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 Post subject: Hotshot Family Time and Reunions (My TR) Dec 2010
Unread postPosted: Thu Dec 02, 2010 8:46 am 
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The Background
For the last 16 years, my SO and I have spent the time between Christmas and New Year in the Kruger. The first 12 or so were spent with my parents, and it was fantastic family time. My dad would fall asleep in the front seat, I would claim to have seem something and all I would hear from him was “Yes – saw that”. We would laugh up a storm. The afternoon ritual off scaring off the mozzies with copious amounts of Gin and Tonic meant we forewent any prophylactics and sometimes sightings! I will never forget pitching a tent in Shingwedzi during the midday heat. I was complaining about the heat, and all he had to say was “It’s not hot”. We later discovered that we had pitched the tent in 42 degree heat!

Unfortunately my dad’s health took a turn and we ended taking my brother and his family instead. Well this was just as good; in fact, I now had someone who could help with the driving, carrying and braaing – yippee!

My dad passed away last year and we had made a special plan to scatter his ashes at Renosterkoppies dam during June last year. As we were saying our goodbyes to him, we all agreed that the December trip should become 7, with the inclusion of my mom, and we could all spend time with Dad.

Having read many TR’s (and loved every moment of them), I have decided to post my own this trip. However, I have decided to start it as we begin the planning stage of our trip. This might give the reader a small insight into our annual family pilgrimage, and the fun that we have as a family. So all I can say if you are reading this is... enjoy it! The initial posting leading up to the trip will be sporadic, and dependent on what activity is taking place that has a link to our trip. I can tell you that the next instalment has to do with our shopping list, but I need to get everyone together first, so watch this space...

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 Post subject: Re: Family Time and Reunions (My TR)
Unread postPosted: Mon Dec 06, 2010 7:46 am 
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The Family Meeting
We are eventually all together to agree the menu for the week. My SO contracted hepatitis a number of years ago, and can only eat chicken as a result, so we have to be ingenious and inventive.

We spend the next hour or so agreeing exactly what we are going to have on which night and how many of what each person is going to have. This sound pedantic I know, but I hate to throw things away and I hate under catering. As for what we are going to have... well you will have to wait until the day in question.

We have traditionally cooked breakfast in the park every day, but this year we have decided to mix it up a little so that we can spend more productive time in search of those elusive animals. This year we will have a mix of breakfast’s and rolls on the go. Along with 3 flasks, Rusk’s, shortbread, sultana slabs, we believe we will not starve.

The booze list is an easy one, cut and paste last years. We did not over cater and everyone had what they wanted. Wait ...no I am wrong. The ladies want more Brutal fruit for the morning drive. It is considered their “fruit juice” and part of the daily recommended vitamin intake. Mind you – only allowed to buy Strawberry Flavour! As for my boet and I, we will slum it with Beer shandy’s in the morning in the hope of ensuring we don’t dehydrate.

Next the huge discussion, do we go in at Phabeni gate or Orpen? First night is at Letaba, and quite a drive, so in the interests of keeping the drivers as fresh as possible we have decided to go in at Orpen. It is a lovely drive to Satara, and with the rain that has fallen, we should see some action, and this road has traditionally been a good viewing route for us. You may ask why we are discussing this so much in advance, well if we go in a Phabeni, then we eat on the road, but if we go in at Orpen, then we stop for breakfast at Halls. Simple.. I need to finalise the shopping list! Yip – I am a control freak!

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 Post subject: Re: Family Time and Reunions (My TR)
Unread postPosted: Tue Dec 07, 2010 8:06 am 
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Not that long now until the bushveld will once again be our sanctuary. OK, so let’s get the ritual sorted...

1) Prepare grocery shopping list split as follows:
a. Butcher
b. Pick n Pay
c. Woolworths
d. Makro
(This is done so we can easily tick off everything as we load it in the trolley)
2) Print our packing list to ensure nothing is left behind (developed over 20 years so I have everything)
3) Buy some reading material (perhaps get a book for Xmas?)
4) Start the baking – Rusk’s, shortbread, sultana slabs. Mum is best at this, so over to her.
5) Visit my friendly butcher and place my orders so they can be vac-packed.
6) Hire a 20 ton truck to pick up my booze (only kidding – not!)
7) Most important – find a yellow ribbon!!!!
8) Take recipe from WendyA for Magic Milk Coffee. (Confirmed Kruger Camper's Trip (and Laughter) Report)

Ok, so the shopping list is done and the booze has already been bought and is safely stacked in the garage, ready to be loaded into the SUV for our family trip to the Kruger. Oops, still need to speak to best mate to arrange a Vito for the trip – Ok that is done and we are sorted – I will pick it up on the 23rd.

Time to start ragging my nephew about what he can and can’t do otherwise I will leave him at home. Even though this is our 5th trip together, he still takes the bait – LOVE IT!

We are two brothers married to two sisters, so we are a very close family. Each of us only have the one child, but they get on exceptionally well. Except, now we have the debate about who will be sitting in the middle at the back. Considering Mum is almost 76, we have decided to put the blind bat in the middle and leave the young eyes on the windows. They are happy, and their gran chuckles away at the analogy. You might call me rude, but to illustrate my point, I once pointed out a Rhino to her and her reaction was – “That is not a Rhino, it is a Rock!”. It was only when the rock was at the water hole drinking that “batmum” conceded the sighting. Decision to put mum in middle justified!
:lol:

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 Post subject: Re: Family Time and Reunions (My TR)
Unread postPosted: Mon Dec 13, 2010 12:01 pm 
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Shopping Day
We always buy all the non perishable products well in advance, so the rush into Christmas is less hectic! The only gamble we take is for the perishable goods. It might be in the retail fridge and it might not – that is the gamble as we only will pick it up on Christmas eve.

Went to Pnp, Wollies and my favourite butcher (order phoned in advance). The shopping list that has been developed over all these years makes the process so much easier. It is as simple as pick it up, tick it off and stash in the holding area in the garage until we pack on Christams day. All my meat has been vac-packed and is stowed in the freezer to be retrieved on Boxing Day! Bring on the Kruger!

It comes to something when my daughter is happy to forego Christmas and concentrate on the time left until we enter the park again. She is a bundle of nervous energy, biding her time until she is at one with nature. The human spirit needs places where nature has not been rearranged, and this is the place for her. “Batmum” is just as excited – what can I say she might spot a walking rock again!!!

Shopping – Done and Dusted! Only a couple of days and then we are on our way and I am reminded of the following quote which is very apt-

“Nature is man's teacher. She unfolds her treasures to his search, unseals his eye, illumes his mind, and purifies his heart; an influence breathes from all the sights and sounds of her existence. “ ~Alfred Billings Street

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 Post subject: Re: Family Time and Reunions (My TR)
Unread postPosted: Tue Dec 21, 2010 8:11 am 
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Well, it is only 5 days to go and then we will be in the Kruger. I have been watching the webcams over the last couple of weeks, and it is amazing to see the growth in foliage aound the Satara and Orpen webcams. A friend of mine went into the park on Saturday (18th) and he says it is lush and green, but relatively quite on the sightings front. Well - we will have to wait and see - dont forget we have an ace up our sleave - BLINDBAT MOM!

Picking up the car on Thursday, and then we will start loading it. All the standard items have been located and put into our packing zone, so we cant forget anything. All that remains is the last bit of persihable purchases, final packing and we are off.

See you soon! :dance:

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 Post subject: Re: Family Time and Reunions (My TR)
Unread postPosted: Fri Jan 07, 2011 9:31 am 
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We loaded all the groceries yesterday, along with the suitcases. Not too many please – booze has preference. All that needed to be done today was to load the meat and perishable items, boil the kettle and fill the flasks. Hooray – we are finally on our way (4am).

The journey from Pretoria, via Witbank, Nelspruit, Hazyview to Orpen was largely uneventful except for me remembering halfway that I had forgotten out sarmies for the road, forcing us to make a pit stop in Hazeyview to refresh our tummy’s. Hey – if it was on the list i would not have forgotten them!

A benefit of coming in via Orpen gate is that the gate is not that busy, and we managed to stroll through without any wasted time. Took a quick pit stop, changed the flasks for cooler bags, had a quick look at the Orpen watering hole – and off we go to Letaba.

You can’t quite describe the sensation of entering the park to someone who has not experienced it - the twitter of the birds, the insects making the strange sounds that they do, and the earthly smell of Africa. Man – I love the smell of the bush. How the bush has changed over the last couple of months – I have been spotting on the webcams and could see all the water! Ok so straight up the tar road to Satara, through some mist and rain falling on the plains.

The usual suspects were out on the way up to Satara, with us picking up 4 of the big five on the way, only the elusive Leopard was missing.

I love the babies at this time of the year.
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A lovcely Ellie just outside Satara, followed by a Rhino a little further along the road
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We stopped to look at a skull and saw this Hyena lurking below some trees on the opposite side of the road.
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How full is the Olifants?
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Our very own Christmas tree in the park - full of wattled starlings
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Stopped off at Satara for a final pit stop before the trek up to Letaba and to fill up with petrol.

Finally arrived at Letaba at 6pm after a long day in the saddle, the check in was handled very well and we pushed off to our bungalows, unpacked the car taking out only the necessities as this is only a 1 nighter, loaded the Fridge with all the perishable’s and started the fire - tonight we are having BBQ Ribs and salads. Best ribs in SA! Good night all – see you tomorrow.

Mammal sightings today: Impala, Zebra, Giraffe, Steenbok, Elephant, Hippo, Warthog, Buffalo, Lion, Waterbuck, Bush Buck, Baboons, Vervet Monkeys, Wildebeest, Hyena

Bird Sightings today: Grey Heron, Kori Bustard, Burchells Coucal, Hoepoe, Wolly Neck Stork, Wattled Starling

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 Post subject: Re: Family Time and Reunions (My TR)
Unread postPosted: Mon Jan 10, 2011 8:40 am 
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Day 2Today we are travelling to Skukuza where we will stay for the rest of our time in the park. Whilst the camp is very busy, we just love all the routes that are available to us, and the camp shop is always stocked up with what we need (Ice mostly).

Ok – packed the car, made sure the breakfast items have been packed into a separate cooler bag so we can access them when we need them. Flasks are full and off we go down to Satara. Time check – 5pm – just enough light to take the pictures of all the animals that we hope to see.

Wow what a wonderful sunrise...

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This trip was going to turn into one of those – “WE HAVE NEVER SEEN THAT BEFORE” scenarios, and the first was a beautiful Trumpeter Hornbill on the banks of the Olifants. Just as I was lining up a shot, off it flew.

Found this lovely Khorhaan that had a conversation with us, it sounded like two planks being hit together.
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And then this Black Backed Jackal came out to play. Guess he is quite old as the “black Back” was more a grey back!
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A couple of Kilo’s out of Satara we saw a lovely herd of Buffalo – note the injury on this ones back..

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And our first ever Caracal..

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We decided to pass Satara and rather head onto the S100, where we have been extremely lucky over the years – but it was very quite today, so we stopped at Nwanetsi for a cook up (Sausages, bacon, tomatoes and egss – lovely)

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Arrived at Skukuza at 2pm after a lovely morning drive down from Letaba that was not hot at all, but filled with some exiting animals. This will be our final camp for the duration of our stay, so we can offload the car in its entirety.

We were always going to go to Renosterkoppies Dam this afternoon to spend some time with my late Dad. Gin and Tonics were poured and a toast to Dad, whose memory will never fade. Not much activity at the dam due to all the rains, but we enjoyed our afternoon none the less. Drove back to camp for our braai – Kruger Park Chicken that had been marinating for 24hrs mmmmm. (Recipe in Chit Chat: All Recipes...)

Mammal sightings today:
Impala, Zebra, Giraffe, Steenbok, Elephant, Hippo, Warthog, Buffalo, Waterbuck, Bush Buck, Baboons, Vervet Monkeys, Kudu, Tree Squirrel, Wildebeest, Rhino, Hyena, Dwarf Mongoose, Black Back Jackal, Caracal

Bird Sightings today: Grey Loerie, Red and Yellow Billed Hornbill, Burchells Coucal, Lylac Brested Roller, European Roller, Woodlands Kingfisher, Yellow Billed Stork, Grey Heron, Marabou Stork, Lappet Faced Vulture, Whiteheaded Vulture, Cape Vulture, Wattled Starling, Trumpeter Hornbill, Jackal Buzard, White Crowned Lapwing, Pied Kingfisher,

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 Post subject: Re: Family Time and Reunions (My TR)
Unread postPosted: Wed Jan 12, 2011 8:12 am 
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Packed the flasks, Rusks, Sultana slab etc and off we go down Eloff Street on the way to Lower Sabie. We want to see if Will and Harry are out for a stroll today. Time check – 04:55.Breakfast on the run today, so we have packed rolls, assorted meats, cheeses etc. This gives us extra viewing time!

We had just turned into Eloff street and we were alerted to a Hyena sleeping in one of the gulley’s, but far too dark to pick up a picture. A couple of km’s down the road, as the sun was rising above the tree line, we came across the first of our Leopards, on the Sabie river bank. We had a brief 1 minute sighting and away she went, after taking a swipe at a bird. We were so grateful for that one minute as we could bank our first big 5, so the pressure was off. (Little did we know what would follow in the days to come!)

The usual suspects were out for the day along Eloff Street, Vervets, Baboons, Bush Buck and Impala, and as we got closer to Lower Sabie, the Ellies and Buffalo were seen on the banks of a fast flowing Sabie River. We stopped off at Sunset dam for a cup of coffee and were amazed at the abundance of animal and bird life. Can’t stop too long, we are on a Cheetah hunt, so we popped into Lower Sabie to fill the flasks, and off we went on the Mlondzi Dam road. We stopped for the customary bird watch on the bridge, but the river was flowing that fast that none of the usual suspects were to be seen, although we did hear the distinctive call of the Fish Eagle!

On the Mlondzi dam road, we had a couple of sightings of Rhino and Ellies in the distance, but other than that, not much to write home about. Blindbat thought she saw “something” a number of times, but it turned out to be the grass blowing in the wind. I was beginning to think she might have smoked some of the grass!!! Harry and Will were shy today, so we will come back another day to try again.

We took the dirt road back to Skukuza, without much luck but I almost choked and certainly peed myself when “Blindbat” asked if this Waterbuck was lying down. Had the buck been a couple of hundred yards away one could have understood, but it was a mere 10 meters from the car!

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When he stood up she could suddenly pick up the difference – note to self “get her eyes checked!

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I love watching Giraffe, they are so graceful and elegant, and my mind wonders at their ability to pull leaves off thorn trees without get pricked!

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The afternoon trip was very interesting, as we travelled to Phabeni gate, linking via the dirt road to Transport dam, where another couple of first’s were awaiting for us ..

I was amazed as these Ellies came out of the bush and first went to the reservoir to check for water before going to the waterhole for a quick splash down.

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At transport dam, we saw these Ellies swimming like Dolphins, coming up and diving down in the water. I am not sure if there was a bit of blow back with this one though!

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On the way back to the tar road, we picked up this Dark Chanting Goshawk – what a beauty!

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Four of the big 5 today! We will celebrate the day with some Curry Lamb Kebabs and Garlic and Red Wine Chicken kebabs, followed by a Jagermeister or two and some MMC’s.

Mammal sightings today: Impala, Zebra, Giraffe, Steenbok, Elephant, Hippo, Warthog, Buffalo, Waterbuck, Bush Buck, Baboons, Vervet Monkeys, Kudu, Tree Squirrel, Wildebeest, Rhino, Hyena, Dwarf Mongoose, Grey Duiker, Grysbok, Banded Mongoose, Leopard, Crocodile

Bird Sightings today: Grey Loerie, Red and Yellow Billed Hornbill, Burchells Coucal, Lylac Brested Roller, European Roller, Woodlands Kingfisher, Yellow Billed Stork, Grey Heron, Marabou Stork, Lappet Faced Vulture, Whiteheaded Vulture, Cape Vulture, White Crowned Lapwing, Pied Kingfisher, Ground Hornbill, Hamerkop, Goliath Heron, Dark Chanting Goshawk, Fish Eagle

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 Post subject: Re: Family Time and Reunions (My TR)
Unread postPosted: Fri Jan 14, 2011 3:08 pm 
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Time check – 04-55. I don’t know how we do it, but we always seem to leave at this time. Just as well, because we decided to head down to Afsaal today (H-3), and what an inspired choice it proved.

We had barely gone 800m over the 4 ways stop when we picked up Wild Dog in the road, coming towards us. In a flash, I had turned the car around to be travelling in the same direction. We had seen some Zebra in the 4 ways stop and were interested to see what would happen. What transpired was truly amazing. I managed to get a car coming from Skukuza to stop before the intersection so that they would not chase the dogs away.

The Alpha female was clearly in charge, and it amazed me to see how all the dogs (7) followed her. She stopped on the opposing side of the road to the Zebra, and the other dogs all stopped and dropped the heads, flattening their ears, After a couple of minutes the dogs surrounded the Zebra and “mocked charged”. The Zebra (5 of them) remained joined at the hip, and charged at any dog that showed any sign of attack. This continued for another 5 minutes or so, and the dogs broke off their attack to follow the Alpha female down the road to Eloff Street. They spotted some Impala in the bush and off they went never to be seen again. Close call and I reckon that if one of the Zebra had broken ranks, then we would have seen a kill in the busiest intersection in the Kruger.

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Not phased, we turned around and headed back down to Afsaal in the hopes of finding the elusive Cheetah. The road down was busy, teeming with Impala and their youngsters. I love this time of year, when the young ones have been borne and they face the harsh reality of being on the low end of the food chain, and yet find time to get up to all sorts of mischief.

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Just a couple of km’s from Afsaal, we picked another pack of Wild Dog. They had eveidently been lying next to the road for a while, but as we arrived, they decided it was time to take to the bush, so I snapped off what I could as quick as I could..

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After visiting the open plains beyond Afsaal and seeing the usual culprits (Zebra, Widebeest, Warthog, Impala and Rhino) we turned back to Afsaal for our cook up breakfast. Man was this place teeming with activity!!!! No worries, breakfast had to be cooked, so onto the skottle went the sausages, bacon, tomatoes and eggs. Once again a wonderly breakfast, and compliments to the cook (oh that was me!) I just love watching the reactions of the tour groups, with their “rat pack” of stale sarmies, apple and juice, watching this skottle full of food, drooling on their way past!

We took the Biyamiti dirt road (S114) back to Skukuza and were constantly having to pull to one side to let the “day-rangers” through, travelling at higher speeds than are allowed. Man I wish I had a fines book so that I could fine these idiots!

Anyway, bleet out of the way! We saw an abundance of the usual - Kudu, Giraffe, Ellies, Impala, Steenbok etc. No action at Renosterkoppies, so we soldiered on and just short of joining the Tar road again we found the reason for the “day-rangers” speeding, a leopard on the ground and very well camouflaged. There was absolute chaos, so we switched off the car and waited! We had one chance of a photo as the traffic jam that had ensued was being sorted out by a game ranger as the cars had squeezed together 6 wide!( I wish people would be more considerate of others when viewing.) Anyway, here is the cause of the traffic jam..

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The afternoon was spent at Transport dam, just enjoying one anothers company as there was little to no activity save for the Hippo’s and some bird life, but the G&T’s were cold and the conversation was as always intriguing.

This Red Billed Hornbill decided to pose, so I could not forego the opportunity of a close up, the only thing was its first stop was to land on my window sill and give me a heart attack! The whole family pissed themselves as I spilt some G&T down my front due to the shock!

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Back to camp to light the fire for some Rump steaks, wors and salads. Wow we eat like KINGS!

Mammal sightings today: Impala, Zebra, Giraffe, Steenbok, Elephant, Hippo, Warthog, Buffalo, Waterbuck, Bush Buck, Vervet Monkeys, Kudu, Tree Squirrel, Wildebeest, Rhino, Hyena, Dwarf Mongoose, Grey Duiker, Banded Mongoose, Leopard, Wild Dogs

Bird Sightings today: Grey Loerie, Red and Yellow Billed Hornbill, Burchells Coucal, Lylac Breasted Roller, European Roller, Woodlands Kingfisher, Yellow Billed Stork, Grey Heron, Marabou Stork, Lappet Faced Vulture, White-headed Vulture, Cape Vulture, Ground Hornbill, Steppe Buzzard, Black Shouldered Kite, Green-backed Heron

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 Post subject: Re: Family Time and Reunions (My TR)
Unread postPosted: Tue Jan 18, 2011 1:47 pm 
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Day 5
Funnily enough, I woke my daughter this morning and whispered in her ear that she should wake up as we were going “kitty” hunting. Little did I know what would transpire.

We had decided to do a long drive down to Malelane(H-3), then on the dirt road to Crocodile Bridge (S25) and back to Skukuza via the tar road (H4-2). So, we packed our sarmies, filled the flasks and off we set on a long journey. Departure time – 04:54.

We felt like we were the only car on the road, passing Granokop towards the turn to Malelane. At the rocks before the turn off we spotted her... the most beautiful Leopard I have seen for quite a while.

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Why would I say that – well she posed for us for 20 minutes in the road, before another car approached! On the car’s arrival, she picked herself up and went back to the rocks, not to be seen again. We had this beauty to ourselves for over 20 minutes, and I must have taken 100 photo’s of her.

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TBC

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 Post subject: Re: Family Time and Reunions (My TR)
Unread postPosted: Wed Jan 26, 2011 10:13 am 
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Cont....

Well that was our day made, so we soldiered on down the H3 towards Afsaal. My sister in law was just remarking that we had previously seem Lion on the right hand side of the road when blow me, we picked up this lady. There were 3 of them that we could see; the other two were fast asleep in the background.


Thinking ourselves the luckiest people alive, we pushed on, a couple of kilo’s short of Afsaal our next surprise. These two brothers were out marking their territory.

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Un-phased by our good fortune, we proceeded to Malelane where we stopped at the gate for a pit stop, before proceeding on the Dirt road to Crocodile bridge. 5 km’s down the road we picked up a LIT. It was very far in the bush, and my camera was on ultra zoom to capture this one. My SO picked this one up, so we proceeded to drown our good fortune in coffee and watched the Leopard for a while, before carrying on down the road, where we would pick up Rhino, Buffalo and Ellies to bring up 2 sightings of the big 5 by 11am! We consider ourselves lucky to have 2 sightings of the big 5 in one trip, let alone in one day, so we moved off the coffee and onto the Brutal Fruit and Shandy’s. (Purely medicinal mind you!)

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The vegetation on the tar road was thick, which viewing difficult, but we still managed to find the usual assortment of animals. On reaching the ... bridge, there was a slight build up of vehicles, and a rather pungent smell. One of the guys at the sighting pointed out some lion that had made a kill the day before. I must say that the sighting was very difficult, but we all managed a look to chalk up our 3rd sighting of lion for the day. WOW!!!

In the Sabie river we saw this large herd of Ellies, all clustered under the trees, protecting the smallest baby I have ever seen.

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This Martial was perched up purveying his territory.

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We pulled into Lower Sabie to refresh ourselves and fill up with petrol, before proceeding to Skukuza. The rest of the morning and early afternoon was a blur, and we were so tired but satisfied with our mornings work, that we took the windows up, turned the aircon on full and basked in our glory all the way back to camp. The kids in the back were flat, and I am sure I heard “Blindbat” snore once or twice.

Having been on the road for over 8 hours in the morning, we decided that a short trip to Renosterkoppies to spend some time with Dad was all we were up for, so off we went in the late afternoon. Nothing much was seen on the way, and on arrival we notice a number of cars parked along the dirt road (S). On closer inspection, we found 2 lions, a mating pair. The male was well camouflaged, but the female was in the open. We duly took our photo’s and because the road was narrow, moved on and turned around back to the dam to pour sundowners. The chaos that ensued ratified our decision to move away, as car after car arrived wanting a look. The next thing horns were being hooted, people were out of their windows screaming and swearing at each other. Unfortunately the problems were caused by day visitors who obviously wanted a sighting, but at the same time had limited time to get out of the gates, so caused the scene. Once they got their shots, the sped down the Biyamiti road to Malelane, causing who knows what chaos. This is becoming all too familiar and I wonder what the effect of higher numbers of day visitors will have in the longer term!

Anyway, the G&T’s were superb, and we set off back to camp with some Kruger Park Chicken waiting for us. WHAT A DAY! 2 x Leopard and 4 x Lion sightings, and the BIG 5 TWICE!!!

Mammal sightings today: Impala, Zebra, Giraffe, Steenbok, Elephant, Hippo, Warthog, Buffalo, Waterbuck, Bush Buck, Vervet Monkeys, Kudu, Tree Squirrel, Wildebeest, Rhino, Hyena, Grey Duiker, Banded Mongoose, Leopard, Lion

Bird Sightings today: Grey Loerie, Red and Yellow Billed Hornbill, Burchells Coucal, Lylac Brested Roller, European Roller, Woodlands Kingfisher, Yellow Billed Stork, Grey Heron, Marabou Stork, Lappet Faced Vulture, Whiteheaded Vulture, Cape Vulture, Ground Hornbill, Grey Hornbill, Bateleur Eagle, Marshall Eagle, Brown Snake Eagle, White Egrets, Darter

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 Post subject: Re: Family Time and Reunions (My TR)
Unread postPosted: Tue Feb 15, 2011 8:39 am 
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Location: Centurion
Day 6

We had decided to go up to Tsokwane(H1-2) and from there on to Lower Sabie (H10) to see if Will and Harry wanted to play ball this time. Time Check – 04.54. I am not sure what it is, but having that first sip of your coffee as you go out of the camp gate is magical!

It was always going to be a potential case of “After the Lord mayor’s Show” as we had an uneventful trip up through the Sabie and Sand Rivers, seeing all the usual animals, and once or twice we ”spotted” a cat only to be bamboozled by dead trees.

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Only a couple of Kilo’s away from Tsokwane, we saw our first Lion Sighting. There were 4 ladies all resting in the shade, and had this one not got up and moved, we would have missed them all like countless other cars in front of us.

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After stopping at Tsokwane, we hit the tar road to Lower Sabie, seeing distant Rhino and Ellies, but apart from that, all was quiet for the rest of the trip, barring some birdlife in and around Lower Sabie, but we did not care - we were in heaven and just enjoying the quite time together.

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We stopped at Sunset dam and saw the Hippo’s lazing and the croc’s sunning themselves, and a number of various birds were out feeding.

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After leaving sunset dam, we soldiered on to Skukuza and found the customary bush buck along the way.

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And this Kingfisher stayed long enough for us to get a decent photo.

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After a long morning in the saddle, we decided to spend the rest of the day in camp and chill which was just what the doctor ordered, along with a number of G&T’s.

Mammal sightings today: Impala, Zebra, Giraffe, Steenbok, Elephant, Hippo, Warthog, Buffalo, Waterbuck, Bush Buck, Vervet Monkeys, Kudu, Tree Squirrel, Wildebeest, Rhino, Hyena, Dwarf Mongoose, Banded Mongoose, Lion,

Bird Sightings today: Grey Loerie, Red and Yellow Billed Hornbill, Burchells Coucal, Lylac Brested Roller, European Roller, Woodlands Kingfisher, Yellow Billed Stork, Grey Heron, Marabou Stork, Lappet Faced Vulture, Whiteheaded Vulture, Cape Vulture, Ground Hornbill, Grey Hornbill, Redcrested Korhaan

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 Post subject: Re: Family Time and Reunions (My TR)
Unread postPosted: Mon Feb 21, 2011 8:12 am 
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Posts: 180
Location: Centurion
Day 7

In an effort to spot Cheetah on this trip, we decided to head down to Pretoriuskop (H1-1) for the morning as there had been a number of sightings, and come back via Phabeni (S1). Out of camp at the usual time, coffee in hand and rusks on the ready, we headed down to Pretoriuskop. At the turnoff to Malelane, a car had stopped and on enquiry, they had just spotted a leopard come across the road and into the bush. Try as we might, we could not pick her up, so we continued on our merry way.

Literally around the corner, this young lady was lying in wait, all alone and in need of some company, so we duly spent some time with her until some cars arrived, and she got up.

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Along the way we picked up 3 White Rhino in the distance, but the foliage was so dense that a photo was out of the question, and despite some “close” calls from Batmom, no Cheetah was found. We pulled into Pretoriuskop to freshen up and fill the Thermos flasks, before setting out on the road back to Skukuza.

On entering the S1, we were alerted to Lions on the circle road, so we duly went along to see if we could spot them. Not only did we see the 4 lions high up the hill, but down below them was a herd of Buffalo and a couple of Rhino!!!! Sorry – no photos!!!

So, we carried on and ran into some of the usual suspects ....

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It was just after 10:00 that we came across this brute ambling down the road...

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Well how about that, our 5th Leopard on this trip – WOW!!!

We could not believe our luck, and set sails back to Skukuza for Brunch! YUMMY! But not before we waited for this fellow to cross the road..

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For the afternoon, we decided to spend the time with Dad, so we went to Renosterkoppies Dam and chilled. It was quiet and peaceful, just what we wanted before we pack up tomorrow to head home again.

Mammal sightings today: Impala, Zebra, Giraffe, Steenbok, Elephant, Hippo, Warthog, Buffalo, Waterbuck, Bush Buck, Kudu, Tree Squirrel, Wildebeest, Rhino, Dwarf Mongoose, Grey Duiker, Banded Mongoose, Lion, Leopard

Bird Sightings today: Grey Loerie, Red and Yellow Billed Hornbill, Burchells Coucal, Lylac Brested Roller, European Roller, Woodlands Kingfisher, Yellow Billed Stork, Grey Heron, Fish Eagle, Redcrested Korhaan, European Honey Buzzard, Dark Chanting Buzzard

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 Post subject: Re: Family Time and Reunions (My TR)
Unread postPosted: Mon Feb 28, 2011 8:46 am 
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Posts: 180
Location: Centurion
Sadly, our time is up for this trip, and we start packing the car with a heavy heart. The sights we have seen have been truly amazing, our BEST EVER!!! So, in an absolute final attempt to find Cheetah, we decide to head down to Lower Sabie and down the S3.

Not 2 minutes out of camp, having just turned left towards Eloff Street, we saw what seemed to be a Hyena lying on the road, but as we approached; our 6th Leopard of the trip stood up and went off into the bushes - a quick snap for evidence.

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With that start, we knew we had a chance of spotting the big five on our way out of the park, so with gusto we attacked Eloff Street. We managed to pick up some Ellies and Buffalo as well as the usual buck on the way to Lower Sabie, making the BIG 5 even more of a possibility on our exit.

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We found this Ground hornbill
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This mongoose stayed long enought to get a decent picture

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Just before the N’wanetsi dirt road, we spotted our 7th Leopard of the trip going into the deep bush. We had all of 2 minutes with him before he disappeared. WOW!

We stopped off at Lower Sabie for a nature break and to fill the flasks, and set off down towards the S3 to see what would unfold.

At the Dam wall, we spotted these 2 Hyena, finishing off the remain of a carcas – not a great pick!

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After turning left on the S3, not 3 kilometres along, we spotted 2 lion in the bush, trying every angle we could, we just could not get a shot, but we were now certainly on for the BIG% on exit. All we needed was a Rhino!

The S3 was teeming with activity, and we even managed to spot this Green Pigeon...

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And these baby Wildebeest

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No sign of any cheetah unfortunately, but low and behold, our Rhino, and not just any Rhino, two BLACK RHINO! Whoopee our BIG 5 on exit!!!

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Well that was the day made, no cheetah, but what a day! We exited the park happy but sad – you will all know that feeling I am sure!

We were truly blessed with all our sightings, from the smallest bird to the largest Elephant and everything in between. Dad is resting in the best place in the world!

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