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impyim's Australia to Kruger, Aug. '13

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impyim
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impyim's Australia to Kruger, Aug. '13

Unread postby impyim » Tue Sep 24, 2013 6:29 am

This is a tale of 2 elderly Aussies who wanted to see Kruger again. We had had a year of illnesses and injuries and promised ourselves it we were well (fit) enough that another trip to Kruger would be our reward.

When I started writing this TR I had such difficulty working out how to put my photo's into it. Thanks to all the forum members who eventually got me on the right track - namely melrockson, melph68, gatita, lion queen and trrp-trrrrrrr.
Now onto the report.

We arrived sleepless at Nelspruit Airport, picked up our car, drove to the supermarket at Malelane and at the end of a long day (can there possibly be 40 hrs in a day) arrived at Malelane gate. We were so pleased to arrive and made our way to our rondavel at Malelane by about 4 p.m. After finding our rondavel and unpacking Ecojunkie came over to say "hi". She also took me to the fenced in lookout that overlooks the Crocodile River. We sat there for an hour or so soaking up the smells, sounds and visions of Africa (never mind the town over the river it was so lovely to be in Kruger ).
An early night with the sounds of animals only just intruding on our sleep.
I got up before sunrise (not hubby - he needed his sleep). It was still practically dark when I walked to the lookout to watch the sun rising. I was a bit nervous being in the dark as it wasn't long before that Ecojunkie had been stalked/scared by a hyena inside the camp, so I was very much aware of what was going on around me. It was a wonderful sunrise and well worth getting up early for. ImageImage
As this TR has taken so long to get going I'm going to submit this and continue with more another day. :thumbs_up: :thumbs_up:

impyim
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Re: Australia to Kruger

Unread postby impyim » Tue Sep 24, 2013 6:52 am

Well, well another Western Australian who's going to Kruger. When you get back we'll have to have a reunion.
( I know another couple who've been this year ).I love the camps you've picked. We didn't have much choice on some of our camps as we didn't book until 4 months before.

Thanks Meandering Mouse, I'll try and keep you interested. :D :D
As part of our trip I did a little watercolour and pen painting of our rondavel in Malelane. My art teacher encouraged me to take a tiny watercolour pad and paint set with me. I can't do animals very well but I enjoyed doing little paintings of each of our chalets.

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Last edited by impyim on Thu Dec 19, 2013 12:30 am, edited 1 time in total.

impyim
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Re: Australia to Kruger

Unread postby impyim » Wed Sep 25, 2013 3:09 am

Thanks for getting on board and for all the encouragement everyone.

Its so good to be eventually writing this TR. As I dredge my memories, look through my lists of birds and animals, look up photo's etc while writing it it takes me back to our wonderful time in Kruger.

Hugh - what a good idea about putting my watercolours into a calendar. I've still got heaps more W/C to paint - I took 100's of photo's of trees also that I want to paint.

Anyway back to TR - Day 2 - we decided to have a lazy day (after our marathon 40hrs with no sleep).
But, like all good plans "I wonder what's outside the gate" kept popping into my head. So about 11 a.m. (yes I know its not the best time of the day for animal spotting) we headed towards Berg en Dal.
Most of the usual animals were resting under trees except for a couple of unmentionables feeding.
We spotted the usual animals on out walk along front fence in B e D


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and then sat and ate an icecream over looking the dam wall.

The waterhole (I think its E. of B e D) had a few animals - something big & grey & covered in oxpeckers (with pointy ears) a few impala and our first warthog and buffalo

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On our way back to Malelane we saw these lovely giraffe - the roadway was much higher than they were so we got a lovely view. They were taking turns drinking at the tiniest waterhole (I could just see it with the binoculars).

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We called into Malelane gate and arranged an early a.m. drive tomorrow with Ecojunkie (5.15 a.m. start)

That was all the driving for day 2 - back in Malelane - we had a nap and then sat outside our rondavel and watched the bird bath - so restful. I didn't manage to get any decent photo's - the birds move too fast.

While cooking our meal in the campers kitchen (not sure what you call them in SA ) we sat and chatted to Ecojunkie - what an amazing lady - and other campers. After a couple of happy hours sitting about I then wandered around camp trying to spot owls (none) so we turned in for an early night.

Well in retrospect that doesn't sound like a very exciting day (for some people) - no ellies or big cats, but we just enjoyed being out and about in Kruger.

impyim
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Re: Australia to Kruger

Unread postby impyim » Thu Sep 26, 2013 11:27 am

Thank you for your lovely comments - I did enjoy doing the little watercolours. I am quite surprised at how I now enjoy looking back on them (yes plural - i will post more paintings that I did - as we went from camp to camp)

Rooikat I have sent you a PM.

Will post a further TR as soon as I get a couple of hours to spare. :thumbs_up: :thumbs_up:

impyim
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Re: Australia to Kruger

Unread postby impyim » Fri Sep 27, 2013 4:55 am

Day 3

A very early start with Ecojunkie. As we left camp (in the dark) we saw elephant, hippo (wandering around feeding), some unmentionables and giraffe on the sealed road. As it got light Ecojumkie would stop and point out certain plants and name them and if they had a special use in the life on animals she would let us know. Very interesting. We didn't spot any carnivores.
A bateleur eagle that flew from tree to tree kept us entertained flying from tree to tree.


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A fairly quiet drive (animal wise). Just as we were getting back to we found a martial eagle - Ecojunkie IDed it for us.

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Back to Malelane where I had a good chat to another forum member Gemma from England.
We had to leave Malelane then and drive to Skukuza.
Left about 10ish and drove looking for animals. Just before Afsaal we came across a traffic jam - about 20 cars - apparently there were cheetah somewhere a long way off the road. We tried to find them as we have never seen them on our previous 3 trips to Africa !!! e never found them so pulled into Afsaal for lunch. We went looking for the scops owl that was a regular in the picnic are (5 years ago), but it wasn't there. Saw the resident bushbuck (of course).

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We then continued on to Skukuza - where I will finish up day 3 in another posting. :thumbs_up: :thumbs_up:

impyim
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Re: Australia to Kruger

Unread postby impyim » Sat Sep 28, 2013 7:39 am

It was fairly quite on the way to Skukuza - quite warm - saw this lovely kudu bull and ?? nyalla and also what I think is black bellied bustard - but that would need confirming by someone better than me.

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We checked in - not without some problem as we had requested single beds and we got a double.
After a couple of hours housekeeping eventually sorted out the problem, but by the time we unpacked we only just had time for a short drive.
Our chalet had great views and we were very please with it.
We were a bit disappointed with our game drives. Even though I love the little things and I didn't think it would worry me about not seeing any cats - it was getting to the stage where we thought - gosh we've been here 3 days and no cats - only 1 elephant !!!
Will continue the next episode later.

impyim
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Re: Australia to Kruger

Unread postby impyim » Sat Sep 28, 2013 10:52 am

Thanks trrp-trrrrrrr, Philip1 and t-bel.

I didn't know nyalla were hard to find in the south.

In fact we saw 2 others near the Skukuza Golf Course - they rushed across the road in front of us on a bend. Unfortunately I didn't have my camera poised so missed a photo shot then. We did find more later but we'll come to that eventually.

Day 4 - Skukuza. Well what a lovely place to wake up to. The sunrise was just gorgeous -

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From Chalet 92 - my little watercolour of our home for 2 days

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We sat fascinated my the monkeys stealing from the next door chalet (I know South African's probably think its funny to be enthralled by monkeys - but we don't have them at home in Aust.)

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After a leisurely breakfast we made our way to Lake Panic. I had read so much about it on the forum that this was the first place we headed for.

Well how do you describe the noise of about 10 Grey herons when a fish eagle goes flying over.
That was our greeting as we stepped into the bird hide. Most of the herons were breeding - some still courting, some with eggs, and another pair with fledglings.

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And this tale must continue another time as I have visitors arrive unexpectedly. The rest of our photo's at Lake Panic must just wait til later

impyim
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Re: Australia to Kruger

Unread postby impyim » Tue Oct 01, 2013 4:08 am

impyim wrote:Thanks Hilda, Trrrp-trrrrrrrr, barryels, pumbaa, meandering mouse, Cape of storms, melph68 and Rooicat. I love that you're all commenting on my trip report. As I'm sure you all appreciate it takes a lot of time and effort to get your memories in the correct order (thank goodness for photo's and lists of species seen) and then work out the best photo's to add.

Rooicat - did you get my PM if not I'll resend it.

Now to continue our day where we left off at Lake Panic - there was one hippo right next to the tree (where the darter sits all the time) - he eventually woke up -

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and wandered up to the island (I think its an island) to join the crocs

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A bushbuck wandered into view and was very wary of the crocs - I felt she got too close to the them

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By this time it was getting quite warm and we were surprised to see what we think is a nyalla cow (our 2nd nyalla in a couple of days) come down to the water - she didn't actually have a drink and was really wary

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While all the activity was happening to the right of the hide the goliath heron that had been posing for the cameras for hours decided to take off and land

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Eventually we decided to call it a day and drive to the golf course - where we had read on the forum that anyone could come in for lunch. It took awhile to get there as these animals delayed us

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It was a beautiful day and we sat outside admiring the view and the birds and animals.

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So cute the baby hippo

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which was part of a farily large pod on the opposite bank

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My husband enjoying a drink with the golf course in the background - the hippo pod were just to the left of the picture

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Will continue this later as I think I've used up my quota of photo's for this page.

impyim
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Re: Australia to Kruger

Unread postby impyim » Thu Oct 03, 2013 9:11 am

To continue -
When we left the golf course we thought we would just do a bit of a loop towards Paul Kruger gate.
We didn't spot very many animals so thought we would head a bit further east and then cut back along the S4 to the Diospane road (S1).
We were so glad we did as just after turning back towards Skukuza we saw a 4 x 4 parked on the wrong side of the road looking down at a dry river bed.

Well guess what we saw - a honey badger. We were so excited. He/she was very intent on digging up something so we sat and watched the action for about 10 minutes until he finished digging and sat and ate what he had dug up. After that he wandered off into the bush out of sight. The 4 x 4 left just after we arrived so we had a birds eye view all to ourselves.

We had never seen a honey badger in the wild before and it was such a treat to see one - even if it was a fair way away. In retrospect I decided it always pays to be a sticky beak and check out what the occupants of other cars are looking at - otherwise we would never have seen the honey badger.


I'll only post one photo as all the others look about the same. I've cropped this photo considerably -

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After all that excitedment we headed back to Skukuza.
We were so glad we did as a big herd (about 50) elephants were crossing the river in front of camp. This was our first herd of elephant we had seen since arriving. They were spread out from the old railway bridge to right past the camp -

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Such adorable babies -

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We sat and watched the elephants until dark and then had an early night (again).

impyim
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Re: Australia to Kruger

Unread postby impyim » Mon Oct 07, 2013 4:37 am

Thanks Hilda -we were really glad to have seen a honey badger.

To continue our TR -

We left Skukuza and headed towards Orpen. There was a big family of baboons just after leaving - then waterbuck, and at one of the waterholes our first sight of zebra's and wildebeest - goodness knows where they had been for the last few days. We also saw unmentionables over the course of the day - including a dark variety with junior.

At Leeupan we went to turn in off the main raod and just as we turned the corner we saw this huge bull elephant just hanging around (we stopped about 150 m from him)

I must mention here that I am fairly scared of elephants. We were charged a few years ago in Botswana - we had a driver and guide and I've never been driven backwards so fast in my life.
So now whenever we are doing our own thing (driving) I'm very wary of getting too close to elephants - esp. as neither of us are really good at reading their behaviour.
My husband teases me whenever we see fresh droppings or damaged trees by saying "looks like your friends have been here"!!!!

Anyway, there's this huge bull elephant half hidden behind the big trees - while we were sitting there contemplating whether to continue and go past him a little car turns into the road towards the pan - they obviously didn't see the elephant at first. We held our breath and sure enough back came the little car - nearly as fast as it went in. Obviously this elephant not only made me scared but had made the occupants of the little car really worried as well. So we never got to see Leeupan waterhole.

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We still had some lovely sightings - but still we had been in Kruger for about 5 days and still hadn't seen any cats - this was very annoying/worrying as everyone we talked to had a tale to tell about lions etc. Never mind we still had 13 more days in Kruger.
Still we saw lots of lovely animals and birds including this pair of l klipspringers on top of some granite rock formations. I've had to crop this photo considerable so its a bit blurred.

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We also saw this beautiful bird - I'm beginning to think that tourists must feed the ground hornbills as every time we've saw them they always came towards the car and looked up at the windows - I hope I'm wrong.

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Also somewhere along the roadside we saw this giraffe skeleton - we wondered why the bones had not been eaten by hyena. Are they (the bones) too big for the hyena to eat? When we came back several days later it was still there.

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We decided to bypass Satara and took the Sweni road towards Orpen - on this road we saw ostrich for the first time as well as the usual plains animals.

Eventually we came to the main Orpen - Satara road and turned towards Orpen where we took the dirt road (the main road was still closed). We had been warned that this road was terrible corruguted - well it wasn't too bad. I guess when you're expecting the worst then things are never quite as bad as you expect. In fact many days later we found the last few kms of the S114 (Berg en Dal end) was much worse that the bypass road (Rebelais Loop) near Orpen.
On the road we saw 2 bush pigs grazing (another first for us). We arrived at Orpen and just loved the sight from our chalet (towards the waterhole).

This is a not very good little painting of our chalet at Orpen ( number 11)

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Will continue the tale of our wonderful time at Orpen in about 2 weeks as I won't have access to the internet for awhile whilest I'm doing volunteer work for Birds Australia - IDing birds for tourists.
Last edited by impyim on Thu Dec 19, 2013 12:39 am, edited 1 time in total.

impyim
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Re: Australia to Kruger

Unread postby impyim » Mon Oct 07, 2013 6:36 am

I couldn't resist having a look at some of your comments before I leave.

Meandering Mouse - I don't have anyone else's painting to compare with
Thank you all of you for your expressions of appreciation of my interpretation of my impressions of Kruger.(gosh what a mouthful).
Here's a couple of others I painted - the first ones I've ever tried of animals.

I find it rather nice having a captive viewing audience (you, the TR readers). I must say most of my friends in Perth seem to appreciate my Kruger paintings, but its lovely to know that people who've been to Kruger like them as well.

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Oh, what I wouldn't give to be back in Orpen again. We had some lovely sightings at the waterhole.

impyim
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Re: Australia to Kruger

Unread postby impyim » Mon Oct 21, 2013 1:09 am

Well I've just got back from conducting volunteer bird walks in the Stirling Ranges. I had a wonderful week - apart from eating a sleeping I birded the whole time.

I've just caught up with all your comments so a big thank you to you all - Trrp-trrrrrrrr, barryels, Meandering mouse, Mandinga, Dream Weaver, Pumbaa, Cape of Storms, t-bal, Surf Cindy, Melph68, Toddelelfe, Elsa and last but not least Hilda -who must have just got back from Kruger a few days ago.

As I sit and read your comments I wonder how you all arrived with the name you use. I guess some are self explanatory but some really get me guessing.

Just a couple of photo's to get my trip report started again, but I really must go and unpack from my birding week.

Elephants at the water hole in Orpen

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This elephant was part of a big family that came in to drink at the waterhole. I presume its a male
as he was very aggressive to some of the other elephants and I think if you look closely at the photo I think he's is musht (can't spell). Also of interest his tail is very short. It looks like it was bitten off - probably when he was a baby.

Will continue with this report in a couple of days.

impyim
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Re: Australia to Kruger

Unread postby impyim » Fri Oct 25, 2013 8:46 am

Well back to my TR after a lovely time birding in the Stirling Ranges of Western Australia. I mostly had tourists from Germany, Holland, England, a couple of South Africans and also other Australians. One of the Germans had 3,340 different birds on his list from all over the world. I was able to show him 12 first timers which was great.

At Orpen we had a great time watching the waterhole, but decided that one evening we would do a sunset drive with the Rangers. We had some wonderful sightings - here's some of them

First off a jackel (a black backed I think) - it was very hard to get a good photo as the light was fading and he was in hunting mode and didn't stay still very long -

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and then a very quick look at the leopard (sorry about the photo quality)

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and just a little further along our driver stopped and showed us these lovely double banded sand grouse - we would never have seen them on our own as they were very camoflarged -


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We hadn't gone more than a few miles from Orpen (we were on the H7 driving towards where the road had been washed away) when we pulled up beside a car and asked what they were looking at. They said that they had seen a leopard jump down from a tree and he was in the long grass a the bottom of the tree. Well we were so excited - as yet we had been in Kruger for 6 days and hadn't seen any cats at all. So we all sat and sat and sat and eventually we saw a little movement of the tip of a tail and a bit of something else


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impyim
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Re: Australia to Kruger

Unread postby impyim » Sat Oct 26, 2013 4:15 am

We came across a troupe of baboon making their way up the trees for the night. This male baboon carrying a baby was the last one to leave the ground. Our driver said "what a good father"

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Just after that we came across a group of elephants and this mother (with her baby) threatening the little car - it must have come round the corner right into the group, they pulled off onto the verge but the mother was trumpeting and shaking her head at the car. The people looked terrified (of course) -

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As we were driving back to Orpen we smelt this most overpowering stench - down in a gully we spotted a hyena that had just killed a polecat !!!!!! The driver IDed them for us but unfortunately I couldn't get a photo.

We were really pleased with our sunset drive - we saw all the usual animals before it got dark and then also saw a large spotted genet, a civet, scrub hare and bush babies.

Back at our chalet we sat and watched the waterhole until we couldn't keep our eyes open. Not many animals came in, but we did see hyena.

I sat and did a painting of a zebra while watching the waterhole. All these watercolours are fairly small - about 9" x 4".

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The next day we drove to Letaba - but that will be another installment.

impyim
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Re: Australia to Kruger

Unread postby impyim » Wed Oct 30, 2013 5:41 am

I'm glad you're all enjoying my report and watercolours. A few more photo's taken while we were in Orpen - either in camp or on the road.

A lizard (don't know what sort) that was on the tree in camp -

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A beautiful fish eagle at a tiny bit of waterway


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A family of dwarf mongeese were sunning themselves on a cool morning - I only managed to photograph 2 at any time


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A couple of giraffe - I think this was the first time I managed to get one looking at me

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Eventually we left Orpen for Letaba. On the gravel detour road (that was being used as the Orpen - Satara road was still being fixed after the floods) we came across 2 bush pigs - very wary and I didn't manage to get a photo.

We decided to take the Timbavati road to Letaba (bepassing Satara). It was a really good gravel road and we saw lots of little birds and eventually we came across a couple of cars - and lo & behold we eventually saw our first lion. She seemed to be on her own and didn't move about much, but we were really happy to see her

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Eventually we arrived at the Letaba gate

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With the beautiful impala lillies in front of the entrance


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Will continue this report about the time in Letaba later.


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