Dreams are the wings of my life - My Kruger story

Tell us about your breathtaking experiences in the parks
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Unread post by Ludwig »

June 13th, Fifth day, Eyeball to eyeball with . . . , Wednesday – Part 1

It's partly cloudy this morning and I'm not satisfied by this.

I will drive the S100 this morning to take a certain picture of a place at the N´wanetsi River where we were some years ago and saw in the warm morning light some waterbucks standing there in a breathtaking beauty. These pictures we took are still the favorites of my girlfriend. I promised her to bring back a new one showing the same place if I can find it again.

Here you can find these pictures:
http://www.naturfoto-wildlifefoto.de/ga ... bock-1.htm" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
Its picture 3447 and 3448. Just try to find it.

As the dark still takes the bigger part of the surroundings I decide to drive first the loop that leads to Girvana waterhole behind the Nsemani dam. I will be at the mentioned place of memories in the sunlight when the clouds have given way to a blue sky.

First I see “only” birds with the special sighting of a Giant eagle owl or as it is now named Verreaux's eagle-owl.

At Nsemani dam an African fish-eagle is waiting for me or maybe the new day and some hippos are being motionless in the water.
I drive on and meet a Nyala buck that walks trough the dense bush and at the loop first impalas and francolins.

Coming to S40 I see two Black-backed jackals. Try to go closer when after a while one starts howling.
If I remember right he first had a look at me and than he started. Don’t know what he was telling his colleagues in the distance. Think he told them “Come all, here is this nice Bavarian”. Or maybe “Stay away; don’t come, this terrible Bavarian is in Kruger again trying to take pictures of poor jackals. . . . ”. Anyway I take some pics and leave. Avoiding finding out the truth.

Next is a group of giraffes with some younger ones.
A colorless gray sky promises no atmosphere for good pictures so I wait and stay with them till the sky becomes blue.[

Back at the dam. There was no change since I left.
But on my way back five warthogs are waiting for me.

And on to S100. First a fish-eagle in a dead tree is looking beautiful against the blue sky.

Later it's easy to find the place on the bank of the N'wanetsi River I’m looking for. This time no waterbucks and the loop has changed. There are many bushes between the river and the loop now and so I can’t go as close as in the past. But the scene itself is beautiful.
Staying here for a while, hearing the sound of the bush is an amazing feeling even without larger animals around.

A few minutes later I meet two buffaloes. They look very familiar to me. At the behavior of the larger one I can see these are the same two where the bigger one yesterday was not willing to lift his head. And so he does today. They have been walking a long way since our last meeting. Finally I concentrate on the smaller one and tell the other that this one will become famous and he will not!

I don't know whether he understands me (may an African buffalo is understand Bavarian?) or he is looking for new feeding grounds but he looks at me and I get him.

This seems to be a signal for the smaller one. He comes very close begging for some more pics; that he gets.

A few minutes later I come to a large group of zebras. When I stop the car and I'm ready to shoot off they start running. Not bad, that's more then I've expected. Another group also starts running. There must be a reason why they are so nervous.

The young of this Swainson´s francolin are looking close like Crested francolins, aren’t they?

When I take pictures of these Francolins a car passes me and the driver gives me a sign.
I do not understand what he tries to signal me.
It looks most like he is showing me the finger.
But why? Was he disappointed to see me standing only next to francolins?
I drive on and after a short while I know his intention.
A lot of cars are standing close together and there is no chance to take part on what ever they see.
I stop next to the first 4x4 some paces away and ask for. “Lions”, the driver tells me and there are some more down the river.
He thinks they will come back the way where he is standing.
There is a lot of space next to him and I decide to wait here.
But there is no need to wait because here they come, directly in my direction and I have enough space to go a little forward when they slightly change their way.

There are females followed by some half-grown young.
I don't know how many.
'm busy taking picture after picture having my arm and shoulder out of the window.
The lionesses are in front; the young coming now.
My camera is to busy to store the data.
That makes me take it from the eye.
That's when I see in the corner of my eye a lioness standing not three meters angular behind me, watching me not the youngsters.
We look at each other directly into our eyes. I see her amber iris around the small pupils. She is totally focused on me and I feel it would be better to lean back.
Nice feeling to see the danger when it is over.
But this would never happen if my girlfriend would stand sentinel or better sit sentinel as usual.
Take some more pics and one time someone drives with no mercy between me and the lions, but standing there only for a while.
Do you know why?
When all lions have passed I talk to the nice "lion-man" who told me where the lions will come from, you know - named after places or events.
Give him a card (business card not credit card of course) telling him, you already know, sending me an email to get some pics, my way to say thank you.
The vultures around show me there is a kill but I can’t see what the lions got. I only can manage to have an unsatisfying look to see a chest. It is so big that must have been Buffalo or giraffe.

Next place to visit: Sweni bird hide. But it takes some time to come there for nice reasons . . . . . . . .

To be continued . . . . . .
Last edited by CuriousCanadian on Wed Feb 04, 2009 10:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Unread post by Ludwig »

June 13th, Fifth day, Eyeball to eyeball with . . . , Wednesday – Part 2

Next place to visit: Sweni bird hide.
But it takes some time to come there for nice reasons.
At the crossing of the N'wanetsi River following the S41 to the south I see a Nile monitor and spent some time to take pics of a Black crake.

There is something wrong with this bird. Body black is ok but they seem to have mixed up the colors of the feet and bill.
They in such bright red and yellow you can't believe they belong together.
Anyway its easy to find out where is top and down at it.
If they would have also colored each foot different too than you could easily differentiate where is left and where is right. Anyway, I get very colored pics.

At Sweni birdhide I stay in the car next to the river watching Egyptian geese.

At the hide first the same then I take some panoramic pics.

Hello forum readers:
If you are interested to get this panoramic picture for your private use please send me an email and I will send you the picture. But be aware the Picture adds up to 6 MB.

There are some crocs and a large group of hippos to see; big and small ones.
The young look like wearing daddies clothes.
Every part of their skin seems oversized and when you look to the older ones they look the same.
Take many pictures and add some of Egyptian geese and White-faced ducks.

I'm counting the crocs: five.
When I'm looking around I find some more and I can add on as long as I stay.
Would I also be so blind if I where on foot passing this space?
After a while one of the crocs goes into the water and comes back later and I can take some pics.

Then Egyptian geese are flying in.

Some people come some leave.
Do you understand why so many birds, crocs and hippos are not worth to stay longer than five or ten minutes?

My "lion-man" comes too and we change some words again.

The hippos that where lying on the opposite bank are going one after another into the water; giving the chance to take different pics.

They remain still close to the hide and from time to time there is some movement by the crocs.

Nearly everybody leaves and I'm alone with a nice couple from California.
She has the same tele-lens like me and we talk shop for a while.
They are staying in Kruger for 23 days.
I become jealous.
When I'm on the way to leave a woman comes in, has a short look and goes back to the car.
Her daughter is sitting here and she tells her nothing interesting to see.

Can you imaging?
There are more than ten hippos close to the hide, ten crocs, many birds and there is the special atmosphere of the hide - and this is nothing!?

Take out all cats of Kruger (except "wild about cats" of course) and we will be almost alone at this beautiful place.
Would it be possible only to tell them there are no cats anymore.
To have the whole park it for us?

Back to Satara via S41 and S100 I see a breading herd of elephants and come to the traffic jam at the lions again.
Consider whether I should stay or drive on. The lions are more in bad light and do not move.
After taking some shoots of vultures I'm short of capacity.
My hard-drive is out of battery and only one 4 GB card left. I
If there will be something interesting it will be short.

When I will leave I get cornered. Ask to give me way and drive on.

Stop next to a group of waterbuck.
Many cars are coming from the direction of Satara.
They seem to know about the lions and think where I'm standing there are the lions.
Ok, I know this expression on their face from the day before yesterday when I was photographing the sunrise.

The same is happen some minutes later when I spend some time with a real Dagga Boy
Both of his horns are gone.
He is standing inside a bush that protects him and should compensate the disadvantage of his broken horns.

Take some pics of the sundown and go some km in the direction to Tshokwane.
Here I photograph some trees against the colored western sky.

Close to camp at the bridge a last eli.

Back, I first store my pics.
Then I prepare my dinner:
No sardines today.
Back to the roots.
Yes, you know: Smoked . . . . . and so on.

By the way: The mouse and/or the bat I heard last night are young swallows.
These birds built some nests outside beneath the roof and the young are crying for food.

In bed I hear hyenas and I'm sure they are patrolling the fence at the G-Bungalows.
And I'm here, far away from them. :mrgreen:
Next time . . . . . .

I sleep like a log by the swallows lullaby.

My favorites of the day:

To be continued . . .
Last edited by CuriousCanadian on Wed Feb 04, 2009 11:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Unread post by Ludwig »

TexasBoer wrote:Ludwig, great report - and wonderful photos!! :clap: :clap:

I love the way you used fill-in flash on the waterbuck. I'm starting to use that technique too, and are playing around with it a bit. Do you use Flash Exposure Compensation? If so, how much? it looks like about -1 to me. I find that I get the most pleasing results between -0.7 and -2.0, depending on the ambient light and sun's direction.

btw - what telephoto do you use (if I may ask)?

Thank you TexasBoer, :D
Went to your homepage you really have pictures of everything. Beautiful pictures.

Using flashlight and fill-in flash: Found some information regarding wildlife photography in the SANParks forum. Followed their recommendation and bought Richard du Toit’s “Essential Wildlife Photography”.
It is written for analog-film photography but you can adapt nearly everything to digital photography.
Another SANParks forum recommendation: Nigel Dennis´ “Getaway Guide to Wildlife Photography” is also a very good choice and already on my list.
I used most of the time a Canon 5D camera with a EF 100-400mm 1:4.5-5.6L IS USM
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Unread post by Ludwig »

June 14th, Sixth day, Really coming home - my Olifants, Thursday – Part 1

Early morning. I'm not nervous but in some way exited.
He is waiting for me some forty kilometers north.
Being there for a very long time, moving slowly to the east.
Spending life for uncountable creatures.
He is changing his name only once till he meets the ocean.
That’s when he has passed the Lebombo Mountains and is called "Rio das Elefantes".

My Olifants - River of my Africa.

But let’s start in the morning.

If I didn't mention the shower yesterday it doesn't mean "no shower". It's much warmer here and I took one, also yesterday – to the best of my recollections!

Put my stuff in the car and leave at 6 a.m. traveling the S100 again.
I meet an elephant and it seems it is still sleeping and not willing to open its eyes.
Later a Burchell´s coucal is waiting to be warmed up by the sun.

After sunrise I meet a troop of baboons.
Some are very active if you know what I mean.
Take some nice pics and go on.

The lions from yesterday are still here.
At the trees around a lot of vultures and on the road the usual: cars.
I'm the latecomer and I have to wait for a space.
A nice man lets me in in front of his car and even if everybody in the 4x4 can overlook me his wife seems to start a big argument because of this (sorry no picture of her!).
Unattended by this the lions especially the young start walking around.
Some climb a dead tree or play hunting in the high grass.

It’s difficult to take good pics out of a sedan car and they should have cut the grass before putting this pride in this place.
A large male stands up and makes some grimaces I don't know what they mean.
Unfortunately the light is bad and I expect no good pics even I take some.

After some time the lions go to the River and I drive back where I was standing yesterday. Some Saddle-billed storks are passing in flight. I bring up my camera and fire.

A 4x4 arrives and the driver is unhappy not to have a place where the others are.
Like the woman yesterday he has the same tele-lens as me and this connects us.
I tell him where the lions are and that I suppose they will be back soon.
We short us the time talking regarding lenses, converters, cameras . . . . . and then they are coming.

I was right.
The lions come back from drinking and one after another comes directly where we are.
Take some pics or some more.
Today I avoid leaning out of the window (most of the time) because the lionesses take care of the youngster again.

When the lions are back in the bad light I take some pics of the vultures in the surroundings and drive on.

Actually I will make a detour to Sweni Birdhide but change my mind at the T-junction to S41 - Gudzani Road and drive to the north. Can’t wait to go to Olifants . . . . .

To be continued . . . .
Last edited by CuriousCanadian on Wed Feb 04, 2009 11:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Unread post by pardus »

Ludwig, amazing lion photos.
I saw the cubs a year ago when they were much smaller - sat with the pride for almost four hours and think I took about 200 photos that day. It was an awesome experience, and it is good to know that they have survived.
I recognized the one cub on your photo due to its peculiar "face" shape.
Last edited by pardus on Thu Aug 30, 2007 2:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Unread post by Ludwig »

June 14th, Sixth day, Really coming home - my Olifants, Thursday – Part 2

On my way to Gudzani dam I see a steenbok.

At the dam one has a beautiful view and I enjoy it even if there are “only” some hippos in the distance.

There is a lot of common game for the next kilometers and also some elephants and giraffes.
When I'm crossing the Gudzani River I meet a hippo feeding at the bank and now and then some impalas.

Moving on the Old Main Road the dense bush gives space to an open savannah.
Overlooking the slightly waving golden brown plains you can look till the horizon.

Can you imagine how it was whole over Africa when the land only belonged to God?
Here you can see it!
Savannah as far as the eye can see and even behind.
Do you remember this Old Main Road, the S90?
You are alone for some hours.
Where no car is behind or in front of you, where Africa is yours and where you are part of this beautiful wilderness even if you are sitting in your sedan or 4x4.
You will recognize it.
You only will feel like home, feel like you have reached your final destination, the home where you belong to, where your longings go: to your wild Africa!
After a while you will ask yourself why you don’t spend more time in nature.
You will consider less working in future, take more care of yourself and enjoy life to the full . . . . more often walk on the wild side. . . . . . just dreaming. . . . .

I stop from time to time take some pictures and let all this impressions come to me.
I hear the wind softly blowing touching the dry grass and bring me the scent of the beauty of this wild land.
Even if I'm on the way to my Olifants and can’t wait to be there I spent some time to let it in and touching every fiber of my heart. . . .

Despite this I have to visit the Ngotso Weir where we were last time very close to hippos and got nice pics.
On the five kilometers at S89 to the weir I see only impalas and the pool at the weir itself is totally dry.
No sign of animal life at this place.

So I drive back and when there was nearly nothing some minutes ago now I see a lot of giraffes, elephants and zebras:
Right place, right time or just luck.
Take some pics of the landscape with elephants and giraffes.

As I have already mentioned.
This day is some kind of special.
It goes to my Olifants, my river!

I was spending my first holidays in Southern Africa on his banks.
On an island in this river alone I was walking around most of the day between hippos and crocodiles.
At this time I visited a Game Farm now called Phuza Moya at the confluence of the Olifants and coming from the south the Blyde River.
Here have also been some rocky parts in the river bed like Bourke's Luck Potholes where I was climbing around convinced there will come no crocodile or hippo.

Beautiful experiences and memories . . . . .

I came back some years later and stayed for some weeks.
Got again my own 4x4, Quad bike and could spend all my time along this river that builds the border to the southern neighbor.
At these days there was an island with big trees and bushes in the Olifants (I have been told it’s gone with the big flood some years ago) where I was sitting unprotected by a hide or something else on a rock for many, many hours, watching crocs, waiting for hippos see all the foot prints in the sand. . . .
Can you imagine what a feeling this was: Coming from Europe even if I grow up on the countryside with animals and sitting there armed only with a knife and my camera in the middle of wilderness.
Every movement, every noise came up to the questions: a snake, a leopard, a cheetah, a croc outside the water, hippo, waterbuck, . . . ? I still see all these pictures, hear the sounds and smell the typical scent of ried, grass, leaves, water, soil . . . . .
And here I got it.
Like many others I got it: African fever!
I still like to have this fever . . . to feel it burning.
I’m sure you all know what I mean.

These where my first impressions of Olifants River and so it is always thrilling what this river this time will offer me.

My first target is the low-water pontoon bridge near Balule Camp with this breathtaking view from inside the river.

The car is going faster and faster when I´m back at the T-Junction I turn to the left and the sign 4 km to Balule is just behind me.

Then over a last rolling hill . . . . . here it is: Olifants!!!
My River of dreams.

By pure chance at this moment Radio Jacaranda is playing the song with the line "It is alright"; and I know “yes it’s all right now”.

I enter the pontoon bridge.
On the right hand side a herd of kudus and impalas are drinking on a small pool some paces away from the river.
They are very alerted beside one kudu that is running and jumping along the river bank in joy.

On the bank on the left side a crocodile like so often in the past. A Nil monitor sneaks through the grass and sand.

Standing on the bridge and feeling the urban Africa.
My eyes go along the water flowing to the horizon deeper into the African wilderness and I can feel this longing again to follow it.

In the river a terrapins is stretching out their head of the water and on the opposite bank I spot some elephants.
First I follow the elephants along the river and then I'm waiting for them at a pull-out.
Take some pics of a lizard till the elephants come.
When they arrive I'm alone with them and can hear them passing by when the soft river sand is telling where there feet touching the ground.

Go on and see at the H8 a car with a caravan on the left side waiting for an elephant bull that is some hundred meters in front of them.
I pass and drive to the eli to take some pics.
He is walking in my direction and I have to go backwards from time to time because he always goes towards my car.
But there are always six seven meters between us.
Take some more pictures and drive backwards again.
No problem at all.
There are still some fifty meters to the caravan.
The elephant continues to go in my direction and I still can take some photographs.
Thirty meters, the elephant is still coming and more interested in my car than in feeding or something else.

In the rear mirror I can see the car with the caravan tries to turn around and to leave because of the eli.
Good idea, this will give me more space to go away too.
But I have to learn the driver can't manage the turn and is now blocking the street totally.
So I stop the car some twenty meters in front of the caravan to give me the chance to leave through a gap when the driver can handle the caravan team in this way.
But then I have to see he realizes that he won't make it and in desperation he changes from flight to attack.
He puts in the first gear, steering the car towards me and the elephant, passes my car and drives directly to the elephant.
I can see the woman on the passenger seat taking her hand up in panic, not knowing whether she puts it in front of her eyes not to see what comes or for a prayer. . . . . :twisted:

To be continued . . . . . .:twisted:
Last edited by CuriousCanadian on Sat Feb 21, 2009 7:05 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Unread post by Ludwig »

June 14th, Sixth day, Really coming home - my Olifants, Thursday – Part 3

. . . But then I have to see he realizes that he won't make it and in desperation he changes from flight to attack.
He puts in the first gear, steering the car towards me and the elephant, passes my car and drives directly to the elephant.
I can see the woman on the passenger seat taking her hands up in panic, not knowing whether she puts it in front of her eyes not to see what comes or for a prayer. . . . .
The car goes directly to the elephant.
The animal stops in his tracks as if it can't believe what’s going on now.
When there are only some meters between the eli and the car the driver manages a swing to the left and passes the elephant in a less then two meter distance and drives on unharmed.

Even if everything goes faster than you could read these sequences right now, I'm ready with my camera.
But nothing happens and by reflexes I’m not able to take any picture because I hate pics of the wild that include parts of the modern world.
After a few more meters the elephant is concentrating on me again but soon leaves the road in the direction of the sun.

Next are some kudus and then I’m in the camp.

I’m driving on to the camp parking area and park my car not far away where the caravan stands.
When I come to them and congratulate for the successful passing it comes out, they were worried about me and felt responsible of cornering me.
I tell them that I only found interesting every second we spent there, but the woman tells me that she was "scared nearly to death . . . ".
As she is still living, finally everybody is happy and got a nice adventure to remember for a long time.
I assume the lady for her life.
No risk, no fun.

I check in and get river view bungalow #1.

But my first way goes to the lookout point where you have one of the best views in KNP.
Stay here for some time and take panoramic pics of the slowly flowing river that goes north-east then after a few kilometers changing his direction to east joining the Letaba River and still going on as Olifants to the Mozambique border.

At this lookout you can sit for hours watching the river let your thoughts fly feeling the spirit of Africa - if you are not disturbed by others.

Go to the bungalow now.
Nice view, not as nice as the one from the lookout point, but ok.
I'm next to my Olifants River, can hear the voices around the river and the river itself. I'm some kind of home.

Leave all my equipment at the bungalow - it's the first time since leaving home that I'm not in a three meters range of my cameras - and go shopping.
But I'm not relaxed because of this.

You have to know whenever you see one with a huge camera bag weighting up to 16 kilograms in a shop, restaurant, at a reception desk, at a game drive or walking than that’s me.

While shopping I consider to buy one of this big giraffes but I'm not sure whether I can take it to the plane or not. So I take only some food including a bottle of whisky, coke and bananas.

Back at the bungalow the neighbor from bungalow #2 is washing his car. I ask him whether it's ok to bring my car in a few minutes. He only asks what I'm willing to pay for! So it is his joke.

When I take some of my stuff out of the car, someone from the staff comes and asks me: "Sir, do you want to see your white car white again?"
I say "No, thanks" because I want to leave and I'm much more interested in seeing some animals than the original color of my car.

Back on the road I drive to N'wamanzi Lookout.
When arriving at the lookout a nice couple warns me to close my windows because of the monkeys.
I will start closing them but then I realize it would take me too much time to close all three open windows and I decide and tell them: "No risk, no fun."

Mistake! I'm out of the car and within seconds there is a Vervet monkey inside and takes all my bananas.
I just bought them at Olifants and fortunately eat two during driving to this lookout.
When it jumps out I run after him trough the bush still my camera in hands and ready to take pictures or to get back my bananas but he is to fast for me and runs deeper and deeper into the bush.
Finally he looses one of the bananas. I take it as my conquest.
Not a big but a small victory.
When I have walked all the way back to my car I close my windows and talk some time with the nice couple.
When they leave I'm alone at the outlook. Try to get some pics of the monkeys as compensation for the robbery.

. . this banana is mine!

When I will leave another car comes.
It's a silver Ford.
The driver is wearing a hat with a yellow ribbon and around the side-mirror there is another.
No doubt that is boorgatspook.
I leave my car and even if I know for sure where he is I ask him: "boorgatspook?"
Und he says:”Yes.”
He is accompanied by his mom.

You remember I was on the way to leave.
Yes and I had already opened the door when I went to boorgatspook.
This means I've forgotten to close the door and I could not see this from where I was standing next to boorgatspooks car.
But the monkeys could see it and four or five of them were already inside my car searching for food.
I run around my car and chase them out and away.
If I say four or five it doesn't mean I can not count exactly.
It means everything goes so fast you can't decide whether there are four, five or six in the car because they are all jumping and climbing everywhere in every direction.
They run away.
Some, but not all.
One is still inside and not willing to leave.
I shout at him and he shouts back very aggressive still unwilling to leave.
Maybe we do not understand each other because of our different languages.
I’m talking Bavarian and he in his monkey language.
If he wants not to leave I will give him a lesson and close the door.
But now he becomes more aggressive and jumps in every place inside the car.
Suddenly it comes in my mind what he can do if he goes not out of the car:
Peeing and shitting of course.
And this makes me trying to get him out faster.
Finally I can manage chasing him away always taking care of me.
So he can't get me.
When he finally is out he attacks me very aggressive again and with my shoes I have to through sand and some stones in his direction to make him run away.
Another victory following a nearly lost battle.

Here is the huge animal that was beaten

But if you have a detailed look you will see it’s not a male it’s a female!

As I wrote this part long before I saw the pictures in detail I did not chance the wording to keep it in the way I have experienced it.

I go back to boorgatspook (you have to read his great report in the forum!
You will find it here: http://www.sanparks.org/forums/viewtopi ... 55&start=0" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; ) and we talk for a while then we drive on and at the junction to S91 in different directions.
I do not bother meeting him again because we both will be at Skukuza in ten days and he has a car you easily can remember and identify.

I will go to the Pontoon bridge again.
Here I meet Olifants in Olifants.
I cross the river several times and then go towards the camp.
On my way I meet another group of elephants with two young.
I switch off the engine - silence!
Only silence and in between the soft steps of the elephants - sound of the African savannah.
My Africa and still ten days to stay!
A dream goes on.

Back to camp, an early Dinner and then I write my diary.
Today it is still warm outside.
During the day it was 31° and the night temperatures are increasing compared to Satara and Berg-en-Dal.
At berg-en-Dal it was 7°, Satara 16° and here it is past eight-o-clock still 24°.
I remember I was only tired once and this was at the night drive at Satara.
All the other time there was not one minute during the whole days where I have been tired since I’ve arrived.
I'm totally captured by my Africa.
nd I feel free and well how I did not for a very long time.
That's what I need and I was longing for: Africa.

My bungalow where the cameras where left alone

Did I tell you that I have changed from beer to whisky?
Or to be more exactly, added whiskey-coke to my diet.
Sitting on the veranda and writing my diary I see a small shadow next to me along the wall.
But it's gone now.
A rat, a snake or a mouse?
I keep on writing and then it comes again.
A mouse is coming from behind the refrigerator and is looking at me and runs back. Why?

I’m waiting with my camera ready.
Shorten my time by drinking another whisky-coke but the mouse remains hidden.
Try to make it coming by promising her/him to share my whisky, with no success.
Drink another one alone and go to bed:
No picture of this dangerous animal.

I hear the hippos down by the river. Another sound of Africa.

My favorite of the day:

Hello forum readers: If you are interested to get this panoramic picture for your private use please send me an email and I will send you the picture. But be aware the Picture adds up to 5 MB.[/i]
Last edited by CuriousCanadian on Sat Feb 21, 2009 7:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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June 15th, Seventh day, Climbing elephants . . . , Friday - Part 1

Elephants can’t jump. But can they climb?

A new day. First I want to drive to the Olifants lookout at S44 and then go on to Matambeni hide and Longwe lookout.

I’m very early at the gate.
I will be at the Lookout before sunrise.
When I am still driving on the first kilometer at the H8 I see something in the light of my headlights.
It's still dark.
Some impalas are crossing the street.
They seem to come directly from prison, because they all wearing the special clothes with stripes.
When I come closer I can see:
These are no impalas, these are Nyalas and on the right hand side I can see the bull only a few meters away waiting to pass the street behind my car.
I stop fire and get a nice picture of him.

A few minutes later a scrub hare tired of his life is crossing the road to close to my car.
A full braking saves his life.
He stops besides the road hiding under a bush and seems totally shocked.
his gives me time to take some pics.

At the Olifants lookout I'm alone.
Even the sun is not there because it first has to climb over the hill in front of me.
So best time for pictures will be in the late afternoon.
I’m walking around and hear a lion roaring.
This sound is soon replaced by the call of some hyenas, mixed up by the snoring of hippos.
Record the sound for some minutes and drive on.
The sun has its first look above the mountains and lets me stop to join her.

Go on along the Letaba River till the T-junction behind the Mathevula River crossing.
Here they are waiting for me:
Six hyenas.
Two adults and four nearly full grown youngster.

The female adult is pregnant (of course, who else should be?).
We spent a lot of time together and I can take many pics till the first car arrives.
One of the hyenas has a very light fur.
Is it a white hyena?

All have some fresh blood at their fur.
Witness of a successful hunting night.

A 4 x 4 with three passengers stops and we talk for a while the hyenas still around us.
They (the passenger not the hyenas) spend the night in Letaba coming from Mozambique and they will go back today.
Real bush travelers and as you can see the on their car not for the first time.

Telling the secrets of Africa . . . .

When they leave I spend some more time with the hyenas and then I drive on still along the Letaba River.
I'm driving into every loop and I’m rewarded with beautiful views.

I like this waved sand hills, the sandy tracks next to the river partly overgrown with short grass where you can't hear the rolling of the tires.

Can take a pic of a kingfisher in flight and drive on to Letaba.
Here I do some shopping and look for the Bushbucks.

Take the H1-6 and see many waterbuck in the Letaba riverbed and on the banks impalas.

Later the sandy loop along the river brings me back to the tar road ahead of the bridge.
Stop at the bridge but can see only terrapins swimming together with some fish.

Some Zebras are next on the gravel road to Matambeni hide.

Matambeni hide are three rangers taking a rest and an older man from Phalaborwa asks me to take a photo of them and send it to their boss as far as I understand him in Afrikaans.
They are laughing till I show them the photo I brought with me of and for Daniel the field ranger at the Hippo Pool at the Crocodile River as a present.
A few minutes later they leave I don’t know for what reason.
I talk for a long while with the guy from Phaloborwa because the area he comes from I know very well.
We also share some stories of places and people we both know and how things went on since I was there last time. . . .
When he and his companion leaves I'm alone at the hide using the time to write my diary and remember when we where here last time.
At this time we counted fifty-eighth crocodiles on the banks and islands around.
Certainly there have been some more below the surface.

But today Africa will offer me another experience . . . . . .

To be continued . . .
Last edited by CuriousCanadian on Sat Feb 21, 2009 7:15 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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June 15th, Seventh day, Climbing elephants . . . , Friday - Part 2

At the opposite bank where hippos are lying starts some action.
The hippos are running into the water because elephants are coming.

Then in front of me close to the hide there is also an elephant coming, then two.
One after another comes and finally a breading herd of eleven, twelve is feeding their way to the hide.

When I have to cough they get in panic for a short while but come back soon.
I can take picture after picture.
They are very close to the hide sometimes only ten, twelve meters away.
They know I'm here and from time to time they have a close look at me but feed their way along the reed.

Elephants can’t` jump.
But can they climb? Yes, they can.
Not up trees of course but up stony hills.
If you know this hide than you can remember the rocks on the left.
And you can belief me they go over these rocks then come back between the bushes to stay on the hillside in front of the hide.
This herd of elephants is so close to me, only me. . . . It's very different compared to sit in a car.
It's something between to be on foot or in a car.
To be here alone with them is indescribable.
This time my Africa offers me more than I have expected.

Finally they all climb up these rocks and leave on the left hand side and the scenery in front of the hide is deserted.
For some moments I'm waiting to wake up to recognize all was only a dream.
But then I hear some noise from the direction where my car is parked.
Do they come through the gate and join me at the hide?
My camera would be ready but I would also have to climb up to the roof.
Or did they find my car and start playing with it?
No. Some other visitors come not knowing was they have missed.
So my car should be okay.
I leave still captured by this unique experience.
What a beautiful day.
What is next that Africa offers me?

I drive back via Letaba and stop at the bridge.
Here I take some pics in every direction.

At the junction to S94 I see some cars.
In the trees around I see some vultures and an eagle, waiting for something.
When another vulture flies in and tries to land at the same branch where the eagle is already sitting some excitement starts.
But soon they cool down and they are sitting peacefully side by side.

An impala is the reason for this convention lying dead next to the road.
I can’t see whether it was killed by a car or by a predator.
If it was a predator then it should have been a leopard because feeding was started on the back.
When I drive closer and try to make some pics of a vulture that is feeding on the impala the shadow of my car takes away the light.
No way for good pictures.
When I change the direction the sun is behind them.
Finally I can manage to stay in the right direction but now the vulture flies away.
Good light, no vulture – that means no picture of the vulture.
I’m in the wrong direction again. This time it is because of the wind.
The rotten meet of the carcass smells like hell and I have to leave.

A few meters further a Blacksmith lapwing is making his kill.

On my way to Olifants I follow the S46 and S93 along the Letaba River.
Beside common game I can take some pictures of trees standing in beautiful light.

At the Olifants lookout a first good bye . . . . .

Back in Camp an Arabian looking old man followed by four young talks to me.
We change some words what we have seen today and where we will go to tomorrow.
When they leave I have Dinner.
Tremendous change: Spaghetti with tomato sauce and cheese.
Oh well!
But at least different.

Writing my diary at the veranda I’m waiting for yesterday’s mouse.
But no show again.
And I have to drink my whiskey-coke alone.
But now I run out of coke.
Still hungry I eat something more.
But the rolls I have bought taste sweet.
They are not real rolls.
And together with tuna . . . . . an interesting composition.

The wind starts blowing and I fetch my pullover.

Crickets chirp and I can hear the Olifants flowing in the very last light of the day.
The nearly dark evening sky is mirroring in its water.
Egyptian geese are shouting and a last bird is crying on its way home.
Like yesterday I hear the hippos.
Sound of Africa again going directly to the heart.

My favorite of the day:

To be continued . . .
Last edited by CuriousCanadian on Sat Feb 21, 2009 7:19 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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June 16th, Eighth day, Traveling in paradise . . . , Saturday - Part 1

I wake up very early and delete miscarried pictures from the hard-drive like so many nights . . . . still drowsy.
When I'm taking a shower I run into the same problem like yesterday.
The two water taps are different adjusted.
While the hot water one is closed by switching two turns the cold water one is closed by a half turn.
You know what this means:
The cold water is stopped; the hot water is still running - like me.
I jump to the farthest corner of the shower not to be scald.
Now I'm really wide awake . . .

I’m at the gate at 5.52h but only second.
We are allowed to leave Olifants at 6h.
Do you remember that feeling waiting at the gate minutes before it opens?
Car after car arrives behind you and you are fixed to every movement in front of you.
All waiting for the gateman.
Sometimes a car comes from outside:
The section ranger? The lift for the gateman?
Then there is some movement coming from the small building next to the gate.
Someone is moving to the middle of the gate.
He is holding the key for the chain lock.
He unscrambles the heavy chain around the uprights.
Then he is opening one wing of the gate.

Every second seems too extent to minutes.
The second wing is swinging back.

The driver in front of you starts too slowly.
Finally he is moving on taking the place that belongs to you.
You wave to the gateman and have to follow as second.
You know where you want to go today.
Everything was planned already yesterday evening.
But now you consider going in a different direction.
All depends on the car in front of you.
It depends whether you will follow it or go your own way.

Finally you or the other car branch off.
A last look follows the other car.
ou are searching for its break lights.
Not until it disappears around a corner you are concentrating on your own direction.
Then you are hoping you choose the better one.

But today I’m faced with Hobson’s choice.
The long way to Lower Sabie is waiting – 180 km and I want to go via the Old Mainroad stopping on every bird hide, lookout and dam.
But first I go the way via S92 to the low-water bridge.
Still in the dark I take some pics of impalas.

At the bridge a Burchell´s coucal, a Pied kingfisher and a Giant heron are already waiting and in the water a hippo is very close.
But it is still dawn and the night seems to resist making room for another day in paradise . . . . .

The hippo is leaving. Being replaced by the sun and the heron is standing in the warm morning light.
Not so close but its ok.

Burchell´s coucal – after a not very amusing night

Pied kingfisher – waiting for better light

The hippo is leaving.
Being replaced by the sun and the heron is standing in the warm morning light.
'Not so close but its ok.

Then the Pied kingfisher starts his work for food and I can take some pics when he is in flight.

I hear lions roaring but there is no road to where the roaring comes from.

That’s where the roaring comes from . . .

A last goodbye.

Some last longing views to the far horizon from where the golden sun tells me here we will meet again . . . . being in harmony in the African wild.
Then I drive on leaving my beloved Olifants behind me.
This burdens my heart but I’m also very thankful for every beauty and the unique presents this area gave to me during these fantastic days.

Next meet a Secretary bird.
First it is to far away but then it comes closer and closer always stamping to the ground to flush insects and other prey.
Finally I can take pictures I have never expected.

Later I see some steenboks, kudus and zebra.

Two warthogs are too afraid to cross the road.
So I drive back and wait. They wait too.
I start cleaning my camera-lenses.
When I move on again I’m too late.
They have already crossed and they are gone.

All the beautiful views beside the S90 again and no other cars. I’m on my own with my thoughts and feelings. Traveling in paradise . . . .

Maybe I overlook something on this very special road but then it is because I´m following Antoine de Saint-Exupéry and his Little Prince who tells: “And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: On ne voit bien qu'avec le cœur, l'essentiel est invisible pour les yeux".

You don’t understand this? So do I!

But anne-marie will tell us it means: “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye”.

Still following the S90 – the Old Main Road - I meet two Black-backed jackals.
When one of them sees me he/she tells his/her friends that I have arrived or breakfast is ready . . . .
Let’s try it again: When one sees me it tells its friends that I have arrived or breakfast is ready . . . .
There is always an easier way to express something. . . .I think.

Yes Breakfast!
Maybe you wonder why I very seldom mention breakfast and never lunch.
There is nothing more to tell. I always leave without breakfast and never stop for lunch.
I’m eating most of the time during driving and live on biltong, dry worst, some cookies and sometimes bananas (if they are not stolen by monkeys as you know).
Drinking during the day only milk and honey. . . . Sorry I mix something up.
I mean milk and beer.
Water is only spare part for the worst if I would get lost . . . . or a present for the unprepared one.

Sometimes I’m stopped by other dangerous animals.

Roadblock by doves

Going to Gudzani Dam via S41 there is not so much to see at the dam but the scenery itself is worth stopping and to be here for a while.

I drive some kilometers into S100 to look for the lions but they have gone.
At the old kill are many vultures, but in front light.

Back to S41 and on to N`wanetsi Dam.

The long road through paradise

A kill by a small one is the next event that stops me.
A Lilac-breasted roller catches some kind of a cricket and a second one is begging and tries to get it by following him and crying as loud as he can.

When I see Vervet monkeys I tell them I’ve no bananas with me.
But to be on the save side I close my windows not to get a passenger again.

Behind the small pontoon bridge crossing the N'wanetsi a small loop branches off.
Here I meet a group of very pry giraffes and I can take a lot of good pictures.

A few minutes later I see a group of nyala in a dense bush.
It’s a bull, two females and a young.
Too much shadow and twigs to get a picture.
But I'm lucky.
One female takes out her head exactly into the bright sunlight.

At N'wanetsi dam lookout I park the car and go up the path.

Here on the top I’m alone.
A beautiful view.
I have been at the N`wanetsi parking several times in the past but I don’t know why I never went up to this outlook.

A soft wind is whispering in the leaves bringing the scent of the African wilderness.
A moderate African breeze . . . . telling African secrets without a word . . .

It is not easy coming back from beautiful daydreams and taking some panoramic pics and enjoying the view with a photographer’s eye.
Others come. I leave and go down the hill.

When I arrive at the beginning of the hike a young man is pushed forward by his girlfriend up the hill.
He looks quite relaxed but she has to work hard.
I stop them and complain that nobody has told me about this service and for this reason I went up the whole way by my own with all my heavy equipment.
But I have to learn this service is only for special persons.
I don’t know what I am but it seems at least no special person.
So I go to my car (without assistance of course) and leave.

To be continued . . . .
Last edited by Ludwig on Thu Sep 13, 2007 12:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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June 16th, Eighth day, Traveling in paradise . . . , Saturday – Part 2

Within a few minutes I’m at Sweni birdhide.
My first way goes down to the river again.
Here I see a lot of Egyptian geese.
Then I go to the hide where I write my diary.
A pair of Egyptian geese stay guard and tell me whenever something is moving; a crocodile, a hippo. . . .
Following these alarm calls I catch my camera to store the new situation.
But sometimes these geese are standing in the scene in wrong position avoiding decent pictures.

Like last time I count the crocodiles and can add up now and then till six.

I’m alone and enjoy the silence and all the impressions. It’s Saturday and I’m alone!

Did I say silence?
The hippos start snoring very loud.
They seem to have a big argument somewhere up the river.

When I have to leave I'm sad and I promise myself to come back . . . my eyes travel around for a very last time . . . then I turn and leave. . .

I’m driving at the S37 again.
A beautiful landscape and I can feel my heart opening and taking in every sight, smell and impression. . . .

After a long while I switch on the radio hearing The Cranberries on Radio Jacaranda: Dreams. I sing with them . . . loud, very loud . . . I'm just happy. . . Unbelievable. . . .dreams. I’m afraid to wake up to realize it was only a dream. . . .

When the song is over I see two impala rams blocking the road.
They are fighting for females.
When a lonely female is passing very close to them a few seconds later they are rather upset and don’t know what to do. . . I try to explain them . . . . and tell them why they have been fighting and what for . . . . but they move away . . . not really understanding me . . . . or not really interested in females.

Next stop is with some kudus then I take some pictures of the beautiful landscape again like I have done the whole day.

Still driving on the S37 I see two elephant bulls.
First they are far away from the road and I take some pics of them framed by this breathtaking landscapes.
When they come closer they are walking in the best light and I take one pic after another.
I can hear branches breaking, the sound when their feet wander trough grass and touching African soil.
I hear the flapping of their ears and their rumbling coming out from deed inside.
Finally they are too close and I have to drive backwards for some time when they ask for the right of way.
It looks like they are having some fun forcing me to start the engine again and again.

Take some more pics till they come to close to the car again.
The engine is still switched off and I can hear the soft sound of the sand below their feet.
Watching them moving step by step is giving me the impression of a slow motion.
Then they are so close they can nearly touch the car with their trunks.
But they are only chasing me away in a gentle manner again.
When they leave towards the east we have spent a very long and exiting time together. I feel sorry leaving them behind and being alone again.

This is an unbelievable road. I only meet three cars in three hours even if it is Saturday.
All the time the light is so well I only have to push the button.

At the T-Junction to S35 some warthogs try to avoid to be photographed with no success.

I’m going the S35 and stop at Wolhuter's Lion Attack Plaque.
I think most of you know his story when he was attacked by two lions.

But for the others:
In August 1903 ranger Harry Wolhuter riding on his horse accompanied by his dog was attacked by two lions in the late afternoon. Wolhuter killed one of the lions with his knife.
Badly wounded he climbed a tree.
The other lion first unsuccessfully attacking the horse soon returned.
It tried to get the wounded ranger out of the tree.
Luckily Wolhuters dog also returned and by his barking (the dogs barking!) distracted the lions attention.
Then his black assistant who was following Wolhuter with some slow-moving pack donkeys arrived.
He could manage to frighten the lion that went off.

You still can see the knife, so small and simple you can't believe this is the one a lion was killed with, and the skin of the killed lion at Skukuzas museum.

Today there is still a log put in a stone plinth at the scene and every point of this drama is marked in the area around.

Is this really the original stump, more than one hundred years old?
Does anybody know more about it?

At least this tree (is it a knob thorn tree?) brings back some memories to me.
Climbing on the run in the same tree species standing in a tide fork for nearly two hours waiting for someone to be rescued . . . .

If you think I tried to seek shelter of an air hostess you are wrong . . . .
This time they were two mating male ostriches with very nice red legs.
Maybe you know what this means.
They were trying to get me . . . . close call . . . . .not easy to avert big problems . . .
But this is another story. . . .

Let’s coming back to today’s adventures.

I'm a little behind my time schedule and have to go faster.
Then for the next kilometers I see Yellow-billed hornbills every fifty meters.
I have never seen so many of them.
Why they all sitting next to and in the road?
After due consideration my final solution: They are waiting for road kills!
I reduce my speed to avoid falling prey to these interesting birds.

Then I come to Orpen dam.
Nobody is here. I
'm on my own again. Beautiful!
I have never been here before but I'm sure I will return to this jewel.
To be here sitting and walking around and having some time is gorgeous.

I let come Africa to my feelings the air touching my skin and I’m taking in the scent of the African Savannah and let them refresh the colors of my soul. Dreaming . . . Here I can feel it: Dreams are the wings of my life. . . . .

Some Waterbucks are coming to the dam passing very close next to crocodiles.
A fish eagle is sitting in a tree and once more I can hear the whispering in the leaves.
Telling me more secrets of the African Savannah . . . .

I spend more time than expected.
When I'm on the way to leave a nice couple from Jo'burg arrives.
We talk for a few minutes and when I start going to my car they show me that I have forgotten a lens-cap. I thank them and drive on.

Next to road H10.
This tarred road is coated with sand for many kilometers and soon I'm stopped by a dung beetle.
The dung ball it is rolling with its hind legs is covert with sand giving it a glow of amber jewels.

It's funny trying to get a picture out of the car in the right angle.
But however, finally I get some.

The next animal I see is somehow bigger.
It's a white *** walking in some distance on the left side of the road.
Slowly it is coming closer and I'm waiting and waiting.
I add my converter to the camera to get at least some pictures.
When it is close enough for decent pics a truck is coming - speeding.
The *** runs away and all my waiting was for nearly nothing . . . .
I like this truck driver or fairly different dark thoughts come to my mind.

I wait for some more minutes but have to recognize this *** will not come closer for the next few hours and drive on. Luckily for me . . . .

At the Junction to S122 - Muntshe Loop - I see two catlike silhouettes in front light are crossing the road.
Lionesses - of course.
I drive closer where they went into the bush.
I'm looking for these statures and then I find them.
One first then a second, finally it's three.

No, not lions. Cheetahs!!!

First they wander around then lay down on an old termite hill.
It’s the best light of the day but unfortunately front light, so it is coming from the wrong direction.
Then they stand up again changing there positions, lay down again . . . . but all the time still in front light . . .

Albeit I take many pics and some video but soon I have to drive on to be at Lower Sabie before the gates close.

At the low-water bridge at sundown I can take some pics of the beautiful red and golden nature spectacle.

I'm awarded with tent #7 the last one in the south-west of the camp.
First I'm disappointed but later I recognize that I can hear the night sound coming from the sunset dam.

When I take some pics of the tent I look to the stars.
They are so bright you could belief you can touch them.
I decide to take some pics of them.
Take my tripod and camera and move on walking through the high grass away from the light into the dark.
I have no torch with me and it’s difficult to handle the camera.
But that’s only one reason why I’m not very successful in taking pictures this evening.

So I go back towards my tent and remember that I was resolved to use my torch when walking in the dark.
But when I thought about this I was always on one end of the way and my torch on the other.

Here is my torch. And here I left it when I went into the dark . . .

I'm not afraid of snakes because they move away when they see you or feel the vibration of something coming except they are busy with feeding but then they can't bite.
But Puff adders are different because they belief in their camouflage.
Once when I collected information for one of my wilderness stories I have learned there are up to fifty thousand dead per year worldwide resulting from snake bites.
Another source tells up to 120,000 but I can't belief this. Anyway, no nice thinking about.

As I saw only three snakes during these days I thought there are few.
But when I red Anjas and boorgatspooks reports I have learned there where many.
Especially the Puff adder Anja saw on the way to their Lower Sabie tent was close around.
However, I was not bitten by a snake nor got I pictures of the stars.
No good pics and no snake bite are ok. Both yes would be worse.

I’m sitting on the veranda writing my diary and drinking whisky-coke.
At some glass the mix is very strong. I should have added more coke.

And what else? Yes I'm freezing again and fetch my pullover.

Now and then during the night I hear lions roaring.

Picture of the day:

My Olifants

To be continued . . . .
Last edited by Ludwig on Mon Sep 17, 2007 8:25 am, edited 1 time in total.
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June 17th, Ninth day, What ever will be in the tree . . . . , Sunday – Part 1

In the early morning hours I hear a mouse next to my bed.
Like in Satara I close my camera bag and try to sleep again.
But there seems to be something beyond the eyelid of my left eye.
I rub it and this makes things really worse.
The pain is increasing and it is hard to resist rubbing it again.
So I go up and try to see what’s wrong in the mirror.
But the light is to week.
Where is my torch?
Of course it’s there where I'm not.
Get it and try it again.
But the torch dazzles too much and I can't see anything beside some redness.
Go to bed again and try to sleep but now the mouse is going to be more active.
I try to frighten her by loud noise.
But this only works for a short time.
Tell her she should go out for playing - with no success.
Take a blanket and throw it in her direction - silence!
Hope she has not found a gap and climbed in my camera bag and is hiding there.

My eye still hurts but when I close it it’s better.
But it is still so bad that I consider whether I should go to Skukuza and consult the doctor - but it’s Sunday.
Will he be there on Sundays and/or is he on strike too?
You know there was an extended strike during these weeks at hospitals and related services in South Africa.

It’s around four o’clock and I try to stop thinking and to sleep again.

Go up late and leave at 6.15h or later.
I'm not really interested in looking for animals because of the problem with my eye.

Beside this I find some bushbucks and impalas.
When I leave a loop next to the H10 a 4x4 flags me down and the driver tells me there is a lion on the H10 in the direction to Lower Sabie.

Every pain is gone when a huge lion with a beautiful mane comes towards me.
Only one 4x4 is following him but I'm at the better place and can drive in every direction that I need to make decent pictures of the moving lion.
Most of the time I have to drive backwards while taking the pics.
And I take many. I
t’s still dawn and I have to use my flashlight but then the first rays of the sun are catching this beauty.

Beauty in the morning

Then the situation changes and the 4x4 is in favor and I can take only the space he leaves for me.
But things can change by action . . . .
When there is some time I check my camera and have to see it is still on ISO400. Sh...!
I change it to 100 and can take some more pics.
Later I have to learn 400 was ok.
A lot of the pics with ISO100 are blurred. Just luck!

After some more minutes the lion goes into the dense tree Savannah on the left and disappears.

Later at the N'atimhiri Causeway I see a Common duiker and some Chacma baboons.
Back again on the tar road I drive in the direction of Lower Sabie and see some Impalas, warthogs and Vervet monkeys.

Next to the bridge crossing the Lubyelubye a pair of Klipspringer are standing and lying in the beautiful morning light.
Some twigs displace the view but I get nice pics.

From the far I can see a herd of buffaloes is crossing the road moving to the Sabie River to drink and an elephant goes his way parallel to the road. But I'm stopped by a troop of baboons.

And here I also meet Braveheart!

Do you know Braveheart?
No, I don't mean the famous movie or William Wallace the Scottish leader itself.
Braveheart-Francolin the brave bird I mean, but I don't know whether it was male or female of a francolin family.

All starts in the normal way.
There is this troop of baboons next to the street.
Doing every days work: Feeding, playing, waiting for me to be photographed . . .

Today it's Father Day and a francolin family is celebrating it on the way close to the baboons.
First the francolins are feeding peacefully between the dry grasses next to the road.
But then, one of the larger baboons comes to close to the francolin chicken and every thing changes.
Braveheart runs out of the grass and attacks the big baboon that is obviously very surprised and runs away.
Braveheart is still following him till the baboon is far away from the chicken.

Sorry no pic of the action, but here it is:
Braveheart with a heart like a leopard, for ever unknown if female or male.


Or can someone tell how one can see the difference?
But please don’t tell me one can see it if one stays next to it when it lays an egg.

And this is the frightened baboon.
Identified as male by myself.
And you may rest assured not by watching
him if he is able of laying an egg!

The buffaloes are still at the river and so I use the time to go back to the Klipspringers.
When I see the buffaloes coming I drive close by and the herd crosses the road only a few meters in front of my car.
Bulls, cows and calves . . . all so close.

I drive on to sunset dam where it is very crowded but I still find a space between some cars and see Impalas, wildebeests, hippos and crocodiles.

Try to go where fewer people around and drive on to the bridge and then towards Ntandanyathi hide.

Where the road branches off to the hide I see some warthogs and at the hide hippos.

I stay there for a while alone and I’m writing my diary when a family with two children comes.
After one minute the parents and one child leave but a boy remains at the hide.
Maybe they have something forgotten in the car I think - but hopefully not the boy at the hide!
Or have they marooned the boy?
Anyway, I ask the boy whether he has seen a lion today.
He negates and so I show him the lion from the morning on my hard-drive.
When his parents come back I know what they where bringing from outside.
They didn’t have forgotten the boy.
They where calling there friends in and are followed by about ten till fifteen more kids and five or six adults.
Everybody wants to see the lion and they are all around me and my equipment.
Suddenly one child shouts “a lion” and all of them including most adults run in one direction some falling over my tripod.
Nobody sees a lion and the parents are not sure whether there was one or not.
But they ask if there is any damage on my tripod.
I tell them there is no problem and we have a nice talk.
They are from Nelspruit and spent Father Day in the park.

When I leave I will go to Duke Waterhole but turn in the wrong direction and end up at the H4-2 again.

I follow this road till the junction to S130.
Here after a few kilometers a snake makes its way crossing the road in front of the car.
I’m not fast and a full brake application stops the car immediately.
Now I can see it moving through the dry grass still nearly as fast as it was on the road.

My window is open and I remember when I had also to full brake when an Egyptian cobra crossed my way some years ago.
The snake stopped also and was next to my open window lifting its body while I was busy to close the window considering first it may be a spitting cobra.
When I had convinced myself that it was a non spitting one it was too late for pictures.
It went down and finished crossing by passing below my car.

This time I drive backwards following this snake with open window for some time but lose track of it when it moves away from the road.
Later I identify it by its “salmon-pink belly” and its length (according to Bill Branch: Field guide snakes and other reptiles of Southern Africa) as a Mozambique spitting cobra or as it is also called M´fezi.
You know this snake can rear up two-thirds of its length and will readily spit if cornered or in defense.

Next are some zebras, wildebeests and kudus and at Duke waterhole many warthogs.
Some wallow in the muddy water.
The wind is blowing in my direction and I smell a special mixture of warthog, mud and brackish water: Wild Africa!

When the warthogs leave I leave too and can take some pics when they come closer to the car.

. . . . on the run

To be continued . . .
Last edited by Ludwig on Tue Feb 26, 2008 3:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Unread post by Ludwig »

June 17th, Ninth day, What ever will be in the tree . . . . , Sunday – Part 2

Since the meeting with the lion in the morning my eye was going better but now while driving with an open window for hours it is going to be worse again.
I take a tissue and put it between my sunglasses and the eye - this helps.
But looking at it I think it is just conjunctivitis and will go by itself.

Next stop Nhlanganzwani dam.
Some hippos are lying lazy on the bank enjoying the sun.
The dam itself seems to be different compared when I was here last and not to its vantage.

Back via S28 and H4-2 to Lower Sabie.
A Burchell’s coucal and a Fish-eagle are the only sightings till the Sabie bridge.

Here below the pontoon bridge in the river two elephants are walking through the water and feeding on the reed.
Beautiful and majestic they are moving along small islands in the stream crossing the water and giving the impression time means nothing.

Go on to Mlondozi road S29 and see a mixed group of zebras and giraffes.
The zebras are so small compared to the tall giraffes.
Even a quite funny looking youngster overtops these wild horses of Africa.

Then to N'wagovila Hill.
Stop now and then to take pictures of rollers or hornbills and sometimes Bravehearts relatives show up.

When I’m on the hill at the lookout I take some pictures.
I’m uneasy and not interested to stay longer then a few minutes. Why?
I don’t know but anything is calling out to me.
So I drive on and soon I see a Black-backed jackal.
Then I lose it.
But another car comes and the driver shows me the jackal again.
Obviously the jackal lets me pass and went out of the high grass behind my car.
Drive back and get some pics when the jackal starts telling everyone around like he was kidding me.

Some words with the driver and then to H10.
Still on the S29 are some vultures in a tree but I can't see what they are waiting for because of the high grass.
I just hope not for me . . . . .

A kill by a roller is the next sight.

At the crossing I hope to see the cheetahs from yesterday with no success.
Maybe this was it what made me so restless.
o come to this place . . . . . .but then it was for nothing.

I decide to be on the pontoon bridge at Lower Sabie at sundown and have to hurry.
I drive on and after some four kilometers I'm flagged down by a car and here I see it.
This was it I was looking for and the reason I was so unresting for the last hour.
Or it was just as luck would have it.

Cheetah in the tree. Next to the street - unbelievable.

It is standing more than four meters above ground in a tree.
Even if there is front light I can see it very clearly.
It is really a cheetah looking for prey.
After a while the other cars leave and I’m alone with this beautiful animal.
I can choose every place to take my pictures.

At these moments I realize what special sight this is.
There will be few or no chances in my life to see the same again – at least not as close.
A cheetah in the wild high-up in a tree.

Its fur is shining brown and golden in the soft sunlight of this late afternoon.
Its eyes are screening the flat and open Savannah covert with yellow-brown softly swaying grass.
Cheetahs’ hunting ground.

I let this pictures go deep inside myself and here I will keep it - I'm sure for ever.

But now I can see a second cheetah sitting next to the tree - waiting to take over the place on top.

Another car arrives.
The two ladies are also impressed and we see when the cheetah leaves the tree - just jumping not climbing.
This is the signal for the other one who takes over by jumping up in the tree.

After a short while it goes down and both start running strait in my direction.
Here next to my car only one or two meters away from my open window they remain for a short while.
But they must have seen some prey because they now run target-oriented to the east - moving fleet-footed and gracile through golden grass. It looks as if their feet are not touching the ground.
Then say disappear moving on to where our eyes can’t follow them leaving us behind full of impressions.

A few words with the ladies.
Like so many others they are sorry about their small camera but I give them one of my cards. If they mail . . . . you now already.

Still totally impressed I drive on.

I’m disturbed by my thoughts by some Impalas.
They are feeding in dimmed light and one of them finds an easier source.

At the Lower Sabie bridge I change my mind.
I will wait for the sundown at Sunset dam now.

On the way I meet baboons.
One has an injured leg.
They all are very shy and I can take only three pictures.
But one will be very special.

A mother with a young is sitting on a small hill when an older male comes and takes both in his arms holding them in sensible sympathy. Finally he takes the baby and pets it holding it cheek on cheek, then moves along slowly.
Love in African harmony . . . .

This time of the year the sun goes down in the north-west.
Not the direction to make good pics at Sunset dam and only the noisy hippos bring some diversion.
To compensate this a Pied kingfisher is coming and flying quite close giving the chance to take some pics in the fading light.

Back at the camp I go to the shop.
Beside something else I need some beer.

A woman is standing outside the walk-in refrigerator and her husband or boyfriend is already inside and I tell her she should close the door and lock us in till tomorrow.
But when I’m inside and we both are looking for Windhoek beer (that we couldn’t find!!! :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen:) I change my mind: Too cold.
Luckily for us she let us out again and we leave without Windhoek but with another brand and happy.

Not to give you a wrong impression.
Out of Africa I seldom drink alcohol and I stay with milk, fruit juice and lemonade but in Africa it’s different. . . .

At the cash point a Canadian girl tells me her group has seen five leopards this day, some with a kill.
All for them and non for me! :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen:
I’m jealous, I’m so jealous!!! :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen: If it goes on like this there will be no Mr. Greens left for you!

So I tell her I have seen cheetahs at least four meters up in a tree.
The shop girls are also interested but give me the feeling they don’t believe me.
So I take out my hard-drive and show it to them!

What’s this: five leopards compared to cheetahs in the tree!
Hmmmm! .:twisted: .:twisted: .:twisted:

Jubatus you will agree, won’t you?
No pardus, no contrary comments at this moment.

Maybe I would have given away one of the cheetahs for one leopard.
But I won’t tell them. :wink:

To Curious Canadian and Locky:
You know this has nothing to do with the Canadians itself!
But why do Canadians take all this leopards for them self and not sharing them with “nice?” Bavarians? :wink:

Wouldn’t have but “nice” in double quote but there will come a certain part in a few days . . . . . . and I have to prevent . . . .

After the usual dinner I write my diary.
There is no wind today but I need my pullover again.

Then I prepare my camera for the morning.
My eye is ok and I enjoy sitting under the African sky following my thoughts . . . . .

I'm looking to the Milky Way and can see millions of stars and I know:
There is more, much more than we know, there must be a big creator, there really must be more!

During the night I hear the lions again and between this hyenas and hippos are calling.
Once I hear some baboons on the veranda.
When they hear me they speed off.
If they would have seen me they would have stayed.
I know what some of you think now :twisted: : “Or wouldn’t have come”. .:twisted:

My favourites of the day:

To be continued . . .
Last edited by Ludwig on Tue Feb 26, 2008 3:55 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Unread post by Ludwig »

June 18th, Tenth day, Fighting in the dark . . . , Monday – Part 1

“Fighting in the dark”.
When I told this headline to a friend she replied: “My sister is very well known for walking in her sleep and even attacking people!
Maybe a less nice South African?
Is that possible? ...but she was not there - so, don't keep me in suspension for too long!”
No, it was not her sister. It was . . . . . . .
Ok, let’s start in the morning. . . .

I wake up at 3:30 and work on my pictures.
When I try to sleep again the mouse starts running.
It is so cold and I’m freezing even if I have an additional blanket it would be not a good idea to throw one to the mouse like yesterday.
The shower is more in the open and has to get along without me.

While I have filled up my car at the station I’m talking to a new arrived guy.
He keeps a slingshot and we discuss the use and our experiences with this item.
He uses it to keep the baboons out of the camp.
Too late during the day I consider trying to get it but can't find him again even though if I have a look when ever I come back to Lower Sabie during the next few days.

My first way goes to Sunset dam.
It’s still dark but in the headlights I can see two hippo bulls fighting in the dark close to the bank.
So now it’s clear for everybody it was not the mentioned sister. T
hey are fighting very aggressive.
The splashing water framed by their loud voices gives me a lasting impression of their power.
Their wide open jaws are showing their deadly arms.

Contrary to their mostly funny looking they are known as very dangerous.
Most humans killed by mammals in Africa are killed by hippos.
I know some stories what happens if one gets between them and where they want to go.
First I can take some nice pics but then they move on - away from me.
Maybe because of the fact I didn't take a shower this morning.
I have a look in the rear mirror to look for myself.
Not neat as a pin but I would have stayed close to the bank.
I don't look that bad.

Next to the dam from the very far I can hear hyenas but can't see them.
When I hear them again I’m unsure what it is.
Maybe hyenas - or a lion? Then I hear it again.
If it is a lion than he tries learning a foreign language - called Hyena.
Anyway, it’s an interesting sound.

Then I drive on crossing the Lubyelubye Bridge and will go to Nkuhlu picnic spot.

After a while I see a Verreaux's eagle-owl.
In the half-light of the dawn it looks as if there would be a human behind a mask and it's hardly to belief you see the head of a bird.
Or like a nice South African lady expresses it: “It really looks like a human attending a masquerade ball.”
You don’t know what lady I mean? Just wait till the late afternoon.

It's after seven o'clock, time for the first African beer.
I'm just kidding you; it's already close to 8 a.m. and I’m still on my way to Nkulu picnic spot.
En-route I see some Bushbuck and Impalas.

Later I can take a picture of a hornbill in flight.
Yes! This was it!
But being at home and going through my pictures I have to find out: It’s blurred. :( :evil: :( :twisted: :(
Is it a result of the early morning beer? I don’t think so.
That’s photographer’s life.
You can’t be taken off-field carried on shoulders every day.

At Nkulu an older South African couple talks to me.
It seems they are happy to have found someone they can share their sights with and talk to for a while.
So I stay with them . . . .
Later a 4x4 arrives and the passengers ask me what I have seen when I not followed them at the N'watimhiri Causeway.
But there was nothing.
I was just kidding them when not following them when we both drove the same causeway.
Turning around and waiting till they have disappeared. :evil:
We talk for a while then I drive on and stop at a troop of baboons still on the way north on the H4-1 following the Sabie river.
I stay with them for a long time.
Some of them are quite close to each other but they are not fighting . . . . They are so active like I have them never seen before.
Sorry but I have to censor this selection and have to take out a lot of pictures. . . .

Here are the uncritical ones.

Can’t remember the name of the nice guy in the white car . . . .
Now I remember: Not again, not again this one . . . . .

The very first picture of an African secret:
Baboons in the wild use toilets!

The next stop is at the bridge where the H12 is crossing the Sabie River some paces below the confluence of Sabie and Sand River.
Here a young hippo tries to get piggyback on two adults.

The views from the bridge following the River with its pools, many islands and rocks in the river bed are breathtaking.
Framed by impressive trees, reed and bushes on its banks under a clear blue sky.
Here you have one of the most beautiful river views in the park.
You can hear the water softly flowing accompanied by the calls of birds.
The changing, partly absorbed light, interrupted by sparkling sunbeams that are reflected on the ripply water surface amplifies the magic of this wonderful landscape.
The lush riverine vegetation offers home to many species.

Taking in all this beautiful sights I recall two of my wilderness stories.
These two are based on reports of C. P. de Leeuw Beyers.
One telling the fate of Marius Meyer a young man who was killed in this area by . . . . . . How far from here was it where Ranger Mankoti met the challenge of his life?
Have it been these trees who gave him a last shadow on this red-hot summer day?
One day when I’m really able to finish my book everybody can find it out.

I drive back towards Lower Sabie.
On the way I’m stopped by a large kudu bull next to a car driven by a lady who is enjoying her trip obviously.
The car is pulling a trailer where something is mounted on looking like a tent.

The bull looks beautiful till we see some big sores on its belly. Poor animal . . . . I will not show the pictures.

A group of impala is next.
Here an impala ewe is flushing its tongue and some time later a ram seems to talk to me.
Can’t tell you what he is saying.
He doesn’t speak in my language.

Above of us some vultures soar in the sky.
Are they waiting for lunch?
Hopefully they are not waiting for me.
Everything is going well with me.
No problems with my eye anymore.
No problems with me in any way.
So no chance for the vultures . . . . today!

Going the H4-1 towards Lower Sabie I’m crossing the Lubyelubye again.
Some years ago I saw a leopard in the immediate vicinity. But today it’s rather quiet.

Do you know the small koppie on the left hand side in the direction to the Sabie River next to the bridge?
This is my lion rock.
I always slow down when passing here and I'm sure one day there will be lions or a leopard standing or lying on this rock - waiting for me. I’m sure – one day . . . . and I will be here . . . .

”My lion rock”

Back at Sunset dam there is a lot to see.
Unfortunately most of the interesting scenery is on the opposite bank and on the far right side.
It seems as if impalas, crocs, hippos, giraffes and warthogs from everywhere have a big meeting.
I shorten my time by photographing Egyptian geese, African jacana and a Yellow-fronted canary.

Then a big impala herd comes to the dam quiet close to where I stand.
They seem to be not very afraid by a nearby lying crocodile.

A Grey heron lands on a dry tree and joints me watching the beauties of Africa.

In the meantime the lady with the trailer has arrived and I ask her if it is a tent that is mounted on the trailer.
She denies and tells me she is moving to Komatipoort and her full stuff is packed in the car and the trailer.
My curiosity is satisfied with that and the rest of my life will be easier by that.

To be continued . . .
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Unread post by jb72 »

Hi Ludwig,

Great report ! I'm loving every minute of it !
I don't want to hi-jack your thread here, but just to show you that dreams can come true:
Pictures of your "Lion Rock":

We saw them there on 2 different occasions.
There were also a mating pair of Leopards in the area, so your dreams could definitely come true !!!!
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