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 Post subject: suebfly's FIRST EVER SOLO TRIP TO KNP. Feb. '14
Unread postPosted: Sun Feb 16, 2014 9:10 am 
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I finally leave for my first ever solo trip to Kruger on Wednesday morning. I have been many times with family or friends but I have at last plucked up the courage to try it alone. I have learnt so much (as always) from the various topics here and also have been given some great advice by some of the "regulars" via pm. So I thought I would share it with you all. I will fly to Phalaborwa, hire a car and travel to Letaba for the first night. I have booked some lovely perimeter cottages at Letaba, Olifants and Satara. With your help I have compiled a shopping list of food & stuff to buy at Phalaborwa as most of the restaurants at these camps will be in the throes of renovations - also lots of renovations going on at Olifants but February is discount month and a good month for me to travel from a work point of view - so here I go. I will report back at the end of the month. This is my favourite view in the world - I wont be staying in unit 18 at Olifants but I have booked a cottage with a river view :D


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DSC01735 by suewilliamson777, on Flickr


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 Post subject: Re: FIRST EVER SOLO TRIP TO KNP
Unread postPosted: Sat Mar 01, 2014 8:13 pm 
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Well I am back from that long anticipated solo trip :D. Firstly I would like to thank everybody for help, advice and encouragement - especially Meandering Mouse, Brigitta & Mandy. Secondly I can only say a thousand times it was wonderful, fulfilling and liberating. I live on my own so definitely did not get lonely in fact I "chatted" to family & friends more than I ever do thanks to the wonderful wold of Whatsapp, e-mail & Skype. The minute I woke in the mornings I contacted the Australian connections and late in the evening was in contact with the South Africans. Had some wonderful occasions when I was sharing photos in real time with them.


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 Post subject: Re: FIRST EVER SOLO TRIP TO KNP
Unread postPosted: Sat Mar 01, 2014 8:48 pm 
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PHALABORWA AIRPORT by suewilliamson777, on Flickr

Image
PHALABORWA HANDBASIN by suewilliamson777, on Flickr

What a beautiful little airport only 2k's away from the gate!! This is the wash hand basin in the Ladies Loo - the rest of the airport is set out in similar beautiful ways


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 Post subject: Re: FIRST EVER SOLO TRIP TO KNP
Unread postPosted: Sat Mar 01, 2014 8:54 pm 
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I did the shopping with the list compiled with the help of various people and lots of info taken from the forum and was in the park in less than an hour
InImage
ENTERING KNP by suewilliamson777, on Flickr less than half an hour I was in the park

Everything very green and the bush very thick which is to be expected at this time of the year. I did not even attempt to take the usual photos - just about everything was obscured in some way by the vegetation so I took photos where and when the opportunity arose


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 Post subject: Re: FIRST EVER SOLO TRIP TO KNP
Unread postPosted: Sun Mar 02, 2014 7:32 am 
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The feeling I had on the trip between Phalaborwa Gate and Letaba was a similar experience ( I would imagine :hmz: ) to somebody who had finally got their "fix". I saw almost nothing on the drive - was still in "city mode" and had to readjust my entire system - slow down, slow down - I am sure you all know the feeling. I soon realised that I was not going to see much unless it was right in the road or in a tree. The first trip on my own and a very very lush park but that was not the object of the trip - I was there for my fix.


Image
20140219_182946 by suewilliamson777, on Flickr

The view from Cottage 63. Lots of renovations going on - Melville House being completely redone and a lot of the cottages. Besides seeing a few animals during this trip there were also very few humans - especially Letaba and Olifants - Letaba camp site was empty.

Image
IMG_0066 by suewilliamson777, on Flickr


The ever noisy Woodlands - but not very easy to photograph.
Weather very hot and humid. The first night was filled with the noise of hippo, hyena, scoops owls & Bushbabies


Image
IMG_0071 by suewilliamson777, on Flickr

The famous Von Weillighs Baobab - I have pictures of this tree in every season - it is a must visit every time


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 Post subject: Re: FIRST EVER SOLO TRIP TO KNP
Unread postPosted: Sun Mar 02, 2014 7:44 am 
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As you will see you are not going to get many photos of the usual animals - there are millions of far better pictures taken by other without the foliage and with far better cameras. I have a point and push which I have not had very long so literally did just that - P&P. The car hire people upgraded me - which was the best thing ever - I would have seen even less in the car I booked - and was high, in an incredibly user friendly car.

Image
PANTING HORNBILL by suewilliamson777, on Flickr

The first two days the heat was incredible - all the birds have their beaks open - I remember finding this very disturbing the first year I saw it - but I guess it is their way of "panting"


This one was not panting - just making it's early morning call

Image
EARLY MORNING CALL by suewilliamson777, on Flickr


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HAMMERKOP by suewilliamson777, on Flickr

This one had cool wet feet and some shade


Last edited by suebfly on Sun Mar 02, 2014 10:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: FIRST EVER SOLO TRIP TO KNP
Unread postPosted: Sun Mar 02, 2014 8:44 am 
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Early morning light


Image
IMG_0068 by suewilliamson777, on Flickr


This is what happens when the stick in front of you begins to more


Image
IMG_0077 by suewilliamson777, on Flickr



and this is what happens when the buffalo poo in front of you starts to move


Image
TORTOISE by suewilliamson777, on Flickr


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 Post subject: Re: FIRST EVER SOLO TRIP TO KNP
Unread postPosted: Sun Mar 02, 2014 7:12 pm 
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Thanks for following and commenting folks, also to Meandering Mouse who suggested I write this TR - one way of sharing my experience with others. Brigitta let me know when you are there and which camps - I will also be there early June.

The ever present bushbuck were all round Letaba, more than I have ever seen. It is always interesting to see one that is inside camp "chatting" to another on the other side of the fence. Who is in the better place??



Image
BUSHBUCK by suewilliamson777, on Flickr



Loads and loads of Golden Orb sipders and their webs spanned incredible distances. I was always finding myself covered with fine strands of web

Image
GOLDEN ORB by suewilliamson777, on Flickr


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 Post subject: Re: FIRST EVER SOLO TRIP TO KNP
Unread postPosted: Sun Mar 02, 2014 7:35 pm 
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BLACK STORK by suewilliamson777, on Flickr


There have been lots of threads on the Forum discussing the restaurant situation and workmen in the camps. Here are a few comments from my side regarding the three camps I visited.

LETABA - as mentioned there were renovations going on - Guest house plus small groups of cottages fenced off and being completely renovated inside. The restaurant was business as usual - I believe the scheduled change over is only later in the month.

OLIFANTS was a complete building site. I knew that they are doing major work there but was not prepared for the scale of it. Huge new reception/office area - everything being conducted from a small prefab at the moment. Lots of cottages being renovated and Piping (maybe drainage) was taking place EVERYWHERE. This found workmen working directly in front of many, many cottages. They were working directly in front of me at my BD2V the first two days. When I went back for a second two days to spend at a day at a BD3U - 8.00 am sharp I was told that they were scheduled to spend the day working right in front of me. I was devastated as it was the one day I wanted to spend just "chilling" - photos to come - I just burst into tears. Management was so very caring and understanding when I explained and they scheduled to work elsewhere for the day - a big thanks to that compassionate team


Image
VIEW FROM COTTAGE 7 by suewilliamson777, on Flickr


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 Post subject: Re: FIRST EVER SOLO TRIP TO KNP
Unread postPosted: Sun Mar 02, 2014 7:42 pm 
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OLIFANTS RESTAURANT - when I first arrived it was an empty shell - no furniture no fittings. Late on the first day there was activity and I was told that due to constant complaints they were going to reopen. A few hours later it looked just like the old Olifants restaurant - same Compass staff with a limited, but adequate, menu. I asked a number of staff what was going to happen and if they were going to stay on with the new system they all said the same thing "I don't know" One said that they were due to go for training in Nelspruit in a few weeks time, so that might/probably means they will be employed by the new people. I found everywhere the staff were always friendly and helpful where possible. The shop staff were incredibly friendly in all places and would have a look at the back if there was something that was not on the shelf.


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 Post subject: Re: FIRST EVER SOLO TRIP TO KNP
Unread postPosted: Sun Mar 02, 2014 7:51 pm 
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SATARA - the entire restaurant was gutted, the verandah was out of bounds and the toilets were entirely destroyed. The public were welcome to use the excellent facilities at the Day Visiitors site this was also where they were selling boerewors & pap. The shop (as with all shops) still catered for boozers and meat eaters. There was very limited amounts of real food and almost no fresh produce. I was disappointed that they did not make a bit more of an effort under the current circumstances.

Still the absolute BEST BEST place to eat in Kruger is Tshokowane. Everything fresh - fresh pies, carrot cake, muffins and the braai area smelt and looked delicious. This also happens to be the best stocked shop (although small) in the entire camp. That is if you are not counting curios and clothes)

The best breakfast ever - This is a must everytime I go to Kruger and the only time I eat French toast :D


Image
BRUNCH by suewilliamson777, on Flickr


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 Post subject: Re: FIRST EVER SOLO TRIP TO KNP
Unread postPosted: Sun Mar 02, 2014 10:34 pm 
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Kaapsedraai you are so lucky to have seen the giraffe at the baobab. I have never seen a sign of any animal at that particular spot!!

Image
IMG_0075 by suewilliamson777, on Flickr

The only babies I saw at this time of the year were zebra - and there were lots of them around.


I have only ever seen a Secretary bird in Kruger once before so you can imagine my excitement when I found
one standing on top of a tree preening it's self - what an amazing photo. look what I got - it took off at the second I pushed the button :(
Image
SECRATARY BIRD by suewilliamson777, on Flickr

A little later he was kind enough to pose for me in an area that was not n entirely enclosed by grass so I got second prize for that

Image
SECRATARY BIRD by suewilliamson777, on Flickr


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 Post subject: Re: FIRST EVER SOLO TRIP TO KNP
Unread postPosted: Sun Mar 02, 2014 11:15 pm 
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These amazing gems caught the eye every now and again. They usually did not sit still long enough to photograph but this one was sitting in the road and his head turned from side to side when he looked at me rather alien like but stunning and then in a flash he was off and away.


Image
[
My third and fourth night were spent at Satara, I must admit I have grown to love this camp. It is very busy in season but this time like the rest of the park it was very quiet. I spent a lot of time walking round the camp looking and photographing interesting things. Yet again the African wild cat came for a visit in the evening - one forgets he is wild when he strolls up to the cottage but there is definitely no way you are going to get anywhere near him. I am afraid he was not very impressed with my choice of dinner - salad - and he strolled off in disgust. I am sure there are many people who cannot resist giving him a snack however much we all know it is not allowed

This is the view from my cottage yet again grass very high ( guess you see a bit of a pattern here) this area just outside the camp where the waterhole is was just full of animals the entire time. One time when I drove in there was a huge herd of impala completely blocking the road and gate area.

Image
[

The area at Satara opposite the parking and reception is a fascinating spot and not a place I have previously explored much.

Terrapin sunning it's self & bug


Image
IMG_0189 by suewilliamson777, on Flickr


Image
BUG by suewilliamson777, on Flickr



One of my favourite photos of the whole trip. This Blue Waxbill was having such a wonderful bath


Image
IMG_0187 by suewilliamson777, on Flickr


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 Post subject: Re: FIRST EVER SOLO TRIP TO KNP
Unread postPosted: Mon Mar 03, 2014 4:32 pm 
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I always find the alliances between animals interesting - this time it was animals and birds - there were loads and loads of stork and impala together and I saw them three days in a row - all just hanging out together

Image
IMG_0203 by suewilliamson777, on Flickr





raptor looking for a meal
Image
IMG_0194 by suewilliamson777, on Flickr


I will just rest my foot (and then the other one) and keep all these humans in suspense. I think that the elephant mail has spread and they just seem to tease - hang around and just make us wait. I was very impressed with the way all the cars I was with when we came across the elephants, everybody did exactly what they should do - it is just sad about the few that don't but I think they are in the huge minority.
Image
ELEPHANT by suewilliamson777, on Flickr


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 Post subject: Re: FIRST EVER SOLO TRIP TO KNP
Unread postPosted: Mon Mar 03, 2014 4:59 pm 
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When ever you see people they ask "have you seen anything?" Of course you have seen lots and lots - what they really mean is "Have you seen cats and/or dogs" I always say that I don't go to the park for these - it is really not anywhere near the top of my list to see cats and dogs but I must admit there is always a huge adrenalin rush when one does see one of these. When I got back to Satara after a long day on the road there were a whole lot of red dots on the map all in the same place which probably meant static lion, so I hopped into the car and headed out again - less than 10k away from camp there they were - not very easy to see as they were in the riverbed well into the shade. I was lucky enough to get an excellent spot and was able to get a really good view of them - yes I have to admit it is really exciting to see these magnificent creatures

Image
IMG_0222 by suewilliamson777, on Flickr



Some smaller things after the adrenalin rush. I have been so often in the winter it was wonderful to see
all the flowers and for that matter the huge variety of grass - it would be lovely to just go round taking photos of the vegetation but I guess one would have to get out of the car and that is not a good idea :naughty:
Image
IMG_0240 by suewilliamson777, on Flickr


Image
IMG_0237 - Copy by suewilliamson777, on Flickr


MORNING SAND BATH
Image
IMG_0232 - Copy by suewilliamson777, on Flickr

Nothing to say about this one - pure perfection isn't it?
Image
IMG_0239 by suewilliamson777, on Flickr


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