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kittykat23uk

We drove on to the ford in the river, where we stopped for a while. There were a couple of nice big waterbuck, along with a Green Heron, Purple Heron and lots of baby crocodiles. A few Vervet Monkeys also came down for a drink.

 

Finally on the S100 (known as Cat Road), we came across a couple of vehicles watching another Lion. This one was more distant and seemed to be quite a scrawny-looking male. He was also still asleep. He did raise his head for a look around at one point, but that was the extent of the sighting. On arriving back in camp at dusk, there were huge twittering flocks of swifts. Wendy came round and we cooked steaks on the braii and had a lovely evening chatting away with a few Savannahs. We could hear the call of the Pearl Spotted Owlet (either that or Steve was hiding in the bushes somewhere). I stayed up as long as I could in the hope of seeing the honey badgers but by eleven I was too tired. It didn’t matter; having done our circle the previous night, the badgers didn’t come again.

 

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Satara Jo 18 to 19 031 Green-backed Heron by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

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Satara Jo 18 to 19 035 Black-headed Heron by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

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Satara Jo 18 to 19 039 Black-headed Heron by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

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Satara Jo 18 to 19 044 Lion by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

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Satara Jo 18 to 19 053 Little Swifts by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

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4th October Gansbaai Shark Cage diving   We needn’t have been concerned. First we were greeted with the sight of our first Southern Right Whale off the coast right outside our window. The sea state

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kittykat23uk

19th October Satara to Elephant Plains - What’s that Lion about?

 

We left camp at about 6.30 and Wilma suggested that we spend about 3 to 4 hours in the park before leaving through Orpen Gate and heading on to Elephant Plains to be there in time for lunch. The suggested route was to go south on the tar H1-3, then S126 dirt road to Muzandzeni picnic spot for a simple picnic breakfast. Then either (a) north on S36 + S7 to Orpen Gate; or (:D south on S36 + S145 past Talamati bush camp + S140 then H7 to Orpen Gate.

However, Helen wasn’t convinced about the timings, and given that Wendy had luck with dogs there, we opted to take the more direct route to the Orpen Gate along the H-7 tar road. Just outside of Satara we came across a Marabou Stork perched in a tree and then found a spectacular Kori Bustard.

 

Someone stopped to inform us about a pride of lions by the side of the tar road, and we soon found them lazing about. The pride consisted of at least ten individuals, many of them were males. One female wore a radio collar so was obviously part of some research project. We watched them for a while, but they were just being typical lions, lazing about so as more cars started to pile in, we decided to take our leave.

 

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Satara Jo 18 to 19 059 Marabou Stork by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

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Satara Jo 18 to 19 063 Kori Bustard by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

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Satara Jo 18 to 19 068Young Male Lion by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

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Satara Jo 18 to 19 074 Lion by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

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Satara Jo 18 to 19 081Lion by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

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Satara Jo 18 to 19 084 Lioness by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

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Several eagles were seen perched in the trees, most of which were probably Tawny. A few warthogs were seen by the side of the road, as well as a couple of magnificent Kudu bulls with huge double-spiralled horns.

 

Birds Satara:

Ostrich

Little Green Heron

Grey Heron

Purple Heron

Marabou Stork

White-backed Vulture

Cape Vulture

Hooded Vulture

Lappet-faced Vulture

White-headed Vulture

Brown Hawk Eagle

Tawny Eagle

Black Crake

Kori Bustard

Red-crested Korhaan

African Scops Owl

Yellow-billed Hornbill

Red-billed Hornbill

Grey Hornbill

African Hoopoe

Red-billed Buffalo Weaver

Burchell’s Starling

Southern Grey-headed Sparrow

Grey Go-away Bird

Crested Barbet

Brown-headed Parrot

Lilac-breasted Roller

Magpie Shrike

African Hoopoe

Red-billed Buffalo Weaver

Burchell’s Starling

Southern Grey-headed Sparrow

Grey Go-away Bird

Magpie Shrike

Little Swift

 

 

Mammals Satara as per previous list plus:

Lion

Warthog

White Rhino

 

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Satara Jo 18 to 19 089 Tawny Eagle by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

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Satara Jo 18 to 19 092 Tawny Eagle by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

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Satara Jo 18 to 19 093 Warthog by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

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Satara Jo 18 to 19 102 Greater Kudu by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

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In hindsight, we probably could have done most of the route that Wilma had suggested and still got to Elephant Plains in plenty of time. As it happened, we arrived really early and since our room wasn’t ready we just spent the time relaxing in the lodge. Elephant Plains is a luxury lodge with two small bathing pools and verandas overlooking a beautiful view over open woodland to a waterhole. Within the campgrounds could be seen Nyala, the first of the trip. One was foraging under a blossoming tree. As we passed the time waiting to get into our room, I saw a few new birds. A small flock of Red-faced Mouse-birds flew into the top of a tree where they sat twittering and preening.

 

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Satara Jo 18 to 19 104 Red-faced Mousebirds by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

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Satara Jo 18 to 19 108 Nyala by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

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Satara Jo 18 to 19 112 Nyala by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

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Satara Jo 18 to 19 111Nyala by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

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Satara Jo 18 to 19 116 Gecko by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

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Jameson’s fire-finches could be seen drinking from a small bird bath, along with Blue Waxbills, and a Southern Boubou skulked in the hedgerow. A Bearded Scrub-robin could also be seen foraging on the well-kept lawn. There were a fair few raptors soaring over the open woodland including Whalberg’s Eagle.

 

Our room was beautifully appointed with twin beds, dressed in mosquito nets, four-poster style. The bathroom was really something special, decked out in riven slate tiles and the twin custom built sinks were decorated with portraits of zebra and leopard.

 

After Helen went for a lie down, I saw why this place got its name as a lone elephant came down to the waterhole to drink. After drinking its fill, it showered itself with a few trunkfulls of water, before heading off into a thicket to grab some lunch. After which we decided to make use of the pool, before joining the other guests for a scrumptious lunch. Bathing was cut short when one of the cleaners discovered that baboons had broken into our room! Thankfully they were shown the door before they could make a mess.

 

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Satara Jo 18 to 19 117 Jameson's Firefinch by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

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PA194843 Bearded Scrub-Robin by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

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PA194848 Southern Boubou by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

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PA194861African Elephant by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

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PA194869 African Elephant by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

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The afternoon game drive started at about 4pm.Our game ranger was Wayne and we also had a local Shangaan tracker. In Sabi Sands, they use open safari vehicles, which can accommodate about 10 people. The 4-wheel drive vehicles enable the rangers to drive off-road and provide guests with up-close game viewing that is not available to self drivers in Kruger, they also keep in contact with the other vehicles in the traversing zone in order to try and maximise the sightings.

 

A Hammerkop was making a meal out of a frog in a muddy pool, whilst a large monitor lizard sunbathed on the bank. We then came upon a large buffalo sitting by a waterhole. A Water Thicknee was stood in front of him and right at the back was a Wood Sandpiper.

 

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PA194882 Red-Billed Oxpecker by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

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PA194891Hammerkop eating a Frog by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

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PA194893 Water Monitor by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

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PA194897 Cape Buffalo by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

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PA194899 Water Thick-Knee (Dikkop) by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

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PA194901 Wood Sandpiper by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

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The drive after that was quite frustrating for a while, because we spent a lot of time driving around in front of a lodge looking for a leopard that apparently had been seen by a couple of the lodge staff. Our tracker got off the vehicle and tried to locate the leopard on foot, with a colleague from another vehicle, but all to no avail.

 

However, after abandoning this fruitless search in favour of some other quarry we then came across a young hyena having a mudbath in a shallow pool. The Hyena, having enough of our attentions, yawned languidly, stood up, and slowly made his way to the bank. After pulling himself out of the mud, he crossed the track and melted away into the scrub.

 

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PA194908 Spotted Hyena by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

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PA194911 Spotted Hyena by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

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PA194914 Spotted Hyena by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

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PA194915 Spotted Hyena by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

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PA194922 Nyala Bull by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

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The drive picked up nicely when Wayne told us we would be calling in on a pride of four male Lions who had recently taken up residence in the reserve. They moved in after the resident pride of six males had apparently decided that holding the territory was getting to be too much effort for them. Wayne went on to tell us that the new males had already killed some of the cubs and that the lionesses were running scared, trying to protect their remaining offspring.

 

We had a hairy moment when Wayne, in the process of trying to back up to reposition the vehicle, lost the footing on one of the back wheels and lurched backwards into one of the sleeping lions! The king of cats leapt to his feet and glared straight at me, and I thought for one moment that I was a gonna! Wayne tried to reassure us that the lion’s posture was not at all threatening, but we didn’t know that and there would have been no warning if the cat had taken offence because he would have been on the vehicle in a split second. I have to say my heart was in my mouth for those few seconds that he was glaring at us. He soon settled down again though.

 

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PA194928 Lion by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

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PA194932 Lion by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

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PA194939 Lion by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

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PA194944 Lion by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

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PA194965 Lion by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

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PA194956 Lion by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

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After watching the lions until it got towards dusk, we drove on to a spot where we had a couple of sundowners. And then, more frustration, as we arrived just in time to see a leopard’s back end disappear into a neighbouring property where we couldn’t follow it. Another group had had the privilege of watching the cat saunter down the track before we arrived on the scene, gutted! A nice sighting in the spotlight was a Flap-necked Chameleon.

 

Dinner was served in the boma afterwards. This was a wonderful experience as we sat at individual tables around a big fire pit. The food was a hot buffet with two delicious meat courses to choose from, along with a selection of vegetables. Afterwards we retired to the bar for a couple of drinks before heading back to our plush rooms.

 

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PA194979 Flap-Necked Chameleon by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

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20th October Elephant Plains to Lower Sabie- The Big Five in one day?!

 

Today was awesome and probably one of the best days of the trip. The game drive started off slowly, with sightings of a large male bushbuck. We stopped at a waterhole to watch a restless flock of White-faced Whistling Ducks. An African Fish Eagle was seen perched on a dead tree, Wayne encouraged it to call by imitating the sound of a rival bird. Then another bird, probably its mate, joined in the chorus. We came across a Leopard Tortoise as we carried on round the reserve. Then Wayne heard over the radio that a White Rhino had been seen back by the waterhole we’d just come from so we retraced our route and sure enough, there was the large male rhino. Wayne told us that, after having a drink the next thing the rhino would do would be to mark his territory by going to his midden. So he repositioned the vehicle for a better view. Sure enough, the rino lumbered towards his midden, stopping occasionally to scent mark nearby bushes with a little “pfft” of urine from his back end. Then he approached his midden and defecated, kicking and scratching at the droppings to spread the rather pungent scent around.

 

Finally, the news we’d been waiting for, a leopard had been spotted resting on a termite mound. Wayne reckoned this gorgeous young cat was about 12 months old. The leopard clearly hoped to get a bit of rest and at times was about to doze off, but every time a new vehicle arrived, or one of the current vehicles was repositioned, the leopard sat up and warily watched the activities, much like the female jaguar I’d seen in Brazil the year before. The leopard yawned and his eyelids became heavy as he slumped to the ground. At one point the leopard rolled over covering it’s face with its paws, like a playful kitten might do.

 

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PA205000 White Rhino by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

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PA205009 White Rhino by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

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PA205017 Young Leopard by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

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PA205026 Young Leopard by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

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PA205032 Young Leopard by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

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PA205045 Young Leopard by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

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PA205061Young Leopard by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

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PA205071Young Leopard by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

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We had a good amount of time on the sighting, but as more vehicles arrived, it was time to move on. We stopped for a couple of female Nyala as we headed back to camp. Breakfast was then served buffet style in the restaurant with a full English option on offer as well. Then, two of us decided to join Wayne for the bush walk. Wayne got us to taste the leaves from one of the bushes, which tasted repulsive because of all the tannins it contained. He explained that this was a defence mechanism to protect the leaves from browsers. It didn’t always work though, particularly during times of drought, when even the most repellent leaves are better than nothing, or so you might think if you were an antelope. Unfortunately too much of the tannin is poisonous and can lead to bloat and death of the animals that feed on it.

 

Wayne also talked about termite mounds and how the termites keep the mound’s temperature ventilated by creating and closing vents in the walls. He went on to show us how leadwood trees are used to whiten teeth, by burning the wood and gathering the white ash to smear onto the teeth and how the twigs from another bush are fibrous and can be made into toothbrushes.

 

Elephant Plains Birds:

Bearded Scrub-robin

Red-faced Mousebird

Whalberg’s eagle

Jameson’s Firefinch

Hammerkop

Southern Boubou

Water Thicknee

Wood Sandpiper

White-faced Whistling Duck

African Fish Eagle

 

 

Mammals:

Elephant

White Rhino

Impala

Nyala

Waterbuck

Cape Buffalo

Giraffe

Warthog

Lion

Leopard

Spotted Hyena

Scrub Hare

 

Reptiles:

Water Monitor Lizard

Flap-necked Chameleon

Leopard Tortoise

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Despite Sabi Sands bordering onto Kruger, getting from Elephant Plains to Lower Sabie, our next camp, turned out to be a much longer drive than from Satara to Sabi Sand. This is because we had to exit Sabi Sands at Gowrie Gate and then drive to Paul Kruger Gate, via Acornhoek, taking the R40 south via Bushbuckridge to Hazyview and then to the gate via the R536. We were advised that it would take too long to enter Orpen Gate and drive down through the park.

 

We had originally planned only two more nights in the park, one at Lower Sabie and one at Skukuza to be nearer to an exit gate. But given that our flight wasn’t until late on the 23rd, we realised belatedly that we could also have the night of the 22nd in the park. We decided on Berg En Dal, as there was no available accommodation at Skukuza. If we had known sooner we could have structured this better, stopping at Skukuza before Lower Sabie and cutting down on this lengthy journey.

 

Helen was very concerned we wouldn’t get to Lower Sabie in time for the sunset drive we had booked, so once we entered the park, we took the most direct route and didn’t stop to look for our own sightings on the way. We agreed that if there were parked cars, we’d see what they were viewing and if it was something good (dogs, leopard or cheetah basically) then we’d stop for the sighting and deal with missing the drive if we had to. As it happened, we didn’t come across many parked cars during our route so we arrived at Lower Sabie in plenty of time for the sunset drive and it is not one I would have wanted to miss!

 

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elephant plains to lower sabie jo 025 White-Browed Scrub-robin by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

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Martie’s sensational sunset drive

 

Martie, who comes highly recommended on the Sanparks forum, led the sunset drive. We stopped first for a troupe of Baboons in the road, and then we saw the remains of a leopard’s kill hanging in a tree like a woman’s discarded pair of tights. Then Martie announced that a rhino was crossing the road up ahead and not just any rhino, this was a rare Black Rhino! It didn’t stop and soon was obscured by the scrub. Martie tried to imitate the call of another male to try and coax it back, but to no avail. Another guide stopped and tried the same trick, but again to no effect.

 

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elephant plains to lower sabie jo 032 Chacma Babboon by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

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elephant plains to lower sabie jo 033 Leopard Kill by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

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elephant plains to lower sabie jo 035 Black Rhino by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

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elephant plains to lower sabie jo 036 Vervet Monkey by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

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Our next sighting was a lion guarding a dead giraffe, panting in the heat. After watching for a while, Martie decided to move on, promising to check back later. We drove on to an open area, where Impala and lots of Scrub Hares were emerging to feed. Martie parked up, and turned the lights off and we just sat there for a while soaking up the sounds of the bush. So many scrub hares were sitting out by the roadside as we headed back, leaping into cover or coursing down the road ahead of us as we drove by.

 

Some bright reflections betrayed the presence of a pair of Lesser Bushbabies, who, attracted by the light, bounced in for a closer look. Martie pointed out another Scorpion and a Flap-necked Chameleon, the Chameleon was much brighter green than the one we’d seem at Elephant Plains but it was also more obscured by scrub.

 

Back at the giraffe and the lion was now tucking in. He reached right into the giraffe’s stomach emerging to look around with his muzzle red with blood. A pair of Side Striped Jackals were yelping nearby, hoping to scrounge some leftovers, but the lion ignored them and they were cautious enough not to approach too closely.

 

On the way back we came across a pair of Spotted Hyenas who’s cubs had recently been killed by lions. Finally we stopped at a waterhole to see a grey heron reflected perfectly in torchlight. All in all, it was a totally awesome day!

 

 

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elephant plains to lower sabie jo 053 Lion by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

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elephant plains to lower sabie jo 089 Scorpion by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

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elephant plains to lower sabie jo 090 Steenbok by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

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elephant plains to lower sabie jo 091 Flap-Necked Chameleon by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

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elephant plains to lower sabie jo 077 Lion om nom nom nom by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

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elephant plains to lower sabie jo 078 Lion by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

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elephant plains to lower sabie jo 081 Lion by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

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elephant plains to lower sabie jo 094 Spotted Hyena by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

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elephant plains to lower sabie jo 096 Spotted Hyena by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

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elephant plains to lower sabie jo 099 Grey Heron by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

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21st October Lower Sabie to Skukuza via Crocodile Bridge

 

We took the S28 down to Crocodile Bridge because we were told that was a good route to see cheetah. But sadly we didn’t find any. We did see a fair amount of game, including White Rhino, Bushbuck, Nyala, and pretty much the same game we’d seen throughout the trip.

 

We stopped at a dam and watched the Zebras and Giraffes, drinking and grazing. A juvenile Steppe Eagle was soaring over the river. We came across a large herd of buffalo and an African Fish Eagle. I then spotted a Verreaux’s Eagle Owl, perched in a tree, when we stopped it promptly flew to a different tree. Panting in the shade of a tree were a pair of Southern Ground Hornbills. Then we came across two Tawny Eagles, also panting in the heat overlooking the river.

 

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elephant plains to lower sabie jo 101 Lesser-Masked Weaver by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

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elephant plains to lower sabie jo 107 Pair of Bateleurs by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

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elephant plains to lower sabie jo 109 White Rhino by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

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elephant plains to lower sabie jo 114 Souhern Giraffe by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

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elephant plains to lower sabie jo 119 Cape Buffalo by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

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Later on we came across another lion, distant this time, close to where the dead giraffe was, but the sighting was nothing compared to the previous night. The giraffe, now humming in the heat, had attracted quite the crowd of vultures, but no jackals or hyena were present.

 

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elephant plains to lower sabie jo 124 African Fish Eagle by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

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elephant plains to lower sabie jo 132 Verreaux's Eagle Owl by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

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elephant plains to lower sabie jo 147 Southern Ground Hornbill by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

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elephant plains to lower sabie jo 149 Juvenile Bateleur by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

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After lunch we drove out on the main H4-2 road back towards Lower Sabie, but we were stopped briefly by a herd of elephants intent on crossing the road. It was touching, watching one female who’d crossed already, encouraging the rest of the herd, including a baby, across. When they were reunited on the other side, they tenderly embraced each other’s trunks, reassuring each other that all were fine.

Lower Sabie Birds:

Orange-breasted Bush Shrike

White Browed Scrub Robin

Steppe Eagle

Tawny Eagle

Verreaux’s Eagle Owl

African Fish Eagle

Southern Ground Hornbills

 

Mammals:

Black Rhino

Elephant

Chacma Baboons

Vervet Monkey

Lion on dead Giraffe

Side-striped Jackal

Lesser Bushbaby

Scrub Hare

Spotted Hyena

 

Other:

Scorpion

Flap-necked Chameleon

 

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elephant plains to lower sabie jo 158 African Elephant by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

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elephant plains to lower sabie jo 163 African Elephants by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

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elephant plains to lower sabie jo 166 African Elephants by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

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elephant plains to lower sabie jo 174 African Elephants by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

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elephant plains to lower sabie jo 184 Tawny Eagle by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

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kittykat23uk

From Lower Sabie we took the H4-1 back towards Skukuza and then crossed the river and followed it on the other side towards Skukuza. As we crossed we saw some bushbuck, including a handsome male. As the sun went down I photographed a magnificent male kudu in the golden light.

 

Arriving in Skukuza we found our safari tent and started a braii. Our tent was on the perimeter and a hyena was patrolling the fence. It was exhilarating keeping pace with her as she wandered up and down the fence, stopping and lying down briefly to groom her nether regions, before loping further away. On the smaller scale, a more unwelcome visitor to our plot was a giant centipede. Thankfully it had other places to go than to our tent.

 

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elephant plains to lower sabie jo 190 Kudu by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

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elephant plains to lower sabie jo 195 Giant Centepede by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

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kittykat23uk

22nd October Skukuza to Berg en Dal Terrific Turacos

 

We were on the road by 6am on our way to Berg en Dal, our final camp. We covered an awful lot of ground in temperatures topping 54 c. We started with a drive down to Malelane. We turned off to head towards a waterhole, spotting a Leopard Tortoise on the way, but the waterhole turned out to be waterless, like so many of the waterholes we’d seen. A good sighting was of a White Rhino mother and calf, just by the side of the road. The mother quickly ushered her youngster away into thicker cover. Then we came across a Zebra and her foal. We took the loop back to Crocodile Bridge, giving the search for Cheetah one more shot, but again, no luck.

 

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elephant plains to lower sabie jo 196 Leopard Tortoise by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

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elephant plains to lower sabie jo 205 White Rhino by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

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elephant plains to lower sabie jo 206 White Rhino by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

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elephant plains to lower sabie jo 212 Burchell's Zebra and Calf by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

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elephant plains to lower sabie jo 220 Black Rhino by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

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skakuza & berg en dal 010 Tawny Eagle by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

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kittykat23uk

We had a few good bird sightings Black-crowned Tchagra, Tawny Eagle and a young Verreaux’s Eagle Owl, with it’s fluffy down peering out from the fork of a tree. An African Hawk Eagle was perched in another fork of a different tree. I managed to photograph a juvenile Bateleur taking off from some long grass and a new bird for the list was a Southern White Crowned Shrike. We also came across a nest occupied by a pair of Lappet Faced Vultures. A more colourful sighting was a White-fronted Bee-eater.

The best mammal sightings were another Black Rhino, which unfortunately seemed have an open wound on its side, and a lovely little bush duiker with two playful young in tow. There was plenty of large game to see, but it was so spread out it was often hard keeping up the interest when we were covering so much ground and staring into the same monotonous scrubland. Two sleeping lions finished off the drive.

Birds:

Black-crowned Tchagra

Tawny Eagle

Verreaux’s Eagle Owl

African Hawk Eagle

Bateleur

Southern White Crowned Shrike.

Lappet Faced Vulture

White-fronted Bee-eater.

 

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skakuza & berg en dal 017 Verreaux's Eagle Owl by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

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skakuza & berg en dal 021African Hawk-Eagle by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

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skakuza & berg en dal 026 Bateleur by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

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skakuza & berg en dal 025 Bateleur by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

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skakuza & berg en dal 028 Bateleur by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

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to berg en dale helen 467 White Rhino & Calf by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

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to berg en dale helen 470 White Rhino & Calf by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

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skakuza & berg en dal 030 Southern White-crowned Shrike by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

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PeterGermany

Great report! Beautiful pictures! Have you used special equipment to shoot the shark pics under water? Amazing.

 

Great you saw the 4 males at Elephant Plains (Majingilane Males), great pics of the one with the missing patches in his face (his name is "Smudge"). For my personal interest please allow one question. Did your guide mention the name of the young male leopard you came across?

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kittykat23uk

Hi,

 

thanks glad you liked the trip report. There was some debate as to whether it was a male or female leopard, but having looked at the phoos we took I think it was a male. It didn't have a name at that point. I think the guy who names them was having difficulty coming up with something suitable.

 

Regarding the sharks, I used an Olympus C5050 with an underwater housing. I filmed it as a video then just made some screen grabs of the footage.

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kittykat23uk

Arriving in Berg-En-Dal we stopped off to fill up the car. A man and his son were trying to photograph something in the trees, which turned out to be a gorgeous Purple Crested Turaco. Wow! I hadn’t expected to see one of those! Around camp were a lot of fruiting trees, which were obviously luring in lots of frugivores, including African Green Pigeons, the turacos and some Vervet Monkeys. We tried unsuccessfully to see if any places had come up on the sunset drive, and given Helen was tired of driving around we decided to spend the afternoon relaxing in the pool. Dinner was a disaster when the boil in the bag chicken wasn’t cooked and had to be quickly pan-fried.

 

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skakuza & berg en dal 039 White-fronted Bee-eater by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

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PA225405 African Green-Pigeon by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

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PA225409 Kurrichane Thrush by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

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PA225430 Vervet Monkey by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

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kittykat23uk

22nd Berg en Dal to Johannesburg

Our last morning in Kruger and I was up early with the dawn already in full swing. Berg en Dal is a lovely camp in which to take an early morning walk and I saw quite a few birds just wandering around the perimeter, along with a White rhino, bushbuck and waterbuck at the dam. Tantalisingly I could hear lions roaring outside camp as I walked near the dam and I hoped we might see them before we left.

 

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PA235441Bush Blackcap by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

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PA235444 Brown-Hooded Kingfisher by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

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PA235457 Purple-crested Turaco (Lourie) by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

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PA235465 Bushbuck by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

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PA235483 Orange-breasted Bush-Shrike by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

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PA235492 White-Browed Robin Chat (Heuglin's Robin) by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

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kittykat23uk

We stopped in at the shop and took a look at the sightings board. This was really disheartening, three white dots representing cheetah were positioned tauntingly on the map just up the road from camp, two black dots for leopard, also nearby and a single yellow dot representing wild dog. This must have been from yesterday afternoon and evening when we were too tired to go out. Oh well, you can’t win ‘em all!

We left camp at 07.45 and headed straight towards the gate, despite being advised that we could spend a couple of hours in the park and still get to the airport in plenty of time for our flight. But we weren’t convinced the timescale for getting to Jo’burg was realistic so we played it too safe really. Our short drive to the gate was at least productive with two more white rhino, a mother and calf by the road. Then we came upon a fairly large breeding herd of elephants, with young. We stopped to watch them, but then it appeared they were going to cross the road so, not wanting to get caught up and be late leaving the park, Helen decided to drive past them so that they could cross behind us. Unfortunately that meant that, without turning round we wouldn’t be able to see them.

 

Just up ahead, a car was also parked up and the passengers were staring intently at a distant tree. Turned out there was a Leopard asleep in the branches. Unfortunately this wasn’t an amazing sighting because all we could see was the tail and some legs hanging down, the cat was facing away from the road. So after taking a quick record shot we moved on and with that, so ended our safari in Kruger. On our way back to Johannesburg I ticked off a couple of new birds, Long-tailed Widowbird and Lesser Grey Shrike.

 

We arrived at the airport at about 2pm so had a long wait for our flight.

 

Berg en Dal/to airport Birds:

 

African Green Pigeon

African Jacana

Hadeda Ibis

Grey Heron

Green-Backed Heron

Natal Francolin

Three-banded Plover

White-crowned Plover

Brown-hooded Kingfisher

Grey-headed Kingfisher

African hoopoe

Arrow Marked Babbler

Bush Blackcap

Dark Capped Bulbul

Olive Thrush

White-browed Robin Chat (Heuglin’s robin)

Black-crowned Tchagra

Orange-breasted Bush-shrike

Purple-crested Turaco

Yellow-fronted Canary

Black-throated Canary

Lemon-breasted Canary

Long-tailed Widowbird

Lesser Grey Shrike

 

 

Mammals:

Black Rhino

Bush Duiker

Burchell’s Zebra

Leopard

Lion

 

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PA235484 Brown-Hooded Kingfisher by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

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PA235497 African Elephant by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

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PA235500 African Elephant by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

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