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First timer, beginner's luck

Tell us about your breathtaking experiences in the parks
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First timer, beginner's luck

Unread post by Pawps » Wed Feb 06, 2013 4:32 am

G'day mites, I'm a newbie and avid follower of the forum and last night was thinking, why isn't there a place for everybody to share all their stories and experiences. Then today I found travel tales. Doh!

So I thought I'd share the tale about my SO, and her first (and so far only) visit to the land of braaivleis, rugby, sunny skies and Chevrolet, and in particular, to the wonders of Kruger.

We visited in Dec 1993 for a week, and I was really worried that we would not see that much because it was the middle of summer. So we get into the park at around 10.00 a.m. through Numbi Gate and make our way slowly down to BnD, and within 5 minutes we see a magnificent sable close to the road, then a few beautiful ellies, giraffe (her favourite) and so on. So I'm starting to feel a bit more relaxed.

I should mention that my GLW is an Aussie who has never set foot in Africa and is very much an urbanite, and so just plans to go with the flow. So we have a very good day's viewing, so much so that I finish the spool in my camera (it's 1993, people!). And late that afternoon we're dawdling along towards BnD, and 2 leopards dash across the road right in front of us, and then settle in the ditch along the side of the road, 10 m from our car. And just look at us, mum snarling a bit, but still right there! I quickly load a spare film into my camera and shoot a whole roll, after which the female moved into the bushes and stops about 30m away, and starts meticulously removing the hair from a small antelope it had obviously killed earlier. Just amazing, and during all this time, there were only 2 other cars to stop around us to enjoy this experience.

So we move into BnD, do the night perimeter walk, and see an ellie a few metres on the other side of the fence. Wow.

An early start the next day, and we stopped at a waterhole and just watched and waited. I think this must have been on the S119? Anyway, before long, we hear the baboons making a ruckus, and I said there's probably a leopard nearby. Wrong, it was a pride of lionesses, come to drink, and by the look of it, maybe sooth their bruises from an unsuccessful hunt. One of the lionesses came right up to the wing mirror of our car, and then settled about 10m away and just glared at us. Whew.

So we finally move on, and further up the road, there is a small traffic jam, and we take our turn edging up, and there are 2 cheetah sitting on a small termite mound.

And so the day went - within 24hrs of being in Kruger, we had experienced the big 5 (lots of rhino around BnD) and so much more, and there I was, worried we'd see not too much. Of course, my SO thought that this was just a normal day's viewing, until a few days later, we were talking to a family while we watched some lions across the Timbavati, and of course, they were flabberghasted at our good fortune, and confessed that in 20 years of annual visits to Kruger, had not yet been able to spot any leopard. So beginner's luck was on our side.

Fortunately, as a Kruger tragic, I will be visiting with my family in September. This time with my kids, and since my daughter has never been to Kruger, I'm expecting some more beginner's luck again! Of course, just to suck in that special air and see the big skies will be enough for us.

Oh, and about that roll of film I shot - I was in such a hurry to load the spool, that it didn't catch properly, and so I took 36 pics of nothing! Still, I have the scene firmly printed in my mind's eye, and so don't really need the photos.

I wondered if anybody else had a beginner's luck story to tell?

Mopani 21-24 Sept
Skukuza 25-26
BnD 26-27

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Re: First timer, beginner's luck

Unread post by threedogs » Wed Feb 06, 2013 4:51 am

Great story Pawps! I have to say that our first trip to Africa (it was Zimbabwe, Hwange NP) beginners luck was certainly not with us! Nor in Chobe either! Luckily we loved Africa so much we kept coming back (and we had to try again for those big cats lol).

Aah, the delight of the old film photography! I spent many weeks in Hwange on another visit, living in the park as a voluntary research assistant. It was an amazing time and of course I had my SO's camera and a big lens and the 'crash course' of instructions ringing in my ears. I eagerly awaited the development of my films and was totally devastated when some had nothing - exactly same snafu as you :slap: :( Don't think I'll ever get over that one! :evil:

Hope your game viewing is just as good this time around for you! :thumbs_up:

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Re: First timer, beginner's luck

Unread post by Meandering Mouse » Wed Feb 06, 2013 4:59 am

A warm welcome Pawps :D

I love your lively style and so enjoyed the enthusiasm from down under. No wonder you guys are so difficult on the cricket pitch. :wink:

I have not had beginners luck, so to say, but I do remember a visit when I stayed outside the Park and went to run the Skukuza half marathon.

I entered at Numbi gate with lots of other runners. On the way to Skuks, about 10kms from the gate we encountered a mother Cheetah with 7 sub adult youngsters. :dance: :dance: :dance: They frolicked around the cars for a while before running into the bush.

About 5 kms on we encountered 3 male Lions. One passed so close to my car, he could of snatched my biltong. :big_eyes:

I arrived pumped up to run the half marathon. I often wondered how many beginners were in that runners convoy and had been treated to such a wonderful start to Kruger.
The bird doesn't sing because it has answers, it sings because it has a song.

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Re: First timer, beginner's luck

Unread post by Pawps » Thu Feb 07, 2013 6:38 am

Hi MM, I'm actually a Saffer, born and schooled in PE, but married to an Aussie. Our kids were born down-under as well, so Africa is a newe experience for them. Can't help myself and still support the green and gold - have tried several times to switch allegiance, if only for family harmony, but to no avail! So the recent cricket series was a fine result! I loved your tale about the cheetah and lion. It's the unexpected nature of things that makes the park such a delight. BTW, when is the Skuk half-marathon? I've been known to run a few myself, and a slow jog through the park sounds amazing.

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