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Kaapsedraai's Relaxing under the shade of the Camel Thorn. Mokala NP, Dec. 2015

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Kaapsedraai
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Kaapsedraai's Relaxing under the shade of the Camel Thorn. Mokala NP, Dec. 2015

Unread post by Kaapsedraai » Thu Jan 21, 2016 11:58 am

Camel thorn, Rock fig, Oldwood and Sweet thorn - hall stands of our Dec'15 memories

Trees play such an integral part in our life and existence - provide oxygen, increase biodiversity, reduce the effects of climate change, improve water quality and prevent erosion, provide wildlife habitats, offer cool shade, provide privacy and places for peaceful reflection, frame landscapes and create beautiful backgrounds.

It is with such appreciation for these silent giants that I would like to approach each of the 4 Travel Tales from the shades of trees iconic to each of the four regions/national parks.
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These trees will serve as, to quote from Gert Erasmus’s book ‘Witgat' (Shepherds tree), as hall stands on which I will hang our memorable moments - the sad (thorns), the good (fruit), the beautiful (flowers) and experiences (leaves) and what the gravel and tar roads revealed (branches).

It all started the beginning of 2015 around a braai in Cape Town with friends (married couple)…:
“You have never been further north than Satara?” I asked our friends very surprised although they have visited Kruger a few times already.
After some discussion, they replied: “Then we must make a plan!”
“If we go again, it will be camping style – which will in turn be a first for us”, I replied.
…and so this trip became a reality, but not before we first had a camping test run together at Wildernis Ebb & Flo - Apr’15: Let's go camping.

Driving from Cape Town to Crooks Corner and back, needed some careful planning especially doing it in 21 days. After considering the options, we agreed on the following route whereby we making use of the opportunity to visit a new park and also returning to others: depart on 7th Dec’15 Mokala NP (1 night), Klerksdorp (1 night), Sabie (1 night), Kruger NP (14 nights), Blydepoort resort (1 night), Golden Gate (1 night), Karoo NP (1 night) returning home on 27th Dec’15.

Another important matter I needed to take care of was getting the security, undercover agents and special enforcement in place to protect Cape Towns’s most valuable asset - Table Mountain. Reliable sources revealed an “I & I”- gang plotting a scheme to hijack Table Mountain while I am away. :whistle:

21 days, 6 iconic must visit places and 4 Travel Tales - here are links to them all for ease of reference:
- Mokala NP - Dec'15: Relaxing under the shade of the Camel Thorn
- Kruger NP - Dec’15: Rock fig, rock breakers - heart touching moments
- Golden Gate NP - Dec’15: Singing a song from the Oldwood tree
- Karoo NP - Dec’15: Sweet thorn – the beauty and the beast
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After about 900 km we arrived 13h36 at Mokala NP gate.
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We were welcomed by a small herd Tsessebes. :D
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The landscape as we made our way to the Mosu Lodge Reception. Image

At reception a very friendly, bubbly and helpful Kaylene Beukes assisted us providing us with all the necessary information. It was hot and such a wonderful feeling to walk into a cool reception room. :dance: Image

One cannot park one’s car next to the bungalows, but had to leave the car on the demarcated parking area. Assisting one with getting the luggage to the bungalows, one can use the trolleys made available to assist which was most welcome. :dance:

Our accommodation surrounded by the iconic Camel thorn trees.
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We settled down and with time still left in the day, time to explore the park…tbc :thumbs_up:

Everyone most welcome to enjoy the ride...you can Hop-on and Hop-off as your time allows... :D :D :D
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Last edited by Kaapsedraai on Fri May 27, 2016 10:01 pm, edited 3 times in total.
Current: Table Mountain's mood today; Jul'16 ADDO NP
Finalised: Dec'15 Mokala ; Kruger; Golden Gate; Karoo; Sep'15 Bontebok; Jul'15 Agulhas; Aug'15 West Coast; Dec'14 Kruger; Jun'16 MZNP
Future: Jul'16 Storms river & Wildernis NP

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Kaapsedraai
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Re: Mokala NP - Dec'15: Relaxing under the shade of the Camel Thorn

Unread post by Kaapsedraai » Fri Jan 22, 2016 10:08 pm

Before we go on any drives, it will be good to familiar ourselves with the possible routes one could take for the afternoon. From the Mosu Lodge there are:
- Tsessebe loop
- Matopi Loop (to a Picnic spot)
- Doornlaagte Loop
- Kameeldoring Loop
- Visit Stofdam hide overlooking waterhole
With the time allowed and travelled some distance already, we opted to visit Stofdam waterhole and relax a bit in the hide. Here is a Map for ease of reference with the purple line indicating our afternoon drive route and green line the route we will be exploring the next day.
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Besides the Red hartebeest welcoming us when we entered, more species made their appearance such as these ostriches and warthogs accompanying the tsessebe.
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A one-horned Springbok looked at us as if we were not from there....and he was right too :lol:
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The first section of the route takes one through some rocky terrain. The clouds gathering looked promising hoping for some rain, despite it been very hot.
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A view of the vegetation in this part of the country with the Camel Thorn prominently visible. The Camel Thorn is an incredible resource to both wildlife and humans who survive in often harsh conditions characteristic of this area. Traditionally, the gum and bark have been used by local tribes to treat coughs, colds and nosebleeds. Some even use the roasted seeds as a coffee substitute.
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As we drove with windows open, we could hear a lot of birds busy in the veld, but struggled to spot them. However, some were not camera shy such as the Familiar chat and Cinnamon-breasted bunting.
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Can one not stop when one sees these youngster following their mom...just too cute for words. :dance:
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"Stop Mom!! We are very hungry and want a drink"
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We are now very near Stofdam (Stof meaning 'dust' dam), so all ready to take a leg stretch to see what the view from the hide look like and if we will enjoy any animal or bird activity...tbc :thumbs_up:
Last edited by Kaapsedraai on Sat Jan 30, 2016 8:48 am, edited 2 times in total.
Current: Table Mountain's mood today; Jul'16 ADDO NP
Finalised: Dec'15 Mokala ; Kruger; Golden Gate; Karoo; Sep'15 Bontebok; Jul'15 Agulhas; Aug'15 West Coast; Dec'14 Kruger; Jun'16 MZNP
Future: Jul'16 Storms river & Wildernis NP

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Kaapsedraai
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Re: Mokala NP - Dec'15: Relaxing under the shade of the Camel Thorn

Unread post by Kaapsedraai » Sat Jan 23, 2016 10:12 pm

Stofdam waterhole
We reached the Stofdam waterhole and entered a lovely hide with the car parked under shade of the Camel thorn trees . :D

Here is a view of the waterhole and the hide inside. On the one wall, beds are being folded up and one can do some sleep over in the hide which is great. :clap: :clap:
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After a long trip on the road, we decided to just sit in the hide and relax. It was not long as some kudus came down to drink. It is evident that this area is also in need of rains and the cloud cover, just passing over with no rains falling in the park not helping much either. :cry:
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Red-billed oxpeckers were having great meal time, but some spotted with rings around their feet.
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It seemed that our timing was spot on as quite a variety of animals were making their way to the waterhole. We have already seen Springbok, but also Impala resident in this area.
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I was surprised to see Waterbuck in this area :D
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Another wonderful sighting we enjoyed while relaxing in the hide were these two Common duikers.
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What can we say more about these Vervet Monkeys - 'the love-hate' relationship we have with them... :hmz: :lol: :lol: :lol:
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It was not just animals that were thirsty, the birds also - Acasia Pied Barbet (Thank you Tessa G for correction). I think he did not enjoy the click-sound of the camera, hence giving me the :roll: 'eye'
(I read an article somewhere that the Crested Barbet is David Pocock, the Australian rugbyplayer, favourite bird. He is apparently an avid birder...)
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During the hour we have spent at the hide, more animals were making their way to the waterhole which I will share in next episode...tbc :thumbs_up:
Last edited by Kaapsedraai on Sat Jan 23, 2016 10:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Current: Table Mountain's mood today; Jul'16 ADDO NP
Finalised: Dec'15 Mokala ; Kruger; Golden Gate; Karoo; Sep'15 Bontebok; Jul'15 Agulhas; Aug'15 West Coast; Dec'14 Kruger; Jun'16 MZNP
Future: Jul'16 Storms river & Wildernis NP

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Kaapsedraai
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Re: Mokala NP - Dec'15: Relaxing under the shade of the Camel Thorn

Unread post by Kaapsedraai » Mon Jan 25, 2016 9:38 pm

Stofdam waterhole ....continued
While enjoying the variety of animals and some birds coming to the waterhole to quench their thirst, some more activity was enjoyed... such as these warthog and also the rest of the family sharing water with some doves. :D
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As to be expected, the baboons also making their presence felt ...one could just see how much he enjoyed the drink.
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A female Yellow canary ready to take off to join the rest of the family :dance: Tx Puff Addy for assistance with id.
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The road back to Mosu Lodge
It was getting late and time to head back to Mosu Lodge. On our way back, it was wonderful to enjoy another great sighting of some Eland :dance:
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Another animal not seen yet was this Steenbok bringing our total of animals sighted since arrival for the afternoon to twelve which already exceeded my expectations. :thumbs_up:
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Mosu Lodge
We have been up and on the road since 02h00 in the morning and decided to visit the restaurant to enjoy a scrumptious burger. Apparently their venison pie is something not to be missed. 8)
What I have forgotten to mention when we booked in at Reception was that the receptionist asked us if we are going to eat at the restaurant the evening as they just have to make a booking for us or let the kitchen know. We did not have to place the order of what we will be having to eat. :thumbs_up:

On our way to the restaurant, the cement path took one past a waterhole located about 50+ meters away where a warthog was having its daily spa treatment. :lol:
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It was great to see some water in the waterhole frequently visited by some Springbok. :D
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After we finished our meal, we head back to the bungalow, but not before we check out the flood-lit waterhole, but no activity visible at this specific moment.
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On this note it was time to hit the pillow and looked forward to what the next day will bring when we make our way direction Lillydale...tbcImage
Last edited by Kaapsedraai on Fri Jan 29, 2016 11:39 am, edited 2 times in total.
Current: Table Mountain's mood today; Jul'16 ADDO NP
Finalised: Dec'15 Mokala ; Kruger; Golden Gate; Karoo; Sep'15 Bontebok; Jul'15 Agulhas; Aug'15 West Coast; Dec'14 Kruger; Jun'16 MZNP
Future: Jul'16 Storms river & Wildernis NP

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Kaapsedraai
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Re: Mokala NP - Dec'15: Relaxing under the shade of the Camel Thorn

Unread post by Kaapsedraai » Fri Jan 29, 2016 12:33 pm

We enjoyed a good night's rest and were up early to see what Mokala has to offer the morning before departing for Klerksdorp early afternoon.
After collecting the trolley to load the luggage (fridge, food stuff etc) back onto the car and hooked the trailor, we first did a walk down to the waterhole.
A lonely Springbok getting ready for the day with some much needed liquid intake as it is going to be another hot day despite some cloud cover on the horizon.
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While walking back to the car, we saw this rainbow in the distance where we were about to explore and was hoping for some much needed rain.
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Before getting into the car, I had to take a photo of the colourful chap.
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As we made our way through the rocky section around the Mosu Lodge section, it was fitting to first get a view of the accommodation at Mosu Lodge while the sun trying to make an appearance through the promising cloud cover.
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It seems the eland enjoying this section of the park as we met up with them again.
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It seems this is a Sabota lark :D
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This Red hartebeest had a mouthful...'sorry if we disturbed your breakfast'
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On the other side of the road, some more Red hartebeest with their young.
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Sometimes you get the feeling something is watching your every move...mmm well a Kudu spotted keeping an eye on us from on top of the hill.
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We slowly made our way direction Stofdam waterhole, but some more animals we have not seem the previous day, crossed our path ...tbc :thumbs_up:
Last edited by Kaapsedraai on Sat Jan 30, 2016 8:46 am, edited 1 time in total.
Current: Table Mountain's mood today; Jul'16 ADDO NP
Finalised: Dec'15 Mokala ; Kruger; Golden Gate; Karoo; Sep'15 Bontebok; Jul'15 Agulhas; Aug'15 West Coast; Dec'14 Kruger; Jun'16 MZNP
Future: Jul'16 Storms river & Wildernis NP

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Kaapsedraai
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Re: Mokala NP - Dec'15: Relaxing under the shade of the Camel Thorn

Unread post by Kaapsedraai » Sun Jan 31, 2016 8:41 am

While making our way to Stofdam waterhole, a Gemsbok family crossed the road in front of us. This is one animal we have not sighted as yet and as this is an arid region, surely it should be around somewhere.
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Well, the next hour, we were privileged to spend some time with some of them, hence this episode mainly attributed to this wonderful animal - Gemsbok

Then another surprise - this handsome fellow was 'looking down' on us...a beautiful baby Giraffe. :dance:
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Close to the waterhole we met up with another Gemsbok while standing next to the Camel thorn, and then he turned around walking direction of the waterhole...
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...and as we just get comfortable in the Stofdam hide, our friend arrived with his beautiful and dangerous pair of horns. :thumbs_up:
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He walked right around the waterhole and then as he passed the hide, he looked at us.
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Obviously, he was thirsty and after investigation all the possible spots for water, he decided on this one. :D
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This Namaqua dove represented the birding community this morning. :lol:
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As it was getting hot and while walking to the car, one could hear the cicadas. My friend showed me how a Cicada (Sonbesie) looked like - if you have not seen one, well here it is :D One cannot imagine what a loud sound they capable of making. :roll:
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We were making our way direction Lilydale when we noticed a very interesting cloud formation in the sky just above the road in front of us. With this interesting cloud, blue skies, Camel thorn trees either side of the road I tried to get a nice photo, when ...a Gemsbok ran across ....and this completed an interesting scene. :dance:
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As this was my first visit to this park, I did not know what to expect and as we reached the Lilydale section of the park, I was surprised by the change in landscape...but more about this in next episode...tbc :thumbs_up: :thumbs_up:
Current: Table Mountain's mood today; Jul'16 ADDO NP
Finalised: Dec'15 Mokala ; Kruger; Golden Gate; Karoo; Sep'15 Bontebok; Jul'15 Agulhas; Aug'15 West Coast; Dec'14 Kruger; Jun'16 MZNP
Future: Jul'16 Storms river & Wildernis NP

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Kaapsedraai
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Re: Mokala NP - Dec'15: Relaxing under the shade of the Camel Thorn

Unread post by Kaapsedraai » Mon Feb 01, 2016 2:18 pm

Thus far we have only explored Mokala from the Mosu Lodge section which is mainly situated in a dolerite hills area. The section near Lilydale is in vast contrast to the Mosu area as it opens up to large open savannah grass land bordered by a Riet River alongside Lilydale camp.
Mokala as a whole is situated in the transition zone between the Nama-Karoo and Savanna biome.

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As you can expect one will find some herds of Wildebeest on these plains...
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...and of course Zebra.
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Now what is interesting about the Zebras in this park is that one will notice quite a distinct difference in their stripes/colours. There is a Quagga project on the go to bring back the quagga in some form or at least resemble the distinct species as one could see from the lack in stripes or colour on the back end of some of the Zebras.
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They also are quite different from their nephews - Mountain Zebra and Burchell's (Plains) zebras
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Some more photos of these interesting Zebras.
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I have tried a black & white version of these beautiful Zebras.
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Another fact about open Savanna veld is birding and I was happy to tick this Northern Black korhaan off my list :dance:
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He took off and made some noise...hope he was not angry with us :roll:
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Current: Table Mountain's mood today; Jul'16 ADDO NP
Finalised: Dec'15 Mokala ; Kruger; Golden Gate; Karoo; Sep'15 Bontebok; Jul'15 Agulhas; Aug'15 West Coast; Dec'14 Kruger; Jun'16 MZNP
Future: Jul'16 Storms river & Wildernis NP

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Kaapsedraai
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Re: Mokala NP - Dec'15: Relaxing under the shade of the Camel Thorn

Unread post by Kaapsedraai » Tue Feb 02, 2016 9:47 pm

Open Savannah biome - Lilydale section
After we spent some time with the interesting Zebras, we drove further and then noticed some buffalo making their way across the plains.
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On the other side of the road, we sighted another antelope species - Blesbuck with their young.
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The road takes us to a look-out point where one can relax and enjoy an elevated view over the plains (apologies for omitting to take a photo of this facility). Close to this look-out point is a waterhole where some Cattle egret congregated before flying off to visit the Buffalo which had in the mean time come closer.
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As we made our way around, we met up with some more Eland.
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While scanning the savannah we noticed a movement and then it stops...it was a Black-backed jackal, our first predator. :dance:
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I hope he was not looking for this interesting chap - Ground squirrel?
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Another Steenbok was also on the alert as it did its typical 'freeze-frame' move when we got closer. :D
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It seemed that this park still has a lot to offer which we have not seen as yet and it did not disappoint us either, but the question we all wondered about "Where is the Roan and Where is the Sable?"....as we slowly making our way to the Lilydale rest camp, but more about that in the next episode...tbc
Current: Table Mountain's mood today; Jul'16 ADDO NP
Finalised: Dec'15 Mokala ; Kruger; Golden Gate; Karoo; Sep'15 Bontebok; Jul'15 Agulhas; Aug'15 West Coast; Dec'14 Kruger; Jun'16 MZNP
Future: Jul'16 Storms river & Wildernis NP

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Kaapsedraai
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Re: Mokala NP - Dec'15: Relaxing under the shade of the Camel Thorn

Unread post by Kaapsedraai » Wed Feb 03, 2016 10:42 pm

As we were getting closer to the end of the short visit, we enjoyed a further two more animal sightings - one very cute and one of the more rare kind... :dance:

Who will not stop and enjoy these very interesting animals - Meerkatte / Suricate or for some even 'Morecat' :lol:
Here I have played a bit with 'space'...

"Wonder if we will we get rains today....?"
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"Mmmm, does not seems so, but I must watch out for that BBJ! Is he around?"
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Then, we managed to enjoy the proverbial 'cherry on the cake' - Roan. :clap:
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It was a lonely bull, but he did not seems all that healthy. :o
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"Thank you for allowing us take a photo of you - you are special" :thumbs_up:
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Another interesting sighting on the Vaalbos loop, was a pod of birds on the hunt for insects. It was amazing to watch - I guess it was some sort of Falcon or Kestrel.
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While watching these falcons/kestrels, a Southern Pale Goshawk made it presence felt also chasing after prey in the tall grass.
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On this note we arrived at Lilydale reception, but more about that in the next episode...tbc :thumbs_up:
Current: Table Mountain's mood today; Jul'16 ADDO NP
Finalised: Dec'15 Mokala ; Kruger; Golden Gate; Karoo; Sep'15 Bontebok; Jul'15 Agulhas; Aug'15 West Coast; Dec'14 Kruger; Jun'16 MZNP
Future: Jul'16 Storms river & Wildernis NP

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Kaapsedraai
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Re: Mokala NP - Dec'15: Relaxing under the shade of the Camel Thorn

Unread post by Kaapsedraai » Fri Feb 05, 2016 11:49 pm

Reaching Lilydale
We did a short drive to one of the 4x4 routes which took us down to the Riet river flowing past Lilydale camp. One must obtain a permit and key to access the section to the riverfront. We only reached the gate and had to turn back, but it gave one a good idea what to expect which is another interesting feature of the park - enjoying some time next to the river where one can do some fishing and watch some water birds and a raptor or two.
This is the view of the Riet river from the Lilydale reception look out point.
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A view of the Lilydale reception building with a very nice swimming pool in front.
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Regarding the accommodation variety this park has to offer, one will not be disappointed i.e.:
Mosu Lodge - bungalows; Motswedi campsite for campers; Kameeldoring Pan Treehouse (only one currently, but they plan to build more); Stofdam birdhide sleepover and then also Lilydale Lodge situated within the Savannah biome section.

Something that I just learned when working though the photos is about the different thorn trees types. Interestingly, the Umbrella thorn or Haak-en-steek tree's indigenous name is 'Mosu', hence the one camp fitting named after these trees as there are quite a number of them in this camp providing nice 'umbrella-like' shade.
I thought of making a summary of these thorn trees and hope I have identified them correctly.
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Considering our 22 animal sighting we have seen in a question of 12 hours in the park (excluding night), then we were really spoilt:
Tsessebe, Red hartebeest, Kudu, Eland, Springbok, Impala, Gemsbok, Wildebeest, Zebra, Steenbok, Blesbuck, Common Duiker, Waterbuck, Roan, Buffalo and adding Warthog, Giraffe, Babboons, Vervet Monkeys, Black-Backed Jackal, Ground Squirrel, Suricate.

Here is a map of where we sighted some of the animals as they appear on the sighting board.
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On this note, it was time to say good bye to Mokala NP as we exited the gate at Lilydale, but as we were driving along the road, we noticed quite a number of these Lesser kestrels sitting on the fence which was wonderful to see.
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On the road again - slowly direction Kruger NP
A few kilometres from Lilydale one reaches the town of Modder River near the N12 intersection where we filled up with diesel. I guess this info might be useful as it is the nearest town and there are no petrol/diesel in Mokala to my knowledge.

We were picking up speed towards Klerksdorp where we will overnight, but we could not resist the opportunity to first stop for a photo of the stunning flamingos at Kamfers Dam just past Kimberley.
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This brought us to the end of our quick "Relaxed under the shade of the Camel Thorn" - visit to Mokala NP.
(Let see if you can spot the curtie 'relaxing under the shade of the Camel thorn'?)
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With the first leg of our 21 days completed, we moving on to our next park - Kruger NP - Dec’15: Rock fig, rock breakers - heart touching moments (coming soon)
Current: Table Mountain's mood today; Jul'16 ADDO NP
Finalised: Dec'15 Mokala ; Kruger; Golden Gate; Karoo; Sep'15 Bontebok; Jul'15 Agulhas; Aug'15 West Coast; Dec'14 Kruger; Jun'16 MZNP
Future: Jul'16 Storms river & Wildernis NP

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Re: Mokala NP - Dec'15: Relaxing under the shade of the Camel Thorn

Unread post by Trrp-trrrrrrrr » Sat Feb 06, 2016 11:48 am

Great photo of Lilydale with the lush green at the river! 8)

Intersting how one can distinguish the thorn trees...Thanks for sharing :thumbs_up:

Beautiful flock of Flamingo's :clap: :clap: ...We were also fortunate to see them when we passed there, but did not have time to stop for any photos. :wink:

5R e camel thorn hiding under_zpskf9dj3uj.jpg

:hmz: ..See it made a leap towards the horizon..Need binoculars to i.d. please! :tongue: :lol:

Looking forward to the trip ahead. :dance:
The human spirit needs places where nature has not been rearranged by the hand of man. ~Author unknown

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Kaapsedraai
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Location: Bellville, Cape Town

Re: Mokala NP - Dec'15: Relaxing under the shade of the Camel Thorn

Unread post by Kaapsedraai » Thu Feb 18, 2016 11:03 am

At the end of this TR will it be appropriate to thank all 29 forumites that commented:
isinkwe, HiggsieNJules, Tessa G, Phillip1, hilda, RosemaryH
umtali1, Toddelelfe, Pumbaa, impyim, Meandering Mouse, barryels
Trrp-trrrrrrrr, manic walker, billyf, BirgitJo, Puff Addy
Nkulu, vlakvarksegat, RayK, Karin Mitton, Jan van Wyk, ekoppen
Bushbuddies, yoda, Robbert, cheetahlady and Goronta

Thank you also to those that have taken the time to read the report. :D

Mokala is indeed a wonderful place worth visiting and hope this short overnight stay have motivated you to visit the area sometime in the near future. :thumbs_up:

It is time to move on to the next leg Kruger NP - Dec'15: Rock fig, rock breakers - heart touching moments and hope you also join me reliving our trip to Kruger. :think:
Current: Table Mountain's mood today; Jul'16 ADDO NP
Finalised: Dec'15 Mokala ; Kruger; Golden Gate; Karoo; Sep'15 Bontebok; Jul'15 Agulhas; Aug'15 West Coast; Dec'14 Kruger; Jun'16 MZNP
Future: Jul'16 Storms river & Wildernis NP


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