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Something Old, Something New – KNP, Augrabies, KTP, Mokala

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carolv
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Something Old, Something New – KNP, Augrabies, KTP, Mokala

Unread post by carolv » Sun Jan 31, 2016 4:18 pm

2015 began with some good news for us with SO’s medical checks being extended from 3 to 6 months. As you will know from our previous TRs we are huge KNP fans but we have long wanted to extend our knowledge of other parks, particularly KTP but its isolation had been a big concern. Buoyed up by this improved prognosis we took the bull by the horns and began a plan for a longer trip to include KTP. With accommodation restricted and the need to book just as soon as our wished-for camps became available we began to organise a trip for the end of the year lasting nearly 2 months. As we slotted the reservations into a spreadsheet, with an occasional hiccup and a few ‘Sorry, we’re full’ e-mails, we finally had our long-awaited holiday arranged. In fact, so far in advance was it booked that I would already be in country twice before this major break began so at least the waiting would not be quite so unbearable. By autumn, SO had received a final all-clear from the medics and any concerns we had harboured were quickly put to rest – roll on December and the delicious thought of another adventure and some African sun to warm our bones.

7th December 2015 – the taxi is booked, a treat for us as we usually drive to the airport and park nearby but I was sure my car would take exception to standing in the cold and wet for such a long time and would fail to spring to life on our return. We have as much luggage as we can possible take but at least we will be much lighter on our return. By the time we have reached London Heathrow, our driver has patiently listened to an in depth discussion of Africa and its many addictive delights. In no time we have dropped off our cases, made our way through customs and find a seat to grab a coffee and sandwich before our gate is announced. A few crosswords solved, a new book started and much people watching done (an activity I love especially at airports) our flight is called and we set off for our departure gate. Boarding is usually quick and simple but not so this evening. We find ourselves being bussed to the aircraft, the journey being so long we feared we had been driven to another airport rather than another terminal. Ah well!! With cabin luggage stowed, comfortably seated and a ‘welcome’ drink in hand, we await take-off. It certainly was a lengthy wait this evening and when the aircraft finally leaves the ground we are more than 2 hours late. The crew do their utmost to get things under way, aperitifs, dinner and nightcaps served, at long last we can settle down for the night. It will be a long day tomorrow and we hope to get as much rest as possible before we land at Jo’burg.

8th December, 2015 – 30 minutes after landing, we have collected all our luggage and been met by a driver from the rental company. I will not bore you with all the complications we encountered when trying to book a suitable vehicle for this trip – we would only need a 4x4 for part of our KTP stay but the costs of collecting from one location and leaving a vehicle at another escalated to the point when it became cheaper to rent a 4x4 for our entire trip – a very wise decision as it turned out though. This rental company does not operate from Tambo airport and our driver, Sense, takes us a 20 minute drive away to their depot. I try not to panic at the thought of finding this place again when we drop off at the end of our trip. I try to remember the signs as we travel along but can only recall the names Kempton Park and Pomona. KP is easy to recall as it is a famous racecourse in the UK but doubt this will make it easier to find in a few weeks time. We are given a very full handover but are overwhelmed by the number of forms we have to complete. Indeed I have dealt with fewer when buying a car – hope they realise we are renting it and not making a purchase!. I glance across at the clock and try not to panic at the passing time. Not only will we have to find our way out and onto the more familiar road towards eMalahleni, but it is a 5 hour drive and we really want to complete the drive in daylight.

Finally, finally, it is already past 1pm, we are on our way. Sense has explained how we make our way back to the N12/N4 and it goes more smoothly than we envisaged. We have a Nissan 4x4 Double cab Bakkie on Namibian plates (more later) who we quickly rename ‘The Tractor’ but hopefully it will be everything we need. We stop for a quick comfort break at Alzu and swap drivers. Just after 6pm we pull into Rissington Inn in Hazyview.”Where were you?” the staff call out “We were getting worried because you are so much later than usual”. Mbuso helps us unload our vehicle and I quickly unpack and repack to suit our future journey. Several bags are for charities and these will be passed on along the way; within an hour I’m as organised as possible at this stage of our trip and we stroll down to the stoep by the bar and order a much needed drink before perusing the menu for dinner. It will be all self-catering for the next 3 weeks so I will enjoy this treat with that in mind. Well fed and watered we sink into bed and sleep well until awakened by the Hadeda Ibis in the morning.

9th December 2015 – Set up by a substantial breakfast and a quick catch-up with the other staff, we head into Hazyview for a mega shop at Checkers and a few bags of ‘goodies’ from the adjacent bottle store. We return to Rissington to load up our vehicle, every inch was full and this ‘tractor’ has plenty of space. With a quick farewell, we’ll be back for New Year’s Eve, we head up to Phabeni Gate. Our forms are already completed and we are waved through the gate in minutes, just pausing to ring Ecojunkie who will meet us at Skukuza and relieve us of one charity bag.

The smiles on our faces stretch wide as we head along the tar. Our bodies relax as we soak up that amazing Kruger atmosphere. This area has been blessed with some rain and the bush is looking a fabulous shade of green. All the aromas we miss when back home waft through the windows. It is so tempting to linger too long at each sighting but we have a fair way to drive and are well loaded with food which will be first to be unloaded when we reach our first camp, Satara. The wildlife is out in force to welcome us back to the Park and we pause to share a moment with creatures great and small. Bateleurs glide overhead, lots of Ellies making their way to and from the river, Zebras and Wildebeest, herds of Impala but no lambs yet, Kudu

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and Giraffes browsing, Warthogs wallowing in a muddy patch and 5 white Rhino watch us drive past. Not to forget the entertaining Dung Beetle making his way across the road.

As we pull into Skukuza car park, Ecojunkie is waiting for us and we catch up on news before unloading a large case of handknits and toys which she will pass on to a charity near Malelane. We will meet up with her again in a few weeks when we are staying in the south – she has forgotten the new mirror socks so we will make do with our old, faded YR. It has served us well for several years but the colour is fading from yellow to a rich cream. No doubt we will still be recognisable though.

Our next decision is which bridge to take and we opt for the low water route where the river is just flowing but Bushbuck are about. The temperature is rising and the wildlife keeping out of the sun. The Vervet monkeys are playing by the roadside and lots of Kudu along the way. We stop at Tshokwane Picnic Site for a comfort break and to pick up something to eat. We can see the primates already causing trouble and decide on a takeaway which we can enjoy by one of the Dams a bit further along the road. As we park alongside Mazithi Dam, we are not surprised to see it is almost a mud patch but a few Hippos remain resident alongside some Hadeda Ibis.

More Kudu look up as we pass by and a Fish Eagle poses beautifully on a dead branch with its wings spread out.

Image

Zebras, Waterbuck and Giraffe are spotted in the bush with 5 Ground Hornbills seeking sustenance under a tree. As we drive north, the effects of the drought are becoming more obvious and Kumana Dam has been reduced to a large puddle with a couple of sticky looking Hippos,

Image

Baboons, Ducks and Geese. When we pass the area with a large group of Ilala Palms we know it will not be too long before we reach Satara and spotting the sign for ‘Lion Alley’ our destination is in sight. Check in is quick and easy and we are quickly parking alongside a perimeter rondavel which will be our home for the next five nights.

We unload the car with as much speed as possible and fill up the fridge/freezer to capacity. Once that task is completed we can freshen up and enjoy a cold beer on the stoep. We are back in the Park and all is well.....
My Trip Report for Dec 2015 and Jan 2016:
https://www.sanparks.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=27&t=91702

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Philip1
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Re: Something Old, Something New – KNP, Augrabies, KTP, Mokala

Unread post by Philip1 » Sun Jan 31, 2016 4:26 pm

:clap: What a start Carolv. :dance:
Beautiful Pic's of all, especially the Fish Eagle. :mrgreen:

Thank you for sharing, :hmz: now for the rest. :whistle:
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Re: Something Old, Something New – KNP, Augrabies, KTP, Mokala

Unread post by umtali1 » Sun Jan 31, 2016 4:47 pm

Oh my word........I'm joining Philip1 on this bus, that's for sure. I have plenty of supplies. :popcorn: :popcorn: :popcorn: What a wonderful start to your latest visit. :clap: :clap: Not just one park, but four, all of which I can say I have been to :dance: :dance: :dance: .

It's such a thrilling feeling when you finally take off, bound for sunnier climes and such a variety of parks. I am sure you will be spoiling us with your tales from all four parks. :gflower: :gflower:

What a way to celebrate the good news about your SO :dance: :dance: :dance:
umtali1

Current - Reis Verhaal from Kruger 'Bush' Camps
https://www.sanparks.org/forums/viewtopic.php?&t=93948

2013 Mokala and KNP,
2015 "Cape Town to Namibia border" - Ebb and Flow, Karoo NP, Mokala, Augrabies & KTP

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Tessa G
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Re: Something Old, Something New – KNP, Augrabies, KTP, Mokala

Unread post by Tessa G » Sun Jan 31, 2016 6:01 pm

I have found it :thumbs_up: :thumbs_up: :thumbs_up: :clap: :clap: :clap:

I have kept my eyes open and was so looking forward to the start of your TR.

It was lovely to hear about all your preparations, travels, delays :roll: and then the ultimate arrival into the park.

Love your photo of the Fish Eagle and am so looking forward to reading all about your experiences.

:popcorn: :popcorn:
Dec 16 - Letaba, Shingwedzi, Olifants, Tamboti, Biyamiti, Berg n Dal
Current: The Different Faces of Cape Point
CURRENT TR: 23 DAYS WITH TESSA & DAVE - FROM HEAD TO TAIL DEC 2015

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Re: Something Old, Something New – KNP, Augrabies, KTP, Mokala

Unread post by meercatmaz » Sun Jan 31, 2016 6:20 pm

At last you made it to the park. The flight and car hire delays are almost bearable when you know what's waiting for you.
Lovely sightings so far of the kudu and fish eagle
Looking forward to more :popcorn: :popcorn:

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Re: Something Old, Something New – KNP, Augrabies, KTP, Mokala

Unread post by Kaapsedraai » Sun Jan 31, 2016 8:40 pm

Imagecarolv and Richard.

Does this Image has a trailer hooked on which we all can jump on and enjoy the ride with you? :hmz:

I was looking forward to your TR and here we are...great start to a very interesting 2 month trip. :dance:
It seems we had something in common , but as we started at Mokala, you ended your trip at Mokala :lol: :lol: :lol:

You entered at exact same gate as us, but just a day earlier. :D Let your TR tells us the full story... :think:

BTW, I have it on good authority that you and Richard did some 'line dancing' Image in Kruger.....I leave this up the imagination of the rest of the Forumites.....Image, but do not tell the others who else you invited... :dance:
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Future: 25 Jun - 12 Jul'16 MZNP; ADDO; Storms river & Wildernis NP

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Re: Something Old, Something New – KNP, Augrabies, KTP, Mokala

Unread post by SurfCindy » Mon Feb 01, 2016 9:03 am

Booking my seat on this travelling tractor. With a great start like that and the possibility of "line dancing" tales, I wouldn't want to be anywhere else (well maybe in kruger itself :tongue: )

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Re: Something Old, Something New – KNP, Augrabies, KTP, Mokala

Unread post by barryels » Mon Feb 01, 2016 9:25 am

I am also in the bus for this trip :thumbs_up: .

I always admire our wonderful overseas 'mites for everything they have to endure to enjoy SA and the parks :gflower: .

Looking forward to the rest of the trip :popcorn: .
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Off to Kruger:
17-19/10/2016 Letaba
20-22/10/2016 Punda
23-25/10/2016 Shingwedzi
26-28/10/2016 Mopani

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Re: Something Old, Something New – KNP, Augrabies, KTP, Mokala

Unread post by umtali1 » Mon Feb 01, 2016 9:57 am

It seems that Kaapsedraai has let the cat out of the bag : :naughty: . Looking forward to discovering more about line dancing :lol: ..................
umtali1

Current - Reis Verhaal from Kruger 'Bush' Camps
https://www.sanparks.org/forums/viewtopic.php?&t=93948

2013 Mokala and KNP,
2015 "Cape Town to Namibia border" - Ebb and Flow, Karoo NP, Mokala, Augrabies & KTP

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Re: Something Old, Something New – KNP, Augrabies, KTP, Mokala

Unread post by carolv » Tue Feb 02, 2016 2:34 pm

A very warm welcome to you all aboard our bus - we are delighted to be able to share our journey with you. To be honest I am feeling somewhat overwhelmed at covering a 2 month trip - we write brief notes as we go and hope we do not omit anything too important but you know how it is when, sometimes, you see something amazing and totally forget to do anything apart from just watch, often open mouthed. We only got home a few days ago and if I don't start our TR quickly, the trickier it becomes.

Philip 1 - thank you for your kind comments, we were lucky with this Fish Eagle as it was so close to us.

umtali 1 - Great to have you with us again. It was reading a while ago about Mokala that inspired us to include it on our trip.

meercatmaz - Welcome...hope this will be an ideal escape from what awaits us outside our UK homes at the moment.

Kaapsedraai - we'll keep them in suspense a bit longer I think with our line dancing!

Surf Cindy - Welcome aboard

barryels - Welcome and thank you for your help when we were planning this trip. I will pm you with an update on the 4x4 rental
My Trip Report for Dec 2015 and Jan 2016:
https://www.sanparks.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=27&t=91702

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Re: Something Old, Something New – KNP, Augrabies, KTP, Mokala

Unread post by Puff Addy » Tue Feb 02, 2016 2:46 pm

carolv wrote:To be honest I am feeling somewhat overwhelmed at covering a 2 month trip - we write brief notes as we go and hope we do not omit anything too important but you know how it is when, sometimes, you see something amazing and totally forget to do anything apart from just watch, often open mouthed. We only got home a few days ago and if I don't start our TR quickly, the trickier it becomes.


Just leave out the parks starting with K. Problem solved! :lol:

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Re: Something Old, Something New – KNP, Augrabies, KTP, Mokala

Unread post by carolv » Tue Feb 02, 2016 2:54 pm

10th December 2015

As we drive through the gate, the temperature is already 24 degrees with a light cloud cover in the sky. Which way, which way? Let’s start with Lion Alley then and see who is about. A few Wildebeest look up from their grazing as we turn left and head down the gravel. We soon spot stopped vehicles ahead so something is up and about. Living up to its reputation, our route has found 3 male Lions. We pause awhile with them but they are doing what Lions do best, sleeping, and we drive on.

The larger birds are enjoying the warm rays on their feathers – a few Vultures high in a tree, Saddle-bill Storks down in the river bead and a Brown Snake Eagle on the lookout for breakfast. Waterbuck,

Image

Kudu and a small herd of Impala with lambs make their way through the bush. A Spotted Hyena makes its way back to the den. One of our favourite spots to stop for an early morning coffee break is Gudzani Dam. Even when it is quiet, we rarely leave before spotting something of interest but we are surprised to find several cars parked around the tree already. One driver kindly points out where they are looking and we find a position where we can also enjoy the sighting. Apart from the shock of looking out over an almost dried out Dam, there, in the distance, are two Cheetahs. We certainly did not expect to see this pair here and we are entertained by their antics for a good hour. We are fairly certain they are a mother and her almost adult cub. The mother is content to stretch out to soak up some sunshine but her offspring is more restless. He shuffles about in the grass, laying down for short periods but eager to do something else. Eventually it becomes clear that the mother wants to cross from one side of the Dam to the other and she makes her way steadily through the mud to reach her goal. Having been keen to move, the cub is anxious to follow her but becomes totally disconcerted as he steps into the mud and sinks down. Ripples of laughter can be heard from all the cars as he makes a cautious crossing to firmer ground.

Image

One car in particular we had been very pleased to see as it contained some YRs whom we have met before – One with Nature and daughter and Siobhan. When the Cheetah had disappeared into the bush we were able to pull alongside and catch up with news and were pleased that we would be in overlapping camps during our trip.

Moving on again we head north to take the gravel road which eventually forms a circular route to get back to camp. We are shocked by the affects of the drought in this area – it had looked parched when we were here in June but we had not expected to find that still no rainfall had eased the situation by December. We hear Fish Eagles calling and spot a Burchell’s Coucal deep in a bush. I believe they call this the ‘Rain Bird’ but to no avail at present it would seem.

The crib at Gudzani East offers welcome refreshment to all wildlife in the area and they are everywhere today – Zebras (including a lovely foal),

Image

Image

Giraffe, Kudu, Wildebeest and Baboons.

As we make our way along the track we spot lots of Steenbok, singly and in pairs, they do not seem to be suffering from the current conditions.

Image

A Black-backed Jackal races along on a mission.

Image

In April I had seen a young Jackal family in this area and wonder how they have fared. We return to camp for a well-earned brunch and a rest. Coming from a cold, wet UK it takes SO a few days to adjust to the heat and it has already reached the mid 30s today.

Ready to tackle another circle this afternoon, we head out to Nsemani. This has always been one of our favourite spots in the Park and we have seen it in many states over the years but it still shocking to see it so dry. Where did all the Hippo and Crocodiles go? I fear for their survival as we have seen few places for their relocation. The Giraffes are out and about in good numbers,

Image

also plenty of Ostrich. A couple of Kudu bulls with spectacular horns capture our attention.

Heading back to Satara along the tar road we see a small pond close to the road where a lonely Hippo has settled. Just how long this will remain a viable home we are not sure. A couple of Fish Eagles

Image

and Saddle-bill Storks are keeping him company.

Striding out through the savannah I spot one of the animals which lifts my spirits – a Secretary Bird. Now I know we always say we do not come with a wish list BUT for a long time I have a very short list of 3 birds and were we to go home without seeing at least one of each, I would be very disappointed. How they came to be called ‘My Triumvirate’ I cannot recall but that it is how they are referred to on our trips and the Secretary Bird is one of those three. I will even admit to driving up and down the Satara roads on a final day just to make that last tick but to find one so early in our trip bodes very well.

All in all an excellent day and we celebrate with a glass of South African red and share sightings with the father and son (Larry and Kevin) who are next door to us.
My Trip Report for Dec 2015 and Jan 2016:
https://www.sanparks.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=27&t=91702

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Re: Something Old, Something New – KNP, Augrabies, KTP, Mokala

Unread post by RayK » Tue Feb 02, 2016 3:47 pm

Hi carolv,
Great news about your SO. :D Your narration is so well done that I feel like I'm right there with you. Wonderful photos and Cheetah sighting. Looking forward to more. :)

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Re: Something Old, Something New – KNP, Augrabies, KTP, Mokala

Unread post by Tessa G » Tue Feb 02, 2016 6:31 pm

A wonderful day with entertaining sightings too.

How very fortunate to find your first cheetahs so early in the trip.

Dave and I found the central and southern parts of the park very distressing with the lack of rain so evident. The waterholes became the lifeline for the animals, but most animals, apart from crocs and hippos, weren't looking too bad considering.

Beautiful photos Carol and Richard and I especially love the zebra's :thumbs_up:

Enjoying this trip with you and looking forward to more. :popcorn:
Dec 16 - Letaba, Shingwedzi, Olifants, Tamboti, Biyamiti, Berg n Dal
Current: The Different Faces of Cape Point
CURRENT TR: 23 DAYS WITH TESSA & DAVE - FROM HEAD TO TAIL DEC 2015

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Re: Something Old, Something New – KNP, Augrabies, KTP, Mokala

Unread post by Karin Mitton » Tue Feb 02, 2016 7:08 pm

Carolv, I am so excited to see another TR from you! I am on board all the way! Great start to your trip, and I am looking forward to more great stories! :dance:


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