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 Post subject: Moose Went to the Karoo and ended up in... KRUGER!-Mar 2010
Unread postPosted: Mon May 17, 2010 2:13 am 
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I haven't been inspired to write lately. After writing a thesis, I never wanted to see MS Word again. But yesterday I spent the day reading my grandpa's memoirs (which I didn't know existed). They blew me away and I remembered how special it is to write. Also, being in Australia and longing for Africa, this should help to bring me home :thumbs_up:

I know that i'm several reports behind (still have a KTP and two Addos to do), but after a particularly special trip this March, I really want to start here, in the Karoo.

My notebook is at hand, all the TR photos are uploaded and ready to go. All that's left is to write...

I promise i'll finish this time!


Last edited by annapangolin on Sat May 22, 2010 8:08 am, edited 3 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Karoo NP.... with a twist... March 2010
Unread postPosted: Mon May 17, 2010 2:16 am 
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March 6, 2010

All I knew was that I had to leave Cape Town on March 7 and had to be in Johannesburg on March 14. There’s a lot of country between those two places, and knowing that I was about to leave South Africa for good (hopefully not), I knew this was my last chance to do something really cool.

Karoo was a given. I love it and it’s a natural halfway point. I always stop there these days when I travel between home and home, even if it’s just to have a much needed shower at the day visitor’s area.

But where from there? A week at Karoo is a bit much and I had decided on two or three nights camping in the park. But from Karoo, I could do Addo or Mountain Zebra, even Augrabies if I was feeling adventurous.

What if I drove right up to Johannesburg after Karoo and took it from there? I do love my P park, and could easily blow a few days there. As March 7 drew closer I had started to look at Marakele. I had never been before and it was only an extra hour from the P park. I already had a trip to the P park planned for the 22nd anyway. The extra distance would add extra cost though, and I wasn’t really in a position for that. Decisions, decisions, decisions! My life so terribly hard. Please feel sorry for me. :mrgreen:

On March 6 when WannabeNerd and GavinW came to visit my ‘office’, I still didn’t know where I was going tomorrow and was taking in any advice I could find.

I honestly didn’t even want to leave. Would you want to leave this life?

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 Post subject: Re: Karoo NP.... with a big twist... March 2010
Unread postPosted: Mon May 17, 2010 2:55 am 
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Day 1, March 7. Somerset West to Karoo

(Warning: This is a rather cynical entry. Just writing from my notebooks, and I wasn’t a happy moose when I wrote in those at the time. The trip gets WAY better :dance: )

Before leaving I stopped in at work to say goodbye. I knew that several of my cats would be leaving before I would have the chance to return to Cape Town, and there were some sad goodbyes. I set off at 10am planning at least two nights in the magnificent Karoo.

I had stopped at Karoo just 5 weeks ago on my way back from Joburg. The stopover wasn’t great. I had been put off by a very rude staff member and Karoo had a chance to redeem itself.

By the time I got to Worcester, I realized I hadn’t booked anything- ooops! :wall: I had checked availability the night before and found only two campsites left. It was Saturday, so calling AnnaMarie at the booking office in Cape Town was out. For the next few hours I tried phoning the Karoo directly to book.

I finally got through. The phone was answered with a harsh, “what!?”, as if I had interrupted something important. “Um… is this the Karoo national park?”, I asked nervously. The ‘yes’, came after a very long pause. I proceeded to book a site and was hung up on while I thanked her. Wasn’t off to the best start, and it downspiralled from there.

At Leeu-Gamka I needed gas badly. Being South Africa, I arrived at the only gas station in ‘town’ to find the electricity out and no gas. I was nearly empty. Beaufort West was 75 kms away and my car loves its gas. The man at the station laughed at me. “You’ll make it. Try anyway”.

I crawled into Beaufort West, exceptionally irritable and tired. Why is the place always so noisy and dirty? Grrrr Grrrrr Grrrrr :evil: . I filled the car and picked up supplies (rusks, always rusks, nothing else), and made for the park.

The welcome at the gate is always nice. The guy seems to remember I was there only a few weeks ago and welcomes me back. Speeding Jeeps on the way to reception set off my temper again and I was dying for the bathroom.

Before checking in, I headed for the bathroom. After washing my hands, I turned to leave – quickly – and smashed my face into the wall divide (just like this -- :wall: ), which definitely hadn’t been there before. I passed out immediately. When I came around, I had also hit my hand quite hard on the wall and lovely bruises were developing nicely on both hand and face. Weakly, I drank some water and went to check in.

I wasn’t greeted nicely at reception. The same woman from the phone, I guessed. I asked about night drives. I’ve STILL never done a night drive at Karoo and I would love to. She laughed at me. “Most people, they do not like night drives. You must have three other people”. No night drive for Moose, once again.

Unhappy, exhausted, dizzy and sore, I rolled into camp. There was one campsite left, between two caravans, each sporting a giant satellite dish. No thanks. I opted for one of the rooftop tent sites. Not comfortable, but isolated. Took tent out of car and fished around in the trunk for loose pegs, dropping them on the ground as I went. When I walked over to the bathroom to get water, I returned to find all of my pegs gone, only two very bent ones remained. This was my luck on this trip. :sniper:

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By the time the tent was up (and pegged in with nothing), I was ready for bed. It was only 6:30. Sure enough, I didn’t sleep. It was much too hot. My neighbours were playing loud music from the 1920’s. I always feel it should be punk kids like me with black nail polish who should be causing the anti-social behaviour, but when I’m camping, it’s always the oldies… :hmz:

I decided to go for a walk at dusk. This is where the Karoo is most magical and silent. I relaxed and smiled. I did the fossil trail. Last time I had walked the fossil trail, I didn’t really believe in fossils (it’s been quite a year…), and I took it all in, loving every moment.

I crawled back into bed and closed my eyes. I was in the Karoo. Tomorrow would be better. Smile. Deep breaths.


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 Post subject: Re: Karoo NP.... with a twist... March 2010
Unread postPosted: Tue May 18, 2010 7:28 am 
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Day 2: Karoo NP

Not better. Didn’t sleep. Too hot. Too many cicadas. At 4am after much non-sleep, a car came through the camp site with its engine revving and loud thumpy music playing. Unimpressed.

Shortly after the car came through, some idiot’s car alarm went off. :rtm: It went on forever. People in the site were beginning to yell. After a minute or two, I learned that the idiot was me. I hadn’t even armed the alarm. I never do when camping. I felt very guilty and didn’t sleep.

At 7am I rolled out of my hard, lumpy bed and packed up my site. I had decided to forget about my next night or two in Karoo and move on. But before I went, I was determined to sleep and I knew just the spot – Bullkraal picnic spot – so relaxing, with great big trees for shade. It was sad that I couldn’t focus on the Karoo’s stunning beauty. I was hot and tired and miserable and worried about being on the road without sleep. I would first go up to the lookout and look for Black Eagles. Saw baboons instead. They were shy and difficult to photograph, but temporarily lifted my spirit.

I was so tired when I pulled into Bulkraal! Really looking forward to the peace I’d soon find up in Marakele, which I had phoned and booked earlier in the morning. I had finally made a decision.

On the way to Bulkraal, I noticed that there was nothing to notice… No animals on this trip. Apart from the baboons, there wasn’t much else around. Not a zebra, not an ostrich, no springbok, not anything. But the Karoo doesn’t need its animals. It’s perfect as it is.

At Bulkraal I was alone. Bliss. But as I got out of the car, I was joined by a SANParks truck. Out jumped several people in bright yellow safety vests, with various instruments of torture. Within minutes, one was filling the pool. One was mowing the lawn, one was weedwhacking and my least favourite was banging and scraping a shovel against the rocks in the parking lot for no apparent reason.

Great. I had well over 1000 kms to drive that day, and I wasn’t going to sleep. What happened next was worse. I don’t want any staff in trouble (even if they deserve it), so I’ll just say that I left the picnic spot in tears. I’m a little too sensitive anyway.

I was happy to find a lovely pair of Sandgrouse on the road to the gate. They made me smile again. :D

At 2pm I reached the gate, where I was asked enthusiastically if I enjoyed my time. He was so joyful and I lied that the trip had been lovely as usual. Big smile. I said I’d be back soon. Honestly… I’m not so sure about that.

So this trip to the Karoo was an utter failure. It certainly had much more to do with my own attitude than with the place itself, which is, and always will be, completely glorious.

A few weeks later I would review my photos and find that from under my own personal little raincloud, I had taken these. This is what the Karoo is all about, and I can’t wait to go back.

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 Post subject: Re: Karoo NP.... with a twist... March 2010
Unread postPosted: Tue May 18, 2010 7:50 am 
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Day 2-3: The N1

Ready for the twist? This isn’t a Karoo trip report…

So I had left Karoo and was driving north for Marakele, which is a few hours north of Johannesburg. The N1 obviously isn’t a SANPark, so I won’t write a trip report, but I’ll summarize what happened on the way up. My Karoo ‘luck’, didn’t improve.

4pm: Really sore eye. Pull over in pain. Contact lens has split. Am blind. Cannot drive without lenses. Put in spare emergency lens. Also split. Try driving with just one lens. Stop. Too dangerous. Put in less split contact lens again and deal with it. Have glasses. Can’t drive during daylight with glasses, as they don’t afford me enough vision. Can use them at night when what I can’t see can’t hurt me. But it is still daylight.

5pm: Arrive at Colesburg. No gas left in car. Car had done just 330kms on a full tank. Unhappy and blind.

6pm: Tried to sleep in car at Colesburg. Didn’t.

7pm: Gave up sleep attempts. Learned I had been resting on my glasses. They now have just one lens. Panic.

7:30pm: Gas station has superglue! Can superglue glasses back together. Go to Steers. Order sandwich. Stand at counter and try to glue glasses together. Superglue explodes. All over counter. Mad Steers employees. Glasses lens covered in impossible layer of superglue.

8pm: Back on road. It’s dark. Picking superglue off fingers is satisfying. Learn I can decrease gas consumption dramatically by staying under 80km/h. It’s dark, so no one can see the moose who is driving so slowly.

3am: Have driven very slowly and saved much money on gas. Use saved money to buy chocolate milk.

5am: Me and my fuzzy, sleep-deprived brain (if I can call it a ‘brain’ at this point) are approaching Joburg at rush hour…


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 Post subject: Re: Karoo NP.... with a twist... March 2010
Unread postPosted: Tue May 18, 2010 8:13 am 
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Day 3: Johannesburg & Pretoria

I had done a lot of research on Marakele. I knew it should be nice and quiet, with no lion-chasers. I knew it was a fabulous place for birding and was looking forward to adding some new birds to my list. I wanted to stand on the top of that big mountain in the park, and take in the views. The campsite was supposed to be awesome. I’d seen photos of rhinos and springhares right in the campsite. But it’s the peace I was most looking forward to. I had the P Park and its big 5 coming in the next few weeks. I could deal with the human traffic and the thrills of a safari then. So, this trip was not going to be about animals and excitement, it was all about drinking up the last few drops of beautiful Africa, and I couldn’t wait.

The morning traffic in Joburg and Pretoria was terrifying. It had now been the longest I’d ever been without sleep. It didn’t hit me until this point, and it hit me hard.

Does the N1 just end right in Pretoria city centre? I swear it’s supposed to go all the way up to Zim, and I’ve even been on a bus which followed it up to Polokwane. And yet every time I try to follow it north, without fail I end up at a traffic light in central Pretoria.

Pretoria was wide awake, bustling with people on their way to work, not people who had just driven 1000kms and been awake for 40 hours. The city was so overwhelming and I was completely lost.

So at this traffic light, I found myself in the far right lane. I don’t know why. So I turned right. I don’t know why. I had just driven straight into a blinding, rising sun. I don’t know why. I began to follow signs for the N4. I don’t know why. I kept driving east. I dont know why.


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 Post subject: Re: Karoo NP.... with a twist... March 2010
Unread postPosted: Wed May 19, 2010 7:11 am 
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Day 3 AM: The Road East


There’s only one thing at the end of the N4…. Kruger Park. I’ve always been critical of Kruger. I’ve never really wanted to go. Even reading awesome trip reports and knowing that it’s teeming with fabulous animals and birds hasn’t been enough to convince me. Kruger was somewhere crowded and busy, where people will run down their own grandchildren with a Land Cruiser to get close to a lion. :sniper: And it was always fully booked with thousands and thousands of people who I didn’t want to share a campsite with. It was somewhere to be avoided, and in my two and a half years in South Africa, I did. And I was happy about it.

So what was I doing? :huh: I couldn’t go to Kruger! Wouldn’t that be like cheating on KTP? I couldn’t be unfaithful to my beloved KTP, but I couldn’t turn the car around either. :redface: I don’t know why. Surely I couldn’t fit both KTP and Kruger into my heart…

I paid the first toll on the N4. There was no going back. To go back now would mean paying the toll again. I was astonished. I was going to Kruger. I had already driven 20 hours, what was another 5 or 6? Besides, when would I ever get the chance to go to Kruger again? I had to at least see it…

On the other side of Witbank, reality hit me.

Don’t you need to… like… book… a stay in Kruger?
Can you just show up and expect them to let you in?
Isn’t Kruger always fully booked?
Um… Isn’t Kruger in a malaria zone?
Don’t most people plan a trip to Kruger at least a little in advance?


It was 7am and I tried to call central reservations. I was very unhelpfully told that to book in Kruger, I would need to call each camp individually and ask if there were any campsites available, and told me many were booked out anyway. How could I even call when I didn’t know which camps were where? I didn’t even know what was there! I knew from the webcams that there was a place called ‘Orphan’ and one called ‘Skustatara’. I had been on the forum for well over a year, but had checked the Kruger section once… maybe… It was full of things and places that I didn’t understand. :huh:

At 9am, as I climbed through the gorgeous, steamy green hills of Mpumalanga, I called AnnaMarie at SANParks in Cape Town. She was off sick, but her replacement was very helpful, telling me that nearly all of the camps had good availability and assured me I would be just fine. She recommended staying at Malelane the first day, as it was near the gate and I could get some rest.

I was free to enjoy the rest of the drive, and did so with a big smile on my face. :D I enjoyed the hippo crossing signs very much. The endless toll booths… not so much. It now costs about R250 to travel between Pretoria and Kruger Park. Uncool. I decided that I would spend R250 in extra gas going a crazy long way home and avoiding the tolls, rather than take the N4 and pay the greedy, mean toll collector people. (I did just that, and I would later regret it. Pay the tolls! They’re there for a reason!)

Just before lunch I had arrived. Before me was the Malelane Gate. Just beyond it, was Kruger National Park. I certainly didn’t expect that when I woke up this morning… or last Friday morning… or whenever it was that I last woke up…

:lotsocoffee: (I don't drink coffee, but I should have at this point. I nominate this smilie to do it for me)


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 Post subject: Re: I Went to the Karoo, and ended up in... KRUGER! March 2010
Unread postPosted: Thu May 20, 2010 5:35 am 
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Day 3… Still Day 3. Welcome to Kruger Park

Inside at the Malelane Gate, I watched as the lady at reception yelled at some Germans trying to get in to the park on local rates. She was angry and demanding to see their passports. I looked down at the British Passport in my hand. I quietly slipped it in to my bag. I had always paid local rates at SANParks. I was worried. :redface:

Luckily, when it was my turn at the counter, she just smiled and asked where I was camping. Nothing else. ‘Malelane’, I replied. ‘Okay, you go there and pay’. Really? Was that all? No asking how long I was staying? No map? No run-down of the rules? :hmz:

I find Malelane and look for reception. There doesn’t appear to be one. There’s a pretty Red Hornbill in the grass, but no office. There’s no one around to ask, so I turn back for the gate. Did I mention I’ve been driving for 26 at this point?

The lady at reception apologizes and says she misunderstood me. To camp at Malelane, you need to check in at the gate. ‘Are you sure you don’t want to go to Berg-en-Dal instead?’, she asks me. ‘Um… I don’t know? Can you camp there?’. She tells me I might like it better than Malelane. Having seen Malelane, I thought I might agree with her. Only one way to find out.

From that moment on, my luck on this trip turned. And it wasn’t going to go back. Ever.

:dance: :dance: :dance:


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 Post subject: Re: I Went to the Karoo, and ended up in... KRUGER! March 2010
Unread postPosted: Thu May 20, 2010 5:57 am 
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Day 3 PM: Berg-en-Dal

On the road to Berg-en-Dal I sent a text message to a friend. ‘So I went to Kruger instead. And I’m birded out of my mind. The rollers here are the size of eagles!’ It was weird to be in a park and have phone reception. KTP doesn’t have that.

I really was blown away by the birds. On the short drive to Berg-en-Dal, I saw elephants, zebras, impalas, and some completely fabulous birds, like this European Roller and this sweet Bee Eater:

Image

Image

Berg-en-Dal was amazing! Amazing! Gorgeous camp. Amazing! Lovely staff. The campsite was PERFECT. So pretty, and so…. EMPTY! This isn’t the Kruger Park that I knew nothing about :huh: . Wow. Elated. Why sleep now? I put up the tent and went to the pool where I watched some monkeys play in the tress. I walked the Rhino Trail. I walked with my jaw dropped and my head constantly swinging around to take everything in. (I looked like this---> :big_eyes: . You would have avoided me.) The dam was perfect and I saw a hippo and heard an elephant trumpet. I’ve seen hundreds of elephants and have never heard one trumpet before. Very special.

There was no way I was going to sleep. I drove out to a nearby dam and got lost (I had no map yet). It was very hot, but on the way back to camp, I came across an elephant pushing down a tree in the middle of the road. How very anti-social!

Sighting of the day was the biggest eagle I’ve ever seen. It was sitting low in a tree quite close to the road. I pulled out the bird book. It was a Crowned Eagle. WOW. Wow, wow, wow.

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The landscape around Berg-en-Dal was stunning. Nothing like I expected. Wow. Wow, wow, wow….

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Back at camp I bought a big fat ice cream and walked with utter joy down the rhino trail. Had some fabulous elephant sightings as the sun set. On the trail I met many nice people. At the end of the trail I thought I recognized a couple of the nice people. I hesitated. You know when you know you recognize someone but can’t place them? I walked past but kept turning back. I looked like a stalker. I knew that I knew them from somewhere. Where? Where…. Cape Town! I knew them from Cape Town. But where? Then it hit me. It couldn’t be! Hadn’t these people just been in Kruger a month or two before. Surely they couldn’t possibly back. I was tired and hallucinating. I was looking at a sausage tree. That couldn’t be real either. It couldn’t be them…


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 Post subject: Re: I Went to the Karoo, and ended up in... KRUGER! March 2010
Unread postPosted: Thu May 20, 2010 6:34 am 
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Day 3 PM: Berg-en-Dal

I kept walking, but then I saw the yellow ribbon on the Combi outside their chalet. I was going to take a chance. The weird stalker turned and walked straight for the man who had indeed thought my behaviour to be suspicious.

“Prings…?”, I asked cautiously.

It took them a moment to remember me as well. I couldn’t believe it! At the end of a long drive and a last minute decision to come to this strange and new place, I was here with friends. :dance:

We talked for a while and I learned that I had accidentally stumbled into Kruger in time for the annual cricket meet. Not only were the Prings in town, but everyone else was as well. :big_eyes:

I might have known about the cricket before this trip, but any threads that may have told me about cricket would have also had complicated words in them, like ‘Skustatara’, which mean absolutely nothing to me. Additionally, they would have been found in the Kruger section of the forum, which gets only one reaction from me…. ‘skip!’ :slap:

The cricket was going to be on Saturday, with forumites gathering at SKUKUZA camp on Friday night. How could I miss that!? It was Tuesday. Or Wednesday? Anyway, I could make it to the Cricket for Saturday. It would mean not getting back to Joburg on time for a commitment I had on Sunday. But… it’s Kruger… Once in a lifetime…

I said goodbye to the Prings and promised to keep their secret. They were the ‘surprise guests’ at cricket. They certainly surprised me!

I went to bed at about 7pm. It was dark already, so why not? I had my very own ablutions block and the camp was deathly quiet. I was in heaven. Actual heaven. :angel: Heaven got better when I was visited by the sweetest genet who stood upright outside my tent and stared at me for more than a few moments. He was inches from my face. I have always slept with my tent windows open in the hopes that I’ll have an experience like that.

WOW. I slept beautifully.


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 Post subject: Re: I Went to the Karoo, and ended up in... KRUGER! March 2010
Unread postPosted: Thu May 20, 2010 7:08 am 
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Day 4 AM: Berg-en-Dal to Lower Sabie

I was up at 5am to pack up my tent, which I did quite nicely in the total darkness. It’s easier to pack up a tent in the dark when you have no tent pegs to worry about.

The night before, after spending much time pestering the poor and very patient Berg-en-Dal staff, I had decide to head for Lower Sabie. “Will it be cool? Is it as good as this? Is it… like… super-crowded? Is it awesome? Really?”. They were very kind and told me that Lower Sabie had a ‘different’ atmosphere, but that there were animals everywhere. There had been only one campsite left and after much debate, I had booked it for the next two nights. Sad to leave Berg-en-Dal, which I loved, but time was short.

I got charged by an elephant on the way to Afsaal. Every park I had been to before had reasonably nice elephants. In the P park, I’d had a few nervous moments with them, but as long as you gave them space, everything was usually fine. In Addo the elephants I’d met (okay, with a few exceptions) had all been downright friendly. If they could talk, I’d imagine them to speak like Ned Flanders. “Gosh, well wel-diddly-elcome to Addo!” They’d say. “Please diddly take my photo-reeno! Can I get you some ice-water?”.

Kruger elephants are not like this. Kruger elephants are mean.

I was on a dirt hill with no traction so I had been going quickly to get up without slipping. Halfway up the hill I see the elephant in a bush beside the road. I immediately stop (bad move) to avoid taking it by surprise. It trumpets and comes for me. I think it was a mock charge. The car slips but I get up the hill. My heart was racing. I was so scared. :shock:

From now on, I decide that Kruger elephants are to be avoided. I don’t think I have any ele photos in this trip report, because I just didn’t stop for them after this. For the rest of the trip, seeing an elephant meant trying to get away from it as safely as possible.

I saw a Giant Blind Snake on the road. How cool is that?

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I also watched for several minutes as a Drongo decided to take on a raptor. It was too funny, and he wouldn’t give up.

Image

And how’s this for a ‘butt-shot’?

Image

I got lost on the way to Lower Sabie. I still didn’t have a Kruger map and the night before I’d gone to the sightings board in camp and used it to draw some new lines on to my South Africa map. Lines that I hoped would get me to Lower Sabie. They didn’t.

The drive to Lower Sabie was uneventful after that. The camp felt a little colder. A little less friendly. Bigger, badder. The one campsite left for me wasn’t great, but it would do. I claimed it by putting my tent bag on the ground with a water bottle or two. It was too hot to set camp up now. I would go for a drive and do it later.

I think I already knew that I wouldn’t stay at Lower Sabie for both of my booked nights. If I stayed just one night, I might have time to get up to Satara before Cricket...


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 Post subject: Re: I Went to the Karoo, and ended up in... KRUGER! March 2010
Unread postPosted: Thu May 20, 2010 7:29 am 
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Day 4 PM: Lower Sabie

I went to the restaurant at camp. It has a restaurant. And air-conditioning. And tap-water you can drink. I’m not convinced that this can be classed as ‘camping’, or ‘bush’. It’s way too easy. It’s very un-KTP. :hmz:

I watched the hippos in the river and ordered a sandwich. Yep, too easy.

I drove out south in the evening. Still with no map. I really needed a map! There wasn’t much going on out there. I saw a huge herd of buffalos and stopped to watch the endless line of buffalos cross the landscape. :cam:

A car pulled up. ‘Are you foreign?’, she asked. ‘No…I’m from Cape Town’, I replied (with my American sounding accent). ‘Well, you’re on the wrong side of the road’, she exclaimed before driving on. Um… no, I’m just following the official Kruger Park sightings guidelines that say you must park on the same side of the road as your sighting.

Another car pulls up (without even complaining about my choice of road-side) and says that there are mating lions around the corner, so after another few minutes with the buffalos, I move on. Sure enough, there are two lions. The male was very, very impressive. But I don’t love lions, so I snapped a quick photo and moved on. I wanted to get to Sunset Dam to watch the sunset. On the way there, I met awesome forumite Raymond K conducting one of his night drives from Lower Sabie.

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I saw the most perfect Fish Eagle on the way.

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Sunset Dam was lovely. Watched some fighting hippos, but the highlight was the baboon mother across the road, desperate to show off her new child.

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I arrived back at the gate at 5:54. It was already closed and locked! There were about 20 cars still out. The guard came after a few minutes and opened for us. I felt super-guilty. I’ve never been on the wrong side of a locked gate in a park before. But then, it was 5:54. Guard dude’s fault, not mine.


Last edited by annapangolin on Thu May 20, 2010 7:37 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: I Went to the Karoo, and ended up in... KRUGER! March 2010
Unread postPosted: Sat May 22, 2010 7:06 am 
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Day 4: Evening at Lower Sabie

Got back to camp. It was very, very hot so I bought some… alcohol! :redface: I hadn’t planned to. I don’t know much about alcohol and don’t normally drink it, but in an attempt to cool down after a hot drive I had been standing in the walk-in fridge in the shop for quite some time pretending to look for bottles. :whistle: I’m not the only one who does that. Admit it! Anyway, would have felt pretty guilty if I didn’t buy anything, so I bought the cheapest thing there.

It was peachy and in a little bottle. Realized I didn’t have a bottle opener. I Didn’t realize until days later that the top just twists off bottles like that :doh: . On the way back to my tent and clutching my very shameful alcohol, I came across Boorgatspook! Or really, he came across me after learning that I was in LS that night. I was invited to a mini-meet with him and DavenJan at DavenJan’s chalet. More friends! :dance:

I got myself together and eventually managed to get the cap off my ice cold alcohol using a little rock. Drank alcohol. Felt guilty. Got very lost trying to find DavenJan’s chalet. Really, what would we do without yellow ribbons?

Had a wonderful time under the stars and bats with Borgatspook, Dave and Jan. Big thank you to all of them.

Got even more lost trying to find my tent again, but it didn’t matter. Even a camp as big and bustling as Lower Sabie didn’t produce enough noise to drown out the jackal and hyena calls beyond the fences. I walked back to the tent with the sweetest soundtrack playing in the background.

The day had been wonderful. It may have been a slow day for sightings, but I met some great new friends. I had come 2000kms to Kruger all alone, expecting to be alone throughout my stay. But the forum has brought so many awesome people into my life, and I can’t describe how special it was to meet forum friends who were so passionate about sharing their Kruger with me.

Sleep that night was interrupted by roaring lions. I didn’t mind at all.


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 Post subject: Re: I Went to the Karoo, and ended up in... KRUGER! March 2010
Unread postPosted: Sat May 22, 2010 7:58 am 
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Day 5 AM: Lower Sabie to Satara

The lions were at their loudest as I got up at 5 and packed my tent into the car. I was excited to be heading for Satara today. I had heard that Satara was even bigger than Lower Sabie, and was worried about the crowds. But on this trip, everything was a new adventure, and no matter what, Satara would be special :thumbs_up: . Because it was further north than I had planned to go on this trip, I decided to stay two nights and leave for Skukuza the morning of the cricket and not the night before.

Not long after leaving camp, I was passed on the road by Spookie. We travelled in sight of each other for a while. Sadly, within 10 seconds of him disappearing into the distance, the most gorgeous hyena emerged from the long grass to my left.I think hyenas are beautiful and this one was exceptional. She really took my breath away. I had the sighting to myself, (although I wissed Borgatspook had still been with me), and I watched in admiration as she crossed the road and disappeared again into the tall grass. I was now a believer in ‘Kruger Magic’ as Matthys had once described it to me.

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As a travelled north, the magic only got stronger. From the biggest lookouts, to the dung in the road, Kruger was simply… magical. :cam:

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Before reaching the picnic spot, I was treated to a few special animal sightings as well. How sweet is this dwarf mongoose?

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I saw this guy in the road from a long way back. I thought it was a tortoise until I was much closer. It was a snail! Without a doubt, the biggest snail I have ever seen. It really was as big as a tortoise. Can snails even get that big? Wow. :big_eyes:

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I stopped in briefly at the picnic spot for a break. I was nearly halfway to Satara and things were about to get interesting…

:dance: :dance: :dance:


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 Post subject: Re: Moose Went to the Karoo and ended up in... KRUGER!
Unread postPosted: Sun May 23, 2010 5:29 am 
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Day 5 PM: The road to Satara

Before it got interesting, it would get sad. :(

Just a warning, one of these photos is upsetting.

I took the first loop north of the picnic spot. It was fabulously bushy and it was nice to be away from a tar road. Very KTP. :cam:

As I begun to turn a corner I noticed a few vultures in a tree. By the time I was around that corner, there were vultures EVERYWHERE :big_eyes: . More than I had ever seen before. Vultures in tress, vultures circling overhead, vultures swooping down and landing.

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I saw the hyenas next. As I got closer, I saw three rush for the bushes. A fourth stuck around. It was a kill! I was so excited. The giraffe must have been killed the night before, and it had drawn hyenas and two species of vulture. I was practically giddy as I filmed and photographed the scene just feet from my car.

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I can’t believe I didn’t notice it. What’s wrong with this vulture photo? Because I completely failed to see it until I had been at the kill for ten minutes and had taken my turn to get to the front of the queue. I even took this photo without noticing it.

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The lion had been so camouflaged into the giraffe, that I hadn't seen it. I certainly didn’t expect it to be there.

I had never seen a TB lion before. I knew about the problem with some of Kruger’s lions, but I didn't expect to see one. It came as a big shock. I thought it was dead until it summoned the energy to flick an agitated paw at the vultures, who momentarily scattered before settling back on the carcass. They must have known that the lion posed no threat.

By now, I had a terrible view of the lion.

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As soon as I realized what I was seeing, I needed to leave and left this scene behind me.

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Just a hundred meters or so down the road, I saw two more hyenas on their way to the kill. It was nature, but I couldn’t bear to think about it.


Last edited by annapangolin on Sun May 23, 2010 6:21 am, edited 1 time in total.

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