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 Post subject: PetraJ On tour in 2011...July 2012
Unread postPosted: Wed Jul 04, 2012 8:44 am 
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Since I can remember I've been visiting Kruger every June school holiday. We were lucky as both our parents were teachers, thus they had no problem getting leave, etc. I remember how we drove from Warmbaths (now Bela-Bela) to the SANParks offices in Groenkloof. My mom and dad would stand at the counter trying to figure out where we could get availability to spend the two weeks, and we would sit in front of the tv, watching the wildlife videos... I remember the smell of the Groenkloof offices... it smelled like Kruger even if it was in the middle of Pretoria.

Since leaving school I didn't go that much due to work issues and sometimes 4 years went by without even having a chance to think about Kruger :(

Then almost two years ago a major change in my life happened and suddenly I had the opportunity to go to the cricket in 2011. From there on everything went in fast mode. As most of you know, me and Scipio "found" each other and since then I am in Kruger every 2 weeks, sometimes more. As he is involved in the tourism industry, I started helping out with some of his guests when available, and now I am almost part of every group in Kruger (even if only for the 2 days over a weekend).

It became more and more difficult for me to divide my attention between my "day-job" and the groups, so we made the decision for me to resign and going in full-time. However, my Professors asked me very nicely to reconsider, and offered me a contract whereby I only work 3 days a week and the rest I can work for the business. As I felt so "guilty" in leaving them, I decided to accept the offer and still work for them till end November, after which we will decide if I am going to continue working on both sides or not.

So, after this long introduction, I decided to start a trip report with all that I have experienced this past year, and then off course all that is coming in the future. I hope you all will enjoy this ongoing trip report.


Last edited by PetraJ on Wed Jul 25, 2012 8:27 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: On tour ....
Unread postPosted: Wed Jul 04, 2012 10:02 am 
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Welcome on board Radman and WendyA.

The very first time I went into the park with Scipio (in August 2011), we did a short drive from Phalaborwa gate to Mooiplaas and back. As this was a first ever for me north of Letaba, it was nice to see new places and experiencing new roads. First up we saw this beautiful Zebra.
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We stopped at a hyena den and watched them play for a while. Again, it was the first time (that I could remember) that I saw Hyena cubs.
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 Post subject: Re: On tour ....
Unread postPosted: Wed Jul 04, 2012 11:42 am 
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Hiay Bert, Bushbarmy and Duke Ellieton, so happy you are on the passenger list as well. Welcome, remember to grab something to drink before taking your seat. :dance: On another day somewhere in August, we entered at Orpen and drove back to Phalaborwa. A highlight on that day, is that we found a lion kill, I am sure Crested Val will remember that day too, as I am sure you were at the lion sighting as well?
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 Post subject: Re: On tour ....
Unread postPosted: Wed Jul 04, 2012 11:47 am 
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He-he, we decided to enter at Orpen to increase our chances at seeing Lion, and then we got them just before Phalagat Gate, the irony of it....... :slap:

But we have seen some good stuff, I had my ear bent a few times, especially with certain Elephants. :lol: :lol:


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 Post subject: Re: On tour ....
Unread postPosted: Wed Jul 04, 2012 11:59 am 
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bert wrote:
Petra are the tour photographer?

No Bert, it depends on which side the sighting is, usually Scipio do the photography, setting the camera etc, and when needed tell me what to do and when to take a pic. Also it is not that good to take photo's while talking to your guests and do that with a camera in front of your face, that is when I take over. But I am learning slowly... :wink:

Scipio, you found the bus :whistle:

We never pass Sable Dam without going to have a look. That is one of the reasons we prefer the smaller busses (the ones that look like Taxi’s) as we can drive on gravel roads as well. If the bus is too big, you are not allowed to enter the dirt and gravel roads, and often enough miss some very special sightings.
We watched this elephants coming down for a drink and then they started playing and rolling in the mud. It was amazing …
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 Post subject: Re: On tour ....
Unread postPosted: Wed Jul 04, 2012 12:15 pm 
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Hi Cheetah, welcome. Yes, that is possible that the photo's would be more or less the same, as they were just lying there, as lions usually do after stuffing themselves.

So, here we go again...

In September I had to go down to Phalaborwa again and asked Cheetah 2111 to accompany me as it is quite a drive. We had an awesome weekend with some great sightings and lots and lots of elephants.
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These oldsters had my heart pumping, as the ground was vibrating while coming towards us. Scipio just told me "wait...wait...wait... okay now!" We were in their path, but they were so gentle... I think this is where I fell in love with them.

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 Post subject: Re: On tour ....
Unread postPosted: Wed Jul 04, 2012 12:46 pm 
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I'm about to invade your TR :twisted:

This is quite a special pic. Finally crossing the distance between Joburg and Phalaborwa to be together again. The joy was tangible.
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And I was more than happy drinking an SO and hearing the night sounds 8)
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Griet the donkey and Sammy the dog were best friends! :D
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On the Letaba Bridge before the Elephant sighting!
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Then the elephant magic!
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_________________
Kruger 2014!!!

16-23 August - Lower Sabi!!!!


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 Post subject: Re: On tour ....
Unread postPosted: Wed Jul 04, 2012 3:19 pm 
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Still in September... sometimes we only went into the park for a couple of hours. The next few pics were taken within an hour and a half before gate closing.

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 Post subject: Re: On tour ....
Unread postPosted: Thu Jul 05, 2012 8:47 am 
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Welcome Hugh, biltong is always welcome! Your seat is secure, as close as possible to me, please :twisted:

One thing I learned from Scipio is not to only look for the Big 5, but to spend time looking for the smaller things and birdies as well, and especially to stop and listen to the sounds of the bush. I remember the first time I went with him when he had a group, after everyone was seated he said: “I have only these rules: The moment we drive through the gate there will be no radio, no aircon, and the windows must be open.” This was in late October and the temperature reached 42 degrees later that day. This poor people from Canada and Holland had such a fright when they realised there was not going to be any airconditioning. But, all had a good time anyway, and they got used to the idea after a while.

Some pics of Nyala, Hippos and a special birdie sighting …
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 Post subject: Re: On tour ....
Unread postPosted: Thu Jul 05, 2012 10:07 am 
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Wendy, you would be surprised... there were a lot of times that vehicles drove up to Sable Dam for instance, with their radios on. Not everyone realise you could miss a sighting with windows closed. For example we were driving one day and heard lions roar, and immediately stopped because of that, and found them eventually :thumbs_up: Or heard the panic calls of baboons on the low water bridge near Skukuza and next moment a leopard showed himself for a few seconds in the riverbed. Although there were more cars, we were the only people who saw him.


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 Post subject: Re: On tour ....
Unread postPosted: Thu Jul 05, 2012 10:36 am 
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So, as the page turned another drive coming up:

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An end to a wonderful day…
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One of my favourite drives when we are alone is the low maintenance roads near the Phalaborwa gate. We had magnificent sightings there.
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Sometimes we drive around when not having guests and explore possible routes we can take guests on the next visits. We need to know what facilities are at each camp, and can picnic spots provide enough gas bottles to make breakfast for up to 55 people… in cases like this we need up to 6 or 7 gas braais at a time …
This is where we prepare breakfast for a group of 18
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I have never seen Roan in Kruger before, so this was a very special sighting.
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This time we visited Shingwedzi and found a breeding herd of elephant who wasn’t very friendly. I am not going to comment on this incident, as Scipio has his own version about this young mother, and I am sure he will share it with everyone, anyway
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And the sunset at Shingwedzi is absolutely the best!
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 Post subject: Re: On tour ....
Unread postPosted: Thu Jul 05, 2012 10:42 am 
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ROFLMAO, There is a video taken from a vehicle 10 meters behind us, with PJ's voice on it, explaining to me what will happen if I do not depart immidiately from the site. :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:

I had to go for a long swim to get clean after that. :twisted:


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 Post subject: Re: On tour ....
Unread postPosted: Thu Jul 05, 2012 12:42 pm 
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Radman, Scipio can "read" the elephants, and know when it is safe or not. Me on the other hand, hasn't master that part yet. So, when he stops the car and switch off the engine, I usually do not like that very much, especially when there is a young mother mock charging us.... :o

In this case she only put up a show, but we were in front, car switched off, with about 10 cars behind us. So, if she decided to charge anyway, I felt we would have been in danger... thus the part in telling him in no uncertain words to switch on the car again and retread. All this was recorded by another member of our party on his video camera as they were in the car next to us... they could hear everything I say :redface:


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 Post subject: Re: On tour ....
Unread postPosted: Thu Jul 05, 2012 12:51 pm 
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Unfortunately the video is in Ireland at the moment, but I have asked him before to send that part through to me. I think he keeps it safe for some unknown reason... maybe blackmail :twisted: I also do not think that language can be broadcasted on the forum, I mean, I was quite upset at the time :redface:


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 Post subject: Re: On tour ....
Unread postPosted: Fri Jul 06, 2012 9:22 am 
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As I mentioned earlier, today I am just going to post some random pics that I have on my work desktop. They were mostly taken on our breaks when we were alone visiting the park with the children or with friends.
The first pic has a bit of an embarrassing story to it… We were with friends, me and the lady in the Golf and Scipio and her husband in their car. We were driving from Satara where we met them, on our way to Tsendze where we were to spend the night. Between Olifants Camp and Letaba we came upon a road block and there were a couple of lions next to the road. As this was the first time for our friends in KNP, we were quite excited that they could see lions on their very first trip.
The previous day we came upon a leopard sighting and a visitor from an Eastern Country drove on the grass next to our car to cut in front of us the moment the leopard crossed the road. I was furious, as we were following this leopard for about 30 minutes, and were the only car at some time, when he came from behind and cut in, caused us to miss a photo of the leopard crossing right in front of us…
Now, here we are sitting at the lions, in my small little Golf, when these lions decided to get up and walk towards the road. I only had my small old “mik-en-druk” camera as Scipio had his camera in the car behind us. As I tried to get a good pic of the lion a minibus taxi- bus (the same as we are using with our guests) cut in-between me and the lion. I couldn’t help myself and said more to myself than to anyone in particular …”ag &*&^ man, ek het net ‘n klein ou karretjie en kamera!” which means, please move, my car and camera is smaller than yours, let me have this one pic! The person driving the bus, looked a bit familiar, but I didn’t really care, all I cared for was a pic of this lion. Well, he understood Afrikaans and backed off. About 10 minutes later after all the excitement he came up to me again, and said…”I told Scipio to give you his camera and buy himself a new one”. Only then did I recognise him, it was his Attorney/friend with guests of his own taking them into KNP for the day.
I didn’t know what to say… Scipio came up right behind him and asked me if I realised what I have done? This is the man who is supposed to keep him out of jail if needs be… He then made me phone him and apologise, whereby he replied, Scipio dared him to do it as he knew what my reaction would be after the previous day experience at the leopard sighting !!!
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And a pic of the leopard
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And some other sightings that same weekend
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