted: Sun Nov 11, 2007 8:16 pm 
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June 22cd, Fourteenth day, Another day in paradise, Friday - Part 2

I branch off into the Maroela Loop how it is called at the sign contrary to the map where it is named Marula Loop. Anyway I remember this loop when I drove it many years ago and met my very first Kruger rhinos and got some pictures of them. But today it is rather quiet beside a duiker that is not willing to give me the chance for a picture. When I stop for a certain reason I see something at the end of the road. When I come closer I identify a baboon and some kind of an antelope. But when I’m next to them I find out it is “only” an Impala that was posing in a strange way and gave me the impression it would be something else.

Some time later two Warthogs are going to cross the road but we agree they will postpone this. Later when we have finalized our photo session they cross the road leaving me behind with the best pictures of Warthogs I ever get and the mission to make them famous.
And that’s what I’m going to do now by showing it to you.

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During this journey I have learned the bigger the Warthogs the more shy they are. If it doesn’t come from their increased experience then I have to tell you: The older they are the more cowardly they are.

If you may know from reading of Sir Percy Fitzpatrick’s “Jock of the Bushveld” a Kudu stops and will looking backwards on the flight when it hears a strong whistle giving the hunter a chance for a shot. What do you think makes a Warthog looking in an advantageous way?

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Back at the H2-1 I cross the Sand River and later the Sabie and take some pictures. Two Impala rams come close to have a look for my car.
I could stay here much longer but my destination for the next few hours is Lake Panic.

Lake Panic. I’m impressed by this hide again. It is an extraordinary hide. Build partly above the water and so close to where the animals are. Especially the birdlife around the hide is incredible.
If there would be only the chance to visit one hide during a Kruger visit I would choose this one – or Sweni bird hide.

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First I can take some pictures of Bushbucks. They are grazing on this small peninsula on the right taking or getting no notice of me. How many Bushbucks I met during the last days without getting a good shot. At long last I got it.

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As the male is frightened he flees. An Red-billed oxpecker that is sitting on his back is also frightened and its flies up. After some fast steps the Bushbuck calms down and stops. Ready for landing of his flying passenger. This makes a second oxpecker to join them. This one has a black bill. I have never seen before two different species sitting together. And I still have the impression to have seen something special.
But today Africa will show me something more and beautiful.

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Hippos, crocodiles, White-faced ducks, Pied kingfisher, a Brown-hooded kingfisher, a Goliath heron and a Water thick-knee are around at the same time and in addition a Terrapin is swimming directly in front of the hide.

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The hippos are lying lazy in the sand and many oxpeckers are sitting and walking all around them cleaning their plumage.
But the best pictures I will get later.
Some hippos leave the bank moving splashing into the water but the crocodiles remain where they are.

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The older couple from yesterday is coming. Today he, the Non-Canon-Camera-man, is not discussing the advantages and disadvantages of our cameras. Maybe he has accepted my convincing arguments or he is not allowed by his wife to continue the discussion. I will take the first alternative.

A Brown-hooded kingfisher flies to the dead tree on the right hand side and is sitting on a crotch in the best sunlight. What a chance. I hurry to get my camera ready not to miss this bird.
And then I get it. I get it in a brilliance I have never expected.

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I go to the Non-Canon-Camera-mans wife and I show her these pictures. To show her the bird because she is a very enthusiastic and experienced birder or to show her what excellent pictures I can take with my camera compared to her husbands. I don’t know.

She is very impressed and tells me: “You are an artist. You are really an artist.”

Do you remember when I was told at N'wanetsi dam lookout by this young girl pushing forward her boyfriend that I’m “no special person”?
No special person on N'wanetsi a few days ago. Now I’m called an artist. Life can change within days.
So I won’t tell her husband it’s because of my better camera. I can live with being told it’s because of my talent.

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A Pied kingfisher is coming carrying a fish. It has to work hard till it can swallow it. It’s always the same with this bird when I’m watching it. It seems it only catches fish that is at least one number too big for it. Watching his colleague makes the Goliath heron hungry and it also starts searching for fish.

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I’m busy taking pictures of everything that is present when an African darter comes. When it is sitting on a dead branch for a while and starts flapping its wings I shoot off.

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Sometimes I consider what will be best. Should I take my pictures by using my converter or extend them later on the computer. I’m not sure regarding the results and so I take them with and without converter.

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In the meantime the Goliath heron is successful and brings his pray to shore to eliminate the risk of loosing the caught fish if it will fall down.


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Many visitors come and go. Some of them I know from earlier meetings and being at the hide becomes a circle of acquaintances.

A girl is coming followed by her parents. She looks very familiar to me. I think I know her from somewhere but can’t remember where. She is wearing a baseball cap with a “Beck’s beer” advertisement. “That would be the right choice now”, I tell her when I’m pointing at her cap. She agrees, but none of us has brought a beer. She comes from Pretoria and we talk for a while. This intensifies my impression we already met. But then it is too late to ask her where we met before. After so many words it would be embarrassing to ask this question and so we just talk and I try to remember.
I still consider where it was when she and her parents leave. But I still can’t remember her name and where I have seen her before.

Hours later the secret is lifted in an unexpected way. I remember she looks exactly like Kim Clijsters the famous Belgium tennis player and that’s the reason she was so familiar to me.
Actually we have never met before.

When I leave the hide I talk to some Germans. They are also going to leave.
As you may know Bavarians and Germans speak a quite similar language :wink: and so I talk to them.
They are traveling with a South African friend and stay in Kruger for three weeks.

I pass Skukuza. Coming to the H4-1 I’m driving to the left. After a few hundred meters a couple coming out of the bush is crossing the road carrying a lot of wood. They are in a hurry but I don’t know why because there is no lion behind them. :D
Sorry no pictures of them.

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I will go to the Sabie bridge but for the first kilometers I follow the loop north of the H4-1 next to the Sabie River where I see some vultures. A huge Warthog boar is the next sight but it leaves as soon as I stop the car and I can take only one picture of him: From angular behind and blurred.

At the bridge I can’t resist and stop. Only wearing socks I go out and I take some pictures having the river in the best light.

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I will go back to the camp via the H1-2 and have to hurry. Silly decision. To be in camp right in time before the gates close means I have to hope there will be no sightings till I’m back that will stop me. Then the drive is needless. But if I will see something that is interesting then there will be no time to stop and enjoy it.

When I have overhauled the first car the pressure is reduced. As long as other cars are behind me I will not be the only latecomer. This gives me time to stop at some kudus till all the cars behind me have passed and I’m at the end again.

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Soon the pressure is gone. What does it mean to me to be late? Nothing.
When I’m willing to take big risks by taking my pictures everyday it makes no sense to be afraid of being late. So I relax and wait what Africa will offer me till I’m at the gate and I will arrive when the gates are closed.

Kudus again after crossing the Sand and Sabie River. Then some hundred meters ahead Skukuza many cars are standing close together. Lions? No.
A lonely Marabou sitting in a tree is causing this crowd. I stop and take some pics and stay till I’m the last remaining car.

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Sitting on the terrace in the evening I write my diary like so many days before. It’s past 7 p.m.. The temperature is 18° and I’m freezing. Not really a totally new experience. The decision to make is to go in or to take another Whisky-Coke. So I stay and write. Sometimes I refresh my soul and memory by getting through today’s pictures.

The hippos are calling and between them I can hear a Hyena.
Profound thoughts come to my mind. What will be the right period of timefor visiting Kruger next time? Three weeks, four weeks? Will a visit of four weeks reduce the longing for Kruger when I’m back at home or will it increase my addiction?
Can one be addicted to visiting wild areas like Kruger? Yes, you can - yes, I am!

What ever will come these Kruger days are one of the most beautiful in my life. During these days a dream becomes reality.
Dreams are the wings of life I wrote once.
During these weeks I spread my wings and I live my dream.
No one can take this away. This makes me strong, satisfied and happy.
When will I spread my wings again and fly where my heart will remain? Flying along the banks of my Olifants and its companions Letaba, Crocodile and Sabie River again.

The Whisky becomes less. Did I tell you what I did with the last Whisky-Coke from last night? No? When I went in I placed it on my nightstand and when I woke up during the night I took care there will be nothing left for the next day. Did these horrible dream of snakes and not working camera come from that?
Today I will place some water there.

It seems I had lost my big knife and the cleaning lady has found it and placed it below my pillow next to my pajamas. A nice composition.

When I go trough my pictures I come to the African darter and the Brown-hooded kingfisher: Beautiful! There is nothing that can displace good light. The colors - simply fantastically.

When I fall asleep the light is still burning and this disturbs me during the night and I can’t sleep well. But as often as I awake during the night it comes to my mind: I’m still in Africa! Beautiful thoughts. What better can happen . . . ?

My favourite of the day:

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Last edited by Ludwig on Fri Jul 25, 2008 11:19 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Unread postPosted: Fri Nov 16, 2007 10:54 am 
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Fantastic report and pictures, Ludwig. :clap:

Ludwig wrote:
Will a visit of four weeks reduce the longing for Kruger when I'm back at home or will it increase my addiction?
As you are already addicted, it certainly won't reduce the longing for Kruger. You just want to stay in Kruger longer and longer. :D

Ludwig wrote:
This makes a second oxpecker to join them. This one has a black bill.
I think this is an immature oxpecker.

Ludwig wrote:
So I won't tell her husband it?s because of my better camera. I can live with being told it?s because of my talent.
It is said that good camera equipment will help, but it is still the man behind the camera who makes the pictures. But I agree with you about Canon quality :lol:


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Unread postPosted: Fri Nov 16, 2007 11:07 pm 
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Thank you Ashley for the nice words :D,

I hope I can take you with me back again to Kruger in a few days.

Regarding photographing I will recommend to go to this forum:
www.sanparks.org/forums/viewforum.php?f=29
Here you will get useful information from experienced forumites.

But what you will find out is: It doesn’t mean so much how close you can come to an animal, tree, flower or other object. More important is to follow the “rule of thirds” or “golden cut”.
Here you will find what I mean:
http://www.travelphoto.net/photos/engli ... ition.html

But if the picture is blurred? So the most important is to stabilize your camera. This is still my major problem.

PS: You are a friend of giraffes and leopards. Here you can find many giraffes and leopards: www.naturfoto-wildlifefoto.de
And these are my favourites:
www.naturfoto-wildlifefoto.de/ansicht-% ... 1-1685.htm
www.naturfoto-wildlifefoto.de/ansicht-% ... 2-2344.htm

That must have been an unbelievable experience for you to be the only car and staying alone with “your three leopards”.

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Last edited by Ludwig on Mon Nov 19, 2007 1:07 pm, edited 6 times in total.

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