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H9 - Phalaborwa/Letaba Road

Discuss the different camps and roads of the Kruger National Park
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H9 - Phalaborwa/Letaba Road

Unread post by Stoffel » Tue Sep 04, 2007 5:18 pm

I sometimes get the impression that many people do not regard the H9 as a particularly good game viewing road. However, I had some magnificent sightings on this road over the years.

When I still lived in Tzaneen, we travelled it very often. Some special sightings I can recall is a small herd of roan antelope at Erfplaas and also a few eland between Phalaborwa gate and the H14 intersection.

During our 12 night stay last year, it was the only road which produced some lions (between Masorini and Erfplaas). A few years ago we saw two male lions with a wildebeest kill next to the road on the short gravel detour near Nhlanganini Dam. At the dam itself we have spent many wonderful late afternoon moments watching game while enjoying a sundowner.

Normally the road between Letaba and Nhlanganini is relatively quiet regarding traffic, and most of the times you have the area for yourself.

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Unread post by Bush Baptist » Wed Sep 05, 2007 1:06 pm

On the odd occasion I have travelled this road, I cannot say it has been memorable.
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Unread post by Richprins » Tue Sep 11, 2007 10:21 am

I think many tourists cruise the H7 to get to Letaba etc. as soon as possible.

I have had little luck there, also a little herd of roan at Rhidonda in the 80's.

Ironically, It's the only road where lion has been my first animal seen upon entering the Park! (A big male near the gate late one afternoon around 1995)

Otherwise relatively little game. I can't even remember if Erfplaas, Swartklip and Rhidonda still operate!? They were really reliable in the old days.

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Re: H9 - Phalaborwa/Letaba Road

Unread post by norms » Wed Apr 08, 2009 7:37 pm

The road is on most days quiet .... but saying that I have recently encountered good Elephant and Buffalo sightings. My highlight was in 2008 ... a Leopard near Sable Dam turnoff. Also Klipspringers near Masorini.

You just never know.

Lets see what Lourens has to report.
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Re: H9 - Phalaborwa/Letaba Road

Unread post by Scipio » Wed Apr 08, 2009 9:22 pm

Past month on this road:
Lion kill with zebra, Major Tuskers, wild dog, leopard, but, you can't have it all! BTW largest herd of buf on this road last week. :D

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Re: H9 - Phalaborwa/Letaba Road

Unread post by RobertT » Thu Apr 09, 2009 7:55 am

Have had leopard in Dec, Wild dogs a few km's from the gate a few years back. In fact they were the first mammals we saw after entering gate, even before impala. Always elle's. Lion at massorini. Ostrich, jackals, buffalo.

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What are your views on the H9 road (Phalaborwa to Letaba)

Unread post by jeffgordon » Mon Sep 27, 2010 10:27 pm

Hi everyone...

What are your thoughts on the H9 road (ie. the road from Phalaborwa gate to Letaba).

I drove it in late winter recently and found it quite fruitful, including elephant, giraffe and a HUGE herd of buffalo kicking up the dust alongside one of the bridges.

However I note that Cameron Ewart-Smith is dismissive of the road.

The reason I ask is that we have the option to enter via Phalaborwa or Orpen gate to get to our first night in Olifants. It will be my brother's first visit to the Park since he was a toddler and my parents' first visit in about 25 years. So I want their first impressions of the Park to be wonderful.

I do really like the H7 (Orpen to Satara), but we will be in Tamboti for 3 nights after the first two nights at Olifants so will have plenty of time to drive the H7.

If you wanted to impress first time visitors, and keeping in mind the above, which gate would you enter to head to Olifants for the first night?

PS. Time is not an issue. We'll leave Klaserie at dawn and its about 45 minutes to Orpen or 85 minutes to Phalaborwa.
Last edited by jeffgordon on Fri Jan 13, 2012 4:55 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: What are your views on the H9 road (Phalaborwa to Letaba)

Unread post by RUMURUTI » Mon Sep 27, 2010 10:31 pm

Hi jeffgordon,
I drove from Phala to Letaba and then three weeks later from Letaba to Phala and I must admit I was quite deluded by the drives. Maybe depended on the month, August, as it was very dry.
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Re: What are your views on the H9 road (Phalaborwa to Letaba)

Unread post by jeffgordon » Mon Sep 27, 2010 10:42 pm

Thanks Andy, yes that is what I was worried about.

It was dry when I went too, but I quite like that, I must admit.

The other downside to that road is that it is the road that the taxis crossing into Mozambique use, so people tend to speed along it.

Hmmmm... I wonder what others think

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Re: What are your views on the H9 road (Phalaborwa to Letaba)

Unread post by saraf » Mon Sep 27, 2010 10:47 pm

Not sure which is nearer to your overnight spot but I would go in at Phalaborwa.

1. There's a great community-run curio shop at the gate, much better (and cheaper) than any of the Parks Shops.
2. Call in at Sable hide to see what's hanging around.
3. Stop at Masorini for a history lesson.
4. The Elephant Hall in Letaba is awsome.
5. The view from the restaurant is incredibly relaxing.
6. You can pop up to the high level bridge over the Letaba river and do some of the loops down to the river.
7. As you say, staying at Tamboti you'll do the H7 enough.

Granted the drive from Letaba to Olifants isn't great but look out for klipspingers on the koppies and your brother will be impressed with your spotting skills. Or go via the Olifants lookout to see where the 2 rivers meet.
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Re: What are your views on the H9 road (Phalaborwa to Letaba)

Unread post by Meandering Mouse » Tue Sep 28, 2010 6:29 am

Hi Jeff, Saraf has some good points in terms of the benefits. I had a great Leopard sighting at Sable hide when I was there a week ago. Normaly it is not my favourite road as it can be unproductive for the uninnitiated, but as Saraf pointed out, if you take in the unusual things it has to offer it is well worth doing.

November is a good month for baby births, many of the birds have also returned, so I would give it a go. I also think the Tzaneen area is one of the most scenic routes to the Park.

I am not sure if you are towing a trailer, but if not, the S46/S44 can be very scenic.
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Re: What are your views on the H9 road (Phalaborwa to Letaba)

Unread post by Sprocky » Tue Sep 28, 2010 9:07 am

My view on this road is that it is the same as any other road in the park, it's all a matter of timing. I have been rewarded with the big 5 (black rhino have also been spotted here but not by me) and wild dog on this road but in the same breath some days you see nothing. There are lots of "smaller" sightings to be seen, such as platted lizard, dassies, klipspringer and kori bustard to name a few. At the Nhlanganini dam you will see hippo. Okay, so I suppose this doesn't help much, but the choice is now yours. :wink:

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Re: What are your views on the H9 road (Phalaborwa to Letaba)

Unread post by spargish » Tue Sep 28, 2010 9:54 am

I have had decent sightings on the H9 numerous times, I recall seeing a leopard lying on a termite mound, and as other have said its all about timing. With regards to the trip from Letaba to Olifants I would take the river road and not the tar road :D

Although If you were looking to impress your fellow travellers I would enter at orpen as there is always a great variety of game around satara.
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Re: What are your views on the H9 road (Phalaborwa to Letaba)

Unread post by DuQues » Tue Sep 28, 2010 10:31 am

I like this road, for the reasons Saraf has mentioned, and the fact that you can do the S69 and S70 while still travelling to Letaba. Those are two little pearls which should be on your to do list.

Sightingswise it wasn't one of my best roads ever so far.
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Re: What are your views on the H9 road (Phalaborwa to Letaba)

Unread post by Josh of the Bushveld » Tue Sep 28, 2010 10:36 am

If you enjoy termite mounds, its your road!
I find it a bit tedious but general visibility is pretty good. Have seen elephant and buffalo in the past. Reasonable waders and water birds at Sable Dam. Reasonable birding at Phala gate too (though I haven't been to Orpen in at least 20 years so can't compare).
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