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Bouncing Bushbabies


We were hoping to catch the bushbabies leaving their daytime roost so set up a video camera and settled down outside to wait for them to appear. Sure enough, first on little face appeared, then another, and then another. They sat watching us for a while, ducking in and out of the rafters before one finally plucked up the courage to jump to a lower beam. The second one joined it but the third was more reluctant. After a while, one leapt down onto the fire extinguisher, then across to the rail of the deck and from there, onto a tree. This gave the others the confidence to leave and like little bouncy balls of fluff, they were off into the night.


A couple of t-bone steaks cooked on the braai rounded up the evening nicely.



Birds seen around Trackers:

Golden-breasted Bunting

Cinnamon-breasted Bunting

Cutthroat Finch

Blue Waxbill

Red-headed Weaver

Village Weaver

Greater Double-collared Sunbirds


Kurrichane Thrush

Fork-tailed Drongo

Square-tailed Drongo

Yellow-billed Hornbill

African Palm Swift

Emerald-spotted Wood Dove

White-crested Helmet-Shrike

Black-collared Barbet

Long-billed Crombec

African Hoopoe


Swadini Dam/Three Rondavells

White-bellied Sunbird

Chin-spot Batis

Lanner Falcon

Rock Kestrel

Collared Sunbird



Bush Duiker

Greater Kudu


Lesser Bushbaby



P1450492 Lesser (Thin-tailed) Bushbaby (Galago) by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



P1450494 Lesser (Thin-tailed) Bushbaby (Galago) by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



P1450495 Lesser (Thin-tailed) Bushbaby (Galago) by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



P1450501 Lesser (Thin-tailed) Bushbaby (Galago) by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



P1450506 Lesser (Thin-tailed) Bushbaby (Galago) by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

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13th October Trackers to Letaba and an unexpected encounter


We made an early start in order to get up into the Kruger National Park. After getting slightly lost, we entered to park at about 9.30 am through Phalaborwa gate. Initial impressions of Kruger were disappointing, as we drove through thick mopane scrub, which seemed to be largely devoid of game. Everywhere was really parched, there were hardly and leaves on the bushes. Occasionally, we would come across a small herd of Impala, or the odd Giraffe here and there. We stopped at Sable Dam, hoping that a lot of game might be congregating around the water, but the hide seemed to be all locked up. We did, however, see a few Zebra by the waterhole. At another waterhole we saw a very large herd of Cape Buffalos on the far bank, along with a few hippos grunting in the water. There was also the occasional Greater Kudu. We came across a foraging party of five Southern Ground Hornbills, which we stopped to watch for a while. As we got closer to Letaba, we saw a couple of Elephants. Both were very distant and well camouflaged, considering they were such large animals.


At Letaba, the restaurant is situated right by the river so it was the perfect spot to have some lunch and pass the time before meeting up with our guides for the walking safari. So we sat down on one of the benches overlooking the river and watched the tame bushbucks, squirrels and birds.



PA133846 Lilac Breasted Roller by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



PA133854 Southern Ground Hornbill by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



PA133872 Groundscraper Thrush by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



PA133880 Cape Buffalo by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



PA133893 Smith's Bush Squirrels by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

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At Letaba, the restaurant is situated right by the river so it was the perfect spot to have some lunch and pass the time before meeting up with our guides for the walking safari. So we sat down on one of the benches overlooking the river and watched the tame bushbucks, squirrels and birds. Down by the river we could see waterbuck and then I noticed that, further away, a small herd of impala were looking very jumpy. As we sat eating out lunch, the reason for their nervousness became clear when a leopard sprang from out of nowhere, intent on having one of the antelope for lunch! In seconds the Impala scattered and the leopard disappeared into the reeds. In between spotting the cat through my bins, pointing it out to Helen and then grabbing my camera, I was too late to get a shot but in the same time Helen managed to get onto the cat and snapped off two record shots.


With the waterbuck still watching warily, we waited for as long as we could but sadly the leopard didn’t reappear. Soon it was time to meet the other trail participants and our guides, Steve and Michael. Before we left, Steve showed us an African Scops Owl roosting in a tree. After which, we headed out towards our camp.



PA133909 Bushbuck by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



walking trails 070 Leopard 2 letaba Leopard Hunting Impala by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



PA133926 Greater Blue-eared Starling by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



PA133936 Waterbuck by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



PA133939ADJ African Scops Owl by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

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This drive proved more fruitful for game viewing and we saw an elephant asleep by the side of the road, it was using a small tree as a support to rest itself against, occasionally swaying as it slept. Sightings were closer and better than we had managed between Phalaborwa and Letaba.


We drove alongside a river where we saw a range of birds, including Saddle-billed Stork and several displaying Red-crested Korhaans. This bird’s display is really something, it flies up into the air, calling with a high pictched “piew, piew, piew” sound as it does, then folding its wings, it plummets towards the earth, only spreading it’s wings to brake at the last possible moment. A full list of birds and other animals seen on this day and during the walking safari will follow later.


The campsite comprised of comfortable twin share permanent tents on stilted platforms with mosquito nets and verandahs, spread out along a bank overlooking the Olifants River. Permanent ablutions were provided toward the perimeter of the campsite, which was demarcated by a non-electrified (fairly flimsy) fence. In the centre were the dining tent and a boma (fire pit) to retire to after supper. Finally another veranda offers a lovely view overlooking the river.


Basic, but wholesome, camp fayre was provided. A typical day’s meals comprised rusks with tea/coffee before the walk, then a packed brunch consisting of sausage, fruit (dried and fresh), cheese and crackers peanuts and sweets and evening meals of a meat dish, pasta or potato or pap, salad etc. Some of the breakfast selections were a bit eclectic!



recovered_3752616 Elephant asleep against a bush by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



PA133962 Warthog by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



PA133991 Wildebeest by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



PA133996 Red-crested Korhaan by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



Our accommodation by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

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14th October On the trail of lions


In order to make the most of the cooler weather, we were awoken at 04.30 and after tea and rusks were driven to a site to start our walk. We had been briefed that cats would be difficult to find and that we would probably track rhino or buffalo. So it was with great excitement that Steve and Michael immediately found the tracks of three lions. We spent the morning following them. Knowing that the lions could potentially have been hiding out of sight in the bushes watching us was an exhilarating experience, which was heightened every time our guides stopped to pick up the tracks.


The hairs on the back of my neck really stood up when we were crossing through steep-sided riverbeds, where visibility was reduced and where, had there been an ambush, we might not have come out of it alive! The tracks were shadowed by hyena about an hour and a half into our walk, after which time Steve and Michael felt that we were unlikely to catch up with the lions, who would be trying to keep ahead of their pursuers.


It would have been the icing on the cake if we’d found those lions but the experience of the walk itself was fantastic! Both our guides proved to be highly skilled in bushcraft and each time Michael needed to pick up the trail, Steve entertained us by showing us the signs of the bush. On one occasion he showed us tracks and dried mud where rhino and elephant had rubbed up against a tree to clear themselves of ticks and other parasites. Then we’d come across the tracks of some animal or other, like the parallel tramways of hippo trails or the pawprints of leopard, hyena, civet or genet. He’d also show us the various scats and middens of impala, rhino, civet, leopard and lions. We came across the remains of lion kills such as the skull of a large buffalo and we learned a great deal about the medicinal uses of the local trees and plants.



P1450517 Lion pugmark by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



P1450537 Lion killed this buffalo by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



P1450512 Colonial spiders web by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



P1450513 Lion Poop by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



P1450515 civet tracks by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

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We stopped for breakfast and then came across a couple of elephants on our way back to the jeep, forcing us to make a bit of a detour so as not to get too close. A more worrying sign was the tracks of poachers and then we heard what sounded like people coming our way. Steve cautioned us to get down out of sight, just in case, but it turned out to be an anti-poaching patrol on the same trail as us. We all breathed a collective sigh of relief! The weather was thankfully much cooler than we’d been expecting, so the walk was quite easy-going.



P1450518 Poacher tracks by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



P1450521 Southern Giraffes seen out walking by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



P1450523 Genet Tracks by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



P1450524 Hyena tracks by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



P1450545 Encounter with an Elephant while walking by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



P1450536 Hippo by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

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Back at camp, we relaxed for the rest of the afternoon, which in my case meant some time for a bit of birding and photography around the camp. A small bird-bath just before the veranda overlooking the river and an area of scrub beyond the fence by the ablution blocks proved to be particularly productive spots with a fair few new birds seen. I also discovered a group of four Dwarf Mongooses scuttling about near the showers. After spending a bit of time photographing them, I noticed that, annoyingly, my new memory card was on the blink. Photos that I’d taken and just reviewed were suddenly missing and it seemed to be slow writing to the buffer. Thankfully I had other cards I could fall back on, so I quickly discontinued using that particular one.



P1450552 Elephant or rhino had a scratch here by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



P1450579 Emerald-Spotted Wood Dove by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



P1450594 Yellow-bellied Greenbul by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



P1450611 Crested Barbet by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



P1450644 Green-winged Pytilla (Melba Finch) by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



P1450656 Terrestrial Brownbul by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

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Late afternoon, we took a shorter walk down to the river to some potholes, passing fairly close to a few hippos. We stopped to watch the sun go down with a few beers. Steve and I spent a bit of time trying to sort out the swallows, and a couple of distant Klippspringers could be seen prancing about on the rocks. As we arrived back in camp, Steve tried to attract the attention of a Pearl Spotted Owlet by imitating its call. Unfortunately I think the bird might have been deaf, as we didn’t see it.



PA144001Dwarf Mongoose by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



P1450666 Crested Francolin by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



jo oliphants trail 144 Brubru by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



jo oliphants trail 147 Tawny-flanked Prinia by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



P1450701 Green (Redbilled) Wood Hoopoe by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

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We had a nice meal and as we ate we could see some spotlights in the distance. This turned out to be a group of scientists studying the crocodiles. We were hoping that the researchers would come into camp one evening to tell us about the work they are doing to try and save the crocodiles on the river. Crocs here are in trouble because they are afflicted by a disease that hardens their body fat which means they can’t move and so starve to death. The current theory is that this is caused by the river back flowing because of a dam in Mozambique and the pollution from industrial activity further upstream. Sadly, there seems to be no easy solution to the problem and, unfortunately, the scientists didn’t make it over to our side of the river.



P1450709 potholes by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



P1450734 Goliath heron by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



P1450748 Steve shows a catfish skull by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



P1450751 The Horn Moth Ceratophaga vastella, one of the few creatures capable of digesting keratin. The protuberances on the horns are the cemented faecal pellets of the larvae. They built their protective cases, in other words, from their own faeces. by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

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15th October Rain stops play (temporarily)



We were awoken again at 4.30 but the weather did not look promising as a front had swept in and it was already threatening to rain. Helen was also not feeling too well and decided to give the walk a miss, which turned out to be a sound decision. Just as we arrived at the starting point, the wind whipped up and it started to rain. So the decision was taken to abandon the walk. Steve and Michael struggled to affix the canvas windows to the vehicle and in hindsight it probably would have been quicker to just drive back to camp.


Arriving back at camp, we met up with Helen who, feeling a bit vulnerable with no one else around camp, had decided to wait on the veranda of our tent. While we waited out the worst of the weather, the lads cooked us a hearty breakfast and I spent the time birding around the camp. One really unexpected sighting was that of a Cape Clawless Otter running along the bank on the other side of the river. Before anyone else had a chance to see it, it slipped into the water and headed off downstream. Later on, a Green Wood Hoopoe was feeding a single fledgling chick.




jo oliphants trail 158 White-throated Robin-chat by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



jo oliphants trail 170 Cardinal Woodpecker by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



jo oliphants trail 172 Yellow-bellied Greenbul (Bulbul) by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



P1450783 Red-billed Hornbill by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



P1450800 Hippos by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

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Happy Hippos


By 11.00 the weather had improved enough for us to go out. We walked along the river which, although it was a shorter walk, was much more strenuous than the relatively flat plain that we walked the day before. It was well worth it though when we came upon a huge pod of over 60 hippos. Jumping up onto some nearby rocks, we watched with awe at the mass of grunting faces, churning up the water as they jostled with each other, yawning with displeasure and showing their great big maws. A Nile Crocodile approached the perimeter of the group but was quickly made to feel unwelcome. A lone elephant could be seen further away but caught wind of us before we could approach more closely and scaled the bank of the river in an effort to put some distance between him and us.


The walk back over the top of the ridge, up and down the dried river beds was fairly strenuous but rewarding, as we saw some new birds including Square-tailed Nightjar and Double-banded Sandgrouse. I had to stop Steve from taking a potshot at a Scrub Hare that we had flushed from cover. A Klippspringer also darted away as we approached. In one dried up riverbed we came across an army of Mutabele Ants. These large black ants look quite formidable as they marched out in huge columns to seek new sources of food and shelter. Someone also kicked over a stone as they were walking ahead and a large Black Rock Scorpion was exposed.



P1450838 Hippos by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



P1450841Hippos by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



P1450844 Hippos by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



P1450869 Giraffe bone by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



P1450874 Mutabele Ants by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



P1450887 Black Rock Scorpion by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



P1450894 Fledgeling Green (Redbilled) Wood Hoopoe by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

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An enjoyable evening with elephants


Later on, we returned to the area to have a sundowner and were treated to the sight of a herd of elephants, which we were able to approach fairly closely. We watched as one was having a good scratch up against a fallen tree. Another gave itself a dust bath. A family group crossed the river up ahead of us, and one adventurous elephant even made its way towards us. A natural gully in the side of the riverbed between us, which the elephant seemed reluctant to cross, prevented it from getting too close.


When we arrived back in camp, the Green Wood Hoopoes were feeding their baby closer to the fence. It was fascinating to watch because not only were there presumably the two parents, but there were also a couple of other adults that were bringing food to the chick as well.



P1450899 Green (red-billed) wood Hoopoe and young by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



P1450900 Green (red-billed) wood Hoopoe and young by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



P1450927 African Elephants by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



P1450932 African Elephants by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



P1450939 African Elephants by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

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16th October Olifants camp to Satara via Letaba



We were awoken at the usual time but had a fairly leisurely start in comparison, with a full cooked breakfast before leaving camp. After breakfast we had time to watch a Giant Kingfisher walloping a fish on a tree branch next to the viewing deck and then trying to swallow it, which, given the size of the fish was quite a feat, even for this substantial bird. I also managed to coax one of the little five, an ant lion, from its burrow, something that Steve was quite impressed by, since he’d tried several times over the previous day to get one to show us.




P1450916 Beetle by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



jo oliphants trail 181Antlion by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



jo oliphants trail 182 Yellow-billed Hornbill by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



jo oliphants trail 183 Yellow-billed Hornbill by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



jo oliphants trail 190 Giant Kingfisher by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

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On our way back to Letaba in addition to the usual game, a Klippspringer posed for the camera. Then a bit further on a beautiful Black-backed Jackal crossed the road in front of us. The vehicle was then brought to a screaming halt as Helen shouted that she’d just seen two hyena by the side of the road. We reversed and sure enough two hyenas we watching us pull up next to them. Steve said that they might have a den nearby. Deciding they didn’t appreciate the attention, they loped off into thicker cover. Lots of people dislike hyenas with those wiry coats and heads that look too small for their stocky frames but I think they are fascinating creatures.



jo oliphants trail 193 Klippspringer by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



oli to satara 010 Southern Giraffe by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



oli to satara 029 Black-backed Jackal by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



oli to satara 046 Saddle-billed Sork by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



oli to satara 065 Spotted Hyena by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



oli to satara 053 African Elephants by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

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Bird list for Letaba/Olifants:


Southern Ground Hornbill

Saddle-billed Stork

Yellow-billed Stork

Grey Heron

Goliath Heron

Little Green Heron

Black-crowned Night Heron

Hadeda Ibis

African Darter

Bank Cormorant

White-breasted Cormorant

Egyptian Goose

White-backed Vulture

African Fish Eagle

African Hawk Eagle

Tawny Eagle

Whalberg’s Eagle

Bateleur Eagle

Yellow-billed Kite

Swainson’s Spurfowl

Crested Francolin

Doube-collared Sandgrouse

Kori Bustard

Red-crested Korhaan

Blacksmith Plover

Crowned Lapwing

White-crowned Plover


Common Sandpiper

Spotted Thicknee

Water Dikkop

Emerald Spotted Wood Dove

Square-tailed Nightjar

Brown-headed Parrot

Grey Go-away Bird

Burchell’s Coucal

African Scops Owl

Swallow-tailed Bee-eater

Little Green Bee-eater

White-fronted Bee-eater

Green Wood Hoopoe (Red-Billed Wood Hoopoe)

Giant Kingfisher

Southern Ground Hornbill

Lilac-breasted Roller

Yellow-billed Hornbill

Red-billed Hornbill

Grey Hornbill

Crested Barbet

Acacia Pied Barbet

Cardinal Woodpecker

Sabota Lark

Fork-tailed Drongo

Pied Crow

Yellow-bellied Greenbul

Dark-capped Bulbul

Terrestrial Brownbul

Groundscraper Thrush

White-throated Robin-chat

Mocking Cliff-chat


Greater Blue-eared Starling

Red-winged Starling

Wattled Starling

Red-billed Oxpecker

House Sparrow

Melba Finch (Green-winged Pytilla)

Blue Waxbill

Yellow-breasted Apalis

Tawny-flanked Prinia

Wire-tailed Swallow

Lesser Striped Swallow

Barn Swallow


Mammal list Phalaborwa to Letaba and on the Olifants trail:

Cape Buffalo (Huge herd) PB

Burchell’s Zebra PB

Greater Kudu All

Southern Giraffe All

Leopard LT

Cape Clawless Otter OL

Black Backed Jackal (on way back to Letaba 16th)

Spotted Hyena (on way back to Letaba 16th)

Klippspringer OL

Scrub Hare OL

Dwarf Mongoose OL

Waterbuck All

Bushbuck LT

Steenbok All

Impala All

Elephants All

Hippos All



Nile Crocodile

Gecko sp

Lizard sp


Black rock scorpion

Whip scorpion (in WC at camp)

Mutabele ants




oli to satara 080 Spotted Hyena by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



oli to satara 081 Spotted Hyena by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



oli to satara 087 Yellow-billed Kite by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



oli to satara 103 White-backed Vulture by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

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Onwards to Satara


After saying our goodbyes to Steve and Michael and the other tour participants we left Letaba behind and followed Wilma’s suggestion of taking the dirt roads along the river. We saw a fair amount of game and a few new birds including Martial Eagle, and Black-headed Oriole.



oli to satara 109 Impala by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



oli to satara 112 Fork-tailed Drongo by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



oli to satara 114 Waterbuck by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



oli to satara 119 Martial Eagle by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



oli to satara 121Nile Crocodile by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



oli to satara 127 Black-headed Oriole by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

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The best sighting was of a Black-backed Jackal fighting a flock of vultures over a carcass. There were several different species of vulture on the carcass including White-backed, Cape, Hooded and Lappet-faced. The Jackal was tearing off chunks of meat and wolfing them down until at times the vultures would pile in on top of the carcass and the jackal would then snarl and leap at the vultures snapping his jaws, forcing the birds to back off. We watched this scene for quite a while until the jackal had his fill and trotted off.



oli to satara 133 Wildebeest by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



oli to satara 137 Burchell's Zebra by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



oli to satara 139 Burchell's Zebra by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



oli to satara 140 Burchell's Zebra by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



oli to satara 150 Kori Bustard by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



oli to satara 162 Steenbok Buck scent marking by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



oli to satara 199 Black Backed Jackal and vultures on carcass by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

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We checked into our accommodation at Satara, which was one of the en suite rondavels. We’d picked one with no utensils but we had our own braii pit so that was okay. The small shared kitchens are equipped with hot water and four hob rings per unit along with kitchen sinks, although we found it more convenient to use the bathroom sink. We had a spot of lunch and a relax, then headed out again at about 15.00.


In the afternoon, we found a lone Slender Mongoose and then we came across four White Rhinos at a waterhole. They seemed quite happy having a drink until a lone elephant appeared and quickly approached the water. The rhinos seemed unnerved by this and started to trot away towards the vehicles parked along the bank. Not wanting to risk it, Helen started the car and began to pull away, however, the rhinos soon settled back down again once they’d put a bit of distance between them and the elephant.


As we drove away from the waterhole we were flagged down by a fellow yellow ribboner, Wendy A. The yellow ribbon that you fly from your car indicates that you are a member of the Sanparks forum, a nice bunch of people who are always happy to put you onto sightings and make new friends in the process. Wendy helped us out with a travel kettle and we agreed to meet up for a drink before our night drive the next day.


Towards the end of the day, we came across a family of Dwarf Mongooses. As we returned to camp we saw a hyena patrolling the fence just by the entrance. I was hoping to see a honey badger but unfortunately none came calling that night.




oli to satara 214 Slender Mongoose by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



oli to satara 215 White Rhinos by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



oli to satara 221White Rhinos by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



oli to satara 223 White Rhinos by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



oli to satara 224 White Rhinos by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



satara 16 - 18 001 Elephant by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

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17th October Satara


We were probably out of the gate by about 6am. The day started well with another beautiful Black-backed Jackal this time carrying a dead porcupine. Wendy had suggested a route to us, knowing that we hadn’t yet seen any lions, so we tried that but we were not so lucky. We stopped at a river crossing to watch a Black Crake and then carried on until we came across a party of baboons that were crossing the road in front of us, so we watched their antics for a while. A Red-crested Korhaan was calling from the roadside, but didn’t see fit to give us a display flight this time.



satara 16 - 18 012 Black-back Jackal Carrying Porcupine by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



satara 16 - 18 023 Black Crake by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



satara 16 - 18 027 Baboon by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



satara 16 - 18 028 Baboon by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



satara 16 - 18 031red-crested Korhaan by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

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Lilac-breasted Rollers and Magpie Shrikes were frequently seen perched on the bushes. At a different river crossing we saw several Nile Crocodiles of varying size (some quite young) along with a Little Green Heron. A herd of Burchell’s Zebra made its way to the water’s edge but were very wary of the crocodiles that were resting out on the bank. We noticed one submerged crocodile that was coasting its way towards the zebra herd. Some zebras took a few mouthfuls of water before bolting away, while others seemed braver and would linger a bit longer, chancing their luck. Luckily for them, the crocodile didn’t seem to be hungry at the time and, as another vehicle was approaching, we realised it was time to move on.


The rest of the game drive in the morning was quiet for new sightings, though we saw most of the game animals that we’d seen before (Impala, Kudu, Giraffes, Elephants, etc). We also saw a few Warthogs, which were a new addition to the list. We returned to Satara for lunch where we saw a small crowd gathered in front of the shop watching another African Scops Owl asleep in a tree.



satara 16 - 18 032 Lilac-breasted Roller by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



satara 16 - 18 039 Burchell's zebras by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



satara 16 - 18 044 African Scops Owl by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



satara 16 - 18 047 African Grey Hornbill by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



satara 16 - 18 048 Burchell's Starling by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

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There were also a few Vervet Monkeys around. We had our lunch back at our rondavel, but had to watch our food like a hawk because we were quickly surrounded by little feathered thieves. It was like something out of a Hitchcock film with Crested Barbets, Greater Blue-eared Starlings, Red-billed Buffalo Weavers, Grey, Red-billed and Yellow-billed hornbills all trying to steal a piece of our meal. The only bird that seemed happy enough to forage for its own lunch was an African Hoopoe.


That afternoon we came across a herd of elephants all crowded together in the shade of a single tree. We returned to the waterhole where we’d seen the rhinos earlier, but it was now very quiet. A Slender Mongoose and Brown Snake-Eagle were the highlights of the otherwise rather quiet afternoon.


Back at camp, we met up with Wendy A for a couple of drinks over dinner, before heading out again for out night drive. Lions had been seen on night drives for the previous two nights, so, having still not seen any, we were hopeful that this might be our chance. We had a mixed group, but one of the South Africans seemed to object to the lamping technique of some of the other participants, complaining that with the way they were throwing the lights around we wouldn’t see a thing. Our first good sighting was of a white rhino; then we caught sight of a distant Spotted Hyena. Quite a few different antelope were seen, including Impala, Kudu, Bush Duiker and Steenbok. There were also sightings of Buffalo and Giraffe. We stopped for another antelope, which turned out to be a Reedbuck, a new one for the list. A few Scrub Hares could be found by the side of the road and a Black-backed Jackal was seen trotting down the road in front of us towards the end of the drive. Sadly, we didn’t see any lions.


On arriving back I waited outside for a while in the hope of seeing the honey badgers, but none appeared. I could hear lions roaring in the distance and the eerie “whoo-oop” calls of the hyenas. Then as I was getting into bed, I heard the most horrifyling blood-curdling scream from some animal, which left me wondering if the lions or hyenas had made a kill just outside of camp.





satara 16 - 18 051African Hoopoe by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



satara 16 - 18 053 Yellow-fronted canary by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



satara 16 - 18 061 African Elephant by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



satara 16 - 18 063 Slender Mongoose by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



satara 16 - 18 075 Brown Snake-eagle by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

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18th October Satara


I awoke to disappointment; the honey badgers had visited our circle during the night! Evidence of their visit could be seen in the way that every single bin had been knocked over in the same direction as the badgers had been foraging around our circuit.


We took the H-7 road to Orpen, as Wendy mentioned she’d seen some dogs in the vicinity. We weren’t so lucky. We stopped first at the waterhole where we’d seen the rhinos the day before. This time there were no rhinos, but a lot of animals were coming to quench their thirst. First we saw a large herd of Impala, as they dispersed, zebra started to appear. They were more skittish and drank from a small pool further back. After they started to leave a few Wildebeest came down for their turn. A few warthogs were grubbing about at the back of the waterhole. Four Brown-headed Parrots dropped in to some close-by bushes to feed and a Grey Heron was making a meal of trying to swallow a large catfish further away.


Later we came across a White Rhino with a very young calf, but she turned and ushered the calf away into the thornveld before we had a chance to photograph the encounter. An African Hawk Eagle was seen circling over some riverine forest. We then came up behind a safari truck and followed it for a while. We were both stopped by a giraffe crossing the road. Later on, it was an elephant crossing the road to join a small herd to the right. Just on the road, in front of us, in direct contrast to the lumbering giant behind, was a tiny dwarf mongoose.



satara 16 - 18 081Souhern Giraffe by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



satara 16 - 18 113 Brown-headed Parrot by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



satara 16 - 18 124 African Hawk-eagle by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



satara 16 - 18 134 Little and Large Dwarf Mongoose and African Elephant by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



satara 16 - 18 137 African Elephants by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

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We returned to the waterhole to find the hippos lying out of the water and one tiny little hippo calf sleeping next to its mother. It was disturbed from its slumber by a passing grey heron. Five turtles could also be seen resting on the bank, but overall the waterhole was much quieter than before. Whilst at the waterhole, someone told us about a lion that was just off the side of the road near to camp. We arrived to find the lion, which seemed to be an immature male, well camouflaged in the long grass and scrub. A couple of vultures were perched on a tree nearby, indicating that the lion was probably guarding a kill. We could just make out the pointy ears of a Black-backed Jackal who seemed to be trying his luck, but he was quickly dismissed by the lion who leapt up and chased him half-heartedly for all of 5 yards, before settling back down into the long grass.


Considering that the lion was unlikely to be doing much in the heat of the day, we headed back to Satara for lunch. On our way, we came across a small family of Zebra.



satara 16 - 18 145 Turtles by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



satara 16 - 18 146 Hippo and calf by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



satara 16 - 18 151Hooded Vulture by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



satara 16 - 18 157 Lion by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



satara 16 - 18 165 Burchell's Zebra Foal by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

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While Helen had a rest, I spent a bit of time photographing the wildlife around camp. I came across a small party of Dwarf Mongooses, who were very entertaining, and I also stopped to shoot the resident Scops Owl and a Red-billed Hornbill.



satara 16 - 18 173 African Scops Owl by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



satara 16 - 18 183 Red-billed Buffalo Weaver by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



satara 16 - 18 184 dragonfly by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



satara 16 - 18 193 Dwarf Mongoose by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



satara 16 - 18 209 Dwarf Mongoose by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



satara 16 - 18 221Dwarf Mongoose by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



satara 16 - 18 225 Red-billed Hornbill by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

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That afternoon we first checked back to see if the lion was still there, he was. He got up briefly to reposition himself, but not for long and when he settled down he was pretty much obscured by the long grass. We stopped to photograph a Magpie Shrike and a Grey Hornbill and then came across a displaying Ostrich. At a dry waterhole were a family of Elephants along with other game. There was one baby elephant who initially seemed to be scared of a Kudu. However, the baby then plucked up the courage to run playfully at the kudu, it looked like he was trying to make friends with it, which surprised the Kudu who then cantered off.



Satara Jo 18 to 19 005 Lion by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



Satara Jo 18 to 19 009 Magpie Shrike by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



Satara Jo 18 to 19 014 African Grey Hornbill by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



Satara Jo 18 to 19 024 African Elephants by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



Satara Jo 18 to 19 029 Waterbuck by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

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