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Kruger Trip - September 2015

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jpmeiring
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Kruger Trip - September 2015

Unread postby jpmeiring » Tue Jun 09, 2015 1:01 pm

Good day all

I will be travelling to the Kruger in September , and thought I could use this blog to not only help me with my planning, but for us to share some of the things we keep in our Kruger closets-our best kept secrets when travelling to the Kruger, like best place to stop for biltong on the way, or a special padstal on the way. Basically anything that is a MUST on your kruger list(admit it, we all have one!).

So my trip will consist of the following :
2 September - fly to jhb from PE and hire a ford Figo. Drive to pretoria and visit family till 6 September.
6 September - drive to kruger and spend 3 nights at satara in a perimeter bungalow, after which we spend 3 nights at lower sabie also in a perimeter bungalow.

Any tips, advice, best route, activities etc are welcome. Also what sightings to be on the lookout for, like the scops owl at Satara. We want to know what you do when you visit the Kruger!!

Hope to hear from you all!!
JP

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George_Brits
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Re: Kruger Trip - September 2015

Unread postby George_Brits » Tue Jun 09, 2015 1:29 pm

Hi JP,

First of all, let me welcome you to the SANParks forum. I hope your stay will be an informative one.

First of all, which entry gate did you envisage to enter the KNP?

Depending on the route of travel, either the N4 or N1, there is quite a few different places where one can get biltong, and i'm pretty sure there will be big differences in opinion too as to which stopover/leg stretch where you can get biltong would be the best.

For the best drives, I can recommend reading the below article that appeared in the Getaway Magazine in 2013.

http://www.getaway.co.za/travel-stories/road-trips/kruger-national-parks-10-self-drives/

I can highly recommend to do a drive along the Sabie-river, it is a favoured hunting ground for Wahlberg's Eagle, which nests along the river during its summer visits.

There are many stops overlooking the Sabie River where one should look out for woodland accipiters such as the Little Sparrowhawk. Nkuhlu Picnic Spot provides wonderful views over the river reed beds.

It is one of the few places in southern Kruger where the White-crowned Lapwing is found. If one is lucky, one may see the African Finfoot, Black Cuckoo-shrike, Half-collared Kingfisher and Red-faced Cisticola during the drive.

The N'watimhiri causeway takes one right onto the Sabie River, while Sunset Dam, just outside Lower Sabie, is one of Kruger's most photographed water holes and a great birding location.

I would recommend doing a sunset or an early morning drive at any of the two camps!

I hope your stay will be a memorable one and please don't forget to post your pic's and trip report on this forum under the KNP Activities and Sightings thread

jpmeiring
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Re: Kruger Trip - September 2015

Unread postby jpmeiring » Tue Jun 09, 2015 1:58 pm

I thought about doing the Panarama route and entering at Opren gate. But that might change depending on what feedback i get on this forum. Considering the gate times, and that i drive a maximum speed of 20-30km in the park, i don't think it is possible to enter the park at another gate, and drive to Satara through the park, considering we are driving from Pretoria that morning. I don't mind departing Pretoria at 03:00 the morning, but i don't want to miss the whole point of this trip - to slow down and enjoy.

I should have mentioned that i am a keen photographer, and will be hiring some good bodies and glass in Pretoria for the trip, so any advice on some photography tips would be appreciated as well. That being said, my priorities are:

1. Enjoy the trip
2. Enjoy it a little bit more...
3. Photography

I will definitively do a trip report in September. I have been going to the Kruger from a young age with my parents, but being 24, the last few trips i have planned and done for just me and my girlfriend, and we are keen on trying and seeing new things.

Thank you for all the tips. These will go straight into my Kruger folder, and hopefully I can add a few photos of the birds to my report

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George_Brits
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Re: Kruger Trip - September 2015

Unread postby George_Brits » Tue Jun 09, 2015 3:30 pm

Hi JP,

The panorama route? :think:

I would suggest that you look at the SANRAL website for the best up to date road surface information, some of the routes/roads do have some nasty potholes, but I would (to view be able to view the best vistas) travel on the N4 to Nelspruit, Sabie. Graskop, Blyderiver's Canyon, Abel Erasmus pass, then to Klaserie ending at Orpen - gate.

On the N4 Highway, a favourite stopover is Milly's of Machado, its a great place to stretch the legs and to eat a trout-pie, and to buy preserves, dried fruits and jams too.

Sabie and Graskop offers a heap of little places you can visit, I am not aware of a great farmstall en-route to Orpen, but there is a few places that you can stopover to have a coffee and more on the Klaserie-road.

I have to admit that the best way to get to a destination is to go there slowly, you're on holiday after all, so why rush!

Note that Satara has got an excellent Parks Shop, a Debonairs as well as a Mugg & Bean restaurant. The Debonair's Pizza place only does take-aways...

jpmeiring
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Re: Kruger Trip - September 2015

Unread postby jpmeiring » Wed Jun 10, 2015 11:12 am

Thank you for the info. I will have a look at SANRAL for road conditions closer to the trip.

Anyone know the butchery in Hoedspruid? I've heard a lot of their biltong...

And what are the best butcheries in Pretoria to buy meat for the trip?

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Re: Kruger Trip - September 2015

Unread postby Elsa » Wed Jun 10, 2015 11:34 am

Very warm welcome to the forum jpmeiring! :clap:

I can imagine there are so many questions you have in the run up to your trip and my advice would be to have a look through our comprehensive Index to KNP Topics which contain invaluable advice and info on all sorts of subjects.
Especially the Shopping en route to Kruger which I'm sure will have many of the answers you are looking for.
But do shout if there is anything else you need to know. :thumbs_up:
Enjoy!
Where ever you go, go with all your Heart.

Kruger - 22nd May - 5th June 2015

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Sneeugans
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Re: Kruger Trip - September 2015

Unread postby Sneeugans » Wed Jun 10, 2015 12:03 pm

JP, We used to buy very good meat and delicious biltong at the Bosveld slaghuis a few km`s South of Hoedspruit, they had a huge variety of venison. They have since moved into the town, but still sell good biltong, not like the past but still good.
According to the Winter edition of the magazine Platteland the place to go for biltong is in the Kamogelo centre which also has a Pick`n Pay.
The mag also says for the best fruit and vegs in South Africa, go to La Bamba supermarket owned by the dos Santos family.
They give the distance from Pretoria to Hoedspruit as 425Km.
Happy planning

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George_Brits
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Re: Kruger Trip - September 2015

Unread postby George_Brits » Wed Jun 10, 2015 1:44 pm

Hi JP,

For meat supplies I can recommend a few places in Pretoria.

Kings Meat Deli - http://www.kingsmeatdeli.co.za/wmenu.php
Groenkloof Butchery - they are situated in Lynnwoodroad, the Glen Gables shopping centre 012 348 2680

This two butcheries are quite close by.

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Re: Kruger Trip - September 2015

Unread postby Meandering Mouse » Thu Jun 11, 2015 6:39 am

A very warm welcome to you, JP :gflower:

You certainly have chosen camps that are likely to offer lots of possible sightings and great road selections.

My favorite road close to Satara is the S39. In comes highly recommended in most Kruger books and covers a wide array of eco-zones. I love driving the road for the diversity alone. It is worth stopping at the Timbavati picnic site and chat to the camp attendant. He is often able to update on the latest sightings.

The S28 is my favorite Lower Sabie road. It is well know for cheetah and all cats really. I know a seasoned forumite, who almost only does that road on her stays in Lower Sabie. A detour to Dukes waterhole is a must, as it can sometimes produce a gem. There used to be a massive Africa Python sighted there quite frequently, so look in the branches at Dukes. Most pictures were taken with it curled up in the fork of a tree.
The bird doesn't sing because it has answers, it sings because it has a song.

jpmeiring
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Re: Kruger Trip - September 2015

Unread postby jpmeiring » Thu Jun 11, 2015 9:14 am

Thanks all for your wonderful tips. I am counting down the days till we leave. 84 days to go!!! :dance: :dance:

Sneegans, i will give both butcheries a go in Hoedspruit - one can never have too much biltong!! :D

Elsa, yes i see there is so much information under the different topics, and will have look at it all.

George, thank you for all the butcheries in Pretoria. I studied a year in Pretoria and got all my meat from Groenkloof in Lynwood. Have never been to Kings Meat Deli though, and it looks amazing.

Meandering Mouse, i will give those roads a good go when I'm there. We were there last year, also in September, and were lucky to spot the python at dukes, but as you said, he was curled up and high up in the tree.

I have an obsession with leopards, and would love to increase my chances of seeing them. We were lucky last year as we saw 6 leopards in our 5 days inside the park. One sighting that will always remain by me - the gates had just opened and we were headed towards Skukuza from lower sabie, when we came across a big male lion walking in the road. We spent almost an hour behind him. Eventually cars approached from the front, which informed all of us going the opposite way, that there is a pride of lions 5km down the road. Now as most tourists do, everyone raced off in that direction, leaving me alone with the beautiful male. I spent another 10 minutes with him until he wandered off into the bush.

I knew there would be so many cars at the pride sighting, and being one that would rather just take another road or photography some impalas drinking at a dam, i did that. I parked my car next to the main road and saw a heard of impalas coming down for a drink and made the necessary settings on my camera for the light conditions.

Suddenly the impalas starting snorting en looking straight towards me.... Now i have been hunting from a very young age, and I can clearly identify the snort of an alert impala, warning the rest of an intruder.

It took 5 seconds for all wildlife to disappear from the waterhole in complete chaos.......suddenly, right in front of me, a leopard mother and her cub appeared and came down for a drink. I watched them for a hour, playing and drinking - while all of this was happening, the cars behind met kept speeding off to the lion pride sighting. Not even my best attempt to get some of the cars attention could help them see what I saw, they just kept their eyes on the road, unaware of the 2 leopards, playing right next to the road in the open.

There is maybe a lesson to be learned in all of this...

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George_Brits
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Re: Kruger Trip - September 2015

Unread postby George_Brits » Thu Jun 11, 2015 10:24 am

:lol: what an amazing story, JP :thumbs_up:

I am of the opinion that people in the KNP suffer from lion-spotting fever and they tend to get soooo disappointed when they don't spot a big carnivore during their stay.

I look forward to see your posted Trip Reports, JP
Last edited by George_Brits on Thu Jun 11, 2015 1:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Kruger Trip - September 2015

Unread postby JimS » Thu Jun 11, 2015 11:49 am

Hi
As you mentioned an interest in photography and you will be renting some photo gear just a few thoughts on a small change to your proposed itinerary. September is the breeding season for herons and other birds, and Lake Panic near Skukuza is a popular nesting/breeding site. I have photographed grey, goliath, greenback, squacco herons all with chicks at Panic during September. Pied and Malachite kingfishers, jacana, black crake, and of course Fish Eagle are always around. So if you are into bird photography Panic in September could be very productive. Maybe book one night at Skukuza before going to Satara, this would give you an afternoon and a morning at Lake Panic. I will be at Skukuza in early September hoping to get some photos of these birds.

I was at Skukuza last week and although the birdlife was a little thin on the ground there were plenty mammals around, leopard of four separate occasions, elephants everywhere, impala, bushbuck, waterbuck, kudu, nyala, duiker, warthog, and the resident hippo and crocodile.

Driving from Skukuza to Satara you will pass two large waterholes a few kilometres past the Tshokwane picnic spot. At Satara the S100 is a very popular drive but I do prefer the H6 tar road to the Nwanetsi picnic spot. You have a high possibilty of seeing hyena on an early morning drive on the H6. It's a very open landscape so if there is anything around you have a good chance of seeing and photographing it. The Sweni hide near the Nwanetsi Picnic site and be good for birds. In September 2014 there were elephants within touching distance of the Sweni hide.

I'm not sure if the Girivani waterhole near Satara is still open but it is a good afternoon photo spot if there is water there.

Sunset dam at Lower Sabie for birds, early morning puts the sun behind you. The Ntandanyathi hide on the S28 is a possibilty, never seen much from the hide but some good photo opportunities near the hide.

Have a good trip

Jim

jpmeiring
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Re: Kruger Trip - September 2015

Unread postby jpmeiring » Thu Jun 11, 2015 12:37 pm

George, yeah that is exactly what it is! i think we all fall in that trap sometimes, eyes just focused on trying to spot that leopard or lion and racing through the Kruger to increase our chances, when, to be honest, most of my own personal best sightings came from parking my car en watching something else. Also, please let me know where i can buy SANPARKS online merch! I am trying to support these things as much as possible. I will also be driving around with my Latest sightings car magnet! :D 8)

JimS - Thanks so much for the photography tips. I've always wanted to visit Lake Panic. Been to the Kruger many times, and I did not even know it existed till i started reading about it here. On the camera topic, i rented a 500mm f4 ii as my longest lens. I have a 1.4 extender, and my bodies which are a 1dx and a 7d mark ii. Will i have enough focal lenght? I intend to use the 1dx as much as possible, and the 7d mark ii as my backup(also for its 1.6 crop factor). So i will have a maximum focal lenght of 500x1.4(extender)x1.6(7d crop factor)=1120? I also have the 200-400, and the 70-200 f2.8 ii for general game. Do you think i cover all the areas?

Thank you all for the tips.
JP

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George_Brits
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Re: Kruger Trip - September 2015

Unread postby George_Brits » Thu Jun 11, 2015 1:27 pm

Hi JP,

Please send a mail to sanparksonlinefan@gmail.com, to obtain an order form for the SANParks Online Fan Fanpack :D

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Re: Kruger Trip - September 2015

Unread postby JimS » Thu Jun 11, 2015 2:41 pm

JP

We have very similar gear, I use a 1Dx with a 500mm + 1.4 extender, my wife uses a 7D with a 400mm 5.6, and we share a 70 - 200mm and a 100 - 400mm.

At Panic the 500 +1.4 on the 1Dx should have enough reach for the larger birds and as you know the 1Dx can take a far amount of image crop. At 1100mm on the 7D2 you will have more than enough reach. Pied kingfishers tend to perch on a tree stump about 10 metres from the right hand side of the hide. If you are lucky the malachite kingfishers occasional perch on reeds only 2 metres or so also from the right hand side of the hide. On the left of the hide a tangle of branches close to the water attract greenbacked heron, very occasional malachites. Lots of black crakes and jacanas feeding close to the hide. Morning light is a bit challenging as the sun is almost directly in front of the hide, afternoon light is almost perfect.

At Sweni you may need the 1100mm, last September there were lots of cattle egrets nesting opposite the hide about 30 metres away. The hide is a little high for my taste, there is a small loop road close to the hide, and a causeway further away that put you at water level.

My wife and I will be at Panic between the 6th - 11th September hoping that the birds are nesting and the water level is good.

How do you find the 7D2 high ISO, 1600 - 2000, my wife is considering upgrading her 7D to a 7D2 mainly for the high ISO and the 1Dx look alike AF.

Jim


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