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AFRICA ON FOOT MAY 2018


COSMIC RHINO
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This  camp  is on the  cheaper end  of what is available  and provided  a very worthwhile  experience

 

most people drive themselves  in, but it is also possible to  use  the  Ashtons  shuttle service  to bush  pub  or  the SA Express  flight  to  Eastgate  airport  Hoedspruit  then a camp transfer vehicle

 

If you go for the transfer  option   you  will arrive in time for  the afternoon drive  using both  options  , Ashtons   is a whole  lot cheaper  and probably more reliable  

 

SA Express  had its operating licence  suspended  for a week on safety grounds  and also on  the day of my departure  from Africa  on Foot  ,hence  to be  known  as AOF   

 

I  immediately  though of people here who go to  Phinda  or other places in KZN , how to get to  Richards  Bay  , that  is  a very big  problem  

 

google  shows  a 9 hour  shuttle  direct  , or a shorter  period  from Durban  which would  have multiple airline  options  

 

 

Ashtons   leave from ORITA  airport  from the area  where the hotel shuttles  come and go from  ,get there  before  6AM  and there  will be someone there  in staff uniform  with a passanger list  , there  was a roll up poster  but the airport administration  does not allow  it any more

 

in  this area  there a bathrooms  large enough  to take your bag in with  you.  

Edited by COSMIC RHINO
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AOF  is  a good  more than sufficiently  comfortable  camp   in a interesting reserve with a large traverse area

 

do not expect  luxury,  I do not need it   

 

AOF is of  the power grid using  solar power with a generator

 

the fridge works of  bottle gas, cooking is by gas  or wood fire 

 

they were in the   process    of building works  when I  was there  

 

to  get the  honey badgers  out of the  place  the kitchen had  been moved  from  a building  with  an open entry  to the  office  which  is a fully enclosed  brick building    

Edited by COSMIC RHINO
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animal  visitors  may be in an unfenced camp,  take the advice of your guide if it  happens

 

moving the kitchen was  seen to be the best thing to do  and has achieved  the desired  results

 

The office  was in the  process  of  being moved  into the old kitchen which  had to be updated  and fully enclosed , it is better  located  to see  new visitors  as they arrive  so they can be  greeted 

 

as  a temporary  measure  the office  was placed  in a specially fitted  out  shipping container  available from a group  which leases them out 

Edited by COSMIC RHINO
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the  reserve began as  winter  holiday  retreat  for farmers  from the  much colder  high veld   in I think  the 1920's 

 

each family had  their own property  with house  much later it became  part  of greater  kruger  national  park

 

the reserve is the  otherside of the tar track from the  much more  commercial  Timbavati  reserve

 

the  ownership of the  Klaserie  reserve is very divided  .

 

all the farms are separately owned  and except for a  connecting track  people largely keep  to their own land

 

some people  largely live there or uses it as a holiday home 

 

a few  commercial  lodges and camps  share radio communication  and  traverse rights 

 

some of the  private  land owners  would like to see more  wildlife  ,but this  is unlikely unless  the animals become used  to people  and vehicles 

 

so some of  the private land owners  have agreed  for  AOF  and the  nearby  Nthambo  tree camp  which have the same owners , but none of the  other  camps ,to have  traverse  rights onto their  farms

 

ranger patrols  and other administrative  task are done by Timbavati  for both reserves

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Looking forward to reading about your sightings from Africa on Foot,  @COSMIC RHINO.    Feel free to send me any photos you might want converted + posted.

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7 hours ago, COSMIC RHINO said:

the  reserve began as  winter  holiday  retreat  for farmers  from the  much colder  high veld   in I think  the 1920's 

 

ranger patrols  and other administrative  task are done by Timbavati  for both reserves

 

My apologies.

The Klaserie Private Nature Reserve was established/proclaimed in 1972. Before this, some people seriously attempted to farm with cattle in this area, while others largely left the land alone. Most of the land was very sparcely utilized. In the early 70's, shortly after it became a reserve, one would see virtually nobody there at all except in the winter school holiday period. Even during the winter holidays, it was possible to spend three weeks there without seeing another person except when visiting the reserve headquarters shop for fuel, gas and bread.

 

In the early 90's, we started visiting in high summer as well. Apart from permanent staff, we were the only people in the reserve. Those days were glorious but are now long gone.

 

The Klaserie has it's own management team, including rangers, field rangers and an anti-poaching squad. The Association of Private Nature Reserves (which includes among others the Klaserie, the Timbavati and Umbabat) do co-operate in many respects, but the reserves are seperately managed.

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while it was  interesting seeing honey badgers  wandering around  ,  one  safety grounds  I  prefer  not to see them so closely 

 

Peter  Connan  thanks for  your  much more detailed  explaination  of the  reserve  , the  land  and its  administration ,  looks  like  what I  have  been told  is lacking  in some important details

 

Offshorebirder   I am  busy this weekend, so  I will print my AOF photos  next weekend   

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if  you happen to have  forgotten your  sun hat  there are  2  fuel/ rest stops on the Ashtons  shuttle  with shops  where you  can buy a Sth  African  Rouge  brand hat at a  reasonable  price 

 

you  might be able to get sunscreen at the  filling station shop from the first  stop  , although   I  am not  really sure about this   

 

Ashtons  have added  a shuttle which now go to the Sabi  sands  district

 

well  priced  Rogue hats  may also  be  available at  the  AOF  office 

 

don't leave  your  sun hat behind  but these options may be  a backup

Edited by COSMIC RHINO
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the camp has  simple brick cabins  queen sized bed, writing table, hanging robe,  electric light,  fan for the summer, bathroom

 

most of the showers are open to the sky, some are enclosed

 

a solar  light jar is provided for the  night

 

the  water is safe to drink 

 

the cabins are spread out for privacy 

 

 there  is one tree house  to sleep 2 people  is a simple  way , this is something added on you are driven there after dark  and collected in the morning

 

it is a long way from the rest of the camp

 

it is at no added charge, I am told  that it is an experience mainly of sound

 

there  is a separate  toilet  and hand basin  

Edited by COSMIC RHINO
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the place is has wonderfully  green vegetation  and good levels of water

 

I  was told that the rainfall has been good over  the last year,  so no waterholes  had tat unpleasant look from  animal waste,  there were some previous  dry waterholes  now filled which I had only seen before  dry and dusty

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'Unpleasant look from animal waste.' ?

 

I am a bit surprised by that comment Cosmic as I would have thought you, perhaps more than others, would recognise the natural benefits of such waste.

Edited by wilddog
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certain parts of the  natural cosmos are more  appealing than others

 

green brown smelly ponds  are not very appealing 

 

wildlife  have  better immunity than people, they can drink from such ponds without getting ill

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there is a central  lounge, dining , bar  area with a boma  at the back

 

there is a small swimming pool surrounded by  a wooden  deck

 

sometimes  elephants drink out of it

 

free wi fi work well  here  from what I could see other people doing

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AOF  is unfenced  , people  are allowed to walk  around camp but be careful  and not go beyond where the tree house is  

 

the tree house  is not fully built like  a normal cabin  ,it has 2 levels  on wooden  platforms  with linking stairs

 

the  first  level  has fabric lounges for daytime viewing, then go up  to  a queen bed with blankets

 

the structure does not  have any side walls  

 

there  is a lower level bathroom

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Enoch   a very  experienced  tracker  of  almost 40 yrs  (ex  makalali,  mala mala, londolozi  and singita ) remains  at the camp 

 

he is great at tracking, knows a whole lot about animals  and the bush

 

it turns out that the also  very experienced Issac   at  Nthambo  tree camp is his brother in law

 

a hike is taken in the  morning  from 0630, people are  advised  since  it is not very cold  to begin with  not to wear many warm jackets, as when you move your body  heats  up a bit, so you  only have to take  things of

 

closed  shoes  are compulsory 

 

anyone  who wears  white or bright clothes  are asked  if  they have anything darker ,  it is  preferable  to wear  earth toned  clothes , black is  also ok

 

people walk  in single file  with 2 guides/rangers  each carrying a point 458 rifle  , with  guests  moving so  everyone gets to share in the view from the front

 

except when discussing things you are being shown the group remains  silent

 

the  emphasis is  usually   in the small  things of the bush , but sometimes  goes   close  to animals  found when out walking  or  in response to radio calls

 

the walk  can begin from camp  or  after driving to somewhere  from the vehicle  then hiking

 

a maximum of 6 guests  go out together,  if necessary  2 groups  will be sent out in different directions

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the foot safari  has the wonderful  appeal  of getting  a whole lot closer  to  nature  in a direct  way  , much more  direct than from a vehicle

 

in  the guide careful way following  the directions  you are given  it involves minimal risk  

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Here are some JPEGs converted from PDF scans of photos @COSMIC RHINO  sent me to post.

 

Here is a pack of Wild Dogs

AOF-WildDogs1.jpg.8421584b26cf9773c3cd3d2b94b23fb7.jpg

 

And a nice Leopard encounter

AOF_Leopard.jpg.695cf21b599ecad6835e07ceca5bc711.jpg

 

AOF_Leopard2.jpg.b84aa913b00896e255f0c38e48215897.jpg

 

AOF-Leopard1.jpg.d452a82c4d87e1f2002a55e615d2a1f0.jpg

 

And a photo of tracks upon tracks.   I imagine this kept Enoch the tracker occupied

AOF-tracks_upon_tracks.jpg.3d6363e0853d89b7f055a47c41d78efd.jpg

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This is a series of elephant drinking photos

 

AOF_Elephants_drinking.jpg.6b14c886e185557dbb3f2e5677356a45.jpg

 

AOF_Elephants_drinking3.jpg.6b8a07138d7ce63544031f381060a9fd.jpg

 

AOF_Elephants_drinking5.jpg.27f07d2ac49e52247cce88328fc008d8.jpg

 

AOF_Elephants_drinking4.jpg.50b5d12d8f9f465fb10a7c0097234a33.jpg

 

AOF_Elephant_drinking2.jpg.d71ed7162673b27f06eac98eaec3775f.jpg

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This appears to be an elephant-downed tree clinging to life

AOF-Elephant-downed-tree.jpg.fa4cb7f34c625fcf7f9b079b209fbdf3.jpg

 

Not sure what this is - @COSMIC RHINO is it some sort of scratching post?

AOF-rubbing_trunk.jpg.39ee06907fe8fd15a99209c1695b20a3.jpg

 

And Giraffe and Zebra shots to round things out

 

AOF_Giraffes1.jpg.47d8486dbf4fe94ef4e6e00067589c0b.jpgAOF-PlainsZebras1.jpg.7bac2ec46319f3bc3aabe898a9bd3799.jpg

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Question for you @COSMIC RHINO:    were you on foot for the Leopard encounter?    If so, WOW!

 

 

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The leopard  was around a dam  in a private  landowner ,AOF , Nthambo  only area  from a vehicle immediately after the morning hike

 

my only leopard  on foot view was very brief from the rear  in 2011 ,no photo was taken , there briefly ,then rushed away

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people  who like rhinos photograph certain tracks  and rubbing posts used  by rhinos  and elephants   

 

the  elephants  at the dam came  with a morning  walk   ,the group was not standing directly  in front of them  and they were a reasonable  distance away, not close  at all

 

they  were doing their thing  taking no notice of  us, people were  being quiet  and observing in awe

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In an open reserve  the animals seen depend  on environmental  conditions  , who is  around  and where wander

 

with  the improved  rain in recent years  zebras  are now seen regulary , when before  they  were not many of them around

 

giraffes  are around the place

 

elephants  are  easier to see  and in greater numbers 

 

wild dogs move  around massively  and are  not easy to follow 

 

leopards  whilst around  are not easy to find  as they are trying  to avoid contact with lions  and hyneas

 

the  area  is not suited to cheetahs  , as it lacks  large  flat areas  with  many trees  or  bushes 

 

good reasonably fresh lion tracks were seen from the vehicle , but  seeing  or hearing  actual lions  was something else    

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nthambo  camp now does a morning  walk  with  tracker Issac ,  a game drive  is also available  with the tracker

 

it  is wonderful to see  animals  in fading light

 

the vehicle  is fully open  as is common in south  Africa 

 

it is  reasonably  common  for  some guests to  have  AOF as their  only bush experience in sth Africa ,a smaller number of people   combine  it with  similar  cheaper camps in the general area  or  self drive  in the public  areas  of Kruger park

 

in my various visits  nearly  all the guests are foreign  European, Australian , UK ,USA  etc

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based on what  people say themselves   it  is reasonably  common  to have  first  time  visitors  to  Africa  staying at  AOF  selected  by themselves  from trip  advisor  reviews 

 

the  typical  stay  is 2 or 3 days  and quiet often  say  that they wished  to have stayed longer

 

most people  come in by  hire car ,some  by transfer  group,  others  by  AOF link after  ashtons or  the plane flight

 

the  afternoon sundowners  are usually  shared  with the guests  from Nthambo  camp,  at an attractive  bush site  including  one set up with a bar  counter  and chairs

 

as  they know  I don't  eat typical biltong and other  snack foods , they had apples, bananas  ,dried mango and nuts  for  me 

 

drink  options  are many  wine, beer , G ant  T , sodas ,cider  and tea 

 

AOF  has the full board  with game  activities  package  or another  one  which includes  drinks 

 

for  a romantic  interlude  not everyone  wants or can  afford  the super  lux  high cost  option ,during   my stay  there  was 1 just engaged couple and 2 just married  couples

Edited by COSMIC RHINO
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