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Kruger circuit: A South Africa Safari at the "optimum" time, September 2014


Tdgraves

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graceland

Great report @Tdgraves; I am just catching up as you started this while I was away.

 

Nice seeing the rhinos! And seeing the beauty of Timbavati sunrises - sunsets again. We started our safari obsession not too far away.

 

Brings back lovely memories.Great job on all the birds; something I've not accomplished while in flight. :)

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So, just for @@bettel and anyone else who likes cubs, spotty or otherwise, some more of the leopard cubs   These were taken by my OH, so you have his perspective, there is a longer effective zoom (7

Day 12 Morning Drive, Leopard Hills   There were just three of us on the drive, so we were able to stay longer at sightings if we wanted, which meant I could get this shot:     We had a lovely

Day 11 Morning Drive   The following morning was our last game drive before transferring to Sabi Sands and this time, we did have a private vehicle. We got some rather envious looks, firstly from a

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Tdgraves

Day 10 Evening Drive

 

Given that everyone else had left, we wondered whether we would have a private drive this evening, however, it wasn't to be. A South African couple who were friends with the manager came over, just for a drive. Apparently he visits quite a lot, usually with a different woman in tow! Our guide wasn't sure how he made his money, but he was certainly well-travelled.

 

Before we left for the drive, I was asked what I wanted to see. I am always reluctant to answer this question, in case it leads to disappointment. However, we had not seen dogs at all on the trip so far, so I put it out there to the safari gods "Wild dogs please!". Knowing that they had not been seen in the area at all recently. And we set off. We spent a while exploring around the staff football pitch, where I assume something had been spotted earlier (or where someone lives) but nothing was to be found. We then got a radio message to travel far to a sighting, but he was not letting on what the sighting might be!

En route we found a nyala resting under a tree

 

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and some good bird close-ups

 

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The African guy obviously came to the bush quite a lot, but his companion seemed less impressed. I was slightly concerned that they started eating oranges near an elephant, but he seemed more keen on a mud bath than a citrus treat!

 

Time was ticking on and the problem with knowing that you are going towards something that has already been found means that you start worrying about the rapidly fading light, especially if the sighting did turn out to be dogs....

 

We found some more rhino and this was one of the only times where I was not comfortable about our guides' behaviour. He said "this family are skittish" and then proceeded to drive off road to get closer to them, causing them stress :(

 

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You can see from this zebra photo how quickly the light was fading

 

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We finally made it to the sighting and after waiting for a vehicle to move off, we found out, it was the dogs!

 

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It was already 17.40 and the sun pretty much goes down at 18.00. However, we had seen them and they hadn't been seen for a while (hence the excitement of everyone travelling so far to see them). I don't think our guests were too impressed though. This small pack, including a collared dog had appeared in Timbavati not long before and no-one knew where from, but given the extensive research project going on in KNP, I assume they must have split from a larger KNP pack.

 

We had "sundowners" in the moonlight, but we didn't care! On the way I managed to get a ground hornbill in flight, virtually in the dark

 

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The brief night drive back was the most productive of our time in King's camp, with a civet and a side-striped jackal, the latter of which I have never seen in RSA before. Not bad!

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Big_Dog

Excellent you got the dogs!
Also the love the dawn-lit hyaenas (and am pleased to hear of others to be happy about seeing them instead of eye rolling or digust!) and all fading light photos.

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Kitsafari

oh you've got the luck on your side! Dogs and side striped jackal? i hope we'll get your luck when we are there.

 

beautiful profile of the wild dog, and love that close-up of the nyala.

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Tdgraves

Excellent you got the dogs!

Also the love the dawn-lit hyaenas (and am pleased to hear of others to be happy about seeing them instead of eye rolling or digust!) and all fading light photos.

 

@@Big_Dog even better was that they turned down a leopard to stay with them!!!

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Big_Dog

Bloody hell! Did you get a photograph of them? That's a rarer sighting than a pangolin, caracal, bushpig and aardvark all together!

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Tdgraves

No, sadly not :)

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Tdgraves

Day 11 Morning Drive

 

The following morning was our last game drive before transferring to Sabi Sands and this time, we did have a private vehicle. We got some rather envious looks, firstly from a group of 4, probably because of the camera rests etc. and then from a Motswari vehicle which had about 9 guests in it...

 

The lions were still near the carcass, but we were unable to get closer.

 

This tawny was nearby, but the light wasn't great

 

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Then back to the dogs. I was more relaxed this time, as I knew that the light was on our side, although it was overcast, at least it wouldn't get dark!

 

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Then there was news of a leopard sighting. A female with cubs, that our guide had not seen yet. It was a bit of a trek to get there and we had to wait a few minutes for our turn. As it was off-roading in a fairly enclosed space and there were cubs involved, they were only letting 2 vehicles in at a time, rather than the usual 3. When our turn came, the little b*****rs had vanished :( However, the guides were not to be outdone, so they sent out two of the trackers, who found them resting in a drainage ditch. Excellent. I have never seen leopard cubs before and now we had managed the triple: lion, leopard and cheetah, that we had hoped for when booking this trip and there were still 3 days to go!! (and we had also seen the dogs)

 

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Sorry, mini-spotty cat overload!

 

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A lovely end to our stay in Timbavati.

 

3 days, 3 lion, 3 leopard and 2 wild dog sightings - not bad!

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Tdgraves

A few thoughts on timbavati in general and Kings Camp in particular.

 

TImbavati is much cheaper than Sabi Sands and potentially has very similar sightings, although the landscape was less varied. There is less river/dam access so the scenery was very brown. Knowing that a sighting is there, but not being able to get to it is annoying. I know that Sabi lodges have specific traversing rights, but this was never an issue as the areas covered seem large (perhaps because the landscape is more varied) and perhaps they never go right to the edges. The guide seemed less engaged than other I have encountered, however, he had a horrible head cold, so I don't blame him for that. He certainly did not seem to understand about positioning the vehicle for photography though and this was the first time I had noticed this a potential problem in all of the places we have visited. In the future, I will be more discerning.

 

The camp itself lacked atmosphere, probably due to the management. Rather than everyone gathering together prior to dinner, there was a fire and an inside bar with small tables, so people generally kept to themselves. The food was very hit and miss. The formal lunches/dinners were quite poor, especially given the price of the lodge (one of the most expensive in the reserve) and the level of plushness of the rooms themselves. In contrast, the boma buffet dinners (alternate nights) were excellent.

 

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So, would I go again? Maybe. If I couldn't afford Sabi, or as a part on an offer (like this time). I would not advocate it as a stand alone safari destination (unless it was your first time).

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Sangeeta

So, would I go again? Maybe. If I couldn't afford Sabi, or as a part on an offer (like this time). I would not advocate it as a stand alone safari destination (unless it was your first time).

 

Did you feel like that just about Kings Camp, @@Tdgraves, or Timbavati in general? Were some parts of it fenced and did you come up against those fences?

 

Those leopard cubs are adorable.

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Tdgraves

So, would I go again? Maybe. If I couldn't afford Sabi, or as a part on an offer (like this time). I would not advocate it as a stand alone safari destination (unless it was your first time).

 

Did you feel like that just about Kings Camp, @@Tdgraves, or Timbavati in general? Were some parts of it fenced and did you come up against those fences?

 

Those leopard cubs are adorable.

 

Thanks @@Sangeeta

 

The only time we were aware of the fence was on driving in from the gate. I guess my comment was about Timbavati in general. Because of the main access road and side road set up, it felt less "wild" than sabi (and I know that others do not think Sabi is at all wild) but driving on tar roads to get to the next gravel side road block is a bit strange. I liked the rooms in Kings Camp, but I don't think the rest of the camp lived up to what they implied.

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Geoff

Cute little leopard cubs.

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Tdgraves

Cute little leopard cubs.

Gorgeous aren't they? As we were hoping to see them, I was disappointed that they had disappeared and I thought that we had missed our chance....

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graceland

Adorable leopard cubs, and the Wild dogs-- not too shabby.

 

We went to Timbavati on our very first ever safari, along with Sabi Sands. We liked our camp, Ngala Tented; and had a terrific young and eager guide.

 

But we felt the game was sparse, now that we've experienced so many game filled trips. At the time, we just accepted it as normal. Same with Sabi.

Not a place I'd return, but I know many who think of it highly.

 

There are other areas of SA I'd like to explore, but my list is ever-growing, so who knows when :D

 

Always enjoy your reporting and pics,@@Tdgraves!

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bettel

Leopard cubs are amazing! /cubs are my most favorite sightings :)/

Sorry, mini-spotty cat overload!

 

 

Actually, I would say you did not post enough of them :), if it were me, there would have been 50 pictures of these leopard cubs lol

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Tdgraves

Leopard cubs are amazing! /cubs are my most favorite sightings :)/

 

 

 

Sorry, mini-spotty cat overload!

 

 

Actually, I would say you did not post enough of them :), if it were me, there would have been 50 pictures of these leopard cubs lol

I can post more if you like @@bettel

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Tdgraves

Adorable leopard cubs, and the Wild dogs-- not too shabby.

 

We went to Timbavati on our very first ever safari, along with Sabi Sands. We liked our camp, Ngala Tented; and had a terrific young and eager guide.

 

But we felt the game was sparse, now that we've experienced so many game filled trips. At the time, we just accepted it as normal. Same with Sabi.

Not a place I'd return, but I know many who think of it highly.

 

There are other areas of SA I'd like to explore, but my list is ever-growing, so who knows when :D

 

 

 

Always enjoy your reporting and pics,@@Tdgraves!

I guess I'm getting super picky the more I travel @@graceland but as a direct comparison to sabi, it doesn't stand up. But you can't complain too much about the sightings we got, it was more like the general game wasn't there....

 

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bettel

I can post more if you like @@bettel

Yes :)! more please!

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TonyQ

@@Tdgraves

The leopard cubs are beautiful - and good to see the dogs and I like hyena!

A lovely shot of the nyala also.

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Tdgraves

So, just for @@bettel and anyone else who likes cubs, spotty or otherwise, some more of the leopard cubs

 

These were taken by my OH, so you have his perspective, there is a longer effective zoom (7D vs 5D) and of course he was on the other side of the vehicle

 

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Enjoy!

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bettel

Thank you! It is a great way to end a work day :)

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Safaridude

Whoa, how did I miss this?

 

Excellent report and photos. @@Tdgraves

 

When you say Timbavat is less varied in terms of scenery, are you saying that it is fairly monotonous bush/scrub?

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Tdgraves

@@Safaridude

 

Whoa, how did I miss this?

 

Clearly need your eyes testing ;)

 

Excellent report and photos. @@Tdgraves

 

Thanks

 

When you say Timbavat is less varied in terms of scenery, are you saying that it is fairly monotonous bush/scrub?

 

"fairly monotonous bush/scrub" is a good description. I'm not sure I even took any landscape shots to illustrate. As I said before, I think it is because it is in blocks, all accessed from the tar road, whereas in Sabi there are various routes in and out of the lodges (and not tar road). Also, I think we only saw the river once (with all of the buffalo). It was definitely less green than Sabi, which I will get to in my next installment :D

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Sangeeta

Oooh, never too many of the spotty babies :D OH did a great job too!

 

Thanks for your response, as well. Always so very helpful to get an opinion from you.

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Marks

Awesome dog and little leopard photos. Appreciate your candid thoughts on Timbavati's wildness, too - but it looks like it delivered nonetheless!

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