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Info: Sunset/Night drives taken from camps.

Discuss activities available in the Kruger National Park, and follow all the sighting reports.
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Elsa
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Re: Info: Sunset/Night drives taken from camps.

Unread post by Elsa » Wed Jun 10, 2015 11:55 am

Hi Josette,

Have a look at Availability
This is for Skukuza which I picked randomly but you can go to the camps of your choice which seem to be all working fine.

You can take a chance and book when checking in at the various camps but might be better to book and be sure.
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Re: Info: Sunset/Night drives taken from camps.

Unread post by inigana » Thu Jun 11, 2015 9:21 pm

Hi there!
I'm traveling to Kruger the 2nd week of September. I'm staying at one night at Skukuza, two nights at Lower Sabie and the last night at Berg en dal.
I'm planning to do some morning and sunset drives at those parks. Which one is best for each camp?? what would you recommend, morning or sunset at those camps?? I think i'd rather go for a sunset drive instead of a night drive though.
And last, is it worth it to go for a morning walk at Lower Sabie? I don't feel quite safe walking around with animals out there!
Thanks in advance!!

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Re: Info: Sunset/Night drives taken from camps.

Unread post by saraf » Thu Jun 11, 2015 9:59 pm

I would say go for the walk at Lower Sabie. Just bear in mind that most animals will hear or see humans on foot way before you will see them and take flight. Normally you won't get close enough for them to be a danger. And the guides are well trained and will not walk into trouble.

For a drive, I like to spend my last night in Kruger on a drive. Drives from BnD do get some good sightings.
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Re: How safe are the open game viewing vehicles?

Unread post by RobertT » Thu Jul 09, 2015 2:37 pm

I think the vehicle is as safe as the driver makes it. Vehicles don't put you in situations, people do. :thumbs_up:

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Best Camps for Night Drives...?

Unread post by Tomeslice » Sat Jan 02, 2016 5:02 pm

Hi all!
I'm going with my family to Kruger for 5 nights as part of our South African trip.

Inside Kruger, my main targets are: 1. Wild Dogs, 2. Serval, 3. Sable Antelope (but I will also be searching for these in Mokala).
Aside from the Sable which is not easy in Kruger, I think Serval is only really encountered on night drives, and I heard Satara is a good camp for that.

I was thinking of splitting my nights like this:
2 nights Satara
1 night Olifants or Mopani (which one?)
2 nights Skukuza or Pretoriuskop.

I know Skukuza and Pretoriouskop are the best basecamps for trying to find the wild dogs (right?)
As far as night drives, which one is better Skukuza or Pretoriuskop? Olifants or Monapi? Or should I completely skip Olifants/Mopani and stay instead in Lower Sabie or Crocodile Bridge for a night?

I appreciate any input, but please do not advise me on places to see lions, hyenas, leopards, cheetahs and other "big game" because I've seen plenty of them and I'm really wanting to concentrate on the stuff I haven't seen yet :D
Thanks in advance!!

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Re: Best Camps for Night Drives...?

Unread post by Albert » Sat Jan 02, 2016 8:13 pm

From recent personal experience:

We found Wild Dog near Berg-en-Dal (May of 2015), Mopani (November 2015) and between Orpen and Satara (on the H7, November 2015). The Cerval issue is not that clear, we recently found Cerval on a night ride near Punda Maria, as well as between Olifants and Balule (November 2015). (On the other hand we have also seen Cerval near Berg-en-Dal, near Phalaborwa, near Lower Sabie.....)
Personally I have only encountered Sable near Pretoriuskop in recent years.
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Re: Best Camps for Night Drives...?

Unread post by Imberbe » Sun Jan 03, 2016 7:10 pm

Hi

Good luck on your planning!

Firstly let's start by stating the obvious. There are no guarantees and any of these animals can be seen in any place or not be seen in a place where they are supposed to be common.

In my experience you have a better change of seeing the animals in the following areas:

Wild dog - Crocodile Bridge, Berg-en-Dal, Pretoriuskop, Skukuza.

Sable - Berg-en-Dal, Pretoriuskop, Skukuza to Tshokwane road.

Serval - Tshokwane, Lower Sabie.

Satara is a popular area for game viewing, but not generally speaking for seeing Wild Dog and Sable.

Given your preferences I would suggest the following. Choose one camp from A and one from B. a) Berg-en-Dal, Pretoriuskop. b) Lower Sabie, Skukuza, Crocodile Bridge.

I would not stay less than two nights in any given camp. So do not do more than three camps during your five nights.

I love Mopani and Olifants is quite spectacular. These areas are however not ideal for the animals you are interested in. At the moment there are only two wild dog packs in the North of the park above the Olifants river.

Good news: You are virtually guaranteed to see roan, sable and gemsbok in Mokala.
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Re: Best Camps for Night Drives...?

Unread post by Yoda » Tue Jan 05, 2016 6:11 pm

From personal experience,
The Lower Sabie/Croc Bridge road
and Satara/Orpen Roads
are good for dogs.

If I was searching (well I have in the past, but not seen them) , the Timbavati area (areas west of Satara and north of Orpen)is supposed to be good for Sable

Serval - not seen them myself, but have read reports of sightings all over Kruger.

Re your itenerary:
Satara to Mopani is doable in 1 day, but is a long drive.
Olifants is nice, especially if you can get a river view unit.

Mopani down to the South is a very long drive.

My usual plan for say six nights is
1 night Skukuza (easy access from Jhb)
2 nights Satara (sometimes Olifants instead)
2 nights Lower Sabie
1 night Skukuza

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Re: Best Camps for Night Drives...?

Unread post by RemiE » Wed Jan 13, 2016 9:02 am

Hi Tomeslice
My 5cents worth.
Enjoy KRUGER no matter the reason, season, where ever and whenever.
Kruger is legendary yet somewhat sneaky when dealing out sightings to its visitors.
For instance in our last visit we stayed in Olifants, went for a swim at Letaba and drove all the way to Mopani to rate the camp for future visits. Not expecting anything much other than eliphants, buffaloes and the Mopani tree but we we’re treated with spending time with a pack of wild dogs.
Unexpectedly, not even holding thumbs.
Then on a ‘wild dog search vacation’ we stayed in Berg-en-dal and were treated seeing them almost daily just outside the camp. And one day we decided to go leopard spotting towards Pretoriuskop and just after Jock of the bushveld’s birth place H2-2 a stately Sable bull casually walked across the road………..
Serval I’ve seen twice on the S25 close to Crocodile Bridge. During the day
I agree with Imberbe, try to stay more than 3 nights per camp
I would suggest Berg-end-dal for 3 nights. And 3 nights Lower Sabie. Travel between Berg-en-dal to Pretoriuskop for wild dogs and sable. Travel between Berg-en-dal and Crocodile Bridge for wild dogs and Serval and then from between Lower Sabie and Crocodile Bridge there is another wild dog pack and from Lower Sabie travel to Nhlanguleni Picnic Spot via the S34 to maybe see more sable.
I will admit, there was a time when I was concerned as to where we go in the park to see something specific. Disappointment was rife. Now I go with the flow whilst Kruger deliver its surprises.
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Re: Best Camps for Night Drives...?

Unread post by Tessa G » Wed Jan 13, 2016 4:08 pm

Hi Tomeslice,

I agree with both Imberbe's comment of nothing is guaranteed and RemiE's comment of to go with the flow. Kruger has a way of delivering the unexpected!!

We have just returned from a 3 week trip to Kruger and stayed at Tamboti, between Orpen Gate and Satara and had wild dog sightings on the H7 main road on 3 mornings of the 7 that we stayed in that camp. On the same road during our 2014/2015 trip we saw this same pack on 2 occasions. They number around 35 dogs and are seen either as a full pack or smaller groups.

We had a surprise sighting of about 7 Sable on the Red Rocks Road near Shingwedzi before Christmas 2015 and then again last week, 6/1/16 on the Skukuza - Tschokwane road, as mentioned by Imberbe. We reckon there were about 10 of them.
We had another sighting of Sable on the banks of the Sabie River between Skukuza and Lower Sabie on the 2/1/16. Could be the same herd. :hmz:

Serval I cannot help you with..... :(
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Re: Best Camps for Night Drives...?

Unread post by Friedrich von Hörsten » Sat Jan 23, 2016 5:22 pm

Hi,
With the recent drought we saw 10 sable at P/Kop, and a group of about 30 (!) was regularly seen at the high level bridge crossing the Sabie river on the north side -- about 3 km east of the H-112 on the Salitjie rd (S30).

Wild dogs are very predictable...
Phabeni gate has a small pack seen regularly at the S1/S3 crossing and on S3
Skukuza has a pack seen often in smaller groups of up to 13 dogs on H-11/S1/S65down to H3 etc.
Berg/Dal same up to Afsaal etc
C/Bridge same...
SECRET -- follow them on roads... Check on SIGHTINGS BOARD for Yesterday/Today and extrapolate their movements by 5-10 km overnight... If they are seen in middle of day... they sleep till 1hr before sunset when it is hot -- wait for action when they wake up.
Check LATEST SIGHTINGS too.

RESULT -- saw 100 plus dogs Dec. 2014 and 50 plus in Dec. 2015 (2weeks each trip)... Could easily have seen many more but chose to see other animals...
Good luck.
I turn 60 in March and hope to see a few more dogs then...
God bless,
Friedrich von Hörsten

Ps. Big pack of dogs around Balule at Xmas too
Ps. Servals near Mlondozi dam in daylight...
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Re: Sunset/Night drive possible issues....am I the only one?

Unread post by RemiE » Wed Jan 27, 2016 10:16 am

I don’t generally go on night drives for various reasons. People chatting away in free style like it’s a normal drive, inexperienced spotlight holders that shine the beam more inside the cabin and blinding fellow passengers ( I once blinded the person with my own torch kinda returning the favour :twisted: ), the odd no-care-in-the-world guide………..who normally adhere to the 50km/h speed limit and reduce the productivity of the drive.

Due to above we tend to no longer go on night drives. However there is a way of limiting the variables for said issues to occur.
We normally stay a few nights at a camp so this makes it easy. What I do is to find out how full the drive is on the night, what guide will be conducting and what they’ve seen the previous night. All of this kinda gives me the limited opportunity to assess the pro’s and con’s that might be. I even once had a chat with the guide the previous day and from that alone knew the trip would be guided by a passionate stern chap. I also take my own light but only to use for when I need to take a photo………or shine in the eyes of the person who blinds me constantly :twisted: (EJ I promise I always keep the animals in consideration and try my best not to blind them…..also a photo look much better when the light beam is not directly on the animal but a few feet away)

Reading through all the comments above it seems that there’s room for various considerations that might be making the experience a whole lot more special to all aboard. The controllable part of it :mrgreen:

Rangers can ask the group who think they are better spotters with a spotlight or accustomed doing it, (I will gladly excuse myself) and when seeing that who ever is really bad ask to pass the light to the next 'best spotter'

The following can even be put on the name list..........tickbox style. Regulars, Big 5, Night Critters........vola, majority rules
Rangers can ask the group what they would be interested in spending more time with, and spend more time with the nocturnal creatures and of course the Big 5. (Honestly the regular sightings can go for during the day unless the tickbox win)……….the night is abundant with sounds, smells, stars and all sorts of nocturnal creatures and their behaviours.

A good guide always deliver an informative meaningful experience to their passenger. Nothing much match the view of the starlit sky, the sounds of the bush in pitch black darkness with the distant roar of a lion or the sounds of frogs and an owl……….
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Re: Sunset/Night drive possible issues....am I the only one?

Unread post by saraf » Wed Jan 27, 2016 2:47 pm

ctm7943 wrote:I would think that it is possible to ask for the spotlight without being rude.
How things are said, can sometimes be more important than what is said.


I for one would be very grateful for someone else taking the spotlight off me. I am useless with it and try to avoid a seat with a spotlight if I can.
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Re: Sunset/Night drive possible issues....am I the only one?

Unread post by arks » Wed Jan 27, 2016 2:52 pm

saraf wrote:
ctm7943 wrote:I would think that it is possible to ask for the spotlight without being rude.
How things are said, can sometimes be more important than what is said.

I for one would be very grateful for someone else taking the spotlight off me. I am useless with it and try to avoid a seat with a spotlight if I can.

Me too, I am hopeless as a spotlight operator :roll: And in my limited experience, the guide often will ask for volunteers who want to take charge of a spotlight, which I think is an excellent approach :thumbs_up:
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Re: Sunset/Night drive possible issues....am I the only one?

Unread post by s2000ap » Thu Jan 28, 2016 3:24 am

Interesting subject as I'll be taking at least one on my next trip and hope to make the most of it. Personally, my choice would be nocturnal creatures above all others, then cats of any type.

Night drives and photo taking, what is the protocol? Do people use a flash, what size lens is best for night photography, what setting?


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