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Having a Whale of a time in Zavora, Tofo, Kruger and Sabi Sand


kittykat23uk

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It is amazing seeing the civet in daylight - hope that neck injury isn't too serious

Great pictures of it

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And then, Debbie and Gavin our guides realised that there was someone else watching us from the long grass nearby! A third Leopard!!!   P9055426 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr   Watching Hermie:  

Since I didn't get a photo of him I decided to paint him instead, Pastel Pencil on Pastel paper:   porcupine copy by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

We were late leaving for the sunset drive because a group of seven guests they were expecting hadn't shown up. As we waited I spotted a Scarlet-Chested Sunbird and some Vervet Monkeys. We took a dirt

kittykat23uk

@@TonyQ Thanks, for me, it was a really special sighting. I don't think the Americans, who were on their first safari, appreciated how unusual it was to see a civet in broad daylight! It seemed to be getting around okay, able to feed and swim across the river. So I hope it recovered. But the surprise sightings didn't stop there. We headed back to Lower Sabie for a quick comfort break, on the way stopping to admire this spectacular Martial Eagle:

 

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As we crossed the Sabie River on the H10 causeway, a troop of baboons were coming n the other direction:

 

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We took the fork onto the S29 and stopped to watch a pair of White Rhino, they were not in a good place for photos, but not to worry, white rhino seemed not to be in short supply on this trip!

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kittykat23uk

Surprise number two:

 

So as we were about to carry on a self driver pulled up to say that there was a "beautiful pair of leopards" relaxing under a tree further up the road. Dylan had told us that he heard that there were a pair of very full cheetah brothers, which we were on our way to see, so we knew this guy must have misspoke and, we did indeed, find the pair of Cheetah brothers, under the aforementioned tree. I lucked out with cheetah on my first safari in Kenya, we saw a mum and five tiny cubs as well as a few other adults. That was in 2006. Cheetah are quite rare in Kruger, I think there's only about 200 or so in the whole of the park. So not surprising perhaps that it has taken me three trips to Kruger to see them.

 

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:D

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kittykat23uk

After watching the cheetahs for quite a while, Dylan moved us on, promising that we would return back this way after breakfast.

 

We pulled into the Mlondozi Dam picnic site, with fantastic views of herds of elephant coming to drink from the reservoir. Lizards sunned themselves on the rock as as we waited for breakfast to be served.

 

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Dylan proved to be an expert chef as he cooked us a wonderful full English on one of the gas braais. Unfortunately for Dylan, he didn't get to enjoy his full breakfast because a cheeky monkey made off with a slice of his toast! He spent more time chasing after the little band of thieves than he did eating and when our backs were turned our Land Rover also got raided! Dylan wasn't the only victim of theft, this monkey has stolen a tomato!

 

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We returned to the cheetahs, but they had clearly settled down for a long snooze and we weren't going to see any action. Conscious of Mark's desire to see "the big guy" we moved on.

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kittykat23uk

A distant ostrich was the next sighting. We saw a lot of the commoner species of mammal on the way back, but nothing new. I focused on a few birds as we headed back.

 

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As we crossed the river again on the H10 we stopped to look at the turtles that were hauled out of the water on the rocks.

 

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We dropped the Americans off for their sunset drive and carried on back to the lodge. With no sunset drive for us this evening, we were able to relax and enjoy the wildlife that came into the lodge to feed. I again focused on trying to get some decent shots of the bats and bush babies. Practice makes perfect and I think I managed a few decent images this time!

 

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I loved to spend the evenings watching the bush babies, can you tell?! :D

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Bush babies certainly are cute!

The photos of the bats in flight are great!

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kittykat23uk

Thank you! Well finally the video of the day has uploaded, Civet, the rhino and cheetahs here too:

 

 

When the Americans returned from their night drive they reported seeing "nothing much really", but upon cross-examination they had actually had a good sighting of two other cheetahs as well as genets! I guess if they didn't get the "big boy" then it didn't count! They only had one full day left in Kruger before heading to Mozambique to do some diving. Tomorrow morning they had a walk booked and then would be joining us for the sunset drive. We really hoped that Mark would get his lion the next day.

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Game Warden

Jo, you have the video set to private. Matt

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kittykat23uk

Try again? Not sure why it defaulted to that..

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Excellent report Kittykat! And so many great photos too. Your mouse reminds me of the one that we had by our sink in the mornings at Lamai.

 

I loved many but the birds on the hippos, bats in flight and civet photos I particularly enjoyed. Thanks for sharing.

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Game Warden

Working fine now. The civet sighting is great!

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kittykat23uk

3 September – A Tale of Two Game Drives

A particular quote springs to mind which I think sums up the day quite well,

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us” - Charles Dickens


It was just me and Natalie on our game drive this morning. Which was probably just as well, considering what happened. It all started well enough, as we were driving through Marloth Park we already spotted zebbies and a Giraffe was walking along the road, so we slowed to watch him for a while. Then we took a detour when a Long-crested Eagle was seen perched up on a telegraph pole, a lovely bird to start the day, which sadly took off before I could get a shot of him. We also passed a Giant Kingfisher. Our guide, who shall remain nameless today, discussed his plans for us to get a snack for breakfast at the Crocodile Bridge shop and then we'd take a long drive on a different route with plans to stop for lunch later at Lower Sabie.

As we arrived in Crocodile Bridge we discovered that we were too early and the shops were not yet open. There followed some debate as to whether to go for a short drive or to bird around the rest camp, we were left to mull this over whilst permits were sorted out. By the time our guide returned, there was only a short amount of time before the shops were due to open. So we ended up staying in the rest camp to see what birds we could find. As we wandered slowly around the grounds of the camp, we stopped to watch Vervet Monkeys and Bushbuck. The Purple Crested Turacos were also feeding high in the trees and a pair of Crested Barbets were also seen. We returned to the shop, which had now opened and I grabbed a pasty for breakfast. Then we were on the road.

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kittykat23uk

We took the S25 dirt road towards Biyamiti, encountering another White Rhino and Elephants. We took the S26 as far as the T-junction, encountering more Giraffes and then turned right onto the S108 dirt road, seeing nothing but Impala (of which I finally took a couple of shots) and Vervets.

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Then we turned right onto the H5 and Natalie called our “Hyena” as one came out from the brush and began loping along the road behind us. We stopped the landy and watched the hyena as she went back into the brush to pass us and then carried on parallel to the road as we drove alongside. She eventually veered off to the right and disappeared into thicker cover. We joined the H4-2 tar and then forked left further up onto the S82 towards Lower Sabie, but we encountered nothing much of note.

 

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kittykat23uk

We had everything before us...”

As we approached Lower Sabie we began to hear of other sightings. The two cheetah brothers from yesterday were in the same spot and showing well. A pride of five lions had been seen walking along the river and our guide expected we could catch up with them further down, and what was even more exciting was that a leopard and a cub were resting in trees just by the side of the road, about 2 km away from Lower Sabie rest camp on the H10. It was at this moment that our guide announced that we would just be stopping in at Lower Sabie first in order to refuel.

 

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kittykat23uk

We had nothing before us...”

We pulled in to the rest camp but, disaster! There was an electrical fault with the pumps. Not only that, but the fault had occurred the previous day and an engineer was not yet on site. They also had not alerted the other rest camps that they were unable to supply fuel. Therefore, our guide had not been forewarned and therefore hadn't taken the opportunity to fill up at Crocodile Bridge.

Of course, one would accept that these things may happen in Africa, and one certainly would hope that a seasoned park guide would account for this possibility by ensuring that he has enough petrol in his tank to complete a full day drive “just in case” right? Well..... no, actually! We were running on empty! Our guide didn't think we even had enough fuel to drive directly back to Crocodile Bridge without breaking down.

The SAN Parks staff were less than helpful, I think primarily because they were incredulous that our guide had been so foolish as to let his tank run so low. I could see the writing on the wall and removed myself from the situation, focusing on getting some painkillers for a now developing headache and shooting a few birds whilst Natalie and our guide commenced heated discussions with the park management.

As the situation continued, our guide organised a cooked lunch at the restaurant and went on to try and sort out a solution, ringing every friend he could to try and either get us onto another vehicle, or get some emergency fuel out to us.

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Eventually a friendly guide agreed to let us use her vehicle to take a short trip to see the leopards whilst she took her clients off to the restaurant for lunch. We were so thankful to her for her generosity and we hoped that the Total engineer, who had by now arrived on site, would have the pumps fixed by the time we got back. We took the H10 and soon arrived at a queue of vehicles all trying to see the two leopards. Neither of them were in a particularly easy position to view, but the height of our land rover worked to our advantage. The cub had wedged itself into the low crown of a tree close to the road, where three massive trunks slit off from the main trunk, whilst his mother was positioned in a Jackalberry a few trees back from the road.

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The mum got up and moved higher up in the jackalberry and them flopped over the branch with her feet dangling either side of the branch, her head was turned flat to the branch as she drifted off to sleep.

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Another driver stopped to explain that there was another leopard sighting further away, but in a much better position to be viewed. Alas we could not try and find it until we got our own vehicle back on the road, so we just spent a short time with this pair and then returned to Lower Sabie.

A leopard tortoise also put in an appearance.

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We stopped briefly to watch the elephants feeding in the river.

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It was around 3pm by the time we had returned the vehicle and thanked our saviour once again. The petrol station was mercifully up and running and we were on our way. We had a sunset drive booked and so we didn't have any time to look for the cheetahs or the lions. We tried for the other leopard that the gentleman had seen on the S130 but it seemed to have moved on. We rejoined the H4-2 and drove direct towards Crocodile Bridge but then, disaster!!

We got a puncture, and our guide's spare was also flat! The strain was beginning to show as he couldn't believe his bad luck, but thankfully for us, it wasn't long before another tour vehicle arrive that was able to get us down to Crocodile Bridge. We thanked our second lot of saviours as we arrived in time for our sunset drive.

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I think this guide is not going to be top of your Christmas card list?

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Game Warden

Doesn't the saying go... A bad day on safari is better than a great day at work?

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africapurohit

@@kittykat23uk with all these saviours popping out from the bushes, you can't complain :D. I have sympathy for the guide too. I love the vervet doing the splits between the two branches!

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kittykat23uk

. Risking running out of fuel is pretty inexcusable in a place like Kruger. Even as noobs to self driving in KNP my dad and I were always conservative in these situations, making sure we had enough to get where we were going and then some. We were kind and didn't say anything to the lodge about this when we got back, because I'm sure he has learned his lesson after this screw up. It was just a shame that so much cat action was going on when this happened (after a couple of slower days to begin with).

 

The tyre thing is a different matter as these guides apparently earn very low wages and we know that our guide had a tyre go recently, so I guess he didn't manage to sort out the spare in time. In any event, at least he managed to get us to the leopards and got us back in time for the sunset drive..

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kittykat23uk

The Americans were sat drinking coffee, they'd had a nice walk, but still hadn't seen “the Big Guy” and this was their last chance. The canoodling Danish couple were already aboard and so we got on the vehicle as well. We waited, and waited some more, the Americans were still sat around the picnic tables. Eventually they got the idea and joined the group, apologetically explaining that they were expecting the guide to indicate when it was time to leave!

We had a wonderful drive! First we saw two more White Rhino, then a Double-banded Sandgrouse, and a Red-crested Korhaan.

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The locals had been burning sugar cane fields and this made or some amazing sunset shots. A Bateleur posed against the setting sun.

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Then I remarked that I hadn't seen a Kori Bustard on this trip. Then of course just to prove me wrong, the next thing we saw was.... a Kori Bustard.

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As darkness fell, Scrub Hares started to appear, we counted six during the drive along with three genets, all of which were too fast for identification or photos. Natalie was in charge of one spotlight and was on fire! Not only did she find the genets, but she also spotted a new animal for me, a beautiful Serval that was hunting. We had a reasonably good view of this elusive little feline for a few minutes.

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As we continued on, a Side-striped Jackal was trotting along the road, but veered off into the brush before we could get close to it. Then we came upon another vehicle watching two Lionesses and two cubs, a female and a little male. We were able to watch them playing for some time, and the Americans were really happy, even though this wasn't the big male that Mark was hoping for.

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Finally, as we approached Crocodile Bridge, a Porcupine! Another first for me which was also spotted by Natalie, and also sadly was quick enough to elude my camera as his prickly back end disappeared into thick scrub! What a Drive!!! :D

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kittykat23uk

Since we'd had quite a bit of action, I had used up the charge in the batteries in my FL50R flash unit. So I was not able to undertake my usual night time activity of photographing the bats and bush babies, but they were still there! So I just enjoyed watching them. We had another lovely meal and I retired to bed at a reasonable time, unlike Natalie who stayed up late with the Americans. Dennis was busily plying the Americans with Jaegermeister shooters when I went to bed. I wondered what state everyone would be in in the morning.. :wacko:


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