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A blazing hot start to the year in MZNP

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canon
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A blazing hot start to the year in MZNP

Unread post by canon » Tue Jan 26, 2016 8:30 pm

As has become somewhat of a tradition SO and I welcomed the New Year in under the canvas of our tent in the beautiful Mountain Zebra National Park. This is the third successive year that we have done this. This was without a shadow of doubt the hottest that we have had to endure but, being a child of the Karoo, this did not spoil our experience one little bit. Once again the park lived up to its high standards despite the fact that many of the perimeter stands have been messed up with an attempt at planting grass on them. The surface has become so uneven which makes it very difficult to pitch a tent - I am sure that this was a well-meaning attempt to spruce up the camp sites that just went a bit pear shaped. The park was desperately in need of rain and this could be seen on the condition of the herbivores. There were a few thunder storms while we were there but more noise that rain!

We were pleased to arrive at the gate nice and early and once again the welcome at the gate was so warm and genuine. The minute that you pass through this gate the heartbeat drops and the beauty of the Karoo creeps under your skin.

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Check in went smoothly as usual and we found our favourite camp site (No 28) to be vacant which was a good start and we immediately got going with setting up our camp which would be our home for seven nights. Unfortunately not much shade but being at the end of the row ensures one quite a bit of privacy.

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The temp was soon in the late 30's so we decided to chill under the thorn tree until late afternoon when it would cool off somewhat. We decided to drive the scenic Kranskop Loop which must be one of the more beautiful drives that SAN Parks can offer.

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Game viewing was quiet until we reached the Doornhoek Dam. Here there was plenty of bird life being the primary water source during this dry period.

Grey Heron

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Three-banded Plover

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Red-knobbed Coot

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Dabchick

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Last edited by canon on Tue Jan 26, 2016 8:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: A blazing hot start to the year in MZNP

Unread post by Puff Addy » Tue Jan 26, 2016 8:45 pm

:popcorn: :popcorn: :popcorn:

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canon
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Re: A blazing hot start to the year in MZNP

Unread post by canon » Tue Jan 26, 2016 8:56 pm

DAY 2

Our brave intention of having an early start failed to materialize with us deciding to ignore the alarm clock - after all we were on holiday! At around mid-morning we set off to drive the Ubejane Loop. It was already hot which meant that many of the animals were already seeking the sanctuary of the shade in the thorn thickets. This Red Haartebeest did not seem to care about the heat!

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We then decided to head up the Link Road towards Rooiplaat and on to higher ground via Kranskop. This proved to be a good decision because right on the top of the drive (between the two "twee spoor" concrete tracks) we bumped into these handsome fellows lying in the shade. The cool breeze on top of the mountain ensured that they were in a prime spot.

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We spent a while in their company but they were in no hurry to move so we headed on down the pass stopping at the dam once again where there was once again bird life to enjoy. We were particularly pleased to see the young Fish Eagle - a first for us in MZNP

White-breasted Cormorant

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Sacred Ibis

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Grey Heron

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Immature Fish Eagle

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It was soon midday and terribly hot so we headed back to the sanctuary of our little thorn tree where we chilled (probably not the correct word) before going on an evening drive.
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Re: A blazing hot start to the year in MZNP

Unread post by canon » Tue Jan 26, 2016 9:14 pm

At about 16h00 we headed off again - a gentle breeze had got up so things had cooled down somewhat. We followed the same route as the one that we did in the morning. Much more wild life was to be seen along the thorn thickets on Ubejane Loop.

Springbok

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Pin-tailed Whydah

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Mountain Zebra

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At the big dry dam at the bottom end of the loop we saw a cloud of dust and on closer inspection found these two Mountain Zebras having a rather serious altercation and by the time they had had enough they were both exhausted. I never realized that they could be so aggressive - those back kicks and bites must inflict some serious damage if used effectively

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This one decided to call it a day and dashed off looking quite unscathed

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Re: A blazing hot start to the year in MZNP

Unread post by canon » Tue Jan 26, 2016 9:27 pm

On the way up the Link Road this Red Haartebeest presented a lovely silhouette

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On we went up to Kranskop Loop - we debated whether or not to drive the scenic route again. SO said that we may bump into the Lions again to which I replied "lightning never strikes in the same place twice". Anyway she won and off we went. Well I was forced to eat humble pie because lying right next to the road was this magnificent specimen. It was quite strange to observe that they had no scars on their faces as is usually the case - real smooth dudes!

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He even decided to have a blow wave - was a visitation from the lionesses imminent

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What a beaut....

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How lucky were we to have these guys for company twice in one day!. En rote home this Springbok passed us by in a bit of a hurry

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Re: A blazing hot start to the year in MZNP

Unread post by Meandering Mouse » Wed Jan 27, 2016 5:37 am

Those are real smooth dudes :lol: :lol: :lol:

Your camping spot looks just perfect. :thumbs_up:

The action hots with the Zebra are amazing. :clap: :clap: :clap: What powerful creatures. It is easy to understand that a few lion have fallen victim to those hooves.

Great images of the water birds. :thumbs_up:

:popcorn:
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Re: A blazing hot start to the year in MZNP

Unread post by hilda » Wed Jan 27, 2016 7:33 am

I just found this awesome new trip report Canon! Beautiful bird sightings, especially the juvenile Fish Eagle, and gorgeous Red Hartebeest. A very cosy campsite too! :clap: :clap:

Stunning Lions! I can also not believe that they don't have scars on their faces! They are perfect and beautiful! :clap: :clap:

Great series of pictures of the fighting Zebras! Those hoofs can cause a lot of damage, I'm sure! :clap: :clap:
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Re: A blazing hot start to the year in MZNP

Unread post by Puff Addy » Wed Jan 27, 2016 7:44 am

Amazing that the zebbies still have perfect ears and not the notched jobs you see on so many of them!

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Re: A blazing hot start to the year in MZNP

Unread post by barryels » Wed Jan 27, 2016 8:00 am

I am in the bus for this trippie :thumbs_up: .

Another amazing start to this MZNP trip with such an array of beautiful birdie sightings :clap: :clap: .

I agree, those three kings makes an awesome pretty picture :dance: :dance: .

Yes, zebra can get quite aggressive and can do some serious damage to each other :roll: .
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Re: A blazing hot start to the year in MZNP

Unread post by naomi c » Wed Jan 27, 2016 8:52 am

It seems like it was HOT all over - we camped in Kruger (Tsendze) and many times just drove around to cool down in the car's aircon!! :D

The lions are stunning - especially the last one. Absolutely magnificent! :clap:

:popcorn: :popcorn: :popcorn: :popcorn: :popcorn: :popcorn:

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Re: A blazing hot start to the year in MZNP

Unread post by Karin Mitton » Wed Jan 27, 2016 8:56 am

I can't believe you hot to see the lions! And really great photos as well! great collections of birdies. I'm about to do a booking for December in this great little park, and your TR will make me count the days!

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Re: A blazing hot start to the year in MZNP

Unread post by HiggsieNJules » Wed Jan 27, 2016 10:13 am

I'm on board Canon, :clap: :clap: :clap:

Absolutely love the zebra action shots - truly stunning, and those male lions are so handsome. :dance: :dance: :dance: you were indeed fortunate to not only have one but two seperate sightings of these magnificent creatures.
:mrgreen: :mrgreen:

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Re: A blazing hot start to the year in MZNP

Unread post by Pumbaa » Wed Jan 27, 2016 4:27 pm

What a great start, canon,

with the two majestic lions - Love the shots where the mane is blowing in the wind :clap: :clap: :clap:

Love the great variety of birds you saw and the zebra shots :thumbs_up:

Ready for more :popcorn:

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canon
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Re: A blazing hot start to the year in MZNP

Unread post by canon » Wed Jan 27, 2016 8:26 pm

Thanks to all the forumites who commented thus far - nice to see keen interest in this great park.

DAY 3

We decided to tackle the short Umgeni 4x4 trail as an early morning drive. It is always great to be out early in the Karoo air and even nicer on a quiet route such as this one. Soon after turning off the tar we saw a troop of baboons with plenty of young ones about - always full value for entertainment.

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Apart from a few Mountain Zebra the route was surprisingly quiet

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A quick swing around a very dry and barren Rooiplaat yielded nothing so we decided to head back to camp as the heat had become unbearable.
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canon
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Re: A blazing hot start to the year in MZNP

Unread post by canon » Wed Jan 27, 2016 8:35 pm

In the afternoon we headed straight up the Kranskop Loop - this area still had plenty of green vegetation which we thought would attract plenty of game. It was good to see that the renovations to Doornhoek Cottage had been completed after having been gutted by a fire a few years ago

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Once again there was plenty to entertain us at the dam

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Last edited by canon on Wed Feb 03, 2016 7:42 pm, edited 2 times in total.
WE ALL HAVE TWO CHOICES : We can make a living or we can design a life

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