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 Post subject: Crested Val Three Days in Paradise! November 2011
Unread postPosted: Sun Nov 06, 2011 8:06 am 
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As some of you know, Dungie and I are currently living in Phalaborwa, and therefore going into our beloved park most days…………..what could be better?

Well we thought about it long and hard, and decided that two nights actually staying overnight in the park would be great, so after no discussion at all, we decided on Punda Maria camp!!!

We chose Punda firstly, because along with Shingwedzi, it’s our favourite camp, but also because, believe it or not, we’ve never been to Crook’s Corner!!!

Maybe you would like to sit back and relax, and join us on our trip!!



Nov 2nd.

It had rained solidly the previous day and night, and we were thinking that this eagerly anticipated trip would be a washout, but I’m glad to say that when we woke up at 4.30am, although it was cloudy and cool, it was at least dry!!

We had put all our things together, ready for packing in the car, the night before, so it only took a few minutes in the morning to load , lock up the cottage and then we were off!!!

We have never got to a gate for an overnight stay as quickly as we did that morning, because we are usually travelling from Natal or Joburg, with at least a five hour journey ahead of us, and of course we thoroughly confused the SANparks gate guards, who had been so used to us coming in as day visitors!!

They looked at the permit with surprised amusement, and had a good laugh with us about the fact that we had a carton of red and a carton of white wine on the back seat, not to mention the bottle of Amarula, but after playing along with them pretending to confiscate the offending items, we were soon on our way through the gate and heading up the H14 to Shingwedzi, where we planned to stop for brunch.

Along the H14 we soon spotted a magnificent Martial Eagle, who was finding it a little windy high up in the tree it was perched in.

Image

Now for 35 years I had visited Kruger and never seen an adult Martial Eagle. We were therefore very excited in Sept, when we visited KTP, to see an adult and juvenile.

The strange thing is that since then, we have seen several in Kruger!! What a funny old world we live in!!!
I have actually noticed that with other species, as well. You don’t see one for a long time, and then after your first sighting, you see others on a regular basis!!

Anyway, on we drove and saw most of the usual game that we see on a regular basis, buffs, zebs, giraffe, warthog, ellies, impala, steenbok and kudu.

Image

We made a brief stop at our causeway, but there was not much about, except the resident hippos and a small group of waterbuck.

Not far from the junction with the H1-6, we saw a lovely dassie basking in the patchy sun that had just broken through the clouds. We have been so lucky with our dassie sightings this trip, I think they are such special little creatures.

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With the sun out (albeit weak and intermittent) it changed the whole feel to the park.
I first visited Kruger during a hot and sunny period, and that is how I always imagine it. Of course I know that it needs the rains to help it survive, but selfishly I always hope that it won’t be on one of our trips!!

Also nearby we saw a crocodile lazing by a small pool. It was a question of “I may look asleep, but I have my beady eye on you”!!

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We debated whether to call in at Mopani Camp, but neither of us needed a bathroom break, and we had ice cold water from the freezer to keep us going, so we decided to push on to Shingwedzi.

We crossed the Tropic of Capricorn, and as always I got very excited thinking that we were now in “The Tropics”!! Silly really, but it happens every time!!

There was not much game or many birds about by now, as it was quite warm, and then not too far from Shing, as we approached one of the small bridges over a dry river bed, we could see lots of birds flying and swooping and landing, and then taking off again.

At first we assumed they were swallows or swifts, but as we got nearer we could see that they were European Bee Eaters. There were such a lot of them that it was quite a display!!

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They are such colourful birds, like all the Bea Eaters, and we so enjoyed watching them catching their breakfast!!

Thinking of breakfast, we were eventually very pleased to see the Shingwedzi turning, and before long we had arrived at this beautifully gracious old camp. I always think that I am really in Africa when I arrive here, and I do hope they don’t modernise it any more because I think it will spoil it. (Mind you, that is just my opinion!!)

We made our way to the restaurant, and found a table overlooking the river………….now what would we see, we wondered!!!


To be continued………

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Last edited by Crested Val on Sun Nov 06, 2011 4:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Three Days in Paradise!
Unread postPosted: Tue Nov 08, 2011 8:35 am 
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Nov 2nd cont.

I hope you didn’t get too excited anticipating what we saw from the restaurant, because it wasn’t a great deal actually!!

We saw a couple of bushbuck in the thick foliage, who were having a great feast, and eventually made their way down to the river!!

Then when our chicken mayo toasties arrived (which were a bit cold if I’m to be perfectly honest!!) we had a visitor!!!

I have never seen such an odd looking starling, and we named him “scruffy one leg”!! He soon got the message that he was not going to be fed, and flew off to pester the people at a nearby table.

Image

There was a profusion of weaver birds flying around as well, toing and froing from their nests, and also a woodpecker.

We then noticed two birds on the bird bath just in front of us. They were having a fabulous time getting wet, then preening themselves dry.
We were very excited, because they were lifers for us, but the nearest ID that I can find in my book is Scaly-Throated Honeyguide, or some sort of Warbler (neither of which is probably correct!!)

No doubt some kind soul will enlighten me, as to the correct identity!

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Then two paradise flycatchers arrived…….male and female, but they were too quick for me to take a pic……how stunning they are, but how flighty!!

We had stayed at Shingwedzi in March, and had loved the causeway at the back gate of the camp, so we decided to visit it that morning, on our way out.

As we approached, we saw a Woolly-Necked Stork who very obligingly posed for a photo, and then we started to cross the causeway.

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Dungie suddenly said “Why’s the back door open?” Sure enough, when I looked, the back door on my side of the car was wide open, and I had visions of all our stuff tumbling into the river!!
So against my better judgement, I leaned out of my window and managed to close it.
“Phew “I thought, until I saw a huge crocodile looking up at me from the shallow water in the river!!!
I shot my arm back in pretty quickly, I can tell you!!!

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There were just two Egyptian Geese high in a tree, and a few small very quick unidentifiable birds, so we decided to make tracks, and drove up the S135 to join the main H1-7 road to Punda Maria Camp.

This area of the park in the main is still quite dry, but here and there it is beginning to green up!

Now I have already mentioned how sometimes we wait for ages to get our first ever sighting of a bird or animal, and then once we’ve seen it, we break the spell and see more and more of them, like with the Martial Eagles.

Well 35 years of visiting Kruger has produced not one secretary bird, so when we booked for our week in KTP we hoped that we would see one, as we were told that they are more common there.
Sure enough we were lucky to see several along the Nossob Road, while staying at TR, and thought that we would not see another until we returned there!!

Well on our first day visit into Kruger in September, what did we see strolling across the road, but a secretary bird!! Sadly it strutted off into the bush too quickly for me to take a photo, but we mused on how we had seen it after all this time!!

Then today Dungie suddenly braked and there was our second secretary!!! This time I was able to get a snap, though not a very good one, as it was walking on a mission to go goodness knows where!!

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No sooner had we continued on our journey, when we saw two bucks that we did not recognise. I think they may be either Grey Rheboks, or Common Duikers, but please can somebody confirm that for me!!!

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Whatever they turn out to be, it will be a first for us both!!

Just before the Punda turning, on our left, we saw a huge herd of ellies, and they were heading in the direction of the H13-1!! I just hoped that they wouldn’t be on the road when we got there!!!!
They weren’t I’m glad to say, but we did see quite a few other ellies along that road, but luckily they were all too busy eating to take any notice of us, and after passing some kudu and buffs, we turned off for Punda camp.

I got goose bumps as we drove through the gates, as I just love this place with its old world charm, even those gates have not been modernised.

As I looked at the rows of terraced bungalows that we passed on our way to check in, I could imagine how the early visitors to the park spent their time chatting to their neighbours and cooking their braais together, sharing sightings and experiences!!
Yes that still happens today, to a certain extent, but with individual huts and braais it won’t happen as often I’m sure.

We had booked one of these bungalows, because as pensioners on a fixed income, we have to be careful with our pennies, and though I hate to say it, the park accommodation is getting a bit out of our league.

However, when Dungie went to book in, and asked for a bungalow near the braai area, because his wife had walking difficulties, they offered to upgrade us free of charge, to a unit for the disabled in the tented camp!!

Now I usually avoid tents, because I am always convinced that there will be a “no legged” or “eight legged” creature sharing the accommodation with me, but I decided this time to give it a try!! (Yes I know they’re in the huts as well….I’ve read the threads!!)

It was actually a lovely unit, and I’m glad to say that we had no unwelcome visitors the entire stay!!
We had our own terrace with outdoor kitchen and braai, and inside we had a nicely furnished bedroom, with ensuite facilities that had been adapted for the mobility challenged!!

By this time it was about 5pm, and as Dungie had driven most of the day, he opted for a cold beer while he laid his braai, rather than an evening drive!!

As we sat out sipping our sundowners, several birds came to perch in the nearby trees. We saw Yellow-Bellied Greenbuls, Dark-Capped Bulbuls, Swallows, a Grey Go Away bird, Starlings and several that I could not ID or get a picture of!!

Because we had thought we would have no kitchen, and thinking that it might be very hot weather, we had opted to bring several salads with us…………potato, coleslaw, three bean and beetroot.
To go with the salads, Dungie braaied two delicious Texan pork steaks and boerewors…….a feast fit for a king!! We followed that with crème caramel, which was, as they say “naughty but nice”!!

After dinner we made coffee, and sat drinking our Amarulas, very content with the day’s events, and wondering what tomorrow would bring!!
The sky was cloudy now, so sadly there were no stars out, but it was still so good to be here in this beautiful country called South Africa, and in our beloved Kruger.

We had an early night, because we had driven quite a distance that day, and we were going to Pafuri and Crook’s Corner the following day!! Oh joy!!
As we fell asleep there was a peculiar noise, and we suddenly realised that it was a frog’s chorus………………what a racket!!!


To be continued…………….

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 Post subject: Re: Three Days in Paradise!
Unread postPosted: Tue Nov 08, 2011 8:51 pm 
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Hi Val,

and many many thanks for another lovely installment - Love the close up of the croc and all your birdies out of which the first unknown one is an arrow-marked babbler and the unknown buck looks like a reedbuck to me :thumbs_up: :thumbs_up: :thumbs_up:

:popcorn: :popcorn: :popcorn:


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 Post subject: Re: Three Days in Paradise!
Unread postPosted: Wed Nov 09, 2011 7:53 am 
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Nov 3rd
I didn’t sleep very well that night for three reasons.

Firstly the frogs kept up their chorus till the wee small hours. :twisted:

Secondly there were periodic screeches and grunts from the nearby bush. :big_eyes:

Thirdly and most important….I was too excited!! :dance:

Well of course by the time the alarm went off, I had sunk into a deep sleep and didn’t know whether I was Arthur or Martha!! :slap:

Still, Dungie pulled the sheets off, and said he was heading for the shower. He added “Oh and by the way dear don’t forget we’re going to Pafuri and Crook today!!” :whistle: :whistle:

That was all it took to bring me to my senses, and I went out to the kitchen to make a flask of coffee.
The sun was out in a partly cloudy sky, and it was pleasantly warm.....just right for a car journey.

With us both showered and flask and rusks in hand, we set off on what turned out to be the most amazing day I have ever spent in my beloved park. :)

There were no spectacular sightings, but just a day filled with memories so sweet, that I will treasure them forever…

To be continued………….

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 Post subject: Re: Three Days in Paradise!
Unread postPosted: Thu Nov 10, 2011 9:10 am 
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Nov 3rd cont.

Now I must explain that we have been to Pafuri twice before. Once in 2002, when we got chatting to the friendly attendant, who was eager to tell us all about the time he had to be air lifted out of the area, during the floods in Feb 2000.

Of course I didn’t have an interest in birds in those days, and I don’t know when Frank became interested either, but birding was not on the conversation menu that day!!

Then we went back in 2009 with our friends Alma and Dave, but I don’t even remember seeing Frank that day, and after a cursory glance at the river, and a quick picnic, we had left!!

Believe it or not, on both occasions we turned right when leaving the area, and drove back to Punda where we were staying, never realising that Crook’s Corner was but a few kms to the left!!

I remember when I joined the forums, there was a thread about favourite places in the park, and several people had said Pafuri and Crooks Corner.
Where the heck is Crooks Corner I asked, and Elsa, ever the helpful soul that she is, filled me in. How had we missed it all these years?

There and then I vowed that the next time we were in the far north it would be on my “to do” list.

It was not long after this that I also developed an interest in birding, and began to hear of the beautiful birds that can sometimes be seen at Pafuri, and how knowledgeable and helpful Frank Mabasa is.

I recently read an article about him in my Wild Magazine, and saw that if he is not busy, he will take people on a walking tour of the area, and point out the different birds.

However, with my walking difficulties, I knew that this would not be possible for me, but thought Dungie could at least go, while I sat by the river, that was of course, if Frank was even there, or not too busy!!

All this was going through my mind as we left Punda camp, and I was not really focused on viewing, if I’m perfectly honest, so goodness knows what we missed!!

Then out of the corner of my eye I saw movement in a tree, and there was a bird that I had never seen before. A quick look in my Sasol Guide showed me it was a Levaillant’s Cuckoo!!
Another lifer for this trip!!

Image

As we joined the main road, my excitement increased. It was still quite a way to drive, and we wondered what, if anything, we would see on the way, and more importantly, what awaited us when we got there!!

Around the area where the power lines cross the road, we saw two elephants in the distance, right on the road.
Now you know me and ellies at close quarters, so we pulled up until we could see what they were going to do!!
All of a sudden they started fighting, something that I had heard they do, but had never witnessed before. They kept at it for quite a while, and then one of them decided enough was enough, and trundled off into the bush, and the other went in the opposite direction.
We checked that the coast was clear, and then continued on our way.

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We saw a few zebras, buffs and impala, as we got nearer to our destination, and then the terrain started to change.

I got so excited when I spotted a baobab tree (our daughter calls them “upside down trees”!!)
We have seen them before, but never in Kruger………at least we obviously had, being in that area before, but like a lot of things, we had not noticed one till now!!!
More baobabs appeared, and I sensed more wonders were to come.

We came upon an area that was quite desolate…….very few trees and mostly dry mud, but as we looked, there were so many animals!!!
A family of warthogs were scratching around in the mud, trying to find an elusive tuft of grass. They didn’t seem at all bothered by us, and after a cursory glance, continued what they were doing.

There were several nyala bulls browsing on the one and only tree, and several ewes, who were waiting patiently for their turn!!

Then we saw Richprins!!!! Wow he and his relatives were having such a good time. Grooming each other, chasing around, and playing in the trees………we sat and watched their antics for quite a while.

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There was also a large herd of impala in the distance, with some heavily pregnant ewes and some bucks with the largest horns I’ve ever seen.

This place seemed to defy the laws of nature, and I almost expected the animals to start talking!!!

Well we could have stayed there for much longer, but it was now 9am, and I was keen to get to Pafuri.

We turned onto the S63, and saw more nyala, impala and warthogs, and then there it was……. the turning to Pafuri Picnic Spot!!

Image

Image


The hair stood up on the back of my neck as we approached, and then……….

To be continued……………..

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 Post subject: Re: Three Days in Paradise!
Unread postPosted: Fri Nov 11, 2011 10:11 am 
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Nov 3rd Cont.

……..and then, with butterflies in my tummy, we pulled into the picnic area, and were thrilled to find that we were the only visitors there!!

The peace and tranquillity of the place took our breath away, and we could just hear a few birds chirping quietly!!
The sun was now out properly, but it was still pleasantly cool.

It doesn’t get much better than that does it?!!

We could see a man and a woman in SANparks uniforms, sitting under the lapa. They appeared to be very busy doing something at a table, and as we remembered that we hadn’t stopped anywhere for our coffee, we sat tight, and poured ourselves a well earned cuppa!!
“Please let it be Frank” I muttered to myself.

After a while the man got up and came towards us.
“Please let it be Frank, please let it be Frank”, I muttered again, under my breath, and as he got nearer, to my sheer delight, I could see his name badge!!
He asked whether we required a gas braai, but I shook my head, and said “No thanks, we’ve come to see some birds hopefully”!!
We introduced ourselves and he spotted our yellow and red ribbons.

His whole face lit up, and he asked us would we like to accompany him on a short walk through the site, to see what we could find!!

At this point my heart sank because I knew that I couldn’t go, and I started to explain that maybe my husband could go with him while I sat by the river, because I can only walk short distances.

“Isn’t that a wheelchair in the back?” he asked, and when I confirmed that it was, he said it would be an honour to take me round in the chair!!!

I can’t tell you how overjoyed I was at this prospect, and I was soon settled in, and off we went.

This will sound very odd I’m sure, but although I could see that the ground was quite bumpy in places, Frank was so gentle, that we seemed to be gliding over it!!

He collected his binoculars with a new yellow and red ribbon attached, which I understand that my honorary niece Bushbaby30, had recently given to him, and then we moved towards the river bank!!

I will warn you that my photos are not very good, because my camera only knows “auto” at the moment, and if a bird is in a tree, it doesn’t know whether to focus on the bird in the foreground or the tree, so I get a “blurd”.

However this day was not about good photos, it was about so much more than that!!
Therefore I just took them when I could, and the rest are permanently etched in my mind.

If you want to see photos of these amazing birds…….you’ll have to come and take your own!
(Though some of you already have, I know!!)

The first thing we actually saw was a young male nyala, who was just starting to sprout his little horns. He was on the opposite side of the river, and was soon joined by some ewes.

Image

Then we got down to some serious birding!!

Frank showed us - Kurrichane Thrush, Tropical Boubou, Ashy Flycatcher, Yellow Breasted Apalis, Bearded Robin, Grey-Backed Camaroptera, and a fleeting glimpse of a Green Winged Pytilia, all but one of which were lifers for us both.

Image
Kurrichane Thrush

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Ashy Flycatcher

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Bearded Robin


We were fascinated with his bird calls as well. The Tropical Boubou didn’t want to put in an appearance at first.
Frank had pointed out its call, but there was no sign of it. So he mimicked the sound perfectly, and in no time one had arrived!! He did the same with several others as well.

I almost imagined that they would come and sit on his head or shoulders like they do in Disney movies!!
Now I’m just getting fanciful!!!!

He then said that he had seen a Narina Trogon that morning………… but sadly while we were there, it was nowhere to be seen!!
Well maybe next time………..

By now we had been with Frank for almost an hour, and I could not believe how quickly the time had gone. He was so patient with us, and had patiently answered the numerous questions that we had asked him.

We were then joined by two ladies, who were armed with bird books and cameras with bazooka lenses!!
They said that Frank’s brother had told them to ask for him, and Frank said that if they would like to wait, he would be with them soon.

He carried on wheeling me around for another ten minutes or so, and then he signalled to the ladies that he was ready for them.
He wheeled me back to the car, and insisted on folding it up and putting it in the back!!

What a true gentleman he is, “gentle” being the operative word, and also he is so very knowledgeable with his birds.

Just as we were saying goodbye, four huge vehicles with trailers pulled in, obviously all together, and there were car doors slamming, food being brought out……enough to feed an army……… and loud voices, so we were very glad to be on our way!!

How lucky we had been to be there for all that time on our own!!

I think the Bush had decided to give us a treat that morning………..and that was exactly was we got!!
It is a day that I will treasure for the rest of my life…….and we still had Crook’s Corner to see!

To be cont……..

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 Post subject: Re: Three Days in Paradise!
Unread postPosted: Sun Nov 13, 2011 9:14 am 
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Nov 3rd Cont.

As we left Pafuri, there was a hive of activity from the newcomers. There must have been at least twenty of them, including several very noisy children, and once again we were so grateful for the superb timing that morning, that had allowed us our special meeting with Frank.

We drove down to the T Junction, and unlike the two pervious occasions when we had left Pafuri, we turned left towards Crook’s Corner, with excitement mounting as we went!!

Now someone on the forums wrote recently that this area reminded them of an enchanted forest, and as we drove along, I could see exactly what they meant!!!
I honestly expected Red Riding Hood or Hansel and Gretel, to pop out any minute, from behind a Fever or Jackalberry tree, and draw us into a Fairy Tale!
It was truly magical.

We saw a few more nyala and warthogs along the way, and then Richprins and family reappeared…………my, but they do travel fast!!
Richprins was showing his better side as usual while having a well earned drink, and most of his relatives were playing happily in the trees!

Image

Image

Image

We eventually came to the weirdest area that I ‘ve ever seen!!
We stopped the car to savour the mystery, but I’m having difficulty expressing exactly how I felt at that moment in time.
All I can say is, that I sensed that we were nearing the “edge of the world” as described in C.S.Lewis’s “Voyage of the Dawn Treader”.
Any minute now we would meet up with Aslan………..just then, anything seemed possible!!
The terrain was quite bare, with dry muddy flats, but then just to contradict this, there was the occasional lush tropical palm tree . Nothing seemed quite real!!

We then saw in the distance a kudu appear as if from nowhere!!
We soon realised that he had walked up a mud bank, that hadn’t been visible to begin with, but we wouldn’t have been surprised if he’d been a magical creature!!
He was followed by other kudu, and they trudged along so silently and slowly in single file………….. in fact almost in slow motion………… that it was just weird!
The eeriest thing was that while we were there, we neither heard nor saw any birds!!
I don’t want to sound fanciful again, but it really felt like an enchanted place!!

Image

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We then spotted the sign to Crook’s Corner (1km) and by this stage we couldn’t even hazard a guess, as to what would be waiting for us there.
I had seen a few photos that other forum members had taken, so knew vaguely what it would look like, but now we were going to see it for ourselves!!
We set off and suddenly found ourselves back in the enchanted forest…………hey, was that a unicorn over there………..now don’t be silly, it was only a zebra!!

Image

In no time at all we arrived at our destination, and expectation mounted as we were finally going to see the famous Crook’s Corner and the mighty Limpopo River, it was just that……………

To be continued……………….

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 Post subject: Re: Three Days in Paradise!
Unread postPosted: Tue Nov 15, 2011 8:53 am 
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Nov 3rd cont.

We were finally going to get to see the famous Crook’s Corner, and the mighty Limpopo River……..it was just that when we got there, there was no water in it!!!
The “mighty Limpopo” was at present a huge dry riverbed!!!
Not even a trickle could be seen, and there were definitely no crocs basking in the sunshine!!
Of course we should have realised that the rains had not been kind to the far north as yet, and this mighty river, which at times flows full, was empty!!

I remember the floods of 2000 and 2008, when we watched people on the news bulletins clinging to trees, while the swollen torrent threatened to claim them for its own!!

How different it was now!!
Even a month before, there had obviously been SOME water, because I’ve seen VVV’s picture of the area in her TR. She also had found crocs there.
Today however……….no water, no crocs (well not in obvious view anyway!!)

We pulled up near the information plaque and began to read!!

For those of you who don’t know…………Crook’s Corner was literally what it says it was!!!
It’s where three countries come together.
South Africa, Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and Portuguese East Africa (now Mozambique).
In the early 1900s it became a safe haven for poachers, gun runners, and anyone else who was trying to dodge the law.

These “Crooks” would hop from one country to the other, as the law enforcement agencies tried to capture them………..but a South African agent would have no jurisdiction in Zimbabwe or Mozambique, and vice versa.
It is said that they often sat up in the trees, looking down and taunting their (would be) captors!!
Cecil Barnard (Bvekenya) the infamous ivory poacher is said to have hidden on a small island in the river to evade capture in the 1920’s, though ironically, he subsequently became a ranger himself.

We found all this information totally fascinating, and as we sat in the noon day shade in our little car, I could well imagine all the goings on that took place there.

This tiny area is not only well known for its history, but it is also teeming with bird life.
While we were there we saw both White Fronted and European Bee Eaters, and although we could not see it, we could hear a Tropical BouBou!!

Image

Image

There was also a Kurrichane Thrush and some Paradise Flycatchers, but they were far too flighty to get a decent picture.

We were the only car there again, and we sat for over an hour just enjoying the beauty and mystery of this awesome place!!

We then looked at our watches, and decided that it was time to be on our way, so with a final glance at the riverbed……..still no crocs (or buccaneers) we reluctantly left.

We drove back through the enchanted forest……..no suspicious looking characters this time, and then instead of heading back along the dirt road to Pafuri, we dropped down onto the tar road.
We had an uneventful return journey to Punda Maria, with some nice sightings, and we arrived back in camp in time to relax on our deck with a sundowner, and enjoy a well deserved braai of fillet steak, wors and the remainder of the salads.

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It was just a shame that, as we were dishing up…………



To be continued.................

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 Post subject: Re: Three Days in Paradise!
Unread postPosted: Fri Nov 18, 2011 10:25 am 
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Nov 3rd cont.

It was just a shame that as we were dishing up, I noticed something black crawling on Dungie’s back. Then we saw both saw several “somethings” crawling on the fridge door, and then a lot of “somethings” on the door leading into the tent!!!

It was an invasion……………a swarm of flying ants!!!

By now it was dark, and we had put the outside light on!!
Not the most sensible thing to do in retrospect, and so these little pests had found us easily!!

By now the fridge door and our tent door were black, and there was an ant crawling on my plate, so we grabbed our wine glasses and plates, and made our way into the tent!!
Of course as we opened the door, some of them came in with us, plus a few smallish brown beetles (now where the heck had THEY come from??)

We checked our glasses and plates…………. some of the ants were doing the breast stroke and others the back stroke in our wine glasses, and there were several crawling on our plates…………….so sadly that was the end of our lovely braai!!!
We didn’t dare go back outside, because we knew that even more would come in as we opened the door, so that was that……..not even a coffee and an Amarula!!!

We sat on the bed, looking very dejected, but eventually I started laughing and said “This really is quite funny you know, I am NOT going to let it spoil our lovely day.”
Neither of us is exactly wasting away, so a night without food would not be such a huge problem.
(Actually it was a whole day without food, because we had been so enthralled with Pafuri and Crook’s that we had forgotten to eat lunch!!)
After a quick shower we packed most of our things, to save time in the morning, and then we decided to prepare for an early night!!

I suddenly remembered that I had a packet of chewy sweeties in our case, so that night we feasted on tap water and “Chewy Fruits”

Again the frog’s chorus started up, and again I heard some very odd sounds during the night, there was also a strange growling noise in our tent……….but that was just our empty tummies rumbling!!





Nov 4th.

We were very hungry when we woke up, and we gingerly peered out of the tent door to assess the damage!!
There were just a few ants left, so we washed up and cleared the kitchen, and then made some coffee and sat on the deck watching the sun rise….it was going to be a glorious day, and sadly we had to leave.
Then we had a quick shower, dressed and packed the remainder of our stuff ready to collect later, and then we set off towards the Mahonie loop.

Now the last time we drove along the Mahonie Loop was in 2009 with friends from the UK.
We had done a late afternoon drive, and had seen almost nothing until we were almost back at Punda.

It was just starting to get dark, and we were worried we would be late.
We saw several cars parked, and immediately thought it must be lions or leopard.
Sadly in those days (pre forums) we were still mainly just looking for the big five!!

An elderly gentleman in the car nearest to us, stuck his head out of the window and whispered “You’re in for a treat…………it’s a Suni”
“A what” we said to each other? No lions or leopards!!

We just had no idea in those days how important this sighting was……….yes it looked cute…………. but we didn’t realise how rare this little guy was until I joined the forums!!

Of course this time, we knew we wouldn’t see one, and we were right!!

However, these days we just enjoy whatever the bush wants to show us, and so we set off with no great expectations.
It was a beautiful morning………….clear blue skies and pleasantly cool.

The first thing we saw was a new bird, and I need an ID please if anyone can help!! It’s not the best of photos, but hopefully good enough for someone to recognise it!!

Image

Then we saw a lone buffalo grazing near to the roadside. He gave us a cursory glance, and then continued eating.

Image

There were a few impala, and kudu along the way, and then we saw this cute little fella!!
Of course at first we hoped it was a Suni, but we could soon see that was not.

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Now I’m still not very good with the smaller buck, but I’m hoping that it was a Sharpe’s Grysbok. It stood still for a while and then sat down, so I was (for once) able to get a few decent shots!!

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Then we saw a large baboon sitting on a hump, surveying the scene. He gave out a loud screech, and suddenly his entourage joined him. It was as if he had scouted the area, to check for danger, before allowing them to follow him.

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Then we spotted what we thought may have been a second Sharpie’s, but on closer examination it was a Steenbok (I think!!)
Whatever he was, he was very cute, and also posed nicely for me while I took a shot!!

Image

All too soon we arrived back at Punda, and having collected our things from the tent, we made our way to the gate for the long drive back to Phalaborwa……………

To be continued…………..

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 Post subject: Re: Three Days in Paradise!
Unread postPosted: Fri Nov 18, 2011 11:20 am 
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Shame Val, your last supper didn't sound too good with goggas doing various strokes in your food and wine!
I recall having something similar happen at Olifants, but these were little black ones, think they were Stink Bugs.
Certainly doesn't do anything for the ambiance. :wink:

I am going to take a guess that your bird is a Female or Juv. Violet-backed Starling, but I would be happy to accept confirmation from one of the experts.
Definitely a Sharpes which are often seen on the Mahonie Loop and nicely relaxed too.

Great three days and now for the trip back to Phala! :D

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 Post subject: Re: Three Days in Paradise!
Unread postPosted: Tue Nov 22, 2011 12:55 pm 
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Nov 4th

Now usually as we leave a camp on our last day in the park, it is with a very heavy heart, but although we were sad to leave Punda, we knew that we still had three weeks left for our daily visits from the Phala Gate, and so it was not such a wrench for us this time.

We set off down the H1-3, H13-1 and finally the H1-7……….we were on our way home!

We saw plenty of general game - ellies, zebra, giraffe, warthog, impala, kudu and many European Bee Eaters still bent on catching their breakfast!!

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Now I had made the mistake in December of going to Kruger with a long unrealistic wish list, and since then I have kept quiet!!
I had secretly hoped to see Roan Antelope on this trip, but so far none had shown themselves, and time was running out fast!!!

I said to Dungie, if you see something beige then yell!!!
Several times he yelled, but it always turned out to be zebra, until we came near Mawawi waterhole.

“There’s something beige over there”!! came the yell, and oh my word, as I looked, there was a single Roan Antelope grazing hungrily.
He was quite a distance away, so the photo is not brilliant, but you can definitely see who he is!!!
Were WE excited!! Our first EVER Roan!!!

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Later on, we called into Babalala, and believe it or not, there was a small herd of Roan, at the nearby waterhole!!
Again they were a bit far away, so not the best of photos, but again you can still see who they are!!

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Now I could go home truly contented, and it didn’t matter what we saw for the rest of the journey!!
Not much further along, we came across a few Tsessbe, grazing by the side of the road, and imagine our joy to find a little calf amongst them……………..he was so cute!!!

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We called into Shingwedzi for another (cold!!) toastie, and saw our first ever African Openbill…….what a strange looking bird!!
“Scruffy One Leg” came to greet us at our table, and several of his friends came to join him.
They were all very disappointed not to be fed, and “Scruffy” left us a deposit on the back of the chair, just to let us know how put out he was!!

Image


We continued our journey with few sightings, as it was now very hot and the strong African sun was beating down on us!!

Near the H15 turning, we saw a Purple Roller, which was our second sighting ever of this lovely bird, the first being a few weeks beforehand, in almost the same spot!!

Image

We turned down the H14 for the last leg of our journey, and our croc was still basking in a small pool in the Tzendze River bed.

Then at “our” causeway we saw a lovely Saddle-Billed Stork, who was wading purposefully through the shallow water.

Image

We eventually arrived back in Phala, and after making a quick stop at Spar, to buy supper, we pulled into our little cottage, not exactly “glad to be home” but very contented with our amazing three-day trip to an incredible Northern Paradise.

The sundowners went down well that evening, and the simple meal of home made chilli tasted very good.
All this was followed by an Amarula or two, and as we gazed up at the star–filled sky, we again amazed at this wonderful country called South Africa, and how lucky we are to spend time here each year!!!

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Last edited by Crested Val on Tue Nov 22, 2011 5:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Three Days in Paradise!
Unread postPosted: Sat Dec 24, 2011 7:27 am 
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Vlakvarkvrou wrote:
Hi Val,
welcome back :dance: :dance:

:D :popcorn:


I wasn't planning to stay...........but as you are so pleased to see me, here is another photo from our trip!!


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 Post subject: Re: Three Days in Paradise!
Unread postPosted: Sun Dec 25, 2011 7:33 am 
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 Post subject: Re: Three Days in Paradise!
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This little fella used to come and visit us at Punda Maria.
I think it's a Yellow-Bellied Greenbul.


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 Post subject: Re: Three Days in Paradise!
Unread postPosted: Thu Dec 29, 2011 6:53 am 
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Saw this fella near Mopani, on our way home!!! :dance:

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