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 Post subject: Re: In the North in Search of Cheetahs and Painted Dogs!!
Unread postPosted: Mon Dec 10, 2012 2:58 pm 
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Day 40 (Dec 10th)
Busy, busy today............. laundry, shopping, packing, working out how four people and all their belongings are going to fit into the Atos!!

So no trip to the park today.

However, we are very excited about our 4 night trip to paradise, so early to bed tonight, after spag bol, salad and garlic bread.

Ww will also drain the last of the Amarula bottle..............but don't panic.......... we have bought more to take with us!!

So get ready dear and faithful friends for the trip within a trip!!!

To be continued.........................

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 Post subject: Re: In the North in Search of Cheetahs and Painted Dogs!!
Unread postPosted: Sat Dec 15, 2012 9:12 pm 
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Back from the wilds of darkest Africa!!!

No signal in Shing or Punda, so lots of uploading and sorting.......so please be patient.

I will say, we all had a wonderful time, with some lovely sightings. :thumbs_up:

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 Post subject: Re: In the North in Search of Cheetahs and Painted Dogs!!
Unread postPosted: Sun Dec 16, 2012 4:49 pm 
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Thanks Anne-Marie, Philip and Hilda!! :thumbs_up:

Electric back on, laptop charged, so here we go!!! :dance:



Day 41 (Dec 11th)
Well today was the day...............everything was packed in our little Atos, and then we are at the gate!!

After so many day visits, the guards eyed suspiciously the beer and wine in the boot, until they read that our permit was for overnight stays!!

We set off up the H9, then branched off up the H14 towards Mopani.

We saw Ellies, Impala, Steenbok, and joy of joy............our first European Roller of the season!!!

The Letaba river causeway was quiet, not even a hippo in sight, and right up till the Tsendze river causeway there was very little to see.

Then we saw Terrapins, and some cute little Black Crake chicks.

We drove on to Mopani, where we were looking forward to brunch.

We were not disappointed.............the new franchise is up and running and what a pleasure!!!

We were shown to our seats on the viewing deck, from where we could see a huge breeding herd of Ellies, with some cute little babas.

Then we ordered from the new menu, and what a difference............Dungy and I had toasties, which were full of "innards" and very tasty, and daughter and SIL had wraps which were really excellent, and very nicely presented.

Then we were on the road again driving towards Shing.

We saw an industrious Dungbeetle pushing a dungball, Buffs, Giraffe, Zebbies, more Impala and Steenbok, and Warthog..........all our usual friends,but still no cats or dogs.

We eventually arrived at Shing, and checked in with a very pleasant and efficient young man, and before driving to our unit, we quickly drove to the causeway, to see what we could find.

There was a Yellow Billed Stork, a Grey Heron, a Hamerkop and a Maribou Stork....all firsts for the kids, so we were thrilled!! There was plenty of water, and in fact the causeway was just overflowing in the middle.

Then it was back to find our cottage...........have a drink, and braai beef sosaties, wors and chicken kebabs, with corn on the cob, and a baked potato!!!

Out came the Amarula, and then it was an early night, ready for an early start tomorrow.

To be continued................



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Last edited by Crested Val on Sun Dec 16, 2012 7:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: In the North in Search of Cheetahs and Painted Dogs!!
Unread postPosted: Mon Dec 17, 2012 7:34 am 
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My megabytes are getting low again, so many apologies for not replying individually to all your lovely comments!!

Day 42 (Dec 12th)
We were up this am, at stupid o' clock, because SIL was sure that he was going to see a cat!!

It was a cold morning with very heavy drizzle, so unlike Shing in December!!

We drove out of the back gate to the causeway, and saw the Hamerkop and the Grey Heron.

We continued round the loop,which yielded only a solitary Ellie, well hidden behind a small tree...............how do they do that?!!

We pulled out onto the main road and headed south, over the bridge, and towards Mopani.

We soon came across a troupe of baboons, and two of them were not very happy with one another. The larger one chased the smaller one up a tree, and the poor little thing was clinging on for dear life, to a very flimsy branch!!

We moved on and took the Red Rocks turning, and soon came across six Giraffe, all enjoying their breakfast, and after a few photos for SIL, we moved on.

Almost immediately, we came across an old friend of ours, and a first for the kids............a Sharpe's Grysbok, who stood around just long enough for a photo or two!!

Then we came a cross a small group of Nyala, also a first for the kids, so by this time they were pretty excited!!!

Then came a really wonderful surprise............a large Hyena, coming down the dirt road towards us...........again a first for the kids, and also the first carnivore!!

It soon sloped off into the bush, but we didn't mind, as we had managed to get a few photos.

Soon after we turned left onto a loop, and were just passing a longish drop on our left, when I spotted something!! On closer examination it was three hyenas and some Vultures, feeding on a Giraffe carcass!!

Wow oh wow!!! and we had the sighting all to ourselves!! There were some small bushes in the way near to us, so my photos are not very good, but you can see quite clearly the hyenas and the vultures, as well as the hapless Giraffe's carcass. Shame!!

The three Hyenas were not impressed with the intruding Vultures, and were shooing them off, as they tried to land on the carcass. At one point one of the Hyenas actually crawled into the carcass, to see what it could find!!!

We stayed there for ages watching the Hyenas tearing into the legs, and ripping off the flesh, and we could also hear bones grinding. The smell was awful, and periodically, as the wind blew in our direction, we got a real whiff!!

We were very hungry by this time, so decided to call it quits for the time being, and return to camp, to cook up a fried breakfast.........cholesterol on a plate, but very yummy!!

To be continued.............


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 Post subject: Re: In the North in Search of Cheetahs and Painted Dogs!!
Unread postPosted: Tue Dec 18, 2012 4:37 pm 
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Thanks everyone for your continued support. :thumbs_up:

Day 42 (Dec 12th) cont.
After our yummy brunch, and a laze around camp, we decided to go out for a short afternoon drive.

We started off over the causeway, and continued around the loop. Then we turned right, and then left along the small loop, and then over the high level bridge and along the small loop that is within the Redrocks loop.

We saw Baboons, Vervets, Buffs, Ellies, Impala, Warthogs and Giraffe.

I must just say that someone on the forums had commented that they had not seen any/many new born Impala in the North, but I am happy to report that now the ewes are starting to drop them, and they are the cutest little things...........smaller than the southern ones, who are starting to grow now!!

Well our sundowner was calling, so we made our way back to Shing, and several kms before the turning I saw something walking in the bush, not too far from the road............and there she stood in all her glory...........a beautiful Lioness!!

She had her back to us, and was very interested in something in the distance. We followed her line of sight, and saw a group of Impala!! This was to be an attempted kill. We looked at our watches..........five past six!!!

She flopped down into the long grass, and just watched every single movement the Impies made, other than when she once turned her head, and glanced in our direction. She was assessing the situation, and waiting to make her move!!

SIL was so excited, at last a Lion!!!

We stayed till a quarter past six, but knew that the gate was calling, so very reluctantly we left her there, still watching the group intently!!

I must say for Cait and I, part of us was very grateful that we had to leave, because although on the one hand, a kill would be awesome to watch, I don't think either of us would really want to witness it at close quarters, it's bad enough watching it on TV!!!

Anyway, leave we had to, and we just got back to camp in time!!

That night we braaied pork chops, and wors, with Gems and new potatoes, and we watched the miriad of stars in the amazing African sky, while listening to the insect chorus, and sipping our Amarulas!!

We talked of what might have been, at the Lioness sighting, and what tomorrow may have in store for us, on our journey up to Punda!!

Does life get any better?

To be continued..............


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 Post subject: Re: In the North in Search of Cheetahs and Painted Dogs!!
Unread postPosted: Wed Dec 19, 2012 4:39 pm 
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Thanks everyone for your continued support, and lovely comments. :thumbs_up:


Day 43 (Dec 13th)
We were up again at stupid o'clock that morning, and by the time we'd all showered, had a coffee and rusks, and packed the car, it was 5am and we were treated to an amazing African sunrise!!

We set off over the causeway, and found a Yellow Billed Stork, some Maribous, a Grey Heron, and a large Openbill, that was preening itself very close to the causeway, and gave us the opportunity both to study it, and also to take a few decent photos!!

We took the Mophongololo Loop, and we were soon rewarded with our first Carmine Bee Eater of the year, though it was acting very strangely, and was all hunched over, so not a very good photo I'm afraid!!

This is such a pretty loop, and along the way, saw Zebra, Wildebeest, Giraffe, Waterbuck, Impala, Vervets, Steenbok, a very shy Sharpie, and then we were very pleased to see a huge male Kudu, displaying his magnificent horns.

We then made our way to Punda, passing along the way a White Stork (a lifer for me, but sadly no photo!!) and two raptors, that I will need ID ing please (they could be the same species for all I know!!)
I am really hopeless at ID ing brown raptors!!!

Punda was as usual very quiet, and check in was easy. The receptionist was really friendly, and said she loved my British accent, and wished she could swap hers for mine!!
We had a snack in the restaurant, which was very tasty, nicely presented, and served with a smile!!

We were in a Family Cottage, with all mod cons, and decided to have a bit of a snooze, before setting off for our late pm drive around the Mahonie Loop.

To be continued...............


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 Post subject: Re: In the North in Search of Cheetahs and Painted Dogs!!
Unread postPosted: Thu Dec 20, 2012 1:19 pm 
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Thanks again for all your lovely comments, and Chirinda and Elsa, thanks for the IDs (I thought that as well, but did not have the confidence!!)

Day 43 (Dec 13th) cont.
Feeling refreshed after our snooze, we set off from camp along the famous Mahonie Loop.

We saw Impala, Nyala, a cute little Duiker and Reedbuck (firsts for the kids, but the Duiker was too quick for photos!!)
We also saw Steenbok, female Kudus, two Southern Ground Hornbills (also a first for the kids, who couldn't believe how ugly they are!!)
Further on we came across a group of Buffs, and some Vervets, and then just after we had gone around the mountain, and were on our way back...............one of my worst nightmares............a huge breeding herd of Ellies on a dirt road!!!

We passed two without realising they were there, but they didn't seem too bothered, but of course they were now behind us, and as we drove on we came across the main herd with the babies!! They were either side of the road, and one large one was in the road!!

Time was moving on rapidly, and we resigned ourselves to the fact that we would be late for the gate!!

We sat looking out of the back mirror to check to see whether the two behind us were approaching, but luckily there was no sign of them!

Then after about twenty five minutes, joy of joy, the whole herd crossed over the road, and disappeared into the bush, not a bit concerned about the little grey Atos with it's four nervous occupants!!

Well now it was a question of whether we could get to the gate (without speeding) before it closed.

Never before had that loop seemed so long and winding.......around each bend we hoped to see the main road, but no, there was just another bend!!

It was getting dark by this time, and we were all a bit concerned.

We eventually came to the main road, and drove as fast as the speed limit would let us, arriving at the gate just as they were about to shut it up for the night!! Phew!!

We were exhausted by this point (partly with the long journey up, and also the nervous energy we had used up at the Ellie sighting!!)

We therefore didn't braai that night, but just put the Lamb Chops and Wors in the oven, and cooked potatoes and butternut in the microwave............not as good as a braai, but it was all yummy never the less!!

As we sat in the lounge with our Amarulas (we had moved inside after our meal, as our daughter was battling with the huge moths flying about outside) we had a little visitor looking at us through the glass door on the verandah...............it was a cute little Thick Tailed Bushbaby!!

None of us had a camera ready, so no photo I'm afraid, but it was such a lovely end to the day, to see it, before it walked back into the darkness.

To be continued............

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 Post subject: Re: In the North in Search of Cheetahs and Painted Dogs!!
Unread postPosted: Fri Dec 21, 2012 8:07 am 
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Thanks Kallis, Elsa Carol and Hilda.......part of my faithful band of followers...your lovely comments make it all worth while. :thumbs_up:

Day 44 (Dec 14th)
Today was going to be a long day, because we were driving up to Pafuri, and then back to Shing, as I couldn't get us another night at Punda.

We were parked outside the shop/reception area, when I could see a familiar figure walking towards us..............it was PetraJ, in her brand new Honorary Ranger uniform!! She did look smart, and she was just off to the camp manager, to see what duties she was required to do that day!!

We had a quick chat, and then it was off up the road to Pafuri!!

We had not gone far, when we saw a very strange sight!!!

Just off the road, under a small tree was a dead domestic dog, which a Tawny was attempting to rip into!!!

How had it got there? How had it died? It was such a pathetic sight...........poor little thing!! It actually looked as though it was asleep, but of course it was not.

We travelled on towards the north, and my excitement was mounting,

I love this area, and as we progressed, we watched more and more Baobab trees appear, and the whole terrain was changing around us.

We passed Baobab Hill, and now I felt I was nearly home..........if only we could build a little cottage here, how happy we would be!!

We saw Impala, Ostrich, Steenbok, Zebra, Buffs, Nyala, Baboons, Warthog, and Kudu.

As we neared Pafuri, I wondered whether Frank would be there, because when we had met Carolv at Olifants, she had said he was on leave, and due back on the 14th. Well today was the 14th, but did she mean he was back at work on the 14th, or back on the 14th to start work on the 15th? I hadn't thought to ask!!!

When we got there, we were surprised to find four medi clinic vehicles and lots of people...............but sadly no Frank!!

We soon discovered that it was a local hospital's Christmas party, so after a quick sandwich, we decided to leave them to it, and drove on to Crook's Corner.

Daughter and SIL were fascinated to read the history of the place, and were also amazed to see the "mighty Limpopo" that we had seen many times on the TV in flood, was a dry river bed, all except a few small pools of water near the fence.

There were however a few small crocs lurking about, so that was at least something to see!!

As it was to be a long drive back to Shing, we didn't stay there too long, and set off back past the beautiful fever trees in the "enchanted forest", down to the main road, and along to Nyala drive, which yielded no sightings sadly.

I had hoped to do some birding while up here, but Daughter and SIL, haven't quite caught the bug yet, so we concentrated on the larger creatures.
I was hoping to track down a Crested Guineafowl, and Green and Orange Winged Pytilias, but it was not to be, so maybe Dungy and I will have to have another minibreak early next year before we leave Phala, and then we can have a birding session! Any old excuse for another visit!!!

On the way back to Shing, we saw Waterbuck, Ellies, a Secretarybird, Giraffe, Openbill, and several Maribous.

That evening we braaied succulent sirloin steaks, wors, and with it we had chakalaka, corn on the cob, fried onions and baked potatoes.........lekker!!!

That night we heard loins roaring the other side of the fence (at least we hoped that they were on the other side!!) and before it got dark, a Crested Barbet and two Glossy Starlings came to fight over the crisp crumbs that we had inadvertantly dropped.

That is the closest that I've been to a CB, and I was so thrilled to watch it at close quarters!!

Then it was Amarula time, and a reflection on our four nights in paradise, as sadly tomorrow we would be making our way back to Phala!!

To be continued.............


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 Post subject: Re: In the North in Search of Cheetahs and Painted Dogs!!
Unread postPosted: Sat Dec 22, 2012 7:19 pm 
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I'm so behind with all my reports!!!

Last of the 4 night trip will hopefully be tomorrow, then I must do quick reports on this week's day visits...............mostly uneventful, until today.....watch this space!!!! :dance:

Thanks you all you wonderful friends for your continued support and lovely comments!!! :thumbs_up:

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 Post subject: Re: In the North in Search of Cheetahs and Painted Dogs!!
Unread postPosted: Sun Dec 23, 2012 7:45 am 
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Elsa, RayK, Kallis, Chirinda, Carol, SM, Pumbaa, Sparrow, Trrp, Hilda, Barry and Philip.............many thanks for your lovely comments!!

Day 45 (Dec 15th)
Today we packed up, and left camp by 6am. It was a sunny morning, so we knew we wouldn't have brilliant sightings.

We crossed the causeway, and were delighted to see our Openbill again, and a small croc, who had his mouth open, displaying a very yellow inner lining!!

The water was just like glass, and with the trees reflected in it, it made a wonderful sight and photo opportunity.

I have always loved this causeway, in all seasons, as it always has plenty to offer.

We decided to see how the Giraffe carcass was doing, and wondered what might be there, having a feast............Jackals and maybe Vultures?

We were disappointed to find nothing at all, though there still seemed to be plenty of flesh on the upper legs!! Perhaps we had just called in at the wrong time?

We saw our family of six Giraffe again, only this time they had increased to nine!! However they were all spread out, munching on the leaves of various bushes, so no good photos.

We also saw some Warthogs, Nyalas, a Steenie and a few Ellies, and then we were very excited to see a family of Banded Mongooses...........too quick for a photo, but a first for all of us!!

We joined the main road, and motored at a steady speed to Mopani, with very little to see, though at one of the waterholes we did see a huge breeding herd drinking thirstily from the water tower, and there was one Ellie who was intent on having a really good scratch up against a tree trunk. He looked so comical, and reminded us of Balou in the Jungle Book film!!

We had another delicious (early) brunch at Mopani, and chatted to the manager, who is really on the ball, and making his mark there. Well done Adrian!!

Then it was home time, and as it was now midday and very hot, we decided to drive at a steady 50 back to Phala, as we didn't think that we would see much.

We had only just left Mopani, when our daughter shouted......"I think it's probably just a rock, but...............stop Dad!!!"

Well it's just as well we did, because flopped down under a tree, was a magnificent male Lion!!! It was not the best of views, but a male Lion is a male Lion, and another first for the kids!!

We saw a few of our regular friends on the H14, including a huge dagga boy, and we were very amused to see a "headless" Giraffe!!

We arrived home mid pm........exhausted, but very happy with our four nights into paradise.

Too tired to cook, we ordered a Take Away from the pub, which was delish, and we squeezed the last of the Amarula out of the bottle, and reflected on our time in the far north of my beloved park!!

So many "firsts for the kids" and they had loved it all..........and a return for Dungy and me, to our land of mystery, enchanted forests and hidden gems!!

We will be back!!

To be continued.............


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 Post subject: Re: In the North in Search of Cheetahs and Painted Dogs!!
Unread postPosted: Mon Dec 24, 2012 6:43 am 
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Well I have some serious catching up to do, and with it being almost Christmas, prepare yourselves!!! :tongue:

Thanks again to all my faithful gang!!! (You know who you are!!)

Day 46 (Dec 16th)
Today was a laundry, shopping and pub lunch day!!

Day 47 (Dec 17th)
A lazy day today, swimming and finishing the laundry!!!
Dinner was beef casserole with new potatoes, cauliflower and peas............simple but lekker!!

Day 48 (Dec 18th)
We had a quick drive today, up the H9, then off at the S133 turning, back down the H14, and home along the H9.

We saw most of our usual friends, and as we were passing the Koppie on the H14 two Southern Ground Hornbills flew down from the rocks and landed near the car.
It's not very good, but I did mange to get a photo of one of them in flight!!

Dinner that night was country chicken hotpot, broccoli, carrots and baked potatoes,.

To be continued...........

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Day 49 (Dec 19th)
Dungy had a bit of a tummy upset, so we had another day off today.
Dinner was spaghetti bolognaise, with garlic bread.......yummy!!

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 Post subject: Re: In the North in Search of Cheetahs and Painted Dogs!!
Unread postPosted: Mon Dec 24, 2012 6:55 am 
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Day 50 (Dec 20th)
Today we were out early, and drove to Sable Dam, then continued around the loop, and then drove up the H9 to the Pan.

We saw a Hippo at the dam, but very little on the loop, except six SG Hornbills.
It's the funniest thing, but do you find that you wait for ages to see a first of something, and then once you have, you see them regularly after that.

We did it last year with Secretarybirds, and the kids this year with SG Hornbills!!

Then we stopped at Erfplaas to search for Desi, but he seems to have gone AWOL again, as have the Klippies!! Will keep trying!!

There were just the two resident Egyptian Geese at the Pan, but we parked and waited for a while, just in case!!

No luck, so eventuually we made our way back to Phala.

We witnessed a reckless vehicle playing "chicken" with a very grumpy Ellie, and they were lucky they were able to get away in time, otherwise we may have had another car flip!! Some people just don't know how to behave around Ellies.

Then not long before the gate, we saw a small group of Kudu and Impies, all having a really good feast on the bushes and succulent grass.

As it was starting to heat up, we were all glad to have a swim in the pool, and a snooze after lunch.

Dinner was a lekker braai.............steak, wors and honey and mustard chicken kebabs, with surprise parcels and corn on the cob!!!

I don't need to say, we finished it all of with opur usual tipple of Amarula, and sat out under the stars till late, talking about how privileged we are to be staying in this amazing country, when most of our friends and family back home, are either freezing, or being swept away by the floods.

To be continued...........



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 Post subject: Re: In the North in Search of Cheetahs and Painted Dogs!!
Unread postPosted: Tue Dec 25, 2012 11:11 am 
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Thanks Daron for turning the page, and for everyone's lovely comments.

Even though it's Christmas, I want to get this episode out!!

Day 52, (Dec 22nd)
I had been very disappointed that we didn't see any of the rarer antelope on our four night trip north, or any of the times we've taken the kids to the Mopani area, so today I was on a mission!!

We decided to drive to the Tihongonyeni Waterhole, as we have often seen Tsessebe there, and I know that others have seen Roan, Eland and Lichstenstein's Haartebeest as well!!

SIL was driving, and as we left home he said jokingly "I think that today is going to be a good day..............I feel it in my water"!!!

We all laughed, but soon it was obvious that he wasn't going to be completely wrong!!

Along the H14, we saw Impala, a Dung Beetle pushing his ball of dung, Ellies, Giraffe, Tortoise, Zebbies, Steppe Buzzard (a first for the kids) Fish Eagle, Hippo, Waterbuck, Steenbok, Buffs wallowing in the mud, Dwarf Mongoose (too quick for a photo, but a first for us all) a Terrapin with a Dragonfly on it's shell, Black Crake and a magnificent Martial Eagle (another first for the kids)

All that in just a couple of hours!!

We joined the main road, and motored on past Mopani, and over the Tropic of Capricorn (I still get a thrill each time we do this, as I think "now I'm in The Tropics"!!)

We then turned off onto the Old Main Road, which leads to the Tropic of Capricorn Loop and Tihongonyeni.

Our expectations were high, because as well as the antelope, I know that Cheetah are sometimes seen there!! We saw Warthogs and Kudu , so our hopes were increasing all the time.

We saw the windmill in the distance, and our excitement rose, until we also saw thousands of Ellies (well not exactly thousands, but there were loads of them, each side of the road, and we could see in the distance more and more!!!

We sat for ages, but they would not shift, then "Mr Attitude" gave us "the eye" and that was enough for us to retreat, and turn back for Mopani and lunch!!

So near, but yet so far!! I was so disappointed, but the others said "Let's have lunch, and come back later"

Lunch at Mopani was again lekker, and served so nicely............ the chips were in a little white pot, the wrap was cut in two, like at "Mug and Bean" and it was all very tasty and HOT!!!
Keep up the good work!!

After we had let our lunch go down, we decided to try the waterhole again, but this time approached it from the S49, S50 roads.

We were" bumping" along when I looked at my watch and realised to my horror that it was already 15.40!! We still had at least 10kms to go to reach the waterhole, and then the journey back to the main road, and then the 75kms back to Phala, so reluctantly we made the decision to turn round!!

We had all had a fright when we nearly missed the gate closing after our Mahonie Loop experience with the breeding herd, and didn't want to be in the same position again!!

Sadly we realised that we were destined not to visit Tihongonyeni that day!!

Bitterly disappointed we headed back to the main road, when suddenly our daughter shouted "Dad stop, what is that"?!!!

You beauty............she had spotted a small herd of Tsessebe!!! They were in long grass, so not the best of sightings, but never the less there they were, and it was another first for the kids!!

Part 2 coming up soon. (Not to br missed IMHO!!)


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 Post subject: Re: In the North in Search of Cheetahs and Painted Dogs!!
Unread postPosted: Tue Dec 25, 2012 11:32 am 
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Part 2.
Now we were on a mission to get to Phala Gate, so Dungy put his foot down and at just under 50kph we set off down the H14, where we saw a few Giraffe, Zebbies, Baboons and Buffs.

As we approached the causeway, a car flagged us down, and the driver said "Be careful, there is a very angry Elephant the other side, and he is not letting cars past"!!

Just what we didn't need!!!

We proceeded carefully, but there was no sign of any Ellies, so we set off for Phala, pleased that we had plenty of time, but then a few minutes later............!!

Oops............."What is that up ahead I cried"?!!!
"Mr Grumpy"!!!

He really was very agitated, and he was jumping around in the road, trumpeting, with his trunk swinging and his ears flapping!!

Shame, we wondered if he was in pain to be so aggressive, or just very angry at the world in general!

Dungy started to reverse, and down the road thundred the ellie towards us!
"Dad, go faster" shouted our daughter, and I endorsed every word she uttered!!

Several cars were backing up behind us, and didn't seem to share our urgency to retreat, so I just said "Keep going, they'll get the message"........and they did!!

It seemed that we would soon be back at the flipping causeway, or even Mopani, and all the time we were keeping an eye on our watches!!

Well of course eventually "Mr Grumpy" decided that he'd had enough, and trundled off into the bush, so we were very relieved to be at last on our way again!!

I said "Right folks, unless it's a cat or a dog, we don't stop now till the gate, and as I had finished speaking the word "gate" our daughter shouted "Stop Dad....... Lions"!!!

Yeah right............very funny!

"No Dad, really.........stop, there are two lions"!!

By this time we had sailed right past them, so Dungy had a fair bit of reversing to do (again!!) but oh my word, there they were, a sub-adult male and a Lioness!!

They appeared to be kissing and cuddling, and our daughter said "Oh look, they are obviously in love............bless!!"

As I have said though, the male did look very young, so we weren't sure if they were actually a mating couple, youngsters playing at mating, siblings playing, or even mother and son!!

We knew that we couldn't spend long with them, because it really was getting late now, but SIL had a repeat button on his camera, and managed to take 307 photos!!!
I even managed 25, before reluctantly we left them to it.

What a wonderful end to an amazing day...............SIL was quite right to "feel it in his water"

We also saw Mum, Dad and junior Southern Ground Hornbill a little further along, and stopped for a very quick photo, but then it really was "Mission Phala Gate"!!

We arrived at the gate at 6.15pm so we really needn't have worried, and we breathed a sigh of relief as Dungy popped the boot, for the gate guard to check.

We had so much to talk about while we sipped our sundowners, and SIL and I couldn't wait to down load our photos!!

Dinner was honey and mustard chicken, gems and a baked spud, which was very tasty, but horror of horrors, there was only a dribble of Amarula left in the bottle!!

"Oops said SIL, I meant to say we needed another bottle, and tomorrow is Sunday, so none now till Monday".

However all was not lost, as we just poured ourselves a brandy instead.

The miriad of stars were twinkling in the sky, and the insect chorus was just getting into full pitch, and here we were nursing our brandies, in this beautiful country called South Africa, with full tummies and contented hearts!!!

What a truely amazing day we had had!!

To be continued.................


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 Post subject: Re: In the North in Search of Cheetahs and Painted Dogs!!
Unread postPosted: Wed Dec 26, 2012 7:31 pm 
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Day 53 (Dec 23rd)
No park today.

Day 54 (Dec 24th)
No park again.............lots of last minute things to do in preparation for tomorrow.

Day 55 (Dec 25th)
Today we were to attend the morning service on the banks of the Letaba River, and then watch a special little girl be Christened.

We were up at 4.30am, and at the gate just turned 5am to join the longest queue I've ever seen.

Luckily we had pre booked a day Visit, because I'm not sure we would have got in otherwise.

We were due to meet everyone at Letaba reception at 7am, but this queue was moving really slowly, and at 5.45am we had hardly moved.

A ranger was coming down the road, explaining to people that they were just letting a few cars in at a time, so we explained about the service and eventually she let us jump the queue.!!!

By this time I had started to feel quite unwell, but I was so looking forward to seeing all our friends and being part of the service that I just hoped I would feel better as time went on.

We got through the gate eventually at 5.55am and Dungy did a steady 50 all the way to Letaba, arriving at 7.05am.

I was starting to feel better, until I opened the car door and the heat hit me!!!

To cut a long story short, I made it to the river bank, where I could hear Hippos and Elephant (a bit worrying, but no one else seemed to find it so) but by now I was really unwell and in need of a loo, so we had to abandon the service and return to Letaba, to the Disabled Ablutions!!!

Reluctantly we made our way back to Phala, and saw a few animals along the way, including a shy male Lion, who was flopped down under a tree. I was not in the mood for taking photos, so we just had a quick look, then made our way back to Phala. By the time we got to the gate, the quota had been reached so it was closed to anyone not booked!!!

I was not a hundred percent, most of the day, but managed to eat and drink a few things!!!

Day 56 (Dec 26)
A lazy day at home.............back to the park tomorrow.

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