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An Authentic South African Safari - Kgalagadi, Nylsvley, Northern Kruger and Ezemvelo


Safaridude

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Panthera Pardus

Great report @@Safaridude

 

What a treat it must be for the South Africans to have these natural treasures right in their backyard. They never really have to leave: there is always the next weekend and the weekend after that. At its core, an authentic South African safari is about celebrating what’s in the backyard in an uncomplicated manner, and I am privileged to have lived it.

 

 

The only problem we have is choosing which natural treasure for the next trip :)

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Safaridude

- they don't even look like the same animal!

 

@@Panthera Pardus - yes, there are so many small gems foreign tourists know little about. Lucky you...

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Safaridude

Post-script (Ezemvelo Nature Reserve)

 

At the beginning of the trip, I took an afternoon excursion to Ezemvelo Nature Reserve. Only a bit over an hour away by car from Johannesburg, Ezemvelo is a delightful little reserve trying to recreate the past highveld environment around Johannesburg and is very similar to Rietvlei Nature Reserve near Pretoria. Rietvlei may have better birding due to the presence of a large dam inside it, but Ezemvelo is free of power lines and houses in the distance that “pollute” Rietvlei’s scenery. I prefer Ezemvelo. Black wildebeests, which are very shy by nature, are somewhat approachable there. Other species found there include blesbok, red hartebeest, zebra, impala, kudu, eland, springbok, southern reedbuck, warthog, and ostrich. For an outdoorsy few hours near Johannesburg, a visit to Ezemvelo is a no-brainer.

 

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Blesboks in front of characteristic "red rocks" at Ezemvelo

 

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Black wildebeest

 

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Zebras in front of red rocks

 

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Blesbok

 

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Black wildebeest

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Safaridude

My final thought on the trip is that if one could only afford to take one trip to Africa on a limited budget, South Africa may be an excellent choice that is often overlooked. Rather than being jammed in a mini-bus in Kenya with people you don't know, one can devise a private trip with a driver/guide and stay at all the SANParks accommodations. Sure, tar roads at Kruger, closed vehicles, etc. - but I did mention that we Safaristas are spoiled, didn't I?

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twaffle

you have given me a new appreciation for what I might find attractive in an SA safari where you can get away from the crowds.

 

I really enjoy the prominence you give to the antelopes, giving them their own beauty and importance which is what they deserve. But I love most the elephant photos. :)

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pault

Excellent. Thanks for that. Particularly good photos from Kruger - great behaviour catches with the Nyala and elephants.

 

How did you get to where you were staying in Kruger? (This may be obvious but it's an area I haven't really looked at).

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Bugs

My final thought on the trip is that if one could only afford to take one trip to Africa on a limited budget, South Africa may be an excellent choice that is often overlooked. Rather than being jammed in a mini-bus in Kenya with people you don't know, one can devise a private trip with a driver/guide and stay at all the SANParks accommodations. Sure, tar roads at Kruger, closed vehicles, etc. - but I did mention that we Safaristas are spoiled, didn't I?

 

Great report.

 

I must say that I after many of the overland trips that We have done to find the most remote places in Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe; we return to SA and find ourselves asking why did we go to so much trouble and expense, when we could have matched the experience somewhere in SA without all that expense and effort. I know... I know that there is a appeal to each and every place that is completely unique, but when you get to SA and the smooth roads soothe your vehicles tyres, suddenly a multitude of options closer to home come to mind.

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Safaridude

 - Thank you, and yes Bangweulu for black lechwes but also a newly classified subspecies of tsessebe ("Bangweulu tsessebe")

 

@@twaffle - Thank you.

 

@@pault - We simply drove! From Nylsvley to the Punda Maria Gate via Thohoyandou. Then on the way back, we went out from the Phalaborwa Gate straight back to Joburg (5 1/2 hrs?) Very good roads

 

@ - What is impressive about the park system in South Africa is that they didn't forget to conserve small, under-appreciated biomes.

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@ - What is impressive about the park system in South Africa is that they didn't forget to conserve small, under-appreciated biomes.

 

in fact, most of the money that comes from running Kruger is necessary to maintain the other, smaller and less popular parks

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@@Safaridude

 

what do you think, would you have missed had you done the entire trip alone, without a driver / guide?

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Safaridude

@@Safaridude

 

what do you think, would you have missed had you done the entire trip alone, without a driver / guide?

 

First of all, I would be uncomfortable self-driving. In Kgalagadi, the driver/guide, Natasha,planned and cooked all the meals. She bought all the provisions prior to the trip. I surely couldn't have done that. Also, at Kgalagadi, in order to get to Gharagab, you are negotiating some serious 4x4 terrain. Again, driving alone would be uncomfortable/difficult. Kruger is easier, since there are no 4x4 only roads and most big camps have restaurants.

 

Having Benson around in addition, I realize, is a luxury. But aside from our friendship and my respect for him and all that, having a pair of eagle eyes is awesome. We would not have seen those cheetahs at Kgalagadi, for instance.

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Great photos, Ken. I especially like the african wildcat and the meerkat family.

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Nicholls Wildlife Art

Another great trip report Safaridude. Ahh...the Kalahari...one of my favorite places on the planet. Barking geckoes are just the best. As we discussed the other day, its the isolation that is so wonderful. I always look forward to your frequent trip reports. The photos are great (love the caracal) and the writing is excellent too. My husband and I spent many years self-driving around southern Africa and I reckon you'd also enjoy Mabuasehube in Botswana too. Similar area but even less visited. Over the years since we left Africa we have done more of the 'spoiled tourist' type trips you mentioned. And there's no doubt they are wonderful, although hard on the wallet. But I think to really know a place you have to rough it too and do some real bush camping. Or, as you mention in this trip report, take the middle route and stay in South African national park chalets (Namibia has similar setups). Sure, you will see more people (altho I’ve stayed in very expensive Serengeti lodges with just as many visitors) but it is a different experience and what is life without a little variety? My perfect wildlife safari would be a combo of bush camping, national parks then some luxury at the end!

Thanks again for a great report!

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Atravelynn

Nice job with the ele mock charge. Usually it is not easy to hold a camera still at that point. You've shown the less visited parts of South Africa. You definitely succeeded in great wildlife without the crowds.

 

A shame you missed the mud bath treatment that your daga boy buddy enjoyed. Spa appointments were all booked, I suppose.

 

My final thought on the trip is that if one could only afford to take one trip to Africa on a limited budget, South Africa may be an excellent choice that is often overlooked. Rather than being jammed in a mini-bus in Kenya with people you don't know, one can devise a private trip with a driver/guide and stay at all the SANParks accommodations.

 

Your conclusion bears repeating. And remembering the next time the cost of safaris is brought up in angst.

 

Excellent report and photos--AGAIN!

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Safaridude

@Atrevelynn

 

Thank you Lynn.

 

The elephant mock charge was cool. Some grass (hay) that was on the elephant ended up on my lap when it was over. He was just bullying us though... didn't mean any harm.

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Sangeeta

Spent a lovely leisurely morning today with this, SD, and am stopping right here with my TR catch-up for the day so that I can soak it all in. I had been waiting for this report so eagerly and then was unable to read it for many days though itching to get at it. The up side of my patience, however, was that I got to read the whole thing in one fell swoop :)

 

I think you're so right about the whole safari culture thing. And I agree that it must really have added a whole new perspective to the safari experience by seeing it through a local prism in this manner. The type of on-the-road/in-the-park/at-the-braai camaraderie you and PP describe sounds very refreshing. But your Zambia trips also strike me as being somewhat in the same vein.

 

The photos are fabulous as always. What I am beginning to appreciate about your photography is the fact that you so easily meld those landscape shots with the wildlife shots with so much artistry and so little apparent effort! I have always loved reading reports for the contextual feel they provide - must say that your photographs do the same thing for me - i.e. I can envision the broader landscape, wildlife and setting from the photos themselves, even if they are not panoramic, because they set a mood and a tone and a promise.

 

I am now tempted to do all 3 countries and the whole transfrontier park, no thanks to you and PP :D

 

Thank you for another superb report. It was a linguistic and a visual treat!

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Sangeeta

The calling impala in rut - fabulous. As are the backlit meerkats and that crafty looking caracal - beautiful covert shot of a beautiful, secretive animal. And a great example of that artistry I was talking about, where the type of shot is so well suited to the nature of the animal.

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Safaridude

@@Sangeeta

 

Thank you. Too kind!

 

Literally had maybe 10 seconds to photograph the caracal... and just a nano-second when he/she was not behind a bush. So, that one was just luck.

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  • 1 month later...
Peter Connan

What a magnificent report of a magnificent trip, and what magnificent photography!

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  • 11 months later...
Morkel Erasmus

@@Safaridude only read this report now. You have captured well in words and images two of my favourite local haunts - KTP and the far north of Kruger. It's a pity you couldn't stay in Shingwedzi due to the 2013 floods, probably my favourite camp in ALL of Kruger with lovely scenery and good game viewing away from the crowds. You also had a lovely Gharagab session - what a delightfully isolated camp, I need to get back there.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Just finished this report @@Safaridude Interesting reading and lovely photography, thank you.

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  • 1 year later...
ravipatel888

Catching up very late on this trip report. Combined with other KTP reports, it really make me want to visit. It definitely seems a more self-sufficient safari than East Africa - more adventure I guess!

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@@Safaridude

 

Re-reading the KTP part again, and counting days: 095 ! And learning about new approaches to known subjects. And enjoying the rest of your trip.

Edited by xelas
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