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KiwiGran

3 Generation family safari

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KiwiGran

3 Generation South African safari

Just back from an awesome family safari – ourselves (Grandma and Grandad), our daughter Robyn and her husband John and our 2 grandchildren Roneta 18 and Jayden 16.

When I posted about this trip in the topic E visas are coming to South Africa @Game Warden posted this     And hopefully this will set them up with a lifelong interest in wildlife and safaris 

I am positive we achieved this objective. Our sightings were phenomenal but on top of that the kids experienced so much more - the warmth and friendship of safari guides, trackers, ladies in the kitchen, transfer drivers. The experience of travelling through community areas on our transfer and seeing the contrasts of poverty and wealth, the litter, the unfinished dwellings, the colour of the roadside stalls and so on. The experience of staying in unfenced tented camps, hearing the hyena and lions at night, having bushbuck and Nyala in the camp,  a hyena walk through the camp while having tea round the boma at night, the stories told and the fun and laughter shared.

 

This was such a special family time and the animals gave us special family sightings – lioness and cubs, leopard and her 3 month old cub, protective rhino mum and her 3 week old calf, elephant herd with numerous babies of various ages, buffalo herd with lots of calves, hippo mum and baby, dwarf mongoose family playing by the road In Kruger, baboon families, warthog family.

 

So I invite you to come along with us and enjoy.

Itinerary

For us  May 6th Fly Auckland-Sydney-Johannesburg, stay City Lodge OR Tambo

7th  Fly to Hoedspruit and transfer to Shindzela tented camp in the Timbavati

10th Transfer to Hoedspruit airport to pick up the family and on to Ndzhaka tented camp Manyeleti

12th All transfer to Tydon Bush camp on Umkumbe land Sabi Sand

15th   Back to Nelspruit and Johannesburg and home

The family left on the 5th and had 4 days in Perth prior to meeting up with us at Hoedspruit.

 

Day 1  Animal sightings began as soon as we entered Timbavati – a young lion in the shade of a tree (it was 30degrees), lots of giraffe, warthogs, kudu, impala – so good to be back.

 

Shindzela staff welcomed us back this being our 4th visit to the camp. We met our guide Brett and renewed our friendship with tracker Raymond. After lunch we settled in and then off on our first game drive. Only 6 of us on the vehicle, a German couple hadn’t made it in time for this drive. There was a family from Melbourne, mother father and teenage son and a guide who was interested in employment at Shindzela.

 

Started with general game, Kudu, wildebeest, impala then found the Avoca lion pride which we had seen on 2 of our previous visits - I was so pleased to see they had young cubs. Mapoza the male, 1 sub adult male (the Xikuklosa coalition), 3 lioness and 8 cubs. The cubs were 3 different ages, 6 weeks, 2 months and 3 months. .It was a super sighting – cubs playing, lots of vocals, cubs suckling. Interesting dynamics – Mapoza the adult male has so far tolerated the 2 Xikuklosa males and Brett said the 2 sub adults have been doing a good job of helping protect the cubs and helping with the kills. All the lions were in great order, they had recently had a buffalo kill, a large male kudu and some smaller kills so were looking very full.

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wilddog

I bet the grandchildren were hooked by the sight of those cubs. What a great start. 

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KiwiGran

Here is a video of the first sighting, I just love the sounds the cubs make

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KiwiGran

Thanks @wilddog This sighting was before we met up with the kids but no worries they had wonderful sightings of cubs too.

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Treepol

@KiwiGran this trip sounds like a wonderful family Safari for all of the best reasons. As well as sharing your passion for Safari and wildlife, your teenage grandchildren had a true experience meeting local kitchen ladies and transfer drivers as well as seeing firsthand how others live.

 

Looking forward to driving along with you on this trip. 

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KiwiGran

Thanks @Treepol for your nice comments. Yes a great experience for their first safari.

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KiwiGran

 A few vultures were still nearby.

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Hooded vultures.

 

After enjoying a good long sighting with the lions we headed off. General game again until nearing dusk we came around a corner to find the missing 3  members of the Avoca pride sitting beside the road – the other sub adult male and 2 lioness. As we sat there we heard lions roaring in the distance  – the main group of the Avocas and then one of the highlights of the trip. The 3 we were watching sat up and turned towards the sound, which happened to be towards us, and started to roar. Being so close was exhilarating and you could feel the vibration and see the immense effort and power of the roar. They were looking straight at us, very close. The prospective guide summed it up – that was insane he said.

 

This isnt a great photo as it was getting dark but it will always remind me of the awesome experience.

 

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Back to camp for a lovely tea around the fire and early to bed as we hadnt quite caught up after the long flight.

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KiwiGran

Day 2

Off at 6.30am – lots of general game, kudu, waterbuck, wildebeest. Then found the Avocas again this time on the airstrip. The light was lovely and the cubs looked smaller and fluffier – so cute. Again lots of vocals and activity.

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Mapoza

 

 

 

 

 

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KiwiGran

Video

 

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KiwiGran

On the way back Brett found signs of buffalo so we off roaded to try and find them, quite a challenge but he succeeded and we had a good sighting of a big herd.

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On the afternoon drive we headed to one of the dams on the property where there were lots of hippos and we all enjoyed their vocals and antics.

 

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Further on we enjoyed quite a unique sighting. We spotted a steenbok but what was she doing? She was vigorously digging – initially we thought she was covering her dung but then she put her head down and appeared to be eating something. With that I recalled seeing something similar on Live Safari and Jamie explaining that they eat bulbs and tubers. She was so intent on digging and feeding that she didn’t run away – at one stage moved off only to return so we were able to get photos and enjoy a long sighting.

 

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Back to camp for a delicious breakfast and then some time to ourselves before lunch. Sitting on our deck I enjoyed seeing squirrels in the tree beside our tent, a hyena come to drink at the pan across the dry riverbed, a herd of impala come and drink and then show rutting behaviour. In the roof of the dining room Brett showed us the nest of a barn owl and you could see the chick peering out, he told us there were 3 chicks.

 

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TonyQ

The lion cubs are lovely.

A great start 

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KiwiGran

The afternoon game drive started with a nice sighting of a female giraffe and then another female and we realised there was a tiny newborn baby at her feet. We watched from a distance and saw the little one get up on its wobbly legs and take a few steps – it was so tiny and vulnerable.

More general game – zebra, kudu, waterbuck and then back to the lions who hadn’t moved far. The cubs were really playful, climbing on their mothers and each other, again vocalising, trying to climb a tree, such a joy to watch them.

 

Brett and Raymond then heard something and off we went to follow up on impala alarm calls, they were sure a leopard was in the area but couldn’t find it. Stopped for sundowners and then got a call from the other Shindzela vehicle so hurriedly packed up and off we went at pace. So exciting to find it was a leopard sighting, a young male – very difficult to get photos as it was getting dark but so neat to see a leopard again. We have been very lucky with leopard sightings and this trip produced several more.

A quick sighting of rhino in the spotlight and back to camp.

 

Day 3

A different morning this time, not many animals but a fabulous tracking experience. By this time we had the Australian family, a German couple and ourselves on the vehicle each drive and we were forming a great team with everyone changing seats so we all had good views and everyone being patient staying with sightings till all were ready to move on. The Australian family were on their first safari and it was great to see them grow in confidence, quite nervous especially of the close ups with lions initially, but soon growing in confidence and knowledge.

 

Early in the drive Raymond picked up tracks of a female leopard and they tracked her for a long way on the road, probably over 2km. At times both Brett and Raymond would get off the vehicle to check which way she had gone and towards the end they both followed the tracks down a road and across the dam wall. We all were thoroughly enjoying watching the process and were happy sitting in the sun watching them track, at times getting quite far away. When Brett came running back to the vehicle we sensed they had found something and he explained that they had found drag marks so knew she had made a kill. They both rejoined the vehicle explaining that it was better to continue tracking from the vehicle as on foot they may have frightened her away. Watching Raymond follow the tracks off road in the long grass was fascinating and we were all thrilled when he found the kill, a duiker stashed under a bush. But where was the leopard? No sign of her. I asked why she chose under the bush rather than in a tree and Brett explained that the vultures could find it in a tree so she had to take the risk of hyena finding it. Many questions were unanswered – had she gone for a drink at the dam, had she gone to fetch a cub? So ended chapter 1 of the story but much more was to come.

 

The afternoon drive started with the buffalo herd close to camp. Other sightings were Verreaux eagle owl on a branch silhouetted in the early morning light, kudu, 2 dugga boys. Back to the kill site, initially couldn’t see anything then the Australian Dad called “there at 3 oclock” and it was the leopard and she had 2 cubs with her!! Quite difficult to see them as they were very nervous but we had a few glimpses in the long grass and then decided to pull out rather than stress them. So we had chapter 2 and answers to the questions. But there was even more to come.

 

Chapter 3 was in the evening as it was getting dark we went back to the site and saw the larger of the 2 cubs (probably the male). He climbed the tree and we realised the mother (the White Rock female) must have taken the kill up the tree. He was quite relaxed this time so we were able to see him reposition the kill, holding our breath in case he dropped it, feed for some time on the kill before he came down. We caught glimpses of the mother and other cub but pulled out of the sighting so the other Shindzela vehicle could come in (they had declared it a 1 vehicle sighting to not stress the leopards).

 

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What a marvellous experience to follow the story, to see expert trackers at work and to get the ending we all hoped for.

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Hads

Wonderful report thanks @KiwiGran especially with all the family with you :) 

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KiwiGran
Posted (edited)

Day 4 and Day 1 with family

Today just the German couple and ourselves as the others were doing a short walk before they had to leave at 8am. The day started with tracking the lions as we hadn’t seen them for a day. But soon we got a call for wild dog!!  So a very quick drive and we were in the area but they had lost sight of them. We cruised around for a while and then they popped out on the road – 6 dogs including the alpha female who was showing suckle marks. We followed them for some time until the bush got too thick to follow - a great sighting and neat for us all as we were all

leaving after breakfast.

 

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Back to camp, a quick change, farewells, a packed breakfast and we were on our way to Hoedspruit airport to pick up the family, so excited to see them.

We had a super transfer driver who was quite intrigued by our family. At home Robyn had arranged for shirts to be made with the logo 3 gen safari 2019 and all six of us were wearing our shirts which looked quite impressive. Luggage collected and we were off.

Here I am in my shirt and I think you will be able tom see the joy I felt meeting our family in Africa!

 

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Animal viewing started soon after leaving the airport with elephants in a fenced reserve beside the road and so good to see the kids delight. Then a giraffe and Ronetas excitement was a joy to behold, she is only just over 5 foot so the height of a giraffe was very impressive for her. But the best sighting was a troop of baboons on the roadside. As we came up to them our driver stopped and we watched them scamper along the side of the road, up a tree, across the branches which were hanging over the high fence, a few deft swings from a slender branch and drop down inside the fence. The whole troop, mothers and babies, big males, they all performed the same manoeuvre , just such fun to watch.

 

Through the gate to Manyeleti and lots of animals – elephants, giraffe, wildebeest. A great start to our adventure together. We arrived at Ndzhaka camp, last year we stayed at Buffelshoek the sister camp so this was our first experience of Ndzhaka. Set amongst big trees with boardwalks to 2 tents and paths to the other 3. A basic camp but it had all we needed and we were very well looked after. The food was varied, fresh and plentiful. The camp is eco, solar lighting, very limited WiFi but places in the dining room to charge phones etc.

The family had travelled from Perth, a 5 hour stop over in Johannesburg then the flight to Hoedspruit so they were eager to settle in and enjoy hot showers.

Ndzhaka camp

 

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A delicious lunch and before long we were off on our first game drive. A lovely sighting of elephants at the main dam. but Prince our guide seemed to be on a mission and quite a long drive later we found what it was -  a lion pride and cubs. What a thrill for the family! A really good sighting with lots of action, suckling and playful cubs and lazy lioness. A great start.

 

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The next sighting was of some very big bull elephants that we were able to get very close to as they were very  relaxed. Magnificent specimens.

 

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On the way back to camp and in the spotlight an excellent sighting of a white tailed mongoose.

 

A great first day and so wonderful to have the family with us and see their reactions. Robyn and John had been on 2 safaris but this was the first time for Roneta and Jayden. They were initially a little apprehensive to be so close to lions and elephants but soon realised they were in good hands and were able to enjoy the experience and ask lots of questions.

 

Edited by Peter Connan
Duplicate photo

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KiwiGran

Day 2 with family

 

It was extremely cold in the night though nice and cosy in bed.  Getting up was a bit of a challenge but everyone was eager to see what the day would bring. Set off at 6.30am, through a lovely wooded area. Prince and his tracker seemed to be looking for something in particular and doubled back a couple of times then we found a big male rhino, a great sighting and all able to get good photos. Prince gave us a lecture on when it was OK to talk and when we had to be quiet. The rhino wasn’t very relaxed so it was important to keep quiet. He gave us lots of facts about rhinos and that they can live for up to 45 years.

 

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Left the rhino and were cruising along when Prince received a message on the radio and he sprung into action – “Hold on” he said – we looked at each other in wonderment – what had caused this sudden change of pace?   Well it was something I hadn’t dared to believe we would see – Cheetah!!. It was a fantastic sighting, 2 brothers. One posed for us on a termite mound, then the other brother came across the plain, marked a nearby tree and joined his brother on the mound. Lots of stretching and yawns and super photo opportunities. I thought to myself “how lucky can these kids be?”  we had only seen cheetah briefly once before, as had Robyn and John After some time the cheetah walked off and we stopped for a drink, everyone so thrilled at what we had witnessed.

 

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Enjoying the joke!

 

Cruising back not a lot to see but then Robyn called Rhino. Another great sighting, we were all silent and could see how he was trying to work out where and what we were, his little ears swivelling about and his whole demeanour  one of indecision.

 

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Back for a lovely breakfast and break. During the day we saw a big herd of elephants passing close to the camp on a ridge where we could watch them. The lady in the end tent had elephants so close she could almost touch them at one stage.Also Nyala in camp.

 

The afternoon drive yielded some great sightings

Down to a dam and there was a bull elephant having a wonderful time, splashing muddy water over himself then getting right into the water and submerging - everyone loved this sighting, he was clearly having such a good time.

 

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mopsy

Great sightings so far @KiwiGran the first timers certainly have brought you some luck.

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KiwiGran

Thanks @mopsy. It was such a joy to share it with the family.

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KiwiGran

Continuing our drive we found male lion brothers lying in the shade - one brother was further over concealed in the grass.

 

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A hyena beside the road, came quite close and watched us, he was sniffing the air then suddenly chickened out, turned and ran away.

 

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Lovely giraffe sightings and Roneta got the photo she wanted.

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We saw a big herd of buffalo in the spotlight on the way home and so ended another awesome day.

Day 3

A good sighting of the herd of buffalo including seeing and hearing 2 bulls crashing heads.

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A breeding herd of elephants and as we pulled off a youngster chased the vehicle, flapping his ears and trumpeting but soon ran back to the herd when we stopped!

 

Another rhino, so majestic in the early morning light.

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Then another highlight - wild dogs! How lucky can these kids be? Just 3 dogs but a lovely sighting in a nice open area where we could follow them for some time.

 

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And so our stay at Ndzhaka came to a close. Here is the family with Prince and Funny our guide and tracker.

 

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Ndzhaka had provided us with a wonderful experience – 4 of the big 5 plus cheetah and wild dog. I enjoy the wildness of Manyeleti, the wide open plains contrasting with wooded areas,  the fact that all camps can traverse the whole area, guides are in touch with each other but it never feels crowded. I had given the kids journals with a checklist of Kruger animals and I was pleased to see them writing up their journals and I encouraged them to record their impressions and feelings.

 

 

 

 

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KiwiGran

Our transfer driver from Tydon camp picked us up, an excellent driver who gave us lots of interesting information about the community area we passed through. A real eye opener to see the poverty, the litter, yet the colour of the roadside stalls and fruit, the gorgeous dresses of some of the women, the unfinished houses, the pot holed roads and so on. Lunch at Hazyview and soon we entered Sabi Sand through Shaws gate.

Lots of animals on the way to the camp - giraffe, zebra, breeding herd of elephants.

 

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Arrived at Tydon Bush camp – everyone impressed with the set up – 4 tents surrounding a boma, a delightful dining area with comfy chairs and lots of informative books, set amongst the trees, unfenced except for a wire to try and keep elephant out but we had Nyala and bushbuck in camp and one night a chilled out hyena wandered past as we had our evening meal around the boma. Just us in camp at this stage.

 

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A great first drive, the animals here in Sabi Sand so habituated. First up a chilled out warthog that we could get quite close to and see the warts, the tusks, feeding on his knees.

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Our guide was Neil, a young guide (22) but gave us plenty of information, had good intuition of where the animals might be or move to and introduced lots of fun and laughter, we all really enjoyed him. It was just us on this drive and very quickly Neil became one of the family calling us Grandad and Grandma right from the start!

Then a group of wildebeest again getting very close.

 

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A zebra with a young foal lying in the grass and looking quite distressed with the heat. We later found out the foal had got up and rejoined its mother much to our family's relief.

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A lilac breasted roller photo opportunity.

 

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A great sighting of 2 female rhino incredibly close. We watched them feeding and they came right up to the vehicle and were totally relaxed. The kids were astounded at how close we could get.

 

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While spotlighting we found a young elephant with an alkathene hosepipe stuck on one tusk so Neil photographed it and would report it as it was a man made problem and could need intervention. Close to more elephant 2 female and 2 young ones. On way back to camp saw 2 common Reedbuck, a male and a female and a March mongoose, both firsts for me.

 

Then the absolute highlight – Nweti a magnificent male leopard. We came around a corner and there he was on the road doing his territorial round, marking the trees. We followed him for some time and then he moved into the bush. Neil shot round to the next road and spotted Nweti coming through but then we were confronted with 2 very touchy elephants so had to back up and in doing so lost Nweti but it had been a super sighting and our first leopard of the trip for the family. Tydon delivered again, we have had leopard on all of our 4 visits there. So now we have the magnificent 7 in 3 days!!!

 

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TonyQ

What wonderful sightings for the children (and the rest of you!)

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KiwiGran

Thanks @TonyQ. It was a wonderful trip.

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KiwiGran

Day 4

Started with another great close up with an elephant aged 20- 25 years. He gave us a walk by and we could see his cushioned feet. We watched him feed, shaking the dirt off the grass before he put it in his mouth.

 

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Then the highlight of the morning – a very protective mother rhino with a 3 week old calf. Initially we could just make out the calf in the grass but we sat quietly and then the little one got up and we watched him run off, followed closely by his mum – what a cute little fellow he was. Difficult to photograph this sighting - you can just make him out in the grass.

 

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On the way back Niel talked to the kids about the life of termites, had us all chew a guari and silver cluster leaf to demonstrate the tannins and astringent effect and told us how the tree put out pheromones to alert the other trees to the animals browsing.

 

Guide Niel

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A family of warthogs, beautiful male kudu .

 

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Afternoon drive

We went over to the Western block and found a breeding herd of more than 60 elephants. It was so wonderful sitting for nearly an hour surrounded by elephants of all ages, all of us feeling a sense of peace and wonder. Teenagers play wrestling, trying out their strength, little ones playing and one came right up to the vehicle swinging his little trunk, flapping his ears and we could see his little pink mouth. Big females grazing right beside the vehicle, tummy rumbles, squeals and trumpeting from the young ones. Absolute magic.

 

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Back to camp spotlighting on the way and another highlight – a female leopard Ndzanzen and her 3 month old cub. So exciting, first time for all of us to see a young leopard cub. Very shy and showing the typical slinking behaviour with Mum encouraging it to go with her. What a special sighting.

 

Ndzanzen.

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Cub

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These 2 photos were taken by our guide Niel

 

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KiwiGran

Day 5

A full day in Kruger National Park. We wanted to give the family as many different experiences as possible so included this. We were joined by Wim from Belgium.

 

First stop was Lake Panic hide - Jayden hadnt seen hippo yet so this was an opportunity to rectify that.

 

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Lots of general game then on to a dirt road and a stop at Mathekenyane Lookout. A magnificent view and gave us all an idea of how vast Kruger is.

 

A beautiful Bateleur did a fly over for us (Photo by John)

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Family group

 

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Continued on and spotted a rhino sitting down - an absolutely huge fellow. We watched a bull elephant demolish some vegetation and then stopped at a waterhole where there were lots of animals including giraffe drinking, another first for the kids.  We also enjoyed the antics of the vervet monkeys.

 

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Further on I spotted a nest and Niel said it was a Woolly necked stork nest with 3 chicks.

 

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Then a lovely sighting of a Tawny Eagle.

 

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On to Sunset dam and so much to see - giraffe drinking, lots of crocodiles, hippos, Maribou storks and many other birds.

 

Then to Lower Sabie for lunch and such a lovely outlook including elephants swimming in the river.

 

Back on the road – great fun watching a baboon family

 

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 Elephant herd crossing the road, giraffe, dwarf mongoose family. We met up with another Tydon group who said there was lions down by the river. There were lots of vultures in the tree and a rank smell so there must have been a carcass somewhere. Robyn glimpsed the lions and we went round and on to a bridge and could see the lions through the binoculars. A good day in Kruger and quite a different experience.

 

Day 6

Our last drive before heading off home. We set off a bit earlier so that we could be back at camp and have breakfast before our transfer to the airport.

 

A group of hyena close to the camp, looking very cocky. We had heard lions roaring at about 5 am and others had heard growling and hyena laughing.

 

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Found lion tracks but no luck. Also leopard mother and cub tracks but again lost them. A quiet drive most of the time then a call up from the other Tydon vehicle – they had found the lions. An unknown group – 2 lioness 3 young males. One lioness very lame and signs of a fight of some sort – maybe other lions or hyena.

 

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Headed back to camp and another call Nweti the male leopard had been spotted close to camp. We couldn’t see him but he had been seen in the drainage line so Neil followed that for a while and then offroaded closer and hopped out to investigate. Came back very quickly and said he could hear Nweti moving through the bush. With that Robyn spotted movement and with her help Neil located him. We followed and then Nweti came out of the bushes on to the road, marked a tree and crossed the road into the neighbouring property. What an incredible ending to an incredible safari – male leopard in daylight.

 

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KiwiGran

A quick breakfast, farewells and on our way to Nelspruit airport to fly home. Protesters were out in force on the way back with rubbish, glass etc strewn over the road, we gathered they were protesting about water.Another aspect of South Africa.

 

My personal summing up of the trip:

 

Fantastic sightings – first time for leopard cubs, leopard cub up tree on kill, baby rhino, lions roaring next to the vehicle, male leopard in daylight, young lion cubs, new sightings – Reedbuck and Marsh mongoose.

 

Being with family, enjoying such special times together, being so proud of our grandchildren – they spoke so well at each place and gave the tips, they were so enthusiastic and we all had such fun.

 

Being free of pain – the first time I have been on safari with both hips replaced and it made a huge difference.

 

And to finish - Roneta and Jayden posted these on their Instagrams

 

Roneta

Sitting here in the airport reflecting on one surreal trip. Can’t thank Grandma and Grandad and Mum and Dad enough for making it all possible and sharing their love of South Africa with us . From the 4 days in Perth to the Safari drives with Prince and Niël, the day in Kruger and the surreal realities of the villages on our transfer between the lodges. Lost for words of the different perspectives we have seen in the last two weeks but also living on adrenaline from the incredible sightings of animals and how close we got to them on game drives. This trip will forever be an amazing memory especially our last game drive seeing lions and Nweti the leopard in the last half an hour after a very quiet 2 hours! 

 

Jayden

From cities of millions to impoverished villages, Australian outback and African plains, this trip has been like nothing I have experienced. It has opened my eyes to the levels of contrast in the world and I am super grateful for my family for sharing this with me. I cant believe Im saying it but I will even miss staying in remote bush camps where elephants, hippos and leopards wandered through at night within metres of where we were sleeping. This past two weeks are two I will certainly never forget. Feeling extremely blessed.

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TonyQ

A wonderful report of a wonderful experience. Those last two INstagram posts are very touching!

 

You had wonderful sightings. The hour spent surrounded by elephants sounds like bliss. And great leopard sightings.

Thank you

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