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ligt55's Walking with.. rhino! KNP, Nov. '13

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ligt55's Walking with.. rhino! KNP, Nov. '13

Unread post by ligt55 » Wed Jan 01, 2014 5:00 pm

Hi all, happy NY!
My NY resolution was to post a TR about our trip and specifically the thrilling rhino encounter on Wolhuter.

I waited a bit to post it with this title because of the anti poaching, but by now I am sure those rhino have moved and anyway I am not posting specifics about the location.

SO and I were in Kruger ages ago, that is to say at the end of november!
This was our first spring trip and we were very lucky with the sightings
compared to our first Kruger visit in february of a long past year!

This time we already saw more wildlife in the very first few hours than in 3 whole days at that time.

This little guys (girls?) personify the feeling of spring for us, this trip:
Image Image

Two highlights of this trip:
1. the Wolhuter Wildernis Trail
2. the ride from B&D to Satara wih a side trip on the S100, recommended by Raymond

On the safaritruck ride from Berg en Dal to the camp we spotted a leopard, the only leopard sighting this trip
[no pics unfortunately, I was so mesmerized by the sight that I totally forgot to make any!]
but it did complete the full big 5 score!

The morning walks were not big game abundant but really nice and instructive.
Since we do appreciate the small as much as we like the big, this bunch of competing dung beetles was a nice surprise:
View Video

This is how big they are:

At least they do what they do and don't pay any attention to people, as most game does,
who hear you coming a long way before and do anything to avoid you!
The most impressive big animal we saw this morning walk was.. a rhino!

The afternoon walks are shorter but both sort of an adventure !

The first afternoon we were stopping to study something.
Moses was walking ahead when he signalled us to come forward carefully because there was another rhino.

When we walked aroud a bush we found it was not just one but FOUR
and they appeared not so happy to see us and -it must not have been so but felt like- stampeded our way!
You know the rhino scene in the movie Jumanji? That's what it reminded me of!

The rangers told us to get uphill among the rocks and we did definitely not to be told twice,
heart thumping and not the presence of mind to get out the camera
but Moses and Raymond stood and cocked their rifles - which sounded very loud in our ears
and apparently to the rhino as well because they turned away.
(Which implies that they had not really been stampeding but still, imagine how you would have felt)

The next impressive sight was of a breeding herd of elefant in the riverbed.
They were pretty far off and did not notice us and Moses told us he was quite content with that
because mothers and aunts can be very dangerous with babies around.

Anyway it was very special to walk down there and look up to the riverbanks
where normally you would be up there looking down!
The close up view of the riverbed was surprising, the sand looks like beach sand from a distance
but actually is very course with large grains of sand and kinds of chrystal !

The second morning walk held no animal surprises but another challenge:
Almost at the and of the walk, Raymond announced: Nw we are going to climb a mountain!

Actually it was not so strenuous as that and the rewards were a wonderful view and on the way down a nice viewing of some wildlife bushman paintings!

Wolhuter kept the best for the last, because this is what happened on our last afternoon walk:

So here we are, walking in line. And up there, by the tree-line are 3 rhino grazing!:

With max zoom (which is 14x) I can make a better picture

Since we are offwind we are not noticed and the rangers lead us closer, in a circumventing move.
We stop at a huge dead tree from where we can observe the rhino that are slowly but steadily grazing on..
coming our way!

We are really enjoying the sight and making great pics of a rhino spraying:

and of each other with the rhino as background,
here Raymond and Moses -with backlight unfortunately:

While the rhino come closer and closer, and seem to grow bigger and bigger,
I think: (when?) will we get the signal to get the ... behind that tree (I am definitely NOT going to do that on my own accord, not being a sissy : )
and yes the moment finally comes.

Now I am determined to record the event , hoping that the battery will last and this is what we see:
View the Video

One mystery remains: with 3 small-car-size wild animals nearing you, up to 15 meters distance, with the scant protection of a dead tree trunk,
how come one can stay so cool and relaxed (and this is not SO and me I am referring to : )

The next day's drive to Satara provided a great detox from all the excitement,
we saw:

Ellies in a waterhole

lions under the bridge

and by the S100 4 cheetah!

The next morning we were out of the gate at opening time, 4.30 to do another round of S100 and again it delivered,
The picture of the huge lion walking just beside to road is not good enough to post
(it is imprinted on our hard drives though!)

so I am ending with this just-before-sunrise picture of antilope,
with so many more babies together than we have seen during daytime!


I am not just posting this report to share and show our trip but also I want to
- heartily promote the wildernis trail experience.
It may seem an expensive activity but consider that it comprises of:
3 nights accommodation, full board, 2 morning walks and 2 afternoon walks/drives
- thank Johan for his good care of the camp and nice meals
- and last but not at all least thank Raymond & Moses for their tuition, protection,
pleasant and hospitable company!
A fine pair of rangers displaying heartfelt dedication to and passion for Kruger, wildlife and conservation.

Warmest greetings from a chilly NL!

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