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 Post subject: carolv's Critical Care for the Soul - KNP Nov-Dec 2012
Unread postPosted: Wed Oct 16, 2013 5:06 pm 
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Award: Sighting of the Year - Small creatures and/or insects (2012)
May we wish you all a very warm welcome to our decidedly tardy TR. Oh where would we be without all our notes painstakingly written up each day as we never thought it would be such a long wait to get it all completed and added to the Travel Tales. So, if some sections are rather lightweight with text, we hope our photos will make up for any omissions. This was a trip we optimistically thought we could undertake once SO (WildImage) had recovered from major surgery...somehow things did not go as planned and, looking back, I can almost find a funny side to sitting by his bed in Critical Care as he lay wired, plumbed and ventilated and I begged the Intensive Care Consultant to do everything they could for him to recover so that we could both be back in the Kruger Park. The fact that he was an African and had indeed spent his own honeymoon in the Kruger Park was a coincidence one could never have envisaged. As the weeks passed, our desperately wanted trip began to feel an almost unattainable dream but with considerable back up from all the medical team and the final piece of the safeguard provided by the wonderful Crested Val we finally landed at Jo’burg Airport on 18th November. Although we would normally have made a desperate dash to Malelane Gate to make sure we were in the Park as quickly as possible, this trip we opted to spend the first night at Hazyview where an establishment which must be nameless for this report is the closest place we will ever have to a ‘second home’ in RSA. It meant SO could just rest and sleep as soon as we arrived, I could rearrange all the medical kit which had been split between bags for the flight just in case something went missing and I could do a big shop after a restful breakfast, pack up the car which was by now filled to the gunwales and off we went to Numbi Gate.

There is absolutely nothing which can beat that sheer joy, relief, excitement as the barrier is lifted and you are finally back in Kruger. So many people have made the same comment in their own trip reports so I am sure this is a universal experience for everyone. Our first spot were waterbuck, quickly followed by warthogs and rhinos. Since we had only driven to Pretoriuskop for an early lunch, this was a pretty good start. Watched over by a sleeping bat (no light for any photos) we had a quick meal and were soon back on the road. I can never pass the turn off to Shitlhave where we were joined by a breeding herd of ellies,

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waterbuck, grey heron, plovers, egrets and zebras. Over the years we have seen amazing wildlife at this dam. It has crossed my mind one day to spend the whole day there without moving and just see what a variety of birds and animals pass by...just need a simple solution for the ‘comfort break’ though. These days I know I couldn’t last all day!!

Back to the tarmac we spotted wildebeest, zebra, a slender mongoose and another rhino before turning down to check on Transport Dam. Today it was fairly quiet – hippo in the water, a grey heron fishing and the buffalo weavers busy around their nests. The water level was high we noted so we would be interested to see if this would be the case all through the Park.

Just before the H3 turn off we always stop to look out for the klipspringer and we were not disappointed as a pair were perched on their koppje.

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It was very quiet along the main road but we soon turned off towards Biyamiti Weir, spotting another slender mongoose and a giraffe

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along the way as well as an injured hyena. Just before the weir we found ourselves caught amidst a large ellie herd. Despite driving slowly along this narrow road and stopping as soon as we spotted the first elephant, the herd were making their way down to the riverbed for an afternoon drink and we were quickly surrounded. These gentle giants (on this occasion) did not seem to have concerns about us and they continued down to their destination. At the weir itself we watched a small pod of hippo

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along with plovers, sandpipers,

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pied kingfishers

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and lesser striped swallows. Time was passing quickly though and we did not want to find ourselves racing to camp. Leaving the weir road and turning onto the private road down to Biyamiti we were delighted to see two more rhinos.

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This road was also quiet but we kept stopping for several other cars who all halted to ask us if we were birders but when we replied that we enjoyed whatever the Park had to show us, all quickly drove on. Two things puzzled us about all these visitors – we assumed they were looking for a particular bird, although none of them offered any explanation as to what it might have been. Also, we began to think they could not all have been Biyamiti guests so what were they doing driving down this ‘private’ road anyway. The following day we did meet a lady who explained what they were all doing however. On our previous trip we had finished our stay at Biyamiti but this time it was to be our first camp. It is one of our favourites and, being small, is so peaceful. As SO lay down for a rest, I unpacked the car, prepared things for dinner and poured us both a gin and tonic which we enjoyed whilst soaking up the atmosphere of the bush. It was just amazing to be back in Kruger and we slept like logs.

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 Post subject: Re: Critical Care for the Soul - KNP Nov-Dec 2012
Unread postPosted: Thu Oct 17, 2013 9:50 pm 
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20th November 2012

We awoke to the sound of rain but had slept well. Oddly I had heard hippos in the night – not the usual night sounds at Biyamiti I have to say but reflected the much larger pools of water we had seen along the Biyamiti river bed. Once organised and cameras loaded into the car, we drove towards the causeway. We were surprised at how much water we could see, certainly far more than on previous visits. We could hear the ‘piet-my-vrou’ calling and saw a small elephant herd make their way up the river bed.

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Pied kingfishers, hammerkop and swallows were also enjoying the pools of water. Continuing eastwards a hyena approached us and stopped nearby as if it were expecting something. We feared it had been fed from a car and thus thought we would do the same. A white-tailed mongoose dashed across the road and shortly we were flashed by an approaching car and a lady tipped us off for a lion sighting along the S28. Thus we continued along the road until we reached the S28 where we soon found the big cats.

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Continuing along the road northwards we spotted elephants, zebras, wildebeest and vultures. At Sunset Dam there were plenty of birds: Ruff,

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Three-banded Plover

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& White-crowned Plover

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and the usual pods of hippo.

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After an enjoyable breakfast at Lower Sabie we watched ellies and buffalo along the river bank and then drove to check who was about along the bridge - more ellies, swallows, lots of pied kingfishers and a hippo in the white water.

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I usually think of hippos as staying in more placid water so was rather surprised to find them in this section of the river. Perhaps they were using it for a morning spa treatment! As we sat at the end of the bridge, the ‘lion tip’ lady stopped again for a chat and to check it we had found the lions this morning. She also had a much sadder tale of a very sick new born ellie which she thought may not survive. As we continued chatting, the curious case of the cars on the Biyamiti road yesterday came to light. It appears there were lots of twitchers arrived in the Park in search of the Madagascan Cuckoo and we had to smile when she explained how you would recognise this partcular bird..sounds just like the ‘piet-my-vrou’ but with an extra ‘vrou’. Not once did we see or hear one during our trip but we have never forgotten how to recognise the call should we ever be lucky enough to find this elusive bird.

We had booked a sunset drive so made our way back slowly to camp. SO would need a rest before we left so I prepped a light dinner and did some washing before we set off to meet the truck at Reception. Our guide for the evening was Bridgeman who has now moved down south from Olifants. We have usually found the drives from Biyamiti to be pretty lucky and we were not disappointed. By the end of the evening we had found 3 Rhino, several ellies, giraffe, buffalo, male lion,

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more than 15 scrub hares, hippo, genets and a dwarf mongoose.

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... and how I miss being back in the KNP.


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 Post subject: Re: Critical Care for the Soul - KNP Nov-Dec 2012
Unread postPosted: Fri Oct 18, 2013 9:23 pm 
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Award: Sighting of the Year - Small creatures and/or insects (2012)
21st November 2012

On all previous trips we were usually amongst those impatient people waiting at the gate for opening time each morning. We soon realised this would not be possible on this trip but kept reminding ourselves we were extremely lucky to be here at all. Thus it was not until 9am when we left camp and made our way up towards the weir. This is one of our favourite spots to just sit, watch and wait for whatever comes down to this idyllic location. Thinking back, there are very few animals or birds we have not seen here. Since leaving camp we had spotted ellies

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and buff along the river bed, a Hadeda Ibis on the road,

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a leguan with no toes on one foot by a midden,

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and at the weir itself, there were more vehicles than fauna – a solitary hippo and several plovers. We sat quietly for quite a while, as it remained quiet all the other vehicles had long since departed but we were perfectrly content to just soak up the atmosphere. Eventually we moved off and saw some young impies

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and a Yellow-billed Hornbill

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made our way to Afsaal for brunch. Whilst here we were tipped off that lions were close to the road if we headed north and we were thrilled to find they were still sunning themselves on the rocks – 3 females and 2 cubs

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We tried a few positions to get the best photographs but did not wait around for too long as so many other vehicles were queuing up to get a closer look.
We made our way back to camp via Mpondo, Byrne Road and the causeway but sightings were few and far between – warthogs, a couple of Wahlbergs Eagles

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and giraffe spotted along the way. The air was very heavy with lots of afternoon thunder so it came as no surprise when the rain came and continued through the night.

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 Post subject: Re: Critical Care for the Soul - KNP Nov-Dec 2012
Unread postPosted: Fri Oct 18, 2013 9:24 pm 
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22nd November 2012

This morning we had made a serious effort to be up earlier – we had plans to meet friends for coffee and we were moving up to Satara so quickly loaded the car and managed to leave at 6.15. Driving north towards the weir we spotted 4 rhino in the river bed

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and several buffalo. A White-backed Vulture

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and a Martial Eagle was seen watching over proceedings.

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At the weir we stopped for coffee and enjoyed a large crocodile posed along the bank

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and one in the water,

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with the plovers, a Black Stork

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and Hammerkops busy feeding close to the crossing.

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We had a little time to spare before meeting up with Mike and Trish Goss at Afsaal and drove slowly along the river road missing a Chameleon

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But spotting a Brown Snake Eagle swallowing his meal.

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as we had seen ellies making their way down to the river bed. Mike and Trish were the very first YRs we ever met in Kruger and we were looking forward to chatting over a coffee. I know they are in the Park as I write so we will not be able to meet up when we return next month – hope you are both having a great time guys.
As it is a fair drive up to Satara we kept to the tarmac roads but it was another quiet day so far but several ellies

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moving through the bush and some birds at Leeupan. Pausing at Tshokwane for lunch and a comfort break, the spotting moved up a gear as we headed northwards again. By the time we reached Satara, we had seen a lovely pride of lions (we could see 6 but I suspect a few more were keeping their heads down in the bush),

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zebras, wildebeest and more elephant.

We reached Satara at 4pm and were pleased to find we had been allocated hut
G177 which is close to the perimeter.It had been quite a busy day and SO went inside for a rest whilst I unloaded the car and then sat down on the stoep to watch the resident birdlife before cooking dinner. Although Satara can be quite a noisy camp I find, its location makes it hard to miss out on an available slot. I do love to sit down with a sundowner and watch everything that is going on around me. Plenty of people now returning to camp and lighting up the braai, children chasing round to use up the energy saved as they sat in the cars during the day and usually plenty of birds out and about before they, too, settle down for the night. I enjoyed the company of several starlings (red-winged, cape glossy and burchells), woodpeckers, woodland kingfishers, crested barbet, doves and hadada ibis. Meanwhile an ellie had come to the crib for a drink. It had been another wonderful day in Paradise but we were both ready for our dinner and soon retired to bed after that.

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 Post subject: Re: Critical Care for the Soul - KNP Nov-Dec 2012
Unread postPosted: Sat Oct 19, 2013 2:42 pm 
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Award: Sighting of the Year - Small creatures and/or insects (2012)
Thank you everyone for your kind and supportive comments. It gives us both a huge amount of pleasure to be able to share our journey with you all and we have hopefully improved our photography skills on each trip. Certainly for me..SO was pretty good already and he has his 'bazooka' lens as a main weapon. For all those who do not know us, the bazooka is a Canon 500mm lens!

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 Post subject: Re: Critical Care for the Soul - KNP Nov-Dec 2012
Unread postPosted: Sat Oct 19, 2013 2:46 pm 
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23rd November 2012

After a busy day yesterday, we did not rush up this morning and I sat watching the camp birds whilst SO dealt with all his necessary bits and pieces. Once we were back on the road, we headed for Nsemani – a favourite spot for us to sit at any time of the day. Today we found a Bataleur,

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Marabou storks,

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Swainson’s Francolin

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hippos, ellies

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and Egyptian Geese.

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Our plan was to head back and drive down the S100 as we thought the early morning traffic would have dispersed. On the way there we saw a Diederick Cuckoo, a dove which we couldn’t identify (any ideas?),

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and green pigeon. A solitary lioness awaited us along the S100

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followed by a small herd of ellies drinking in the river bed.

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We had booked a night drive so did not want to be out driving all day – SO would need a siesta beforehand so that he could enjoy that trip. Just continuing south on the Gudzani road towards N’wanetsi for a comfort break we spotted zebra,

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wildebeest, 7 ground hornbill (we have been coming to Kruger for 13 years now and this bird was never spotted on early trips but we now see them almost daily – what a huge success for the conservation project), dwarf and slender mongoose, juvenile Saddle-billed Stork,

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warthogs,

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giraffe and rhino.

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Heading back towards camp along the H6 we paused to watch giraffe, waterbuck, kudu,

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4 more ground hornbills and a bull elephant

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with his askari.

At camp I watched an Arrow-marked Babbler on our braai,

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A Red-billed Woodhoopoe,

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a Blue-headed Agama,

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a Vervet tucking in to some berries

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and a Squirrel nibbled on something it had found.

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The truck for the night drive was full which can make it quite a noisy trip although the greater number of ‘regulars’ on board then the volume is less. Guess they are more intent on spotting. We saw a very eclectic mix this evening which is always a bonus. Our first spot was a brown snake and then several herds of elephant, giraffe, zebra, porcupine (always a treat as we see them so rarely), buffalo, duikers, rhinos, steenbok, water dikkop, leopard, waterbuck and a fiery-necked nightjar. Fantastic!

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 Post subject: Re: Critical Care for the Soul - KNP Nov-Dec 2012
Unread postPosted: Sun Oct 20, 2013 4:35 pm 
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24th November 2012

This would be our last full day at Satara so we did not plan to be out on the road all day. We began on the S100, paused for a while at Gudzani and then north and west back to camp for breakfast. Along we way we found our first Impala lambs, Waterbuck,

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Wildebeest, Zebra,

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Saddle-billed Stork (juvenile),

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Grey Lourie,

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Black-shouldered Kite

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Ground Hornbill, Ellies,

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lots of Giraffe

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and last, but certainly not least, we had the pleasure of meeting another YR Vlakvaarsegat from Malelane who was in the Park for the weekend.

In the afternoon we headed out towards Orpen and had amazing sightings for the rest of the day – all the regulars plus Tawny and Brown Snake Eagles, Dwarf Mongoose

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and Slender Mongoose, Rhinos, Troops Of Baboons, Jackals and Wild Dogs.

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A really amazing afternoon and just as we were almost back to the camp, I had seen a bird mobbing something in the road. I approached very slowly and found its target was a Mozambican Spitting Cobra.

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I know snakes are very much a love or hate for many people but they have always fascinated us and it was a special moment to watch these two interact. What had caused the conflict we do not know as the snake was in the middle of the road, unless it had come too close to a nest or chicks and the bird was defending them.
It had been another special day in the Park and we had plenty to talk through as we enjoyed our sundowners surrounded by camp birds. Time to pack up again as tomorrow we were heading north and would need to be on the road reasonable early.

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 Post subject: Re: Critical Care for the Soul - KNP Nov-Dec 2012
Unread postPosted: Sun Oct 20, 2013 5:33 pm 
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Thank you again everyone. It has been less difficult that I thought writing this TR so long after our trip but it is amazing how looking through our photos, just how much comes flooding back. My SO always laughs at me for my technique to settle down at night when sleep has not come easily. Whilst other people count sheep, I mentally choose a road in Kruger and follow it along until I finally drift off to sleep. I must have a pictorial memory or something but give me any numbers to remember and I fall at the first hurdle.

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 Post subject: Re: Critical Care for the Soul - KNP Nov-Dec 2012
Unread postPosted: Sun Oct 20, 2013 6:07 pm 
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25th November 2012

As I walked out to the car this morning, the Honey Badgers were still out and about. I have mixed feelings about this situation – whilst it is lovely to see them, I have concerns about their possible reliance on feeding from the bins and any food they have stolen from other sources. Certainly each time we stay at Satara, we see more and more of them. What do others feel about this?

However, we were back on the road and an impala buck stood at the camp gate to wish us God speed. Now I must apologise at this stage as we seem to be missing photos from various parts of our trip and this is one of those days. I can see from my notes that we were lucky with sightings but can only find 4 pics taken on the day. We will try to do better next time!!

We passed a hyena probably heading back to the den after a hunting trip, then Kudu, Ellies, and Zebra. We always stop on the Oliphants Bridge to stretch ouyr legs and see who is lurking in the river bed, This morning, not much but a few giraffe along the riverbank and a Brown Snake Eagle flying overhead and a Wahlberg’s Eagle in a tree.

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Back on the road we met more YRs – I think they were ECopon (Gail and Ed), my sincere apologies if I have got this wrong. We were all at a Leopard kill (impala) and they had been watching for some time. They had recorded the female leopard with 2 cubs on video but all had disappeared in the bush before we arrived.

As we passed the turn off to Oliphants camp, we were shocked at how many of those magnificent big trees had gone along the river bank – all victims of the flooding earlier in the year. Even some of the areas close by the river where you could previously drive down and sit close to the river were now unsafe to use. Marabou Storks were sitting in one tree and several bull elephant were spotted as we drove north to Letaba for a comfort break.

We did not stop for long although had a quick scan along the reeds and river bank. Heading north again we paused at some of the small lay-bys overlooking the river and found wildebeest, Ellies, Yellow-billed Stork, several Crocodiles and an African Fish Eagle. Along a stretch of road where the dense Mopani bush had given way to more open scrub we saw flocks of Crowned Plovers and Tsessebe.

Although we still had a long drive ahead, we had to pop into Shipandani Hide to check out who was out and about – on this occasion, Hippos,

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Woodland Kingfisher, Green-backed Heron and Crocodile. Back in the car, we returned to the tarmac and waited for buffalo to cross the road.

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Lots of calves in the herd which was nice to see. Soon afterwards we came upon a broken down Toyota Hiace and we stopped to check if we could help in anyway. The vehicle was full – both adults and children and the radiator had a serious leak. We tried to find something which help them but nothing worked well enough to get them moving again. Luckily one person in the vehicle could speak some English and assured us they had called on their mobile for someone to help them. As there was nothing else we could do to help, we left them with a good supply of water and a large bag of sweets for the children which brought big smiles. We called in a Mopani camp to make them aware that a vehicle had broken down as we had been told the families were booked into Mopani camp for that night. Heading northwards again it was a quiet drive up to Shingwedzi where we were booked in for the next 4 nights. Along the side of the road we kept seeing numerous small piles of Mopani wood, as if someone has been thinning out the scrub.

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If anybody has an idea what this was for, we would like to know.

It had been a long drive and we well ready for dinner and a good night’s sleep.

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 Post subject: Re: Critical Care for the Soul - KNP Nov-Dec 2012
Unread postPosted: Mon Oct 21, 2013 1:44 pm 
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Pumbaa and Meandering Mouse - we were thrilled with the cobra sighting. Usually the only snakes we have managed to get reasonable photos of in the past are puff adders and rock pythons but then tend to just lay around.

We have always stopped to check if we can help when we see a broken-down vehicle. We always think perhaps it could be us. I have to say though that we were somewhat shocked that of all the other cars which passed us at that time, only one vehicle pulled up to see if they could assist. Everyone else just drove past without even slowing down.

There will be a slight pause in our TR for a few days as we have various family members staying. Once they have all returned to their own homes, we will get the show on the road again as we really want to get it finished before we fly out on 13th November...3 weeks on Wednesday so getting very excited!

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 Post subject: Re: Critical Care for the Soul - KNP Nov-Dec 2012
Unread postPosted: Fri Nov 01, 2013 10:41 pm 
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26th November 2012

We slept well and soon loaded up the car ready for another day. Even at this early hour the vervets were on the lookout around the camp. Whilst I know they are capable of looking very cute, I have to say they are not my favourite Kruger resident and have had several incidents in recent trips, particularly if one manages to get into your car when you are trying to load or unload. The causeway was quiet but a few bushbucks around and when we stopped on the bridge, we could see several ellies coming down for a drink. Dwarf mongoose and a grey lourie were spotted also.

Our plan was to drive south and take the Red Rocks loop. We always enjoy this road as there are so many places to stop along the way where you can sit and listen for the birds and watch out along the river bed for all the animals. Being in the north, it is never busy with traffic and often you will get sightings just to yourself. Goodness, that sounds selfish but you know what I mean. This morning we were rewarded with Water Buck, Woodland Kingfishers, Egyptian Geese, Bataleur, Buffalo, Little Bee Eater, Wildebeest, Giraffe,

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Wattled Starling,

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Fish Eagle, Tawny Eagle, Bull Elephant

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a beautiful butterfly on the ground

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and more buffalo along the Shingwedzi river bed as we returned to camp.
We called in at reception to book a night drive and then enjoyed a late breakfast on the deck.
In the afternoon we drove down to Kanniedood Hide passing more Woodland Kingfishers,

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Marabou Storks,

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Nyala

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and Bushbuck, Buffalo, Hippos and Fish Eagle. We always have a quick look around before getting out of our car at the hide as the bushes surround it so closely. Over the years we have had some very close encounters here but saw nothing before taking the stairs up to the hide. It was only when we sat down and looked around again that we spotted the hippo lying under a bush very close to the steps.

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Looking out along the river we saw more Marabou, Blacksmith Plovers, Buffalo and a juvenile Fish Eagle. As we would be out on a drive this evening we only spent about an hour here before returning to camp via Mashagadzi where a solitary Buffalo was soon joined by Ellies,

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also more Wattled Starlings alongside the road.
On the night drive we were joined by our neighbours in the adjacent bungalow. We had spoken to them briefly the previous evening and had suggested some roads for them to drive out on today. For Francois and Suzanne (French Canadians from Quebec) it was their very first visit to Kruger Park – he was on a sabbatical year and had been doing volunteer work further north in Africa. His ‘work’ was now finished and they would be spending the next few months exploring South Africa. They were both loving it and were so excited about what they would see this evening. We would not be disappointed...but, then, we never are at Shingwedzi. I am really sorry but have forgotten our guide’s name – I suspect it may have been Elliott who, I think, used to be based at Punda. However, with just the four guests in the truck, off we went and found Water Dikkop, Bronze-winged Courser, Mozambican Nightjar, Ellies, 2 Sharpes Grysbok, Large spotted genet, Steenbok, Waterbuck, Giraffe, Buffalos, White-backed Vultures, Black-bellied Korhaan and the stars of the night 2 magnificent male lions.

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It was the first time Frank and Suzanne had seen lion so close and they were absolutely thrilled. It is such a special moment to share a ‘first spot’ with somebody and we knew the Kruger had just signed up 2 more devotees.

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... and how I miss being back in the KNP.


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 Post subject: Re: Critical Care for the Soul - KNP Nov-Dec 2012
Unread postPosted: Sat Nov 02, 2013 7:51 pm 
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Award: Sighting of the Year - Small creatures and/or insects (2012)
27th November 2012

Yesterday had been a long day and we did not rush up too quickly this morning. After a leisurely breakfast on the deck we returned to our car parked near reception and found 2 more cars covered in YRs. It was our great pleasure to meet YR Tedredrum and 7 of his family. We all had a great chat exchanging sightings so far and SO and Tedredrum discussing Canon camera and lens technicalities. Great to share some time together and really pleased you all had such an amazing time (you were much less tardy with your TR than us).

We took the tar road north as far as Babalala and then followed the Mphongolo Loop south before returning to camp. Not a long drive but as much as SO comfortable with today. Even so, our sightings soon mounted up and included Ellies, Buffalo,

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Baboons, Zebras, lots of Ostrich (a group of 12 at one spot)

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Waterbuck, various groups of Giraffe (including a family of 11),

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Warthog, Brown Snake Eagle, Tortoise,

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some female Nyala,

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Golden-tailed Woodpecker,

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Bataleur, Jacobin Cuckoo,

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Red-crested Korhaan,

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Bee-eaters, Common Duiker,

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Fish Eagles and Vultures.

Before we began writing up notes to do a TR, we often used to say that we had sometimes had a quiet day. Since our note-taking began, however, we realise there is no such thing as a quiet day in the Park and we are often surprised just how much we have actually seen.

Back at camp SO had a good rest whilst I caught up with the washing and prepared dinner. I quite enjoy this time of day in the Park. SO had fallen asleep, I sat on the stoep with a G & T and watched as everyone else returned to camp and lit up their braai. Our Canadian neighbours came to join me for a sundowner and recounted their sightings for the day. They were enjoying their Park experience so much, they had managed to get a few days booked at P/kop in December. Ironically it was at the same time as we were also booked into P/kop and we swapped cell numbers in order to cook a meal for each other whilst there.

We were less impressed with our neighbours the other side who had returned to camp each night and produced a pile of wood for their braai...and I do not mean a pack of chopped wood as sold in the shop or by people close to the Park gates. I have to say I really would have liked to ask them where it had come from – I suspect they just picked branches up as they saw them and emptied it all out when they returned to camp. I only have a few words of Afrikaans so took the coward’s route and said nothing. Looking back, do you think I should have confronted them and explained that wood collection is definitely not an accepted option?

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http://www.sanparks.org/forums/viewtopic.php?style=2&f=27&t=58977Our 2012 Trip Report
... and how I miss being back in the KNP.


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 Post subject: Re: Critical Care for the Soul - KNP Nov-Dec 2012
Unread postPosted: Sun Nov 03, 2013 5:32 pm 
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Award: Sighting of the Year - Small creatures and/or insects (2012)
28th November 2012

Our plan for today was to drive up to Crooks Corner so I packed up suitable snacks in the coolbox as SO got himself sorted for the day. Travelling northwards on the H1-7 the usual animals were up and about – Buffalo, Zebra, Giraffe, several Bull Elephant and a juvenile Fish Eagle.

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These were soon followed by our YR for the day – PnF. We have seen each other on several trips whilst staying at Shingwedzi and it was good to see you again, albeit briefly as we all had full agendas planned for the day.

It really was very quiet as we continued northwards. We have often been lucky with sightings of the rarer antelope along this road but today they were nowhere to be seen. An occasional Elephant seen along the horizon, Wildebeest and another Bataleur. The Ostriches were out in force though

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– in fact we saw more Ostrich on this trip than we had ever seen. You know how you get ‘the year of this or the year of that’. As we had not seen so much along the road, we decided to take the Nyala drive before going onto Crooks Corner. We really could see a big difference from the previous year as much of the vegetation had been washed away by the floods earlier in 2012. Goodness knows what it will be like when we visit this month. A few Nyala were close to the track,

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together with Waterbuck and White-fronted Bee-eaters.

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At the picnic site we looked out for Frank but he was on leave and one of the Punda staff was looking after the site during his absence. We spent a while chatting with him – he was fascinated just how many people came and asked for Frank. As we all know, Frank is almost a Kruger institution and over the years he has taught us a lot about the birds on his patch.

Continuing on to Crooks Corner we saw a mature Fish Eagle

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an LBR,

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and then we spotted a new bird for us – the Crested Guinea Fowl.

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Thank goodness I am not the only one who looks as if they have been dragged through a hedge backwards when getting up in the morning. We love seeing everything in the Park but you get a special lift when you find an animal or bird you have never seen before. Along the river bed itself, the Crocodiles were sunning themselves on the sandbars

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and lots of Nyala had come down for a drink.

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Back in the car to return to camp Ground Hornbill

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were striding along and back on the tar more bull Elephant, a herd of Buff

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and one of my personal favourites, a Secretary Bird

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The moon was full and the sky was clear, so what about an image of the upside-down (to us) moon.

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... and how I miss being back in the KNP.


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 Post subject: Re: Critical Care for the Soul - KNP Nov-Dec 2012
Unread postPosted: Sun Nov 03, 2013 6:29 pm 
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Award: Sighting of the Year - Small creatures and/or insects (2012)
29th November 2012

This morning the sun was shining brightly and after a quick breakfast we headed south towards Kanniedood and then planned to continue south along the S50 for a while. This would be our last full day in the north so wanted to make the best of our time here. Impala and Nyala were happily feeding along the river bed. As we paused alongside another vehicle, the driver pointed out a Giant Eagle Owl hiding in a large tree.

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What impressive birds these are. We stayed for a while trying for some decent pictures but moved away when more cars stopped so that they could get a better view of the Owl. The Woodland Kingfishers offered splashes of colour in the bushes and trees and we paused again to listen to their distinctive call.
A tortoise crossed in front of our car and we could hear Fish Eagles calling nearby. Stopping at various little loops along this road we found Warthogs, Waterbuck,

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a large Hippo pool, Boomslang,

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Egyptian Geese, Wood Hoopoe and a large herd of Buffalo across the river.

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It seemed a good opportunity to stop for a coffee break and watch the Buff interact.

The birds were out in force this morning – Greater Egret, Yellow-billed Stork,

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Grey Heron, Goliath Heron,

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Hammerkop, Jacana, Egyptian Geese, Arrow-marked Babblers, Blue Waxbill

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(reading other TRs, people seem to see these beautiful birds much more often than us – in fact we have only seen them in Shing camp and in the area nearby. Do they migrate in the winter and we miss them for that reason?), Golden-tailed Woodpeckers, Marabou,

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Spoonbills,

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Grey Hornbill, Saddle-billed Storks,

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and a Giraffe in a hurry to get someplace.

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We were really spoiled for choice today and it was fantastic to see them all.

Back on the road we had another treat in store – a leopard on the ground!

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Whilst I love lions, I have to say, the leopard is something else. They have such a presence about them. It was fairly well hidden and hard to photograph but what a great day this was turning out to be. We sat with him (or her) for a while, at least until another car stopped and we pointed out the leopard and moved on to make way for them to enjoy his company.

The temperature had now risen to 37 degrees and continuing south there was less and less shade so we made the decision to turn around and drive slowly back to camp. A small breeding herd of Elephant were cooling off in the reedbeds and Impala Lambs were in the shade.

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Lots of the wildlife we had seen earlier were still about although the Giant Eagle Owl had moved onto another branch to make way for his offspring. We could hear him calling out though.

SO went for a rest and I started packing up ready to move south again in the morning. It had been another memorable stay at Shingwedzi and we have always been incredibly lucky with sightings in the area. For anyone reading our TR who has not tried Shing, we recommend it wholeheartedly. After the devastation from the floods earlier this year, we will be very interested to see what has changed as we have managed to get a booking for this month.

Our final plan this evening was to find Heksie and WendyA who we knew were here this evening. We had met on previous trips but this time we knew they were on a mission – to get as many photos with Yrs as possible for a fundraising plan. It did not take too long to find them set up alongside the fence and we spent a very enjoyable time catching up on news, future plans etc. I know Heksie has the pictures for this so I hope she is reading and can add to our TR. It was lovely to meet you both again and we are sorry we will miss each other for our next trip.

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http://www.sanparks.org/forums/viewtopic.php?style=2&f=27&t=58977Our 2012 Trip Report
... and how I miss being back in the KNP.


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 Post subject: Re: Critical Care for the Soul - KNP Nov-Dec 2012
Unread postPosted: Tue Nov 05, 2013 8:51 pm 
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Award: Sighting of the Year - Small creatures and/or insects (2012)
30th November 2012

We were on the road for 7am and the temperature was already 24 degrees. It would be a long hot drive down to Olifants. The road was very quiet (perhaps they felt we had been too lucky yesterday) and by Mopani we had only seen some Vultures in trees

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and a Black Kite in the sky. Just past the turn-off to the camp we spotted Elephant and Dung Beetle at the side of the road...a little and large sight you might say!

We needed to stock up with food and drink again so took the H14 to do a shop at Phalaborwa. We stopped at the Letaba crossing for a coffee break – it was quiet but a nice spot to soak up the atmosphere. On the road again we passed Buffalo, a Black Kite, Tawny Eagle

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and a Namaqua Dove.

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I had written up my shopping list last night and it did not take long to stock up again at Phala Spar. SO waited in the car and we were soon back at the Gate and on the H9 heading eastwards.

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We did not plan to stop at Sable hide today as we needed to get to Olifants, book in and get the food into the fridge. Along the H9 we spotted a Ground Hornbill

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and, at Nhlanganini, a Black-winged Stilt.

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We called into Letaba quickly for a comfort break and then kept to the tar to reach camp.

It is several years since we have managed to book one of the huts with the best view over the river but we had been allocated one of the bungalows not far from the Guesthouses and these do have a lovely vista as well. I carefully unloaded the car, keeping a very sharp lookout for the vervets which seem to cause havoc at Olifants these days. Last time we stayed here, I had turned round for a second and a monkey was in my car – not a pleasant experience and they always manage to grab something. Once all was unloaded and unpacked, it was time to pour out our sundowners and enjoy the view.

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... and how I miss being back in the KNP.


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