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 Post subject: Re: Courtship Dancing in the KNP Nov-Dec 2013
Unread postPosted: Mon Feb 10, 2014 6:26 am 
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Carol, what atmospheric pictures of the storm. Quite amazing. :thumbs_up:

I am pleased that you finally managed to get your sunset drive. It certainly sounds an interesting group. Love the Genet. So clear.

:popcorn: :popcorn: :popcorn:

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 Post subject: Re: Courtship Dancing in the KNP Nov-Dec 2013
Unread postPosted: Sun Feb 16, 2014 7:14 pm 
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Some more great sightings. I love your giant eagle owl. Keep it coming :popcorn:


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 Post subject: Re: Courtship Dancing in the KNP Nov-Dec 2013
Unread postPosted: Mon Feb 17, 2014 12:58 pm 
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carolv, a really amazing TR with great pics to go with it.

Just love Ratelpan hide, but last two visits being quiet. Glad you had some nice birdies there.

I have also done a Bushwalk with Irvin at LS and he is a great guide. Seems you had a nice time on that drive. Just love all the interesting pics. :clap: :clap:

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 Post subject: Re: Courtship Dancing in the KNP Nov-Dec 2013
Unread postPosted: Wed Feb 26, 2014 9:27 am 
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Carol,

Wow you had some amazing sightings and your photographs are awesome! We did a night drive with Irving at Lower Sabie a few years ago. It was very quiet as far as sightings went, but it was a thoroughly enjoyable experience. At one point he drove down a no entry road, stopped and turned off the engine and all of the lights. He encouraged us to soak in the bush. I will never forget it!

Looking forward to sharing in more of your trip.

Daron

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 Post subject: Re: Courtship Dancing in the KNP Nov-Dec 2013
Unread postPosted: Wed Feb 26, 2014 1:08 pm 
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Irving is an exellent guide, you are very lucky to have had him. Sounds like you guys had a very fruitful drive :mrgreen:

I love the shot of the eagle owl, how nice to see it in the open like that! :mrgreen:

Also love the shots of the growing storm in the sky, it is always amazing to see the full effect of them in a place like Kruger :thumbs_up:

:popcorn:

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 Post subject: Re: Courtship Dancing in the KNP Nov-Dec 2013
Unread postPosted: Wed Feb 26, 2014 2:36 pm 
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Wow Carol wonderful pics and I am really enjoying your trip report!

Experiencing a thunderstorm in KNP is one of my all time favourites.

carolv wrote:
I am hoping that someone reading this will be able to give me some more information. When can you book the Mananga Trail?


The 4x4 trails can only be booked on the day you plan to drive the trail. This is due to the fact that the area ranger might decide to close the trail due to weather conditions. The trails are also normally closed during the wet season. This is to prevent damage to the trail.

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 Post subject: Re: Courtship Dancing in the KNP Nov-Dec 2013
Unread postPosted: Wed Feb 26, 2014 9:23 pm 
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Huge thank you to everyone for their kind comments. We do love to share our trips with everyone and are so proud that people feel the photos are OK.

I hope to get a few more days written up very soon - reading Jaco's comments on the wet season is somewhat ironic for a great many of us in UK this year - the boot is very much on the other foot for lots of areas here.

Jaco V - thank you for giving us more info on booking the Trails - does it really mean you can only book it on the actual day and not the day before? Also, is there a set date when 'Wet Season' starts? I think we were a bit taken aback as we had tried to do the trail (Mananga) before that thunderstorm and we had been driving around in temperatures of 40+. The last time I think we saw it mentioned in a TR was from John and Poppy and I know they usually go out in August. A bit tricky for us to change our dates from Nov/Dec to your mid winter just to try the Trail but hopefully we will get a chance at it one day.

Nice to see so many of you have also had the pleasure of doing a drive with Irvine. We certainly feel he is one of the best guides in the Park and even when the night is quiet, he is always entertaining. We have been on several drives over the years when a guide has just switched off the engine and let everyone sit and soak up the amazing Kruger night atmosphere. Just the thought of it is giving me serious withdrawal symptoms!!

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 Post subject: Re: Courtship Dancing in the KNP Nov-Dec 2013
Unread postPosted: Thu Feb 27, 2014 11:39 am 
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Carol, I have done some checks and will answer your questions best I can.

carolv wrote:
Jaco V - thank you for giving us more info on booking the Trails - does it really mean you can only book it on the actual day and not the day before?

That is correct. The first 6 vehicles that arrive at reception and book on the day are the ones on the trail. I have to add, I have never had the experience where I am told the trail is full when trying to book an hour or two after reception opened. The reason for only being allowed to book on the day is so that the trail can be closed should the section ranger decide to close it due to rain or other reasons.

carolv wrote:
Also, is there a set date when 'Wet Season' starts? I think we were a bit taken aback as we had tried to do the trail (Mananga) before that thunderstorm and we had been driving around in temperatures of 40+.

I would have been taken aback as well. One would expect the person at reception to at least explain why you cant book the trail for the next day. It seems to me you missed out on a great opportunity because of this.

carolv wrote:
The last time I think we saw it mentioned in a TR was from John and Poppy and I know they usually go out in August. A bit tricky for us to change our dates from Nov/Dec to your mid winter just to try the Trail but hopefully we will get a chance at it one day.

I have checked the SANParks page with information regarding the 4x4 trails. That page can be found here
There is no indication of the trails being closed during the wet season that I could see. I must apologize I gave you wrong information :redface: . The trails are open troughout the year, the only proviso is that they can be closed at the section ranger's discretion. No need to change your planing to do a trail :D
The Lebombo Overland Eco Trail is only open between 1 April and 31 October. This is where I confused myself.

Just a note, rain the previous night still does not mean a trail will be closed. It depends on how much rain fell, the area that it rained in and off course, how wet the season has been. The wet season is normally from November to March, with the early rains falling as early as end September and October.

I have driven the Madlabantu trail at Pretoriuskop in January 2009. After completing the trail both my SO and I agreed that the trail should have been closed. Should you be interrested, you can read my TR A tale of Tall grass, insects and a damp spot……… telling about that experience

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 Post subject: Re: Courtship Dancing in the KNP Nov-Dec 2013
Unread postPosted: Thu Feb 27, 2014 2:39 pm 
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Hi Jaco V - Thank you so much for all the trouble you have taken to answer my questions. It is very much appreciated and I shall keep my fingers crossed that we will be more successful when we next have the chance to book a trail. I will also read up on your trail close to P/kop. It is a camp we do often stop at and we enjoy the area. In fact, I only found out about that trail whilst researching for the Mananga. Just shows, no matter how often we make a KNP trip, there is always something new to discover .

Carol

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 Post subject: Re: Courtship Dancing in the KNP Nov-Dec 2013
Unread postPosted: Thu Feb 27, 2014 4:23 pm 
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Awesome report! electical storm and birds of prey!!!

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 Post subject: Re: Courtship Dancing in the KNP Nov-Dec 2013
Unread postPosted: Thu Feb 27, 2014 7:46 pm 
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19th November

We would be leaving Satara today but only moving as far as Letaba so we had plenty of time to do an early morning drive before returning to cook breakfast and pack up the car. Our roads of choice would be south on the tar, along the H6 to N’wanetsi, up the S41 and back along the S100. Pausing to watch a group of Zebra, we were joined by YR, MandyM, again. A bachelor group of Ellies had returned to the area, a small herd of Buffalo, Wildebeest, Black-bellied Korhaan and 2 big Tuskers. There had been very little traffic on the road with us (so many seem to start with Lion Alley) but shortly after a 5 a.m. sunrise

Image

we saw 2 cars parked ahead of us. We approached slowly and were rewarded with one of the best sightings we have ever had in the Park – 2 young male Cheetah had crossed the road and were hovering around the base of a dead tree.

Image

They seemed oblivious of their audience and with just the 3 vehicles (another 4th car joined later) parked up, we all had an amazing half hour as these beautiful cats stretched, posed and then one climbed the tree to check out the area.

Image

Image

It was just like one of those documentaries shot in the Serengeti. We have seen some fabulous Cheetah in Kruger over the years but never had we seen them climb a tree. When they eventually moved away into the grassland, we all looked at each other and let out an big “WOW”.

We were absolutely buzzing as we continued eastwards along the tar – what a start to the day and thank goodness we had decided to make this early morning trip before moving camp. We were in need of a comfort break at N’wanetsi but even before we reached the picnic site we had found a couple of Black-backed Jackals,

Image

Grey Duiker, Kudu, Giraffe, African Land Snail and Waterbuck.

Heading north we spotted a juvenile Bateleur posing in a tree

Image

– actually I think it may have been the same one we had seen a day or two before – Open-billed Stork and White-backed Vultures.

Image

We stopped at Gudzani Dam for our morning coffee and biscuits. Hippos were playing in the water, Egyptian Geese and White-faced Ducks kept a safe distance from the resident Crocodile, a Glossy Starling hopped close to our car and a Bataleur flew above us.

SO’s tum was beginning to rumble and we drove back along the S100 – no lions this morning but lots of Wildebeest, Waterbucks, Impala, herd of Zebra,

Image

Warthogs and 2 juvenile Saddle-billed Storks.

Image

Back at camp SO helped pack up the bags whilst I cooked breakfast. I must admit over the years we have got this down to quite a slick operation, no doubt all you ‘Mites are just as proficient, and loading up this ultra spacious Isuzu is utter simplicity. Pull down the back and shove it all in – never have we had so much space. Our plan was to keep to the tar heading north and it wasn’t long before an approaching car flashed us and stopped alongside – it was YR Flying Cheetah who we had met on our last trip and it was lovely to spend a few minutes catching up on each other’s journeys so far. If you get to read this TR, FC, do you remember commenting that you had been in the Park for over 2 weeks before spotting a leopard? We recalled that observation many a time over the next few weeks as you will see.

After our ultra busy morning so far, the wildlife seemed to have decided to hide away from us but an occasional Wildebeest, Zebra, Giraffe

Image

and Tortoise were still about. A Slender Mongoose also raced across the road in front of us. On the Olifants bridge we got out to stretch our legs and look out over the river. The air was full with Swifts, a Crocodile lay out on a sandbank and Impala ambled along the river bank. We were curious to see what the state of play was with the Balule crossing so took the S91 to check it out and then continue along the river to Olifants. No work seemed to be ongoing at the causeway which explains why there is no date being offered for its re-opening – pity, we love this causeway and have had some lovely sightings over the years. As with Biyamiti weir, we find it a brilliant spot for bird photography as you are so close to the water. A female Giraffe was feeding close to the road and then we spotted a family of Banded Mongoose. We both love Mongoose and were really lucky spotting them on this trip. It was a long time since we had seen the Banded ones though and so an even greater pleasure to find a family this time.

We called into Olifants to get Ice Creams and met up with 2 more Yrs – Bert and his SO – they were also on their way to Letaba so we hoped to meet up with them again.
Taking the sand roads along the river towards Letaba, lots more Giraffe out and about, at the small waterhole on the left side we paused briefly but as soon as any vehicle stops here, the terrapins race towards the road so we moved off quickly. A solitary Crocodile sat watching us with a curious terrapin.

Image

Three Buffalo were cooling over in a pool by the rocks

Image

and an Elephant Bull stood drinking in the river whilst Fish Eagles cried overhead.

At the small causeway before you reach camp, we had plenty to see – 3 Crocodiles, Grey Heron, 2 Yellow-billed Storks, Egyptian Geese and a Sandpiper.

Image

The thought occurred to us that, by the way of an internal competition, we would try to see who could get an images with the greatest number of different species in it. The latter image has 4 (this was one of mine) – plenty of time left for further attempts at the record.

The recent heavy rains had obviously replenished this area of water and the wildlife were taking full advantage. Just a short way now to reach Letaba and check-in did not take long. I have forgotten to write down our hut number but it was in the section 85-90 not far from the Laudromat. We have often stayed at Letaba but, for whatever reason, have always been allocated accommodation at the other side of the camp. We quickly unloaded and sat on the stoep with a cold beer. Our new neighbours soon arrived and we were very pleased to find it was Bert and SO. This was only our second camp of the trip but they were leaving the Park in a few days so we had plenty of sightings to catch up with, including a Rhino mother and calf.

Image

It was a pleasure to meet you both and thank you for sharing time with us.
It had been a truly memorable day and after a well-earned dinner, we were soon more than ready for our beds.

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 Post subject: Re: Courtship Dancing in the KNP Nov-Dec 2013
Unread postPosted: Fri Feb 28, 2014 4:36 am 
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What a lovely day with lots of superb sightings, plus the bonus of meeting other yellow ribbons carolv, and even have some of them as neighbours! Awesome! :clap: :clap:

Stunning Cheetah sighting, and so close! Your pictures are absolutely superb! :dance: :dance:

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 Post subject: Re: Courtship Dancing in the KNP Nov-Dec 2013
Unread postPosted: Fri Feb 28, 2014 5:02 am 
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Carol, So enjoying your TR with super special sightings ...your :cam: are just stunning. :thumbs_up:

Awesome!!! sighting and pics of the Cheetah. :clap: :clap:

Just have to love the Baby Giraffe and the Rhino with baby :dance: :dance:

Thanks for sharing :popcorn:

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 Post subject: Re: Courtship Dancing in the KNP Nov-Dec 2013
Unread postPosted: Fri Feb 28, 2014 7:19 am 
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Lovely sighting of the cheetah - how special that it climbed up the log :mrgreen: And with only four cars, that is really lovely! :mrgreen:

Hmmm I wonder when the causeway will be fixed :hmz: It was flooded from all the rain when I was there, or so I heard. Hope they fix it soon, it is a wonderful place to sit 8)

Lucky to have some YRs as neighbors :thumbs_up:

Stunning photos all the way through :clap:

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 Post subject: Re: Courtship Dancing in the KNP Nov-Dec 2013
Unread postPosted: Fri Feb 28, 2014 11:36 am 
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carolv, this is surely a jampacked episode with some brilliant sightings. :dance:

The pics are also excellent. :clap:
What a brilliant cheetah sighting with him in the tree. :mrgreen: :thumbs_up:
Just love the variety of birds around. Seems that back road is a great one as I also had some nice experiences. :D

That croc with terrapin sticking its neck out is also an interesting pic. :dance:

Great TR and thank you for sharing. :popcorn: :popcorn:

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