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A Weekend trip to Kruger November 2014


wilddog

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wilddog

Introduction

 

As some members know I travel abroad quite a lot for work. In the last 2 years or so I have been to South Africa on business a few times but due to the short notice or my time constraints I have up until now, been able to fix a quick trip to the bush for relaxation.

 

On 31st October the work trip was confirmed for the following week and, due to customer requirements, I would be required to stay over the weekend of 8th and 9th November. My destination this time? Nelspruit, otherwise known as Kruger International Airport. This could be my chance.

 

After a frantic scramble to get the flight out for Monday and book the hotel accommodation I only had a quick look on the internet to see if anyone did one or two day trips to the Kruger and if so what were they like. I found a company called African Spear who seemed to offer what I needed including open sided safari vehicles and I dropped them an email enquiry.

 

I was busy attending a friend's wedding over the weekend of 1st and 2nd November and then travelling to Heathrow and flying to Nelspruit, so it was not until Wednesday evening that I had a chance to ring the company to see if they could help further. It turned out they had a trip running the coming weekend but the main problem was the accommodation in the area in which we would be travelling. They promised to ring me if they could get a bed for the night.

 

I rang again Friday lunch time but they were still trying to find a bed (in SAN parks accommodation).

 

At 3.30pm Friday the phone rang – they had found a bed! I was delighted.

 

This is not a detailed trip report but more a summary of my brief sojourn in the Kruger.

 

Day 1

 

The next morning was up at 4.30 to get ready for the pick up at 6 not knowing at all what I was letting myself in for. I joined the guide, David, in the safari cruiser to head off for Malelane Gate where we were to meet with 2 Brazilian people who were travelling in from Mozambique , with translator, for their first ever safari.

 

Within minutes of entering the park we found giraffe and elephant to the great excitement, particularly of my companions. The encounters brought tears to their eyes. So nice to see. Me? Just delighted to be back in the bush.

 

Some rain had fallen recently and the terrain and trees were greening up. The impala were in the final stages of pregnancy and looked fit to burst. One or two fawns had been seen in the last couple of days but we did not see any. Many buffalo, zebra and wildebeest were also showing signs of advanced pregnancy

 

We saw a range of animals including herds of buffalo and elephants and groups of white rhino. Some images follow including a lucky shot of a vervet monkey in full flight!

 

With Kruger of course one is often on tarmac and there are other vehicles around so wonderful images are not always possible. But being in a bush environment was my priority and the photographs a bonus.

 

It turned out to be a really enjoyable day; David was very knowledgeable and informative and we had seen plentiful and various wildlife. We ended the day at Pretoriouskop camp close to Numbi Gate where everyone at the food outlet was glued to the TV watching South Africa play Rugby against Ireland. My Rondeval was well away from the Camp Centre so I was able to sit outside at the end of the evening enjoying the peace and quiet.

 

Summary of Day 2 will follow shortly

 

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Game Warden

Even a quick weekend visit to Kruger delivers! Did you think it was good value for money?

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FlyTraveler

I wish I was able to do two days Kruger safari just in between the other things. What a great opportunity to spend time with African wild animals!

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wilddog

It was quite a perk I have to say @@FlyTraveler. Sadly I think my work in Nelspruit has finished. :(

 

 

@@Game Warden, it was excellent value for money IMO. Published costs per person, 2 days and one night in the bush with an evening meal, breakfast and supplies of water was 3300 Rand ($297) and with single supplement for me 3800 Rand ($342)

 

Lunches were at own cost at the rest camps. The evening meal was pretty basic but we had late Breakfast on Sunday at Skakusa Golf Club. Very pleasant.

 

I would really recommend African Spear. The effort they made to get me on the trip was impressive as well as the qualities of the guide etc

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Soukous

Lucky Linda

How great to be able to combine a bit of pleasure with your work @@wild Dog. Safaris are much more affordable when the flight is paid for.

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marindadrake

Great pics. We are fortunate to stay in White river, only 30km from Numbi gate. We camp with a caravan for about 30 nights a year. We love Kruger. The best experiences are north, above the Olifants river. Not as many animals as in the south, but not as crowded.

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wilddog

I have been to Kruger some years ago staying at Letaba, Satara and Skakusa and as you say @@marindadrake, the North is much quieter. You are lucky to have Kruger on your doorstep. :)

 

Despite it being a quick weekend trip into the South West Corner only, we were quite lucky with the comparatively small numbers of vehicles at most of our sightings.

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@@wilddog

What a great addition to a business trip - and you have some really good sightings and photos.

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  • 2 weeks later...
Morkel Erasmus

@@wilddog nice one - Kruger certainly is great value for money - many people in SA and abroad cannot afford luxury safari pricing for sure.

Lookiing forward to the next episode.

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Atravelynn

How nice you could find a little room for safari with your business trip. I'm sure you were thrilled when the call came in that it was a go. My fav photo is the airborne mother vervet and baby. Hope you enjoyed the rugby game too.

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wilddog

Day 2

I was pleased that my safari companions did not balk at the early morning start and were on time for coffee and muffins at dawn. Their translator however was another matter; he had apparently over slept but with some hefty banging on his accommodation door, we were up and at 'em in good time.

 

The weather was greatly improved, the clouds had cleared overnight and the African Dawn did it's thing.

 

It had been a good day on Saturday but the predators had been conspicuous by their absence so we set off in hope.

 

Shortly after leaving camp there was an elephant road block which held is up for some time. The youngster was lying in the road motionless and given the recent tragedy of a calf being run over, we began to be concerned. After some time, his trunk twitched and a few minutes later he started to move. It could of course have been a 'she' but at that distance I could not tell. He moved some more and finally got up.

 

During all this the other elephants were waiting patiently near by and one was on sentry duty ensuring we kept our distance.

 

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Once the little one was up on his feet a couple of them decided to play around in the road in front of the cruiser which was very entertaining.

 

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MwJyBop5V9k

 

 

Finally they moved into the bush and we moved on.

We saw many of the usual, and not so usual suspects, that morning.

 

One sighting I particularly enjoyed was a good view of the Red Crested Bustard/ Korhann. I have seen them before but this time this male was standing on the top of a termite mound calling with a strange clicking noise, followed by a really tuneful song. This was a first for me and I was delighted.

 

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Reedbuck

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Steenbok

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We reached the Sakusa area and went to the Golf Club for a late breakfast. All very civilised and relaxed and far superior to the main camp; which I personally find very crowded. After breakfast (Full English as they say) we set off again and the tension in the vehicle was palpable.

 

We had still not seen any big cats. For my travelling companions this was really important as this might be their one and only safari and they wanted to see the 'The Big Five'. It reminds me how fortunate I am to go on safari to Africa fairly regularly.

 

There was very little conversation as we set of............. and I felt really sorry for David, the guide; so far he had been unlucky with the big cats and the customers from Mozambique had to leave the park at 3.30 to get to the border before it closed. The pressure was on.

 

The minutes ticked by. David took a radio call from his fellow guide and I understood what was happening but said nothing. The animal could have gone away from the road by the time we got there. So in a slightly hurried, but discreet, fashion we moved on the from our 4th buffalo herd sighting.

 

and there, some way from the road was ...................

 

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We are all very pleased knowing how elusive they can be. Sadly she had her back to us but it was sighting and we had arrived just in time; 3 minutes after our arrival she moved off into the bush.

 

David's shoulder visibly relaxed and the two other ladies burst into tears again with the excitement.

 

An hour or so later and we found a lion pride sprawled in a gully beside the road. One female was looking very unwell , possibly a serious case of mange, but the others were in fine form.

 

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On our way back to the Melalane gate we found an very obliging family of Ground Hornbills and a fine, chilled elephant.

 

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Once we had dropped the ladies from Moz back at the Gate , we managed an extra hour driving around the tracks not too far from the gate before we had to leave the park.

 

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As we left the rhino, the threatened rain suddenly came down in buckets so David hastily closed up the cruiser and we went back to the Gate and left the park.

It rained all the way back to the hotel.

 

Not a bad way to spend the weekend :)

 

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@@wilddog,,,no kidding! two days of adventure and good sightings.

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Treepol

@@wilddog your second day was certainly jam-packed with big ticket sightings.Your friends must surely have been pleased with the Big 5 in one day!

 

How wonderful that you were able to link this Kruger weekend to a work trip and enjoy some safari therapy.

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twaffle

I'd say a pretty productive weekend for sure. I love the tinge of green, gives quite a different feel to the photos without being over powering. A leopard … most of us would be really happy with that! :)

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wilddog

You are right @@twaffle . Normally in dry season it is masses of brown/beige and in the full wet season the green shouts at you. Hyaena image particularly benefits.

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@@wilddog

"Not a bad way to spend a weekend" -indeed!

You packed a lot in and saw a lot. It must have been a relief to see the baby elephant get up.

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Atravelynn

"David's shoulder visibly relaxed and the two other ladies burst into tears again with the excitement" Interesting how the human behavior on safari can be as fascinating as the animals.

 

The activity of the Ground Hornbills looks particularly rewarding--any cheers or tears for those birds?

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wilddog

Must say I was delighted with the bit of Ground Hornbill action in one of the pictures. The one in front just managed to snatch whatever it was before the one at the back got it. But no tears......

 

I feel great pleasure when people see the first..... lion, or whatever. It brings a smile to my face. But one lady did tend to shriek with excitement and had to be asked to reduce the volume.

 

All good overall tho' :)

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Well worth the effort.

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What a weekend! Absolutely packed with animals; I'd be happy to see this much in a week. I'm glad that the little (well, relatively speaking) ele was okay; my heart would have been in my throat.

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