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 Post subject: JohnGore-4 days in Kruger- November 2010
Unread postPosted: Sun Oct 24, 2010 1:51 am 
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Joined: Fri Apr 09, 2010 11:14 pm
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Location: Pretoria, South Africa
Will be in Kruger again in a few weeks. 10 - 14 November 2010. Staying in Letaba and Satara. Will be doing daily game drives, and hopefully a morning walk on the last day too.

Will post the report here.

Quick question: Any tips on where to look out for leopards? Would love to see one in the wild.

Of course 'in trees' is a good place to start, and early or late in the day, but besides that, any tips welcome. :)

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 Post subject: Re: 4 days in Kruger in November 2010
Unread postPosted: Thu Oct 28, 2010 11:13 pm 
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Joined: Fri Apr 09, 2010 11:14 pm
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Location: Pretoria, South Africa
Wow, thanks BushFairy, Gunner, Dabchick and pathfinder :thumbs_up:

Will mark the points you guys have suggested on my map, and hope to get lucky this time.

Even if I still spot no leopards this time, it no big deal. Its great to get away from the rushed life for a few days, and see that nature is still doing its thing out there somewhere. :clap:

Just confirmed bookings and paid today, so we are at Letaba for night of 10 and 11 Nov, then camping at Satara for night of 12 and 13 Nov, home on 14th (Sun). Anyone in the area, give me a shout. I will get a yellow ribbon before the trip this time! 8)

Tks again for the sightings tips. Any others welcome too (eg. good roads to wonder along).

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 Post subject: Re: 4 days in Kruger in November 2010
Unread postPosted: Fri Oct 29, 2010 11:24 am 
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Joined: Fri Apr 09, 2010 11:14 pm
Posts: 40
Location: Pretoria, South Africa
Thanks again all. Yes, 2 weeks to go, and I should be counting the days, but am actually on a road trip right now in CT, then Mossel Bay next week, so will only be back in Pta (home) for a few days before we head off to Kruger. Its actually a blessing, because the days are busy and passing by quickly. I just hope they slow down when we are actually in the Kruger so that we can actually ENJOY it! :)

spargish wrote:
I agree with Dabchick, The river road between Olifants and letaba is a must drive not only for leopards but its an awesome drive for everything. I also saw a big male really close up a few hundred meters from the look out.


On that note (leopards and lions), has anyone done a morning bush walk from Letaba or Satara, or similar? With regular lion and leopard sightings, as well as elephants and buffalo, surely walking through the bush could be... :hmz: interesting... :lol:

Last trip to Kruger (I must still write a TR for that!!) we saw lots of lion near Satara. Lions mating at night from game drive vehicle, after game ranger drove off road about 100m to get to them! Then turned off all the lights on top of it! :shock: Scary!... lets do that again! Then saw 3 lionesses walk passed our tent (outside fence) at midnight. Also a male roaring a few times, and a few lions walking along the road. All in a space of 3 days. Do I want to go walking in this area...? :hmz:

I know most animals would rather move away when they hear / smell /see humans coming, but it would still be an awesome experience if we did end up close to some bigger animals. That said, I actually want to do the bush walk to see the smaller life out there, such as chameleons, dung beetles, ants, etc which you can not really see from a car. Also, just the experience of walking around in in the "no go" area! haha :thumbs_up: This will be my first bush walk in Kruger (or any park), and has taken quite a bit of convincing to get my wife into the idea.

If we see anything I will be sure to snap a pic (or a few hundred!) to share :cam:

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 Post subject: Re: 4 days in Kruger in November 2010
Unread postPosted: Sat Nov 06, 2010 12:43 am 
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Joined: Fri Apr 09, 2010 11:14 pm
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Location: Pretoria, South Africa
Has it rained yet in Kruger this year?

Just wondering what to expect. Green grass and flowers, or is everything still very dead from the winter?

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 Post subject: Re: 4 days in Kruger in November 2010
Unread postPosted: Sun Nov 07, 2010 4:49 pm 
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Joined: Sun Sep 05, 2010 11:45 am
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There is a resident leopard south of Satara - travel south H1-3 riverine area just before turning left on H6. have seen leopard many times in the river bed area from bridge over N'wanetsi river. Also at the Nsemani dam - look on left side H7 opposite the dam when travelling east.
The best viewing spot for all cats is at the Girivani dam (S12) 35minutes from Satara have seen plenty of lion there and the occasional cheetah. In April 2010 watched 3 male lion tormenting a mother and calf buffalo for 1 hour. mother and calf eventually got away.

good luck & remember patience always pays off!!!
Dirk McElligott


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 Post subject: Re: 4 days in Kruger in November 2010
Unread postPosted: Sun Nov 07, 2010 5:31 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Tue May 26, 2009 4:00 pm
Posts: 185
Location: Pretoria
Hi JohnGore

We returned from the park last week and it was still very very dry, rain is needed urgently. There were a few thunderstorms on our last day though, but definitely not enough to start filling the dams.

eg. Girivana dam (near Satara) was completely dry, a sorry sight to see. There were a few lions under the trees in the distance, doing what lions do best, sleeping!

Nsemani dam still had a bit of water in the part closest to the road and there were still some hippos. I've seen Nsemani dam a mud pool in the past, with fish flapping around in the mud and impalas with black socks everywhere after trying to get a drink in the mud, not a nice memory.

Everyone always talk about the cheetah brothers (one is/was hurt) on the H7, S39, S36 crossing, but I have never seen them, and it's not for a lack of trying many times. Hope you have better luck! I did, however, see mating elephants there once :) while looking for the cheetahs.

Have an amazing trip!

Can't wait for the TR.

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 Post subject: Re: 4 days in Kruger in November 2010
Unread postPosted: Sun Nov 07, 2010 7:02 pm 
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Joined: Sun May 16, 2010 10:11 pm
Posts: 47
Location: Hilton - KZN
There is a young male who lives in the area surrounding the most southern baobab. He is very familiar with vehicles and on two occasions while we were there, he took his morning nap underneath one of the visitors cars. I have some lovely pics of him under the car next to us, unfortunately he was a bit too close for decent shots. :big_eyes:
It's worth popping in at the baobab if you have a chance. He was sighted just about every single day we were there (17 days)

Hope you find one!

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 Post subject: Re: 4 days in Kruger in November 2010
Unread postPosted: Tue Nov 16, 2010 5:10 pm 
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Joined: Fri Apr 09, 2010 11:14 pm
Posts: 40
Location: Pretoria, South Africa
PetraJ wrote:
Enjoy your trip, and hope you find your leopard :thumbs_up:


Thanks again to everyone for the tips.

We got home early hours of Monday morning, after a great 5 days (4 nights) in the Kruger Park. Took thousands of photos, :cam: so it is going to take ages to sift through all of them. Here are a few to get started...

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Cape Hooded Vulture, looks like a flying hyena! Some colours, and spots on neck, etc.

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Hyena trying to get his impala kill away from the vultures.

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Giant bushbaby in Letaba camp, in a tree near our tent. He has a little cicada nymph exoskeleton in his hands.

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Hyena patrolling the fence at Letaba camp.

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Hyena waiting at the fence.

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African wood hoepoe with some food for its chicks (more on that little story later on)

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Tiny baby elephant. Must have been about 1 week old! He had to work hard to keep up with the rest of the herd.

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Yes!! On the last night I finally got to see my first leopard in the wild that was close enough to photograph! He was about 100 meters away from the game drive truck. An amazing game drive, we saw all of the big 5 in one go, as well as African wild cat and a few large/small spotted genet , scrub hare, black back jackal, etc. Lions twice in one drive, but very far away (300 meters plus).

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The African wild cat at night.

That is just a taster for now, from the pics I have been through so far. Will start with an actual day by day trip report tomorrow. :)

PS: These are all full crops of the photos, so if you would like me to zoom in and crop closer (eg for a head shot) please let me know. I have posted the images on here quite small for web, and faster loading. :sniper:

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 Post subject: Re: 4 days in Kruger in November 2010
Unread postPosted: Thu Nov 18, 2010 10:57 am 
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Joined: Fri Apr 09, 2010 11:14 pm
Posts: 40
Location: Pretoria, South Africa
Pumbaa wrote:
I am already looking forward to that :popcorn:

The bush baby shot is just WoW :mrgreen: and the hoopoe and the tiny ellie calf :clap: :clap:

:clap:


Thanks for your comments @Pumba @anne-marie @MeanderingMouse @CrestedBarbet @Rookie2009 @roaneric !! :lol:

Lets get this trip report "on the road"...

Day 1 - Part 1 arrival
We left Pretoria at 11pm, driving through the night to arrive at the Phalaborwa Gate at opening time, 5:30am! Good news is that we did make it, checked in at the gate, and were able to enter the gate at 5:30.

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After all the excitement, we had mixed feelings as we reached the gate because of the rainy weather... I know the Kruger Park has been very dry, and from what I could find out before the trip it seems that the rains had not yet reached Kruger this year. Late rains would mean everything would be very dry, which can make for good sightings at waterholes. But with the very cloudy and rainy weather, we did not expect to see many animals on our first drive. Deep down, I was happy that the rains had arrived, and the good news is that we can now witness the greening of the Park, as all the grasses and plants start to suddenly turn green.

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After 30 minutes of no sightings, the weather cleared a little, and we found our first sighting, an impala. Before we could get the window down (it was raining, so windows were closed) he turned and looked to the bush. My heart skipped a beat, thinking just maybe a predator was near! :big_eyes: ...but no, of course there was no such luck!

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2 franklin next to the road.

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A gentle giraffe, near to the road.

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A beautiful lilac breasted roller.

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A tawny eagle far away, warming up for the day.

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Steenbok hiding from us in the bushes

Rhino!! :dance: But too far away, and only the blunt end, so no pic, sorry. :huh:

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2 black back jackals on the prowl for some morning snacks.

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Zebra

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Buffalo with big horns, far from the road.

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Franklin.

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 Post subject: Re: 4 days in Kruger in November 2010
Unread postPosted: Thu Nov 18, 2010 10:58 am 
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Location: Pretoria, South Africa
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Some crocodiles at a waterhole

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Egyptian goose flying over the dam.

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A fish eagle.

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Hippo yawning. Pity it was in the other direction.

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A baby tortoise crossing the dirt road at the intersection with the tar road. We decided to hang around a bit to block off the road, just in case some unsuspecting car came flying around the corner and did not see this little guy in the road. I'm glad to say he made it safely to the other side, and headed off into the bush.

A few km further down the tar road, we stopped for what looked like a leaf / flat rock in the road, and it turned out to be a tiny terapin hiding in his shell! No idea how he got there, as it was far away from any water. We picked him up, and put him in the nearby bushes, safely off the road where he was sure to be killed by the next car that came along. I really don't like to interfere with nature, but this time called for an exception.
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Terapin hiding in his shell.


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Does anyone know what insect this is?

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A lilac breasted roller took off just after we stopped. I quite like this pose, looks like he has angel wings attached.

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We arrived at Letaba camp, and we very happy to see one of our favorite camp friends, a squirrel.

...end of day 1 part 1.

I hope there are not too many pictures :cam: :oops:

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 Post subject: Re: 4 days in Kruger in November 2010
Unread postPosted: Thu Nov 18, 2010 1:47 pm 
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Joined: Fri Apr 09, 2010 11:14 pm
Posts: 40
Location: Pretoria, South Africa
Day 1 - Part 2 north of Letaba

At Letaba our booking had been fuzzed, and after a bit of negotiating for a better tent (tented camp), right next to the fence (as we had booked in advance), we checked the sightings board. Lions north of Letaba it said, so we decided to head north of Letaba along the river, and see what we can find.

Just 2 km up the road we found this hyena busy feeding on an impala kill.

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Hyena with an impala kill.

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Vulture coming in to land.

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The very rare headless vulture!! :hmz:

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Ah, there is his head. A white hooded vulture.

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Cape hooded vulture

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Cape hooded vulture closer crop.

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White hooded vulture.

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The hyena decided to move his kill off to a better spot away from the vultures. But, of course, the vultures have little trouble following him.

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Vulture landing

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Vulture flying

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A peaceful waterbuck down on the river.

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Herd of waterbuck resting on the river bank.

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Croc basking in the sun... except it was overcast and cloudy.

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A lappet faced vulture

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Closeup of waterbuck grazing.

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I think he was trying to tell me something...

We stopped on the Letaba river bridge, where you can get out your car. Found this little bird down below.
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A sandpiper.

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A terapin swimming down below the Letaba river bridge.

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And a fish...

Next up... a iguana lizard hunting! (sequence)

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 Post subject: Re: 4 days in Kruger in November 2010
Unread postPosted: Thu Nov 18, 2010 5:43 pm 
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Joined: Fri Apr 09, 2010 11:14 pm
Posts: 40
Location: Pretoria, South Africa
JohnGore wrote:
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leachy wrote:
what equipment do you use and what were the settings for that shot you took of the leopard on the night drive ???



tks leachy

Just kidding! ;)

I set the 40D to iso 1600 , Apiture priority at f4.5 , fast mulishot (6.5 frames per sec) , underexposed by 1 stop (or 2 stops) and fire like mad till the buffer is full (about 20 frames in raw mode). I shoot first at 100mm at night, but once the vehicle has stopped, I then try get in closer at 300mm or so.

I have also mounted a torch onto the lens to light the scene just a little bit, just enought for the AF to work.

If the apiture priority mode is not working (shutter speed is too slow, eg. 0.5 sec or slower) then I switch to full manual. F4.5 and 10th or 0.3 sec. Shoot, and see what you get.

Shooting in raw means that you can always bring it a stop or 2 back in post.

Hope this helps. I plan to post a full guide later on about shooting at night without using flash. This is something I have done a lot of reasearch on, and lots of testing. There is still so much to try.

I don't believe in using any flash on animals at night.

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 Post subject: Re: 4 days in Kruger in November 2010
Unread postPosted: Fri Nov 19, 2010 10:07 am 
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Joined: Fri Apr 09, 2010 11:14 pm
Posts: 40
Location: Pretoria, South Africa
jennet wrote:
No such thing as too many photos....please keep them coming! Looks like you had a great trip...and seeing all of the big 5 on drive must have been special! Especially your first leopard in the wild.


Tks Jennet and welcome Flutterby . Great to have more people enjoying my first TR. :dance:

Sorry I have not written much of a story (I'm not much of a writer at all). Will try add more story to the pics in future.

JohnGore wrote:
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Pumbaa wrote:
Your vulture pictures are brilliant, especially the one which is about to land - and the hyaena and its kill with a nearly bursting tummy - Just fantastic moments :clap: :clap: :clap:



@Pumbaa tks for the comments re: the Vulture pics. Because the hyena was keeping the kill to himself (as they tend to do) the vultures were all waiting around, flying back and forth, landing in trees, etc. So lots of opportunity to get some vultures in flight... at least in theory. In reality we (3 of us in car, my SO and a friend) missed most of the opportunities, only seeing the birds as they landed, too late to get shots.

After a few missed opportunities we got the hang of it, shouting (at low volume) out to each other where the birds where, coming in from which side, etc.

Also, I have learned that shooting out of multiple car windows does not work too well. Seems to always be someone sticking their head in front of your lens, haha! And, as I'm sure all know, shooting through the windscreen just makes for flat, fuzzed out photos, and messes with the AF (although setting focus distance to 6.5m on my lens helps a ton with missed focusing, eg. branches too close).

Glad you like the vultures in flight, I'm still very much a novice with birds. In the past birds have not interested me much (in fact I never could quite understand the fascination birders have with our feathered friends), but I have to admit the interest is growing in me and my SO. We even carried a bird book with on this trip to identify some of the birds, and learn a bit more about them.

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 Post subject: Re: 4 days in Kruger in November 2010
Unread postPosted: Fri Nov 19, 2010 10:29 am 
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Location: Pretoria, South Africa
My first "hunt" in Kruger. Ok, this doesn't really count as a "hunt", but it was an interesting sighting for us.

We stopped on the Letaba River bridge, just north of Letaba Camp. This is one of the few places one can get out the car, stretch your legs, and look around. On our first visit to Kruger we also stopped on this bridge, and we saw a herd of 40 elephants crossing the river about 300 meters away, so I was looking forward to something exciting from the bridge again.

Looking over the sides we saw a little sandpiper bird, a terapin of course, and some fish (see last page of this TR). Then spotted an iguana lizard (or a water monitor, I'm not sure) walking down below.

Pointed the camera at him, and started shooting. Ended up catching him having lunch. Enjoy...

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 Post subject: Re: 4 days in Kruger in November 2010
Unread postPosted: Fri Nov 19, 2010 10:35 am 
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