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 Post subject: Re: Avoiding the Crowds: Northern Kruger August 2011
Unread postPosted: Sat Aug 18, 2012 11:39 pm 
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Virtual Ranger
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Thanks Crested Val. I wish I could go back soon...but luckily I am going to other places in Africa of late :lol: :whistle:

Day 4: Punda Maria to Shingwedzi

I got back to Punda without further interesting sightings...

On the way to Shingwedzi, we saw a car stopped before Babalala. What were they seeing? I couldn't determine where they were looking due to the baggage in their car blocking the view of the passengers...but suddenly a large male lion came out from the right and crossed the road RIGHT in front of us!!

I didn't even have a camera close to the window! :wall:

Luckily he hung around in the tall grass on the left...

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He was marking his territory, and at one time picked up the scent of another lion's urine...showing the Flehmen Response.

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Suddenly he came back and crossed the road in front of us AGAIN!
This time I was READY... :cam:

He sure was a BIG fella, look at his muscular build...

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I loved this elephant bull among the autumn mopanis...

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We also came across this tree full of Whitebacked vultures close to the Shingwedzi river...we would find out much later why they were all hanging around here... :hmz:

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We got to Shingwedzi without incident, and booked into our chalet. This is currently my favourite camp in Kruger. Remote, yet in an area teeming with great wildlife waiting to be spotted. :thumbs_up:

After a quick lunch and nap, we were in the car again and heading out on an afternoon drive...

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 Post subject: Re: Avoiding the Crowds: Northern Kruger August 2011
Unread postPosted: Mon Aug 20, 2012 10:32 pm 
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Virtual Ranger
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Once again - thanks so much :clap: :mrgreen:


Day 4: Shingwedzi

So we headed out on our afternoon drive...I wanted to do the Red Rocks loop, so we drove to the southernmost access road close to the lookout point, to drive slowly back to camp on the opposite side of the river.

We found some large ellie bulls next to the Shingwedzi river just outside the camp gate.

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And another big boy standing neck-deep in palm leaves, feasting...

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A zebbie in nice light...

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A Fish Eagle at the low water crossing

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On the road back we came across one of a few "roadblocks" during this drive. This breeding herd allowed us close-ish but it was tough getting a photo of the smallest ellies (you know how they protect them!)

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This youngster was playing with his food! :mrgreen:

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:tongue:

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 Post subject: Re: Avoiding the Crowds: Northern Kruger August 2011
Unread postPosted: Mon Aug 20, 2012 10:36 pm 
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Virtual Ranger
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Day 4: Shingwedzi

Our last "roadblock" was a herd of buffalo in the road. With babies. In the SWEETEST of light... :cam: :thumbs_up:

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"Hey - whadda you looking at, punk???" :mrgreen:

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As we drove back to camp, we saw the sun set...

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That night we were awoken by VERY LOUD roars! Lions! It sounded as if they were in the camp! And we were sleeping in a chalet in the middle of the complex, so you can imagine how loud it must've been... :hmz: :big_eyes:

I took my LED Lenser torch and rushed towards the river viewpoint. Then I saw a crowd gathered at the MAIN GATE. There he was - mr Lion roaring loudly not 10 meters in front of the gate, in the road!

Awesome! I knew who I would go looking for first thing in the morning...the roaring continued all night...the best kind of Kruger Music! :dance: :dance:

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 Post subject: Re: Avoiding the Crowds: Northern Kruger August 2011
Unread postPosted: Thu Aug 23, 2012 12:27 am 
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Virtual Ranger
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Location: Behind a Nikon camera...
Sooooo glad you enjoyed the photos of the ellies and buffs!! :gflower: :clap:


Day 5: Shingwedzi

So I made sure we were up early and coffee was drunk when it was still dark. We were 2nd out of the gate...and not 500m from the gate we found this guy...

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He didn't stay long as all the vehicles were coming out of the gate now and crowded his space (he was RIGHT on the edge of the road).

Saw Bushbuck as well

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The route this morning was one of my favourite roads in the entire Kruger Park...the S56 Mphongolo loop...
A beautiful river-forest road which can yield amazing sightings.

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Open-Billed Stork

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Double Bateleur!

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A herd of buffalo coming up the embankment... :big_eyes:

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With the usual passengers...

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 Post subject: Re: Avoiding the Crowds: Northern Kruger August 2011
Unread postPosted: Thu Aug 23, 2012 12:33 am 
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Virtual Ranger
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Francolin time!!

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Squirrel time...

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Hornbill time!

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Then suddenly...

ROADBLOCK

:big_eyes:

A breeding herd of ellies...and this mother was considerably more agitated than those from last night! :big_eyes: :shock:

(with good reason...we would find out tomorrow why!)

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We had no choice but to double back - we had just passed the first "exit" back to the H1-7...
and was I in for a surprise at Babalala!!!! :popcorn: :thumbs_up: :cam:

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 Post subject: Re: Avoiding the Crowds: Northern Kruger August 2011
Unread postPosted: Sat Aug 25, 2012 10:48 pm 
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Virtual Ranger
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Thanks for following along and for all the new passengers on this bus 8) :lol:


Day 5: Shingwedzi


We got back to the H1-7 and headed north towards Babalala.

Some Tsessebes were moving away from the road...

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I saw some antelopes standing in the distance on the edge of the Babalala clearing...and knew immediately that it was finally here! My first ROAN sighting in over 20 years of visiting Kruger!! :clap: :dance:
Not the best sighting for photography (they were faaaaar)...but I was happy! :mrgreen:

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We drove around the top towards the Sirheni side of the Mphongolo loop, and stopped at a large tree overlooking the riverbed where a troop of baboons were having some fun... :hmz:

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We took the first turn back to the tar road and headed back to Shingwedzi. A couple of giraffes and elephant bulls saw us home...

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... :tongue:
Time for brunch and siesta...see you on the afternoon drive! :whistle:

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 Post subject: Re: Avoiding the Crowds: Northern Kruger August 2011
Unread postPosted: Sun Aug 26, 2012 1:43 pm 
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Virtual Ranger
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Location: Behind a Nikon camera...
Thanks :clap: :popcorn: :popcorn:


Day 5: Shingwedzi

After siesta I took some snaps in the camp...

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We'd seen/heard many reports of leopards sighted on the Kanniedood road...and decided to head south on that lovely road for our evening drive.

Here are some of the things we saw:

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Another "passenger":

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Fork-tailed Drongo in the best light!

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Glowing Croc:

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As we came back towards camp I decided to stop on the low water bridge behind Shingwedzi for sunset.

Terrapin:

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One last quick drive up the main Shingwedzi strip to check out the resident baboon troop...

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So ends another day in the bush...who knows what tomorrow will bring??

Once again we were awoken by incessant roaring...lions in the riverbed this time... :tongue: :thumbs_up:

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 Post subject: Re: Avoiding the Crowds: Northern Kruger August 2011
Unread postPosted: Sun Aug 26, 2012 11:23 pm 
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Virtual Ranger
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Location: Behind a Nikon camera...
Thanx folx! :lol: :dance:


Day 6: Shingwedzi

This morning I wanted to get north quickly and work the Mphongolo loop from Babalala southwards to look for the resident leopard there.

About 20km north of Shingwedzi we came across a Spotted Hyena den close to the road! And we were only 2 vehicles with them for about 30 minutes :clap: (gotta love the North!! :whistle: )

This youngster was milling about...

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While 2 adults were harassing the visitor in front of us :mrgreen: :shock:
Afterwards we found out they actually chewed on his bumper and stuck their heads in the window!

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Hyena cubs are just tooooo cute, eh? :popcorn: :cam: :thumbs_up: :tongue:

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 Post subject: Re: Avoiding the Crowds: Northern Kruger August 2011
Unread postPosted: Sun Aug 26, 2012 11:29 pm 
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Virtual Ranger
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Location: Behind a Nikon camera...
As you would have seen from this TR, I love me some B&W photography...but I've found through the years it's a matter of careful selection which images work well in monochrome...you can't just convert to B&W and think it will "save a crap photo" :lol: :? :wink:

This shot works in colour...

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But for me it works so much better in this duotone toning...

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The same with these tight close-up portraits...

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The adults started approaching too...

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DOUBLE TROUBLE :big_eyes:

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After a while they sauntered into the bushes and we knew the sighting was over...we pushed on...
:thumbs_up:

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 Post subject: Re: Avoiding the Crowds: Northern Kruger August 2011
Unread postPosted: Thu Aug 30, 2012 11:40 pm 
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Virtual Ranger
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Thanks so much folks... :P :lol:


Day 6: Shingwedzi

This elephant was grazing not far from the hyena den.

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We carried on towards Boyela waterhole - more hyenas! :lol: :thumbs_up: :cam:

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Two Tsessebes were looking on... :big_eyes:

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We drove a little way past Babalala before turning back towards the picnic spot...
I always love stopping at these trees.

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Back at Babalala there were zebras hanging around.

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Some Tsessebes were coming up the road!

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I positioned the vehicle, switched off, and waited for them to trot right past us...but then some dude with a kombi came from behind them, saw them and then CHASED down on them. Doesn't this guy know how skittish they are??? :wall: :evil:

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They ran into the bush, and this impatient guy got only images of their backsides. :whistle: :thumbs_up:

...to be continued... :popcorn:

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 Post subject: Re: Avoiding the Crowds: Northern Kruger August 2011
Unread postPosted: Fri Aug 31, 2012 11:22 pm 
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Virtual Ranger
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Location: Behind a Nikon camera...
Again - thanks folks! :P

anne-marie wrote:
:hmz: one of the passenger is not so usual... is a Yellow billed Oxpecker :clap: :clap: :clap:


thanks Anne-Marie, I knew that, just didn't bother to point out the species :lol:


Day 6: Shingwedzi

So I turned back towards Babalala, hitting the Mphongolo from the northern side. My aim was to look for the resident Sirheni leopard.

Found this waterbuck mom and daughter...

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Just love the red mopani colours here!

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Soon I came upon a cluster of vultures in a tree. I figured there must be a kill nearby, but that it was probably down in the river and thus not worth chasing down. The bushes to the east were also dense so I thought if it was in there I wouldn't be able to spot it. How wrong I was!!! And I would only find that out the night by speaking to our neighbours!! :wall: I missed the sighting of a lifetime! (but more on that later)

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I'd heard from another tourist I met on the way that the leopard was spotted this morning, around Ribye waterhole, so I decided to sit there for a few minutes.

A Saddle-billed Stork came sauntering by...

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These 2 guys were on a fishing trip together...

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(Grey Heron and Hamerkop, for those interested)

A herd of Nyala was considering a drink...

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And this giraffe had just finished his drink...

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And a Korhaan skulked by...

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After a while I pushed on. I was also told about some Verreaux's Eagle Owls in a tree closer to the Shingwedzi side of the Mphongolo loop, and eventually found them! Adult with 2 chicks.
:mrgreen:

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The light and their position in the tree made for difficult photography, but I was happy to get some snaps, even if they would always just be for record purposes (and for this TR hehe :dance: :wink: )

On the way back to camp we saw some Impala sparring...

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And then it was time for siesta and enjoying our family time in the camp.

See you on the afternoon drive!!
:popcorn: :cam: :thumbs_up:

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 Post subject: Re: Avoiding the Crowds: Northern Kruger August 2011
Unread postPosted: Mon Sep 03, 2012 1:29 am 
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Virtual Ranger
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Thanks folks! :whistle: :D

Day 6: Shingwedzi

For our afternoon drive we went to Red Rocks again as a pride of lions was hanging around the southern end near Bateleur bush camp in the morning.

Some giraffes on the way...

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A herd of elephants next to the road...

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What's this? They are coming towards me - they want to cross the road...GET OUT OF THE WAY! :big_eyes:

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A stylish young Waterbuck bull...

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We found a troop of Vervet Monkeys enjoying the sun on the riverbed...

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And a Chacma Baboon on an anthill...

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Kudu and friend...

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We didn't find the lions... :cry:

Some more giraffes on the way back to camp...

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We came across the same herd of buffalo (I presume) in the same area as yesterday...

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The sun was setting behind the herd...

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A last trio of Giraffe bulls before we got back to camp...

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Tonight would be our last night in Shingwedzi.
And that night I found out from our neighbours what I had missed close to the vultures in the trees on the Mphongolo loop... :evil: :wall: :wall: :wall:

A DEAD ELEPHANT!
WITH LIONS EATING FROM IT!

:wall: :wall: :doh: :doh:
What photos I could have gotten!!! :sniper: :wall: :doh:

Anyway, this explains the agitated elephant cow in that area 2 days ago as well as the vultures we saw. Apparently the carcass was on one of the lesser-known loops away from the river on the S56. I'd always tried to stick to the riverbed - this just goes to show you...

AAAAARGH...!!!!

Anyway, the decision was made to head there first thing in the morning, to at least see the sight, before we needed to head south to Olifants for our second-last night.
:hmz:

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 Post subject: Re: Avoiding the Crowds: Northern Kruger August 2011
Unread postPosted: Tue Sep 04, 2012 12:04 am 
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Virtual Ranger
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thanks guys - yeah you win some and you lose some...we did have some great sightings and just being in the bush is always a privilege :mrgreen: :clap:


Day 7: Shingwedzi to Olifants

So this morning after packing everything into the car very early we headed north on the tar road to get to the elephant carcass via the 2nd Mphongolo connection road.

We found it...and the vultures were having a BALL...and the SMELL was terrrrrrrrible!! :big_eyes: :tongue: :shock:

Here are some photos I managed to get by opening the window, shooting for a minute, and closing the window to breathe again... :mrgreen:

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...lots more to come! :popcorn: ...

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 Post subject: Re: Avoiding the Crowds: Northern Kruger August 2011
Unread postPosted: Tue Sep 04, 2012 12:48 am 
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"Let's keep him away from the good parts, boys!!"

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"THIS IS MY ELEPHANT!!"

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 Post subject: Re: Avoiding the Crowds: Northern Kruger August 2011
Unread postPosted: Tue Sep 04, 2012 12:56 am 
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Arguments like these can lead to...VULTURE KUNG FU!!! :popcorn: :popcorn: :dance:

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"Call in some reinforcements!!"

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In the end we couldn't really stay too long... :cry: ....Olifants was a loooong way off and I wanted to take the Kanniedood/S50 dirt road to Mopani (I like staying on roads less travelled in Kruger) 8)

...stay tuned for a nearly-missed leopard sighting... :popcorn: :big_eyes:

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