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 Post subject: TexasBoer and Linda in Addo - July 2007
Unread postPosted: Mon Nov 26, 2007 10:58 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Location: Lowveld - Near Kruger!
Well, this trip report is long overdue! I don't want to make any excuses (although there are plenty), but would rather just say "better late than never!"

This report is a part of our (myself and fiancée, Linda) visit to South Africa during July and August 2007.

If you need a refresher, here's a link to the report on the earlier parts of the trip.
Karoo, Table Mountain and Boulders


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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Mon Nov 26, 2007 11:20 pm 
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Location: Lowveld - Near Kruger!
Addo - Day 1 - July 23, 2007 - part 1


After a very pleasant breakfast overlooking the sea and Mosselbay, we heeded east towards Port Elizabeth and Addo. The drive took us through the garden route, and through the towns of George, Wilderness, Knysna, and Plettenberg Bay. What a lovely part on the country that is – such lovely scenery of mountains, forests, the sea, and lagoons. We stopped at the Bloukrans bridge to take a look at the worlds highest bungee jump. I wondered if I would have the guts to do it, but (fortunately) did not have the time, so we head on towards Addo.

We kept driving and driving and driving without a garage in sight – and the fuel gage was getting lower and lower and lower. The light came on, but still no garage in sight. I finally had to turn off from the freeway into a little place about 20 km from Port Elizabeth in search of a garage. I don’t know who was the most nervous, Linda or I, because running out of gas would not be a pleasant experience!

We entered Addo at the Colchester Gate (thanks for the advice about this) and drove through the southern section of the park.
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There were not supposed to be any game in the area yet, but the first animal we saw was a kudu in this section, followed by warthogs right next to the road.
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Within about 200m of entering the main game area, we came over a little ridge and... THERE HE WAS!

I stuttered “o…o…O... OLIFANT!!!” I was so excited I couldn’t even think of the English word “elephant”. What an exciting moment – our first wild African Elephant of our trip, and Linda's very first wild elephant ever! And what a beauty it was! It was a big bull, standing in the road and leisurely eating on the bushes next to the road.
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I slowly crept closer for a better view and to get the light better for some photos. I also thought that if I get close enough he would move out of the road a bit and let us through. Well, he had other ideas, just standing there chewing on the branches, but he did keep an eye on the car all the time. We stood there watching him for quite a while, and I managed to get a couple of photos. He was too close to get his whole body in the frame with my 70-200mm lens even at 70mm, but I was not even going to try and change lenses at this stage – I kept my eyes on him to see if he looked agitated, and my foot ready on the gas-pedal! I slowly drove on until we were right next to him – not even 10 feet away!
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I swear he could hear my heart beat. It was such a mixture of excitement and nervousness. When he turned his head around at one point, and blew a “swoosh” through his trunk, I was gone in a flash! Linda just laughed, saying that I chickened out before her! But the look on her face watching this elephant was absolutely priceless. She didn’t need to say anything – her expression said it all. The best I can describe it is that is was a mixture of astonishment, excitement, awe and wonder. I knew then that she also loved the “wild South Africa”. I did manage another photo just as he walked off into the bushes.
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Shortly after this, we were waived down by another car. The driver told us that they saw a female lion lying next to the road a few km further, and explained to us where it was. We set off in high hopes, but alas, when we arrived there, there was no lion to be seen.

to be continued...


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Unread postPosted: Mon Nov 26, 2007 11:49 pm 
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Location: Lowveld - Near Kruger!
Addo - Day 1 - July 23, 2007 - part 2

We went to Hapoor dam, but apart from a bunch of warthogs, there was nothing else to be seen. We then proceeded on the tar road to main camp. We saw more Kudu in that 10 km stretch than I thought existed in the whole park. I still can’t believe how many Kudus we saw. I don’t complain about that at all – they are such lovely animals, the cows with that real feminine clean look, and the bulls with their majestic horns.
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At one stage we were looking across a valley and counted at least 100 kudus - that was unbelievable! This photo is a stitched panorama and is not even the whole scene.
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larger photo here

I lucked out taking this photo of a running kudu - not the easiest thing to photograph!
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And then there were warthogs… and warthogs… and warthogs. There must not be any real natural predators to keep their numbers in control, for they seemed to just be everywhere! I don’t know how many photos of warthogs I took, but Linda was starting to comment that I seem to want to photograph each one of the 2,000 in the park! But they're such adorable creatures - I can't help myself!
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I thought I should enter this one in the "emerging tusker" competition, but I don't think he's "emerging" - he should be in the hall of fame!
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to be continued...


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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Tue Nov 27, 2007 1:46 am 
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Location: Cambridge, MA (and home from home in Darling, WC)
LOL at your emerging tusker, TB 8) and like your galloping kudu. Quite a start even before you book in!

_________________
RSA 2014
20-16 Oct Joburg
27-30 Oct Mapungubwe: Limpopo forest tented camp, Leokwe camp
31 Oct-1 Nov Pafuri River Camp
2-15 Nov KNP: Punda Maria, Sirheni, Olifants, Tamboti, Skukuza
16-22 Nov Cape Town
23 Nov-20 Jan Darling


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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Tue Nov 27, 2007 5:25 am 
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Location: Lowveld - Near Kruger!
Addo - Day 1 - July 23, 2007 - part 3

On the way to the camp, we saw quite a few more elephants, among them a nice breeding herd of about 20. Those babies sure are cute! I can watch them for hours!
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We also saw a lone buffalo, giving us that “almighty” stare
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And (just for Michelle Nel!) these little rascals. They were far from the raod and I had to use an extender on my lens, and do some heavy cropping to get this photo. Not a great photo – just for the record!
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We checked in at the camp and were given cottage number 39. This was one of the new cottages and they are absolutely lovely. I also appreciated the fact that you can hardly see any other cottages from yours and you get a real sense of privacy and aloneness out in the wilderness. The inside of was simple, but functional, and very tastefully decorated – a great experience overall! The only negative about these cottages are that the braai area are beside the cottage, and not connected to the front porch. I think it would be a hassle to braai, and then eat on the porch. They could have very easily connected the porch and braai area. However, since we decided to have dinner in the restaurant, it did not bother us.

Dinner was really nice – the restaurant was not crowded at all, and it sure was a great experience sitting there beneath Hapoor’s head eating my venison potjie (which by the way was REALLY good). My only regret about dinner was that I did not have my camera to take a photo of Hapoor. (I’ll just have to go back to do that!)

After dinner, we took a walk to the waterhole and underground lookout. Although there was nothing out there at that time, it seems like it would be a very nice place to just sit and relax during the day – with an added bonus if something came along for a drink.

Back at the cottage, we poured us each an Amarula, turned all the lights off, and sat on the porch, just taking in the atmosphere of night in the bush. How wonderful it is to sit there, looking at the stars and hearing a jackal’s howls.

Aaahhhhh – this is life!

To be continued with day 2....


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Unread postPosted: Fri Nov 30, 2007 4:14 pm 
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Location: Lowveld - Near Kruger!
Thank you all for your kind words. Writing this report sure brings back a lot of fond memories! But I'm glad y'all enjoy it too.

I am working on my "process" for the thumbnail insertion (as recommended by DuQues), and hopefully the rest of the report will be coming soon.

BTW, I did the "Thumbnail" method on part 3 of the report above. Since I am on a high-speed line I cannot really see any difference, but it should load faster for slower connections. If anybody has issues with the loading of that section, please let me know so I can see if I need to do something different.

part 4 to follow soon (I hope)....


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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Fri Dec 07, 2007 8:07 pm 
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Location: Lowveld - Near Kruger!
Thanks all for your comments!

@MN - you're stuck on "meerkatte" (suricates) like I am on leopards - Maybe if we stop WANTING them they'll show themselves to us!

Sorry for the delay! I have just bought a new camera (Canon 1D Mark III) and must make sure it functions properly before my return period expires. So for the next couple of days I'll be doing a lot more testing.

But I have not forgot about the report and it will get finished - somehow... sometime...


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Unread postPosted: Fri Dec 14, 2007 7:26 pm 
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Location: Lowveld - Near Kruger!
Addo - Day 2 - July 24, 2007 - Part 1

We left just after sunrise for an early morning drive before we had to pack up and get on the road to East London.
The first thing we saw was a nice elephant bull, but the light was terrible and he rushed into the bushes before I could get any decent photo. However, this kudu was a bit more obliging!
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On the other side of the road was this guinea fowl – but on a mission and never stood still for a better-composed photo!
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The ever-present warthog!
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This must be one of the biggest buffaloes I have ever seen! It almost looks like his legs have been compressed into short little stubs by his heavy body!
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He headed towards a water hole and met up with a buddy that obviously had his head stuck in the mud not too long ago!
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We came across this very interesting sight: I always thought that kudu were browsers (eating tree leaves), but clearly this one didn’t go to school the day that was taught – he was grazing away to heart’s content on the grass!
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This BBJ was lying down in an open field a looooong way away. Just when I attached my long (400mm) lens with the tele-converter, he got up, gave me one dirty look and trotted off. I did manage to get this one shot (which is heavily cropped).
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I finally got pretty close to a zebra in good light, and I like the way this guy (or gal?) looked back at me.
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… and typical with a model – had to blink right when I took this shot!
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It turned around and gave me the opportunity to get a nice “texture shot”.
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Now this is what I call an “Addo roadblock”! They were just lazily strolling along filling the road, and in no hurry to let us get past (not that I wanted to – I enjoyed watching them too much).
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This red hartebeest was a little back-lit, but I still like the photo
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Another red hartebeest, which I named “ou kromhoring”
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This ostrich was walking right next to the car. When I stopped, she stopped – when I drove, she walked… This kept on for a couple of 100 meters, and did give me the opportunity for some nice facial portraits!
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We then headed back to camp to pack our stuff and leave for East London. Maybe we’ll get some more to see on the way out!

To be continued….


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Unread postPosted: Sat Dec 15, 2007 4:30 pm 
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Location: Lowveld - Near Kruger!
Addo - Day 2 - July 24, 2007 - Part 2

After we got back to the camp, we packed our things and decided to drive through the park again and exit via Colchester. I just couldn’t get myself to already leave the park and wanted to see more! Our plan was to go see what’s at Hapoor Dam and then head south to Colchester.

We came across this breeding herd of elephants, among them this mother and her baby (maybe not quite a baby anymore!). I’ve read up the previous night about the tuskless elephant females in Addo, and how through years of poaching, the females have “evolved” to be without tusks. At the moment there are only 4 females with tusks left in Addo, and I happened to get a nice full-view photo of one of them. So even though it’s “only another elephant”, to me it’s a pretty special and unique one!
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Also in this family was this mischievous teenager who took a great liking to this little white “toy” in the road. He got so close that at one stage he tapped the rear bumper of the car with his tusk – but no damage, and at no time did I feel any threat from him or any of the other elephants.
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They all seemed very friendly, but this one had the cutest smile!
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… and this one was stomping his (her?) feet while munching on some bushes
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… and two young adults were sparring to test each other’s strength!
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At Hapoor dam there were several families coming and going while we were there for about an hour. What a delightful place to just sit and enjoy these beautiful creatures!
Young bull drinking…
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Boisterous young one… It’s almost like I can hear him say: “Hey, mom, can I go play with that little white thing in the road? I’m sure I can scare it and make it run away!!!”
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Come on now, everybody say “aaaaahhhhwww”! I just love the way this mother stretches out her trunk in such a gentle way towards the drinking baby. I think this is the first time ever that I could get a photo of a baby elephant suckling – I’m enthralled!!
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I like these nice silhouettes of the elephants drinking in Hapoor dam. I just wish the water were a bit flatter!
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And then all of a sudden I could sear I heard the big momma say: “Enough of this little white thing with all the clicking and clicking and clicking coming out of it! We’re out of here!!!!”
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On our way out – another nice close-up elephant. I looked at those white tears and suddenly I had some tears in my own eyes… Our short visit to Addo has come to an end all too quickly! It was already past noon and we still had quite a ways to go today…
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We headed out of the park and on to East London – a little later than planned, but I just could not get myself to leave the park until the very last minute!!! We had to rush “just a bit” since we had a meet planned in Gonubie that evening.
Note to self: they have speed traps just outside Peddie!!!!!
The day was capped of with another wonderful meeting with forumites DinkyBird (thanks for organizing this meet!), Hawk, and Haupie. You are all wonderful people and I hope we can meet up again in the future!


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Unread postPosted: Mon Dec 31, 2007 11:34 pm 
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Thanks all for your kind words!

Sorry for the long time between replies, but I have been pretty busy lately... One reason of planning for my "adventure of 2008".
You can read more about it here.

Addo sure was a wonderful experience for me and I can't wait to get back there! I still have to see the Addo lions and caracal!


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