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 Post subject: Cheetahlady's Water, water everywhere ... KNP, July '13
Unread postPosted: Sat Aug 10, 2013 10:49 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Mon Aug 17, 2009 5:28 pm
Posts: 380
Location: California
Part 1: Getting there
The planning started a year ago. First the discussion of where to stay and how many nights per camp. Then staying up late or getting up early to call SANParks reservations on the 1st August 2012. Finally a confirmed booking :D Now the countdown began. Booked flights in November, booked a car. A couple of months before leaving my SO started the meal plans ( makes it so much easier to do the shopping ). Two weeks before leaving we started to set out what we would take with us -cooler, small picnic set, mugs, flask, cameras, binocs, finally clothing. At last the departure day arrived. We had a 5hr flight from Los Angeles to New York.
My SO was flying via Frankfurt so he was leaving that evening. My son and I were taking the SAA flight from JFK to JNB (15.5 hours direct), so we had one night in New York. The flight was long. We left JFK at 11am, so did not sleep much on the flight. We met up with my SO in the immigration line at JNB. Once through formalities, I picked up my data sim and cell sim from Vodacom, we collected the hire car. A nice surprise-we were upgraded to a Fortuner. We were staying with family for a couple of days before driving to the Kruger so we did our shopping in Johannesburg. On the 15th July, we left Johannesburg at 5am and headed north. We stopped at the Caltex before Polokwane for breakfast, then took the R81 towards Punda Maria. We arrived at the gate at about 1pm. We were there at last :dance:

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Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better
Albert Einstein

KNP June 2015
Mopani, Tamboti, Satara, Skukuza, Croc Bridge


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 Post subject: Re: Water, water everywhere - a July trip to the Kruger.
Unread postPosted: Sun Aug 11, 2013 4:51 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Thu Sep 29, 2005 2:38 am
Posts: 243
Location: California
Entrance gate sign.... aaahhhh back in the Kruger

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 Post subject: Re: Water, water everywhere - a July trip to the Kruger.
Unread postPosted: Mon Aug 12, 2013 5:46 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Mon Aug 17, 2009 5:28 pm
Posts: 380
Location: California
Shushin, MM, tent dweller, Foxy, Stampajane, Heksie, Trr, Grantmissy & Madinga welcome on board and thank you for all your comments. Shushin and Heksie, it is a long trip, but it is worth it. Tent dweller and Stampajane, the planning adds to the excitement of the trip.

Once we finished with gate formalities, we unpacked the cameras and binocs. We took a slow drive along the tar road to Punda Maria. We did a brief detour along the S93. There was quite a bit of water around. We saw nyala, kudu, zebbies, impala and warthogs. We spoke to some other visitors who were doing the loop, and they told us it had rained a few days earlier :big_eyes: .

We checked in at Punda Maria and unpacked. We were allocated Hut number 21. We went for a brief afternoon drive along part of the Mahonie Loop but we were all just too tired. We decided to return to camp and have an early braai. Lamp chops, Boerewors, Garlic bread and salad were on the menu. Just before turning in for the night, the distant sound of lions roaring. A perfect way to end our first day in the park.

_________________
Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better
Albert Einstein

KNP June 2015
Mopani, Tamboti, Satara, Skukuza, Croc Bridge


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 Post subject: Re: Water, water everywhere - a July trip to the Kruger.
Unread postPosted: Mon Aug 12, 2013 6:04 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger

Joined: Mon Aug 17, 2009 5:28 pm
Posts: 380
Location: California
Part 2: The camps

This is where I change a little from our traditional trip report format. I had my SO's laptop with me when I went to Cape Town after the KNP, so he has had no time to sort through his photos of animals, and with work schedules, will probably not have time this week.

So I have decided to go through the camps that we stayed in to make time for the photo sorting.

Our first camp was Punda Maria. For those who do not know it. It is a small camp in the northern section of Kruger. It has 22 huts, which share braai facilities. It also has some lovely looking tents and two family houses. It has a pool, shop and restaurant. There is a spotlit waterhole near the fence adjacent to the camping area.

We stayed in Hut number 22, a BD3 bungalow. These are pictures of the inside. It has a small kitchen with a gas stove, a reasonable sized bathroom and plenty of space for 3 beds.

Image

Image

While sharing braai facilities can be a nuisance, especially if you forget something at the hut (the vervets will take the opportunity to help themselves to unattended food), they do have some benefit. We got to talk to some of our fellow travellers. We met an ecologist doing a river survey of the Luvuvhu and a couple from Malelane who were escaping up north for some peace & quiet. We also spoke to some guys who are installing radio relay stations to improve communications for the rangers.

_________________
Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better
Albert Einstein

KNP June 2015
Mopani, Tamboti, Satara, Skukuza, Croc Bridge


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 Post subject: Re: Water, water everywhere - a July trip to the Kruger.
Unread postPosted: Tue Aug 13, 2013 4:41 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger

Joined: Mon Aug 17, 2009 5:28 pm
Posts: 380
Location: California
Welcome on board Hugh. Definitely not too late :)

While at Punda Maria, we visited Pafuri picnic site. At this stage, the roads were still not open so we were not able to go to Crook's Corner. Pafuri picnic site is wonderful. It looked as good as before the floods. It was quiet. The bird life was not as extensive as usual but Frank told us that this was because of the noisy roadworks that were happening in the area. He said the birds usually take 1-2 weeks to return.

For those of you who want to see the site, here is a photo of the picnic area.

Image

_________________
Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better
Albert Einstein

KNP June 2015
Mopani, Tamboti, Satara, Skukuza, Croc Bridge


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 Post subject: Re: Water, water everywhere - a July trip to the Kruger.
Unread postPosted: Tue Aug 13, 2013 4:58 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger

Joined: Mon Aug 17, 2009 5:28 pm
Posts: 380
Location: California
Bateleur Bushveld Camp

Our second camp was Bateleur Bushveld Camp near Red Rocks. This was the first time we have stayed at this camp and it is a little gem. There are only 7 huts, no shop or petrol station (although wood is available for purchase and is delivered to your hut). It has won Bushveld camp of the year a couple of times and I can see why. We were warmly welcomed.

There is a hide overlooking a waterhole. We saw herds of ellies on at least two occasions at the waterhole.

We were allocated hut 6, a GA4 unit. It has two bedrooms and two bathrooms. The main bedroom had satellite TV. Not sure what channels were available as we did not watch it.

The kitchen and dining area was on the covered porch and was really well equipped. We had a bird bath just next to the hut and watched a number of different birds coming to drink during the day. They do not have problems with vervets or birds but do have problems with squirrels, so store food in the cupboards.

There is no cell reception in camp but we were told that you can get reception at the Tshanga lookout, which is nearby.

These are photos of the porch and the main bedroom (double bed).

Image

Image

_________________
Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better
Albert Einstein

KNP June 2015
Mopani, Tamboti, Satara, Skukuza, Croc Bridge


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 Post subject: Re: Water, water everywhere - a July trip to the Kruger.
Unread postPosted: Thu Aug 15, 2013 1:35 am 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger

Joined: Mon Aug 17, 2009 5:28 pm
Posts: 380
Location: California
Thank you for all your comments.
CoS - Bateleur is great. As with most Northern areas, game viewing is not as easy but all the animals are there. Just a case of right time right place.
Barryels - thanks. It is an issue with the MAC. It removes the bracket so I have to put it back in. Worked it out eventually.
Sparrow - Pafuri is special.
isinkwe - enjoy your trip to the North. We at various times have seen everything there. It is more challenging, in part because there are fewer "eyes" - which is part of the attraction.
Pumba - Bateleur is great.
Heksie - too true. Nothing like the sounds of lion. As far as the photos of the camps, I thought it would give a different perspective. Sometimes I spend all afternoon in camp (as do many parents I suspect), so we often choose accommodation that makes this a more pleasant endeavor.

Camp 3 - Mopani

After Bateleur we headed to Mopani. This is one of our favourite camps. The restaurant has really improved and service was great.

We booked a BD4V hut. There are 4 of these in Mopani (49, 51, 99 (or98), 100). We were allocated 49 as we requested. This has a spectacular view of Pioneer Dam. It is a wonderful place to sit and watch the dam. We had a few "visitors" who asked if they could take a photo of the dam from our vantage point. 49 is close enough to the shop / restaurant to walk but we did not hear too much noise in the evenings. Just lots of hippo :D

The BD4V has a main bedroom with two twin beds pushed together to make a double. It has a small alcove just outside the main room that has a bunk bed and small table. There is one bathroom with a shower. There is a kitchen on the porch with all utensils, cookware etc.

There was a good 2G signal (Vodacom) in camp. My son was doing an online course and had no problem uploading small files (600 K).

The photo below is the sunset taken from our porch.

Image

_________________
Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better
Albert Einstein

KNP June 2015
Mopani, Tamboti, Satara, Skukuza, Croc Bridge


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 Post subject: Re: Water, water everywhere - a July trip to the Kruger.
Unread postPosted: Sat Aug 17, 2013 7:35 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger

Joined: Mon Aug 17, 2009 5:28 pm
Posts: 380
Location: California
Trrp-trrrr, CoS & Barryels, thank you for commenting. The sunsets are a lovely way to end a day.

Letaba

Our next camp was Letaba. We had not stayed there for many years and decided to give it another go. We reserved a BD3U and had emailed to request hut no 64. We were very happy to see that this was the one we were allocated. We had a lovely view of the river, and were far enough away from the restaurant that we were not disturbed in the evenings. Letaba had a good 2G signal.

It was great to watch the animals in the river bed. We saw a big tusker, impala, birds (including a bateleur and some vultures), giraffe, kudu, and of course hippo. We also saw some cane rats running along the bank near the fence. A first for us. Letaba has some bat boxes, and every evening the bats would stream out to catch insects. It was great to see this.

This is a picture of the hut and the view of the river taken from just in front of the hut.

Image

Image

_________________
Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better
Albert Einstein

KNP June 2015
Mopani, Tamboti, Satara, Skukuza, Croc Bridge


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 Post subject: Re: Water, water everywhere - a July trip to the Kruger.
Unread postPosted: Sat Aug 17, 2013 7:45 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger

Joined: Mon Aug 17, 2009 5:28 pm
Posts: 380
Location: California
Satara

After Letaba, we headed south to Satara. This is one camp that we always stay at. The game viewing in the area is great. We had reserved at BD3B. It is one of the updated huts on B circle. It has a good kitchen, including a microwave and a nice seating area. Good 3G signal. We do miss the old stable doors. We used to leave the top part open at night to hear the sounds. The new glass sliding doors are not as nice. There is space for a mozzie screen but this was missing, so no leaving the door open at night.

One big improvement at Satara is the new bins in the circles. Thanks to the HR of Johannesburg for supplying the bins (incl recycling). The honey badgers and vervets can't get into these so we did not have any issues with night time raiders. We did see a genet in camp, but so briefly that there was no time for a photo.

This is a pic of our hut at Satara. There is one old hut on B circle near the camping area. All the others are updated.

Image

_________________
Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better
Albert Einstein

KNP June 2015
Mopani, Tamboti, Satara, Skukuza, Croc Bridge


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 Post subject: Re: Water, water everywhere - a July trip to the Kruger.
Unread postPosted: Mon Aug 19, 2013 6:32 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger

Joined: Mon Aug 17, 2009 5:28 pm
Posts: 380
Location: California
Thank you for all your comments.
Chirinda & MM - Bateleur is one to visit if you can.
Barryels - we always used to get the perimeter huts @ Satara, until they made it two people only....
Hilda - welcome, never too late to join.
trrp-trrrr - the stable doors are an endangered species in the camps now.
Grantmissy - agree Mopani is great
isinkwe - love camping, just hard to do from California. We always toy with hiring a vehicle with roof tops. Maybe next time.
Elsa - always good to bring back happy memories.
Heksie - the night sounds are what lull me to sleep. An important part of Kruger, imho.

Final Camp - Berg-en-Dal

Our last camp was Berg-en-Dal. We have stayed here once before and decided to visit again. We booked a BA3U and had requested no 24, which we were allocated. We had a good view of the fence and saw two of the big 5 just the other side of the fence. The accommodation is spacious with a fully equipped kitchen (no oven but hot plate & microwave). Unlike the other camps, the braai is a built in brick braai on the patio. It is also a great camp for birding. I saw brown-hooded kingfishers, green pigeons and purple-crested turacos in camp :D

We only had a couple of nights here. The shop is well stocked and the restaurant is good.

This is a photo of the view of the fence from no 24
Image

This is a bad pic of the purple-crested turaco (small point & shoot of full zoom)
Image

_________________
Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better
Albert Einstein

KNP June 2015
Mopani, Tamboti, Satara, Skukuza, Croc Bridge


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 Post subject: Re: Water, water everywhere - a July trip to the Kruger.
Unread postPosted: Mon Aug 19, 2013 7:11 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger

Joined: Mon Aug 17, 2009 5:28 pm
Posts: 380
Location: California
Part 3 - what we saw

Now we get to the good bit....

This trip was a tough one for sightings. The predators were few and far between. We heard them, but just didn't see too many of them. We usually see many raptors, but this time we did not see as many. The bush was very green (still) and there was water in most of the streams and rivers. We also had some strange weather - cloudy, cool days. Some windy days - not what we are used to in July. But we did have some firsts...
and 11 kills in 40 minutes near Letaba :lol:

16th July - our first full day in the park

After a good nights sleep, we decided to drive up to Pafuri for breakfast. We left shortly after gates opened. Probably a bit early as it was still quite dark. We decided to stick to the tar, so took the H13-1 and then the H1-8 north. The drive started quietly, but got a bit more active as it warmed up. We were amazed to see how green the Mopani trees were. We are used to seeing them turning red already, but there was still a lot of green.

Image

On our way up to Pafuri, we saw impala, elephant and some general game. Just before Pafuri, we saw a herd of buffalo.

Image

We stopped at Pafuri and had a skottle breakfast - bacon, egg, sausage, mushrooms........with a serenade by the brown hooded kingfishers.
There was a family of nyala wandering around the picnic site. It was not too busy, but very pleasant.

On the way back to Punda Maria, we took the S62, to the S60. At klopperfontein dam there were some ellies having a mud bath. We then headed back to camp. Later that afternoon, we headed out on the Mahonie loop. We saw a lovely kudu bull.

Image

We returned to camp just before gates closed and settled down to a braai. The thick-tailed bushbabies were jumping around the trees near the braai area. Unfortunately we did not have a camera with us, so no photos.

We ended our first day hearing lions roaring.

_________________
Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better
Albert Einstein

KNP June 2015
Mopani, Tamboti, Satara, Skukuza, Croc Bridge


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 Post subject: Re: Water, water everywhere - a July trip to the Kruger.
Unread postPosted: Mon Aug 19, 2013 9:50 pm 
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This is Ollie, I am Cheetahlady’s SO…. I thought I should add some comments on the trip and the planning, and yes I know I owe more photos, I just need a week of free time to be able to process them all!!!! Trouble is I don’t have a free week. I will try to no be redundant with my comments….
I have to say the buildup to any trip is always exciting, however the trip to Kruger always generates even more excitement by the fact you have to book 11 months in advance….. It kind of makes you think about all the planning much more, we have 11 months to think about it all. What route should we drive to get the Kruger, watching the other trip reports for tips on the areas we will be visiting, what will we want on the menu each day (that eventually becomes the shopping list). So the planning for me is part of the overall Kruger experience, not that I am OCD (well perhaps a little)  To be honest I really enjoy the buildup to the adventure. Whilst the clock seems to slow down when you are 11 months out, it does seem to speed up when you only have a few weeks left to get things wrapped up at work and packed for the journey.
I have over the years developed a planning XLS that I use to capture all our trip information, reservations, meals, daily travel stuff etc. etc. This planning tool has evolved over the years and each time I get back from one of our adventures I try to capture what worked and what did not work, so I have this information recorded for the next trip. Frankly this tool has really helped make us super-efficient when it comes to packing and shopping.
A big learning from one of our very first trips to the Kruger, was when we stopped at some of the many picnic sites (as many people do) and saw other visitors cooking breakfast. Each time we encountered this we were very jealous and could not stop drooling over other people’s food. We agreed then that from that time forward we would come prepared and be able to do our own cooked breakfast. So over the years we have built up a travelling picnic set that is light and easy to take with us from the US. We now include in our travel plans breakfast stops at our favorite spots… It is hard to explain to someone how good a ‘bush’ breakfast is, it makes me feel hungry just thinking about it!
I will add some comments as we progress through the rest of the report…. We have enjoyed a number of firsts this trip, and some unusual situations!!! More to come later on this.


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 Post subject: Re: Water, water everywhere - a July trip to the Kruger.
Unread postPosted: Tue Aug 20, 2013 11:18 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger

Joined: Mon Aug 17, 2009 5:28 pm
Posts: 380
Location: California
Tent dweller - we also do a plan A & plan B. Usually get plan A - except when trying for Balule or Lower Sabie...
MM - I also used to be :mrgreen: as Ollie (my SO) had seen some near LS the last time. They are lovely birds, but remind me a little of the bird from UP.
isinkwe - you are not allowed to post food pics anymore due to it being deemed cruel and unusual punishment :wink:
Mandinga -- see previous comment
CoS - absolutely.

17th July - Punda Maria to Bateleur

Today we moved camps. The route we chose was the tar to Babalaba, then the S56 Mphongolo loop. A brief stop in at Shingwedzi then on to Bateleur via Red Rocks.

The first part of the journey to Babalaba was very quiet. We saw some ellies, impies, waterbuck and wooly necked storks.

Image

We stopped at Babalaba for a breakfast of toast and cereal. After refueling and refilling the coffee, we headed on to the Mphongolo loop. This is one of our favourite drives. Sometimes we see a lot, sometimes not so much, but it is a beautiful drive along the Mphongolo river. There was a lot of water in the river. We saw black storks, ellies, buffalo, waterbuck, white fronted bee eaters and a crocodile.

We spotted an ellie in the river bed. We decided to stop for a bit. Good thing too as there were a whole herd of ellies in the river (40-50). It was great to see this family group from the safety of the bank

Image

Image

After watching the ellies for a while, we continued along the road. Suddenly we noticed the outline of an owl in a tree. On closer inspection, we saw two Verreaux's Eagle Owls. The adults was eating a spotted genet. The juvenile was waiting patiently for its turn. We managed to get some photos but they are not processed yet, so hopefully we can post them later in the trip report.

We continued onto Shingwedzi for a break and some icecream. The temporary shop there is small but has a decent range of items. The floods have definitely changed the river bed near camp. There was still some water around.

After the icecream, we headed on to Bateleur via Red Rocks. We saw a number of giraffe, general game and ellies. Just before Bateleur we came across some lovely bull ellies at the low water bridge over the Tshanga river.

Image

We stayed with them for a while before heading to camp to check in. After a fairly long drive, we decided to spend the rest of the afternoon in camp.

We also saw guinea fowl in a tree
Image

Crested francolin
Image

_________________
Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better
Albert Einstein

KNP June 2015
Mopani, Tamboti, Satara, Skukuza, Croc Bridge


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 Post subject: Re: Water, water everywhere - a July trip to the Kruger.
Unread postPosted: Sat Aug 24, 2013 1:30 am 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger

Joined: Mon Aug 17, 2009 5:28 pm
Posts: 380
Location: California
Hilda, Barryels, Stampajane, isinkwe, CoS, Trrp, Heksie, Sparrow, MM, Philip1 - thank you all for your kind comments. We love ellies, which is just as well because we saw a lot of them. We love to watch them interact and play in water and mud.

Heksie, we did see 11 kills near Letaba, just perhaps not the type you are thinking of.

18th July - Bateleur
The day started cloudy and cool. After a long drive yesterday, we decided that we would go visit Rooibosrand dam, and then return to camp for brekkies.

Rooibosrand dam is large. It is a great place to watch birds, but not great for photography. Unless the birds are fairly close to the edge, they just look like blobs. We did see spoonbills, African jacana, fish eagles, pied kingfishers, hippo, crocs and a dark chanting goshawk. The only decent photo we got was of a family of egyptian geese that were wading along the shore.

Image

After sitting at the dam for a couple of hours, watching the birds do their thing, we returned to camp for a breakfast of bacon, eggs, sausage and toast.

We spent the afternoon at camp just chilling on the patio and watching the birds at the birdbath.

Later we went for a drive to Redrocks Via the Shingwedzi loop (turn left onto the S52 from Bateleur, not right). We stopped briefly at Silwervis dam. We did not hang about as the vegetation was rather thick and we managed to surprise an ellie, who gave us a scare with some trumpeting and tree breaking. The S52 route we took is a lovely drive. It meanders next to the river and has some lovely big trees along it. It was a quiet drive. It was still overcast and I find that the animals do not show themselves as easily in this type of weather. We did see ellies, waterbuck, impala, warthog, fisheagle, pied kingfisher, yellow stork, spoonbill and hippo.

Another ellie shot :)

Image

_________________
Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better
Albert Einstein

KNP June 2015
Mopani, Tamboti, Satara, Skukuza, Croc Bridge


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 Post subject: Re: Water, water everywhere - a July trip to the Kruger.
Unread postPosted: Sun Aug 25, 2013 1:26 am 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Mon Aug 17, 2009 5:28 pm
Posts: 380
Location: California
Trrp-trrr - A quiet day in Kruger beats a good day at home.
MM - the Red Rocks area is great. Really remote.

Some more photos from the drive down to Bateleur

First up - the owls

The adult with meal:

Image

Image

The juvenile:

Image

And some ellies drinking in the Mphongolo river:

Image

This is my favourite image from these ellies:

Image

_________________
Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better
Albert Einstein

KNP June 2015
Mopani, Tamboti, Satara, Skukuza, Croc Bridge


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