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June 2017 Kruger 10 day trip report


RobK
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This is my attempt at reminiscing the wonderful time I had at Kruger. 10 days of bliss , nothing but wildlife and some photography.  Why so late you ask, only because i stumbled to this wonderful forum for now.

This is my second trip to Kruger, my first one was in June 2017 with my elder son who was 12 at that time.  This trip, I had the company of my 2 boys, 15 and 8, my friend and his wife, as well as my sister and her 15 yr old boy.

 

Itinerary

2 nights at Pretoriouskop

2 nights at Talamati

2 nights at Letaba

2 nights at Satara

1 night at Biyamiti (only because we couldnt get 2 nights at Lower sabie)

1 night at Lower Sabie 

 

Plan

Self drive morning to evening.

 

No idea why i book the View bungalows, we are never there to enjoy the view.  :)  Any body else have that problem ?

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Day 1 - Enter thru Malelane gate and end up in Pretoriouskop.

 

Started the day in Nelspruit where we had stayed for the night after driving from Tambo. started early and stopped at Malelane SPAR for the necessary shopping. What a beautiful store.

Myself and elder one were the only ones who have been to Kruger, but we kept it all under wraps, because explaining the experience misses the point, unless you have been there.

After the formalities we entered the park and decided to take the Berg En Dal loop and come back to H3 before heading north.

 

First off - Antelope, i cant believe the first animal to greet us was a steenbok, followed by countless Impalas of course, and other herbivores.

 

Walks in a Kudu and one of the Impala rams, goes and says hello to him !! Amazing

 

Across the hill we spot a group of 4 rhinos and then a quite large one emerges and chases them around (and we have been in this for only one hour). An elderly gentleman informs us that during drought time, there was grass drop for Rhinos in the area that is probably why we are seeing more rhinos here.

 

Very close to Berg N Dal camp a very large elephant, not moving at all.  I realized he was busy buttscratching only after i got home and started looking at the pictures.

 

More elephants and impalas later we reach Matjulu waterhole.   quintessential paradise with kudu, impala, zebra, giraffe, baboons

 

on to couple of more roads, more rhinos with last one really big.. his ears were at least a foot long

 

Next stop Afsaal Picnic spot.

 

 

 

 

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Afsaal Picnic Spot and onto Pkop

 

we all know about the resident bushbucks at Afsaal, or for that matter most picnic spots.

 

And then as we order lunch, a large elephant shows up for lunch. It is just amazing experience sitting 15 ft away from a 9-10ft tall elephant.  and we have been here only half a day !!  

 

Not thinking of Big 5 or anything. Just being here is amazing.

 

Just outside afsaal, under the road is a hyena den.

 

some snakes etc on the road to Pkop rounds off Day 1.

 

 

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Excellent greeting from the game when you first entered the park. Nice Puff Adder on the road.

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Amylovescritters

Puff adder... spectacular!

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Quick question.  How do I write this trip report in this forum, with photographs inserted in between as compared to all pictures at the end.

 

Never mind !!! figured it out from the master forum

 

 

Edited by RobK
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Day 2 from Pretoriouskop - Plan today is Water bound !! Shitlave Dam, Transport dam, waterholes,  Lake Panic.

 

If at the beginning of the day, someone had told me no Predators today, I would have been very disappointed

But by the end of the day, it was bird paradise !!   

 

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Spectucular sunrise in the offing as we drive towards Shitlave dam.  The Pkop area itself was rather bare for us; but two days later there were reports of spectacular cheetah sightings. Of courseIMG_6954.thumb.JPG.22050016a794af0a7b844ce6638211ab.JPG

The current resident lords of Shitlave dam that morning,  Saddle Bill stork and Egyptian goose.  It was great to see so many SBS this trip, last trip i had only 2 in 6 days

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ID ? LBJ ?

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One of my most spectacular sightings of the trip.  green wood hoopoIMG_7001.thumb.JPG.b8a9d721b6136ee0272aa0d982e7d28a.JPG

Mom and baby girafffe at a distance.  IMG_7009.thumb.JPG.fd0931341a71fd8948d1e757c8d5ae51.JPG

Transport dam spectacular turned out to be this Malachite kingfisher.  I had no idea this doll is only 4-5 inches tall !!  

Make it two spectacular bird sightings !!

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ID please ?

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My first leopard tortoise ever !!!

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Then there are two in 30 minutes

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Not the greatest of pictures !!! But lots of magpie shrikes

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Onto N'waswitshaka waterhole.   driving around a fallen tree, and elderly gentleman coming tells us,nothing at that waterhole.. just some giraffes !!  Oh well that will do...  what are we chasing anyway.. IMG_7143.thumb.JPG.fcb8efdd72835de66f4fd65d1fd50967.JPG

Many turtles on a rock !! not the case ....quite  5a6e0c1e89c11_IMG_7151(2).thumb.JPG.68ddeb8c9cc9111568eb63e08d33a997.JPG

spectacular giraffe sighting.   How often do you get to see the giraffes from right under them

 

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Along with a very thoughtful baby babboon

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They were just taking a ride  !!!    5a6e0bfbc40b6_IMG_6998(2).thumb.JPG.95c8281de047e99dfe47ed132283d33e.JPG

now iam realizing that i need to comment for each picture for this to be in order. !!! 

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Lake Panic should rank among the highlights for any Kruger fan.  Especially now with the Lake nearly full. Again, bird heaven

 

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Sometimes the phone cameras give better results than the "real" cameras.  But this is some view  IMG_3160.thumb.JPG.d040799f5b487686d783a139279d2226.JPG

Great position for the boys to take it all in.

 

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Overseen by the king himself..   King of all things water  5a6e46922af36_IMG_7194(2).thumb.JPG.4a28a0b5d890f58195af782deab36f95.JPG

 

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While the subjects go about their daily chores

 

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Like these quarreling set of pied kingfishers.

 

And they look all aligned now 

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And a brown hooded kingfisher at the top of canopy

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and a thickknee (?) at the bottom

 

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And then it happens, the Kill of the trip that i was waiting for 

 

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and little did i realize, catching a fish is one thing and getting it consumed is a totally different thing. it took about 20 minutes of repositioning, slamming, pulverizing for this fish to go down that throat

 

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And then it was time for some cleaning and preening and drying; resulting in highlight images of the trip

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While the pied kingfisher settled at his perch

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and the king descended to claim his prize

 

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Another spectacular sunset guides us home, with no inclination of what comes tomorrow. Trip back to Pkop is fairly uneventful. How can that be in the twilight hour when everything is more active, supposedly,but i am sure they are.. somewhere else.

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Day 3 of Safari. Today is packing time and moving to talamati.  Pretoriuskop is a fine camp, the range trees they have maintained by the 6 person bungalows are amazing. Each one is catalogued.  along with the friendliest guinea fowl that runs everywhere. I would love to see it more during day time. But we are never there during daytime.

 

Today the plan is to take the H1-1 all the way to H3 and go south on H3 and take S114 to Skukuza for lunch. Then drive to Nkuhlu picnic spot, double back and take S36 on to Talamati..

 

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Another spectacular sunrise as we drive east, bidding adieu to Pretoriuskop.

One of these days i am going to get better at photographing sunrises

 

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The friendliest big tusker by the road.  followed by a hyena spectacular

 

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These Hyena baby (he def felt he was a baby) walked around the cars for the longest time.

 

We move on and find this spectacular Bateleur right over the road.

 

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kind of traffic jam ahead and we say something ahead and one of the OSV move a little and i see dogs. I am saying Wild Dogs Wild dogs and no one can hear it as the sound is not coming out..  Wild dogs it is 3 of them and they quickly sprint away into the bush

 

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The quality of pictures not withstanding !! 

 

A poofed up LBR poses  just for us 5a6e746be7ef0_IMG_7405(2).thumb.JPG.82440ec539687479ad7bb0ee22ed524c.JPG

 

 

Followed by a large herd of buffaloes a bit away (Did I say that was Big 2)IMG_7409.thumb.JPG.4448b52a3c429bce8fa87612e888a333.JPG

 

Followed by a Hoopoe on the roadside5a6e746fa597f_IMG_7414(2).thumb.JPG.f80133126cfabfbc7ae393b60ce8b8da.JPG

 

and a grey duiker 5a6e7471814fb_IMG_7416(2).thumb.JPG.dcffa0fa95d71c4c33ca44ac31e00ea6.JPG

 

Another traffic jam and turns out to be the alien bird (as i call it )   7 southern ground hornbill.   have you seen close up of these.. they are for sure alien..  No great pictures this time.

 

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we press on and turn right to H3. we havent gone a few 100 metres and walks across the road a leopard and i am screaming leopard.   So twice before i have done the same thing and ended with tortoise.   so now no one is paying attention.

 

I say.. There is a leopard on the road.  

He was there for 5 seconds and was gone.  and the below is the only sorry picture i have to show.

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We move on (after telling couple of oncoming vehicles about the leopard) and double back  towards Skukuza and come across spectacular sightings of Big 4 and a klipspringer on the koppies

 

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followed by Impala sightings

 

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Onto skukuza for lunch and my 8 year old spots this Monitor lizard and the bee eater

 

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Post lunch drive to Skukuza.  We are at Big 4 for the morning. What now ?

Encountering vervet monkeys is always fun,if windows are closed.

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Then by one of the pull outs.  we find these bunch of elephants quietly grazing !!  with a baby..

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As we are watching these ellies.. i see a lioness !!!!!  walking behind the bushes and walking through. the elephants are not aware.

So we wait to the other end of pull out to see if she walks out that way.  especially because it was just her.  

And she does.   and we take a perfectly focussed picture of the plant in front.

 

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We spend the next 30 minutes following the lion despite the best efforts of this old lady to follow the lion reversing !! i was sure it was going to get run over today.. thank god nothing like that happened.

 

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Nkuhlu picnic spot is amazing but is overrun by vervet monkeys.  We spot a nice herd of waterbucks by the river  and some giraffes.

 

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Onto the road towards Tshokwane and then on S36.

 

These whistling ducks followed their mom..  

 

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Followed by a posing waterbuck buck,, an elephant in golden light and nesting vultures

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then a bone rattling 2 hour drive to Talamati, rather bare on sightings takes us there..

 

What  a day !! a Big 5 kind of day !!

 

Tomorrow, we didnt realize what was on stock..  The most exciting time of the entire trip !!  

 

 

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Hope you guys are still with me.  I know, horrible story telling, average photographs but the sheer thought of those ten days has me deliriously happy. None more exciting than this day.  the night at Talamati was rather quiet except for the barking baboons who are always alert. The waterhole light was out, which made star gazing a pleasure. For many in the team, first time in africa, it was a revelation, milky way.. 

 

Early morning start again, as the area is famed for its game.But the thick mist blocks any serious sighting. Not much luck when the sunrise looks like this

 

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And the birds waiting for the shroud to lift 

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along with this warthog and his pillion riders

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two hours to get to H7 following some jackal foot prints.  bad jokes, big yawns follow

some elephants and wildebeest but this is cat country.. where are the cats.

 

On H7 decision is to go to Orpen to get some coffee.

 

And to the left i see one lioness, followed by two more and by now folks are counting 6,7,8  and a few minutes later a nineth one..  the Orpen 9

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very young pride with 3 young males.

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just lumbering around towards the Tamboti camp or the timbavati river that flows by.

 

You can sense the fog here, but they see something in that fog.   

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Tail goes swish swish and seconds later 8 of them have spread out 10 - 15 yards apart while one has shifted to the right.

They have spotted a warthog

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ears are peeled and they use cars to their advantage

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this one is literally 10 feet from my window

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Until a lady comes through the crowd of cars, with camera on one hand the steering wheel on the other through all this commotion and excitement.

 

Warthog makes good on the escape, and we are left with a lioness sharpening her claws.

 

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What a start to the day.  Mist, fog, no sightings so far.. all forgotten ..  just smiles and we get to tell that to every customer at Orpen coffee shop. Many of them stayed at Tamboti or Maroela overnight !!!!   

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Excitement over we head to Orpen for coffee.  Next time, if it happens, should spend more time in Orpen. Small camp, overlooking a waterhole with the sanparks webcam

 

Fantastic views just heading out.  Including this zebra which gives us the face.  we tell it to go to Tamboti to meet the lions

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Great sightings of GIraffes, wildebeests,

 

and we stop over at Bobbejankrans

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Great views

 

Then we come upon this great view

 

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This has to mean something.. but we cant see anything.

Then superzoom helps out with this great view of the king and 2 lionesses.  few minutes later a 3rd one joins the nappers..    One of them is clearly unimpressed

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Moving on closer to Nsemani, great herbivore views

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First stop at Satara for lunch and my 8 year old gets a ranger to show him the scops owl that perches there.  WHat a cutie.

 

Bridge over Nwanetsi gives us a great view of this bull with a small crocodile just beyond..

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Story of Satara was the elephant carcass. Apparently two elephants got into a fight and one was badly injured and the rangers had to put him down.

Means a long buffet and the vultures are waiting for someone to get the party started.  Of course, nature where nothing goes to waste in the circle of life.

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Ride back to Talamati quite quiet except for a few giraffes, and elephants.  there have been talk about two males lions around S36.

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Mzandzeni picnic spot is rather eerie given we are late in the evening and there is absolutely No one there

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Approach to Talamati as we approach the end of  an exciting day

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To top it off with an amazing sunset all over again.. as we settle for the night and head to Letaba in the morning.

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Today we leave Talamati for Letaba. It has been mixed with Talamati as the sightings have been rather poor, although we have had exciting days closer to tar roads.  S36 and the approach roads are quite the bone rattlers with the corrugation.

 

Another less-foggy morning  starts with this young giraffe giving us the looks.

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Plan is to take S125 towards Kumana and take H1-3 towards Satara enroute to Letaba.

we are driving along and suddenly my 8 year old goes ooh ooh ooh.. that is his call to say i have seen something. None of us havent seen a thing.. But he is relentless. and insists that we go back. We go back a good 20-30 metres and in the trees is this magnificient

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Vereaux Eagle Owl. What a beauty.

 

We head over to the southern5a7527a317c78_IMG_8055(2).thumb.JPG.e7b5ae40fc65b0c2b8681feea7917bbf.JPG most baobab.. Such an extra ordinary specimen.. Adding the other car just for scale..

 

Kumana is busy with herbivores and 

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some napping crocodiles

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We head overe to satara and see this beautiful kudu mom and calf

 

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Quick pit stop, coffee and hello to Mr Scops we head north towards Olifants.

 

Just outside Satara camp, this car is stopped and the folks are busily pointing to something and there we get a glimpse of this guy, who is headed towards staff quarters.. At one point we spot him right outside the camp fence.

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Lots of birds, ostriches, vultures and this tawny eagle

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Herbivores, zebras and this ostrich

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and we come upon a truck parked across the road. We keep looking towards where the truck is facing, until my 8 year old (isnt he having a good day) spots this gem on the road.   Quite made his day

 

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Tons of zebras  include this beautiful set

 

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and a large herd of elephants.  We all know elephant babies are naughty..  But this herd 3 or 4 small babies and do they hunt in packs... they were making the day out of chasing impalas relentlessly.   What a time.

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We had over to Olifants and stop by the bridge over Olifants river.

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Waterbuck crossing the river

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Majestic Marshal eagle. is he eyeing my 8 year old ?

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Lunch companions at Olifants

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We leave Olifants for Letaba and come upon a Giraffe mom and calf, and head over to NWamasi view point for its views (obviously the olifants view was not enough)

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Letaba Elephant hall is a personal favorite and Sanparks has done a great job maintaining it. It is overwhelming to be in the memories of these giants. Lucky are those who have seen them in their prime

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As another fantastic day comes to an end

 

We enter the cottage and my 8 year old goes ' Let us just buy this'  Amazing cottage.

 

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@RobK, I love this photo.

 Sounds like a terrific trip and Kruger certainly delivered, you've seen a little bit of everything, your 2 boys would have been really excited by it all.

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Towlersonsafari

Excellent report @RobK your enthusiasm really shines through if you don't mind me saying so and some lovely sightings

Edited by Towlersonsafari
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Thanks elefromoz and Towlers,  I am wondering if there is anyone for whom Kruger does not deliver.  2nd safari and every day has been quite special..

 

I should retire somewhere close to Phalarbowa or Nelspruit when i get to that stage..   

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Thanks for your report @RobK some great sightings particularly your Lion and also the Chameleon an animal I would love to see.

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Day 6.  Wake up in Letaba 6 person bungalow and realize this is overlooking a riverbed with a lone elephant.. Should spend more time in the camps  :(

 

Today the plan is drive up to  Mopani and take the S49/50 TOC loop.  Earlier plan was to drive up to Shingwedzi but we have been rather slow on the road. which is a good thing..

 

Driving north from Letaba, watch this party of hippos making it back to the water after a night of feeding.

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More elephants on the road making it to the river.

 

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Letaba and north are true elephant country.

 

we move on and spot an impala by the grass land. But the horn doesnt quite gel.. It is a REEDBUCK a rare find..  stoked completely,, and suddenly there are two

 

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Elephants are getting bigger

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Moving on, our first Kori Bustards,, 3 of them. i cant believe it has taken to Day 6 to see our first Kori Bustard, magnificent birds

 

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One of the pullouts have more water based wildlife, such as this huge crocodile

 

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and the opportunity to click well this hammerhop

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Headed over the Mopani for breakfast/lunch..  view of the pioneer dam is extraordinary.. and as we watch this herd comes out to drink

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Plan now is to head over to Tropic of Capricorn monument and take S49-50 and try to find Tsetsebes, Eland, Roan !!   oh please..

 

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Tsetsebes and a confused wildebeest.. 

 

and this great Brown Snake Eagle - now some one can tell me how to rotate this picture.

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Out on the S49-S50 and this is large elephants only country ..  as huge tuskers make it to the water hole one after the other... But this one is not huge. it is enormous.  has to be a named one is my thought.

 

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Apparently Nwendlamuhari is his name

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I never thought it will be able to lift all that and put its head in the water. But it did.

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driving back to camp.. more elephants

 

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Resident bushbucks at Letaba are a hoot. so many.

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Special picture of the Green pigeon with Yellow Sock right outside Elephant hall

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Day 6 is a wrap !!    Another extraordinary day

 

Looking out for lions while others are looking at the TOC monument.. I wish they come..  should i Roar ?

 

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Mopani camp has a big baobab tree as well as this baby.

 

Here is my baby with the baby baobab

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Missed the only predator of yesterday

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And some interesting snaps

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Thanks!  Great birds and I love the "little stuff" like the turtles hitching a ride on the hippo---and so great to be able to share with your kids---they're lucky!!!

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Thanks gatoratlarge.  I was anxious how my younger one will take it. being inside a car for 10 days straight.    But from day 1 he was on treasure hunt mode. I think the trip had the most profound impact on him..

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Day 7 of the safari, which so far has been astounding. What does this day bring.  ? Today we move camps to Satara,but the plan is drive down to Sable dam and back before heading south.

 

Early sunrise to the east towardsIMG_8715.thumb.JPG.3d869b20e5ea3b4bc4ce6df71f67d0d4.JPG Limpopo is beautiful as always

 

Followed by a waterbuck buck

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We chance upon this elephant by the waterhole.  Probably it was a great idea to build these tall structures, now i fail to understand how it is useful to the smaller herbivores when an elephant is struggling so much to get to the water.. Will a smaller structure be better?

 

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driving by the rocky outcrop, great place for klipspringers i think, and boom there they are . I never tire watching the balance of these ones .

 

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This large millipede on the road is quite large.. About 6 inches..

 

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Driving around and approaching a dirt road, two cars one staying and one with small children leaving.  

 

we stop, hi hello, and i ask him what did you guys find ? He says a word - in afrikaner- I have no idea. so he pulls out the Kruger map/book and points to a picture of a pangolin.  and we go NO WAAY !!

so we head over to the other car and they are the original spotters who actually saw it in the middle of the road and then it ran into the bush and is between the 2nd and 3rd bush they say. about 15-20 feet away. So we wait, more cars come, some cars leave.. nothing happening.  We were originally looking for a rest room when we stumbled on to this. So we head over to the rest area and then think// should we go back ? Why not.

so we drive back, by then the last car is leaving. and the pangolin never showed itself.

 

So i park myself in a bit of elevation. Tell my son to focus the camera to the spot (between 2nd and 3rd bush).  I cut the engine. and predict a la Moses..  if no car comes along, it will come out in 5 minutes. Folks have been disturbing it all along.  Now there is no body. let us see.

 

5 minutes later..   pops out the Holy grail of Kruger safari !!    Amazing. over the moon.

 

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Head over to Sable dam and there is a large herd of elephants creating quite a racket

 

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and this grumpy dagga boy.. 

 

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Leaving the hide, and a quick stop at Phalaborwa gate and the store.. By the way matchbox at the gate store is 10R and at the camp store is 90R. Next time get the match box, worst case at the gate store.

 

and we run into this elephant who jumps out of the bush quite unexpectedly. Sorry bro.. didnt see you

 

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And this quite large elephant whom i call Notch (due to the notch on his left tusk) gives us good picture opportunities

 

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Drive back to Letaba for lunch is a quiet ride altogether, but no one here is complaining.    

 

Take in the view of Letaba M&B, while my 8 year old decides to chase the bushbucks.

 

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and decides to act like a 2 year old :)

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Now off to Satara.. 

 

Edited by RobK
typo
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Now what is going to top off the rest of the day, nothing could in my opinion.

 

we chug along and stop at couple of safari vehicles. and they inform us that a leopard crossed the road 2 minutes ago by this baobob tree.  Binoculars and zoom put into action, reveals nothing.

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Moving along the  olifants river, spot copious wildlife on both sides of the road

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Out over the olifants river, chance to get out and stretch our legs  

 

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and spot these fish eagle couple and some waterbuck

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We head towards Timbavati picnic spot  and stop for these kori bustards and swarms of quelea.

 

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and a elderly couple come by.. apparently he started the day with a family of 6 cheetahs near satara and then mid day there was a leopard and cub by S39 and large crowds and he is ending the day, with these two birds. Oh well sad story indeed.    

So we tell him about our pangolin and move on and for that we see NOTHING the rest of the way to satara, except this lapette faced vulture and these  zebras !!   Well deserved

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What a day !!! cant wait for the next day.But the melancholy of moving towards the end of the trip is starting to creep up on me in these bare moments..   But Satara awaits us.. 

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Day 8. today the plan is to head towards the elephant carcass on H3 and then take H6 towards Nwanetsi and come back to Satara for lunch.. plans for evening sunset drive from satara as well..  

 

Early morning take off to Elephant carcass, we are greeted by couple of jackals.

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And then out pop 4 young lions, from their bellies they have been feeding. Looks like Hyenas were on the scene and one of them got too close for comfort and fell victim to lions..  

 

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Not the greatest of snaps, due to the mist.

 

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Look at that tummy.

 

And the cleaning crew patiently waits as the sun comes up.

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We head over to H6 and there are about 8 cars out there. we stop by one, and their question  is 'What do you like to see ?'. and i go How about the 6 cheetahs ?   There they are.. A bit far away but clearly visible as the mom and the 5 cubs are running around.5a7e59781a8e8_IMG_9035(2)-Copy.thumb.JPG.cf2f5d6902c65eff85a5cf27138bf11f.JPG

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this picture makes me laugh every single time5a7e59821f460_IMG_9128(2)-Copy.thumb.JPG.6d21cfaf4ece2c152b611630bf499343.JPG5a7e5983eb933_IMG_9133(2).thumb.JPG.2c3ff4957f5b0da98e8e6238e9d3f823.JPG

 

Over the moon !!!  What an hour spend looking at these beautiful family

 

We move on and spot more wonderful stuff on the way to Nwanetsi picnic spot

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Edited by RobK
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