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Not Boaring - Imfolozi and the Berg


Hads

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After a 4 year absence from Africa I finally got back over with my Family.

This trip report from Imfolozi and the Drakensberg will be 1 of 2 running in parallel.

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  • Hads changed the title to Not Boaring - Imfolozi and the Berg

My wife and kids arrived in South Africa a couple of weeks prior to my arrival due to work commitments.

I flew into Joburg, overnight at the International sun and the following day I flew to Durban were I was greeted by my Brother in law.

We then headed up the highway where we stayed overnight in St Lucia where I caught up with all my amazing South African family.

The family had already been there for a few days.

The following morning the entire family headed off to  Hluhuwe - Imfolozi national park.

There was a fair gathering of my wife's family consisting of MIL & FIL, & 2 x SIL and BILS plus 2 Nephews and a niece.

MIL & FIL - Mother and Father in law.

SIL & BIL - Sister and Brother in laws x 2.

Plus my wife and 3 kids.

We had 3 4x4'S and plenty of binoculars and lots of pairs of eye's for spotting game.

We only stayed in the park for 2 nights before heading to the Drakensberg for 5 nights.

Our accommodation was in the southern section of the park and we stayed in the unfenced MPILA camp, more on the camp later (I was pleasantly surprised), we stayed from 30/12/23 to 01/01/2023.

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We entered the park in the Northern Hluhluwe section via memorial gate, as it was around 1pm when we entered we headed towards the Hilltop lodge for lunch.

There were a few nice sightings along the way of the general game.

Part of the convoy.

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MIL's favourite.

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Nice - 2 of the big 5 enjoying a lazy bath.

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Dagga boy 5 metres away

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Spot the Kudu.

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Lovely lady Nyala

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Edited by Hads
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Buffalo and rhino, pals in the mud!  I found the kudu, and the nyala.

Double reports will keep you busy.

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The views at Hilltop lodge are pretty spectacular. Being in the Wet season everything was lush and green and the vegetation was quite dense.

Before we left Australia my youngest son said "Dad do you think we will see Wild dogs? They are my favorite African animal Dad". I replied, " well I hope so mate, Kruger park we have a reasonable chance of seeing them, but you have to be very lucky as they are very rare to see and endangered".

 

After lunch we ventured south from Hilltop towards Nyalazi Gate.

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Lovely Nyala Bull

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Oxpeckers are always great to watch and can be tricky to photograph.

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This Dagga boy looked blind in one eye.

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First Elephant of the trip.

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I was quite surprised we managed to see quite a few of these big guys in the park, I was very happy considering their battle.

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Edited by Hads
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For our trip we upgraded the camera and brought a new Canon R7 mirrorless camera with 100-400 Lens.

It took us a while to get used to it, we also had a 70-240mm Lens plus an older 150-600mm Tamron lens  (required an adaptor to fit on).

My wife and I shared the use of the camera plus we were also teaching our older kids some basics around photography.

Therefore the photo's are a mixture of okay to good, by the time we got to Kruger we got the odd great photo.

But being in the bush sharing the joys of nature with my family is well worth sacrificing some photo opportunities.

As you can see in the next lot of photo's....................... 

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As there was 4 families on this trip we were spread out across the cars.

My youngest son was with SIL and BIL #1 and were the first to come across these guys.

He was shaking with excitement he could not believe his eyes.

I was driving one of the cars towing a venter (small trailer) so made it hard to reverse if we had a good sighting on our trip down to Mpila camp.

As things happened so quickly my wife managed a few photo's through the front windscreen. The photo's are average but we were so excited to see Wild dogs a few hours into the trip. 

BIL #1 got better photos with his Samsung phone, which I will post later.

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This guy had a collar.

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They must of recently had a kill as the dog on the left still had an Impala leg in it's mouth.

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From memory we probably had 10 minutes with the dogs, they were quite active and in moving quite quickly in the opposite direction.

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When I saw my youngest son , the look on his face was priceless, he had a smile from ear to ear and was just over the moon :) .

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Edited by Hads
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After the excitement of seeing the Wild dogs we did come across 2 lioness being lazy in dense bush.

A couple more photo's before arriving at Mpila camp.

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Rolling Hills of Hluhluwe.

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Edited by Hads
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Seeing the Dogs is a great sighting for anyone, but especially for your son!

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2 hours ago, Hads said:

For our trip we upgraded the camera and brought a new Canon R7 mirrorless camera with 100-400 Lens.

It took us a while to get used to it,

Deviating a bit from rhino and wild dogs and such to cameras, what took getting used to?  Any other comments on the Canon R7 mirrorless you care to share would be appreciated.  Thanks!

 

 

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Hi @Atravelynn, was more operator error than anything and getting used to using the correct settings. I am very much a novice when it comes to photography.

The eye-tracking function for Auto focus is quite amazing, especially for birds and longer-distance photography.

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We found Mpila camp to be a great location, located in the southern section of the park. See the link below for more details.

I would highly recomend a stay at this camp, next time I come I would stay 3-4 nights.

http://www.mpilacamp.co.za/

There is plenty of game wandering around the camp as it is pretty well unfenced except for a single-string electric fence to keep the elephants out.

Speaking to the lady at the reception she told us to drive between chalets at night as they have had lions walk through camp.

On our first morning in camp we had a few family members not go on an early morning game drive and chilled out in camp and they, fortunately, witnessed 2 Nyala Bulls have a good fight in front of their chalet.

The below photos are from around camp.

Lovely Nyala Bull.

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Chalets 1 and 2

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Nice grassy area in front of the chalets 1-6

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Walking with the local Nyala family

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2 Impala Rams sizing each up in front of our Braai Pit

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They had a good old fight and did not hold back totally ignoring us.

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Edited by Hads
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Dave Williams

Looking forward to the rest of the report and reliving our 2022 trip in parts!

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Well, this was also a first for my family and me - the camera was not with us. But we all were very excited.

Whilst we were having our Braai and a cold beer each night we were so lucky to have in our presence a large Bushpig that wandered around the braai pit and in front of Chalet number 1.

BIL # 1 had his trusty Samsung phone on him and took the below photo, apologies I saved it in pretty low resolution.

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BIL # 1 Wild dog photos in low resolution.

Still a wonderful sighting for all.

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Edited by Hads
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Great sighting of the Dogs. Your kids are so lucky - I think I would have been over the moon had my parents taken me on safari as a child. :)

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offshorebirder

Meeting a Bushpig in a proverbial dark alley - gripping stuff!

Edited by offshorebirder
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@offshorebirderyes it was quite daunting to see the Bush pig up close and personal, he was not scared of people at all.

I was surprised how big he was.

@Atravelynnthe wildlife was very comfortable around Mpila camp, a very nice camp to enjoy wildlife up close. 

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Our only full day in the camp BIL # 1, my eldest son and I got up early and took the roads with signposts 11-17 route.

The landscape did open up alot more around the area marked on the Imfolozi section of the map with signposts 15 and 17.

Hluhluwe Map

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Imfolozi Map

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The drive started off pretty slowly then as it happens on a Safari drive we came across this beautiful young male lion.

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As you can see he is in the early stages of developing his mane.

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We followed him for a few hundred metres past # 12 road marker.

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After about 10 minutes he slowly wandered off into the dense bushes.

We were absolutely stoked to see this great Cat :) 

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Edited by Hads
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The remainder of the drive was also very enjoyable between road markers 15-17 and back to camp.

For some reason I have misplaced a few photo's. I still have a few though to share.

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Always great to see a herd of Cape Buffalo.

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African Hoopee

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Frog eggs I am lead to believe.

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My son and his Uncle at Sontuli Picnic site.

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Cheeky Vervot - they do look innocent though.

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Bird ID help please.

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Edited by Hads
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We headed up to Hilltop for lunch.

As it was the hottest part of the day it was pretty quiet but still a very enjoyable drive and lunch.

The views from Hilltop are fantastic.

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I love watching the oxpeckers.

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No shortage of Giraffes - these guys were quite a distance away.

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Plenty of Zebra as well.

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Nyala bull drinking.

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Lovely little Chameleon - love his shadow.

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Water monitor

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White-throated bee-eater

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Guinea Fowls and family

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Female Kudu

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Young Batchelor

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And off in the distance this beauty.

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Edited by Hads
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Late afternoon we went for a short drive south of Mpila camp towards road markers 12 and 13 with my wife and MIL and youngest boy.

We actually spent most of our time sitting with these guys.

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Oxpecker watching.

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Spot the Drongo !

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Juvenile yellow billed kite???

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A first for me was these crested guinea fowls.

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The last 4 photos was from my youngest son.

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He nearly got the Impala jumping :) 

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Edited by Hads
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The final morning was once again BIL # 1, my eldest son and myself.

We headed south from MPILA camp again.

Not as many photos but a beautiful drive, I am sure I took more photo's :(  - They are filed in a safe place.

Once again I will need help with Bird ID.

A type of Spurfowl?

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Masked weaver

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With a kill!

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This Hyena kept his distance but watched us with intent.

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The next few photos I took back at camp once we returned - I made the rookie mistake of leaving the car door open.

NEKMINUT (Next minute) I had one of the cheeky buggers in the car with a handful of choc chip biscuits.

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Abit over exposed.

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Edited by Hads
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