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 Post subject: Exciting game viewing in Addo...
Unread postPosted: Wed Dec 24, 2008 5:01 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger

Joined: Sat Oct 07, 2006 8:24 pm
Posts: 486
Location: Somerset West
After 3 amazing days game viewing in Addo, I just have to share some highlights with those of you who are missing the bush in the festive season...

Monday, December 15
Arrive at a very hot, dry and dusty Addo Main Camp at about 12h00. The wind is gusting, and even the lovely wild fig trees in the camping ground have only a sparse covering of new leaves. Set up tents, eat lunch, and then head for the local swimming pool to cool down with a lot of other panting people... It feels like being at a waterhole in Hwange – instead of elephants, giraffe, roan antelope, zebra, wildebeest or buffaloes, people of similar shapes and sizes come and go – quite fascinating!
By 2 pm we hop into my bakkie (aircon packed up recently!), hoping to find some relief in the constant wind. Michael-John yells: snake! A HUGE Cape Cobra right next to the parking lot of the pool. We jump out for a closer look, but it is too long for my 200-400mm lens, and it is moving fast. I suspect 2m long, with a dark patch halfway down its body, probably still moulting. It heads for the nearest chalet – imagine if it went into an open door while people were resting!
My son yells to the people who come rushing out the open door. The snake turns tail and disappears around the other end of the chalet at an alarming rate... The biggest Cape Cobra I have ever seen, much longer than ones I saw in the Kalahari. Is this going to be a Snake Holiday?
At Woodlands waterhole 2 cars are parked against the hill – probably watching warthogs. No, 2 male lions! Nossob and Bitterbal sleeping like the dead under a bush 30m from the road. My best lion sighting in Addo so far, but no good for pictures. Knowing that sleeping lions on hot days = patience +lots of time, we take the turnoff to Gwarriepan. No elephants on a boiling hot afternoon?
Rooidam next – a snake in the road – this time 1m long, and greenish grey. Snake no 2!
The usual dust and spekboom road to Hapoor, but not an animal to be seen, except for a lone warthog or two. Maybe they don’t like the miserable weather either! A single elephant at Hapoor, 2 ostriches struggling against the wind, and a few more elephants dotted around in the bush. A bit better.
Spekboom hide for a needed break – elephants with teeny calf within 5m of the vehicle as we enter the parking lot. Much better. A lovely herd of elephant at the waterhole, with a number of small calves. They don’t like the wind and dust either, so file off into the bush. I love the smell of dust and elephant dung....
It is getting late now, so slowly drive up Mbabala loop for cooler air, and only see 3 lonely hartebeest lying on the ground. View from Zuurkop lookout is lovely as usual – I scan the valley for elephants, but none near roads. Look towards Carol’s Rest, and see a few dots on a dusty plain -- ostriches and buffalo?
By the time we reach the little valley, we are so hot, and have swallowed so much dust from the swirling wind that I slow down to a crawl in the shady spots. Trying to boost the flagging spirits in the car, I announce: Michael-John, this holiday I am going to show you a caracal lynx; I saw one about 1 km from here in April! As usual I glance over my shoulder up the No Entry sign to the right. What was that? Surely not a jackal...the ears had tufts on. Reverse slowly, and, yes, a beautiful CARACAL LYNX! He (very big, so perhaps a male), stands motionless in the shade, very alert. Then he sits down.
I put on the 1.4 Tele-converter to get closer, but struggle to get the focus right in the difficult light. So put it on Single Focus. A bit better. Suddenly the caracal stands up and starts walking towards us! I keep my finger on the shutter, and snap away excitedly till he veers up the bank. Wow! (Later I discover that most of the pics are out of focus since I was not on CONTINUOUS focus). What a lovely experience...
Carol’s Rest is restful with a single buffalo bull and some ostriches. No zebra – too dry?
Towards sunset we head slowly back to the male lions at Woodlands, but get caught in my first Addo traffic jam – in disgust I manage to worm my way past some very selfish people who refuse to budge for oncoming cars, and spread themselves 2 or 3 cars wide on this narrow road. It is already 6:15 and the gates close at 6:30. The lions still sleep in the heat and the sun is another 45 minutes from setting. I can understand why Peter Betts and Co. get so frustrated with gate opening/closing times in Addo.
Supper and cooler evening air bring some relief, so I head for the local waterhole. A black rhino is drinking under the floodlights! The first one I have seen here so early in the evening. So the jackals start howling, and what an eventful day it has been! The rhino hangs around for 45 min. On the way back I stop to chat to the Game Drive operator. He has had a wonderful time with the 2 male lions, and shows me stunning pics on his little camera, with some of them so close that only half the male lion’s head fills the frame!
His story: the tourists left at 6:23, and the lions got up at 6:25! They walked up to the Game Viewing Vehicle, and slowly proceeded up Zuurkop for 30 minutes of wonderful lion time, in full sunlight! His advice: the best thing is to check for them on the Gorah plains and Carol’s Rest tomorrow morning – they are after Megan and Roy – he has already been chased by them, and is learning to run for his life!
I thank him, and ask about the lionesses with cubs. They have moved to the Gorah concession, and haven’t been seen for a while.
Thank you Addo, this has been the best game viewing day here ever!
Before I fall asleep in my tent, I thank my Creator for showing me such beautiful things...

Tuesday, December 16.
Would you believe it, but I got COLD during the night, and today is supposed to be very hot! Jackals and birds wake us up at 5:00. The sun follows shortly, and I walk to the waterhole for an inspection. Jackal and birds. So quiet, but already getting very bright. Itch to get going, but gates open at 6:00...
Daniel is there, as usual. He shakes my hand with a big smile and opens the gate. Chilly and cool, more kudus and warthog than yesterday. Woodlands, up Zuurkop, down the valley, all the way to Carol’s rest, scan the plains further on, return to Carol’s rest, stop and listen. What a lovely day! Oh well, we saw so many things yesterday, can’t expect any more lions this trip. I have already seen more than my `Addo quota’ (which is VERY LOW!). See a herd of elephants below us on the tarred road as we drive on top of Zuurkop towards Hapoor. The bush is dry, but no wind today. A herd of elephants in the road near Spekboom turnoff. A very small baby is so cute. Already a few elephants around Hapoor, but not drinking. Back to Spekboom hide, but not ready for breakfast yet. My stomach is grumbling, but I want LIONS! A number of cars parked at Spekboom, with people already coming out the gate – so nothing to be seen here right now. I DID read all those reports about Kamqua and Gina and cubs near Marion Baree, so I WILL go and look for them before the cars arrive from the south gate (which only opens at 7:00). Not a thing at Marion Baree, except for a warthog or 2. Oh well. Let me drive just a little further... Nothing. Just one more bend in the road and then I’ll turn around for breakfast.
LION CUBS! I am driving slowly, but they are so close to the vehicle that they instinctively duck behind a bush. I force myself to drive on another 50m before turning around quietly, and letting the vehicle free-wheel slowly back. They look skittish so I stop and watch till they relax. Two small cubs and one bigger cub, and a huge lioness! After a few minutes I pull up right next to them, and they just lie and look at me. Wow!
For 20 minutes we relish sitting with a lion family all on our own. Then the first cars arrive from the southern gate. They are SO POLITE, and stop quietly right behind us. Kamqua? stands up and inches her way right by my window, behind the car, sniffs the bumper, the bushes, and returns the same way. I wonder if she is tempted to chew my beanbag on the window sill, but she calls softly, and stares in the direction of Marion Baree.
My wife Michelle says: listen, she is calling the other lions; and she is watching those warthogs down the road! Yes, 2 young warthogs are grazing on the verge of the road about 100m from us, just where it bends towards Marion Baree waterhole. Then we see a car approaching very slowly in the distance. I bet they are following another lion! Kamqua? starts calling softly again, and stares down a game track that bisects the bend in the road. Yes, a lioness slowly walks towards us, stops, stares to her left, then disappears. Maybe she is sleepy already.
I use my 200-400 lens to do portraits of the cubs; they stare at us, and I see the reflection of my bakkie in their eyes! For another 30 minutes we just relax by these beautiful lions.
Suddenly my wife shouts: OH NO! as the 2 young warthogs come hurtling around the bend with a lioness loping casually behind them. Forgetting that my camera has once again been set on Single Focus for the portraits, I start snapping the hurtling piggies. My brain shouts: PUT ON YOUR 18-200MM LENS! While I struggle to do this, piggy no 1 heads straight for my window, and certain death. 3m from our car Kamqa sticks out a paw and latches onto him – their momentum slams both animals smack into our right front bumper. The pig squeals terribly as she pins him down right next to my open window. I feel guilty pressing the shutter and shout to my wife and son to close their ears and eyes as the dust flies and the brave little pig squeals and squeals. At last she has him by the throat, and the biggest cub comes awkwardly to rest a sheathed paw on his rump. As things get quiet, I feel sick for this brave pig.
Somehow he jerks loose and starts haring up the game track! I cheer him on, but he must have gotten hurt, and within 50m he finally meets his end. As the cubs and other lioness trot up to inspect breakfast, I start the car and drive off, numbed. They need food, of course, and there ARE lots of pigs in the park, but death is never pleasant, especially when a little pig puts up such a brave fight!
When we find words at last, we all wish he had had a HUGE DADDY with LONG TUSKS that could have come to his defence.... And I feel less guilty for having snapped the `execution’ when I discover that most of my pictures are out of focus ‘cause I did not use CONTIUOUS FOCUS!
The heat has become so unbearable in our tents that we decide to leave a day earlier – it has been 40 degrees today. In the kitchen I notice the weirdest black `moth’ fluttering on the window sill – it is a diminutive uncoordinated bat! His eyes are still closed, and he is a mere 1.5 cm long! Looks like a jelly baby. He must have fallen from the rafters under the thatched roof. How do you feed a newborn bat? Somebody tells us he has been around a few days already, and is doing fine. Can his mom somehow feed him there?
We drive to Zuurberg to find some cool shade spot in the mountains – all is green and very burnt after the serious fires earlier this year. Not much shade but we have a cooler picnic under an old oak tree near a burnt out lodge.
The rest of the day is an anti-climax. Elephants yes, but so hot, and very few animals on the evening drive. We don’t have the heart to go and see a few sleepy lions under a bush near Marion Baree again, not after this morning’s experience!
Spend a lot of time in the hide, where a young man from Durban asks me: have you ever seen a caracal before? I just dream of seeing one someday! He can’t believe that Addo has so many caracals, and promises to keep an eye open tomorrow.

Wednesday 17 December
Another cold night with more heat predicted for today. Lovely dawn chorus of birds at 4:30, and the jackals do their howling thing soon afterwards. No lion roars, but a hyena grumbles and whoops close by. Today is elephant day, and I am looking for babies +big herds heading for the waterhole. We do the usual loop around Carol’s Rest, and find a few buffalo grazing the stubby grass. A family of 6 warthogs lines up for a drink – this mom looked after her 5 teenagers very well.
I know history never repeats itself, but hope to see a male lion in better light today. No luck at all. Go past Marion Baree waterhole, see lots of kudus and warthogs. Past our lion spot we see our neighbours’ car parked – they point into the thick bush, and motion for us to park where they have just been – a caracal lynx! It is hunting, crouched in the pathway about 4m from the car. The tail twitches continually as it watches something intently in the bush. I drive on as my neighbours leave, turn around, and slowly return. The caracal gets up and walks off into the bush. What a lovely sighting! Drive to the next valley, looking for animals, but here it is very dry, and obviously no drinking place, since the usual herds of buffalo and kudu bulls are absent. Turn around and slowly scan the bushes. After about 20 minutes I see a movement about 1 km from the caracal sighting – another caracal strolls up the valley and disappears into the bushes (could it be the same one that moved up the valley?) Wow! 5 minutes later my `caracal friend’ from Durban drives by. I stop him and indicate where we have just seen the caracal. Hope he finds it at last...
Breakfast at Spekboom hide is always a treat. I just miss my striped field mouse friend that always scurries around looking for crumbs.
Hapoor, and the elephants are thick in the bush. Get some lovely groups coming down to drink, and a few youngsters really close to the parking lot. Lovely to see their antics.
Spend the rest of the day next to the pool trying to survive. See very few animals on our evening drive. Too hot?
Another lovely day at Addo ends with a cooler evening and sunset. The little bat is gone, and I am very sad. Did somebody kill it? Then 2 young girls look up at the ceiling and tell me their dad put it back on the rafters – it is hanging like a proper bat now, clinging on for dear life!
Another lovely day at Addo has ended.

Thursday, 18 December
Sad to be leaving, but glad to escape the heat. Last year end of November we borrowed a duvet from my friend Piet Steyn, `cause it was so cold, and now we are gasping for breath. Pack up quietly at 5:00. I read my Bible at the waterhole as a few jackals chase each other around the bushes before doing their dawn chorus thing. Slightly overcast morning and Johnson is there to open the gate at 6:00 sharp.
See lots of animals this morning, and wish for some suricats. They used to live close to Woodlands waterhole, I tell my son, somewhere around here... I look to my right, and there they stand, 11+ of them, like little statues in a row, watching the plains south of Domkrag waterhole. What a treat.
See a few zebra just behind Carol’s Rest – the first in 4 days. Have a relaxed breakfast at Spekboom hide, then head for Hapoor for a final elehant show. Only a few hover around, but I scan the bush till they start appearing. A HUGE herd of elephants pick up steam and head for the parking lot. I park close to the game path, and start shooting on CONTINUOUS FOCUS this time – what a sight -- more than 50 elephants in double file like a giant tshongololo! As they fill the frame I switch from tele to 18-200mm and just keep shooting. The last ones are agitated and feel left behind. They trumpet and charge the last 200m straight toward us – quite scary actually!
Thank you Addo for some amazing experiences in game viewing. I was going to cancel the 4 days in January en route home, but my wife says we can brave the heat again, in the Safari Tents this time, and then go and cool off at Stormsriver in the Forest Huts before heading home.
Hope those little lions will still be around next time. The drive through Matyolweni is lovely as usual, and in Alexandria we see a sign: Addo Elephant National Park – a few kilometers down a dusty road we enter the lovely state forest near Langebos hiking trail. 3 hours later we emerge refreshed and cheery. I ask the ranger: will the elephants ever come to this forest? He replies: NO. Somehow I agree with him – I would love to see elephants on the white dunes near Colchester, but I would hate for them to destroy these lovely old yellow wood trees at Woody Cape....

God bless and have a lovely Christmas,
Friedrich von Hörsten

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 Post subject: Re: Exciting game viewing in Addo...
Unread postPosted: Wed Dec 24, 2008 9:18 pm 
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Friedrich
So you didn't see anything exciting then!!
I suppose there is always next time!!!!
Have a great Christmas and New Year
Kind regards
JDW

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 Post subject: Re: Exciting game viewing in Addo...
Unread postPosted: Thu Dec 25, 2008 12:43 am 
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Location: The planning is on again.....
WOW What an exciting experience :big_eyes:

We should think about to include Addo sooner in our travel plans :thumbs_up:

Thanks for some amazing stories, Friedrich.


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 Post subject: Re: Exciting game viewing in Addo...
Unread postPosted: Thu Dec 25, 2008 1:07 am 
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Pumbaa
We have been twice now and had a fantastic time on both occasion.
It is such a friendly place. The staff are great, the accomodation superb and a comfortable size to make it a pleasure to be in.
And then there is the wildlife!!!
We will go again that is for sure.
I commend Addo to you, you will not be disappointed.
Regards
JDW

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 Post subject: Re: Exciting game viewing in Addo...
Unread postPosted: Thu Dec 25, 2008 4:33 am 
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Thanks Friedrich - you have a wonderfully descriptive, yet economical, way of writing that makes it easy to live your experiences as if I had been there myself. By the third sentence, I was pining for the bush again, a sickly exciting dullness in the pit of my stomach.

I know why I brave the Jo'burg traffic out of school holidays - it's so I can appreciate every minute of being free in the bush!

A merry Xmas to all.

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 Post subject: Re: Exciting game viewing in Addo...
Unread postPosted: Mon Dec 29, 2008 9:24 pm 
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Friedrich

As you stopped at Spekboom to tell the tale, you've told it to a chubby bald guy witha white Landrover defender. Well, that was me. Did not know I was speaking to a fellow forumite :redface:

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 Post subject: Re: Exciting game viewing in Addo...
Unread postPosted: Mon Dec 29, 2008 9:55 pm 
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Caught out!! No yellow ribbons :naughty:

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 Post subject: Re: Exciting game viewing in Addo...
Unread postPosted: Mon Dec 29, 2008 11:17 pm 
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What a wonderful coincidence. Heck, I'll be careful what I say to whom in future! Anyway, look for my yellow ribbon - it's already on my driver's mirror. Someone at a shopping centre thought it was a symbol for AIDS, but I reminded them it was yellow, not red!

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 Post subject: Re: Exciting game viewing in Addo...
Unread postPosted: Tue Dec 30, 2008 9:34 am 
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DinkyBird wrote:
Caught out!! No yellow ribbons :naughty:

:whistle: :redface:

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 Post subject: Re: Exciting game viewing in Addo...
Unread postPosted: Fri Jan 02, 2009 10:03 pm 
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Great stories Friedrich. Pity you had to witness something so repugnant that most people would kill for :twisted:

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 Post subject: Re: Exciting game viewing in Addo...
Unread postPosted: Wed Jan 21, 2009 3:01 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Thanks to all for your positive and friendly comments. I have struggled to get back onto this posting, but will try to post some pictures tonight, this time in smaller chunks, with even more wonderful experiences on our return trip to Addo in January. In the meantime I posted two pictures on the Outdoor Photo website: http://www.outdoorphoto.co.za/forum/pho ... puser=5886

God bless

Friedrich von Hörsten

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 Post subject: Re: Exciting game viewing in Addo...
Unread postPosted: Wed Jan 21, 2009 5:41 pm 
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Sorry, I can't get pics posted -- have read FAQ explanations, but simply want to upload resized pictures from Photoshop. Is there perhaps a SIMPLE method of just clicking a button somewhere here on this forum that says UPLOAD?
Thanks

Friedrich

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 Post subject: Re: Exciting game viewing in Addo...
Unread postPosted: Wed Jan 21, 2009 6:54 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Some more exciting game viewing in Addo...

Monday, January 12, 2009

It is never good to try and repeat something special, but here we are at Addo again, and it is even drier than in December. Fortunately it is a cooler day, and we see lots of zebra in the Nyathi section while driving from Paterson. The safari tents are like heaven compared to our little tents, and we relax on our beds with a cool breeze blowing in by the door...
The afternoon drive tells me this will be a very different trip – see a warthog with 2 teeny babies on the main tar road to Hapoor, but only a few elephants at the waterhole. Have a peep at the new picnic spot, but it seems very exposed and hot in the sun. Have a mango at Domkrag viewpoint, and enjoy supper on the deck. What will Addo have for us tomorrow?


Tuesday, January 13
Wake up to a misty morning. What a pleasure to be here. I always dream of an elephant in the mist, but not much chance of that here – they love the bush too much when it is cool. Drive along the open plains, and find lovely kudu bulls in the mist. At Carol’s rest 3 buffalo bulls look mysterious in the haze, and a warthog can hardly be seen in the distance. On the way back an ostrich poses for me, but nothing else. Travel to Hapoor, but the mist has lifted here. Keep an eye open for suricates, and yes, a whole group of them comes straight towards us. A goose gives them a fright, and they all pose beautifully in a tight bunch before departing again. Well, well... My safari operator friend stops to tell me that the cubs were seen at the picnic spot entrance, but they went into the bush. That sounds better!
How delightful to see a young lion in the road – our biggest cub has GROWN in 4 weeks! Then the 2 little ones appear, and a lioness. We spend 10 minutes with them, but they hide in a clump of bushes. So we check Marion Baree waterhole for the other lioness, and return slowly. On top of the hill we find 3 warthogs on the left of the road, and the lions about 70m away, peeping around a bush at them.
Are they hunting again? Yes, definitely. They slither behind the bushes and disappear. I look over my should, and – wow! Is it Kamqua right here next to me, behind a bush on the right, staring at those 3 pigs? Will history repeat itself today? My wife mutters: ``Oh no, not again!’’
I change to the 18-200mm lens, set my camera on Continuous Focus, and wait as the pigs start crossing the road in front of us, right into the jaws of death. Kamqua is crouched now, within 20m of them. The front pig hesitates, perhaps disturbed by an approaching car, then turns around and starts running around the car for his life. Kamqua is off in a flash around the other side, but my vehicle saves these pigs, and they keep it between them and certain death as they race towards Marion Baree...
At least I can relax now, and enjoy the interaction between disappointed lionesses and cubs. It seems to me that if you want to see lions chasing warthogs, then I suggest you patrol the Spekboom – Southgate road every morning – they seem to have mastered this to a fine art!
After a delightful breakfast of muesli and mangoes at the picnic spot (it is wonderful in the morning!), we try Hapoor for huge herds of elephants, but the cooler weather has kept most of them at home.
In the bird hide in camp, a young couple tell me they saw a huge male lion on Zuurkop AFTER we had passed that way. It was sleeping behind a bush.
By now Addo is as hot as an oven after the misty morning, and I have 2 cool showers and lie in a howling hot wind in the tent with a wet towel over my legs. This is as bad as December! By 4:30 we can’t take the heat in the tent, and drive up to Zuurkop viewpoint with lots of water and wet towels. The lions are lying about 20m from the road in the shade, flat on their backs. We try to survive at the lookout in the meagre shade of a bush. I sit on my camping chair, and wonder what will happen if those lions come to visit me right now...
The rest is a repeat of Decemer – 2 lazy lions (Kalahari and ?) refusing to pose for pictures, and the clock ticking bye. At 6:20 I reluctantly leave for camp, with the sun still high in the sky. Megan and Co – when are you going to give us realistic gate opening and closing times?
Thank you Addo for some more amazing game viewing, even if it was deadly hot. A cool breeze comes from the sea – maybe tomorrow will be better.

Friedrich von Hörsten

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``God, I can push the grass apart and lay my finger on your heart'' -- E. St V Millay


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 Post subject: Re: Exciting game viewing in Addo...
Unread postPosted: Thu Jan 22, 2009 9:03 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Good evening,

I have posted 2 more Addo pics here: http://www.outdoorphoto.co.za/forum/pho ... puser=5886.

Hope you enjoy them.

Friedrich von Hörsten

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``God, I can push the grass apart and lay my finger on your heart'' -- E. St V Millay


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 Post subject: Re: Exciting game viewing in Addo...
Unread postPosted: Thu Jan 22, 2009 9:17 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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The 2nd last bit of my exciting January trip to Addo:

Wednesday, 14 January

The game guide Jacques says: Those lions will go to Carol’s Rest. I agree with him, but don’t feel like repeating that route – in December it was a poor option. So I check Zuurkop for the spoor, but the wind has blown all signs away. We check Hapoor, but nothing. I pass Spekboom, and look in my rear view mirror down the firebreak. What on earth is sitting there in the open? It is very unclear, but maybe...
In a flash I turn back to Spekboom. My heart is pounding as I jog through the quiet forest with a sandbag and lens. What if there is a lion INSIDE with me? Yes, it is a beautiful young male lion, and his eyes follow me as I rush to the far side, and peep at him. WOW! I feel kind of vulnerable with only this thin fence between us... This must be Roy, and there is Megan, a stunning lioness without a collar! By now a number of people come running, and we enjoy this very intimate time with these lovely young lions. Megan sniffs the ground, and pulls a toothy face (I thought only males gave the Flehmen’s grimace when testing female urine?) She repeats this a few times, and at last they disappear towars Hapoor, because there is no water here. That was so lovely, I don’t even bother to follow them. (The guides find them later in the road). I drive further down `Lion Alley’, and find a number of cars scanning the bush for the cubs that have just left the road, but after yesterday’s viewing, who wants to see a distant lion tail behind a bush?
After such a lovely experience we celebrate with mangoes and cereal at the picnic spot, which has now become a favourite with us, especially after the caretaker shows me huge lion pugmarks in the sand by the toilets. Somebody tells me the male lions were at Carol’s rest after all. Since there is still a bit of guti (rainy mist) in the air, I drive in that direction. Kalahari and pal are watching the animals from a comfortable spot in the woodlands, at a distance.
Such a lovely cool day deserves a good lunch, and I make stew to go with the mieliepap for lunch. By 3:30 my wife insists we need to go game viewing. We spend a very dusty, cool afternoon at Hapoor with about 150 elephants till near closing time. A last reward is 2 blue cranes feeding in an open field ...

I feel pleased and relaxed. Thank you Lord!


Thursday, 15 January

Another cool morning, and Michelle and I start the day with God at the waterhole in camp – surprise – 2 hyenas are having a bath, and 2 jackal are harassing them. One takes a nip at the young hyena’s bum, and keeps yapping till they both disappear over the hill...
Those 2 lions will have left Carol’s Rest by now, so I take the tar road to Hapoor.
Drive all the way to the South Gate, and enjoy photographing beautiful birds on the lichen-covered branches of trees along the way. 9 African hoepoes mob each other and flit like butterflies from tree to tree, followed by 2 noisy drongos. This is like a fairy world, and they follow us for ages.... I keep an eye open for the caracal, but no luck. On the way back my friend Adam Rabinowitz stops to tell me they just saw the caracal a few minutes ago....
The Oom who followed me out of camp this morning, stops me near the picnic spot – did I see the 2 lions in the road? He had been right behind me, but turned around to do another route, and Megan and Roy walked with them for 2 km! So I return on the main tar road, and find a few vehicles plus 2 lions. The road is very narrow, and a Sanparks vehicle brushes past Megan, who runs into the bush. But I wait patiently till
all vehicles depart, and I end up parked within 2m of Megan in the narrow road and thick bush. She is so relaxed, and stares calmly into my eyes. I talk quietly, and she just looks and looks at me, then closes her eyes and starts nodding off, flat on the ground. What a special moment! When the next car arrives, I leave Megan to them, and quietly celebrate with another juicy mango at the picnic spot!
I hear that the 2 male lions were at Carol’s rest again. Is this possible? Every car along the way stops and tells me to go and look. Yes, in the open field behind Carol’s rest, Kalahari and Co are about 50m away. I take the most stunning pictures with the 1.4 Teleconverter, but notice that they are not sharp – the heat waves distort ALL my stunning pictures, but I treasure them anyway – these are real Kalahari lions, and magnificently so!
At Carol’s Rest 1 male ostrich gets annoyed at a single chick that follows him like a shadow. He dances, spreads his wings, then pecks the poor chick viciously and lifts him off the ground with its head in his mouth. What on earth? The mother follows with her own little shadow chick, and they disappear into the bush... Closer to home I find a family of very dark Guinea fowls with 3 adorable newly hatched chicks. We spend some rewarding time together before heading for home and a better stew than yesterday to celebrate all these amazing sightings.
The afternoon belongs to Hapoor and plenty of elephants at arms’ length –the smell of elephant dung, the noise of fighting and shoving. Then a surprise – a huge tortoise comes marching into a tightly packed group of about 50 elephants. Surely they will trample him into a pancake! No, he keeps plodding on, and they politely make way for him, till he disappears between their legs, then reappears on the other side in the muddy water! We celebrate with another cold mango at Domkrag viewpoint...

Good night,

Friedrich von Hörsten

_________________
``God, I can push the grass apart and lay my finger on your heart'' -- E. St V Millay


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