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Jrawdon's Kruger Trip : April 14-16 2006

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Joined: Thu Apr 13, 2006 11:20 am
Location: Umhlanga

Jrawdon's Kruger Trip : April 14-16 2006

Unread post by jrawdon » Wed Apr 19, 2006 10:02 pm

I am new to this forum and don’t manage to get on too often, but have loved reading all the other Kruger reports before my recent trip. I thought it would only be fair to share my experiences as well. I hope this is not too long winded? I have not included all the general sightings, but rather the rarer ones of the more sort after species (not for everyone I realise). I have not had the time to figure out how to include my photos :( , if there is an easy way, please let me know.

My wife and I had 3 nights (14 April Lower Sabie, 15/16 April Crocodile Bridge) in Kruger. We knew it was going to be extremely busy with the Easter weekend and then long grass and dense bush. None of this matters as we just simply love being there :D . The plan was to do some bird watching and enjoy whatever other wildlife we were lucky enough to see. This did not pan out as expected due to the fantastic game viewing.

The first afternoon was spent driving the Salitje Road (S30) from Lower Sabie and then back along the river (H4-1). The drive started very slowly with no mammals for the first hour. Things picked up as the Salitje Road rejoined the Sabie River with a good sighting of a bull elephant on the road. The next highlight after all the impala, monkeys, baboons etc, was a pack of 12 wild dogs finishing their kill on the road, 2 kms North West of Nkuhlu picnic spot. What a great sighting with the dogs all around the car and so relaxed. After half an hour with the dogs we ventured on, only to bump into a female leopard crossing the road. We had the sighting to ourselves as the leopard marked her territory and rolled in the grass. Not a bad first drive!

On Saturday morning we headed back up the H4-1, over the high level bridge, up the H1-2 to Tshokwane and back down the H10 and S28 to Crocodile Bridge. If last night was a good drive, then this morning was fantastic. I always make sure we are first at the gate as invariably there are cats on the road first thing in the morning. This proved true as we came across 4 lions (3 lionesses and 1 cub) in the road. The traffic soon piled up so we decided to move on and find our own sightings. This did not take long as the 12 wild dogs from yesterday were running down the road at the Nkuhlu picnic site. What a stunning sighting with them all running past the vehicle. Again, there was too much traffic so we moved on. Soon enough there were another 4 lions resting up in a dry river bed just before Mantimahle Dam. After leaving them we stop with some alert waterbuck giving off alarm calls. The grass was too long to see anything; however, we could see roughly where the waterbuck were looking. We waited patiently until a magnificent female leopard emerged onto the road right next to us. She posed briefly before continuing on her territorial rounds. What a morning! It was only about 8am by this time, so we enjoyed a leisurely drive for the rest of the route and were lucky enough to see 3 rhino in the distance from the stunning Nkumbe view site. We ended the drive with the last of the big 5 for the morning, a huge herd of buffalo at the southern end of the S28.

Saturday afternoons drive was up the S28, past Duke Windmill, down the S130 and back to Croc Bridge on the H4-2. It was a lovely afternoon spent photographing the excellent general game and birds in the area.

Sunday morning we headed up the H4-2, S82, H4-1, S21 to Renosterkoppies Dam, S114, S26 and S25 back to Croc Bridge. The morning got off to a great start with a big male lion chasing a hyaena across the road and into the thick bush. Next we had 3 lions on the S82 all to ourselves. They lounged about the car posing for close-up photographs. Any movement from the road made them vanish into the dense bush. There was not much around for the rest of the drive; however, we did see a lovely bull elephant pushing over a tree.

Sunday afternoons drive was up the S28 and then back down the H4-2. It was a quiet afternoon until the last half hour when we had a herd of elephants, a few bull buffalo, a male lion in a tree and 3 rhino to finish. As expected there was plenty of traffic as we all headed back to camp by 6pm.

Sadly our visit was coming to an end as we contemplated our final morning drive. We simply reversed our route from the night before and drove up the H4-2 and back down the S28. The drive started with loads of adrenalin as a bull elephant in musth charged the car. We kept our distance until some “jockey” tried to pass us and the elephant, only for him to slam on brakes and scream into reverse. Fortunately the elephant just missed the front of his car. He sheepishly reversed and waited for the elephant to amble off. With all the excitement we forgot to take any photos. The highlight of the morning had to be the pride of 11 lions in the road at the northern junction of the H4-2 and S130. They simply lay about taking in the morning sun. It was wonderful to see all the cars present sitting quietly and enjoying this wonderful, privileged sighting.

Well, that’s our trip in a nutshell. We were really fortunate to witness such incredible sightings, just wish we had a return visit booked already. Hope I didn’t bore too many of you. Happy viewing to all the lucky people about to go on their own Kruger jaunt.

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