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My first Kruger self-drive, January 2013


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Having just finished my recent TR:




I thought it'd be interesting to compare and contrast the two trips. Now that I'm going back over a year, I cannot remember in as much detail, so I thought I'd do a summary from each camp.


I realise that the change in camera was a huge leap in terms of technology, however, I was amazed at how critical it made me as I looked back on our favorites from last time compared to this years' pictures.


Favorites folder=980+583 in 2014 vs. 444+452 in 2013 (although we were there one more day this year)


Going from the 500D "my" old camera to the 5D "our" camera, having barely used "his" 7D, led to a much higher hit rate. The Kruger trip in 2013 was the first time we each had a 100-400 mm lens, although prior to that, we had shared lenses.


As I mentioned in the 2014 report, we arrived in KNP in 2013 just after the massive storms and flooding, so for at least half of the time we were restricted to tar roads.


The itinerary was pretty much the same as this year, but in reverse:


Lower Sabie




2 nights each, 22nd-30st Jan 2013.

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It was beautiful blue sky and sunshine when we arrived and very hot












On our first morning drive, we were barely a few kms down the road from camp, when we heard the unmistakable sound of Africa - Lions roaring. It was two brothers calling to each other, and we were the first vehicles on the scene!











As we were only allowed on tar roads, we ended up as far north as Skukuza both mornings and had breakfast there, before returning to camp. As it was so hot, the return journeys were not that productive, however, the outward leg revealed lots of martial eagles and hyaena.






We tried waiting for a martial eagle to leave several times, to get that elusive bird in flight shot, but none were willing to cooperate!!








We did see rhino, it is one of the best parts of the park to see them, but I couldn't find any decent shots of them

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Lower Sabie


One of the attractions of Lower Sabie is the proximity to the river and the low level bridge















And the sunset dam, which means that you can extract the last of th elight and still make the gate before closing




Although this can lead to conflict......




Plenty of non-water bird life












And plenty of mammals










We spotted a leopard on an early morning drive, but didn't manage to get a picture - he just appeared on the road in front of us and then melted away (as they do)

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Beautiful start. Even if the martial eagle wouldn't take off for you, it's a very nice photo of an impressive bird.




Favorites folder=980+583 in 2014 vs. 444+452 in 2013 (although we were there one more day this year)


If I'm reading that right, it looks like one of you, at least, certainly took a few more pictures!

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If I'm reading that right, it looks like one of you, at least, certainly took a few more pictures!!


Yes, I am a bit trigger happy! Also, this year, rather than choosing the best ones e.g. of the dogs, I just chose all of them :)

Edited by Tdgraves
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En route to Satara


Camp to camp transfers were in the middle of the day, which was very hot. However, when we saw a parked vehicle, we dutifully pulled up behind it. After a few minutes peering though binoculars, we realised why they had stopped!






Unfortunately they were very far away, but a good spot nonetheless. Not so for the several cars who didn't bother even slowing down...

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I love the shot of the Hammerkop on the log in the river.

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Thanks @@Zim Girl pure fluke having the camera on the correct settings. There was so much going on, I didn't know which way to point it!!

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I'm really enjoying the bird photos, that Hammerkop is a real keeper.

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thanks @@Soukous - so much easier when the sun is out....

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Isn't it just.

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By the time we got to Satara, they were starting to open up some of the non-tar roads. We nearly came unstuck though on the river road from Oliphants. There was a steep hill, which was very muddy with lots of puddles. Someone going the other way suggested that if we didn't have 4WD (we didn't) that we shouldn't attempt it. However, to get back to the tar road was about a 30km back track. Luckily I was driving, so I just went fro it, much to the chagrin of hubby!! We made it, but decided we'd be more reticent about choosing our next route.


Lots of general game and antelope


















But what people really go there for is the cats....this first sighting was our only Kruger traffic jam. Several cats all asleep by the side of the road, but mostly hidden in the undergrowth. No vehicles wanted to move, even to let us past, despite the fact that the gates were due to close. Managed one good shot, but the rest only had body parts visible (with lots of snoring - I amagine)




However, the sighing on our final morning was much more satisfactory. We were first on the scene for these 4 sleeping ladies and were alone for a long time. A couple of other vehiceles eventually arrived, but moved off fairly fast






I was driving and had moved into the passenger seat, as most of the, were on the left of the car. Annoyingly our rental beeped if you left the keys in the ignition and so clearly had to be removed. But being a modern car, the windows were electric and I was now in the passenger seat. Not usually a problem with lion as they are so sleepy. I wondered why the camera wouldn't focus and I remembered that the lens has a switch for focussing 6.5M to infinity and 1.8M to infinity. Therefore this lioness was less than 6 metres and closing....there is something about the way that they focus on you that really sets the heart racing!














And we also found some hyaena - just a fleeting glimpse of this one




Another vehicle flagged us down for this one (as if we wouldn't stop to investigate a parked vehicle anyway...) Some suckling pups. As you can see from the light, the sun was setting fast, so we had to tear ourselves away to make the gate
















We also saw some birds








and other things










We saw an African wild cat, but it was too fast and too dark to get a photo. One morning we must have narrowly missed a leopard as the baboons were going insane, but neither us nor another car could spot it. Unfortunately there was a gulley and given the height of the grass, not really suprising

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The suckling hyena pups is just such a lovely picture.

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I like the startled-looking wildebeest and the hyena obscured by long grass (almost like the suggestion of a hyena, I've always enjoyed that kind of photo).

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The suckling hyena pups is just such a lovely picture.

Thanks @@Zim Girl - plenty more baby hyaena in my 2014 TR.....

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Although the non-tar roads were slowly opening up in the south of the park, most of those around camp were still closed, so most of the two days was spent on the tar roads. Interestingly, the updates in the camps about which roads were open and closed was pretty inaccurate. We would plan a route and then drive past a supposed by closed road, to see that the barriers had been removed.












Our only ground hornbill sighting of this trip - what a contrast to this year. It was getting dark and they move so fast, so only managed a couple of shots










On one overcast morning we had a lovely long sighting of a yellow billed kite eating a chameleon, right next to the road




And this tawny eagle, just down the road






And on the last drive of our trip, it was overcast and quiet. My other half was driving and daydreaming about decorating our new house (we moved the day before our flight to JNB!!) when he sped past a sleeping pride of lions at 30km/hour. Luckily I spotted them (not hard - they were right next to the road) and he reversed. Again we were alone with them for quite a while before anyone else turned up.





















So, lions on our first and last game drives - not a bad introduction to the Kruger!


The End

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I'm glad you identified the kite's meal...the photos are very crisp, but the degree of dismemberment had me wondering what type of lizard it was.


So when you encounted an open road that was supposed to be closed and wasn't in your planned route as a result, did you change course on the fly?

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Thanks @@Marks. I have decided that the best use for a zoom lens is to bring close things closer, not to attempt to enlarge things in the distance.....the kite was right next to the road.


I think we may have deviated once or twice, but given that we didn't have 4wd and we didn't know what kind of roads they would be (as it was our first trip) we tended to stick to the tar -especially after the olifants incident.

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