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Jesscan’s Journal – June Jaunt Kruger

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Jesscan1
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Jesscan’s Journal – June Jaunt Kruger

Unread postby Jesscan1 » Sat Jun 13, 2015 6:15 pm

Kruger has such a magical effect on one that one cannot get enough of its magic.

We had barely unpacked from our May Lower Sabie trip when a good friend called and invited us to be his guests at a lodge 10km from Croc Bridge gate from the 9th of June until the 11th of June.

Three days in Kruger :D :D :D :D :D (Although as day visitors) in anybody’s book is awesome.

However, being confirmed Kruger addicts we surmised that if we could add another couple of days in Kruger itself, then that would be a bonus.

June is prime time in southern Kruger so Andy was onto the SAN Parks website in minutes to check availability at Lower Sabie and at Croc Bridge. Lo and behold our preferred accommodation was available at Lower Sabie on the 7th and 8th of June.
A quick call to Reservation House was made and our stay at LS was confirmed. :D

While getting my daily fix on the KNP Activities and Sightings thread, I read that a visitor from Canada was enquiring about a bush braai at Lower Sabie on Sunday the 7th and was hoping that someone would join them to make up the minimum "party of four" required for this activity.

We know how special this experience is, as last May, we were privileged to be part of this activity at Lower Sabie along with SurfCindy, Riaanf31, Nkulu and six other guests.

A bush braai is such an experience that the memories live with one forever, so a call to Dorcus at Lower Sabie reception was made and the bush braai was booked. Happiness!

As this trip would be a ‘quickie’, planning was relatively easy.
Pack all the cameras, some clothes, load the car and GO.
Oh … and chuck in some food for good measure.

Sunday 7th June: We departed Edenvale at 06:40 and after a very pleasant, quiet drive with just one pit stop at the Viva filling station in the picturesque Schoemanskloof, we crossed the low water bridge over the Crocodile River at 11:30.

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The entry formalities at the Croc Bridge drive through booth was completed in record time and while Andy unpacked the cameras and binos and tied the yellow ribbon (that was still warm from our May trip) to the side mirror, I wandered off to look at the Croc Bridge nursery.

The distinctive pink colour of this Impala lily caught my eye

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and a minute later this Orange Acraea landed on what looked distinctly like a weed.

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Then I spotted a leopard … not a feline one (I wish it was) but of the Lepidoptera kind. An African leopard that landed on a similar white flowered weed.

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These white flowers were the only colour in the area and seemed to attract all the local butterflies including this White banded swift.

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Heading up the H4-2 we were greeted by a small herd of the "Kruger welcoming committee" who seemed to say ‘Are you guys back again?

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The lookout at Gezantfombi dam is always a must visit and we caught the tail end of a breeding herd of Ellies that had stopped for a morning drink.

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The herd with a number of little ones had not moved far when we caught up with them again shortly after crossing the Vurhami River. The small ones with their almost too big ears and floppy trunks make for such entertaining viewing.

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There is some kind of attraction in driving the gravel roads especially those that follow drainage lines, so it was an easy decision to take the S28 that follows firstly the Makambeni creek and then the Nhlowa creek. Although the waterholes along this road have been closed, the creeks do have some water in places and with sparse bush along the side of the creeks, spotting conditions are good.

The usual suspects that frequent the south were seen, including zebra, wildebeest, impala, the odd lone buffalo and stacks of warthogs. Most of the warthogs were on their knees, engrossed in rooting out something to eat until this magnificent specimen stopped for a minute to sniff the air and have his picture taken.

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Strangely enough there was a distinct lack of birdies around, bar the ever present Magpie Shrikes who seemed to be everywhere.

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Besides the pod of green hippo at Ntandanyathi hide there was not much to see until we joined the H4-2 tar road near Mativulungu.
While scouring both sides of the Mativulungu creek from the bridge, a fellow traveller heading in the opposite direction stopped and told us about a leopard in a tree a kilometre from the bridge.

We headed up the road and were quite surprised to see just two other cars stopped on the side of the road.
Not 20 meters from the road hanging in a large tree was a dead leopard.

The gentleman in the car who told us about the leopard had spoken Afrikaans and we were not sure whether he had said that there was a “mooi” (nice) or “dooie” (dead) leopard in the tree.

I have never been so saddened as to see one of these magnificent creatures hanging limply in a tree.
The poor animal had a huge chunk ripped out of his shoulder and bite marks on his neck.

The question of course arose on how the leopard had met his demise. (This question was later answered by one of the guides, so read on).

We took a few photos of the scene but as it is rather traumatic and not something we would like to see again these pics will not be posted.

Sunset Dam has always been a favourite spot for us and we were instantly cheered up, firstly to see that the dam had filled up considerably in the 3 weeks that we had been absent, and secondly that Sunset was rocking.

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The usual residents of Sunset Dam were there, as well as some visitors in the form of a herd of zebra, some impala and a biggish herd of buffalo who were resting on the north shore of the dam.

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We eventually dragged ourselves away from the dam and Andy popped into reception to check in, collect the key for the chalet, and confirm that the bush braai was indeed on. The bush braai was confirmed with Dingaan, the head guide, and thanks again to Dorcus, we had the same chalet as we had stayed in three weeks prior. :D :D :D :D :D

After unpacking the contents of the cooler box into the fridge we sat outside on the verandah with a cold drink and enjoyed the awesome view across the Sabie River.

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To be continued ….

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Porridge
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Re: Jesscan’s Journal – June Jaunt Kruger

Unread postby Porridge » Sat Jun 13, 2015 8:43 pm

Those are absolutely STUNNING pics, Jesscan1 !!!
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George_Brits
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Re: Jesscan’s Journal – June Jaunt Kruger

Unread postby George_Brits » Sun Jun 14, 2015 4:51 am

Beautiful pictures Jesscan!!

Those reflection piccies rocks and I love the trip report :gflower:

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Re: Jesscan’s Journal – June Jaunt Kruger

Unread postby Meandering Mouse » Sun Jun 14, 2015 5:33 am

:dance: :dance: :dance: I am thrilled to see you back again.

Beautiful pictures. I love the butterflies, just too beautiful.

So sad about the Leopard. :( I am really curious as to how he met his demise. :hmz: I have my suspicions...but I will wait to see if my instinct is correct.

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Re: Jesscan’s Journal – June Jaunt Kruger

Unread postby Pumbaa » Sun Jun 14, 2015 11:54 am

What a great start, Jesscan1 :thumbs_up:

love your sunset dam shots, the Impala lily and all the butterblies and sorry to hear about the dead leopard in tree :?

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Re: Jesscan’s Journal – June Jaunt Kruger

Unread postby TigerTommy » Sun Jun 14, 2015 12:22 pm

Missed the bus on your May trip, so definitely not missing it this time. Booked my seat early and looking forward to the ride. Lovely start with brilliant photos.

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Re: Jesscan’s Journal – June Jaunt Kruger

Unread postby Jesscan1 » Sun Jun 14, 2015 7:30 pm

Thanks very much for the comments Porridge, George_Brits, Meandering Mouse, Pumbaa and Tiger Tommy. Welcome on the bus ride.

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Re: Jesscan’s Journal – June Jaunt Kruger

Unread postby Jesscan1 » Sun Jun 14, 2015 8:04 pm

The Bush Braai

Departure time for the bush braai was 4:30 pm with check-in at the assembly point at 4:15 pm.

At 4:15 pm, our guide, City Moreko, was on hand to meet us and we were introduced to our fellow adventurers, a couple from Montreal in Canada who were on their first ever visit to Africa. They were certainly adventurers and were on the second day of a 46 day self-drive tour of South Africa!

The bush braai activity includes a sunset drive prior to the braai itself which was scheduled to start at 6:30 pm.

After mentioning the dead leopard in the tree about 6 kilometres down the road, City was quite curious to see the scene.

At the site, City had a good look at the scene through the binos and offered the following explanation:
There is a big male leopard that has made the Mativulungu area his home and it would appear that this younger male leopard had either strayed into the big boy’s territory or may have had ideas of a takeover of the territory. Be that as it may, according to City, there would have been some confrontation and it would appear that the resident leopard chased the interloper, who made the fateful wrong decision to climb a tree instead of just vacating the area.

By climbing the tree, the leopard was forced higher up into the tree where the branches are much thinner and less able to hold his weight. Finding himself trapped and not able to go up or down and so high above the ground that a fall would be fatal, the poor beast was attacked and killed by the incumbent male.

After viewing the murder scene we turned around and headed towards Mlondozi, which was to be the venue for the bush braai.
A small herd of Ellie were returning from their evening drink at the Sabie River and crossed the road in front of us to continue their foraging. A juvenile Fish Eagle was in the reeds and an adult Fish eagle had returned to his nest in a dead leadwood tree while some hippo near the LS Bridge were leaving the water to start their nightly grazing.

The light was fading fast and although the sun was below the horizon, we were lucky to catch this view from the LS Bridge as the reflection from the sky painted the surface of the water a tangerine orange.

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On crossing the Bridge we heard the plaintive call of the Grey-headed Bushshrike, but try as we might, we could not locate him.
City decided to take the S29 Mlondozi road for our trip to the picnic site as he was hoping that we may be lucky and find a cat of some description.

The hand held spot lights were fired up and the road proved to be quite productive as we spotted the usual evening suspects in the form of Kudu, Duiker, Steenbok, Impala and the ever present Water Thick-knees in the road.

We were stopped by a second herd of Ellies in and on the verges of the road and as they were very peaceful we watched them for a good while in the low light of the spotlights.

The next road block was by courtesy of a huge breeding herd of buffalo. They crossed the road in seemingly military precision in three phalanxes in front and behind us. It is quite amazing to watch these bovines move at night with such discipline, speed and strangely enough in relative silence, with just the occasional click of a hoof on a stone, as they headed determinedly toward their destination.

At 6:25 pm we made our way up the hill to Mlondozi and were greeted by a fairy-tale bush scene.

Awaiting us were our hosts for the evening. Chef Titus Moyo and waiter Norbet, both from M&B, along with Frank, their driver and guard from SAN Parks.

Three tables were beautifully set up under the thatched boma. Our dining table was set with wine glasses, cutlery and a lighted candle.

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The other tables were laden with a selection of salads - a divine potato and egg salad, and a mixed Greek salad and a dessert (Malva Pudding and custard) and tea and coffee.

On a circular concrete base a log bonfire was burning and seating for our party of four was placed around the fire.

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On the periphery of the concrete structure were six cast iron pots. Their contents were still to be revealed.
Half a 44 gallon drum served as the braai machine and as Titus started cooking the rump steak, boerewors and chicken drumsticks,

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City held fort and regaled us with stories of his youth, love for the bush and his path in becoming a wild life guide.

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A few glasses of a good red were consumed as City continued with his enthralling tales of the bush and to have such interaction between a guide and his guests was something special.

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While we were busy with the salad starter, the cast iron pots were put onto their own small pile of coals to heat up and when the meat was cooked their secrets were revealed.

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There was good old stywe pap (Stiff maize meal porridge, an African staple) a pot of Sheba (hot tomato and onion relish), roasted vegetables, rump steak, wors and chicken drumsticks.

Dinner in the bush by candlelight was simply scrumptious and thoroughly enjoyed by all.

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It was getting late and after our dessert of Malva pudding it was time to head back to LS.

As we left Mlondozi, a white-tailed mongoose shot across the road ahead of the vehicle. A great sighting and a first for us.

The drive back to LS was packed with sightings of more steenbok, more duiker, and another herd of Ellies, who we could smell from 600 meters away.

A porcupine was on the side of the road and City heard the rustling of its quills before we even spotted it.

A heavily pregnant Hyaena crossed the road a metre in front of our vehicle and a couple of Thick-knees, Impala and a group of 8 Giraffe, all lying down, made up the other sightings.

We made a quick visit to Sunset Dam and besides the hippo out of the water, the water looked as if it was studded with rubies as the crocodiles' eyes reflected the light from our spotlights.

At the camp gate we were met by more Ellies and eventually drove through the gate at 10:30pm.

For Andy and I, and I am sure that I can vouch for Julia9726 and her partner Alex from Canada, this was most certainly an unforgettable experience.

Our guide, City, must be commended for his spotting prowess, outstanding knowledge and unbridled enthusiasm. Thank you City Moreko.

What a day!

To be continued ….

Letaba 21 -23 July
Satara 24 – 26 July
Skukuza 27 July

Mokala 14 – 15 September
Augrabies 16 – 17 September
Namaqua National Park 18 September
West Coast National Park 21 – 22 September
Agulhas National Park 23 September
Bontebok National Park 24 September
Addo 26 – 27 September
Mountain Zebra National Park 30 September

Lower Sabie 4 – 12 November

manicwalker
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Re: Jesscan’s Journal – June Jaunt Kruger

Unread postby manicwalker » Mon Jun 15, 2015 5:39 am

Jesscan,
What a lovely TT,
and what a super Bush braai you had!
Food looks and sound delicious... :)
Very sad about the leopard, we can only hope he didnt suffer for too long :cry:
Look forward to more TT :thumbs_up:

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Re: Jesscan’s Journal – June Jaunt Kruger

Unread postby Meandering Mouse » Mon Jun 15, 2015 5:51 am

:D :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: to your tangerine sunset.

Sad about the young male :( Male felines in the bush really do have a life of fight and struggle. Sometimes a very short life.

It sounds like the most perfect evening. I always enjoy it more with bush novices. It is as though I see the bush through their eyes.

:popcorn:
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Re: Jesscan’s Journal – June Jaunt Kruger

Unread postby TigerTommy » Mon Jun 15, 2015 11:40 am

Sounds like a wonderful, intimate, bush experience. Will definitely had to add it to "My list of things to do whilst in Kruger". Interesting facts about the death of that leopard, whilst very sad, I guess we had to admire nature and how it takes its own course. Great episode and fantastic TR :thumbs_up:

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Re: Jesscan’s Journal – June Jaunt Kruger

Unread postby hilda » Mon Jun 15, 2015 1:05 pm

I have thoroughly enjoyed catching up on your new trip report Jesscan1! How lucky are you to be back in Kruger so soon after your previous visit! :mrgreen: :mrgreen:

So sad about the dead Leopard in the tree! Nature can sometimes be very cruel! :(

Lovely sunset from the Lower Sabie Bridge! Your sunset drive and bush braai must have been a fantastic experience! :clap: :clap:

Looking forward to the next episode! :popcorn:
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Re: Jesscan’s Journal – June Jaunt Kruger

Unread postby Kaapsedraai » Mon Jun 15, 2015 1:24 pm

Jesscan1, what an interesting TR with bush braai and all.

Just shows that unexpected trips can be very rewarding. Just love all the butterflies and then the account of dead leopard - sad but that is survival. :D

The Bush Braai experience is special and could just imagine the excitement when hearing some night sounds around at Mlondozi. :thumbs_up:

Thank you for sharing :popcorn:
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Re: Jesscan’s Journal – June Jaunt Kruger

Unread postby George_Brits » Mon Jun 15, 2015 1:58 pm

Jesscan1,

What a lovely story. It felt like I was part of the sunset drive, and what a beautiful place to have a bush braai, no wonder I always find myself sitting at Mlondozi for hours to drink in the scenery, to smell the bush, to listen to its transmissions, when one sit next to the fire and you gaze up to the stars above, it makes one feel like a prince or princess of the universe. I just love the beautiful pictures!

Yes its sad about the leopard, but this one lesson of "only the fittest/strongest survive" most certainly came true.

Thank you so much for sharing and thanks for turning me into Shrek :twisted: I am most certainly green with envy.

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Re: Jesscan’s Journal – June Jaunt Kruger

Unread postby barryels » Mon Jun 15, 2015 2:46 pm

Awesome start to a short Kruger visit :clap: :clap: .

The bush braai looks amazing :dance: :dance: .
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