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Sharifa

Kruger: Images and memories

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Geoff

Been away from ST for ages and thoroughly enjoyed my first visit back to this thread. Very interesting reading on the Magnificent Seven.

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Sharifa

The Hall of fame is in Letaba Camp @@penolva. Letaba is situated 32km north of Olifants and from Satara it is 69km. So if you are staying in Satara or Olifants you can still make a trip to visit the museum. Well worth the drive.

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Sharifa

@@africapurohit and @@Geoff thanks for following and hopefully if you are in Kruger you will stop over in Letaba and marvel at the giants too :)

Edited by Sharifa

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Sharifa

Still staying with Letaba sightings

 

At the H1-5 /H9 intersection a lioness and two cubs were at a buffalo kill. The intersection is just 1km from the Camp.

Apologies for the quality of the photos

 

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About 2 km further on we saw this impressive elephant who was quite a tusker

 

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He was an Askari (Companion) for this shy tusker called Hlanganini. He was friendly easy going and very relaxed Tusker.

Hlanganini was named after the Hlanganini Spruit (stream) close to Letaba, where he was first seen. His name means "at the reeds." For some time he was the biggest Tusker in Kruger. He died in July 2009, his carcass was found and his tusks were rescued.

 

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penolva

The Hall of fame is in Letaba Camp @@penolva. Letaba is situated 32km north of Olifants and from Satara it is 69km. So if you are staying in Satara or Olifants you can still make a trip to visit the museum. Well worth the drive.

Thanks we are at Olifants so will pop over to see the museum. Pen

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Sharifa

Kruger offers a variety of exciting activities to the visitors.There are guided walking trails, 4x4 adventure trails and Sleepover Hides to name a few.

There are two Hides that have been converted into sleepover hides, one is Sable Hide and the other is Shipandani Hide. These Hides can only be booked en block and for maximum of one night. This allows you to enjoy a night in the bush in the safety of the Hide.

 

The hides have basic toilet facilities, no water and no electricity so take your torches and water with. There is an enclosed Lapa at the back of the Hide so you are safe to park your vehicle, light up a fire and enjoy a evening sitting around the fire. For Sable Hide you check in at Phalaborwa Gate. You can hire all your bedding, lights and braai grid at Phalaborwa. We took our sleeping bags which worked well for us. You are allowed to take occupancy 30 minutes before gate closing time and be out next morning, 30 minutes after gate opening.

 

The enclosed Lapa

 

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The fold-up beds and the Hide sleeps nine people

 

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Sable Hide overlooks the Sable Dam

 

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We heard hyenas howling though we saw nothing but this spider

 

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Once the darkness surrounded us the Hide felt very isolated and a little scary for me not so for Panthera Pardus and my son

They regularly got up to see if there was anything of interest at the waters edge.

 

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The night sky was awesome though and I fell asleep to Don McLean's song, "Vincent" - the words starry, starry night.... playing in my head

 

First thing in the morning you have to return to Phalaborwa to hand in the keys and return anything that you hired.

 

We had booked the Nonokani 4x4 adventure trail which starts between Phalaborwa and Sable Hide east of Masorini.

The road leads quite close to the Olifants River at times and a wonderful place to stop for lunch

 

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The trail is 46km and takes about 4 hours to do.

 

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It is not a demanding trail but some rocky patches and two axle twisters and a sandy river bed to cross

 

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We had hoped to see sable, wild dogs and the elusive Pel's Fishing Owl but all we saw were

 

Buffalos

 

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African Emerald spotted Dove

 

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and the wonderful warm colours of the Mopani in autumn

 

EllieinMopani.jpg

 

 

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africapurohit

Thanks @@Sharifa - the Sable Hide looks very interesting but I'm sure your spider photo has already put off many potential visitors. @@Game Warden how about this for a ST GTG stopover for one night?

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Morkel Erasmus

Loving this thread @@Sharifa! I have stayed in every camp except the bushveld camps and they are next on my list. Looking forward to the rest of this thread, as you have had some amazing sightings with all the time you've spent in Kruger...despite traffic etc it's still an amazing piece of Africa. These days I just head north for a better wilderness experience while still banking on some pretty decent sightings - basically we haven't slept south of Satara in over 5 years :)

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Sharifa

Hi @@Morkel Erasmus, I think you will like the Bushveld camps. You pay more but they are away from the crowds. We also stay mainly in the north these days and at Biyamiti in the south.

 

Shimuwini is a bushveld camp with only 15 units and the road that leads to the camp is for resients only. The camp overlooks the Letaba river and is peaceful. This is a quiet area in terms of game viewing although you have a chance of seeing wild dogs and we have seen leopards in the area.

 

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Mopani is a newer camp although it is about 25 years old I would say. It moved away from the traditional "Rondavels". This is another quiet part of the park but you will get wonderful elephant sightings and with luck one of the huge tuskers of Kruger.

 

The thinking now is that the artificial waterholes are not good for animals especially for species such as sable and roan antelope as zebra and wildebeest tend to congregate around these waterholes which attarcts predators and vegetation becomes bare. Kruger has therefore taken a decision to close a lot of these waterholes which I am sure will affect game viewing in the north.

 

The S143 Tropic of Capricorn Loop is one of my favourites. The Tihongonyeni Waterhole on this loop always had plenty of game. This waterhole I believe is one that will be closed.

 

Some sightings we had in this area

 

A pale Wahlbergs eagle had just caught a dove

 

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ldpM7EsfGAM

 

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and is watched by the dark form of the same bird

 

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which tries to steal its prey

 

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The pale form is having none of it

 

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A secreatry Bird feeding nestlings - very special sighting

 

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The Tihongenyi Waterhole is excellent for the rare antelopes such as roan and Tsessebe

 

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oxoypIeEk1M

 

 

and also for the pachyderms

 

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Elephant/Buffalo Video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YTZ61pyEXmQ

 

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Soukous

I've come to this quite late but I'm loving following this retrospecitve travelogue as it unfolds.

Some great sightings and great photographs.

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Big_Dog

This is really awesome. To start, the sheer retrospective and vintage appeal of some of the photos is awesome. The quality of the sightings is epic, only enhanced by the knowledge of wildlife and ecology of the park. One of the best T.Rs on here. Looking forward to more.

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Sharifa

@@Soukous - welcome :) and thank you

 

@@Big_Dog - thank you. My hubby has done a similar report on the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park (South African side). Link below if you are interested.

 

http://safaritalk.net/topic/10708-the-kgalagadi-transfrontier-park-ktp/

 

I am planning to do the next episode tomorrow which will cover Bateleur and Shingwedzi Camps.

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Big_Dog

I did see that, and it was also great!
Were the Kgalagadi ones taken at the same period of time as Kruger? May have been in the Gus Mills hyaena study era!

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Sharifa

I did see that, and it was also great!

Were the Kgalagadi ones taken at the same period of time as Kruger? May have been in the Gus Mills hyaena study era!

 

We first went to the Kgalagadi only in 2007 so it covers the period 2007-2013 (8 trips in this period).Does not cover the Gus Mills Brown Hyena study but was during the period Gus and Margie did the cheetah study and we were in contact with them a few times to get IDs of cheetah we had seen. Lovely people :)

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Sharifa

Shingwedzi

 

We had torrential rains in 2013 and the resulting floods destroyed Shingwedzi camp. Even the petrol pumps were washed away and staff and guests had to be air lifted to safety. Many staff lost their belongings. The camp had to be closed down for several months but has reopened. I have not been to Shingwedzi since then, so what I write about is before the damage and revamp of the camp.

 

A delightful little camp set on the southern bank of the river with the same name. Shingwedzi means the place of ironstone. Shingwedzi is elephant country. There is also a large lion pride in the area. We have seen lions every time we have stayed in Shingwedzi.

 

The drive from the camp to Kanniedood Dam is wonderful and will offer sightings of many water birds. There are many loops that take you close to the water edge.

 

Opposite the reception area you will see lesser masked weavers

 

 

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and red headed weavers

 

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This is what a mopani worm (which is the caterpillar of the Gonimbrasia belina moth) looks like and it is a rich source of protein

 

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On the causeway just beyond the back entrance to the camp is the headwaters of the Kanniedood Dam (Kanniedod is the collective name for a number of tree species of the genus Commiphora e.g the tall common corkwood) where you can park off and watch water birds, note the crocodile hoping to catch the heron

 

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On the drive to Kannidood Dam

 

Black Strok

 

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Saddle Billed Stork

 

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Comb Duck

 

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Wooly necked Stork

 

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When staying at Shingwedzi, the dilemma is wheter to drive towrds Kanniedood Dam through the back entrance or exit from the main entrance, head south on the H1-6 and then take the northern red rocks loop, which is the S52 (more about this road in the next episode)

 

You could be lucky to find a scene like this on the H1-6

 

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Early one morning in September 2007 we found this on the H1-6. They pride were relaxed but on the move and I took the video through the windscreen and the photos are from the video.

 

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http://youtu.be/KZH6_U_DVN8

 

In the south you will not have a sighting like this to yourself. We had another car pitch up after 5 minutes and it was just the two of us.

 

Did I say Shingwedzi is elephany country :)

 

IMG_9219.jpg

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penolva

Back again, so glad

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Sharifa

Bateleur Bushveld Camp

 

“Welcome to the smallest, oldest and friendliest of Bush Camps” is the sign that will greet you as you enter Bateleur and that says it all for this little gem of all the Bush Camps in Kruger.

 

Nestled among the large sycamore trees, mopane and bushwillow woodlands the camp is a haven for birds and visitors alike.

 

Male and female Violet Backed Starlings (Plum Coloured Starlings) in Camp

 

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Bennets Woodpecker

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There are just seven Chalets and each has a comfortable verandah allowing you to relax and watch the antics of a variety of birds including the Paradise Flycather.

 

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There is a lovely hide overlooking a waterhole at camp which can be very productive. Two large dams are also located a short drive from the camp; the Rooibosrant and the Silvervis dams. Both are accessible only to Bateleur residents and therefore are very private and quiet.

 

Rooibosrant Dam ensured good game viewing and the birds of note to be seen there are African Spoonbill, White faced ducks, comb duck, red billed teal, marsh, wood and common sandpiper. If luck is on your side you might just see the African Fish Eagle swoop from one of many dead trees rooted in the dam and catch a fish. The vegetation is sparse and open and the road leads very close to the dam’s edge allowing for excellent game viewing and photography. NB - This is one of the waterholes that is going to be closed so game viewing will change. This was one of our favourite places to spend a morning and wait for game to come to us.It really has the sense of place and usually you are the only people at the dam.We saw a Fish Eagle catch a fish here back in the day before we had the equipment we got now so could not capture it.

 

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Silvervis Dam is more secluded and the vegetation is thick and overgrown making it difficult to spot game coming to drink.

The road leading to Bateleur is as attractive as the Camp.

 

Baobab on road to bateleur

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You will travel along the S52 which is known as the Red Rocks Loop. Stop to have a picnic at the Tshanga Viewpoint which overlooks miles of mopane and bushwillow woodlands. Looking down onto the red rocks you could be rewarded with a sighting of a rhino or maybe a leopard walking silently and stealthily, maybe pausing long enough for you to get a photo.

 

Sunrise on the S52

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Verreaux's Eagle owls on S52

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Klipspringer on S52 - unusual to see one off the rocks

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Leopards are regularly seen on the northern side of the S52. We had this one to ourselves for an hour. (point and shhot camera with x3 zoom)

 

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Sharifa

Sirheni Bushveld Camp

 

This is a small camp with 15 units and a dam on the perimeter of the camp. In the evening the hippos come out of the dam to start grazing for the night. The S56 Road is wonderful especially the little stretch that leads towards Babala Picnic Site from the camp. We have had good sightings of lions and leopard on the entire S56.

 

One will also encounter huge herds of elephants on this road and it is both an exciting and scary experience - not for the faint hearted.

 

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The area around Babalala is also good for the rarer antelopes in Kruger. We have seen Tsessebe and Lichtemsteins Haartebest in the area.

 

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A good area in Kruger for Roan Antelope too. We are yet to see Roan in Kruger. The Magamba Waterhole, which is on the H1-7 towards Pafuri is also a good waterhole for the rarer antelopes.

 

Tsesseb and calf at Magamba

 

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Eland at Magamba

 

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Unlike in the south, chances are you will enjoy many of these sightings on your own. The density of game is less in the north but sightings can be special and raptors are plentiful in the north too

 

Lappet Face Vulture

 

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Immature Martial Eagle

 

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Africa Hawk Eagle

 

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Juvenile Bateleur Eagle

 

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Eurasian Hobby

 

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Bateleur in flight

 

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African Crown Eagle

 

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Shikra

 

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Tawny Eagle

 

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In the north scan the oxpeckers on buffalos carefully as you could be lucky to see the yellow billed oxpeckers (not commonly seen in Kruger)

 

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Seen here with its red billed cousin

 

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africapurohit

Good to see that I wasn't the only one who took a 6-month break whilst writing my report ;)

 

At least I've come back at the right time, to see this this wonderful report continuing.

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Marks

Really unique thread with a great mashup of history and "current events." I'm glad the recent bump brought it to my attention! Having recently finished Stevenson-Hamilton's book, I was in a good frame of mind to delve into the history of Kruger as you present it. Thanks for sharing so far :)

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Sharifa

Punda Maria and Pafuri

 

We reach the last leg of the journey. Punda Maria is a little camp and it still has the communal braai area from back in the day. It was a great tradition of Kruger to gather round the communal braai and share stories, meet old friends and make new ones. Punda offers both camping and chalets. The name comes from Punda Maliya, which is zebra in Swahili. The first ranger of the area found zebra at the camp site and his wife was named Maria.

 

The area is Sandveld Vegtation and has unusual Geology compared to the rest of Kruger. It also has relatively higher rainfall. Punda forms a good base to visit Pafuri. This area also forms the southern limit of some birds not seen in the rest of Kruger such as the Rackedt Tailed Roller, Dickenson's Kestrel and Bohm's Spinetail. I love the north for the sense of place and the peacefulness.

 

The animals tend to be shy and skittish in the north and will peer at you

 

Pride of lions at Klopperfontein Dam on the road from Punda to Pafuri. Curiously looking at us

 

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As was this Leoparad close to Punda Camp

 

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before slipping away into the bush

 

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On the H1-8 to Pafuri you will find the landmark Baobab Hill

 

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With a bit of luck, five cheetah on the road near Baobab Hill. Chances are you will enjoy the sighting on your own

 

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You are guaranteed a Nyala sighting in the Punda/Pafuri area

 

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and have an excellent chance of seeing the Sharpe's Grysbok.

 

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The bridge over the Levuvhu River is an excellent place for the Pel's Fishing Owl - I am yet to see one. Yours truly on the bridge

 

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My favourite River Drive in Kruger is the S63 from the Pafuri Picnic Site to Crooks Corner. You will see elephants, nyala, impala, buffalos, warthogs, baboons, vervet monkeys. Maybe lions and leopards or Pel's. You will see plenty of birds and you will feel good.

 

Kruger has lost a lot of the charm and qualities I fell in love with yet it still holds a special magic and attraction and you can find what you want from a bush experience. We have not made a long trip to Kruger since January 2011 (only long weekend trips) visiting the Kgalagdi, The Cape and Natal parks in the last three years so I am looking forwad to our 12 day trip to Kruger in December 2014.

 

Thank you to those who joined me on this nostalgic journey through Kruger and will only be glad to try to assist with any queries you mey have.

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Big_Dog

Great thread, as I said before. :)
The theme of the second to last paragraph is often crushingly depressing to me though. As one of the considerably younger members of the forum, so often I see statements from veterans how it was better back in the day, how wildlife has changed and shrank and parks have become dirty and crowded. It depresses me that no matter what I did from birth sheer age has denied me such experiences by a long shot.

What has robbed Kruger of it's charm, would you say? Crowds? Wildlife depletion from poaching? Greater exploration and fuller wilderness?
And of course how did it differ back in the day? (Non technical, purely sematic answers welcome!)

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michael-ibk

@@Sharifa

 

Thank you, this has been an exceptional thread, can´t believe it´s already over. Surely you can fill a few more pages with your superb pictures and tales? B)

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Sharifa

@@Big_Dog I guess it is unfair for me to say Kruger has lost its charm, rather let me say, it has lost its rustic charm for me, at least. Remember I have been going to Kruger since before the advent of most of the technology we have now. As children we were also very impatient to see animals around every bend but we were taught to be perseverant.

 

Nothing against technology but with the new generation I find their expectation of the bush experience is much more ‘here and now.’ They rush to and from sightings which I have no problem with, but many tourists expect to take home action shots. This is when the problem comes in. Some people hoot and throw items at animals to attract their attention or to get up so that they have their perfect photos. People get out of their cars at lion and leopard sightings to get a better view. We have Blackberry Groups and 2 way radio groups and therefore people speeding to get to a sighting.

 

As far as crowds are concerned I do not have a problem with attracting more tourists. It keeps our Parks viable but it also becomes more difficult to monitor the tourists in such a large unpoliced area. We as visitors have to obey rules without being told to. Unfortunately many believe rules do not apply in the Parks because you are in the bush.

 

As children we learned the etiquette of behaviour in the Park from our elders. Each car that we passed either waved a greeting or stopped and had a little chat about their sightings. There was no hurry! You had to carry your rubbish back to camp with you; you did not want any animals to be killed because of your lack of consideration for them. They had right of way here. That was drummed into our heads!

 

Having said all this we still do find quiet spots in Kruger and still have sightings all to ourselves. So there is a place for all who want their own kind of bush experience in our Parks as long as you have some consideration for other travelers and the animals you come to see.

 

In Kruger, my sense is that animal numbers have not fallen so that you do not see anything. I still get to see plenty.

 

The first warden of the Park summarized it beautifully. Colonel James Stevenson-Hamilton said when he retired in April 1946 after 44 years of being a Warden in Kruger.

 

“I had at least brought up Cinderella and launched her on her career. I loved her best when she was a pathetic and dust-covered little wench, derided and abused; always I felt that, given her chance, and her attractions recognised, unlimited possibilities lay before her. Now that she has become a great Lady it was fitting she should be provided with custodians perhaps better suited to provide her new requirements.

 

Might her success, and the gifts increasingly showered upon her, not at last permanently affect her character, and transform her into a Dame so bedecked by human art that her natural loveliness would be hidden, and her simple nature spoiled? Might those holding her future in their hands, realise the true nature of their Trust, and not , by estimating her worth at artificial values only, cause her to languish, and ultimately perhaps to perish?’

 

@@michael-ibk, will try to update with sightings from our future trips.

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Big_Dog

Thanks @@Sharifa - a great response. Still good to know too, in Kruger of all parks, quite can still be found. Which of Hamilton's books is that also? :)

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