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


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And as a little bonus, in case anyone here thinks I might have ever so slightly exaggerated about the incident with the rain spider, here is a video I managed to find on Youtube that gives you an idea of what I was up against..




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KK, great report - I've enjoyed it very much. It seems like you saw it all! I appreciated that this was a very well balanced report - all creatures great and small.

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Thanks @@PT123 we certainly saw a great selection of mammals, birds and other wildlife that's for sure!

7 September


Our last full day in Sabi Sand and we were disappointed to hear that straight after Debbie had zipped us into our tent, a genet came visiting looking for leftovers on the dinner plates. Sadly it didn't stick around long enough for anyone to come and get us! We left at 06.30. Debbie radioed Justin but he was leading a walk this morning, so we were the only ones out on a drive. We didn't have a tracker, as Stephen was taking the others out on a walk. The chances of finding ourselves a leopard were somewhat diminished, but we searched all the same. First we spotted a little Grey Duiker. We dropped the others off for their walk and carried on.


P9075791 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr


We had a wonderful encounter with a pair of necking Giraffes on the border with Dudley concession. They were whacking each other with impressive force, despite being a fair distance away we could really hear the "whack" as a head made contact with a body! They were somewhat obscured and a bit distant for photos, but the video I filmed came out really well. See further on..


Then, another White Rhino, this one didn't used to like vehicles, but has slowly been getting more confident as we were able to spend a little time with him.


P9075793 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr


We drove out towards Railway at the border with Sabi Sabi, we could smell leopard, which is strangely reminiscent of buttered popcorn, but no cat appeared. We had heard that the lions were not anywhere on Umkumbe or Sabi Sabi, and were thought to be hanging out further south at Lion Sands.


We spotted Woodland Kingfisher, Grey Hornbill and two lovely Little Bee-eaters.


P9075804 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr


P9075809 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr


P9075810 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr


A dazzle of zebra were seen, with this foal being nursed by mum:


P9075821 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr


Then, more White Rhino, the three we saw the previous day whilst out walking were grazing in the open savannah:


P9075823 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr


P9075827 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr


P9075830 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr


P9075845 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr


P9075847 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr


The bull and calf were still together:


P9075848 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr


We then encountered the group of delightful Dwarf Mongoose again, this one is clearly playing "king of the castle":


P9075855 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr


P9075862 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr


The others seemed to finish their walk early, so we picked them up and drove back to the camp, arriving just after 9.00.

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With so much time to kill after breakfast I decided to spend the time over at Ingwe lodge, since Debbie said it was okay and the owners were not yet back. The wildlife proved to be quite prolific, if somewhat skittish. More than one or two people and the animals quickly melt back into the bush, but if one is prepared to sit quietly, one is rewarded with some lovely sightings.


Purple-crested Turacos in the large fruiting trees:


P9075878 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr


As I was trying to photograph them, look what appeared! A Little Sparrowhawk


P9075881 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr


More Turacos


P9075894 adj by kittykat23uk, on Flickr


P9075903 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr


P9075906 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

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Great photos continue. It must be brilliant seeing Rhino when you are out walking (actually it is really good to see Rhino at all)

Enjoyed seeing the Zebra suckling

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Thanks @@TonyQ yes that made the walk worthwhile actually, it was a bit of excitment that's for sure.


A large party of Banded Mongoose came through as I was standing on the deck looking out towards the waterhole:


P9075919 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr


Mystery bird- have a guess what it is in the Birding forum:


P9075944 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr


Bearded Scrub-robin


P9075948 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



Keeping very quiet, I managed to get a few shots of a skittish Bushbuck


P9075977 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr


Nyala were feeding with the Mongoose on the lawn.


P9075982 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr


All eyes were on me!


P9075983 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr


The band of Banded Mongoose did not allow a close approach, but I tried to use the lodge as cover to sneak up on them


P9075995 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr


P9075998 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr




Long-billed Crombec


P9075971 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

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We were all ready and waiting for Debbie at 15.45 so were on the road at 15.50. Jason was out as well and was confident that he was on the trail of two leopards, probably Hermie and the female. Again, we didn't have our own tracker, but this gave those who wanted the chance to ride in the tracker seat, an exhilarating experience! We had a good look in the area where leopards had last been seen, but we drew a blank. We carried on with our drive, and came across two bull White Rhinos.


P9076015 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr


P9076021 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr


P9076030 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr


We then came across a small group of Elephants, one of which had a strangely deformed tusk:


P9076038 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr


Then a little Steenbok that froze as we pulled up:


P9076047 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr


We tried up the other end of the concession, on the border of Sabi Sabi, we could smell popcorn quite strongly this time, but no sign of an owner..


P9076050 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr


As the sun got low, we came across one of the most impressive sets of horns I have ever seen on a Dagga Boy!


P9076059 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr


We stopped for sundowners and Jason called in on the radio. He'd drawn a blank on the leopards and was going for sundowners with his guests. "Jason WTF?!" We exclaimed in jesting dismay! Our last hope for leopards was taking a break! No commitment some people!!


As we had a slow drive back in the dark we picked up a Scrub Hare in the spotlight. Another White-tailed Mongoose and a Genet of some sort evaded my camera but were seen nonetheless.


P9076068 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



Over dinner we hoped that the genet might reappear but sadly it didn't show. We stayed up as late as we could, but everyone was pretty beat so it wasn't long before we called it a night.

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8 September


Our flights weren't until the late evening so we had plenty of time for a final game drive. Before we left I found an African Paradise Flycatcher in the camp ground. We didn't have a tracker again and heard from Jason that bushbuck were barking close to Umkumbe Lodge. So we spent quite a while in that area searching for the elusive leopard. After finally moving on, we stopped to see a pair of Purple-crested Turacos and later a White Rhino.


P9086070 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr


As we entered a more wooded part of the track, sharp cracks rang out as we watched a small herd of elephants breaking branches and stripping the bark from them. A Lilac-breasted Roller perched up on a branch and then we came to the termite mound where the party of Dwarf Mongoose were resident. We sat and watched them for some time before we carried on. Drongos were following a herd of Zebra, watching intently for any bugs that were disturbed by the zebras' kicks, gliding down periodically to snatch themselves some breakfast.


P9086074 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr


P9086087 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr


P9086096 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr


A Bush Squirrel ran across the track and darted to the safety of a tree.


P9086098 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr


I asked Debbie if she saw many jackals in the concession as we hadn't seen any. Soon after, almost on cue, a pair of Side-striped Jackals appeared in the long grass. They were pretty nervous and put some distance between us quite quickly.


P9086110 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr


A young bull White Rhino, mum and calf were also seen in the savannah area. The mother can be easily identified by her much thinner horn.


P9086127 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



P9086134 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr


P9086152 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr


One of the other guides radioed Debbie to tell us about a huge herd of buffalo on the border of Umkumbe concession. Debbie weighed up the options and told us we would try for them a bit later on because she felt they would be more accessible if we waited. As we carried on, we found a small group of Waterbuck.


P9086156 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr


At the far end of the concession, there's a little sand stream, that is bordered by some lovely palms and other green vegetation. An Elephant was busy feeding on this little oasis.


P9086158 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr


We began to head back and Debbie timed the buffalo encounter perfectly as we experienced the entire herd walking up the track towards us:


P9086180 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr


P9086181 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr


P9086182 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr


P9086194 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr


P9086209 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr


With that last sighting in the bag, it was time to head back to camp. The leopards had eluded us for the remainder of the trip, but at least we'd had that amazing sighting on our first afternoon.



We were expecting Justin to pick us up after breakfast, although we had told him that we were not in any rush to get to Johannesburg. However, we did become somewhat concerned when it was creeping up to midday and we still hadn't heard anything. We were supposed to be sightseeing along the panorama route on the way. Worse, we couldn't get hold of Justin either! Eventually someone turned up. but it wasn't Justin. Justin couldn't take us because someone had apparently let him down on an airport transfer. So he'd had to call a mate in to do the transfer. This guy had no idea of the route, and in any case was doing Justin a favour by stepping in, and so we drove straight to Johannesburg, which was rather disappointing for Natalie who hadn't seen the area before. We had to leave on different flights from different terminals, so we said our goodbyes and went our separate ways.

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Flights we booked separately, Mine were approx £650 including airport development fee, Norwich to Johannesburg via Schipol.


The cost of the trip was approximately £2700 which included the following:



22 August- 1 Night Sunrock Guesthouse with return Johannesburg airport shuttle - double a/c room B

23 August- Flight from Johannesburg to Inhambane - Depart Johannesburg 10:55, arrive Inhambane 12:35

23 – 28 August - 5 Nights Zavora Divers, with accommodation at Zavora Lodge and dives & Inhambane airport pickup and Tofo drop off on HB

28 – 30 August - 2 Nights Casa do Mar Guesthouse, with Inhambane airport drop off B&B

28/29 August 2 X Ocean safaris with Peri Peri divers.

30 August - Flight from Inhambane to Maputo - Depart Inhambane 11:30, arrive Maputo 15:25

30 August – 5 September - 6 Nights Needles Lodge, with Maputo airport pickup and Tydon Camp drop off through KNP HB

incl: 5x full day drives in KNP + 2 sunset drives with SAN Parks + game drive transfer to Tydon.

5 – 8 September - 3 Nights Tydon Safari Camp, with Johannesburg airport drop off - FB

We booked 6 drives, we got 5 and 1 walk.


I also got £100 refund on the dives I didn't do at Zavora.

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I thoroughhly enjoyed the report, you were great in relating so many stories in the bush, esp the 3 leopards in the tree - such drama!

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Thank you @@Kitsafari . Kruger may not be the best for remote time in the bush, but for the diversity of wildlife there it has a lot to offer. :)

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


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I like to do paintings sometimes of animals that I enjoyed seeing on a trip but didn't get a good shot of :)

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I agree, what a wonderful painting - any more to share? Also, great sighting of the mum and calf white rhinos - whet a happy way to finish off a safari.

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Aw thanks! @@PT123 I don't really do many of these pastels but here's a couple:


Flamingos, Lake Naivasha


DSCF3375 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr


Black-tailed Godwits, Cley Norfolk.


Black tailed godwits by kittykat23uk, on Flickr


White-throated Kingfisher, India.


White-throated Kingfisher by kittykat23uk, on Flickr


A Treecreeper, Norwich.


treecreeper by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

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These are beautiful - we should do a ST are show!

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You missed a letter out @@PT123 - am assuming it's a t and not an s? :D

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What, that cute little spider scared you? :P

Thank you, @@kittykat23uk, a stellar trip report, I really enjoyed this. The Civet, Kudus, Kingfisher with snack and the Nyala are the standouts for me. (And the leopards, of course.)

Though your diving experience was not all you had hoped it to be I´m sure your Kruger experience amply made up for that. Good to know you an can see so much diversity there in one trip.

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Thanks both! :)

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