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 Post subject: Gemma T A Bittersweet Return to Paradise Aug 2011
Unread postPosted: Wed Oct 05, 2011 11:38 pm 
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Joined: Thu Mar 12, 2009 9:10 pm
Posts: 252
Location: Cumbria UK
Part 1 Skukuza Mon 1st Aug - Fri 5th Aug
When we booked this trip back in Oct 2010 it was with a feeling of hope and optimism. There were 4 of us booked to come and it was a massive boost to my Dad who was undergoing chemotherapy for cancer. Unfortunately within 2 months of that my Dad's condition had taken dramatic down turn and we lost him in the 2nd week of December.

My Dad was the person responsible for me falling in love with Kruger and instead of having his experience and love for Kruger with us, we would be returning to scatter his ashes on Nkumbe following his wishes. So, while I was really looking forward to arriving back in KNP after a break of 2 years, I wasn't looking forward to not having my Dad with me to share it all.

Also my brother would be joining us for the 1st time. It was supposed to be Dad who was introducing him to the Park , not me and I have to admit I felt a certain trepidation and responsiblity that I wouldn't be up to the job of making bro fall in love with the place as well as my Dad could have done.

I needn't have worried as I felt that Dad was watching over us the whole time we were there and he helped the Park send us the best sightings we've ever had.....

After staying with friends in J'burg for 2 nights we picked up our hire car (a Nissan Hardbody bakkie) and drove to KNP entering via Phabeni gate. The feeling of relief and emotion was amazing as we came through the gates and set sight on the thatch at reception and the bush. Windows were immediately wound down, cameras unpacked from bags and binocs placed on laps....ready for whatever paradise would send to us.

The drive from the gate uneventful but magical nonetheless...we had received a text from a friend telling us that a leopard hed been sighted from the Skukuza restaurant across the river, but there was no way we were going to rush this first drive....just take in the sights, sounds and smells of the bush - perfect!!
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This was one of our first sightings - always beautiful. We also saw this young hyena on the drive to camp
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and this pair overseeing our arrival
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We got to camp and were pleasantly surprised at how quiet the place was...we had lots of choices of pitch to set up our camp. We were comfy and sorted out just before dark and very thankful to our J'Burg friends for the cooked chicken they had sent us with as we feasted on that listening to the night sounds that are so different to home. Whilst letting the food settle and before heading to bed for an early night, I was astounded to have a small cat virtually run over my feet stretched beside the table...now I can't be 100% certain, but I'm pretty sure we had just got up close and personal with an AWC kitten!!!

What a way to finish our first day!!

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 Post subject: Re: A Bittersweet Return to Paradise
Unread postPosted: Thu Oct 06, 2011 8:21 pm 
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Location: Cumbria UK
:think: Tue 2/8/11
For the first bit of our holiday it was just my BF and I in Kruger - my bro wasn't arriving until 6/8/11. So Skukuza was just us.

We woke up early, grabbed our themos cups of coffee and got to the gate in good time to be ready for the gate opening at six. You never really know what the gate is going to be like; whether there'll lots and lots of early risers or whether you'll be lonely. Generally I find Skukuza has a few super early risers but that it's generally easy to get to be one of the first few cars.

We'd had planned to head South for our first morning - the road to Lower Sabie has always been kind to us and I wanted to go down to the S28 with the hope of seeing cheetah and rhino (2 of my favourites!). So we were very pleased when the one car in front of us driving out of camp headed North at the T-junction....an empty road in front off us...bliss.

Within a minute of turning South we caught sight of a single big male lion in the headlights....way too dark for pics - but what a start!! The road down gave us giraffes, impala, bushbuck and a massive hippo in the middle of the road....none of which made particularly good pics.

However about 100m before Sunset Dam there were a couple of cars stopped.
We saw this fella sniffing around.
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Then we saw this lady
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and then to top it off further....this young chappie
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It was sooooo great to see 2 beautiful leopards on our very first morning. We really thought Dad has been looking out for us as leopards were his favourite animal and he was fascinated by them. We stayed with them for maybe around 30 minutes and things started getting busy, so headed off to let others get a view. Little did we know we had more to come....

We decided that we'd do the loop of going round the S28 before stopping in at LS for brekkie. We had barely gone past the low water bridge when I thought I saw something on the sandbank in the river....I did - leopard number 3 of the morning!!
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The dirt South of Sabie was kind as usual but no cheetah...it was however very burnt, more so than I've seen it before. Here are a few of the sights we saw before brekkie.
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We were particularly pleased to see this lad...
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and this cutie...
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We headed back to LS for brekkie and were ready for our big bush fry-up!! I have to say I was a bit disappointed bythe change in breakfasts at the restaurants- don't like these add-ons. We did have the usual audience for our eating though...
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After breakfast we decided to do the Mlondozi Loop before heading back to camp.
We saw this beauty crossing over the Low Water Bridge
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It was getting quite warm by this point as these zebra show
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We had seen 4 of the Big 5 before breakfast and were hoping to see a buffalo to make it the full set on our first day....we waited and waited and waited and then eventually....
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What a first day....felt very blessed!

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 Post subject: Re: A Bittersweet Return to Paradise
Unread postPosted: Sat Oct 08, 2011 1:06 pm 
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Location: Cumbria UK
Wed 3/8/11
One of the things I love about returning to Kruger is the “first” visits back to your favourite places and that’s what we decided to do on our second morning. We headed North to Tshokwane for my first boerwors roll of the trip and then onto Vutomi to see what we could see.
After heading out of camp as the gate opened, we decided not to go round the Marula Loop and it was a good decision because as we crossed the Mutlumuvi Bridge we saw this lady in the first light (sorry for the fuzziness – but it was quite dark)
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She looked around and was joined by these little ones
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We sat with them for about 10 minutes on our own…the cubs played and the mum watched on with pride…it was a lovely sighting. After that we were joined by a massive overlander with hydraulic brakes and as they hissed to a stop, all the playing stopped too and off they all went into the bush
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We continued heading towards Tshokwane, stopping in at the pans along the way. WE saw these hippos in the morning mist at Leupan
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We were really sadden to see the road to Siloweni blocked and read that the dam had been blown. I completely understand why it had to happen, but we did stop and reminisce for a while about all the lovely sightings and the hours we spent taking in the sights and breathing in the peace.
We stopped at Tshokwane for coffee – still too early for brekkie and headed onto the Munywini Rd heading towards Vutomi Rd. A little way along we stopped to look at a group of dwarf mongoose playing on an anthill…
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I always love watching them – they’re so entertaining. While sitting there I kept thinking I could hear something in the bush on the other side of the road…we could see anything but looked and listened some more, then edged forward about 2 metres and saw this lovely…
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It always amazes me how gentle and quiet they are…just beautiful!!!
Further along we saw these beauties looking great against the blue blue sky
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At the dam these two magnificent boys were surveying their domain…
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And this juvenile Martial Eagle (I think) was taking a dip
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One we were back on the tar we headed back towards Tshokwane for breakfast and the long awaited boerwors roll. At Mazithi we saw our first big heard of buffalo – always awe inspiring to see
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At Tshockwane we were watched by the usual suspects
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It was lovely to see the resident bushbuck…always so elegant
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A little further on we saw another one of my favourite little bokkies – a duiker
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Just was we were getting back to camp we saw this lovely…someone told me they were in the park early this year…I’ve certainly never seen so many as I saw on this trip.
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After all that we thought we deserved a break and ice cream while relaxing back at camp….day 2 had certainly been good to us so far and it was going to get better on the late afternoon drive too…

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 Post subject: Re: A Bittersweet Return to Paradise
Unread postPosted: Sun Oct 09, 2011 11:36 am 
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Posts: 252
Location: Cumbria UK
Thanks for the comments.
Tulagi thanks for the ID...I'm enthusiatic about raptors but lacking in knowledge...any IDs really help!!
Pumbaa felt great having those cubs to ourselves ...they were lovely
Hugh glad you're enjoying it
MM & Granjan I have to agree - it was wonderful to feel so close to my dad again...felt him with us a lot.

Wed 3/8/11 Cont
After our afternoon rest we decided planned to head to Transport dam and them along the S65 for our late drive…didn’t go quite to plan!!
About 1km along the road to Transport Dam we saw several cars stopped, as we pulled up we realised there was a hyena den in the culvert running under the road. As it was so open everyone was getting a lovely view and no-one was getting upset or having problems sharing the wonderful viewing. It was lovely not have to feel stressed out or put up with the total gridlock that you often get on dirt road sightings!!
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I kind of went a bit mad on these piccies….I’d never seen a den before, nor a hyena pup that was still so young that they were black. He was such a little character, playing with all his pals and pushing his luck.
Our plan for heading along the S65 went out the window and we spent the best part of an hour watching them wake up and play!!
We did also meet this little fellow who came wandering among the cars to see what all the fuss was about!!
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A lovely way to spend the afternoon!!!

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 Post subject: Re: A Bittersweet Return to Paradise
Unread postPosted: Mon Oct 10, 2011 10:25 pm 
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Location: Cumbria UK
Thanks to Vlakvorkvrou, Granjan, Magic Guarri, Hilda, Pumbaa and John n Poppy for reading…glad you’re enjoying it so far…
Thursday 4/8/11
On our last full day we headed down to the Highwater Bridge and onto the Salitje Rd. Just in the first light we were lucky to see another lion sighting- 2 lioness on the rocks just onto the H4-1
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Onto the Salitje Rd we saw this bokkie…I wasn’t sure at the time and I’m still not (any suggestions would be appreciated..
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However this fella was easier to recognise!
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We then headed towards the Muntshe Loop, we saw another pair of batleaur
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We saw a single of buff wandering around
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We headed back along the H4-1 and saw these lovelies
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We also saw 3 male lions by the river
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…and one of my favourite birds…it’s got the best name!!
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Ververt Monkeys can always be relied upon to entertain…
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And I love the character of warthogs…great!!
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We went back for a bit of a rest in camp and spotted this little fella
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After a break we went out for our late afternoon drive and headed to Renosterkoppice. Watching this group of ellies was great. It started with 3 of them and then others arrived. As each one came up to the pan they each touched trunks, almost like they were shaking hands. My BF and I found it really interesting to see this social side of them.
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We then went back along to the Transport Dam road to see if the hyenas were playing out again…we were lucky!! They were there again.
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This one made the drive of the group behind us…he toddled up and started chewing on the bumper bars!!
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We then went along the S65 on our way back to camp
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We had a shorter stay than usual at Skukuza...but it was definitely a good one. Its was also surprising how quiet the camp was much more so than in previous years we'd visited. We treated ourselves to a meal at the Selati Restaurant that night and headed to bed happy... :dance:

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 Post subject: Re: A Bittersweet Return to Paradise
Unread postPosted: Thu Oct 13, 2011 8:41 pm 
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Thanks to Tulagi, Hilda, Pumbaa, RuthP and Rino – glad you’re enjoying it and thanks for the lovely comments
Friday 5/8/11
Today would be our last morning at Skukuza and then we were heading down to Malelane, a camp we’d never visited before.
We decided we would have a short drive before dropping the tent. We always, if possible like to drop the tent when it’s light but at the same time we like being at the gate when it opens…so we often have a little drive out before moving. We chose to drive down to the Highwater Bridge then back along to the Low-water Bridge.
It was quite a quiet morning but we did see some lovely bird sightings.
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Just as we were coming back towards camp we met these two, very close to where we’d seen the lioness and cubs earlier in the week
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Sorry they’re not great quality, just lovely to see!!
The we decided we better get photographic evidence of what our Kruger home looked like
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We managed to get the tent dropped and packed up and ready by 9am and being the eternal optimist I am, we decided to chance our arm and see if we could see the hyena pups one more time….but realistically we knew our timings were out and they would probably be sleeping…they were :(
But did have some good sightings anyway…
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This fella was sunning himself at Transport Dam
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And our 2nd klipspringer sighting of the day!
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We saw lions way off in the distance at Kwaggespan, too far for decent pics but there nonetheless.
This kohan was on the side of the road – I always think they look quite comical…
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And these graceful creatures out in the distance…
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We have driven past the “Private Camp No Entry” sign at the top of the dirt road to Malelane so many times and my curiosity has always been piqued by what the road would be like. So I have to say my expectation was high as we took the turning down to the camp. I have to say I was completely charmed by the camp itself. It was lovely; so quiet and personal…not at all like the big city we’d left behind at Skukuza!! We picked our camp place, nicely positioned on the wire and got set up. As we were getting sorted out I noticed that everyone who came past, either in cars or walking all waved and said hello – again something that doesn’t happen in the bigger camps….so far so good!
We decided we’d take a drive towards Berg n Dal to stock up on provisions and also to have a drive on one of our favourite roads in the area…the S110 around Matjulu. We weren’t disappointed!
It was lovely to watch this lovely enjoying his mud bath at Matjulu
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He then got up and wandered to the pan for a drink
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We also saw some very relaxed buffs
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Going back to camp early to prepare our braii, we decided to have a bit a wander around the camp. The Ververts were around in numbers
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They were not in our good books when we came back from our showers to discover that they had managed to unzip our soft cool bag where we keep dry stuff like biscuits, crisps and crackers…I came around the corner of the ablutions block to see one with a package of Doritos and another with Krispbeards!!! Needless to say I chased them off them and binned the food…however it wasn’t til I got back to our tent that I realised they were ours!!! Grrrr!!
It was good to meet Ecojunkie too. She had said before we arrived that she would be able to get the binoculars we had brought with us to the anti-poaching rangers to help in the fight against the poachers.
We had had fun trying to explain to the customs officials in Frankfurt airport when we changed planes why I had 8 sets of binoculars in my hand luggage!! Strangely all the key words I needed to explain what they were for weren’t covered in my German A-Level course!!!
It did feel good to be able to do our little bit to help though!!

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 Post subject: Re: A Bittersweet Return to Paradise
Unread postPosted: Sat Oct 15, 2011 6:34 pm 
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Location: Cumbria UK
Thanks to Buffalo Soldier, Tawney, Elsa and Tulagi for the lovely comments - so glad you're enjoying the TR

Wacko Rhino - I agree KNP is so special. Wonder if we met when you were in the Park. Did you have a yellow ribbon?

Weesy - I think I remember you talking about your friend last year...it was when my Dad was ill. we scattered Dad's ashes on Nkumbe...it was very moving and beautiful.

Sat 6/8/11
Today would be a short day in terms of drives because we were heading out of the park to go and pick up my brother at Nelspuit Airport. I have to say I was feeling a little nervous about his arrival. It would be his first time in the Park and I was desperate for him to love the place!!

We had to be at the airport for about 12 so we decided to do a drive close to the camp in the morning – doing loops around the S114.

Just after turning onto the road we saw this amazing sight in the half-light…it’s a very poor picture but any picture of a Black Rhino is special in my mind!!
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A little further up the road we met this fellow…he was very very chilled out, just standing in the road. We turned off the engine and enjoyed the silence with him for a few minutes. We had thought he was aware of us the whole time but when we switched our engine back on and he jumped about 30cms in the air, we realised he forgotten we were there!!
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Further on we found this family gently grazing at the side of the road
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We also saw these ellies too
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At Renosterpan we saw a pair of what I think are Common Reedbuck (???)
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And for John – here’s a pic of our camp at Malelane
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And so we were off to pick up my little bro!

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 Post subject: Re: A Bittersweet Return to Paradise
Unread postPosted: Sun Oct 16, 2011 12:07 pm 
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Sat 6/8/11 (Cont)
After we got all settled in camp we took Steve out for his first drive. It was lovely to hear his first reactions to the park and the utter amazement of realising that, yes, all those animals that we normally only see on TV or in a zoo are actually walking round free. It was the first time I had introduced anyone to the park …and it just reminded me of the magic of the park and the first time I arrived with my Dad. We stopped at absolutely EVERYTHING!!! Every sight was new and full of wonder. We were reminded of the beauty of impala, the shock at all the different birds that become the norm after being in the park for few days…it was like seeing the park through new eyes.
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We went along the S114 again. This impala shocked us all…he was just wandering around as if there was nothing wrong at all!
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I wondered and others have suggested that this could have been done in a run in with a car…
I always love these trees – think they’re so strange…Steve thought so too!
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I was really pleased to see a black shouldered kite on our first drive…it was my Dad’s favourite raptor and I was glad it was there to greet my bro!
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The birds were fascinating too
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Further along we met this elegant giraffe…Steve was amazed at the size of them…
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The best named bird in the park!
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Steve’s first ellies…
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He was amazed at the size of them…I pointed out they were still babies!!
We also saw this beautifully intact nest too
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I have to say I think Steve’s first drive went well!!!

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 Post subject: Re: A Bittersweet Return to Paradise
Unread postPosted: Mon Oct 17, 2011 7:02 pm 
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Thanks to VVV, MM Pumbaa, Joao, Tulagi, Hilda & Cheetah2111 glad you're all still on board ad enjoying it.

Sunday 7th Aug
We decided that we’d do quite a long morning drive this morning to give Steve a good chunk of the park in one go…we thought we’d go from tiny (Malelane) to the Big City (Skukuza). Our first route was to head over Steilberg.
Just before the turn off to the pan we saw the tell-tale group of cars….we waited in anticipation for our chance to see and didn’t have long to wait…2 leopards!! A mother and adolescent cub. We couldn’t get any decent pics …but like our first morning drive Steve got to see his first ever leopards within 20 mins of being out of camp on his first day. I couldn’t help but think Dad was up there helping us along!
This was a view I was going to get used to as the days went on!!
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We met this kudu who seemed to be trying to tell us something…
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Just after Afsaal we saw another tell tale group of cars looking out into the bush…we were told that there was an injured lioness there. We couldn’t see her and another driver told us that they had called the ranger at Afsaal and he was on his way. We debated for a little while whether to stay, as it would be interesting to see a ranger at work but in the end we decided that we really didn’t want Steve’s first sighting of a lion to be one that was hurt. Lions should be majestic and proud not injured…we decided to drive on.
10 minutes later we were ever so glad that we did!! As this beautiful pair treated us…
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To say that I was excited was an understatement!!! Cheetah are my favourite cat and we hadn’t seen any in the park since our first visit back in 2005 – although have to say we were spoilt then – 14 sightings in 3 weeks!!!
We couldn’t believe how lucky Steve was being – two types of spotty cat before brekkie!!! We did try to explain to him that this would probably be the sighting of the holiday and that seeing cheetah was really rare etc etc….little did we know his beginners luck had not nearly run out yet!!
We got all excited as we got closer to Skukuza when we saw these fellas all hanging around…unfortunately we never did get to see what had created all the interest, but it was still great to see so many vultures. I know some people don’t think much of them, but I find them fascinating!
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We stopped for brekkie at Skukuza and you could tell Steve was amazed by the difference between Malelane and there. We had a wander round the shop and then got ready to head out back down to Malelane; going down the S114 all the way on the dirt.
We saw this fella near Renosterkoppie
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And this guy elegantly crossing the road
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We decided to take the Biyamiti Loop S25 and we treated to our first big herd of ellies….it was great to see so many young ones there too. Overall we counted more than 50 crossing.
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Further along we screeched to a stop when I thought I’d spotted the one thing Dom (my BF) always wants to see – snakes of any kind. But instead I realised that it was a lizard of some sort…possibly a monitor???
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Further on we saw another little bee-eater
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And these klipspringers in the distance
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The sun was starting to go down as we headed back to camp….I love Africa’s BIG skies!
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We fired up the braii and toasted beginners luck with nice cold Windhoeks that night….little did we know his luck was just getting going!!

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 Post subject: Re: A Bittersweet Return to Paradise
Unread postPosted: Fri Oct 21, 2011 9:51 pm 
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Thanks to Pumbaa and Hilda - glad you're enjoying it and I'm sure Steve would be happy to join you Tulagi!!!
John n Poppy, VVV and MG yeah the cheetah were beautiful and yes we really did get that spoilt in 2005....but keep waiting and there might be some more sleek spotty cats coming soon!!


Monday 8th August.
We set off this morning with a mission to meet my Aunty Lynda and Uncle Barry from Cape Town who had arrived in the park the day before and had stayed at Croc Bridge the night before. We had to head to Berg-en-Dal to get petrol before heading out on what was going to be a great day….
We had arranged to meet our rellies on the S25 and heading in that direction after getting petrol Steve spotted his 3rd leopard of his trip so far. It was a big male…but we only got a glimpse as he slinked off into a donga close to the road down to Malelane Camp. No pictures unfortunately… :(
We met up with our relatives and decided to head to Gardenia Hide. On the way we met these very calm rhinos who were happy to pose for us.
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Heading on we saw these Ververts in lovely light
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My Aunty spotted this little one sitting by the road…a first for us
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We arrived at the hide and spent some lovely time taking in the peace and tranquillity
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We headed for Afsaal for a coffee and lovely catch up and chat…after coffee we decided to go our separate ways. But we didn’t stay separate for long…about 10 mins after leaving Afsaal we were stopped by another car and told about a lion kill on the S118….so we changed our plan of going to Mpondo and headed there instead. Once there we met up with Barry and Lynda again coming in the other direction!!!
Seeing lions on a kill was one of the things that Steve had wanted to see, so he was over the moon to see one on only his 2nd day.
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The kill was so close to the road, it was astounding! The lions had obviously been feeding already as they were all crashed out all around…
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The road was getting quite hectic, so we decided we’d head back to camp and get a bit of R&R and then head back later when people from other camps would have had to head away.
We saw these beautifully posed ellies on the way home…
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We decided to do a bit of food shopping at BnD to make sure we had plenty of supplies for our final night’s braii at Malelane. It was a good decision was we saw this magnificent bunch just before the camp…. They looked soooooooo great!!!!
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We had our break and headed out again for the afternoon drive. We saw another group of ellies
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The lions were more active when we got back for the 2nd time. The road was still busy but rangers were parked on the road on either side of the kill and thet were supervising people around the sighting…it’s a shame that it was needed but I have to say it was run beautifully smoothly and they were doing a brilliant job.
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To say that Steve was pleased with seeing his first kill sighting was an understatement – as you can see!
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We saw even more rhinos on the way back to camp!
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That evening we also had another treat as we were finishing our braii. Ecojunkie had told us that there was often a civet who cam e round the fence at night and were lucky enough to get a great sighting of him!
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What a way to end of stay at Malelane!!!! :dance:

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 Post subject: Re: A Bittersweet Return to Paradise
Unread postPosted: Wed Oct 26, 2011 6:32 pm 
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Sorry about the delay in getting on with this – been on a visit to see my bro at the other end of the UK – spend a copious amount of time looking at Kruger pics and videos and getting excited about when we’ll go next!!

Thanks Pumbaa, Tulagi, John n Poppy and Cheetah 2111 – glad you’re still enjoying it!

Tuesday 9th Aug – Moving Day.
Today we were going to have to do a fair bit of driving – Malelane to Satara – our longest move. But as usual we decided to have a bit of a drive before dropping the tent. We decided to go back along the S118 – on Steve’s suggestion to see what the lions were up to and how much they’d eaten overnight.
They were still there and still eating!! There were 2 eating and 2 sleeping
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We headed back to say goodbye to Malelane, reflecting on the fact that we only booked there because there was no room at Satara. I have to say I will be going back…certainly one of KNP’s secret gems.
We were packed up and ready to go by 8.40 and started our journey up to Satara…the road up gave us the usual sightings: kudu, buffalo, zebras and warthogs. Knowing how far we were driving we didn’t really stop too often until just before Afsaal where we saw this lovely BBJ trotting across the brush. We stayed with him for about 5 minutes and really enjoyed seeing him.
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He seemed quite chilled out and was happy snuffling along in the dust. This was another “first” for Steve.
A little further on Steve’s beginners luck struck again and we saw our 3rd cheetah of the trip. We saw him through the typical roadblock you get when cheetah are on the road. Knowing how fleeting cheetah sightings can be we made the most of it and got all the pics we could.
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Surprisingly though this cheetah wasn’t in any hurry and decided to sit himself down by the bridge before Kwaggaspan…
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He started heading down towards the riverbed and we thought we would be saying bye bye to him, but no…he hopped over the barrier and nonchalantly sauntered across the bridge…of course we followed. On the other side of the bridge he dropped down onto the big flat surrounding the pan. It was a perfect place to have the sighting as the arc of the road meant that there was loads of room for everyone to get to see him clearly and it was lovely to view him in such a relaxed way. He gently walked across to drink.
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In the process he worried the group of impala who had been drinking there.
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He then settled a little way away from the pan
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One of the impala was not happy to be sharing the water and came back towards the cheetah…we were all glued to this sighting wondering whether we would see a chase and wondering why an impala would come and seemingly try to tease a cheetah in this way…
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He got the cheetah’s attention…
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And eventually after much snorting managed to get the cheetah to move and come towards him….our hearts were in our mouths waiting to see if we would see a chase in earnest!
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But to be honest the cheetah only seemed to have a half hearted go and he started to trot after the impy and out of sight!! We saw him again over the brow of the hill and he settled again under another tree – think he’s eaten recently because he really couldn’t be bothered!!
We continued on our journey – amazed at Steve’s luck – 3 days and 3 cheetah!!!
To add to his unbelievable luck we then saw a group of 6 Sable just before Oliphants waterhole!!! They weren’t easy to see but a Sable is a Sable!!!
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We then headed to Tshokwane for a well deserved brekkie where we saw this fella
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After our break we continued onwards…seeing this Kori Bustard en route
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And these little bee-eaters at Mazithi
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This magnificent guy was certainly giving us the eye!!
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When we got to Satara we were really pleased to be able to get our favourite camping spot, where we always tried to camp when we were with Dad….and camped right next to us were my Aunty and Uncle, and in Circle B my Great Aunt Rona was staying with another friend from the UK – a family reunion at Satara!!
The first neighbour I went to check on though was this fella and I found him in exactly the same tree as he’d favoured 2 years ago!!
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That night – while my Aunty and Uncle ate in at Circle B while we were invited for a feast with Geoffrey our friend who we’d stayed with in J’burg who was also now in the park!!
It was all set up to be a great few days at Satara!!

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Bittersweet Return to Paradise TR - Aug 2011


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 Post subject: Re: A Bittersweet Return to Paradise
Unread postPosted: Fri Oct 28, 2011 2:29 pm 
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Posts: 252
Location: Cumbria UK
Thanks John n Poppy, Pumbaa and Tulagi

Here's the next installment... :D

Wed 10th Aug
Our first morning at Satara and we decided to do the classic – S100 round to the N’wanetsi dirt then tar…a route that has always been kind to us.
Within minutes of getting onto the S100 we saw 3 lions by the side of the road…however it was too dark to get any pics. We made a stop at the picnic spot and took in the beautiful view…
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We also admired these trees – I think they’re aloes (?)
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We met this magnificent chap by the side of the tar
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And off in the distance we saw 5 rhinos
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This big fellow was also there
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On the way back to camp we met this tawny eagle
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He was eating something but it was really difficult to see…as it flew off we saw it was a snake of some kind…it looked mottled grey/black with a pink underside. After consulting my Aunty’s snake book, we still couldn’t tell what it was.
We saw this beauty too
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After breakfast we decided to head out on the Sweni Rd…it was surprisingly quiet as we drove along but we did get plenty to see at the waterhole
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This guy sat and gave us a good looking at…
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For our evening drive we decide to head out on the S90 and go around to see if we could get some good sunset pics at Gudzani. We first met this rather obstinate young ellie who really didn’t want to let us past…all quite comical really….he was clearly enjoying himself holding up the traffic!!
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Eventually he let us by and we continued our drive. We then met this mum and her baby…
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As we came to Gudzani East we were amazed to get to see our 2nd Sable sighting in 2 days and what a sighting – we were amazed to see them standing out so clearly in the open!!
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They seemed very calm but were only interested in presenting us with their behinds!!! ;-) Not that we were complaining!!!
As we headed on we went to Gudzani Dam…in my opinion one of the most beautiful dams in Kruger. It was cool to watch a stand off between this ellie and the resident hippos. As the ellie set off across the dam the hippos were nowhere to be seen, but they all popped up and blocked his path as he walked forward….
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Unfortunately we didn’t get to see the ending of this encounter, as sunset was at hand and we still had to drive back to camp.
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That night we had a family braii in Circle B…and we had a HB visitor, our first of the trip! We didn’t get any pics on this occasion but we would be ready for next time!!!

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 Post subject: Re: A Bittersweet Return to Paradise
Unread postPosted: Sat Oct 29, 2011 11:49 am 
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Posts: 252
Location: Cumbria UK
Well I’m back today feeling very happy and smiley….Dom and I booked our camping spots for next August last night….we’re heading back to KNP next year!!! Yay! We’ll be in the park between 5th and 20th August. It gives me a warm feeling just thinking about it!!

Granjan – the civet was amazing to us – we’ve never seen one before and he was great!!

VVV – glad you’re back on board. Steve was over the moon about the sightings he’d had & can’t wait to come back in 2013 (can’t come next year – off to Canada to see bears)

JnP- Glad you’re still enjoying it – hope we’ll see you next year now that we’re booked for Aug 2012!

Cheetah – we were amazed to see the Sable too – never seen them out in the open like that before

Thursday 11th August
Since going to down visit Steve over last weekend I now have his photos to add to this TR too. So the pics I’ll be using are a mixture of both of ours…and I’ll have to admit; many of the better ones are his!!
This morning our destination was Letaba and the Elephant museum. This was one of the first places both of us had ever heard of in the Park and we both remembered Dad coming back from his first Kruger visit when we were at uni wearing a Magnificent Seven t-shirt. I’d been to see the Elephant Hall on my first visit in 2005 but of course Steve wanted to see what it was all about. Also of course there was no way we could miss breakfast at Oliphants Camp with that stunning view.

So we headed North that morning and just a few minutes outside of camp we met 3 lions in the road…it had been a cold night and I think they had slept on the tar…one was very stiff as he stretched and slowly started his day…
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Further along the road, towards Ngotso we saw this beautiful pair looking glorious in the early light…
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When we got to the bridge, we of course made the most of being able to get out and have a look around. Below us we saw this big croc making his way slowly through the water…
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We also took the opportunity to get a pic of the 3 of us
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Just North of the bridge we met this young fella who seemed to have taken exception to the small bush he was with…
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We headed to Letaba to visit the museum and drove back down the S94/S46 to Oliphants
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By this time tummies were starting to rumble so we stopped off at Oliphants for food. It the tree next to our table we saw this little one, shyly peeping at us….
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And this pair were frolicking below us…
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After eating we decided to head back to Satara via the S39. All was quiet at Timbervati picnic spot but we did see some great birds on the road down:
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It was busy at Girivana
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And we saw this pretty one
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When we reached the H7 we decided we’d go back to see what was hanging around by Nsemani – we were very glad we did!!
Just past the dam there was an ENORMOUS herd of buffalo and then cars beyond them too…tbh it was a bit of a roadblock but we realised why….
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They were being watched rather closely by the herd…
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One of the ladies seemed quite chilled about the audience but the other was less relaxed
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Eventually it got too close for their comfort:
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The buffalo made sure they weren’t coming back anytime soon!! It was a brilliant sighting to watch this sort of interaction!
That evening we went for another family braii and had another visitor….this little one was obviously used to being fed titbits  as it just sat there letting us take pics!! This little one was another first for us…
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Another great day in KNP…..yay!! 

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Bittersweet Return to Paradise TR - Aug 2011


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 Post subject: Re: A Bittersweet Return to Paradise
Unread postPosted: Tue Nov 01, 2011 11:06 pm 
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Posts: 252
Location: Cumbria UK
Pumbaa - thanks for the kind words

MG - glad you enjoyed the Sable sighting. So sorry you didn't get to see them this time. Holding thumbs and fingers crossed for you in March:pray:

MM - the Skukuza 1/2 Marathon - wow I'm in awe!! I have trouble running for the bus!! :D

Cheetah - yeah the H1-4 was very kind to us that morning - can generally be relied upon!

Tawney - Steve fell in love with the park - thankfully, Dad and I had certainly given the place some build up!

Sable - I know how lucky we were ....and sooo thankful. But then just being in KNP is lucky!!

Friday 12th August
This morning we were doing another first for us…the Mananga Trail. We had never been in the park with a 4x4 before so had not been able to go on one of the 4x4 trails. We booked to go with our relatives in another car. We were somewhat amazed at the list of things that we needed….but we had already set off when we started looking at the list!!! Thankfully, in the dry season, we didn’t need any shovels or tow ropes!!

Given we had been told only 4x4s were allowed on the trial roads, I have to say I thought our driving would be more tested…to be honest for anyone thinking of going on one in future…your driving skills won’t be tested; I think the 4x4 prerequisite is more about ground clearance needed and the minimise the impact on the track.

It was lovely to be on an empty road and knowing that it was highly unlikely that we would meet anyone else…
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One of the things that was really liberating was being allowed to step out the car…tbh it did raise the heartbeat a little; everything I’ve ever learnt in the park is based on the rule…”Don’t get out of your vehicle” so stepping out of the car at the side of the road was a real buzz….even more so when we saw this!
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It was amazing to think that a cheetah had been walking down the road just ahead of us…unfortunately we didn’t see him this time!!

The sightings we did see were great though…
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More evidence of predators in the area…
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We met a few ellies who objected to us being there and there was quite a bit of reversing done!!!
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We also saw this beauty
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I love seeing the nests in the windmills
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This little one looked soooo shy
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We saw this handsome fella off in the distance…
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While we were looking another car came along the trail….they stopped by is and asked where we were looking…we showed them and they just snorted and sped off. I have to say I was somewhat surprised by that!!

I have to say I love this pic that my brother took…just sums up the beauty of the place…
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Back at the camp we had some visitors…
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Who got quite bold…
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In the afternoon we decided to do the N’wanetsi and S100 again and saw these at the water on the dirt.
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As the sun was setting on the S100 we saw some beautiful sights…
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The end of another beautiful African day…
:thumbs_up:

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When I'm not in the Park, I'm thinking of it...
Bittersweet Return to Paradise TR - Aug 2011


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 Post subject: Re: A Bittersweet Return to Paradise
Unread postPosted: Sat Nov 05, 2011 11:13 pm 
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Joined: Thu Mar 12, 2009 9:10 pm
Posts: 252
Location: Cumbria UK
Wow folks - thanks for all the really kind comments.

Joao - glad you're enjoying my TR

Duke Ellieton - welcome on board, thanks for reading

MMM - yeah I'm completely in love with KNP - I never tire of telling people here about how wonderful it is!!

Tulagi, Pumbaa, Sable, Cheetah, JnP, MG and Elsa - thanks for all the comments about the 4X4 trail...I cannot recommend it highly enough. Just the freedom of having the bush virtually all to ourselves...magical :dance:

Saturday 13th Aug

We had decided that this morning we would head South and go to have a look around the Vutomi area, so headed straight down the H1-3 on leaving camp. About 10 minutes later we received a call from my Aunty that changed our plans…. “a pair of mating lions on the Orpen Road” so we turned around and headed back North again.

By the time we got back to the sighting things had got busy…to say the least. We never saw the lioness but her beau was sitting watching the circus!
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We also took in the other “sights;” I have to say I was less impressed by these idiots. On this note though I have to say we saw fewer numpties hanging out of windows this trip than in previous years. Both Steve and I did point out the rules as we edged past; but it seemed their ability to understand English had suddenly vanished!!! Grrrr!!!
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We decided that we really didn’t want to stick around for this bedlam; so made our way through the pack and continued on our detour. Instead of heading straight to the Vutomi area we now decided we’d continue on the Orpen rd and drop down to Vutomi via the S36.

The calm and tranquillity was soon restored at Nsemani Dam…
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Onto the S36 we saw…
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We stopped at Muzandazeni for a quick loo break, but this one had different ideas as we tried to leave….there was a bit of a stand off for a while as this ellie played with us!! Everytime we tried to move forward the ellie moved into the road and then moved to the side as we backed off!!
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It was quite funny in hindsight. But at the time, with Steve being behind the wheel and in close proximity with an ellie playing games for the first, I think his heart rate was somewhat raised!!

As we approached Ximangweni we saw this beauty…
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We stopped at Ximangweni Dam for a while just to watch and listen….there were some crocs sunning themselves on the far side but nothing much else. We were about to turn and move on when we heard a low guttural grunt! Three sets of ears in the car pricked up….was it?? Then we heard it again….YES…lion!!!
We stayed and watched and this lady sauntered serenely down to the water….
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Followed by this gentleman….
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We stayed and watched them for a while and then moved on. We had some nice sightings along the road…
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As we continued driving we saw a yellow ribbon….both of our cars reversed to get window to window and we met…Magic Guarri and her SO; the first of a few meetings that day and in the following days.

Lugmag was as beautiful as ever…
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As we turned onto the Vutomi Rd we saw this beauty….so elegant:
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There was plenty to see at the dam…
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It was obviously getting hot…
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A little further along the road…I looked left and shouted…. “STOP!!!!” More lions!! :big_eyes:
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We had been sitting with these 3 beautiful young men for about 10 mins when we recognised the car coming to join us with the lions…Magic Guarri. It was lovely to share the sighting with them!! Great wasn’t it Karin??

We were feeling pretty happy with ourselves on the cat front that morning – 3 separate lion sightings before breakfast….great, but it was going to get better!!!
About 1 km before the end of the Vutomi Rd we saw a telltale traffic jam….near trees!!! One word skipped through my mind…..LEOPARD!!!! Yeeeeessssss!!!!! As we got closer we could see the kill; a young male impy. He did look somewhat surreal hanging there…
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We scanned the branches, which were thick with leaves…no easy sighting...but we saw movement and then…a leopard’s bum!!!
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But we would not be deterred… and our patience paid off. A bit blurry but she was a good distance away…
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What a morning!!!!!

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