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MarcSF's Trip Report Jan 2011

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MarcSF's Trip Report Jan 2011

Unread post by Richprins » Tue Jan 18, 2011 8:30 pm

Marc is a new visitor to the country, never mind Kruger, and has given me permission to start his TR for him, after I provided him with liquor! :twisted:

He has massive camera equipment, and is having a whale of a time.

He also says I am a true ambassador for South deal with that, forumites! :hmz: :tongue: :rtm: 8) :shock:

Never been on this side of the exchange, but here goes!

He reports low density of tourists, but also no predator sightings yet...with another 6 days to go!

"Elephants all over the place, and they move away if you come closer. The Park is rotten with Impala. saw mother giraffe and baby at Leopan, (American accent)

Lovely drive down to CB from LS...wildebeest aplenty!

Morning walk from LS today had only 3 people inclusive, and tracked rhino and lion..!!!"

Enjoy, Marc, and reply if you can, but probably only in 2 weeks time or so! :D


Re: MarcSF's Trip Report

Unread post by Richprins » Wed Jan 19, 2011 5:46 pm

This in from Marc today...

(After he kindly sms-d me his EARLY lion sighting as it was happening... :doh: )

It seems he appreciates the Amarula! 8)

Let me hammer out day 3 before I start on the Amarula.

Route from Lower Sabie to Satara:
1. H10 to S128 north: stopped over the Sabie for sunrise photos; saw
my first lions (also loads of giraffe).

2. S30 east, past H10 and up S68 to Mlandozi: nothing exceptional re:
wildlife, but the picnic spot had magnificent views. Crocs and hippos
in the water below. I was invited to breakfast with a group of South
African tourists.

3. Continued north on Muntshe Loop back to H10 and on to Orpen
Dam.Loads of baboon on road in. Peaceful setting. Stopped for lunch
at Tshokwane.

4. North on H1-3 to S37 to Sweni. Giraffe and elephant along the road,
but Sweni was quiet. Could have been the time of day or year.

5. Stopped in at N'wanetsi picnic spot for a cold soda. Thence north
on S41 to S100 to Satara. Many water buck on S41, along with zebra and

Satara has a good vibe abd noticably more caring staff. I'll do a
self-guided drive until curfew tonight, then braii for dinner. Got to
get up early for the morning bush walk.



Re: MarcSF's Trip Report

Unread post by Richprins » Fri Jan 21, 2011 7:24 pm

Quote from today...

Sorry for the missing report yesterday. Started with an early morning
bush walk and ended with a sunset drive. Many kilometers of driving in
between. And a further delay this morning owing to the network's
outage in Sataba.

Bush walk was a bit of a diasppointment and almost didn't happen
because only two of us booked. We went anyway, but the guides' energy
and service was not nearly that of Robert and Marti at Lower Sabie
where I walked two days earlier with two other guests. Highlight was
male lion on H7 1 km west of camp.

Returned to camp, had more coffee, and headed west on H7 to S39 north.
Thick growth and not great viewing, although I came upon a large herd
of ellies with several calves. The matriarch shooed them away from me
and back into the bush.

Stopped briefly at Timbvati and then on to Ratelpan Hide for hippo
viewing. Continued north on S39 to H1-4 north across the Oliphants
River. Lots of good bird viewing including a Tawny eagle sitting on
the bridge railing. I then returned south to camp, seeing many ostrich
along the highway.

The sunset drive was great. Saw first hyena, lots of kudu, and
jousting hippos. I believe the route was clockwise: powerline road to
S90 NE to S41 SE to S100 west back to camp. Best viewing on S41.

Also was able to get the identity on two animals spotted near Satara
Wednesday late afternoon: mongoose and jackel (black backed?).

With the rain today, I'll stick to the pavement and head north,
perhaps to Shengwedzi.


Notice "perhaps to Shingwedzi"...! :wall:

Will attempt damage control! :twisted:


Re: MarcSF's Trip Report

Unread post by Richprins » Fri Jan 21, 2011 7:56 pm


Marc has returned to sanity...but it is so nice speaking to a new Kruger visitor!!! :pray:

Some comments:

"My ladyfriend did not see the point of joining me on this trip, but after my reports to her, refuses to reply anymore now!..."

"There are cops on the road, and as my rented vehicle has speed control, I sometimes find that the limit is exceeded before I know it!"

"There was a big herd of elephant on the Letaba river road, and some poor lady stopped in front of them! A humungous bull squeaked at her!"

"I got some great pictures of weavers, and was trying to post here, but lost text due to bad will reply once I'm home"

"Am struggling to get through the alcohol you provided..."

Marc now freely admits to being addicted, and has agreed to save the Far North for the next time...and a next time...etc.... :twisted:

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Re: MarcSF's Trip Report

Unread post by MarcSF » Sat Jan 22, 2011 7:39 pm

Returned to sanity? That's a relative concept. I have family and friends who believe me to be certifiably insane for uindertaking this adventure. I know that I'm woefully tardy with my trip reports. That is because I'm spending all of my time exploring. And the fact that the data network comes and goes. Perhaps after dinner and Amarula I'll get back online.


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Re: MarcSF's Trip Report

Unread post by MarcSF » Sat Jan 22, 2011 9:33 pm

Day 5 (21 Jan)
This was a bit of a lazy day. After a late night on Day 4, I did not plan an early morning for my Satara departure. I awoke to rain, heavy at times, which sealed the deal. After some procrastination and reduction in rain, I departed for points north. But first I reconoitered south on H1-3 where we had spotted a male lion the previous morning. No dice. I then sought to do a loop via S40 and S12, but a skim coat of mud from the rain made things a bit too slippery, so I turned tail and drove north on H1-4 towards Letaba.

I stopped at Olifants on the way via S91 and S92. The bridge across the river to Balule was closed due to high water. The camp at Olifants was attractive and the view from the deck is uber amazing.

I pressed north out of necessity because I needed Letaba's ATM. I arrived at noon vtia S93 and S46, but the ATM was out of order. Rather than panicking, I went to the retaurant for lunch. When I returned to the ATM, someone was working on it. Finally, at about 2pm, we had liftoff. I got my cash and hit the road.

But to where? I called Shingwedzi and learned that they did not offer a sunset game drive or morning bush walk. I called back to Letaba and was told that they had both for my stay. So, I did abit more driving and returned to Letaba.

The camp wasn't busy, but reception had only one person to check in guests and there was a line. After some delay, I started to checkin, which became a bit of a hassle. And then I learned that the sunset drive and morning walk I had confirmed two hours earlier were "no goes" because not enough guests and signed up. Sheesh! What was the point of my call? I could have headed to another camp, but now it was too late to catch a sunset drive elsewhere. I wasn't going to stay at Letaba. I called Olifants. No morning bush walk, but morning mountain biking instead. I drove to Olifants and signed up. No sunset frive, of course, but quite the elephant show along the river.

That night, however, the guide appeared at my bungalow to tell me that my booking was a mistake because they lacked enough servicable bikes

That's Day 5. Day 6 (and 0, 1, and 2) to follow. As a preview, I'll disclose that Day 6 included lions and elephants.


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Re: MarcSF's Trip Report

Unread post by MarcSF » Sun Jan 23, 2011 8:44 am

Day 6 (22 Jan)

An early start with a 4am game drive (in lieu of mountain biking). It worked out well as we encountered two male lions on the H8 at the S92 intersection. They ambled down the road marking their territory and we ambled after them (sans marking). Once they left the road, we continued down the S92 to the S91 to the H1-5. We turned south, crossed the river, and the continued east along the river to the S90, south to the S89, and then west to the main road and back to camp. We spotted impala, giraffe, zebras, ellies and water buck. The usual menagerie.

Back at camp I had coffee and breakfast and then headed out on my own. Took the river road (S44 and S46) to Letaba. Same suspects seen along the road. At Letaba I checked to museum and then sat down to lunch. Solo ellie crossed the river just downstream from camp. Very peaceful and scenic.

Traveled north on the paved road and did the S95 loop. Then off the Matambeni Hide on the S62. Came across a roadside pool with a sunning croc (small) and teeming with terrapins, who took great interest in passing cars. Not much to see at the hide, but lots of hippo noise.

After returning to the main road, I headed west on S47. I came across an ellie headed the same way, but he wasn't making any room to pass. At one point, he backed halfway off the road, but gave me a mock charge as I approached. Eventually we worked things out, to the relief of both.

I eventually reached the S131 and saw a sign for the S69 loop. That's where I went and was rewarded with amazing views of a large herd of ellies of all ages and very calm. Eventually I made back to camp for a beautiful sunset.

Last night at Olifants.

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Re: MarcSF's Trip Report

Unread post by Richprins » Sun Jan 23, 2011 6:48 pm

Marc back in Lower Sabie tonight...wants to redo the S-128 as the morning sunlight shines straight down the road...for photography purposes!

(Your pics had better be pressure though... :twisted:)

It's his last night...better get used to that feeling too, Marc?! :?


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Re: MarcSF's Trip Report

Unread post by MarcSF » Mon Jan 24, 2011 7:15 pm

Richprins wrote:(Your pics had better be pressure though... :twisted:)

I reluctantly departed Kruger today through the Crocodile Bridge Gate. I am now sitting in the lounge at OR Tambo awaiting my first leg, a flight to Frankfurt. I will catch up on my trip reports as I am able, but I wanted to respond to Richard's insolent challenge. I met some very good looking giraffe:



Many thanks are owed to Richard who helped me tremendously. This gratitude is not merely the product of the generous amounts of alcohol he provided.

And a teaser for the today's report, to be posted aftger I get home. I departed Lower Sabie and traveled to Skukuza via S128 and S30. On S30, just a few kilometers before reaching the paved road, I encountered a very, very large rhino standing in the middle of the road. And standing his ground. After five or ten minutes of photography and appreciating the majesty of this animal, it was time to move on. I had stopped about 50 meters away, but when I crept forward, he stomped his front feet and wagged his head up and down. I backed off and resigned myself to being trapped for the time being. I had seen no other vehicle since I left Lower Sabie. Eventually, a car approached from the opposite direction on S30. Seeing he was out numbered, the rhino stepped off the road.

I hope to be back soon.


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Joined: Fri Dec 31, 2010 1:32 am

Trip Report Continues

Unread post by MarcSF » Fri Jan 28, 2011 3:22 am

It was difficult to leave Kruger, but I made it safely back to San Francisco, although heavily jet-lagged. Arrived on Tuesday afternoon and back at my desk on Wednesday morning. Productive? Not so much. But allow me to fill in the missing portions of my trip report.

Day 0 (16 January)

I arrive at O.R. Tambo on Lufthansa from Frankfurt. Flight is a little early and immigration takes only about 30 minutes. My luggage awaits and I dash off to pick up my rental cell phone and thence my rental car. Adjusting to right-hand drive takes a few miles, but really no problem. Its raining and I pass three different wrecks on the highway as I head toward Nelspruit and my meeting with RichPrins.

On the way I stop in Witbank to visit an ATM and do some grocery shopping. I return to the road and the drive is easy. My GPS leads me circuitously to my meeting point. RichPrins graciously agreed to do a little shopping for me since certain items are not available for sale on Sundays. In addition to a case of beer, RP provided a welcome gift of a bottle of Amarula and several bottles of wine. We chatted for a bit but I needed to get on to Kruger.

Since the gate closed at 6:30pm, I figured that arriving before that time would avoid the need for an escort. I figured wrong. The entrance gates are locked before then, probably about 6pm because you need to arrive in camp before 6:30pm. So I waited 45 minutes for the escort to arrive and continued on to Skukuza. And I paid the hefty escort fee.

Day 1, (17 January)

I looked forward to the morning bush walk. The escort instructed me to meet at reception at 7am. I arose at 3:30am and killed time until the anointed hour, at which time I learned from reception that the bush walk had left hours earlier. One would expect that for the price of an escort, reliable information would be provided. Not only had I missed the walk, but I hung around in camp for hours while I could have started my adventure.

I left Skukuza along the H1-2 to Tshokwane. The experience was breathtaking, even the impala (which were a great novelty at the beginning). Indeed, I pulled over to photograph a group of impala on a side road. Heavy foliage covered both sides of the road. Suddenly, the foliage 10 meters in front of me began to move, including what appeared to be the narrow trunks of trees. In fact, these were the legs of a giraffe feeding in the treetops. He was very close.


That was amazing. I continued down the paved road and decided to explore Leeupan. I found a mother and calf giraffe, a small herd of wildebeast, a soaring fish eagle, and many other birds.


At Tshokwane, I did not find any of the expected baboons. I enjoyed a kuduwors and paps and then headed south on H10 to Lower Sabie, where I had a reservation and booked a bush walk for the following morning.

Lots of great birds seen along the road. If you can clue me in to the species/names, I'd be very appreciative.





I'll be back to provide Day 2.

Last edited by MarcSF on Fri Jan 28, 2011 4:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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