SHARKS and SO in Kruger and Mapungubwe the full story
( part 1)
After months just counting the days till our departure to South Africa it was finally time to go on the 12th of July.
In preparation I got me about 1 meter of clear to see yellow ribbon from the campingshop so someone should recognise me as a forumite....
It was the 7th time for us to go to Kruger, and this time to Mapungubwe as well.
It may sound a bit strange but I always have a secret wishlist when going to Kruger, hoping for sightings of animals not seen before or photographic opportunities beyond believe.
As always I was hoping for my favourite...a bit of leopard. Then we have seen some cheetahs, but never close by, so that would be nice. Some lions with cubs perhaps? Also never seen secretary birds in Kruger, would like to see them now... and last maybe a small amount of wild dogs... Wishfull thinking...
We arrived in Jo’burg where we stayed for the night, and man it was cold
13-07-06 arrival day
We stopped for a load of wine and amarula
in Nelspruit ( and some less important items like veggies etc. ) and entered the park at Numbi gate driving to Pretoriuskop.
We didn’t see to much animals on the way to the camp or on our drive at the Fayi loop in the afternoon.
We had never visited Kruger in winter, and it was nice to see how different it looks then in April / May or October / November. It was stil green, but without rain- or mudpools and there were not as many kind of birds around as the last time.
14-07-06 small body, big ego day
Going to Tamboti we took the H1-1 and being the first on the road that morning we saw a genet in middle of the road just outside the camp. A bit later followed by 2 black backed jackals. We then headed for the transport dam, there wasn’t much wildlife to see there but the rising sun and dark clouds over the water made very a nice scene.
Thanks to my SO who spotted him, we saw this beautifull giant in a tree close to the dam. I don’t know what the twig he was holding is about, might be an attempt to quit smoking...
Besides lots of grazers we didn’t see very spectaculair animals untill we stopped at Leeupan on the H1-4.
This 3 ground hornbills got a bit agitated ( or even turned on
) by our cameras, as my wife was impressed how close the lens got their image she found out that they where standing a few centimetres away from her cameralens when looking up...
Driving the gravel back to the mainroad there was someone waiting for us...
We are used to roadblocks and usually just wait them out or take a detour if necessary, bit this was the kind we didn’t expect. He was sitting up to make himself even bigger then he was, and there was no way around him on that gravelroad. I decided to try and stare him down but he knew that drill too. Whe looked each other in the eye for a few minutes knowing one of us had to give.
We both didn’t feel like giving in so the staus quo lasted for some time.
And then he moved aside finally in a slow pace.... stupid squirl
As we were going to Tshokwane for breakfast we saw 2 very big birds walking in the grass.... finally ! Our very first secretary birds!
On the Orpen – Satara road we saw some ellie, lots of giraffe and wildebeast.
Coming to Tamboti we got tent nr. 40 which made us very happy.
Besides the usual hyena we heard a lot of noise next to the fence but couldn’t see what it was. I was sure it had to be an ellie judging by the sounds but in the end a huge buffalo bull came out of the bush... making enough sound for a complete herd.
We fell asleep with the sound of roaring lion in the distance, I would give my left foot to fall asleep with that sound every night! ( no, that excludes a cd or tape
15-07-06 off camera day
Going to Satara we first took the Rabelais loop where we saw absolutely no wildlife besides a few kudus. The rising sun made a beautifull sky however, so that made quite a nice picture.
Amazing to see how small the timeframe is in such a case, within minutes the sky was dull grey again...
We took the mainroad again and then got on to the s100 still one of my favourites!
We had a glimpse of lion but to short to make a nice photo unfortunately.
Even while there wasn’t much traffic on the s100 a lot of people felt the need to drive that road at quite some speed, we decided to take it slow as usual.
When almost every car had passed us coming close the end of the road, it emerged out of nowhere..... leopard !!!
It was sitting still at 2 metres beside the car.... as I was driving I instructed my SO to grab the camera, turn it on
and start shooting.
Not much later she complained that the lens wouldn’t focus...... she forgot to switch the camera on... The leopard was moving by that time and disappearred into the grass.
Now I didn’t bite my SO then, but it crossed my mind to be honest.
There wasn’t anythinhg moving in the grass untill it popped out again some 30 metres away, so we got some walking leopard pics where we could have had close-ups.( grrrrrr )
We took the s41 up where we saw lots of giraffe, a martial eagle and a very big puffie moving fast. So fast actually that it was hard to get a good shot of him.
After taking the s90 to Satara I still couldn’t get the “lost leopard” of my mind, and had to eat half a chicken to feel a little better.
The restaurant in Satara is very nice now, and the food has improved a lot!
That afternoon we drove up and down the s100 again, but no lion and no leopard.... a few ellies and a lovely kite was what we got.
On the right side of the s100 we could see a few fires making lots of smoke.
All in all not a bad day I guess........but still no forumites / yellow ribbons
so we needed some amarula to get over that.
16-07-06 s100 racing day
We were at the Satara gate around 05.45 to find about 8 cars in front of us, and when when the gate opened the race was on it seemed...
Lots of cars passed us on the s100 speeding to the end even while it was still pretty dark.
We took it slow wondering what those people would see at that speed
As we progressed on the s100 we saw a few cars already coming back from the end of that road, it usually takes us almost 2 hours to get to the end and then still I’m afraid we overlooked some great sighting.....
Much of the wildlife had moved off probably becouse of the smoke, so the s100 was very quiet.
At the s41 we again saw 2 secretary birds, but with the sun shining straight into the lens it was difficult to make a nice pic.
We then saw some ellies, and on the s90 a few of these big grey monsters were blocking the road as usual... I love them, but my SO suffers from a severe case of loxodonta-fobia.
After breakfast we did the H1-3, s126,s36 H7 circle but again...no kitties around.
So I needed another chicken at the Satara restaurant.
We went up and down the s100 again that afternoon, but we could have spared us the trouble... just a few grazers.
Back in Satara we saw this critter walking around...
Fortunately I had the biggest fire on the braai of the whole camp that night, does anybody else thinks it’s normal to use 3 packs of firestarters for 1 fire?