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Cape Peninsula, Timbavati and Sabi Sand in May


FlyTraveler

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After Boulders Beach we went to Cape Point where along with the amazing seascapes we saw something quite unusual (at least for us) – eland antelopes with the ocean as a background, rather than savanna

It looks like it is time for leopards. Great sighting of adult leopardess with a sub-adult male cub and impala kill in a tree. One of those sightings that we do not see just on every game drive:  

Well, it’s been several days since my wife and I came back from our second African safari trip and I’d better start my TR before the memories fade away (not that my memories from safari fade away easi

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FlyTraveler

Elephant Plains Game Lodge, Sabi Sand. Afternoon game drive. May 22, 2014

 

 

The female (Shadow) was following Tingana once again:

 

 

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This time the action took place a bit further from us:

 

 

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Landscape with dry tree:

 

 

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Landscape with a hippo:

 

 

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Sabi Sand sunset:

 

 

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graceland

Wow, Wow, Wow....I wish I had been there..

 

I do love a leopard,

 

and landscapes....

 

Thanks for a great view!

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Marks

What a great leopard encounter...I have read that their mating is not often easy to see, what luck!

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FlyTraveler

Elephant Plains Game Lodge, Sabi Sand. Morning game drive. May 23, 2014

 

 

Second day at Elephant Plains. I set up my phone alarm for 05:45, as usual, 15 minutes before the wake-up knock on the door. I hate rushing things, so I'd rather get up a bit earlier and get ready for the game drive, check my gear etc. Everyone is having a tea or coffee at 06:30, but since I do not drink either, I just skip this early morning activity and show up for the game drive 15 minutes earlier (although we usually rotate seats, sometimes there are new guests and "the counter is reset).

 

We started this morning with an elephant cow with a calf. She was relaxed, did flap the ears a few times, just to make sure that we do not get any ideas:


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The elephants passed really close to us. Although I have been close to elephants (already) numerous times, being two meters away from a fully grown elephant, especially in a completely open vehicle is quite emotional feeling.

 

 

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Then we followed a young lion on and off the road (or is it a lioness?):

 

 

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Here I used one of the stops to take a photo of our first Sabi Sand sunrise:

 

 

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After a while there was a traffic jam which turned into a road block:

 

 

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We observed the lion pride for a while, then we had to move on, since there were other vehicles waiting (there was a limit of 3 vehicles per sighting).

 

The next image is just a quick reminder that McDonalds advertises even on impala's butts:

 

 

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These bushes are so tasty... especially the thorns :)

 

 

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FlyTraveler

Elephant Plains Game Lodge, Sabi Sand. Morning game drive. May 23, 2014

 

 

Since we started the day with 2 of the Big 5, it was time to see the third one - white rhino, actually a mother and a grown-up calf.

 

 

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Here is the "teen":

 

 

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Next we found a few zebras in the bush, everyone in the vehicle cheered up - "Hey, zebraaas"! What an irony, perhaps we saw more leopards than zebras or wildebeest in Sabi Sand, so zebras became a high-value sightings. I remembered our trip to Masai Mara in August last year when "not seeing animals" meant seeing hundreds of zebras and wildebeest or the zebras grazing just beside the road (not even in a park or a reserve) on the way to Lake Nakuru. Nevertheless, seeing zebras in the bush makes for a more mysterious sighting than seeing them in the plains:

 

 

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Then it was time for hippos:

 

 

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A cropped version of the above image:

 

 

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Southern giraffe:

 

 

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The Elephant Plains lodge was completely fenced (at least last month when we visited), so the only animals which we could find there were vervet monkeys (great models for photography):

 

 

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Marks

Excellent photos, as always. I agree about the emotional quality of being around elephants.

 

Does EP still have the "leopard family history" books at the bar? I enjoyed flipping through those with a drink in hand.

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FlyTraveler

Excellent photos, as always. I agree about the emotional quality of being around elephants.

 

Does EP still have the "leopard family history" books at the bar? I enjoyed flipping through those with a drink in hand.

 

Honestly, I don't know. I didn't have drinks even at Motswari where they were included. I seldom have any drinks on safari due to hangover in the morning, I'd rather be fresh for the game drives, can drink at home as much, as I want :) Had gin-tonics at the very last camp for the trip - Sango Camp in Khwai Community area in Botswana - no need to keep fresh any longer, the trip was almost over :) Back to your question - there were many books on the tables in the bar, but didn't have time to look at them - went there several times to use the wi-fi and once to look at our vehicle-mates photos from Timbavati (they were very lucky - saw white lions and wild dogs at Kambaku Game Lodge just the day before).

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FlyTraveler

Elephant Plains Game Lodge, Sabi Sand. Afternoon game drive. May 23, 2014

 

 

The first sighting we saw in the afternoon game drive was a grey (common) duiker. No matter how hard I was trying to get a good photo of him, he was always hiding behind leaves, brunches and grass. Very, very shy animal, had only one more opportunity the last day in Sabi Sand and it ran away too soon... Couldn't get a clean shot...

 

 

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After the Grey Duiker, we saw another first for me - a female nyala, still shy, but a bit more luck with her:

 

 

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Then there were some more lions:

 

 

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A lioness without a tale, the guide Morne said that she had lost it in a fight with hyenas:

 

 

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FlyTraveler

Elephant Plains Game Lodge, Sabi Sand. Afternoon game drive. May 23, 2014

 

 

Some Sabi Sand sunset images taken during this game drive:

 

 

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Blue wildebeest, there is a pregnant female in the group:

 

 

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Then a leopard (because we have had not seen one recently, just the day before):

 

 

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bettel

There is no such thing as too many cats :), so keep them coming :)

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SafariChick

Really enjoying this report! Those mating leopards were fabulous!

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FlyTraveler

Really enjoying this report! Those mating leopards were fabulous!

 

Thanks for the good words @@SafariChick! The mating leopards were a great sighting, indeed.

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FlyTraveler

Elephant Plains Game Lodge, Sabi Sand. Afternoon game drive. May 23, 2014

 

 

After the drinking leopard sighting we stopped for sundowners which allowed me to change lenses and take some after-sunset photos:

 

 

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Back in the lodge. The bar, which @@Marks asked a question about:

 

 

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Two images from the dinner in the boma, one focused on the bonfire and another with focus on the glass (can not decide which one I like better). :)

 

 

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FlyTraveler

Elephant Plains Game Lodge, Sabi Sand. Morning game drive. May 24, 2014

 

 

We started the morning drive with a nice sunrise and some autumn fog over the river:

 

 

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Next we found Southern yellow-billed hornbills close enough for decent photos with my lens:


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FlyTraveler

Elephant Plains Game Lodge, Sabi Sand. Morning game drive. May 24, 2014

 

 

What could the next sighting be? In Sabi Sand what else except another leopard. I am starting to understand people who would refer to game viewing in Sabi Sand as "game on a plate" or "game ala carte". Not that I mind it, leopards were one of the main reasons to choose this reserve when I planned the trip.

 

Perhaps this is the place to touch a subject about the private reserves next to Kruger, discussed quite a lot on the Internet. Many people would describe them (the reserves) as "not quite a wilderness" and "zoo-like" experience. I would agree with the first definition to a certain extend, yes there are power post and lines that we can sometimes see during game drives in these reserves and civilization is not that far away, but can not accept the "zoo-like" label at all - the reserves are fully open towards Kruger park and the animals have total freedom of movement (I am talking about Sabi Sand and Timbavati, Klaserie seems to be the same). The fact that a high number of predators can be observed while on a game drive is due to the highly organized system of searching for them - each vehicle has both a guide and a tracker and the guides keep constant radio communication between themselves, informing each other about interesting sightings and movement of animals. The lodges that we visited were kind of mass safari products (still high quality, though), but visitors traffic wasn't too high. When we put into the equation the price that we paid, everything comes into place.

 

 

So, here is the male leopard which pointed my mind towards the above described thoughts:

 

 

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"No thanks, I don't want legs today..."

 

 

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And then the leopard crossed, as the ranger said, "into the wrong land plot" and we could not follow him any further:

 

 

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michael-ibk

Excellent trip report, I´m really enjoying this very much. Particularly love the Cape Town pics and the huge leopard. I know some people have reservations against Sabi Sands, but one really cannot argue with these sightings! And I prefer focus on the glass, btw - though it´s too empty for my taste. ;)

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pedro maia

Great trip report, and a really interesting one to me since I´ll go to Cape Town and to Elephant Plains next August.

 

The main reason I decide for Sabi Sands was to try and see leopards, since I couldn´t see any when I went to KNP 2 years ago, seems like it was the right choice.

 

@@FlyTraveler, in which kind of room did you stay? I believe that to have wifi in the room one must pay, right (going with teenagers means wifi in the room is a must)?

 

Another question, dinner must always be in the boma?

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FlyTraveler

Great trip report, and a really interesting one to me since I´ll go to Cape Town and to Elephant Plains next August.

 

The main reason I decide for Sabi Sands was to try and see leopards, since I couldn´t see any when I went to KNP 2 years ago, seems like it was the right choice.

 

@@FlyTraveler, in which kind of room did you stay? I believe that to have wifi in the room one must pay, right (going with teenagers means wifi in the room is a must)?

 

Another question, dinner must always be in the boma?

 

Hi @@pedro maia, you will have even better sightings in August. We stayed at rondavel #5 and there wasn't wifi in the room. We had to buy a voucher and use the wife in public areas - in our case - the bar. I am not sure what the situation is with the luxury suits. I will publish photos of the room and surroundings (I need to get to these photos first), so stay tuned. You will definitely see leopards while staying at Elephant Plains.

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Peter Connan

...and use the wife in public areas - in our case - the bar....

Sorry @@FlyTraveler, but when you make a typo like that, I just can't resist.

 

Hope you don't mind.

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FlyTraveler

 

...and use the wife in public areas - in our case - the bar....

Sorry @@FlyTraveler, but when you make a typo like that, I just can't resist.

 

Hope you don't mind.

 

 

Ha ha ha, that was a good one, wasn't it - using the wife in public areas - especially in the bar :lol: Thanks for pointing this out @@Peter Connan, I hope that others would have as good laugh as I did :) I guess I will now have the reputation as the guy who is using his wife in public :lol:

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FlyTraveler

Elephant Plains Game Lodge, Sabi Sand. Morning game drive. May 24, 2014

 

 

After the leopard went into the "wrong" land plot, we saw a female Southern giraffe with a calf. They were quite relaxed and hung around the vehicle for at least 15 minutes.

 

 

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A female waterbuck appeared on the other side of the vehicle and now my attention was divided between the two sightings.

 

 

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FlyTraveler

Elephant Plains Game Lodge, Sabi Sand. May 24, 2014

 

 

Since this was our last full day at Elephant Plains, between the game drives I put a wide angle lens on the camera and took some photos around the premises. I already mentioned that I liked the atmosphere and the general feel in Motswari better, but nevertheless, Elephant Plains was a great value for the money. It is not fair to compare Kenya and South Africa, but still, for pretty much the same amount of money per person per night, we stayed in a dome tent with toilet and bucket shower outside the tent in Ol Kinyei private conservancy (just north of Masai Mara):

 

 

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We really liked the Gamewatchers' adventure camp in Ol Kinyei and the conservancy itself, but as far as comfort goes both Motswari and Elephant Plains offer a lot more for the same price. This does not mean that we go on safari for comforts plus the above shown tent was by itself a great value for the money compared to the other accommodation options in the conservancies north of Mara.

 

 

Our room (rondavel #5 - I believe that this is the cheapest accommodation offered at Elephant Plains):

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The great view from the porch:

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A small desk - very convenient for photo editing purposes:

 

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The bathroom:

 

 

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Exterior view of the rondavel:

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The place for brunch:

 

 

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The bar:

 

 

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The library (with a large size TV and many wildlife documentaries available for viewing):

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The main pool:

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Another pool in the rondavels area:

 

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I will stop here, before someone starts thinking that I get a commission on sales. :)

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Marks

These photos bring back pleasant memories.

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FlyTraveler

Elephant Plains Game Lodge, Sabi Sand. Afternoon game drive. May 24, 2014

 

 

We started the afternoon game drive with more giraffes, two of them sub-adults:

 

 

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Then we followed an old bull elephant for a while:

 

 

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Sabi Sand autumn landscapes:

 

 

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