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 Post subject: Re: Cry (for) The Beloved Country
Unread postPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2013 5:36 am 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger

Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2010 6:50 pm
Posts: 189
Location: Anaheim, California USA
Day 6 Part 4B - The Cat Fight:

So the Elephant chases the four Cheetah out of the riverbed and they settled down on the bank in the grass. All of a sudden we hear these snarls and see a whir of motion. Martin explains that this group contains three males and a female and the males are fighting over the female. The ratio was similar to that at my boarding school so I could certainly relate......

The fight started out on the bank of the river

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And it ended up back in the riverbed itself.

Any guesses on who won??????

More to follow

Daron

_________________
Marakele May 2-4, 2014 (First time)
Tlopi Tented Camp

Kruger May 6-15, 2014
Satara May 6-10
Skukuza May 10-12
Crocodile Bridge May 12-15


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 Post subject: Re: Cry (for) The Beloved Country
Unread postPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2013 6:17 am 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger

Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2010 6:50 pm
Posts: 189
Location: Anaheim, California USA
The Cat Fight - Continued:

So they rolled down the hill and it continued.....

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Eventually, the female decided that none were worthy and sauntered off leaving the males to sulk on their own in the riverbed.

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We just couldn't believe what luck we were having.

I took hundreds of pictures and while they didn't turn out perfect, I'm still happy with the overall results.

Day 7 had some more special treats so stay tuned for more.

Daron

_________________
Marakele May 2-4, 2014 (First time)
Tlopi Tented Camp

Kruger May 6-15, 2014
Satara May 6-10
Skukuza May 10-12
Crocodile Bridge May 12-15


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 Post subject: Re: Cry (for) The Beloved Country
Unread postPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2013 12:27 am 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger

Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2010 6:50 pm
Posts: 189
Location: Anaheim, California USA
Thank you everyone for your kind comments. It makes the effort worthwhile.

Day 7 Part 1 - The Morning Drive:

We had already scheduled an early morning drive for this morning when we made our bookings several months previously. I was up late after the Sunset Drive last night, because I wanted to get all of the Cheetah pictures downloaded AND backed up. Quite a time consuming process with the number of pictures I took, especially considering I was shooting in both RAW and JPEG. This was a 1st for me to shoot in RAW, but I think I will do it again next time. It seems to afford a lot more flexibility in post processing, although it is a real memory hog.

We met at reception at 0345 hours. Our Guide for this drive was named City. We had very high hopes for this drive, especially after last nights good fortune. I can't even remember what road City took us on, but there was absolutely nothing of note. Not that it wasn't there, it was just impossible to see. City drove far faster than any of the other guides and if we saw something, by the time we got him to stop, we had travelled so far that it was nearly impossible to pinpoint where we thought it was.

As daylight approached it appeared that City's goal was to cover as many kilometers of road as possible. He would then race from traffic jam to traffic jam rather than share his expertise (maybe he didn't have any....). The sunrise was beautiful and we had to ask City to stop so we could get a picture.

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At one point as we approached the Sweni Bridge, we could see several cars stopped up ahead. This time I didn't need to will the vehicle faster, because City took care of that. He raced up and we discovered a fairly young adult male Lion. City positioned the vehicle in a way that most of us did not have a very good view. Fortunately the other passengers were kind enough to allow us to move around to other seats to get a better view.

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The Lion didn't like the attention and quickly moved deeper into the bush. As he did, we saw that he had a companion who was an older, larger male. Unfortunately we never got a good view of him.

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We didn't stay long as City didn't think we would get a better view. He then turned around and drove back north and then east on the S100. By now the sun was in a good spot and the lighting was really good. We saw Ostrich

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Warthog

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Wildebeest

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Waterbuck

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Zebra

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A group of Southern Ground Hornbill

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Kudu

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And Giraffe

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City seemed to be in a hurry to get back to camp and arrived right at 0700 hours. While we did have decent sightings, the experience was far less enjoyable than our drives with the other guides who seemed to have a desire to enhance the experience for the guests. On this drive City left the distinct impression that this was a job and nothing more. Maybe he was just having a bad day and other guests have had a better experience with him. But, for us it wasn't the case.

Stay tuned for Day 7 Part 2......

Daron

_________________
Marakele May 2-4, 2014 (First time)
Tlopi Tented Camp

Kruger May 6-15, 2014
Satara May 6-10
Skukuza May 10-12
Crocodile Bridge May 12-15


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 Post subject: Re: Cry (for) The Beloved Country
Unread postPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2013 10:26 am 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger

Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2010 6:50 pm
Posts: 189
Location: Anaheim, California USA
Thank you again to all of you who have been following faithfully from the beginning, and to those who have joined recently.

I apologize in advance if my narrative gets a bit sloppy on this episode. Fridays are usually my longest days. I left for work at 0500 and got home at 2300. It is now almost midnight and I'm seeing double. But, I have sweeter dreams when I'm thinking about Africa and Kruger, so here goes....

Day 7 Part 2 - The Road to Tshokwane:

So after our Early Morning Drive we decided to drive south to Tshokwane for lunch. We had to be back to camp by 1400 hours for a mini meet with WendyA, Heksie, Cheetah2111, Porridge and Jaxiedean.

We got on the road and the first part of the drive was fairly quiet. The weather became gray and gloomy with intermittent rain. Our first sighting was this European Roller.

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And then an Elephant is the river bed

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I can't even walk and chew bubble gum at the same time, but this guy could walk and chew a whole tree....Impressive!

As we neared the Sweni Bridge a few cars were stopped on the side of the road. We were told that there was a Cheetah in the long grass. I'm thinking there is no way we are going to see Cheetah again. But, we certainly did. There was one lone Cheetah probably about 50 meters off the road in the long grass.

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There was a lot of greenery in the way and it was difficult to get a good view.

As is often the case you can sit looking through the viewfinder forever and have no activity or movement. Then as soon as you look away, something happens.....

All of a sudden the Cheetah was up and the next thing I knew she picked up a small antelope she must have killed earlier, dragged it under a bush and started munching away. I got two pictures as proof. Both are terrible, but this is the best of the two.

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And this is what she looked like at the breakfast table.

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Unfortunately when she went down to eat she was almost invisible in the grass. We stayed for a little while hoping she would move, but no such luck this time. Trust me, I'm not complaining. We surely had our share of good luck.

I'm calling this one "she", because I think it was the female from last night's sighting. After we left her, we crossed the bridge hoping to see the Lion, but they had moved on. However, about 50 meters beyond the bridge, the three male Cheetah were lying in the grass. All you could see was an ear twitch every so often so we didn't stay long and I didn't bother taking a picture. Kind of funny, because a few days earlier I would have taken a hundred shots of the ear. I didn't feel the need after the great sightings we had.

We continued along and saw Zebra and Giraffe

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After a while we came across three or four cars stopped on the side of the road. A gentleman told us there was a Leopard in a tree. The gentleman was the same guy who had told us about the Leopard the prior night where all we could see was the tail. This guy had a knack for being able to spot LIT's. In fact deamole said he wanted to spend a couple hours driving with the guy to learn his technique.

We eventually found the Leopard, but he was far off and we couldn't really get a good angle. Most of my shots have a branch blocking his face and this is about the best I could get.

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We watched for a while and he moved around in the tree. After about 20 minutes he climbed down and disappeared. All of the shots of him climbing down were obscured by bushes that were between us and him.

We had been told about a large pride of Lion that was lounging around one of the waterholes yesterday, so we were hoping they would have found it a nice place to come back to. They apparently didn't, but we did have some good sightings of Waterbuck and a surfing Heron

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We continued on to Tshokwane with no further excitement. In had a Kudu doors roll that was really good. I also had a melk tart, but I remembered it being made fresh at Tshokwane. All they had this time was a packaged variety. I must admit it was still really good.

Stay tuned for the drive back to Satara.....

Daron

_________________
Marakele May 2-4, 2014 (First time)
Tlopi Tented Camp

Kruger May 6-15, 2014
Satara May 6-10
Skukuza May 10-12
Crocodile Bridge May 12-15


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 Post subject: Re: Cry (for) The Beloved Country
Unread postPosted: Mon Jan 07, 2013 8:52 am 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger

Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2010 6:50 pm
Posts: 189
Location: Anaheim, California USA
OK Friends, sorry that I was absent yesterday. I ended up in the Emergency Room with extreme back spasms. After a couple of injections they sent me home to bed, where I have been basically ever since. It is starting to ease up a little so I am praying it is just a little irritation. Three back surgeries over the past two years and I certainly don't want a fourth.....

This next episode is going to contain multiple pictures of the same sighting again. I apologize if you don't like that, but the behavior was so fun to watch that I wanted to share the sequence so you can see it as well.

Day 7 - Part 3 - Splish, Splash, I Was Taking a Bath:

So after our awesome lunch at Tshokwane we were headed back to Satara for our mini meet. We promised Veronica a stop at the Baobab tree as well. We stopped at one of the waterholes and saw a lot of game around. I was watching some Waterbuck sparring when I noticed a lone Elephant bull standing in the middle of the water on the far side of the water. He stood there briefly before he started playing in the water and having an absolute blast.

I will let the pictures tell the story....

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As you can see, he rolled around in the mud, then stood up and began swirling the water with his trunk, and then began swishing around with his legs.....

It looked like so much fun. I wanted to get out and join him. I will share a few more in the next episode.

Thanks for following!

Daron

_________________
Marakele May 2-4, 2014 (First time)
Tlopi Tented Camp

Kruger May 6-15, 2014
Satara May 6-10
Skukuza May 10-12
Crocodile Bridge May 12-15


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 Post subject: Re: Cry (for) The Beloved Country
Unread postPosted: Tue Jan 08, 2013 6:08 am 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger

Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2010 6:50 pm
Posts: 189
Location: Anaheim, California USA
Thanks everyone for the well wishes regarding the back. I've spent the past two and a half days in bed and it is starting to feel a little better.

How about part two of our playful elephant?

Day 7 Part 4 - Splish Splash Continued:

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And then he was gone.....

_________________
Marakele May 2-4, 2014 (First time)
Tlopi Tented Camp

Kruger May 6-15, 2014
Satara May 6-10
Skukuza May 10-12
Crocodile Bridge May 12-15


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 Post subject: Re: Cry (for) The Beloved Country
Unread postPosted: Tue Jan 08, 2013 8:41 am 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger

Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2010 6:50 pm
Posts: 189
Location: Anaheim, California USA
Day 7 Part 5 - Meeting new friends:

As I mentioned previously, we were due to meet several forumites at Satara at 1400 hours. I also told you we had promised Veronica a stop at the Baobab tree. I think she enjoyed the trees and fauna in Kruger as much as the animals.

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As we drove around the tree we saw a yellow ribbon flying. It turned out to be Cheetah2111 who we would be meeting properly in a very short time.

We found some Waterbuck sparring at a waterhole

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And this fellow somewhere in our travels

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We made it back to Satara and had time to download pictures from the morning before the scheduled meet. Most of the group needed the break to do laundry and I headed off to the restaurant alone. Porridge and Jaxiedean were there, along with EKoppen, WendyA, Heksie, and Cheetah2111. It was a lot of fun meeting people from different backgrounds, but who all share a love of Kruger Park.

It was also a sad time because Porridge shared that he had come across a freshly poached rhino this morning near the S100/S41. He notified the Ranger who responded immediately and began an investigation.

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Cheetah2111, WendyA, me, Heksie, deamole

After the meeting deamole and I went for a drive by ourselves while everyone else finished their chores

We saw Giraffe including a youngster

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And a Martial Eagle in bad light

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And lots of other treats, but they will have to wait till the next episode so I don't go over my photo limit.

More to follow.....

Daron

_________________
Marakele May 2-4, 2014 (First time)
Tlopi Tented Camp

Kruger May 6-15, 2014
Satara May 6-10
Skukuza May 10-12
Crocodile Bridge May 12-15


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 Post subject: Re: Cry (for) The Beloved Country
Unread postPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2013 3:08 am 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger

Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2010 6:50 pm
Posts: 189
Location: Anaheim, California USA
Day 7 Part 6 - Another great ending:

So deamole and I headed out the H7 towards Orpen because there had been reports of good Leopard sightings. We drove as far as Bobbejaan Krans before we thought we should turn around and head back. It was fairly quiet, but on the way back there was quite a bit of activity around Nsemani.

We saw Baboon

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Waterbuck

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Impala sparring

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And a herd of Elephant that came down to drink

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There were also Hippos in the water

We continued back towards Satara and realized we still had a little bit of time on our hands so we decided to head south towards the Sweni Bridge as that area had proved to be so productive for us.

We reached the bridge and there was nothing there. We then continued over the bridge to turn around and head back and guess what was there....

A continuation of our spotted luck... Yep more Cheetah. Well, more than likely the same Cheetah, but we were seeing them AGAIN! This time it was the three males. They had apparently crossed the road a few minutes earlier and were heading off into the bush.

We did get a fairly decent view though before they disappeared.

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The light was fading and it was getting time to head back to make gate closing time so we had to leave these guys to their business and head back to camp.

We made it back to camp and had a great braai with boerewors, pap, couscous, corn, and all the fixings. Mike turned out to be the expert braai master and while he was tending to the fire he said something to the effect of, "Hey somebody's cat got out."

I looked out and right in the middle of the grassy circle was an African Wild Cat. It was moving and the light was poor, but I got one quick shot.

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Not more than a few minutes later, Mike said "Hey what's that?"

No joke, there was a Honey Badger scurrying across the grass. Sorry no pictures of that.

We had now completed a week in the Park. This was to be our last night in Satara before our final three nights at Malelane. But, we had seen all of the Big 5, plus had some awesome Cheetah sightings, plus great animal interaction, and now both AWC and Honey Badger in the camp. Could this trip ever be matched? Could it get any better than this?

Stay tuned to find out.....

We were so happy that our first time visitors were being blessed with such amazing sightings!

PS We also saw these two beauties somewhere during our travels on Day 7

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I just read that Kruger has lost 3 Rhinos to poachers already this year. I'm ready to volunteer for anti-poaching duty. These criminals must be stopped!!!!

_________________
Marakele May 2-4, 2014 (First time)
Tlopi Tented Camp

Kruger May 6-15, 2014
Satara May 6-10
Skukuza May 10-12
Crocodile Bridge May 12-15


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 Post subject: Re: Cry (for) The Beloved Country
Unread postPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2013 7:06 am 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger

Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2010 6:50 pm
Posts: 189
Location: Anaheim, California USA
Day 8 - The Beginning - Satara to Orpen Dam:

Well today was going to be a marathon day in the car. We were departing Satara and headed for Malelane. Our proposed route was the H1-3 to the H1-2 with lunch at Skukuza and then south on the H3 all the way down. The actual route changed several times, but it was an amazing day.....

We left camp around 0700 hours and headed south. Prior to leaving camp I had to snap a shot of the Beware of Honey Badgers sign.

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We headed out the gate and saw the normal Wildebeest, Impala, and general game. But, what do you think our first "good sighting" was? Unbelievable..... Cheetah again!!!!

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I regret to inform you that this would be our final Cheetah sighting of the trip. BUT, we certainly were not lacking in this area. AND, we traded the Cheetah for another kind of spots later in the trip....

As we continued along, the two way radio suddenly crackled to life...."Lion in the road."

We were about 100 meters behind deamole and company and by the time we arrived, all we saw was the tail end of a Lioness moving off into the bush....

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Not too much further there was a traffic jam of sorts....three cars stopped on the side of the road. Off in the bush was a nice looking male Lion. He was lying down in the grass and it was difficult to get a good shot without the grass getting in the way, but here is what I came away with

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Oooh that feels good. Yeah, right there behind the ear.....

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Approaching Tshokwane we drove through a cloud burst and as the rain stopped a large herd of Impala were grazing on the green grass.

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We stopped for breakfast at Tshokwane. Most of us had the Bush Breakfast. It was absolutely delicious and reasonably priced. I believe that the picnic sites are managed by SanParks and not the same private company that handles the restaurants in the camps. The restaurants should take a lesson from the picnic sites as to how to keep customers happy. We had no problems and were very happy with all of the picnic sites we visited.

After breakfast deamole surprised me with teh decision to head over to Orpen Dam. I had suggested earlier that we try to do this, but he didn't think we would have time.

As we travelled along the dirt road, this giant suddenly appeared out of nowhere

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Fortunately he wasn't bothered by us

When we arrived at Orpen Dam there were a few people there and the view was incredible. We could hear Hippos grunting down below, but couldn't see them. A lone Elephant approached the water from the far side

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And then we heard branches breaking beneath us and a small herd of Elephant approached directly below us

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It was so awesome. Everyone loved it and I was thankful that deamole had changed his mind. Great decision!!!!

And somewhere along the way were these guys....

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There is lots more to come so please stay tuned.....

Daron

_________________
Marakele May 2-4, 2014 (First time)
Tlopi Tented Camp

Kruger May 6-15, 2014
Satara May 6-10
Skukuza May 10-12
Crocodile Bridge May 12-15


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 Post subject: Re: Cry (for) The Beloved Country
Unread postPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2013 7:15 am 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger

Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2010 6:50 pm
Posts: 189
Location: Anaheim, California USA
Apology, Apology, Apology!!!!!

I was so wrapped up in the pictures that I forgot to mention a very brief encounter with another forumite.....

As deamole and I were driving the H7 towards Orpen we saw a yellow ribbon up ahead. I told him we had to catch up and make a quick introduction. It was a very quick introduction while moving along the tar road, but it was Lost Pride. Nice to meet you and maybe next time we can actually have a chat.

Daron

_________________
Marakele May 2-4, 2014 (First time)
Tlopi Tented Camp

Kruger May 6-15, 2014
Satara May 6-10
Skukuza May 10-12
Crocodile Bridge May 12-15


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 Post subject: Re: Cry (for) The Beloved Country
Unread postPosted: Thu Jan 10, 2013 6:23 am 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger

Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2010 6:50 pm
Posts: 189
Location: Anaheim, California USA
Day 8 Part 2 - Orpen Dam to Lower Sabie:

As we were loading into the cars at Orpen Dam, deamole came out with another surprise. He now wanted to head south on the H10 to Lower Sabie and then head across the S21 towards Malelane. OK by me since we had gotten a fairly decent start.

Our first sighting was this European Roller

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Followed by a Burchells Coucal

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And the we came across a troop of Baboons

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And this baby was just too cute

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Mom I'm so happy to be home. I told you I would kiss the ground....

A while later we found this pretty lady close to the road

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And no visit to Lower Sabie would be complete without a stop at Sunset Dam. This time we found some young Hippos cavorting in the dam

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And on the far side of the dam these three Giraffes eating according to their height

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We had a quick stop at Lower Sabie to check out the restaurant overlook and so Veronica could shop some more and then we were off again.

Stay tuned for more of Day 8 coming soon.....

Daron

_________________
Marakele May 2-4, 2014 (First time)
Tlopi Tented Camp

Kruger May 6-15, 2014
Satara May 6-10
Skukuza May 10-12
Crocodile Bridge May 12-15


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 Post subject: Re: Cry (for) The Beloved Country
Unread postPosted: Thu Jan 10, 2013 8:18 am 
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Senior Virtual Ranger
Senior Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Thu Jan 20, 2011 8:58 am
Posts: 3911
Location: Far South in South Africa.
:mrgreen: Hi Daron, awesome pics of European Roller, Coucal, Baboons & "Baby", The "Lady", Stunning Hippos, Giraffes :mrgreen: :mrgreen: ........
:hands: SUNSET DAM :bcool:

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"Lose yourself in Nature and find Peace!" (Ralph Waldo Emerson)
UNITE AGAINST POACHING...What we protect,
do not let poachers take it away!

Extinction is forever and survival is up to---every last one of us!


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 Post subject: Re: Cry (for) The Beloved Country
Unread postPosted: Fri Jan 11, 2013 6:33 am 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger

Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2010 6:50 pm
Posts: 189
Location: Anaheim, California USA
Day 8 Part 3A - Lower Sabie to Malelane via Skukuza:

So after a quick stop at Lower Sabie we were now off to Malelane. Deamole now said he thought we had time to make it up to Skukuza and then down to Malelane.

We had some great sightings along the way and they will not be shown in any particular order. We also had a stop at Skukuza for lunch. The toasted sandwiches were not bad, but it took so long you would have thought they had to make the cheese and bread by hand..... Unfortunately we had this common theme throughout the park that the service at the restaurants was terrible.

Sorry for spouting....

How about some pictures?

A Martial Eagle

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A gorgeous male Waterbuck

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An Elephant that appeared out of nowhere and quickly crossed in front of us

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A LBR

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An Eagle Owl I believe

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A good reason to mind the speed limit

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And a baby in the trees

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A Giraffe

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How about Rhino, Buffalo, and Impala together

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Off to bed for an early day at work tomorrow.....

Thanks for following

Daron

_________________
Marakele May 2-4, 2014 (First time)
Tlopi Tented Camp

Kruger May 6-15, 2014
Satara May 6-10
Skukuza May 10-12
Crocodile Bridge May 12-15


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 Post subject: Re: Cry (for) The Beloved Country
Unread postPosted: Sat Jan 12, 2013 6:55 am 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger

Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2010 6:50 pm
Posts: 189
Location: Anaheim, California USA
Day 8 Part 3B - The Road to Malelane continued:

After leaving Skukuza we drove to the top of Mathekenyane for a quick look around. The road was in terrible condition, but it was well worth the trip. About 3/4 of the way up the hill there was a raptor perched on a tree. I think it was a Brown Snake Eagle, but some help with the ID would be appreciated. Anyway just as I started taking pictures it took off and I was actually able to snap a couple of decent pictures as it took to flight.

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By this time the sun had come out and it was a beautiful day. The view from the hill was magnificent. It was as if you could see forever

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deamole and my 14 yr old nephew. It isn't an illusion, he is taller than his dad already

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Flying the yellow ribbons

We stopped at Afsaal for a bathroom break and a cold drink, but the shop had just closed. My first experience with Afsaal was last year and it quickly became a favorite place to stop for a quick break

In between Afsaal and Malelane we came upon a Hyena den on the side of the road. There were a total of six youngsters playing around

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We took the S118 to the S114 down to Malelane and arrived at the gate in time to check in and get to camp with a few minutes to spare before gate closing time. The staff at Malelane Gate were friendly and efficient and it was truly "service with a smile."

Unfortunately while we were checking in at the gate a couple arrived and reported that a car had hit an Impala on the S25. Sad......

Once at Malelane we unpacked the cars and I headed off to find Eco Junkie. I didn't realize it, but she was leaving early the next morning for her Holiday in Australia and New Zealand. She graciously spent about 30 minutes walking through the camp with me and suggesting various drives to do during our time at Malelane. Thank you so much Jenni! I don't even remember what we did for dinner that night. It may have simply been a bowl of Muesli as we were all tired from a very long day of driving.

I think one would have to agree that we had a remarkable trip so far with incredible sightings. There was no way it could get any better, right????? Just wait and see.....

Thanks for following!

Daron

_________________
Marakele May 2-4, 2014 (First time)
Tlopi Tented Camp

Kruger May 6-15, 2014
Satara May 6-10
Skukuza May 10-12
Crocodile Bridge May 12-15


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 Post subject: Re: Cry (for) The Beloved Country
Unread postPosted: Sun Jan 13, 2013 12:13 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger

Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2010 6:50 pm
Posts: 189
Location: Anaheim, California USA
OK so is everyone ready for the next episode? The title should say it all....

Day 9 Part 1 - A Day That Couldn't Be Beat!:

Day 9 started with deamole and I going out for an early drive on our own. We left at about 0530 hours and at Eco Junkie's suggestion we drove towards Berg en Dal and then out along the Matjulu Loop.

Our first sighting of the day was a giant slug crossing the road. The picture doesn't do it justice. The shell was truly as big as my fist.....

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We then came across some Giraffe and Zebra grazing together

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Including this young colt

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When we got to the Matjule waterhole we found this pair of birds. I believe they are Fire Finch?????

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The rest of the drive was fairly quiet. We saw Elephant in the distance, but nothing close. The weather was kind of cloudy, but the scenery was beautiful. We turned onto the H3 and then headed out to Renosterpan, but all was quiet. We continued heading north on the H3 towards Afsaal and saw what I believe is a Comb Billed Duck

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As we were about 200 meters from the H2-2 turnoff we saw three or four cars stopped on the side of the road. I love the traffic jams when school is in session. They are so much easier to deal with. Anyway one of the cars was an American guy from Boston. He told us there was a pair of mating Lions about 15 meters from the road in the thick grass. They had been closer to the road, but had seemed disturbed and moved deeper into the bush. All of the cars left except for us and the original guy we talked to. It was difficult to see, but we finally got a glimpse of part of the male's mane. We decided it would be worth sticking around for a while. Of course deamole had the car positioned with them on his side. I decided it would be best to climb into the back seat so I wouldn't have to shoot across him. The down side was the rear windows only went down about half way and would not support my bean bag.

We called Mike, Dave, Veronica, and Garrett and told them where we were and suggested that they load up and head our way.

After about 15 minutes the female lifted her head up. She then got up and started walking deeper into the bush. The male got up and followed. He tried to mate, but she ignored him and off they went....

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They disappeared out of sight pretty quickly and were gone before the others from our group arrived.

While we had been stopped a private safari vehicle stopped and we had a brief chat. The Guide said they had entered at Malelane gate and had seen three Leopard already. He said there had been two together about 4 kms from where we were along the H2-2 and they were about 20 meters off the road. So we called Mike and told him to head that way.

We were measuring how far we had traveled and we hit 4, then 5, 6, and 7 kms with nothing. We talked to a driver coming the opposite direction who said he had been looking for the Leopard as well, but didn't see them and swore he would tell us if he did. So we were sure we had missed them.

And then we came around a corner and saw three cars stopped. When we got to where they were we found a Leopard lying on a branch on a tree. It was at least 100 meters away from the road.

This picture is uncropped to show how far away he was. This was taken with the 300mm lens with the 1.4 converter and the camera has an APS-C sensor with a 1.6 crop factor. So it was essentially 672mm....

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And now cropped....

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Do you see anything else in the first picture? We sure didn't. How about with a little help?

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And what do you think happened next?????

Sorry, but I'm at my photo limit for the episode so you will have to wait till the next episode. Till then.....

A quick side note..as you will hear in later episodes we did a bush braai later that night. During the first part of the drive a car stopped next to us and began speaking with our Guide, Raymond. It was the same car from earlier in the morning that swore he hadn't seen Leopard. He obviously didn't realize who we were because he started telling Raymond about his Leopard sighting from this morning. It was clear to us that he had seen the same ones we saw, but had lied to us. What a jerk!!!!

Daron

_________________
Marakele May 2-4, 2014 (First time)
Tlopi Tented Camp

Kruger May 6-15, 2014
Satara May 6-10
Skukuza May 10-12
Crocodile Bridge May 12-15


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