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


Tdgraves

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Tdgraves

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

Yeah, it does feel a bit petty complaining....

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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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Kitsafari

The Cubs are so cute.

 

@@Tdgraves you said "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. "

 

May I know what you mean by that? I may have missed something in the beginning - do the camps in timbavati have strict traversing rights? I thought the camps share traversing rights? If not, I'll b rather concerned as I'll be spending 4 nights at the same place in timbavati..

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Tdgraves

@@Kitsafari one side of the main entrance road is Timbavati and the other side is klaserie. In the old days there was a fence but now that there isn't one there, you think it is all one reserve, which from the game perspective it is, but not from the human one.

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Kitsafari

@@Tdgraves thanks for the quick reply!

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Tdgraves

Day 11 Evening game drive, Leopard Hills, Sabi Sands

 

We drove the short distance outside of the park from Timbavati to Sabi. The roads were fairly busy with trucks and we had to slow often going through inhabited areas. There was a bit of a road block, a police car was on the scene and I saw some rocks on the carriageway. I assumed that a lorry (or more likely a backkie had shed its' load). Only when we got closed did I realise that these were African traffic cones and that they were protecting a pedestrian who had been knocked down and killed. S/he was half covered with some cardboard. This brought it home how dangerous roads could be.

 

The road which turns off the main route to the Paul Kruger gate of KNP was in a right state. It was sand and very uneven/potholed. Progress was slow. Our directions were to look out for the lodge signs and turn right at a crossroads. It rapidly became clear to us that a) not many tourists drive to Sabi B) there was no road sign and c) we had gone past the "crossroads" which were really not obvious, by about 10km. In fact, we had gone so far that the road had turned back into a tar road! Luckily some locals pointed us back in the right direction. The "crossroads" was no more apparent in the opposite direction, however, at least in that direction there was a brown tourist sign to the park....

 

We arrived at the lodge just before afternoon tea, which is served on the deck. The lodge is on the side of a ridge, so there are quite far-reaching views. Our two Australian vehicle-mates from Kings camp had arrived the previous day. He mischievously came to tell me that they had seen a leopard with two cubs that morning. But I had the last laugh, when I replied "so did we!". That stole his thunder!!

 

The temperature had been steadily rising since we had arrived and it was generally over 30 C in the afternoons. I was therefore very surprised to be given a hot water bottle for the drive, in case we were cold! This means that some people were, however, I had shorts on.....

 

As the lodge had been told of our interest in photography, we were given the front row, with the approval of the other four in the vehicle, who only had compact cameras. Excellent. They had giant molar tooth shaped bean bags which slip over the roll bars - a very good invention.

 

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Just realised that I have not uploaded the spotlight shots, so will add later

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Tdgraves

So we also saw a spotted eagle owl.

 

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On the way back towards the lodge, we found a hyaena carrying a huge piece of carcass. She was clearly on a mission and wouldn't stop to pose! Every time our guide managed to manoeuvre in front of her, we had one chance and then she was off. We followed her for ages trying to find the location of the den. But eventually she disappeared into a drainage ditch. I of course forgot that the ISO goes up to "max" as I am unused to spotlight shots, doh!

 

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graceland

@@Tdgraves

 

Love the spotty kittens!

 

I just liked my Timbavati guide for his enthusiasm, but you are right...the game was very sparse. He did have a way of making it fun to find them via tracking. One night (and remember this our very first safari) he goes driving over and above the brush....we are ducking branches, heads in our laps; he stops....he and the tracker say - "Stay here".)

 

Stay here! I swear they were gone an hour (probably not, but thats what I thought!) so it was a great experience; all of us wondering what we'd do if they not return!!

Hoping he did not take the keys ^_^

 

The Owl is beautiful!

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offshorebirder

Over the siesta period, a huge flock (what is the collective noun for a groups of vultures?) passed by our room.

 

 

@@Tdgraves - wonderful trip report - thanks, I just ran across it for the first time.

 

Since the vultures were in flight they were a "kettle" - had they been feeding, they would have been a "wake". Had they been roosting, they would have been called a "committee."

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Alexander33

@ Tdgraves

 

I am really enjoying this report. Thank you for taking the time to post.

 

Very good information about The Outpost. One doesn't hear much about it, but your summary helps solidify my impressions of it. Definitely on my to-do list for a future visit to South Africa once I've become a bit more seasoned.

 

Interesting discussion here about Timbavati vs. Sabi Sands. We went to both in September 2013 (Ngala Tented Camp at Timbavati, Simbambili in the northern Sabi Sands), and we preferred our time at Timbavati in all respects. After 4 nights, we didn't want to leave. It seems like your guide and the management at King's Camp were a bit "off." That can definitely have an effect. I'm glad you had some nice sightings there, in any event. I've never seen all of the Big 5 in a single game drive!

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Big_Dog

That hyaena is fantastic! Unlucky to whoever she's carrying though.

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Tdgraves

That hyaena is fantastic! Unlucky to whoever she's carrying though.

 

Thanks @Big_Dog I just wish I had more experience at doing high ISO as the camera would have gone much higher and I would have had a better chance of a clearer shot, given that she never stopped moving. Well, you live and learn.....

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TonyQ

@@Tdgraves

I thought the hyena came out pretty well!

Pass on congratulations to your OH for the extra leopard cub shots - beautiful.

Edited by TonyQ
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Tdgraves

@@Tdgraves

I thought the hyena came out pretty well!

Pass on congratulations to your OH for the extra leopard cub shots - beautiful.

 

It was one of the OHs as well :angry:

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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!

Yeah, it does feel a bit petty complaining....

 

 

Oh I didn't mean that it felt petty, I didn't get that impression at all! I actually just really enjoy hearing about the different impressions of wildness and was just thinking you got some nice results despite those kind of drawbacks. :)

 

Even without the highest ISO setting, the hyena shot is rather magical in atmosphere.

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Tdgraves

Ah, you have found me our @@Marks - the hyaena was another one from my OH....he has more experience of spotlight shots as until now, he had the camera with better high ISO settings. Here is my pathetic effort. It is very frustrating as this is ISO 10000 and I think if I had notched it up to 26000, it would have been great. Oh well, live and learn.... :wacko:

 

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WRT lodge/camp/area, I think it goes to show how much the atmosphere and attitude of the camp staff and guide matter to your overall impression of the place. Clearly we had good big 5 sightings, but there wasn't much else and I think I now realise that I like a bit of variety in the scenery, even though I don't really take landscape photos.

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Tdgraves

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:

 

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We had a lovely close sighting of a small family group of elephants, including the youngest one I have ever seen.

 

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We also saw some rhino and birds

 

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We then heard of a pride of lion, which were in a quarry, where the reserve staff dig gravel to repair the roads. It was already getting late, the sun was high and it was really hot. However, we arrived at the right time, as half of the pride appeared just after us and they all greeted each other. After a few minutes, the whole pride got up and left. So unlike most lion sightings, we got some action.....

 

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Back to camp for breakfast, on the deck overlooking the plains

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Tdgraves

Day 12 Evening Drive, Leopard Hills

 

The plan for the evening was to try and find a local male leopard. There were 6 of us again, our Australian companions having had their lie-in in the morning. We were one of three vehicles tracking around the block where he was last seen. Our guide and tracker were keenly looking in all directions trying to find him or any clue as to which direction to go in. He told us all to keep a look out for leopard, as if we had to be told twice! The Australian lady was therefore very surprised that it was her that spotted the spotted cat, before the professionals! He was in a half-crouched position, apparently only used for hunting, or going to the toilet :( knowing our luck, I assumed it was the latter, but our guide drove a bit further forward and saw what the leopard was stalking, a bushbuck. So we crept back and waited.

 

The famous posture....

 

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While we were waiting, I spotted a purple roller in a nearby tree

 

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And a crested barbet came to say hello

 

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Something spooked the bushbuck, so the hunt was not to be. The male leopard decided to move on and we followed....

 

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We managed to get ahead of it, to position for a "walk-by" when he decided to turn right, doh! Luckily we got another chance a bit further up the track and so I should apologise again for spotty cat overload....

 

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One of the other vehicles at the sighting

 

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No hunt, but what a great sighting!

 

We found this pair on the other side of the river, but they were on private property, so could go no closer

 

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We had sundowners in the middle of the river bed

 

What a drive! This is why Sabi Sands is renowned for the quality of its' leopard sightings :D

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jeremie

I am really impressed by te quality, shade and lights of the pictures. Congrats!!!

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graceland

@@Tdgraves

 

JUST today catching up; been a bit of a week.....TERRIFIC!!

 

OH my love the entire series...the lions are lovely, the leopard is stunning....and a sunset in the river bed..

 

Perfection.

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TonyQ

@@Tdgraves

That is a beautiful leopard! And I really enjoyed seeing the baby elephant.

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michael-ibk

Great report with fantastic sightings. Just love, love love the Leopard cubs! :)

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Marks

Such beautiful golden leopard photos.

Also, @@Tdgraves, your own pic of the nighttime hyena looks brilliant to me - clear and colorful!

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