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 Post subject: Re: A SLOW STEAM TRAIN RIDE FOR A 13 DAY TRIP TO KRUGER PARK
Unread postPosted: Mon Sep 23, 2013 8:59 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Posts: 418
TUESDAY 20 AUGUST 2013 - PART 2/2 - 08:30 TO 18:00

Oh boy, we were really looking forward to today and booking in to Satara for three nights in our favourite hut on the fence. O\/ O\/ O\/

As it was still early we motored on down to the breached bridge construction area. As there was no one around we parked in the laybye which had a lovely view up the river and ate a relaxed breakfast. We headed back up the H7 not seeing much except the locals.

When we reached the small waterhole at Nwamatsatsa river we saw that the SB's were still snuffeling around.........
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........and the juvenile fish eagle was back at his little pond.
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We sat and watched them for a while and the JFE again flew up into a tree.
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On the S106 at Rabelais pan we saw an Emerald-spotted Wood-Dove and some blue waxbills sharing a drinking hole.
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About 5kms before we rejoined the H7 we came across a grader busy grading the S106. Yahoo, smooth road again.

The H7 produced nothing all the way to Nsemani Dam where we saw this ellie family coming down for a midday drink.
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The ellies were a bit wary of the huge crocodile at the waters edge. Also a hippo family with a baby and a warthog family.
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As it was too early to check in we took a short ride along the H6.

Our first photo is Joans best attempt at getting a LBR in flight.

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A few impala, warthog and that was it.

Near the reception area at Satara there were two Scops Owls roosting in trees.
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Strange how these owls seem to be totally relaxed even with the paparatzi pointing all sorts of lenses at them, some even with humungus flashes.

We were welcomed to our hut by this red-eyed dove.
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For our afternoon drive we took the H7 - S12 - S40 and H7 back to camp. The H7 this side of the breached bridge was not as nearly sighting friendly as on the Orpen side.

Terrible, terrible sand roads yet again.

All we could get was this kudu near Girivana Dam.
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We sat at Girivana Dam, our first visit to this dam. It certainly hold a lot of promise but it is not worth the drive to get there.

Finally, back at camp and a lovely braai with a lovely full moon to go with it.
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NEXT: A very quiet but very windy day as we go to Timabavati Picnic spot for breakfast.

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 Post subject: Re: A SLOW STEAM TRAIN RIDE FOR A 13 DAY TRIP TO KRUGER PARK
Unread postPosted: Wed Sep 25, 2013 5:58 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Posts: 418
TUESDAY 21 AUGUST 2013 - ALL DAY.
Our route today was to be:

Morning: H7 - S39 - S127 and H1-4 to camp for lunch.
Afternoon: S100 and return.

It started off as a beautiful morning - still and sunny.

Our first sighting was this vulture sunning himself on the Timbavati road.
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As there were very few animals to be seen we took photos of birds.

This southern white-crowned shrike also sitting in the early morning sun.
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Crested francolin.
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That was all for the Timbavati road.

We arrived at Timbavati picnic spot to find that there was a gale blowing. It was so hard that we could not even get the lighter to get the braai going. Eventually the guide came and helped us by holding his jacket in front of the skottel. We put our bacon and eggs into the skottel and wondered why there was no sizzling sound. The flames had been blown out. We struggled again to start and eventually the guide brought us another skottel with higher sides. This worked so we could start cooking. We really had to work hard at stopping the bacon and eggs being blown away. Now along comes a family with a couple of kids and their bicycles. The one little boy, wearing what looked like red gumboots, took great delight in pushing his bike up the pathway to the toilets and then come at great speed down the pathway into the picnic area. This was not so bad. The real pain in the proverbial was the fact that the bike had no brakes or pedals so to stop himself he would merely plant both feet firmly on the ground and skid to a stop. Now the wind was blowing directly from his side so all his dust and dirt from his skidding would blow directly in our direction. Sorry to say this but these folk were from Natal. Both fathers were much bigger than me and had humungus Fortuners so I just kept my mouth shut. We eventually managed to eat some nice bacon and egg saamies.

We did not hang around for long and went up to see what was going on at Ratel Pan. N O T H I N G.

The S127 was totally devoid of any forms of life except for hundreds of these little fellows. Not only was there no life on this road??????? it was also in shocking condition. So Joan set herself a challenge to help pass the time. To get a good photo of one of them as they never sat still for a second.

Eventually, after taking what seemed like hundreds of photos trying to get a good clear shot, this fellow stood long enough for a good photo.
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At last back on the H1-4 we could put all our personal goodies back where they belonged. Wearing glasses on the S127 was a definite no no.

A few kms down this road we saw this ellie with one tusk on the left hand side but a bit into the sun.
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Then these three on the right hand side - better light.
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Next up was a flock of vultures all spread out along the ground. We could not ascertain if this was a kill or not - too spread out??????
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The midday sun combined with our brains being in a tumble dryer all morning must have eventually got to us because we were now photographing trees. 0- 0- 0-

This lonely but colourful tree caught our attention.
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At last back at camp we relaxed and refreshed.

For our afternoon drive we decided to do the S100.

A few impala all the way down to the S41 - that is all we saw. We did a U-turn to try our luck from the other direction.

This sentry watching over his troops and some impala taken into the sun.
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Grey duiker
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Nothing else. As it was still pretty early we tootled north along the H1-4 for a while and then came back.

This rather dull shot of an ellie near Satara.
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Finally a lovely sunset with an eagle in a tree. Can anyone ID the eagle. :twisted: :twisted:
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NEXT: Another very quiet but windy day around Satara.

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 Post subject: Re: A SLOW STEAM TRAIN RIDE FOR A 13 DAY TRIP TO KRUGER PARK
Unread postPosted: Thu Sep 26, 2013 9:18 am 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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THURSDAY 22 AUGUST 2013 - PART 1/2 06:00 TO 09:30

Our route for this episode was S100 - S41 - Nwanetsi picnic spot - H6.

On leaving camp Joan saw these two sunrise opportunities.
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Along the S100 this elephant came trundling towards us so we drove forward so he could cross the road behind us. I always feel a lot safer if I have my exhaust pointed at an elephant.
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Closer to us we could see just how big he was.
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On the S41 we saw this little bee-eater.
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A little further along we saw what we think is a juvenile martial eagle. Please correct if wrong.
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Once again it was a very windy and up at Nwanetsi picnic spot we had to hold our cereal bowls about a metre away from the box so the cereal could be blown in. OK it wasn't that bad but it was still very unpleasant.

The H6 was very quiet except for this impala that thought he was a unicorn.
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NEXT: We return to Nkaya pan which will be posted on about 6 October 2013.

Enjoy the break.

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 Post subject: Re: A SLOW STEAM TRAIN RIDE FOR A 13 DAY TRIP TO KRUGER PARK
Unread postPosted: Mon Oct 07, 2013 5:10 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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THURSDAY 22 AUGUST 2013 - PART 2/2 - 10:00 TO 18:00

Our route for this episode was: H6 - H1-3 - S126 to Sweni Waterhole and bck to camp.

The rest of the H6 and H1-3 was very quiet.

At Nkaya Pan we saw the two crocodile basking in the sun.
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The hippo was not to be seen but we did a buffalo having a drink - surely not the same one we saw on 18 August???????
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On the way back we decided to explore a bit of the S126 up to the Sweni waterhole and then turn around.

Near the waterhole a very kind person told us that there were two cheetah lying under a tree a little further along the S126.
There was another car parked there and these folk kindly pointed the two of them out to us. While lying flat one could hardly see them but luckily the both looked up for a while to allow Joan to take a few shots. Not easy as it was near midday with bright sun and they were lying in the shade. A few shots to check the quality of the pics and here are three heavily cropped.
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After watching them on our own for about twenty minutes another car arrived. We pointed out the cheetah to them and took our leave of them.

Back at camp we met up with Joe and Yvonne who mentioned that they had seen a leopard in a tree right next to the road just north of Ngotso Dam. I will post their pics of him later.

After a brief lunch he headed up the H1-4 to look for the leopard. Nothing to be seen except two lion lying in a clearing way back in the bush. Even with a 500mm lens they did not come out clearly. On the way back we came across these two ellies who had just had their afternoon drink.
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Another ellie closer to Satara.
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As it was still pretty early we popped in at Nsemani Dam. You will pick up from the number of times I have said " As it was still early" that there was a distinct lack of animals around Satara.

Our last photo of the day - Nsemani Dam at sunset.
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NEXT: We head up the H1-4 to Letaba.

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 Post subject: Re: A SLOW STEAM TRAIN RIDE FOR A 13 DAY TRIP TO KRUGER PARK
Unread postPosted: Tue Oct 08, 2013 2:17 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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FRIDAY 23 AUGUST 2013 - PART 1/2 - 06:00 TO 16:45

Our route today takes up the H1-4 to Olifants for breakfast. Then S44 - S93 - S46 - S94 to Letaba. South on H1-5 to S46. Turned around and up to S47 for about 8kms when we were forced to do a U-turn due to an angry elephant that charged out onto the road right in front of us. Back on the H1-5 we parked on the bridge and got out the car to stretch our legs. The return to camp was done via the small S47 loop.

Northern black korhaan.
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A steenbok with a deformed horn.
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We stopped at Olifants for breakfast where I took this photo:

Black-backed puffback.
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And this one of a bat that seems to have got lost. He was hanging on the wall at the restaurant.
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Somewhere along the S93 Joan got this shot of this ??eagle?? sitting on a log.
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The following photographs are not totally in focus but we are putting them in for their worth as "action" shots. If anyone knows how I can create a clearer image of the second and third photos please PM me as we would really love to have better photos than we have at the moment.

Joan managed to capture this pied wagtail tugging at a well and truly flattened piece of elephant dung.
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As we sat checking the photos and adjusting the shutter speed, as the waggie was still trying to pull a piece of dung off, an SUV came roaring up from the opposite direction over the slight rise resulting in the waggie flying away. He had to slam on brakes as we were parked on a fairly narrow bridge, in the middle I admit, but all we got from him was a dirty look and a finger.

Some ellies near Engelhard Dam.
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While waiting to check in at Letaba I got these shots of a white-bellied sunbird busy at an aloe.
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While travelling up the H1-6 Joan managed to get this shot of a martial eagle in flight.
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I consider the S47 to be one of the best in Kruger as it runs next to the river and is very bushy and condusive to great sightings. However, today was an exception as the only animal we came across was a very angry elephant who suddenly stormed out from behind some trees and into the road in front of us. Slam on brakes, very quick U-turn and back to the H1-6 without seeing anything else except monkeys and baboons. We parked on the Letaba river bridge and got out to stretch our legs and look at few crocodile lazing in the water.

We then returned to Letaba using the small loop just south of the bridge.

Joan took this photo as the suns rays coming through the clouds made for quite a pretty picture.
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NEXT: We watch fascinated as a black-winged stilt gives a saddle-bill stork a hard time.

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 Post subject: Re: A SLOW STEAM TRAIN RIDE FOR A 13 DAY TRIP TO KRUGER PARK
Unread postPosted: Thu Oct 10, 2013 3:29 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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FRIDAY 23 AUGUST 2013 - PART 2/2 - 16:55 TO 18:00

At one spot we looked down into the river and saw a saddlebill stork walking around in the water when a black-winged stilt suddenly started to harass him. Unfortunately there was no sunlight on the birds as they were in the shadow of the river bank.
No narration needed for the following photos.

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What a wonderful way to spend 15 minutes on a late afternoon.

Further down the road we saw this giant kingfisher.
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Finally for today a view from the restaurant fence.
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NEXT: Our first visit to Sable Hide.

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 Post subject: Re: A SLOW STEAM TRAIN RIDE FOR A 13 DAY TRIP TO KRUGER PARK
Unread postPosted: Sat Oct 12, 2013 11:55 am 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Posts: 418
SATURDAY 24 AUGUST 2013 - ALL DAY.

Morning: Our route for today was H9 to Sable Hide and return via S69 loop.
Afternoon: H1-6 and S47 to Mingerhout Dam and return.

We were really looking forward to today as we were going to Sable Hide. We have never been there before and a BIG plus is that another mite from another website will be meeting us there.

Not much to be seen on this road so Joan took this photo of a rather bedraggled looking eagle.

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At Sable Hide there was nothing to be seen until this herd of impala came down to graze.
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The other mite arrived and produced a flask of coffee much to Joans delight.

A German couple then arrived, the man with a bazooka Canon camera and lens, and the chatter continued. They were flying back to Germany tonight so could not stay long and left soon afterwards.

After about 90 minutes we too took leave of each other and went our separate ways.

At Masorini Dam there were three elephant drinking, two from the trough and one deciding it was better to go directly to the source.
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This one reminded us so of our dear departed Labrador who also could not drink water without dribbling the last drops all over the show.
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At Nhlanganini Dam there was a huge herd of buffalo. Joan could not fit them all in even on wide angle lens.
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From here and all the way to Mingerhout Dam and back all we saw were monkeys and baboons. In hindsight it was rather silly to do the S47 as we could see signs of work being done, although no workers in sight, on the culvert wash aways.

On the S47 loop we saw four double-banded sandgrouse/sandgreese/sandgrouses/sandgrice???????

These fellows can sure camouflage themselves as at first we saw four but by the time the camera was ready there were only two to be seen.
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Back in camp I got this shot of the bats leaving their bat box.
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That was all for this episode BUT so as to ensure you get your moneys worth I will now add all our rhino photos so as not to give away their whereabouts.

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This guy was so close we had to reverse a couple of metres in order to fit him in the picture. He was also very calm and stayed right where he was as we drove past.
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Now this guy had a different agenda. He kept playing hide and seek with us. He would trot ahead and around the corner and disappear. We would then come forward and he would suddenly storm out of the bush and give us the beady eye. This went on for four times until he finally gave up and disappeared into the bush on the right hand side of the road. We still drove past very slowly as we were not sure if he was still playing or not. When we saw his backside disappear down into the river bed we knew he had tired of the game.
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This one was so enjoying his mud bath he almost fell over a couple of times.
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Finally this fellow quietly contemplating whether to have a drink or not.
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NEXT: We motor down to Skukuza for a last two nights.

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Faith is the bird that feels the light when the dawn is still dark. Author unknown.


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 Post subject: Re: A SLOW STEAM TRAIN RIDE FOR A 13 DAY TRIP TO KRUGER PARK
Unread postPosted: Mon Oct 14, 2013 4:51 pm 
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SUNDAY 25 AUGUST 2013 - PART 1/3 - 06:00 TO 07:30

Our route today would take us straight down the H1 road to Skukuza.

First thing this morning this fellow came to say good morning.
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His lady friend was not so shy.
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Our first sighting today was this big herd of buffalo crossing the road.
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Near Olifants there was elephant in the river.
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We popped up to the Nwamanzi lookout point. Always a lovely view at any time of the day.

As we came out and turned right onto the H1 we saw a Telkom bakkie suddenly brake. A leopard had crossed the road in front of him. By the time we got the camera ready he was already in the bush. This is the only photo Joan managed to get.
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At the Olifants river bridge this pair of fish eagle.
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Just south of the bridge was this hyena who obviously had a den right next to the road.
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She/he was quite relaxed with us virtually on top of it. Unfortunately the rest of the family did not make an appearance.
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NEXT: Loving lion mums and cubs.

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 Post subject: Re: A SLOW STEAM TRAIN RIDE FOR A 13 DAY TRIP TO KRUGER PARK
Unread postPosted: Tue Oct 15, 2013 1:50 pm 
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SUNDAY 25 AUGUST 2013 - PART 2/3 - 08:15 TO 08:30.

A couple of km's before Satara we came across these to males quite far into the bush.
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They weren't doing much except just lazing around.

We saw more cars parked further down the road so we went to investigate.

Here we found four lioness. Two were lying down but the other two sat up nicely for the camera.
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Then we saw one cub get up. There were four cubs in total but we could only get photos of two of them. Who the actual mommy was is a mystery.
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We spent an amazing 15 minutes watching these lioness and cubs that we were sorry when it was time to move on.

NEXT: On down to Skukuza.

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 Post subject: Re: A SLOW STEAM TRAIN RIDE FOR A 13 DAY TRIP TO KRUGER PARK
Unread postPosted: Wed Oct 16, 2013 3:57 pm 
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SUNDAY 25 AUGUST 2013 - PART 3/3 - 08:30 TO 18:00.

After taking our leave of the lioness and cubs we mosy on down to Satara for breakfast.

Before reaching Satara we see this fellow.
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After a hearty breakfast at Satara and bumping into Joe and Yvonne again we continued on down to Skukuza.

We decided to 10km of the Sweni road in the hope of seeing those two cheetah again. No luck.

All we got a photo of was this purple roller.
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Stopped off at Nkaya Pan for all the obvious reasons ( remember 18.08.2013) but all we saw was one crocodile lazing in the sun again.
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A hammerkop on a hippo playing captain of the ship taking and the salute as another does a high speed flypast.
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At Kumana dam this lone ellie was taking a very slow drink.
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On the Nwaswitsontso loop this Bataleur was nice and clear but the light was bad.
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A couple of km,s before Tshokwane we saw this lioness and a cub.
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She was in fact lying down when we arrived and could hardly see her until a light aircraft flew very low and directly overhead that had her and the cub look up.
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A second cub stood up which we had not seen until now.
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The cubs then ran towards the road and ducked into a culvert. This made mom get up and start calling them - maybe to re-assure them that all was ok.
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She came directly towards us and lay down again. We assume that she had seen where the cubs were and was happy.
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The one cub was coming out of the culvert towards Mom but the again the sound of the aircrafts engine could be heard and he turned and ducked back into the culvert. We do not know what was going on but this aircraft was circling round and going higher until it eventually disappeared.
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Satisfied that the danger was passed it was time to have a good scratch - just look at that expression on her face.
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Finally for today - a southern White-crowned shrike on Maroela loop.
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NEXT: Yvonnes leopard photos as mentioned earlier in this T.T.

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 Post subject: Re: A SLOW STEAM TRAIN RIDE FOR A 13 DAY TRIP TO KRUGER PARK
Unread postPosted: Thu Oct 17, 2013 9:03 am 
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If we can just back track for a few days to 22 August 2013 and on the H1-4 just north of Ngotso Dam.

Here are Yvonnes photos of a leopard in a tree right next to the road.

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Where were Joan and I during this time. Looking for game just south of Satara.

You win some and you lose some.

NEXT: A misty morning ride down to Lower Sabie.

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 Post subject: Re: A SLOW STEAM TRAIN RIDE FOR A 13 DAY TRIP TO KRUGER PARK
Unread postPosted: Sat Oct 19, 2013 8:43 pm 
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MONDAY 26 AUGUST 2013 - PART1/2 - 06:00 TO 08:00

This morning we will do the H4-1 down to Lower Sabie and return. I firmly believe that this road always produces the best sightings in the morning.

A beautiful bright and calm morning greeted us as we set off. However not 30 minutes later the mist rolled in.
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Eventually the mist was so thick that we almost missed this hippo on the side of the road.
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A couple of baboon foraging on the side of the road.
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The one good thing a thick mist like this does is to create very pretty spider webs. As the game was very scarce Joan took to getting artistic with the spider webs.
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Not sure what spider this is but he was quite colourful.
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Sunset Dam looked kind of eerie. The mist was slowly beginning to lift.
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Finally an African pied-wagtail.
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Well their goes another of my firm beliefs in Kruger down the tubes.

Oh well, maybe after breakfast the sun will come out, burn away the mist and we will see bountiful game on the return trip.

NEXT: The return trip to Skukuza.

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 Post subject: Re: A SLOW STEAM TRAIN RIDE FOR A 13 DAY TRIP TO KRUGER PARK
Unread postPosted: Tue Oct 22, 2013 9:03 pm 
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MONDAY 26 AUGUST 2013 - PART 2/2 - 09:45 TO 17:45

Back to Skukuza via the H4-1. Afternoon went to Lake Panic and then H1-1 to Transport Dam and back to Skukuza via S112 and S114.

By the time we left Lower Sabie the mist had lifted and it was lovely sunny day.

Our first sighting on the return trip was at a small waterhole which is not shown on the map.

A green-backed heron and an African pied-wagtail.
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Two turtles trying to get a tan.
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All the usual gangs along the H4-1 but no chance for photos.

We turned right onto the high level bridge and did a U-turn on the other side. While riding slowly along Joan suddenly shouted "Leopard". There he was down below us just about to walk into a few thick bushes. Joan managed to fire off a few shots of which these two are the best.
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When he disappeared we turned around and rode very slowly along the S30 in the hope that we would maybe try to cross the road somewhere. No luck.

On the little loop near the T-junction to turn off to Skukuza we saw these two sharing a picnic spot.
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Back at camp for lunch and I heard this beautiful bird call.

I went off in search of this bird by following the sound of the call.

I then came across this black-headed oriole in a tree.
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In the afternoon we stopped at Lake Panic for a while.
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On way to Transport Dam Joan got this shot of a mongoose running across the road.
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Sadly that was all we saw this afternoon as we returned to Skukuza without any real good sightings.

While walking to the shops I tried to get a decent shot of this red-capped robin-chat but he would not keep still long enough and it was getting pretty dark as well.
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Our final pic for today is of Joan at the kudu fight statue
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It was our last night in Kruger so we went to bed with very heavy hearts.

NEXT: Two hours at Lake Panic.

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 Post subject: Re: A SLOW STEAM TRAIN RIDE FOR A 13 DAY TRIP TO KRUGER PARK
Unread postPosted: Thu Oct 24, 2013 11:13 am 
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TUESDAY 27 AUGUST 2013 - PART 1/2 - 06:15 TO 07:15.

We love spending our last night at Skukuza as, on our way out, we sit at Lake Panic for a few hours just enjoying the peace and tranquillity of it and maybe get a few photos in as well.

A few of the photos that Joan managed to get.
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NEXT: Our final few photos.

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 Post subject: Re: A SLOW STEAM TRAIN RIDE FOR A 13 DAY TRIP TO KRUGER PARK
Unread postPosted: Tue Oct 29, 2013 9:27 am 
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TUESDAY 27 AUGUST 2013 - PART 2/2 - 07:15 TO 08:00

Still at Lake Panic.

A little lady grey duiker came down to drink.
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Two hippos spoilt the peace and quiet by having a slight disagreement with one trying to chase the other out the water. It was over as quickly as it had started.
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As a croc lay quietly in amongst the reeds.
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These purple crested turaco are very shy birds and hard to get a decent photo of.
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A very high backlit photo of a pied kingfisher and his breakfast.
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Somebody once mentioned to me that these heron use a little feather on the end of their beak to use as a lure when fishing. Fact or fairy tale - I am not sure.

This photo shows one with this feather on the end of his beak.
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Our final photo for this episode and the trip.
Image

Our sincere thanks to everybody for staying on board. Your comments, feedback, general banter and especially your corrections of our errors has really been appreciated. We just cannot believe the number of comments we have received.

On a sadder note, this may very well have been our last trip to Kruger as their prices are now getting beyond that of us pensioners. We have looked at going during pensioner discount periods and there are some really excellent offers available so maybe one day again.

We also hope that one day they will offer a pensioners Wild Card to complement the pensioners discount period i.e. only valid during the discount period.

We have so enjoyed putting this trip together and trust that you have enjoyed reading it just as much.

Take care and stay safe.

_________________
Faith is the bird that feels the light when the dawn is still dark. Author unknown.


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