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South Africa March 2016 Klaserie and Timbavati


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South Africa, this trip was to be “easy”, no real planning, no expectations other than a relaxing safari enjoying whatever came our way. Our only previous African safari had us a couple of nights in the amazing but under-rated Nairobi National Park, Rwanda “express” for Gorillas, Tanzanias “Northern Circuit”and finishing up with a few nights in Mkomazi. This time the booking process was pretty easy, just sent an email to Sun Destinations, request, about 10 days, three different camps in the Greater Kruger. I threw up a couple of ideas. They responded with the suggestion of 3N n’Thambo Klaserie, 2N Shindzela Timbavati, and 4N Motswari Timbavati…done. We flew out of a hot dry Perth into a hot dry SA. The direct 10 flight to Joberg was a very appealing prospect, unfortunately complicated by a six hour layover at Joberg before connecting to Hoedspruit. So still ended up being a long day. We were picked up at the airport by our guide Matt, let the fun begin. This report will be “all over the shop”, not day by day, rather across all three Parks, just my “musings”, oh and I love using quotation marks.


I am not a “cat person”, domestic cats that is. I wish them no harm, just have no desire to own one. Im more of a “dog person”, sadly we lost our little buddy of 14 yrs a few months back. Anyway, I digress, nThambo has a cat, 90% Wildcat which I guess means 10% moggy. Fiesty little thing, managed to lay still long enough for me to give a good scratch before bolting off, leaping into the air after imaginary birds, butterflies, whatever cats fantasize over. I thought his bright yellow eyes were amazing. Proof photo of author…I am not a robot.



Better still though, on our night drive we got to see a real Wildcat, just sat in the grass, very relaxed, dozing whilst giving us a disinterested stare occasionally.





While Im on “Cats”, pre Wildcat, whilst searching for elusive Lions, we turned a bend, and found this laying in the grass.







By all accounts you don’t see this every day in the Klaserie. I did tell our fellow young travellers that this was a far bigger score than the much wished for Lion sighting that they’d all been busting to see. It was 42 degrees when we set out on this drive so this full-bellied Cheetah didn’t move other than panting.

Which brings me to my (not mine) quote of the trip, (out of the mouth of babes), “Why is that Impala laying up in a tree”?

Later in the evening they found out…Klaserie Leopard





"Who needs a bum anyway"' that’s my words of wisdom :)



I have great admiration for Hyenas, in fact they turned out on this trip to provide some of our greatest memories…but! We parked by this “waterhole”, here at home we would call it a swamp, the Hyena was laying on the shoreline in the mud.



He stood up and walked away, the most foulest disgusting odour wafted over the vehicle, we all but heaved. A heated debate as to whether that nasty smell came from within or without the vehicle resulted in the blame resting squarely on the Hyena ( well he couldn’t present his defence could he). So 42 degrees in the shade, parked beside a stagnant cesspool and a smell that could drop an Elephant at 50 paces…..why we all love safaris, why don’t my friends get it?



"Who, ME"??

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~ @@elefromoz



I like your photos and the story you're sharing.

Very, very nice!

This is the best surprise on a chilly Tuesday evening.

Thank you!

Tom K.

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As a quotation loving dog person you have my attention. Looking forward to more musings.

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Wild Cat, Cheetah, Leopard and Hyena, quite an impressive start! Hope you enjoyed this trip, and good to "see" you again. :-)


BTW, I´m more of a dog person myself as well. Guess it´s just a matter of if you had dogs or cats as a kid - of course dog in my case.

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Peter Connan

What a start to a trip report!


Domestic cats are of course the biggest threat to the African Wildcat, as they inter-breed readily and it seems there are very few "pure" populations left.

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Great start from the wildcat to cheetah to leopard...for a non cat person I think that you did alright!

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@@elefromoz thats a very impressive start with the cats - AWC, cheetah, leopard.


Look forward to the rest of your TR when you have time, and will be especially interested to hear soem recent news from Shindzela.

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A great start (I am a cat person!) - I look forward to your thoughts and photos

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Thanks guys, and to anyone reading along. @@Peter Connan, Hmmm, was wondering about the Wildcat/domestic cat thing, shame to hear the impact is so marked.


If you"re not much interested in Hyenas and Vultures, this post is not for you. I was delighted to see White Backed, Hooded and Cape Vultures, and the fun and chaos with the Hyenas was great.


Meanwhile, back at Timbavati, we left Shindzela on our drive, and were alerted that something was going down



All the beautiful were gathering







Some had really scrubbed up well and didn’t mind showing it off




others skulked off in shame



They were taking a meal break when we arrived, on the menu was Bovine Ribcage, Hide or a Hoof/Leg Combo, it was worth fighting over. Some tempers were a little frayed and patience wore thin









“Don’t think I cant see you down there”



“That White Backed crowd have no manners, this ladys outta here”



Others waited their turn



some keeping a sharp eye out



Others just chatted amongst themselves



“I just want to chew my Hoof in peace”



But then, the “big guns” arrived



Pure class, Mr Cape



And everyone gathered around



Some of the chaps were just larking around





“Oh do hurry along or the Rib will be cleaned-up before we get there”





“I wanna get me some of that”



“Not if I can help it you won't. Go find your own Thorax"




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What a wonderful sequence of hyena and vultures (I like both!)

Great pictures - my favourite is the hyena looking over the rib-cage as the vulture pecks away at it. Excellent.

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An excellent sequence and as has been noted in @@TonyQ trip report I am a lead member in the Hyena appreciation society and I can gladly post a membership package to you!


Great pictures all around.

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We felt very lucky to have seen a “trio of felines” on our first couple of days in the Klaserie, but Mother Nature is no “one trick Pony”, our first drive from Motswari Timbavati and Chad had us parked, with a mother and son Leopard pair strolling past, and I mean right past, at one point the young Leopard walked over and sat a metre from us, looking up at us with very a curious stare. Maybe its just me but I sense a certain arrogance about Leopards, equally, Id challenge anyone to say that the sight of a healthy Leopard doesn’t leave you speechless.





The photo above tells half the story, heres the other half, Hyena was getting a bit too close, but he just sniffed around and ambled off, and calm returned














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This Saturday was indeed my "leopard galore on the Safaritalk" afternoon! Thank you for contributing another set of fantastic photos!!

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No safari would be complete without Elephants, we all love them, loyal, funny, fearsome. The grim statistics of poaching worries us all, whilst at the other end of things, soaring numbers in some Parks is causing great concern. That seems to be the case here in the Kruger area, it would seem that over the years, numbers soared, so now along the way, “controlling numbers” was discussed at times. Luckily we are in the priviledged position of just going along on safari, while others have that horrible dilemma to deal with. We encountered Elephant herds across both Klaserie and Timbavati.







Sometimes we scared them a bit













Sometimes they scared us….a lot :o



Maybe if I get reeeallly close,


Maybe if I flap my ears,



maybe if I throw dirt and stones over you,



"Then again I could get even closer"


or if I just stare you down that will get rid of you



'Guilty as charged", another tree gone!



What is going on behind the tree, Baby Elephant Gymbaroo













Elephant and (A)marula, great combo either way


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@@elefromoz Thanks for this. Enjoying the report as a collection of notes rather than a diary. Lovely sequence of elephant photos.

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The hyaena and vulture sequence...simply fantastic!
Also very cool to have 2 leopards and a hyaena in the same shot!

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I would be more than thrilled with what you've shown us so far (hyenas!), especially as you went in with no expectations.

Ele + marula is perfect.

Keep it coming!

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@@elefromoz - thanks for the wonderful report! A fantastic collection of sightings and I especially appreciate the B&W photo of the ele.

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~ @@elefromoz


Magnificent photo series, one after another!

The hyena with vultures...the young elephants playing...the leopards.

I completely agree with you that the sight of a healthy adult leopard does leave one speechless.

The sight of leopard cubs leaves one broadly grinning.

Tom K.

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A typical day on a South African safari:


Any Lord of the Rings fan will remember the “first breakfast, second breakfast, elevenses…” scene, well it’s a bit like that.

Wake up 4.45, coffee and rusk/muffin in the dark to get you going, 5.30 into the jeep and on morning safari. First stop about 8am for another coffee/tea and rusk/muffin/biscuits.gallery_49445_1503_143075.jpg




9.30 back to camp



for full Continental and/or Hot buffet breakfast, we usually had both. :)

Then some down time now to

a) enjoy the view













b)take a swim



c) go back to bed



2.30 -3 and the lunch call goes out




Usually a cold buffet, note healthy food at this end, winding up at other end…with cup-cakes, biscuits, just in case you missed out at the 3 breakfasts :P



4.30 back into jeep for afternoon safari. Getting dark, hippo eyes following us around the rapidly shrinking waterholes. Things could be getting a bit tense in these murky waters as time goes on.



Sunset, and of course.


Sundowners, drink of choice with nibbles.









7.30pm,Back for shower




another pre-dinner drink and then 3-4 course dinner



9.30 – 10pm, crash into bed




Tomorrow it all starts over …..Yea!!

We arrived amidst the worst drought in the area for a long time. The green trees give an illusion of green, but in fact there was very little grazing food at all.



Both the Klaserie and the area around Motswari were dry as a chip.




Shindzela, which was “lower”, got more rain and had the grass to prove it



The first few days were really hot, 40+ degrees, the birds sat in the shade panting



A Fish Eagle, her partner and Juvenile, presiding over a disappearing waterhole.










Some little creatures had a long road to travel to find water.





But then, just a couple of days later



it only lasted a day, wouldn’t make a whole lot of difference, but so welcome nevertheless. And it was fun to be out driving in the rain as well



Of course someone loved it



The jeeps were 9 seaters but passenger numbers varied between 3 – 10, meaning on this occasion, one guest sat beside guide, as this person had a dodgy back, he was happy to do so. It really didn’t faze me too much on the days we had a “full” vehicle, as long as everyone was polite and considerate, we all enjoyed ourselves. I will add that whilst in Motswari, we never had more than 6 per vehicle, which I believe is”norm” for them.



We had comfortable transport between our 3 camps, and enjoyed wildlife along the way.




The South African guides we had were informative, fun and hard-working, going all-out to make sure you have a great trip, and also can “talk the leg off a wooden table”. :D

This was a very different safari experience for us, compared to our last African trip. Initially it felt a little “regimented”, but it didn’t take long to fall into the ebb and flow of the daily routine. For me theres no question of “which is better”, its like comparing…..Lions and Tigers! Ive really enjoyed both.


This could have been me, had we stayed much longer, eating approximately 8 times a day



Leading into my next post....if a Hippo butt isn't exactly attractive (well, to anyone other than another Hippo) , Buffalo....hmmm:

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The Hobbits didn´t have Elevenses with Nyala. :)


Really enjoyed these latest posts. Very true what you say about eating on safari. I always tell myself that I just will be strong and have none of this stupid "High Tea" stuff especially. And I always miserably fail. ;)

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Really enjoying your report. Great to see a green Shindzela - we will be there in 7 weeks. Super leopard shots at Motswari.

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The Hobbits didn´t have Elevenses with Nyala. :)


Really enjoyed these latest posts. Very true what you say about eating on safari. I always tell myself that I just will be strong and have none of this stupid "High Tea" stuff especially. And I always miserably fail. ;)


Don't fight it @@michael-ibk

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@@elefromoz - great sequence with vultures and hyenas - two animals that we have not had good sightings of so far on our travels. Thank you for sharing and thank you also for the typical day on safari. Always nice to be reminded of everything that goes into a safari besides driving and photographing.


kind regards



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