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Unread postPosted: Wed Mar 05, 2008 6:38 pm 
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Had a snooze and went out about 3.30pm. Nothing much about, but had a lovely restful time at a pull-out just past the bird hide. It was nice and shady, good view, and a great breeze blowing gently through the car. A small group of impala provided interest on the opposite bank. There was a lone yearling waterbuck male with them for a while until they moved on and left him. He had obviously injured his left back leg and was limping badly, which explained why he was alone. A flock of cattle egrets kept them all company.

Left in time to get back into camp before closing - to find a large group (4 tents) on my doorstep! Lots of other space about....????!!!! I seem to attract them..... Hope they are only here overnight....

I will probably try the red rocks route tomorrow, and see if the lions are about.

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Unread postPosted: Thu Mar 06, 2008 8:08 pm 
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I did not make it out of the gate at woody call this morning! It was light enough to find I had several visitors in my tent - for those who have not yet met an armoured cricket:
Image
One was even on my recliner - but it is blue striped so would not allow a good picture!

I decided to do the red rocks road today, and headed to the south entrance as the closest one was still showing a no entry sign. I did hope I would not have to retrace my tracks, but chanced it. On the red rocks loop itself I was aware of an old carcass about - but could see nothing. Stopped at the look-out and then retraced my tracks - and found the giraffe carcass Zanile mentioned yesterday. Only a few vultures still about though.

Not many animals anywhere, although at the look-out there was evidence of lion activity:
Image

I continued across the Shingwedzi ford and turned towards Bateleur - it was a great drive even with few animals around. soon after the turning I found a ground hornbill in a tree, but just as I focussed on it, it moved higher and played peek-a-boo with me:
Image
Lots of evidence of elephants around, but only saw the back view of one disappearing into the bushes.

When I reached the end of the road the causeway was apparantly open so I crossed it! A goliath heron looked at me in astonishment, but then carried on fishing.
Sure enough the no entry sign was still there as I drove out of the turning!!!!!

Driving back into the camp there were 4 buffalos enjoying the cool water in the river. And the stork party was still on - marabou and white storks everywhere.

This afternoon I decided to go back to my shady spot overlooking Kanniedood. The impala herd were there again, but no sign of the young waterbuck. While I sat watching there was a crashing behind me and I looked around but could see nothing. Then suddenly a dark shape - and a buffalo emerged from the reeds right behind me! He walked onto the road, marked his territory energetically and thoroughly (they must have HUGE bladders!!) and wandered off the other side of the track to graze. On the way back I met an elephant herd disappearing into the bushes and a nervous car waiting to pass them.

Before driving into camp I checked the causeway and found it open, but the water is still quite high. There were crocs facing upstream catching fish as they came over the causeway, and a heron and several hammerkops fishing on the causeway:
Image

Back in camp I found a new neighbour setting up behind me. He tried a power box close to him, was dissatisfied, headed for mine, and blew it! It would not reset so I got the manager - who sent out help, but he did not even know how to put the plug into the socket! I insisted on an electrician (and eventually pulled rank by going to see the manager wearing my tourist guide badge!) - and it was sorted eventually just before dark! The newcomer's lead was faulty and the main fuse box had tripped and needed resetting (or something).

May try the Mphongolo loop again tomorrow but from north to south..... Had thought about the Tropic of Capricorn loop but do not feel like a long drive - I have that moving camp!

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Unread postPosted: Fri Mar 07, 2008 8:59 pm 
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Embarassed Ashamed to admit it but it was 7am before I left camp this morning!!! I headed for Babalala turning to come south on the Mphongolo loop. Nothing much doing again - an elephant in the distance, 3 zebs, and impala. The drive was still good though - hey, this is Kruger and you never know what is around the next bush!!

Again I found several francolin mums shepherding their chicks about:
Image

Towards the end of the road I heard elephants - and then saw them on the far bank descending the steep side into the river bed. To my disgust they had chosen the wrong spot and I could not find an opening so I could see them in the river!
Image

Almost immediately there was a buffalo right next to the road - but he was not interested in me or posing - food was far more important
Image

And so back to camp, and chores - laundry needed doing. - Bit of advice - always do your laundry!!!! I'll explain why at the end of the post........

Again I went to my shady spot for the late drive, and enjoyed some cheese and biscuits while watching the river. A pair of hadedas came to join me for a while:
Image

The young waterbuck was back, and has obviously injured his foot - it was very swollen just above the ankle. A small herd of impala joined him for a while. Just before I left a large croc swam slowly upstream, slowed as if it was going to pull out on the bank, then suddenly sped up and disappeared under water. Watched a bit longer but it did not reappear.

Before going back to camp I checked the causeway - and found a fish eagle had joined the herons and hammerkops in the water
Image

Meanwhile on the causeway itself the heron and hammerkop were still vying with the crocs for meals! I counted 10 crocs...
Image

And then I went out to dinner! - that is why you must do your laundry!!!! While walking over to the laundromat someone asked me where it was as I had a pile of washing with me - we got chatting.... It was Skillie! she later came past the caravan with Richard and invited me over for the evening... Great time chatting, and heard more about the binocs handover today.

Still trying to decide what to do for my final day at Shingwedzi....

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Unread postPosted: Sat Mar 08, 2008 7:36 pm 
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Well MM there seem to be plenty of water-birds prepared to 'swim' with the crocs!!!! - This morning at the causeway a pair of yellow-bill storks had joined the party. The other one was only a metre or so from a croc - but the picture is a bit dark for posting
Image
And then just a little further on a spoonbill was also dicing with death!
Image

I decided to head down the S50 to see what Kanniedood was like in the morning - and ended up just continuing and doing what I said I would not do and doing a long drive!!!! I drove the full length of the S50, then turned back towards Mopani for a brunch stop before driving along the Shongolo loop and back to Shingwedzi on the tar road the last part.

These waterbuck were curious and stayed close - but the male with them disappeared behind a bush and only peeked out once in a while
Image

There were impala outside the Nyawutsi hide, but only a water monitor visible from the hide itself
Image

After that I found a few zebs, 3 nervous kudu females, a couple of giraffes and some impala. But once I got towards the Nshawu 2 waterhole the place was alive with elephants. Every tree large enough to give enough shade seemed to have one under it, and there were others scattered around elsewhere too. Not easy to photograph through the mopane bush though!

Very shortly after turning on to the tar road I was flagged down by a driver heading in the opposite direction. I reversed to see what he wanted - and met Texasboer. He saw the yellow ribbon - but did not have one himself. He turned round and we headed to Mopani to chat and have brunch. As we turned into Mopani Skillie and Richardt were coming out - so Tb met them too. They told us about an elephant carcass just north of the turning - Tb knew about it and said it had been there a couple of days.

After brunch overlooking the dam, half deafened by rugby on the TV and an enthusiastic supporter, I headed off to look for the elephant carcass before turning back to the Shongololo loop. Before I found the carcass I found this resting elephant. He looked so comfortable having found a tree with just the right shaped trunk to rest his tusks against and support his head while he snoozed. An occasional flick of his tail or ears was all the movement he showed for a while. Then he moved his head slightly and rested it in a different position, curling his trunk up. Just loved him!!!!!
Image

The carcass was right at the waterhole tank at Bowkerkop. Vultures had just managed to get it open and were beginning to feast. Sad - but the way of the bush.
Image

There was little to see on the S142 - but I expected that in the middle of the day. I did it just to see what the road was like as I had not been that way before. I did meet more eles and zebs and one giraffe.

It was almost 3.30pm by the time I got back, so decided not to go out again. Began a bit of packing up ready for tomorrow's move to Punda, and rested with a long cold drink - while reading up about Punda in the Prime Origins book......
I have been to Crook's Corner on a day trip from Shingwedzi before, but really will be in new territory - great!!!!

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Unread postPosted: Sun Mar 09, 2008 7:34 pm 
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Up early enough to do a short drive before packing up this morning. Decided to do the loop around Shingwedzi. Not too much about again. The crocs were still at the causeway - they like sitting with their mouths open right in the flow through the drainage channels! I guess the fish are more likely to go through that way... This morning the birds were giving them a wider berth.

Found a couple of elephants, 2 kudu cows, and then a Sharpe's grysbok ran across the road. Just before I reached the shingwedzi bridge on the way back to camp folk in a car stopped at the side of the road waved me down excitedly - 'leopard!!' It had flashed across the road in front of them and they were searching for it in the bushes. I reversed slightly to get a different view of the area, and suddenly it was right next to me in the grass! Almost as quickly it disappeared behind another bush.... but I have seen one this trip now!!!

As I turned back towards camp 3 ground hornbills filed across the road and into the bush.

While I packed up some dwarf mongooses arrived seem to attract them!) and it was fun watching the squirrels trying to ignore them, but chasing them every now and then!

The trip north yielded another 4 elephants, and 3 small groups of zebras - and one banded mongoose running across the road carrying a baby. Unusual to only see one, but they are so much more chunky than the others it was unmistakeable.

Found a good space at Punda not too far from the fence... and with a fair amount of shade.

Went out on the Mahonie loop this afternoon, and met one relatively unfriendly elephant and 2 warthogs - after a boboon troop at the start of the trip. Lots of UFOs.....note to self: visit again with birding friend!!!!

It is so different here - lots of shady trees, hills... I have not allowed enough time to explore properly so will have to return (shame!!!). This time I will try to drive most of the roads so I get to know the lie of the land ready for a longer visit when the vegetation is less lush and wildlife more visible (and it is cooler!!).

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Unread postPosted: Mon Mar 10, 2008 7:14 pm 
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Set out about 7am today - later than usual. Decided to take the S60/61 loop and then work south again and take the S58.
Big mistake!!!!! The S60 is obviously a rat run short-cut for
traffic between Punda and Pafuri. I was overtaken by a grader
going flat-out, a tanker, 3 KP lorries, and 2 cars - all going too
fast and churning up dust. The amount of dust on the foliage
at the side of the road showed this was all too common. so sad..... I kept going and just accepted I would see little if anything until I turned off to the S61. I enjoyed the scenery though and the baobabs
Image

On the S61 it was better, and I saw some zebs and impalas. Disappointingly some of the mapped loops were closed - or just not there anymore????? But Klopperfontein dam almost at the junction with the tar road was lovely. As I arrived an elephant was just leaving... I sat for a while, but nothing else came.
Image

I went a bit further north on the tar road as far as Mazanje - only to find that was decommissioned and the wndmill just a sorry pylon. Perhaps there should be some system of putting coloured discs on signs to decomissioned dams and waterholes? It would reduce the traffic (and disappointment) to areas marked for rehabilitation......

Coming south again I met a mixed group of ostriches, zebs, and European bee-eaters at Mandadzidzi.
Image

And then at Elandskull a roan hiding deep in shadow under a bush.....
There were several eles about too - one hiding behind one of the water tanks, and it was only when I saw his trunk and tusks appear over the edge that I realised he was there!

There seem to be no armoured crickets at Punda so I thought I was now safe from dive-bombing amur falcons, hornbills, and rollers as I drove - but they were all over the tar road again. This European roller seemed to be having difficulty with its large meal
Image

I took the S58 and went up to Dzundzwini - which I found a bit disappointing, but suspect the view is better with less foliage about. On the way up I met a male Sharpe's grysbok who stayed on the road long enough to get a photo of him
Image

Drove past a breeding herd of elephants shortly after that. They were in quite thick mopane bush so it was difficult to keep watch on the teenagers so I did not hang about.

After a rest in the heat of the day, I went to see what the Thulamila road had to offer - more eles, a lone buffalo at the waterhole, and another Sharpe's grysbok.

Before going back to camp I did the Mahonie loop - in the opposite direction to yesterday. The red flowers all round are still striking.
Image

Found more buffalo, zebs, another Sharpe's grysbok and a breedingherd of elephants climbing out of the river valley with one tiny calf doing its best to keep up with the rest. They were shiny with mud so had obviously been having a good time!

Tomorrow will be an early start as I am meeting Pooky and co at Pafuri picnic site breakfast time......

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Unread postPosted: Tue Mar 11, 2008 7:42 pm 
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Managed to get away by 0535 this morning. Turned up the infamous S60 as it was the best way to get to Pafuri area - and was immediately overtaken!!! (Actually saw the same vehicle on the Pafuri loop bird-watching, so do not know what the rush was about....)

At the end of the road a black-backed jackal was running down the middle of the road - kept going for over 1km before suddenly doubling back towards me, marking its territory, and watching as I passed. It did hestitate at one point to study some impala - eyes bigger than tummy?????
Image

I am still in love with the baobabs - tried to get a nice sunrise photo with one, but the opportunity never arose. Still took another anyway
Image

I turned down the S61 to check the Klopperfontein dam, but only found the little grebes there.

Gentle drive up to Pafuri area and was in time to do the Nyala loop. I was surprised to see how dry it is there. The grass was yellow and not surprisingly only a few impala about. Still a lovely road and would like to do it again under better conditions.

At the picnic site turnoff I discovered where the KNP lorries and tanker were going yesterday - construction work on the main road. The lorries were racing down the Pafuri picnic site road to the connecting road with the tar border road because there was a quarry there. Dust flying all round..... I found 2 magnificent nyala males and was just focussing for a photo when a lorry thundered by and they were gone.

Sat for a while waiting for Pooky and co - it was great just sitting in the shade watching the river and the birds. Too many UFOs still though......

Pooky came and we chatted for a while, and found a new bird for both of us - a black-throated wattle-eye. There was a pair of them hopping about in the trees where we were sitting.

Then on to Crook's Corner - and at last found some nyala ewes
Image

On the way back I visited Klopperfontein again and found 4 elephants there. 3 had already had a drink and moved off, the 4th seemed unsure of the shiny metal thing opposite him and started to move off - so I moved instead, and in the rearview mirror saw him return to the water, so I made the right decision!
Image

Pooky caught up with me again near Punda - they had decided to do the Mahonie loop on the way back to Shingwedzi.

Confess to being tired and hot, so had a snooze and then decided to be really lazy and not go out again today..... At 6pm when it got a bit cooler I packed up the tent ready for tomorrow, so should be able to leave early and get to Letaba in reasonable time. Pooky will be there, and I think Dotdan too.

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Unread postPosted: Wed Mar 12, 2008 5:41 pm 
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Last post until I get back home - something has gone wrong with the laptop lead and it will not charge - I have just 10mins left!!!!!

Decided to go to Skukuza tomorrow so as not to have too much of a rush on Friday. Doing a complimentary morning drive here first (see earlier report from Letaba for reason.....)

Camped near Pooky....

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Unread postPosted: Wed Mar 12, 2008 6:17 pm 
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Panic over - found a loose plug which stopped some things working, but allowed power to others on same extension???!!!!
Will be back with report when I have eaten......

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Unread postPosted: Wed Mar 12, 2008 7:27 pm 
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Unfortunately did not get away quite as early as I thought -but still before 7am. All relatively quiet - elephants at S60 turning, but up S60 rather than on the tar road. Just before I got to the main road there was more evidence of elephant activity - but suddenly one of the branches metamorphosed into a black mamba and actually struck at the car as I passed!

All the way to Shingwedzi after that it was dodging the cricketting birds....... strange that the crickets left Punda alone.

I stopped briefly to see the elephant carcass outside Mopani - now a sorry sight
Image
But it was interesting to see a secretary bird among the vultures at the water trough.
Image

In fact the road from Shingwedzi down became dodge the buffalo! Five times a bull walked on to the road in front of me, stared me down and then scuttled off into the bush again at the last moment! One was particularly frustrating as he had two lovely yellow-billed ox-peckers on him, but he would not stop for a photo!! A giraffe even tried to get in on the act at one point too!

No zebs today, and just one wildebeest with impalas. One magnificent kudu bull too.

After getting to Letaba and setting up camp near Pooky (and with their help - great not to do all of it myself for once!) I decided to go to Phalaborwa today for braai meat etc. En route at the Masorini turn I found two elephants enjoying a shady tree.
Image

Realised I had confused the Orpen road with this one - so it was not as nice a drive as I expected, and again full of speeding cars. Guess Phalaborwa is too close.....

Back at camp again found what I thought was the disaster with the laptop. Pooky and hubby were just going for a walk so I joined them. Then after getting back checked plugs etc again and found the main one in the van was loose - and problem solved!
@mgoddard - you were not as worried as I was!!!!

There seemed to be a lot of cars bunched up on the road outside, so I walked a little way along the fence and found an elephant. Came back for my camera, and he had gone, but right outside my caravan were buffalo and a waterbuck.
Image
Image

So after the morining drive tomorrow I will hitch up and head for Skukuza - I hear it is raining there!!!

@Dotdan - it is hot and dry here. Near Shingwedzi there were about a dozen drops of rain on the car, but that is all. The light is a greyish though - apparantly effects of the weather system off Moz.

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Unread postPosted: Thu Mar 13, 2008 9:01 am 
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Good morning drive - leopards, hyenas, buffalos, elephants......

Just packing up and off to Skukuza - report later....

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Unread postPosted: Thu Mar 13, 2008 7:27 pm 
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The morning drive started badly! I learned that the other 9 guests were part of a group that had already done 4 or 5 drives with the same guides - and they were all late. At 5 past 5 we were still waiting for 2, and suddenly the leader of the group decided they were not coming anyway..... By this stage I was seated in comfort in the front seat - just asked and was told to get in! We had a driver and 2 guides, so no guests used spotlights.

Initially we found 2 scrub-hares - and then a muffled shout from one guide 'leopard' - and there it was in the grass and bushes next to the road. We all got a good view. (@Dotdan it was only just north of camp, before any of the turnings, on the tar road). We saw an elephant in the distance, and buffalos a bit away from the road. By then it was getting light and in an open area we found tssesebbe (never sure of spelling....), and more later in the drive too.
Image

We reached the waterhole at the junction of the Giriyondo road and turned in to see a wildebeest we had spotted from the road. It seemed a bit nervous - and then we saw why - a large hyena at the waterhole. We were just focussing on that when one of the guides spotted something in the grass beyond the wildebeest - our second leopard! We decided to sit and see if any action occurred (I wondered if the leopard would bother going for a wildebeest with a hyena right there - and no good trees handy). Then a second hyena ran in - younger than the first and leaner looking too. 3 zebs then came in nervously from behind us, and the wildebeest suddenly became braver and went towards the water with them - but none of them actually drank. A warthog mum and baby then joined the scene too, and they drank from the trough near us, before trotting almost up to the hyenas! Again we wondered what would happen - but they veered off and the other animals followed. Suddenly there was a squeal and the wildebeest ran back into view chased by the baby warthog!!! Mum seemed unconcerned at her offspring's cheek. They all settled down again and then moved off into the bushes leaving the hyenas in charge of the water hole and no leopard to be seen. A large brownish raptor came in at one point, but stopped in some foliage so we could not identify it. (Incidentally none of the guides had binos - all used mine! - the other guests were not interested in birds at all)

After that excitement we checked another water hole but found no activity so headed home - and met a buffalo jam - the herd we had seen had come to the road
Image

Finally before camp we found a couple of elephants - one with impressive tusks, and the guides said he had been identified as one of the tuskers to watch. He had a distinctive notch and small hole in his left ear, and unusually upturned tusks.
Image

Not surprisingly we were nearly 30mins late getting back - but nobody minded!

I then finished packing up and hit the road just on 1000. The trip south was uneventful. Again a few solo elephants about, several herd of zebras, and a couple of giraffes. The main water hole just north of Tshokwane was teeming with animals though. And there were lots of cars stopped - so I slowed but kept going. Saw 3 elephants playing in the water, a herd of buffalo on one side, a giraffe drinking, zebs and wildebeest standing around, several waterbuck and some impala - and all that without stopping to look properly! Had there been fewer cars I would have stopped for a while....

Drove around the campsite in Skukuza looking for a flat spot in some shade - seemed to be one or the other! There was a potential spot but right next to young folk lying under a tree next to their car. I asked if they were camping and they said yes... But I realised I could fit in next to them easily, so did. I had just about finished setting up - caravan and tent - when they got in the car and drove away!!!!! Had they been honest I could have been in real shade!

Later met up with several other forum-ites - forgotten all the names already! Some camped just down the road from me.

Tomorrow the fun starts.....

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Unread postPosted: Fri Mar 14, 2008 10:00 pm 
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Sorry not much of a report - too late!!!! Did a morning drive before golf and found a klipspringer (pic tomorrow maybe...) and buffalo, elphants, zebs, hyenas and a leopard hidden in grass/bush......

Golf good fun - my first ever game of golf and on Skukuza course!! Scorpion, Looney Lea and I played - only Scorpion had any experience, and had the clubs. I bought a brand new set for the game - a broom and mop! Well, we certainly swept the floor with the opposition and mopped up any problems by sorting out rules as we went. I even got a hole in one on the final hole - well a virtual junior ranger can use a virtual ball can't she???....

Lots of folk at the braai - guess tomorrow in the light we will begin to get know each other better.

G'night!

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Unread postPosted: Thu Mar 20, 2008 4:34 pm 
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Legendary Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Sat Oct 06, 2007 7:05 am
Posts: 8105
Location: Back home in the caravan at Malelane camp, KNP
Apologies for not posting again..... no time at Skukuza, and connection here is awful since I have been back - even when connected at last I struggle to download/upload anything!

With Cricket starting at 0730 I did not go out that morning. And you have all had the news from through the day!!!

We had to be at the golf club for dinner by 6.30pm and had late passes, so I took the opportunity to go up to the H11/S1 junction where the hyena den is. Thought it would be good to get some time there alone as others had to be out gates by 6pm (unless other fourmites came too, of course). Incredibly it was after 6pm before I was alone!!!! There were 2 females hyenas with 5 cubs. One cub explored constantly among the cars, and enjoyed licking up the aircon drips from the road.

Heading for dinner I was behind another forumite when we met a herd of ellies - both sides of the road, and on it! Just as the way seemed clear cars came towards us - there was another herd further on and a matriarch who was not interested in allowing cars past..... So we all backtracked and drove in to the village - and got lost trying to find our way around! As you know by now we did get there in the end!!!!

On Sunday I decided to head Mlondozi way as that is another area I do not often visit. Met more ellies on the road, and then a car jam for 2 male lions. One stayed in the grass and did not move, the other did move about a bit, but was limping very badly. I could not see any wound so ?problem. After that thin pickings. One giraffe at Leeu Pan, a couple of kudus, and the usual impalas, and 2 ground hornbills. On the Salitje road there was a huge convoy of vehicles heading towards me - mostly safari vehicles. Met a couple of buffalo after that only.

Felt a bit tired so stayed in camp and took down the tent while it was dry in the afternoon - and it began to drizzle again just as I packed it in the caravan, so wise move. I did intend to go back to the hyenas but fell asleep instead!!!

On the way home on Monday met more ellies, and close to Croc Bridge a group of 8 giraffes which almost doubled my sightings of them for the trip!

After getting home I was greeted by zebs, 7 giraffe, 2 duikers and impalas! - all in my front 'garden'. It is very dry here and my lovely buffalo thorn tree has already lost most of its leaves.

I will post some hyena pics when connection is better.

So what will I do differently next time?
Not travel so far - and spend longer in one camp.
Build in 'down time' - and not feel guilty if I only do a short drive, or even no drive, on one or more days.
Try to spend more time at waterholes/good spots rather than driving most of the time - but this time I was exploring so I know where to go in the future.
Take a bigger DC cold box in the car - I used the 8 can size, but the bigger one will keep food cold too.
Spend even longer if possible!!!!

And what will I do the same?
Report daily - it gets difficult to remember what happens otherwise - and if I write it down to remember I might as well write it here!
Download pics daily.
Thoroughly enjoy myself!!!!!

_________________
Smiling is contagious. Start an epidemic today!

Have you read the entrance permit? Do you KNOW the Conditions of Entry?

Completed over 5 years in Kruger in my caravan.

If I was normal I wouldn't be me!


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Unread postPosted: Fri Mar 21, 2008 6:30 pm 
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Legendary Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Sat Oct 06, 2007 7:05 am
Posts: 8105
Location: Back home in the caravan at Malelane camp, KNP
Thanks to all who have written such nice comments! It made reporting much easier.... and of course I will keep reporting whether it is just a quick trip or a long fix. Won't be until after the school holidays now though - Kruger jam-packed with cars is not my idea of a good time, even if I did feel like getting up at midnight to be in the queue!

May go down to the Croc river this side though - Duke has been seen down there a couple of times recently..... (i.e. S25 area).

Those of you in Kruger now - have a great time - and make sure you tell us about it!

_________________
Smiling is contagious. Start an epidemic today!

Have you read the entrance permit? Do you KNOW the Conditions of Entry?

Completed over 5 years in Kruger in my caravan.

If I was normal I wouldn't be me!


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