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 Post subject: Re: In the North in Search of Cheetahs and Painted Dogs!!
Unread postPosted: Fri Jan 18, 2013 5:11 pm 
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Day 78 (Jan 17th)
Today we woke up to cloudy skies, but at least it wasn't raining, so we decided to make the most of it, and pay our beloved park a visit.

I had thought we may drive to Letaba as I wanted to see what the river was looking like after all the rains, and when we drove up to the boom at Phala Gate, the guard told us that all the dirt roads were closed, and the causeway on the H14 was a problem, so we actually only had one option............the H9, so Letaba it was!!!!

This was a day of shy critters......you will see what I mean from the photos taken........well hidden in bushes or trees!!!

Sadly still no sign of Desi or the resident Erfplaas Klippies, but there was something very odd in Desi's crevice........the photo is cropped as it was quite far away, but can anyone tell me what they think it is...........maybe a reptile?

Anyway, we arrived at Letaba Camp, and proceeded to the reataurant.

Wow, how the river had changed just in a few days. The last time we were there, the river bed was almost completely dry, with just a little trickle, now it was a proper river in full flow.

I must say that I have seen it fuller in the past, but with more heavy rain forecast this weekend end...........watch this space!!

We saw a pretty little birdie near the river and I'm hoping that it is a Little Bee-Eater, and if so that is a lifer for us. Again not the best of photos as it was too far away, but hoping one of you can confirm my ID.

Bearing in mind with my poor mobility, if I see something to photograph and I need to be standing, I just point the camera and click............I can't stand for long enough to double check this and that!!!!

Well there was a lovely big croc in the little river just under the viewing area on the benches in front of the river, so I quickly took a photo and sat back down.

One of the waiters who we've spoken to before, and is very keen on wildlife, came over to chat, and asked to borrow my binocs.

He was looking into the distance and finally said "Oh dear, I thought I could see a croc, but it's just a bush, and I replied "Oh that's a shame, but there's a big one in the river over there" He laughed as he pointed and said "Sorry Ma'am, but that's a big log"!!!! I felt such a prat!!

By now the sun had come out and it was hotting up, so we finished our coffee and decided to make tracks back to Phala Gate. We had so enjoyed our morning, and looked forward to our next visit on Saturday (rain permitting!!)

We called at the pub on the way home, and had Fish and Chips (R45.00) which was lekker, and had a relaxing afternoon reading snoozing and watching some TV.

After an evening snack of corn on the cob, drenched in black pepper and butter, we poured ourselves a large Amarula each, and remembered what it is that we love about this wonderful country............it may have rained for the last 3 days, but it was warm rain!!!


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 Post subject: Re: In the North in Search of Cheetahs and Painted Dogs!!
Unread postPosted: Sun Jan 20, 2013 8:57 am 
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Day 80 (Jan 19th)
Part 1-Journey to the causeway.
Today was a day of water and birds............and a few surprises.

We were eager to see how much (if any) water was flowing under the causeway over the Letaba River on the H14, so we set off from Phala Gate with great excitement.

All the dirt roads had reopened except some of the low maintenance ones, and there were no warnings about the causeway, so we hoped all would be in order.

Not far up the H9 we stopped for a beautiful Lilac Breasted Roller, who flew past us (a bit close for comfort) and then settled in a dead tree near the side of the road........these really are such colourful birdies, and well worth spending time with.

As we turned on to the H14, we saw a Tawny in the road, but of course even though we approached it carefully, it soon flew off and landed in the nearest tree. It was not too far away though, so my photo is just about passable (I hope!!)

A bit further on we were very surprised to see an African Jacana, who was making the most of a pond that had appeared since the rains, and we wondered how it knew there was water there, because it is usually just dry land!!

Now you'd think that the next thing we saw would have freaked me out, but somehow, although I have a huge fear of spiders, I find Golden Orbs beautiful, and don't mind them half as much as the other arachnids.

Near the Nandzana turning we spotted a small troupe of Baboons, who were playing happily (or not so happily in some cases!!)They are not my favourite park critter, I have to say, but they can be very amusing to watch at times.

We were amazed to find water running in the Ngwenyeni River, particularly under both high level bridges, which are usually completely dry river beds, especially the one nearest the causeway, which was running quite fast.

Well we were now approaching "our" causeway, and I said to Dungy "The last time we were here, the river was very empty, and even the pool where the resident hippos wallow, was getting less and less water in it!"

As we rounded the bend to drop down to the causeway.................

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


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 Post subject: Re: In the North in Search of Cheetahs and Painted Dogs!!
Unread postPosted: Mon Jan 21, 2013 8:32 am 
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Day 80 (Jan 19th)
Part 2-The Journey home.
.................we could not believe our eyes!!! The amount of water in the Letaba River was phenomenal!!

We had been there a few days ago, and the river was trickling, with the majority of the area just a dry river bed!!

Now the river was running very fast and covered the whole area. The grassy areas were now completely under water!!

There were a few birds on the water's edge including a Goliath Heron, a Grey Heron, an Egret, and several Blacksmith Lapwings.

How different from the sight that normally greeted us here!! Gone were the Waterbuck, Impala, Zebra and Kudu that we often saw grazing nearby, and there was no sign of the Ellie or Buff herds that we often saw in the distance.

The water level was very high, but as yet the causeway was still passable. We have more heavy rain forecast for the weekend, so I don't know what the next day or two will bring!!

By now it was already raining, and so we decided to make our way back to Phala Gate and some lunch.

On the way we saw a lovely old Buff having a mud bath, some lady waterbucks and a family of Maribous.

After we arrived back at the cottage, it rained constantly for 38 hours, so I really dread to think what the Letaba River levels are at the moment.............I just pray that everyone in the park will keep safe.

If weather permits, we will drive to Letaba later today to see how things are.

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


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 Post subject: Re: In the North in Search of Cheetahs and Painted Dogs!!
Unread postPosted: Wed Jan 23, 2013 8:45 am 
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Day 81 (Jan 20th)
Day at home.
It rained solidly for thirty six hours, so we didn't even go to the pub for lunch.
We stayed put, snug in our little cottage, and I cooked a lekker roast chicken and all the trimmings.

We have a tin roof, so you can imagine the noise the rain made.............it was very late when we eventually got to sleep, and we wonderd what the next day would bring!!

Day 82 (Jan 21st)
Today was a very interesting day!!

We had decided to visit Letaba if we were able to, to see how high the water levels were, so we were not on a mission to do any serious game spotting.

With this in mind we decided not to go out early, but to have an early lunch (corn on the cob) and make our way to the park early afternoon.

As we were dishing up, I had an SMS from a friend who is part of the "Blackberry Group" to say that there were Lions on the H14 near Shikumba.

We thought they would be gone by the time we'd eaten and cleared away etc, but thought we might just have a look, all the same.

I also had another reason for checking out the H14!!

Now I'm not the brightest penny in the box, and I was actually a bit confused!!

I had read the official SANparks statement that morning giving all the road/gate/camp closures, and it said the H1-6 (Letaba to Mopani) was closed because the high level bridge north of Letaba had flooded.

Now I knew the H14 was also a "no through road" because the causeway had flooded (though that wasn't mentioned in the statement) so how were people supposed to get to Mopani from Phala Gate? No H14 and no H1-6!!
Perhaps the H14 causeway was now clear, but I doubted it!!

We asked at the gate where we could go, and they said "All dirt roads are closed, and the H14 causeway is not passable. Also the high level bridge north of Letaba is closed..............well that at least confirmed what I had thought!!

We turned off the H9 up the H14, and the first thing we saw was a notice telling us that the causeway was closed, so anyone wanting to go to Mopani must use the H9 and H1-6..............that is the H1-6 the SANparks statement had said was closed!!! Very mysterious!!

Anyway we continued up the H14, and when we came to Shikumba, there they were lying flat out..........a group of six lions, Mom and five teenagers!! They had obviously eaten well, and were now sleeping it off.

They were a fair distance away, so not the best photos, but through the binocs we had a lovley view!!

I then received another call to say there was a male Lion with a Buff kill on the H9 past Erfplaas, so as we were going to Letaba anyway, we decided to check it out.

I must say I am not a big fan of this "Blackberry" thing, and don't have one of those phones myself (each to their own, but I like to find my own animals)

However occasionally a friend who is in the group will pass on alerts to me, and if we are in that area we will usually check it out. However we never rush to a sighting, and if we are not near, we always give it a miss!!

Therefore as we were now on a mission to get to Letaba, we would be passing Erfplaas anyway, so decided to check out this Buff kill.

We drove to Erfplaas.........still no Desi in his crevice, but joy of joy two of the three Klippies were there, and we were so pleased to see them.

Not too far from Erfplaas, there was a vehicle parked, so we stopped to see what was there, and sure enough, the driver told us there was a male Lion and behind it a dead Buff.

We of course were not really high enough to see much from our litle Atos, but we could just see the Lion lying under a tree.

He was huge with a very dark mane and as we watched he suddenly got up, and then sat on his haunches.

I took a couple of photos, but with all the trees in the way they are very blurred, so won't post them here..............I really just took them for proof of the sighting!!!

So it was turning into a big cat day!!

On the way to Letaba we saw very little else............a few Impies and a big Ellie and at Rhidonda Pan which was full to the brim, there was a huge Hippo grazing in the bushes.

Where had he come from?
Mostly the pan is dry and muddy or at best with very shallow water, so I can't believe this Hippo is resident there, and yet as soon as the pan fills up there he is!

We were also amazed at how much surface water there was.......huge ponds had appeared almost overnight, and what we had only ever seen as small dry riverbeds were now in full flow with muddy brown water!!

We turned left at the Letaba crossroads, and couldn't believe our eyes!! We had been there only four days earlier, and although the river was fuller than on previous visits, it was nothing in comparison with what met our eyes now!!

The river was a raging torrent, and was almost up to the level of the road..........any more rain and the road would be flooded!!

We drove to the high level bridge, and sure enough it was closed, though the men were busy working on it, and said it would be open soon hopefully!! Well done SANparks.

So there we have it...........the H14 causeway was closed (at least that was what the notice said) and visitors were advised to take the H9 then H1-6 to get to Mopani, but now we find the high level bridge was closed as well...............so how were people expected to get to Mopani? I can't help feeling I had missed something, but I'm just telling it as it was!!

We left the workmen to it, and drove back to Letaba where I took a few photos from the restaurant, before we left to return home. The one I have posted is taken from the bench in front of the restaurant looking to the left.

The waters had receeded according to other reports, but even so it was mega high, and a raging torrent!!

I had another call to say there were two Cheetahs on the H9 about 25 kms from Letaba, but so what...............no way were we rushing there.

Of course we didn't see them, though we found a Jeep Jockey also looking for them, but at least we know they are in the area, so maybe another time!!

Then as we were nearing Erfplaas we had another call to say there was a Leopard on the H14 near the H9 junction!!

It was now nearing gate closing time, but we thought we would just drive a km or two and see.

We stopped to let a Tortoise cross the road safely, and as I looked to our left, I saw something white moving......maybe a bird?

I looked again and way in the distance, perched on a termite mound was a beautiful Leopard, swishing his tail with it's white tip!! That's what had caught my eye!!

I only had time for a quick photo, which I have had to crop, so not the best, and then it was mission Phala Gate before it closed for the night!!

After a quick meal of savoury mince, butternut, cauliflower and baked spuds, we sipped our Amarula and reflected on our interesting day...........seven Lions, a Leopard, the missing Klippies, a mystery about travelling up closed roads to get to Mopani, and the mighty Letaba River in absolute control!!!

Day 83 (Jan 22nd)
We woke to a beautiful sunny day with a cloudless blue sky................so different from recent days.

We had planned an early drive into Paradise, but fate had other plans!!!
The remote for the our gate wasn't working, and we didn't know how to turn on the manual function!!

We had to wait until we could find our neighbours who are caretakers for the property, and by that time the moment had passed, so we decided to stay put!!!

It will be chicken and chips tonight, an early night, and then hopefully a trip to Paradise tomorrow!!

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


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 Post subject: Re: In the North in Search of Cheetahs and Painted Dogs!!
Unread postPosted: Thu Jan 24, 2013 4:03 pm 
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Day 83 (Jan 22nd)
We woke to a beautiful sunny day with a cloudless blue sky................so different from recent days.

We had planned an early drive into Paradise, but fate had other plans!!!
The remote for the our gate wasn't working, and we didn't know how to turn on the manual function!!

We had to wait until we could find our neighbours who are caretakers for the property, and by that time the moment had passed, so we decided to stay put!!!

It will be chicken and chips tonight, an early night, and then hopefully a trip to Paradise tomorrow!!

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

Day 84 (Jan 23rd)
It was a very eerie day in the park today......very few animals or birds, and no other cars. It was as though everyone had gone into mourning for the events of the last few days.

We decided to check out the H14 causeway, to see exactly what the damage was, and whether work had begun to repair it.

Most of the dirt roads were now open, except the first section of the S131,from the turning off the H9 near the gate, right around to the junction with the H14.

As we turned on to the H14 we saw the same notice from Monday, about the causeway being flooded, but there was no barrier, so we presumed we could drive up as far as the causeway, and presumably people from Mopani would be able to drive down to the other side of it.

We got as far as Shikumbu before we saw our first animal..............a lone Impala Ram lying down. We wanted to tell him to be careful, because the last time we were here, we had seen six Lions, and a Leopard!!

We drove on and near the turning to Nandzana, we saw three Zebra by the side of the road. They began to cross, and we could see that one of them was limping. As we continued to watch, we could see that it was his front left leg that was the problem............poor old thing!!

At the high level bridge by the Nandzana turning we were amazed at how much water was flowing in the Ngwenyeni, which is usually a dry river bed!!

It was the same at the next high level bridge, only I think there was even more water!!

We had still only seen the Impie and Zebbies, and no other cars when we arrived at the causeway!!

What a sight that was.................we could not actually drive down to the causeway because it was blocked off, but we got as close as we could to take a photo!!

Since our two month stay in Phala last year and the four month one this year, we think of the causeway as "ours" and often drive up and just sit and watch what appears........we have "friends" there, like the two resident Hippos, a group of Waterbuck and Impala, three Giraffe, a beautiful male Kudu, and a tusker who's name escapes me at the moment!!

Where were they all now.............we just prayed that they were safe!!

I took a quick photo, because I know that other mites are interested in how the flooding has affected the park, but I took no pleasure in it!

On the way home we saw a pretty Lilac Breasted Roller, although he was a fair distance away, so not the best of photos.

We did however have one amusing (all be it almost scary!!) incident on this sad day.

I spotted a lone Ellie on my side of the road, so asked Dungy to stop, so that I could take a quick photo..........yes I am getting brave in my old age!!

Well he didn't position the car very well, but I made the best of it, and I told him we could move on, when he said "But when are you going to take your photo, and why are you looking in the wrong direction?"

I turned to ask him what the heck he was talking about, and saw another huge Ellie on his side of the road!!

He had not seen mine, and I had not seen his!!! It just shows how accidents can happen at Ellie sightings!!

We were soon back at Phala Gate, and the only vehicles we saw on the H9 were two Jeep Jockeys, who mentioned we were the first car that they had seen all afternoon.

I don't know how long it will take to repair the causeway. It looks as though it has been damaged by some large trees that were obviously washed down by the raging river.

I will keep you all posted on the progress.

We were both in a very sombre mood as we sipped our Amarulas that night, after an easy dinner of roasted chicken thighs and cheesey mash.
Our beloved park had been violated, and that hurt us deeply.

I know it's "nature taking it's course" and this sort of thing happens periodically etc etc, but it is still very painful to see it first hand.

I have been looking at the photos of Shingwedzi and Pafuri.............as some of you know, that is my absolute favourite part of the whole park!! My keyboard was very wet for a long time, I can tell you.

The poor staff at Shing have lost eveything, and I don't suppose that they had much to start with!! It is a very different camp from the one we visited with the kids in December. How many of the lovely animals that we saw have not survived?

There have been other floods over the years, and things do return to normal, so I suppose I must just be patient and wait.

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 Post subject: Re: In the North in Search of Cheetahs and Painted Dogs!!
Unread postPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2013 7:06 pm 
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Day 85 (Jan 24th)
Today was going to be our chores day.....laundry, shopping and then fish and chips at the pub!!!

However we had no electricity from midnight, and this morning there was no sign of it returning!!

It was gtting hotter by the minute, so we decided another morning in the park was in order..............at least we could have the occasional blast of cold air from the car's aircon!!

Some of the dirt roads were now open, but we didn't want to risk it in our little Atos, and as we had driven the H14 yesterday, we decided to go to Letaba and check out the water levels.

There were still very few animals in evidence, and the H9 had very little traffic, other
than a few delivery vans.

We saw a large herd of Impalas near the H9/H14 junction, but we then saw nothing until Rhidonda Pan where the newly installed Hippo was wallowing in the water.

Having said that there was a lot less water in the pan than the last time we were there, so he may be moving on soon!!

We noticed that a lot of the surface water had dried out, and the small river beds
were also drying out.

We turned left at the Letaba crossroads, and we were amazed to see how much the water levels had gone down since Monday!!

There still more water than normal, but we could now see the river banks on either side, and the river was running very slowly.

The high level bridge was open, but had suffered some damage, as debris had obviously come charging down with the raging waters of a few days ago!!

We parked up, and surveyed the scene before us. There were several water birds wading at the water's edge and several Hippos in the distance.

Dungy's tummy started rumbling, so we drove on to Letaba to get him a toastie!!

Again we were amazed at the view from the restaurant, in comparison with Monday. The levels are going down big time, and I think soon it will be almost a dry river bed again!!

On the drive home we again saw very little, other than a large herd of Buffs crossing the road near Rhidonda Pan!!

There was no sign of Desi again today, which is very worrying. I know he went AWOL once and returned, but it has been such a long period this time, I do wonder if I will ever see him again.

Dinner that night was roast pork, and afterwards a large Amarula each rounded off a strange day in our beloved park.

Day 86 (Jan 25th)
We did everything today that had been planned for yesterday, before we discovered that we'd had a power cut.

We did two loads of laundry, the maid was here, and we went shopping............yes all the boring things in life, but they have to be done!!

We went to the pub at lunch time for our "cheap and cheerful" fish and chips, and then back for a relaxing afternoon and evening at the cottage.

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


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 Post subject: Re: In the North in Search of Cheetahs and Painted Dogs!!
Unread postPosted: Tue Jan 29, 2013 7:04 pm 
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Day 87 (Jan 26th)
Saturdays are always busy in the park, as it is full of day visitors, so we spent the day at home.

Day 88 (Jan 27th)
Another busy day in the park, so another day at home and a lekker lunch at the pub. We both had fillet steaks which were juicy and tender. I had intended to do some laundry, but it was looking a bit like rain, so we left it.

Day 89 (Jan 28th)
After two days off, we were eager to get back into the park, so after doing the load of laundry that I had intended to do yesterday, and having a quick breakfast and shower, we were ready to see what today would bring.

We wanted to try one of the dirt roads, as they had been closed for a while, and apart from the S131, the S69 and some of the low maintenance roads, all the others are now open in the Phala/Letaba/Mopani area.

We didn't want to risk getting stuck, in case some of the roads hadn't dried out properly, so we chose the Shilawuri loop, and headed down the H9. The sign at the H9/H14 junction warning of the Causeway closure was gone, so presumably that is now open.

We saw absolutley nothing until we arrived at Erfplaas, but oh what a sweet sighting that was................Desi was back, sitting in his crevice and surveying the scene below him!!

He cannot possibly know how worried we've been, and how glad we were to see him, but there he was, after weeks of being AWOL!!! There was no sign today of the Klippies, but we have seen them a few times recently, so no worries there, and an added bonus was that we saw the resident Klippies near the bridge on the H9, about 5kms from Letaba on our way home later on!!

Again we saw very little all the way to the Shilawuri turning, just one Ellie, munching happily on a tree, and two Zebra.

We turned onto the loop, and after about 300 metres, we saw a little Buff calf, who appeared to be on his own!! Poor little chap was mooing, and looked pleadingly at us, as much as to say "Can you find my Mom please?"

We looked around to see if we could see her, but he really did seem to be on his own. We stayed with him for quite a while, and he came right up to the car. I'm sure if we'd opened the back door, he would have hopped it!!

Eventually we had to leave him, with heavy hearts, and wondered how long he would survive on his own. Maybe Mom was not far way, as there are a lot of rocks nearby, but she didn't appear while we were there.

Also about 3 kms on we found a lone female, wo had an udder full of milk, so wondered if it was our little chap's missing parent. She did not seem too concerned, and was busily munching on the green grass that has sprung up since the rains!!

Then we saw very little on the way to Letaba, just a few Impala, and a nice Tawny.

We arrived at Letaba, and made straight for the restaurant, firstly to check the river level, and then to feed Dungy his breakfast!!

The water has gone down again from our last visit on Thursday, and soon there will be no reminder of the raging torrent that was flowing through there just a week ago!!

After a lekker hot chicken mayo toastie for his Lordship, we slowly made our way back to Phala, only seeing the Klippies I mentioned earlier, a colourful European Roller at Nhlanganini, and a cute little Steenbok, who was hiding in the bushes, but popped his head up for me to take a quick photo.

We arrived home just in time to get the dry washing in, before the heavens opened!!

That night we had roast chicken with all the trimmings, followed of course by a large Amarula each!!

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


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 Post subject: Re: In the North in Search of Cheetahs and Painted Dogs!!
Unread postPosted: Fri Feb 01, 2013 7:21 am 
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Day 90 (Jan 29th)
At home

Day 91 (Jan 30th)
Today was a quiet day in the park, but with the story of "Dumb" "Dumb and Dumber" and "Just Plain Stupid!"

We decided to drive to "our causeway", to double check that it was now open, because the road closure update had said it was still closed, but the "road closed" sign had been removed from the junction of the H9 and H14.

Not far up the H14 was saw a valiant little Dung Beetle who was pushing a huge ball of dung, that must have been 10 times his size!!
Dungy caught up with it on family news. Ha ha!!

We also saw an Ellie who was on a mission to feed his face, and two Zebras who were curious to see what we were doing!!

That's where we met "Dumb" who was a young girl who had climbed out through the sunroof of "Tracker" van, and was sitting on top of it!! I asked her mother to get her back down, as it was against park rules, and grudgingly she did so!!

Not long after that we met "Dumb and Dumber" was had got out of their car at the viewpoint overlooking the gorge, to take photos.

Again I politely asked them to return to their car, and the lady assured me they were allowed to be out of the car, because it was a viewing point!!

I assured her that although it was a viewing point, it most certainly wasn't a get out point, otherwise it would say so, and please could she show me where she's seen the sign!!

She of course could not, so with a mutter under her breath, she and her husband returned to their car and drove off!!

The causeway was indeed open, but showed quite a bit of damage, from debris that had come down with the torrential flow of the river during the floods.

We parked in our usual spot and surveyed the scene for wildlife............not much in evidence I'm afraid!! There were a few Hippos way in the distance, and a Goliath Heron also quite a way off.

As many of you know we love that causeway, and so we just sat and drank in all it's magic, until we decided it was time to get going, as our sundowner was calling!!

On the way home we saw a lone Giraffe way off in the distance, and a Lilac breasted Roller near Nandanza waterhole.

We approached Shikumbu, where we had the seen the six Lions the other day, and that is where we met "Just Plain Stupid"!! She was scrambling about among the rocks, while her hubby sat in the car reading his paper.

I asked her what she was doing, and she excitedly told me that she was looking for Dassies!!!! I explained to her that she was not allowed to get out of her car, and although she looked disappointed, she didn't disagree with me, and got back in pretty quickly when I told her about the Lions!!!

I told her about Desi, and also the resident Dassies at the Sable Loop turning near Masorini, so she went off happily in search for them there.

We looked for the Lions and also the resident Ground Hornbills, but they were no where to be seen. We did however see a pretty little bird, singing so sweetly in the bushes...............any ID will be welcome!! I think maybe a Sabota Lark?

Then it was time for home, and we sipped our sundowners, while our chilli bubbled away in the pan, smelling delicious!!

So that was the story of "Dumb" Dumb and Dumber" and "Just Plain Stupid"
I was a bit saddened, because we had not seen many people illegally out of their vehicles this season, and now we had seen three in one afternoon!!!

After dinner we sipped our ice cold Amarulas, and looked up at the myriad of twinkling stars..............yes, this was Africa, and we were so grateful to be here!!

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


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Day 92 (Jan 31st)
At home.


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 Post subject: Re: In the North in Search of Cheetahs and Painted Dogs!!
Unread postPosted: Sun Feb 03, 2013 8:08 am 
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Day 93 (Feb 1st)
Today we just took a short ride to Erfplaas, and then back via The Sable Loop.
Desi was in residence at Erfplaas, and also one of the Klippies, who was having his lunch!!.

It was so good to see them, and while were sitting enjoying their company, several cars stopped to ask us what we had found.

"A Dassie and a Klipspringer" we told them................"oh, so nothing good then", were the disinterested replies we had!!

I think that it's very sad when people just come to chase the big five, they miss out on so much!!

We turned off down the loop and saw very little until we got to the dam, where we saw two Ellies having a water fight, which was such fun to watch. I'm pretty sure that they were playing and not being aggressive.

We also saw a few Hippo enjoying the water, though like the Ellies they were too far away for a decent photo.

Then it was time to return to Phala Gate, and just as we turned on to the H9, we were delighted to see a leguaan strolling across te road.

Then not more than 3 kms from the gate, we came across a very loving couple............namely Mr and Mrs Lion. They were so relaxed, and just plonked themselves down in the middle of the road.

Then just before the gate we had a fright, when an Ellie jumped out at us and crossed the road...............not something we expectd to see, so near the gate!!

It had been a short but interesting visit, and then we had the rest of the day to relax, and prepare dinner, which was a home made chicken curry!!!

Weekends are always busy in the park, so we will most probably not visit again until Monday.

We also have distinguished guests coming to stay on Thursday, but more of that nearer the time!!!

To be contiinued...................


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Day 94 (Feb 2nd)
At home.

Day 95 (Feb 3rd)
At home.


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 Post subject: Re: In the North in Search of Cheetahs and Painted Dogs!!
Unread postPosted: Mon Feb 04, 2013 7:27 pm 
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Day 96 (Feb 4th)
Not a very successful day.

Firstly I forgot my camera, but as it happens, apart from a lovley Dark Chanting Goshawk which was a lifer for us, and a very new born Zebbie, that I would have liked photos of, we only saw a few Impies and a lone bull Ellie.

We drove along the H9, then turned down the S132, then S133, then the H14.

We had a quick visit to "our causeway" where nobody came out to see us, and then drove back to Phala.

We still love our park even on lean days, and it just makes us realise how lucky we are on the days when we do see lots. It's not a zoo, and I firmly believe that the bush only shows us what it wants us to see!!!

Dinner was Country Chicken Hotpot, and now Dungy has gone to pour us a long Amarula............

Tomorrow we leave early for a day trip to Olifants............can't wait!!!

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


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 Post subject: Re: In the North in Search of Cheetahs and Painted Dogs!!
Unread postPosted: Mon Feb 04, 2013 8:04 pm 
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:hmz: Crested Val, :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :thanx:

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 Post subject: Re: In the North in Search of Cheetahs and Painted Dogs!!
Unread postPosted: Wed Feb 06, 2013 5:11 pm 
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Day 97 (Feb 5th)
Part 1.
As promised, we decided to drive to Olifants today, as we realised we hadn't been there since the beginning of December when we went to meet Carolv.

We set off at 6am, and we were through the gate by 6.20.

Like yesterday, sightings were very scarce to start off with, and we had almost reached Rhidonda Pan before we saw three Impala rams.

The now resident Hippo and two Egyptian Geese were there, but we couldn't spot anything else, so carried on towards Letaba.

Near Nhlanganini we saw a lovley Kori Bustard, though he was a bit shy, and insisted on staying in the long grass.

Then one of the highlights of the day was a small breeding herd of Ellies, which was near enough to see clearly, but far enough away for my personal comfort!!

They were drinking thirstily from the river and seemed a very relaxed happy little group. We spent some quality time with them, before they set off to their next port of call, as did we!!

As we approached the Letaba crossroads we saw a huge herd of Impala and mixed in with them were quite a few Zebra..........which made such a lovely scene.

We turned right towards Olifants and at the first bridge we saw Mommy Waterbuck with her baba............so cute!! They were both drinking from what is usually a dry river bed, but now has water flowing through it after the recent floods.

We could see a few Hippo in the river as we got near to the Olifants turning, but decided to investigate further, on the return journey.

Olifants was really quiet, with hardly anyone about, so we made our way to the restaurant, for a toastie and coffee. Both I'm glad to say were hot and tasty, and delivered with a smile.............well done Olifants.

We left feeling full and satisfied and made our way down to the viewing area, where we could see loads of Hippos, who were grunting for all they were worth.

Then came a real treat..............a Green Winged Pytilia landed in the bush in front of us. Sadly I wasn't quick enough for a photo, but what a great sighting that was!!!

We also saw Waterbuck and Impala on the opposite side of the river, and a few Yellow-Billed Storks wading in the shallow water.

The river level was maybe a bit more than the last time we hsd visited, but not really very high...........definitely not like the Letaba or Shingwedzi in recent weeks.

We got chatting to a charming Saffie couple from Wilderness, who were waiting to check in, and then it was time for the return journey back to Phala Gate.

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


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 Post subject: Re: In the North in Search of Cheetahs and Painted Dogs!!
Unread postPosted: Thu Feb 07, 2013 1:25 pm 
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Apologies for not replying individually to all your lovely comments, but my laptop is about to die and I want to post this before our guests arrive. :redface:

Part 2.
We had so enjoyed our time at Olifants, and now we were on our way home.
We were a bit disappointed that the S93 is still closed, as we would like to have come back that way, but it couldn't be helped, so we decided that we would come back along the tar road until the S46 turning, and do the last few kms along that to Letaba.

We stopped at one of the viewing areas along side the river, and were very pleased to see several large Hippos, enjoying the water.

We saw a few Buffs and Ellies way way in the distance, and a cute little Steenie, none of which yeilded a photo!!

We turned off down the S46, and had not gone far before we saw an Impala ram with a crooked horn...........I have seen photos in other people's TRs, so maybe it's the same one?

We then came across a lone Wildebeest, who was sitting down amonst a large group of Impala. He cast his beady eye on me as I took his picture, and continued to sit and survey the scene in front of him.

It was not too long before we were back at Letaba, and then on the H9 heading for home!!

Just past the crossroads there was a large mixed group of Maribou and White Storks, which made quite a sight, and I am so amazed at how many cars just drove straight past without so much as a proper look.

The Ellie herd from that morning had moved on, and it was a fairly quiet journey home, except for a lovely Martial Eagle who was quite close to the road on a low branch.

We scoured Erfplaas for Desi and the Klippies...........no luck there, but instead we saw was a huge troupe of Baboons playing amongst the rocks, so we stopped to watch their antics.

I'm not a huge Baboon fan, after a close encounter with "Big Daddy" on our first ever trip to the park, and following that at The Cape of Good Hope, but I have to admit that they can be very comical little okes at times.

Then we were at the gate, and it was back "chez nous" for a welcome sundowner, and dinner, which that night was homemade chicken curry, followed by chocolate ice cream, and then of course our Amarula!!


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 Post subject: Re: In the North in Search of Cheetahs and Painted Dogs!!
Unread postPosted: Sat Feb 09, 2013 9:04 am 
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NetEk, Hilda, Barry, Anne-Marie, Chickadee, Philip, Sheenaugh-Lee, and Trrp............thanks so much for your lovely comments, and apologies for not replying individually.


Day 98 (Feb 6th)
At home.

Day 99 (Feb 7th)
Today our very special guests arrived!!!
Elsa and Klystron are staying with us for three nights as part of their bi-annual trip to paradise!!

They had stayed in Croc Bridge the previous night, and so they had had a long drive up to us!!!

it was so good to see them after over a year, and of course we had lots of catching up to do!!

It was Elsa's birthday, so we first of all had gateau and a drink, and after lots of chattering it was time to *Clink*

How good it was to be able to do a real clink with Elsa and Klystron, not just the usual virtual one!!


Then it was time to braai and we had beef fillet, honey and mustard chicken kebabs, and of course wors, accompanied by baked butternut casserole and minty new potatoes.

Dungy and Klystron had cooked the meat to perfection, and we feasted well!!

With very full tummies nobody wanted dessert, but we did of course find room for a generous glass of Amarula each, and then it was a fairly early night for us all.

Day 100 (Feb 8th)
We had a relaxing morning at home, and after a lunch of cold meats, cheese and salads, we set off for an afternoon in the park.

How exciting it was to be actual doing a drive with Elsa and Klystron, and sharing all that Kruger has to offer!!

We decided to first drive to Sable Dam, and arrived to find it full to the brim!!!
Sadly we found no animals, but way in the distance there were some very pretty Eurpoean and White-Fronted Bee-Eaters.

We then continued around the S51 and we were thrilled when Klystron turned off down the low maintenance Masorini Loop. With our little Atos, we have never been able to travel on these roads, so it was a real bonus!!

The animals were not behaving very well, and we just saw a few Impala, but just to experience this type of road, for us, was well worth it!!

We turned onto the H9 and headed for Erfplaas, to introduce our visitors to Desi's crevice, and the Klippies rocks.............however neither were in residence that day, so we carried on up the H9 to the S132 turn.

We saw a few Zebbies in the distance, and a lovley big raptor, but unfortunatley he flew off before we could make a positive ID...........we thought maybe Yellow Billed Kite, or Brown Snake Eagle, but who knows?

We turned onto the S131 and turned left back towards Phala Gate, and saw several more Zebbies, and then four huge Ellies, two either side of the road. There may have been more further in, but we weren't sure!!

One of the Ellies looked a very promising named Tusker, and we later identified him as Ngonyama.

We also saw loads of Golden Orb Spiders in their magnificent webs, and sadly one or two of then had rashly constructed these webs across the road, so we damaged them when passing. Luckily part was left behind, so no doubt they would not take long to rebuild!!

Time was moving swiftly on by now, and I'm afraid I'm a bit phobic about missing gate closing time, though nobody else in the car seem to share my concern!!

They all knew we would be back in time, and we turned off down the low maintenance loop that brought us back onto the H9 near Erfplaas.

I was thrilled to see several Double-Banded Sandgrouse, as they were lifers for me. What pretty little birds they are.

We had a minor problem with two chicke who didn't want to move out of the road to let us pass, but luckily they did eventually!!

Eventually we were back on the H9 and heading towards the gate, and by now I was starting to panic, but of course I needb't have worried and with a few minutes to spare we drove up to the gate.

Of course it was *Clink* time when we arrived home, and then it was chicken curry and rice for dinner, followed by a piece of birthday gateau and a generous measure of Amarula!!






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 Post subject: Re: In the North in Search of Cheetahs and Painted Dogs!!
Unread postPosted: Tue Feb 12, 2013 3:02 pm 
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:gflower:Val and Dungy - Wishing you both a very Happy 36th Anniversary!! Have a stunning day...Wow!!!... so blessed to have shared so many happy years together. :thumbs_up: :k :gflower:

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