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Kruger in January

Discuss the different camps and roads of the Kruger National Park
granny
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Re: Kruger in January

Unread post by granny » Thu Feb 14, 2013 12:15 pm

This is the month I am more familiar with.

I love the Park in January ..... Pensioners discount time starts on the 15th so that is when I book.
It is hot but I enjoy it, nothing nicer than a swim back at camp.
I always start off in Croc bridge which is generally teeming with animals at that time of year. Always L.Sabie, Skukuza, Satara, Orpen and finish at P.Kop for some peace and quiet. Sometimes I go to Olifants and Letaba but because I will not give up the South I find the distance a little far to travel in the time I have available.

The nice thing is that you can go out at 4.30 in the morning which gives you a very good chance of plenty sightings.
I have had several years with no rain, missed the flood in 2012 by a day and then got caught slap bang in the middle this year.. and even so I had a whale of a time. Only thing was I had to forgo my booking at Orpen as I couldn't get from Satara on the H7 and all sand roads were off limits and sometimes had to make long detours to cross bridges.
Always very very green, the insects are loud, and the babies are still small enough to ooh and aah over.

The Park is also very quiet at that time of year...everyone back at school and Xmas done and dusted, so accomodation is fairly easy to get. I do however book early so that I can spend month's planning which roads to take etc etc. For the last month before I go I make fotostat copies of my map book and mark where sightings have been. I find for instance if Lions have been spotted with cubs they will generally still be in that approximate area . It also gets me into a frenzy of excitement :dance:

And now after writing this just want to go back, no length of time is ever enough :(

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Re: Kruger in January

Unread post by Bush Baptist » Thu Feb 14, 2013 12:56 pm

An excerpt from my TR for Jan 2008.

Monday, 31 Dec
We were lucky to get the campsite alongside safari tent no 8 at Croc Bridge. It is on the fence. After pitching and unpacking, there was enough time for a late loop. We took the S25, and saw 2 white rhinos at the hippo pool turn off. We continued clockwise and came back to the tar road after not much more than an ele or 2 and zebra, and saw cars stopped. Ho hum, more lions, I thought. I was pleasantly wrong as 9 wild dogs came into view, lying down at the roadside. WOOHOO! After staying with them for a few minutes, there was not much time to allocate to the 5 lions, and another male we saw later on. By now though lions were becoming a common sighting and losing their appeal, even for our first time visitors. During the night’s braai and relaxations, a hyena walked by our site 7 times. By 21h30 I went to bed giving my wife instructions to wake me at 23h50, as the others were going to waste valuable sleeping time around the fire until midnight. She did and in my soporific state, I managed to put on some shorts and emerge in time to have a glass of bubbly thrust into my hand, mumble some happy greeting, down the bubbly and get back into bed.

Tuesday, 1 Jan
Happy new year. When the alarm went at 4h10, my sleepy wife said ‘Go on your own’, so at 4h20 I was the only person at the gate. At 4h30 it opened, and to my amazement, mine was the only vehicle in sight. I could not believe my luck as I drove out, and saw a civet slink off the road into the bush. Nice start. Soon I saw lights zig zagging towards me. It was the morning ride, and the obstructions they were avoiding were 7 adult and sub-adult lions. I enjoyed them for a while until they got up and walked to the side of the road. Shortly afterwards, more shapes. It turned out to be 6 hyenas, the large one with a stick or bone in its mouth. This is quite good! Nothing for a few minutes, then this mating pair appeared, and there were cars stopped further on, which was odd. Lions are highly sought after for some reason, and these were mine alone. I then moved on to find that they were looking at another pair with 3 cubs and an ‘uncle’. Not too shabby for the time it takes to play half a soccer match hey. I consulted others at the sighting and they told me the rest of the road was quiet. So I took the Gondwana loop back towards CB, where all I saw were some eles, & zebs and then crossed onto the S25, where I saw 7 rhino at the hippo pool turnoff, and a red lipped snake scurried off as I approached. I looped back towards the tar road, but startled a big bull, who sent me on my way with a charge! Back at the tar road, I came across last night’s wild dogs that were just lying around. There were 11 now. As I approached CB, I pondered what to do. I had had one of my most successful early morning rides ever, and the rest were sleeping off seeing the new year in. Do I tell them? YOU BETCHA!
After the swelling had gone down and I could see again, we went on a morning drive to LS, where breakfast and the shop were the attractions. The doggies were gone, as were the lions and hyena. There is a big difference between a 4h30 drive and one at 8h00. It’s like going to the movies after the show. .........For me, this was one of the very best non-kill days I have ever had in the park, rivalling only my ‘purple patch’ day on my trip report of Dec 2006. The B5 were ticked, and doggy sightings twice. Another tough day in Africa survived.
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granny
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Re: Kruger in January

Unread post by granny » Thu Feb 14, 2013 1:26 pm

I bet your wife is still kicking herself, :wall:

This is the reason I love Croc bridge. Always have amazing sightings. Funny though, in January when I arrived there was almost a total absence of any sort of animal, even the Hyena that every single year runs along the fence was not there. Thought it was very strange..... next day...the rain,and floods. Clever animals!!!!

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Letaba in January

Unread post by pva » Sun Aug 11, 2013 2:44 am

Hello,

I've been in KNP this winter, in June, and it was fantastic. But I've never been there in the summer. Now my friends are going to Kruger, and the only time they can go there is the beginning of January 2014. So I wonder - what camp would be best in the summer?

I've never been in Letaba, but I've read that it's a beautiful camp, although there are fewer animals there than near Lower Sabie or Satara. It seems to me that in the summer time this camp would be one of the best in Kruger, because it's very green, with many flowers and plants. Am I correct? Could you recommend any other camp that would be best at the beginning of January? For my friends the animal viewing is still a priority, but also they would like to see Kruger in it's summer beauty - flowers, green landscaped etc. They will have 5 nights in KNP, so they can stay in 2 or 3 camps.

I would appreciate your suggestions.

Thank you,

Peter
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Re: Letaba in January

Unread post by Meandering Mouse » Sun Aug 11, 2013 6:02 am

Hi Peter, :D

Kruger in January is indeed lush and beautiful. I was in the Letaba area last year early January. I actually stayed at Olifants and Balule.

I do love Letaba camp, although I have only stayed over twice. I find the trees give a special charm.

It can be hot and humid. It can also have heavy rains with the possibility of floods, as happened last year.

I tend to enjoy the greenness so much, that I do not even worry too much if I don't see too many animals. I also love the prolific bird life. It is busting with life at every level.

I had the experience a few years ago of taking newbies to Punda. I loved it but, the lack of exciting sightings did make it a bit of a problem. We drove through the Satara area and they came to life at a Lion sighting. I was sorry that I had not chosen that area. I am much more cautious now with newbies.
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Re: Letaba in January

Unread post by Meandering Mouse » Sun Aug 11, 2013 7:13 am

The air con does help. Planning drives is also important. Early morning and late afternoon can give some relief.
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Re: Letaba in January

Unread post by chirinda » Sun Aug 11, 2013 9:09 am

Hi pva, I would agree with MM, Letaba is a beautiful camp, one of my very favourites, and there are also lots of good drives in the area. You can comfortably go as far as the Tropic of Capricorn and there are usually lots of ellies north of the Olifants River. Olifants is also a beautiful camp with that magnificent view.

Perhaps Satara would be a good choice for a second camp, the area is well known for cats and many people love staying there.

Of course Skukuza is always a good choice although a large camp and more bustling. There are lots of good drives and the opportunity to have good sightings.

Summer can be hot, or even very hot, but most of the accommodation has aircon, some a fan, and, as MM said, early morning and late afternoon drives are a good idea, and rest up in the cool if it gets too hot during the day.

Last November I stayed at Letaba and Shingwedzi and this May at Malelane, Lower Sabie and in the Skukuza area and I saw far more game in the north than I did in the south. My preference is for the north - also less people therefore less traffic and traffic jams at sightings.

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Re: Letaba in January

Unread post by Crested Val » Sun Aug 11, 2013 10:45 am

Hi pva, I can definitely recommend Letaba and Satara.

We live in Phalaborwa from November to May and with the world wide change in climatic conditions, the weather is not always hot then.

It can get very hot, but we find these days you get a few hot days followed by a few much cooler ones.

As MM said there have also been heavy rains the last 2 years, throughout all of the park.

It is true that in general you are likely to see more game in the south, but I agree with Chirinda, the Letaba area is much quieter, and will be very green then with lots of trees, plants and flowers.

We have regularly seen Lion and Leopard, and last year even managed to see Cheetah. There are also doggies in the area, though we haven't yet seen them.

There are loads of general game, especially ellies, and you may also be lucky enough to see the more rare antelope like Eland, Roan, Tsessebe and Lichtenstein, around the Mopani area.

There will also be many many stunning birds. :thumbs_up:

You could come in through Phala Gate and stay 2 or 3 nights Letaba, then 2 or 3 in Satara, and leave through Orpen.

What ever you decide, I do hope you have a wonderful time. :dance: :dance:

Look forward to your trip report. :popcorn: :popcorn:

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Re: Kruger in January

Unread post by Meandering Mouse » Mon Aug 12, 2013 6:02 am

A couple of :cam: from when I stayed a Letaba a few years ago in January.

Prolific bird life.

Image

close to the gate

Image

on the Letaba river.

Image
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Re: Kruger in January

Unread post by pva » Sat Aug 24, 2013 8:29 pm

Hello,

I have one more question, although it's not exactly about Kruger.

My friends want to drive through Kruger from the North, so they will be entering through Pafuri gate. They already reserved one night in Letaba and one night in Satara. They also reserved one night outside KNP near Pafuri Gate.

They have to spend one more night on the way from Johannesburg to Pafuri gate, somewhere halfway. I see on the map that there are many parks and reserves on the way. This must be a beautiful area with some mountains and hills, so it could be a good addition to Kruger. Can you recommend any good place to stop for one night and probably to spend a few hours in the morning? Accommodation is not important - tent, hotel or anything, as long as the place is beautiful or interesting.

For instance, Blyde River Canyon looks gorgeous - would it be a good place to stop?

Thank you,

Peter
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Re: Kruger in January

Unread post by Meandering Mouse » Sun Aug 25, 2013 5:48 am

Hi Peter, it is indeed a beautiful stop over and an area that I would highly recommend. I have sent a pm with a recommendation.
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Re: Kruger in January

Unread post by tent dweller » Sun Aug 25, 2013 8:46 am

We will be in the Kruger until 04 January 2014, is it safe to say that if it starts raining we should pack up and go??? I have been reading through the threads from 2012 and 2013 floods just to get an idea when the rains start and I think we will be leaving just as the rains are about to start :? :? :doh: :doh: :doh:
PRETORIUSKOP 20 - 21 December 2015
TAMBOTI 22 - 24 December 2015
OLIFANTS 25 - 27 December 2015 (with a view)
LETABA 28 - 31 December 2015
MOPANI 01 - 03 January 2016 (with a view)
PRETORIUSKOP 04 -06 January 2016

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Re: Kruger in January

Unread post by Grantmissy » Fri Dec 20, 2013 8:04 am

Visiting Kruger in January after the holiday season has ended is good. The Park is peaceful and quiet at that time :thumbs_up: .
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Re: Kruger in January

Unread post by Penny » Fri Dec 20, 2013 3:43 pm

Some of our best sightings were when the cyclone hit and the following year with the floods! Biggest problem is road closures and I must be honest that on one or two occasions we slid all over the dirt roads and we do not have a 4 x 4 but somehow got through.
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Re: Kruger in January

Unread post by wheckroodt » Wed Dec 25, 2013 9:30 pm

Experienced the 2012 floods. The parks board will normally start closing roads if they become flooded and as was the case with Shingwedzi evacuate the camp to higher ground. Always obey the parks board officials and if you see a problem report it to the nearest camp.
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