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Found 50 results

  1. While looking for other information on the web I came across this report on the translocation of seven elephants from South Africa to Zinave NP in Mozambique. First Elephant Translocated to Zinave National Park, Mozambique Zinave NP is north-east of Kruger NP and directly east of Gonarezhou NP in Zimbabwe it doesn’t actually adjoin either of these two parks but with them it is along with Banhine NP and Limpopo NP part of the Greater Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Area. During Mozambique’s civil war it seems that almost all of the large game was wiped out in Zinave so it’s great to see that animals are now being reintroduced. Already zebra, wildebeest and giraffes have been brought in from Kruger in 2012 and 13 and the plan is to move more animals to Zinave in the future from Kruger and also some from Gorongosa NP further north. In Gorongosa some of the animals that survived the war and didn’t need restocking like common waterbuck are now extremely common so the park is a good source for these animals to restock Zinave. All of the animals are initially being released into a fenced sanctuary. Zinave should be able to provide a home for 2000 elephants so I have no doubt that plenty more elephants will be moved to the park in time. With so much depressing news about wildlife being reported it’s great to see so positive news for a change Here’s another interesting article on the park Finding refuge: The untapped potential of Mozambique's Banhine and Zinave Unfortunately it seems that re-establishing a wildlife corridor between Zinave and Gonarezhou may prove difficult but it would be good if some way could be found to allow animals to move around between parks as they did in the past. Remarkably surveys of wildlife in Limpopo and Banhine NPs found WILDLIFE DIVERSITY IN LIMPOPO NATIONAL PARK Click on the map in the article on the Peace Parks Foundation website to see the location of these parks.
  2. My OH has been shortlisted for the third consecutive year in this competiton (DSLR fauna). I have never been shortlisted. What am I doing wrong???!! https://www.sanparks.org/about/photo_competition/voting/default.php I actually take a lot of credit for this shot. I was driving and couldn't get an angle from my side of the car and so I positioned it for him. I saw the second kite appear and told him when to press the shutter. It was his first photo of our 2016 KTP trip! It is the first photo in my TR (can't seem to work out how to put photos in from gallery directly on the iPad) http://safaritalk.net/topic/16868-kgalagadi-september-2016-raptor-kills-and-roadside-rescue/
  3. The website of Kruger NP lists a Kobus antelope (most likely a puku K. vardonii) as reedbuck... http://www.krugerpark.co.za/africa_reedbuck.html Not a very good example of marketing if you apparently don't even know what you're talking about, and that for the country's best known national park. Edit: OK, not the official Kruger website, and a whole bunch of animals are listed which don't occur in Kruger (Damara dikdik, Oryx, also listed as Gemsbok with different text) or even in SA. For me stuff like that is a deal breaker. If I search for a safari destination and the company I look at lists such erroneous things they're off my lists immediately.
  4. Quite unexpectedly, my brother and I decided we are going to try and arrange a short self-drive in SA (Kruger NP) the first week of November. Too short, especially with a long flight, but his work does not allow him to take off more time. The whole plan also depends on whether we can get a decent airfare. Budget is definitely a consideration.This would give us six nights in Kruger. We're thinking two camps as we do not want to changes places too much in such a short period. We' d love to stay in a bushveld camp for a few nights and after that in a main camp. Availability there is an issue of course. options: 3 nights Bateleur - 3 nights Satara (all still available, but from Jo'burg to Bateleur in one drive? Google says 7 hours) 3 nights Shimuwini - 3 nights Satara (also available, but drive is almost as long- 6:30) Talamati appears a bit closer, but only has the expensive cottages available. Lower Sabie only has huts available for the last three nights. Is it possible to drive to one of the Kruger camps in one day from Johannesburg airport? We would also have to do this on the way back, of course. Or should we, given the short time, be considering another park, like Pilanesberg? The tented camp is also affordable, but I don't know how Pilanesberg compares to Kruger for wildlife and birds. Thanks for any input. It started like a crazy idea, but somehow the prospect seems more and more attractive...
  5. 3rd Oct 2010 Cape Town to Gansbaai Trip Participants: Jo Dale and Helen Dale Today didn't quite go according to plan. We arrived into Cape Town in glorious sunshine, just about on time despite an hour's delay leaving London Heathrow. Whilst admiring the view of Table Mountain without its "table cloth" we picked up our hire car, an Opal Corsa and quickly realised that any plans to stop off en route to Gansbaai would be hindered by the fact that a lot of our luggage was on display. Consequently we put plans to stop at Rooi Els (to look for rockjumpers) on hold. We stopped briefly at a quaint little art cafe in Betty's Bay for a coffee on our drive along the scenic coastal route of the R44 and R43. We arrived and checked into our comfortable self catering accommodation at Gansbaai, which Helen had arranged over the internet. An interesting observation, coming from the UK, is that we were a bit stumped by the lack of facilities. We stayed at Air del Mar, in a twin bed self catering studio room on the ground floor with a sea view. The rate quoted on the website was R490 per unit. The studio was equipped with a fridge/freezer, microwave oven and utensils sufficient to prepare a light meal. I think we wrongly assumed that self catering here would be the same as in the UK, where we'd expect to get a hob and an oven, but to be fair we probably just didn't pay enough attention to what the facilities would be like. The owner was very friendly and even supplied us with some fresh milk for tea. There's supposedly a communal braai but we did not make use of this owing to the weather. We had hoped to arrive in time to arrange a whale-watching excursion, but this plan was scuppered by a rather inclement storm front that quickly closed in, whipping up the sea in the process. This, coupled with the scenery, made us wonder if we'd got on the wrong plane and found ourselves in Scotland! Cape Agulhas Not wishing to waste the day, we quickly decided that the best course of action would be to head down to Cape Agulhas, since that excursion wasn't weather-dependent. This was not ideal as we'd done the coast road down to Gansbaai and so it was a long drive for Helen on the first day. The most direct route turned out to be along a series of easily navigable gravel roads. This actually seemed to be a nice area to do some birding, but given it was now late in the day and we had a lot of ground to cover, we didn't stop very often. We did, however, make time to watch a slender mongoose attack a rather dead and smelly Puff Adder, dropping his prize as he crossed the road in front of us. We also observed a Blue Crane, Denham's Bustard and Cape Long-claw. Several raptors were also seen, including Yellow-billed Kite, Steppe Buzzard, African Marsh Harrier as well as Ostrich. We arrived at Cape Agulhas and walked to the southern-most tip of Africa, admiring the view out onto a fairly rough sea. It was quite chilly with the wind and drizzle so we didn't linger long. We took a different route back along the tar road, which was much longer, but also quicker. We stopped off in Sandford for a delicious meal of BBQ ribs and chips before heading back to Gansbaai. It was with a sense of foreboding that we retired to bed. Looking at the weather we didn't expect that our dive with the sharks would be going ahead, despite assurances from Marine Dynamics that they were expecting us bright and early the next morning. Bird list: Cape Wagtail White-necked Raven Pied Crow Cape Crow African Pied Starling Blue Crane Denham's Bustard Ostrich Helmented Guineafowl White-breasted Cormorant Brimstone Canary African Marsh Harrier Egyptian Goose Steppe Buzzard Cape Long-claw Mammals: Chacma Baboon Slender mongoose S AFRICA JO 005 dev Blue Crane by kittykat23uk, on Flickr S AFRICA JO 015 Brimsone (Bully) Canary by kittykat23uk, on Flickr S AFRICA JO 021 African Pied Starling by kittykat23uk, on Flickr S AFRICA JO 024 Cape Wagtail by kittykat23uk, on Flickr shark dive 028 To the Southernmost tip of Africa by kittykat23uk, on Flickr shark dive 012 Cape Aghulus by kittykat23uk, on Flickr
  6. Hello again everyone, We just returned from our last safari, and though it is not on par with many many many reports I get to read here, I nonetheless wanted to post this (semi) trip report and give a bit of background/feedback on the most affordable Kruger private game reserve camps out there. I think most of you will agree that if you are on a budget, your best bet for safari is South Africa. The exchange rate is still very favourable to our EUR/USD/GBP and aside from that it is simply a much more affordable safari destination than most others. So for exactly that reason we decided to return to SA. In terms of private game reserves near Kruger you can not go cheaper than Shindzela and Africa on foot (if anyone disagrees please please let me know because I would be very interested to know!). I hate to throw numbers around in these public reports but if anyone is interested, feel free to send me a PM and I will be happy to share our quote (all these camps also publicise their rack rates online, by the way, so very easy to check!). So first things first, our itinerary: March 5-7: Africa on foot (AoF) March 7-9: Nthambo tree camp (Nthambo) March 9-14: Shindzela March 14-18: Umembeza We went in green season and we did very much feel the difference. So I won't go into a day by day trip report, but I will give you guys a review of all the lodges and will then post a gallery of pictures per lodge. To let you in on a public secret, we loved all the camps and lodges ! Before we left we had sent some friends of ours to AoF for 1n based on our research. And after their return they let us know they actually really didn't like the place So I slightly panicked! And so we asked if we could change our booking a bit, since at that time we had booked 3n in AoF and 1n in Nthambo (just because AoF couldn't accommodate the last night - we hadn't planned to go to Nthambo since there was a bit of a price difference). We had booked with sun safaris in SA (they partly own AoF and Nthambo) and we had already fully paid up our trip so I was a bit worried asking them, but they were really very flexible and had no problem accommodating my request to change our booking to 2-2 with 1n in the AoF tree house (that was only the first time of two where they proved to be really flexible and accommodating). Were our worries about AoF founded? No. Absolutely not, we loved AoF. Was Nthambo maybe better? Yes, in terms of accommodation it was no doubt better. It also cost more, so what do you expect ;-) ​But lets go step by step. The rooms at AOF were indeed a bit rustic, and the setting of the camp is slightly cramped (not any view from anywhere - especially the view from the pool is rather poor, you look right onto a water tower). Two of the rooms look out onto the car park, so not ideal if you are expecting something of a view, but please do check and keep in mind their rates, you will see that they are amazingly good value for money and so the expectations should be set accordingly The tree house on the other hand has an amazing view over the area and is accessible to anyone during the day. Loved that view! We had booked in advance to spend the night in there and I highly recommend it! Remember to book or you will most likely miss out (it's very popular!) Unfortunately we seem to be slightly unlucky with our tree house experiences because it was our second one and for two times in a row we got a thunderstorm overnight! (and both times it was the only storm we experienced on the whole trip). I have to admit I'm a complete chicken shit and especially this time I was quite afraid. The storm was really on top of us, the lighting was all around us, the thunder super loud, I cowered under the sheets Was that necessary? Of course not You have a horn to sound in case you want them to come and get you and they say in advance that they will come and get you if it gets to be too bad (though I wouldn't trust that too much, the idea of what experienced rangers consider to be too bad and what us wussies though is really not the same ;-) ) Did we see anything? No, because as I said I was too busy cowering under the sheets! But I'm sure there is that potential! also important to note is that it is super close to the camp itself (2min walk) and that you are not missing out on any of the game drive, you are just accompanied there by your guide after dinner. ​Should you go to AoF? Yes! Should you stay in the tree house? Absolutely yes!!! The meals, the meals were divine! We had the best dinners at AOF! And we loved the breakfast and the lunches were also great. AOF gets the top marks on the food. Sightings? Amazing! I will add pictures in separate posts below, so you can judge for yourselves (you'll just need to be a bit patient ;-) ). But I can tell you already about my favourite sighting because unfortunately, my camera was not up to the nighttime task :-( My favourite sighting at AOF was of a female leopard at night after dinner! We had asked Greg, the guide on dinner duty, to mimic a few animal calls before dinner and one of them was that of a leopard. We had just finished dinner and were all about ready to retire when we heard exactly the leopard sound right next to us. It was so close, we all got goosebumps. There was no hesitation, no questions asked, all 10 of us around the dinner table got up at the same time and ran to the vehicle! I absolutely looooooooved that! It was late (9h30ish... so in safari terms very late ) but we were all super excited and high on adrenaline. So off we went! And there she was, just a couple of meters out of camp, calling for her cubs and posing on a small termite mound for us. And we got to stay with her and follow her for quite a while, just us. We were all in awe This was an amazing experience! And I must say I greatly appreciated that Greg immediately said: "let's go!", there was no question in his mind that we would get into the vehicle and have a try at finding that leopard. He could have reacted to the leopard call very differently, and even though his job for the day had been over, he took us all out with great enthusiasm! That is what I am looking for in a camp, not the xx thread cotton sheets, the copper fittings and the 7 course meals, I want to hear a leopard at dinner and be invited immediately to go find it! This was an experience that we will remember forever!
  7. -INTRODUCTION- Hi to everyone. I'm back from a great trip in South Africa (first time there). I and my girlfriend had an amazing time and we were lucky to spot a lot of interesting animals in the parks we visited. After the trip of last year in Madagascar (http://safaritalk.net/topic/16227-awesome-red-island/) we needed to come back to a "classic" safari destination in order to improve the good experience in Namibia 2 years ago (http://safaritalk.net/topic/15973-sand-and-stars-namibia-2014/) and to upgrade to a "next level". In fact in Namibia we had something like 2 whole days of safari in Etosha, because we decided to focus more on the landscape area of the nation. Now in South Africa the safari was the focal point of the trip and we spent almost 6 days. More, I bought a new camera and I got interested in birding. But why South Africa? Well, it was an easy choice. Probably one of the easiest African country to travel in self drive, easy to reach from Europe and a good balance between safari and landscapes. We had only some hesitation on the tour: most of my friend did the "classic tour" (at least it is classic in Italy), so basically Cape Town - Garden Route - Kruger (the South East). But all the time (usually the holiday period is August) they said: "It was supercool BUT the Garden Route and the Winelands are not so special...". And since this part was always the half of the trip I got skeptical (also because I wouldn't "downgrade" my travel experience after Namibia). THEN... I discovered the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. Also thanks to this forum in my mind rised a new tour: the NORTH-WEST! This park is in Kalahari (a place we love) and it is very "unpopular" in Italy for several reasons. First of all the accomodation: few places and always full. So the big tour operators don't include it (and the area around) because people usually book the tour few months before, and for sure there are no places for "large groups". So, in January we started to check availability for August: NONE! Then I contacted an Italian/South African Tour Operator, South African Dream, which organizes customized tours to have an idea of a possible tour and the total cost. This was very useful, because they kept an eye daily on possible cancellations in KTP. Then, at the beginning of February they sent me an email: there are free places for 3 days! BOOK THEM! We organize the rest of the trip later! So at the end we used this TO for the flights, car rental and accomodations. And everything went good. The tour is this: - 30 July 2016: Flight from Milano MXP by Emirates. Night onboard. - 31 July 2016: Lending in Johannesburg, take the car and toward Kruger. - 1 August 2016: Kruger - 2 August 2016: Kruger - 3 August 2016: Kruger + Blyde River Canyon - 4 August 2016: Kruger- Johannesburg and internal flight toward Upington - 5 August 2016: Upington - Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park - 6 August 2016: Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park - 7 August 2016: Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park - 8 August 2016: Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park - Augrabies Falls - 9 August 2016: Augrabies Falls - Springbok via Namaqua National Park - 10 August 2016: Springbok - Cape Town (!!!!!) - 11 August 2016: Cape Town (Shark Caging + Boulder's Beach + Helicopter tour) - 12 August 2016: Cape Town (Stony Point + Hermanus + Stellenbosh) - 13 August 2016: Cape Town (Cape Point) - 14 August 2016: Flight from Cape Town by Emirates. Night onboard. - 15 August 2016: Lending in Milan MXP. The tour was wonderful but a bit strong for driving. Considering it I would change some things but mostly 2: - I would take an internal flight Johannesburg-Nelspruit - I would cut the Sprinbok-Cape Town drive with 1 day more in Calvinia or Lambert's Bay For the accomodation we stayed in: - Berg en Dal Rest Camp (2 nights) (Kruger) - Skukuza Rest Camp (Kruger) - Graskop Hotel - Protea Hotel Oasis (Upington) - !Xaus Lodge (Kgalagadi) - Mata-Mata Rest Camp (Kgalagadi) - Kalahari Tented Camp (Kgalagadi) - Augrabies Rest Camp - Annies Cottage (Sprinbok) - Southern Sun Waterfront (4 nights) (Cape Town) We hired 3 cars: - For the Kruger area: Hyundai Ix35 2x4 - For the Kgalagadi area: Toyota Hilux 4x4 - For Cape Town an easy Hyundai I20 Hatch 2x4 As camera I have an Olympus E-620 with Zuiko 14-42mm 1:3.5-5.6, Zuiko 18-180mm f/3.5-6.3, Zuiko 70-300mm f/4.0-5.6. Plus I have a Compact SONY Cybershot 18.2 Mp mainly used for recording. Weather was different for each area: - In Kruger sunny (except 1 afternoon raining!) and dry. Some clouds in the early morning. Temperature were quite ok during the day (but never hot) and ok also during the night (cold but with a sweater ok) - In Kgalagadi always really sunny and really dry/clear. Cold in the morning (even close to 0) and warm in the day (never really hot btw). In 2 hours in the morning you can really feel the temperature rising every minute... - The west coast sunny (and we were lucky!). Less dry and less difference of temperature day-night. In the evening in Sprinbok I didn't use the sweater. - Cape Town wet! I mean, the first day we found sun with not even a cloud and we were fine with a t-shirt during the day, but in the night we always found wind and you need a jacket. The second day was cloudy and rained (around 13 C ) and the third day was cloudy with some sun in the morning. From the second day we never sow the top of Table Mountain again. In the next posts the details!
  8. Hi everyone, I'm going with my family to SA in October, and among other things we're doing 5 days in Kruger. I have a question about self-driving: Do you just play it by ear? Or do you pre-plan exactly which drives you'll do each day? We will be staying in Satara, Mopani and Olifants (I think). We'll be doing night drives every single night in hopes of seeing serval, civet, honey badger, porcupines, etc. So do you pre-plan which routes you'll take each day? Or do you kind of play it by ear, asking people where they've seen the stuff you're after, like wild dogs, etc.? I know this will sound weird to most people, but while we enjoy seeing giraffes, elephants and lions, we are really going to concentrate on putting efforts into seeing: Serval, wild dogs, honey badger, sable and roan antelopes, african civet, and other less-frequently seen stuff. So any tips on places to try for these species will be welcome! Thanks in advance :-)
  9. Given that we have been back for over two months, I thought it was about time I started on the TR! As has been the tradition over the three trips that we have done to the Kruger, I again managed to squeeze in an extra night (2013 8 nights, 2014 9 nights, 2016 10 nights). This was in part due to discovering from our September trip, upgraded using miles, that flying out on a Thursday night was possible and leads to an extra usable day. Given that we always take the Friday off of work, so take 11 days of leave for a 2 week trip and the flight to Johanesburg is overnight, we did feel at a loose end for most of the day on a Friday, basically waiting to leave to go to the airport. I wasn't quick enough with the miles (or used to doing it enough) to upgrade this booking though, as January is a popular time. We also usually add a few nights stay in our friends country place/game farm, which gives us a nice relaxing break from driving and where we can spend some quality time with them. Having been to the KTP last January and self-catering, we were less worried about having to stay in the main rest camps so that we had access to a restaurant. That, coupled with the fact that the wilderness camps in the KTP are so nice, we though we'd give the Kruger ones a try. The ones which fitted best into our route were Talamati and Shimuwini. To add in 2 meant doing only 2 nights per camp, but we thought that this was a good compromise to see both. This meant we would see a couple of new areas of the park. We only planned to use the restaurants in the main camps on our transfer days, so it was half self-catering and half catered. But given that the shops are so well stoked and you do not have to carry water, the shopping was much less onerous than the KTP the year before. A few times when we have been in Johannesburg, we have been to the Wanderers to see some cricket. A couple of ODIs and a day at a test match where we saw Andrew Strauss score 147, so I was very pleased to see after we had booked the flights that England were touring South Africa when we were there and that the Johannesburg test was very conveniently placed in our schedule. It is very difficult to buy stand alone tickets from abroad, so when I asked our friend if he would go and buy us some, he went one (or ten) better, by providing hospitality seats! He was pleased to have someone to go with (his family all being female and not interested), that the three of us went with two another of his friends. We could not have chosen a better day - 18 wickets, >250 runs and Stuart Broad bowling at 6-17 (including 5-1 at one point) and we won the match and the series, while we were there!! It all went downhill in the series after that though! Being sat in the Cricket South Africa hospitality area, surrounded by South Africans made it a very surreal experience. The OH told me off as I kept leaping to my feet as the wickets fell! I have never been to a sporting event in a hospitality area before and I must say, it is definitely the way to do it! The other bonus of arriving on Friday instead of Saturday, was that we left for the Kruger on a Sunday instead of a Monday morning, so this, along with the fact that they have finally finished the N4 roadworks, meant that the drive across was an absolute dream. Itinerary 15/1 Arrive Johannesburg 16/1 Cricket (England vs. South Africa Third Test Match, Day 3) 17/1 Berg-en-Dal 2 nights 19/1 Lower Sabie 2 nights 21/1 Talamati (wilderness camp) 2 nights 23/1 Satara 2 nights 25/1 Shimuwini (wilderness camp) 2 nights 27/1 Drive to Ditholo 3 nights 30/1 Leave Apart from the food shopping when we arrived, we had also decided to buy a new camera (Canon 7D mark II) as the exchange rate was at an all time low. At @@Peter Connan 's request, I had read the manual at home (he was worried I'd miss that crucial shot, not being used to the camera.....). And I found this rather cool, if a little pointless feature - GPS. So here is a map of where we went:
  10. I find I'm all a-flutter, thinking of starting my trip report. One, I almost hate to wrap up the trip (even though I've been home for a few weeks now), but writing about it makes it real. And, two, I'm not actually sure that this trip did end a few weeks ago -- it was so big and meaningful and gorgeous, I think I'll still be thinking about it and living in it for quite a while. So, just to get me going here, let me start with a quick sum-up of what brought me back on safari, just a few short months after my first safari (in August, 2015), and I'll also post in some preview photos. As some of you might remember from my previous trip report, I went with my husband to Dulini Lodge in Sabi Sand, in the Greater Kruger Park area of South Africa. It was shortly after my dad had died, and not only did I completely and utterly fall in love with the wildlife and landscape of South Africa, I also felt that going on safari really helped me turn a corner in my own grieving process. I determined that, if at all possible, I would bring my widowed mother back with me. My dad had left me a little bit of money outright on his death, though most of his money transferred to my mom. The thing I could do with the money that would most honor my dad would be to put it in a bank, not touch it, and let it gain interest over many years. However, the second most honoring thing I could do with my money, I thought, was to go with my mom to Africa and to be there together for the one-year anniversary of his death. With a little wink towards my dad's spirit, who might have rolled his eyes a little, but I think would also have been pleased at our adventurousness, my mom matched my money and we decided to go on safari together. Even with our combined money, however, I was faced with the reality that I didn't want to take my 75-year-old mom on a trip that long in coach (I worried about her getting blood clots, as well as generally not being very comfortable), but flying business was prohibitively expensive. As it turns out, however, my mom and dad hadn't spent their credit card points in eons and had thousands saved up. It was a bit of a battle royale with the airlines, but I ended up being able to purchase business class tickets for both of us using points. We would fly Delta from Atlanta to Johannesburg on the way over, then Virgin Airlines through London coming back. At times, I did question what in the world I was doing, bringing my septuagenerian mom to Africa for the first time. I have a brother (a half-brother -- he has a different father), and I could hear the same questions in his voice every time our plans grew. "You two are going to South Africa?" he would ask. "Yes. Well, now I'm thinking South Africa and Botswana. That way we'll have one place I've been to, where they'll take care of us on the anniversary, and one place new." [Long pause.] "Actually, there will also be a stopover in Zambia. And Zimbabwe. Both, really. To see Victoria Falls. Mom wanted to see the Falls ..." [Longer pause.] "Zimbabwe, eh?" And I can't say he was wrong. It was a little odd. My mom was a very good traveller when she was younger -- we used to go back and forth to England all the time for hers and my dad's research, and I remember showing up at the airport with nothing but suitcases, and by the end of the day we'd have a flat rented, groceries bought, and our lives set up for the next six months -- but she had never been outside Europe. Plus, she and my dad really hadn't traveled much at all in recent years; she would have to apply for a new passport. Still, we needed a place to be on the anniversary, and more than that -- we needed a new way to be together. This would be the first time we had ever traveled together, just mother/daughter, and what better way to do it than with two weeks in the bush, with ever-decreasing access to the outside world? I had confidence (or at least semi-confidence) that it would be perfect, as long as my mother didn't break anything or have otherwise to be evacuated via helicopter. We bought the safari, we bought the insurance, and we crossed our fingers. Let me go ahead and ruin my own story and say: it was glorious. Amazing. Astounding. And my mom loved it! She shrugged aside any suggestion that she might want a bit of a lie-in on this or that morning, that it might be OK to miss a morning game drive. "Why?" she would ask. "I'm here to see the animals." She is already making plans to bring back my brother and his family. I just hope that I'm invited. Here was the itinerary: May 10-11th, travel from Washington, DC to Johannesburg May 12th, Federal Air to Dulini Lodge May 12th-16th, Dulini May 16th - Flight to Livingstone, Zambia, then transfer to Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe May 17th - Transfer to Kasane, Botswana, and flight to Little Vumbra May 17th - 19th -- Little Vumbra May 19th - 23rd -- Chitabe May 23rd-24th -- travel through Maun to Johannesburg to London to Washington, DC. And a few teaser pics.
  11. I am a new member but have been a keen follower of Safari Talk for some time and would very much like to thank Matt for a wonderful website and to all the members for such interesting trip reports and discussions. I have been hesitant to post a trip report, as ours seem very ordinary compared to the wonderful trips I read about but to us our trips have been an extraordinary experience and being able to share this is a joy and privilege. I have been encouraged by comments from people like Tom K and others that all experiences are of interest and also that the photos don’t have to be of high quality – I just have a point and shoot digital camera but hope the attached images will add to the report. Our interest in safari started when our younger daughter and husband were lucky enough to win a trip to Singita Boulders in Sabi Sand for 2 nights and came home glowing about the experience. As retired farmers and animal lovers this really piqued our interest and so I started some research. We had travelled extensively in Australia, travelling nearly 30000kms in rental vehicles over 7 trips but had never thought of venturing further afield (our home is New Zealand). Our budget would nowhere near accommodate luxury lodges like Singita, the airfares from our home in New Zealand to South Africa are pretty expensive and we had a few health and age limitations. But after much research I found a package trip from Tydon Safaris – pick up from either Johannesburg or Nelspruit, 6 days at Tydon camp which is situated right beside Shaws gate into Sabi Sand, game drives in Sabi Sand and to Kruger National Park and transfer back to Johannesburg via the Panorama route. This was within our budget and the chance to see both Sabi Sand and Kruger really appealed as did the fact that the accommodation was in permanent tents which we had enjoyed on our trips to Australia. June 2012 Day 1 A long flight from our home in New Plymouth New Zealand, with delays and long stopovers, but finally arrived, after about 36 hours, at Nelspruit. Debbie from Tydon Safaris picked us up and it was about an hour and a half drive to the Tydon camp which is right beside the Shaws Gate into Sabi Sand. This was our first time in South Africa – first impressions on the drive were of dust, colour, people walking everywhere, women carrying loads on their heads with such balance and grace. Roadside stalls everywhere with all sorts of fruit, art pieces, carvings, rows of tablecloths hanging on lines . Arriving at the camp we were shown to our tent (basic but very clean and all we needed with ensuite, a comfortable bed ) and after a shower and a lie down we had lunch at 2pm and then set off for our first game drive with our guides Debbie and Jackie and one other guest from Australia. Our first sighting was a breeding herd of elephants We were astounded how close we could get to them, how relaxed they were and fascinated the way they used their feet and trunks to pull the grass. There were all ages including some quite young calves. Other sightings on that drive were bushbuck, zebra, wildebeest, water buck and lilac breasted roller. We stopped for sundowners and watched a beautiful sunset then set off again with Jackie spotlighting. The highlight was 4 rhinos – first a large male on the side of the track, he wasn’t at all settled so we left him in peace. Then we found a female with a very young male calf and a young female (possibly last years calf). They were very settled and we watched them for some time, seeing the little one frisking around – simply amazing for our first drive. Heading back to the camp we found a large breeding herd of elephants and what a magical experience – Debbie turned off the engine and turned off the spotlight and we sat there in the moonlight surrounded by elephants grazing, moving so silently for such big animals, listening to their gentle rumbles. What an amazing first drive, our tiredness from the long flight a distant memory! Day 2 Our tent was very comfortable and we had a great sleep. Not too early a start today as we are heading off for a full day in Kruger. On the way to Kruger we saw a group of male Kudu through the fence in Sabi Sand – magnificent animals. Our first sighting on the bridge to Paul Kruger gate was a giant kingfisher sitting on the rails. Through the gate and into Kruger, a car stopped and the driver pointing to something – a leopard! Just a brief sighting but what a great start. Lots of impala and then something I had been longing to see – giraffe on the road. So tall and move so smoothly and elegantly. I spotted some dwarf mongoose on the side of the road but they disappeared quickly, lots of hippos in the river. We stopped at Sunset Dam, so much to see – baboons coming for a drink, crocodiles on the bank, hippos, warthogs, Maribou storks, giraffe in the distance, heads popping up above the trees. Lunch at Lower Sabie and then back on the road, more giraffe, zebras, grey duiker, kudu and then we spotted a big bull elephant at a waterhole. We watched him drinking, then he came towards us and Debbie thought she might have to move out of his way but he was heading for the edge of the dam where he proceeded to stir up the mud with his foot then had a marvellous time squirting mud over himself, stirring up more mud with his tusks and getting down and rolling in the mud. We thoroughly enjoyed our first day in Kruger – on the way back to the gate we saw a Tawny Eagle and a Bateleur circling in the sky, tree squirrels, francolin crossing the road, gorgeous coloured Cape Glossy starlings and a young giraffe having a drink from his Mum.
  12. Hi All, I've read so many great trip reports on this site that I thought I should share my rather modest effort. Hopefully this will be of interest to anyone planning a Kruger Park trip in the near future or suffering from the post-safari blues. http://www.robjwilli.com/kruger-national-park-march-2015/ My report covers a trip I did last year over two weeks and covering the entire park from Malelane gate at the Southern border up to Punda Maria in the North along with a selection of photos from our various sightings. Our route saw us staying at the following camps: Berg-en-Dal, Lower Sabie (3 nights), Satara (3 nights), Mopani (3 nights), Punda Maria (2 nights) and finally Letaba. Hope you find it interesting, feel free to ask any questions! Cheers, Rob
  13. Yes, we knew our 40th Anniversary was this year. But in February I really didn't know we'd be celebrating in South Africa. I was researching honeymoon trips for my son and his fiancée, and while I figured a safari might be pushing the $5k budget, we'd been twice, and I knew it was as romantic a trip as one could plan. While searching various sites and options mentioned in posts here and on Fodor's Africa forum, I came upon an itinerary that combined "Bush, Beach and Battlefields" offered by http:// Wild-Wings-safaris.com that looked like something WE would clearly love and at an especially intriguing budget price. (Besides, the "kids" decided they wanted to go to Fiji.) My brother-in-law's wife has wanted to go on safari ever since our first trip in 2004, so I forwarded the link and asked (as BIL recently retired) if they would be interested in joining us. She pounced on the opportunity, and accepted immediately - as long as I did the planning. Our dates, we knew, would be in May. Her birthday, my birthday, and Steve and my anniversary gave us impetus for that choice, as did a sudden offering of SA Airlines of $750 RT from Washington, DC to JNB. So, we plunked down the Amex card and picked our dates, and I checked out putting together the perfect itinerary (and also a couple of other TOs). Within about a week, I worked out the final adventure with Gavin Brown at Wild-Wings. We would fly in to JNB on May 11, spend that night near the airport, at OR Tembo Premiere Hotel (where I'd gotten a good deal on Expedia), pick up a rental car and drive to Kruger, staying 3 nights at Rhino Post Safari Lodge. On the 15th, we would drive into Swaziland and spend a night at a guesthouse in the Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary, then drive back into SA to Hluhluwe-iMfolozi in KwaZulu-Natal, where we had 3 nights at Rhino Ridge Safari Lodge. On the 19th, we would drive towards the coast, to a transfer place where we would leave the car safely parked, and get picked up and driven to remote Thonga Beach Lodge on the Indian Ocean for 2 nights. After a morning walk on the beach and a full breakfase on the 21st we were transferred back to pick up our car and drive to Isibindi Zulu Lodge for two nights. Our last night -- I'd kind of left that to serendipity. It would be my birthday, and I really didn't want to spend it in an airport hotel in Jo-berg, but figured we would be able to get some advice on a place between Zululand and the airport, that would give us a pretty setting and a good meal and about a 3-hour drive. That place turned out to be the recommendation of the mgr at the Zulu Lodge, and he set us up at a place called Montusi Mountain Lodge, which turned out to be absolutely perfect in just about every way, with a view of the Drakensberg Mountains, and an easy 3 hour drive to the airport the next day. Budget? I think all the karma from driving car pools when my kids were little, being patient in line at airline counters, helping people with directions even in places I've never been...all paid off in planning this trip. Well, also in pricing everything out in ZAR, at a time when the US$ to the ZAR was 1 to 15. But when it ALL was added up, including airfare, car rental, tips and 3 nights lodging and meals NOT included in the Tour Operator package, we paid under $2500 per person. This was less than either of our previous safari trips (Botswana in 2004, Zimbabwe in 2012). I am positive that using Isibindi properties for all but 3 nights of our trip clearly helped the rates. The more I learned about the company, I liked what they are doing. The community is heavily involved at all the locations, even to the extent of being majority owners in at least one. Anyway, this trip met and exceeded all our expectations. So I will move on to the actual reporting task :-) First stop: Rhino Post Safari Lodge. You enter through the Paul Kruger Gate, and follow the directions they have given you. The lodge is located deep in their concession within Kruger Park. Their concession is large, and as there are no gates between the park and neighboring concerns. One morning we drove one long dirt road that divided Rhino Post (which is in Kruger Park) concession on one side and Mala Mala, then Londolozi on the other. "Nice" neighbors. Rhino Post Lodge itself is located on the banks of the Mutlumuvi riverbed (currently totally dry). There is a borehole/water hole in the riverbed, which would provide many surprising sightings throughout our time at the lodge. We arrived about half an hour before "high tea" which was held about half an hour before the afternoon/evening game drive. PERFECT! Rhino Post combined all my favorite aspects of a safari camp into one. Privacy between the units is ideal. They have canvas walls, with huge screen windows on the sides, but high thatched roofs with ceiling fans above, and the view from the bed is through huge glass sliders (with screens) over your own porch looking over the riverbed. There are double sinks in the bathroom, and a lovely free-standing tub, plus a separate potty-room and a sliding door to the outdoor shower, surrounded by thick reed poles. Evening meal is at a huge long table with all guests and some staff members included for great conversation at the end of the day. While all meals, teas and coffee and safari activities are included in your cost, all drinks are extra. However, we found them to be extremely reasonable, so this was never an issue. My buttons were bursting. My in-laws, safari-newbies, were blown away. I had picked the perfect place for a first safari. Now, for some reason, they had decided to pack their own pillows...worried about the quality of bedding they might find. WE knew this wouldn't be an issue, but...hey we are all grown-ups so while we told them it was not a problem, it was their packing space to fill. Also, my SIL, while she is NOT a large person at all, apparently needs to snack. She also packed bags of chips, crackers, nuts, etc. I figured she'd only brought stuff for the plane trip, but apparently not. We had met our guide, Joey. We were all set to go after tea, cameras, binoculars, sweatshirts and scarves for later when we knew it would be cold...and suddenly SIL needed to go back to their room. ??? We were all loaded in the vehicle and waiting for Deb. I was getting embarrassed/worried -- was she sick, what happened? Finally, about 10 minutes late, she shows up. They had made the mistake of leaving their sliding doors open, figuring on allowing fresh air through the screens. Well, monkeys are quite capable of opening sliding screen doors and, yes, they had gotten in and found her stash of snacks, and made quite a mess of the room. The camp staff has obviously seen this before, but Deb was beside herself with embarrassment. We all laughed with her and finally took off on our first drive. Now I know why people rave about Kruger as being such an incredible experience. I told Joey that while we'd been on safari in Botswana and Zimbabwe, there were two species still on my "must see" list: Rhino and Wild dogs, but as this was Don and Deb's first drive, we knew elephants, giraffe, various antelope and lions would be a great start. I am not going to go through each and every game drive, but I have to say that first drive was an incredible success. Then, as an unexpected bonus, when we were picked up for dinner, we were told that a rhino was at the water hole! So, I saw my first rhino. And later, after dinner, the phone rang and we were told that if we wanted to, we could see wild dogs at the water hole! Our guide Joey picked us up at our tents and we all ended up again seeing one of my most desired sightings! As I was unsure my camera would pick up the dogs across the riverbed with the lights playing on them, Joey took my camera and took some good shots for me. Wow. We slept REALLY well that night. And I felt like Queen of the World. If you remember any of my other reports, you may recall that I like to make videos of my trip photography. It is easier to let someone see your pics in a 6 1/2 minute video than page through hundreds of photos. Here is the link for the Rhino Post video: We DID get to see leopards - but it was towards the end of a night drive. Because filming at night was hit-or-miss for me, I just watched the leopards through the binos while Joey held the lights for us to watch. First, a small cub had scampered across the road in front of us. Obviously we stopped, and listened to its mother calling to it. They reunited and found their way across a drainage ditch where we watched them -- while a male also joined them. A jittery moment until it became clear he was the father, and the family of three proceeded to play together! Wow. What a sighting. My recommendations for Rhino Post (and all the Isibindi properties we stayed at) could not be higher. They all had terrific chefs and we ate amazingly well. (And I live in a "foodie" town!) The staff at Rhino Post was probably the best and most experienced. If I were to suggest someone the best possible 5 night safari experience, it would be to do 3 nights at RP, and 2 nights at their next-door sister property, Rhino Plains. RP does walking safaris. No drives. They have an option to sleep out on platforms in the wild. Yeah. That could be incredible. I'll pop in later and add to this report.
  14. Hi all, As I'm starting to plan my South African trip in more detail, I'm wondering what camps offer the most rewarding night drives, in terms of species "frequently" seen, that are not seen usually during the day. Specifically, I'm interested in: Serval, Civet, Honey Badger, Side-striped Jackal, Caracal, Aardvark, Pangolin (I know the last three are almost never seen). Basically, if I had to decide between night drives from Skukuza vs. Pretoriuskop, which would you recommend? What about Satara vs. Olifants vs. Mopani? Note that I'm a lot more interested in seeing nocturnal species that you don't see during the day, than I am in seeing leopards and lions... Any and all input is welcome. Thanks in advance!
  15. We safaristas are spoiled. We expect the Africa Big Five “served on a plate”. Not to mention three gourmet meals a day. All in high-spec, designer’s designer-designed camps attended by staff outnumbering guests. “Medium rare please”, we say when asked how we like our steak. But there is another safari world – one that has been unceremoniously perfected by South Africans. No, not one involving a Singita or a Londolozi. It is more of a DIY, long-weekend getaway than safari, as we know it. The essential elements include your entire family (no matter the ages of your children), your own 4x4 vehicle, the latest camping gadgets advertised in Getaway Magazine, and camping grounds or bungalows in one of the many parks and reserves of South Africa. It is more religion than holiday. It is decisively Afrikaner. And damn it, you cook your own meat! Embracing the “when in Rome…” concept, I book a local ground operator (with the help of Ngoko Safaris) for an authentic South African safari involving long drives between the various self-service bungalow-type accommodations offered by the parks and reserves. Admittedly, the “when in Rome…” concept erodes significantly from there. The driver/guide would do much of the cooking, and a few meals would be taken at camp restaurants. Local camp staff would clean your room every day. I even enlist Ngoko Safaris’ Benson Siyawareva (the superb, eagle-eyed, encyclopedic, lovable one) for the fourth time to guide. Okay, okay, so it’s only a sort of a, kind of a DIY trip. I would, however, hang around the braai fire just to pretend I was participating in cooking the meat. Itinerary: Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park Twee Rivieren Rest Camp – 1 night Kalahari Tented Camp – 2 nights Nossob Rest Camp – 1 night Gharagab Wilderness Camp – 2 nights Nossob Rest Camp – 1 night Nylsvley Nature Reserve Cottages – 2 nights Kruger National Park Punda Maria Rest Camp – 3 nights Mopani Rest Camp – 2 nights Plus - Ezemvelo Nature Reserve (an afternoon visit at the start of the trip)
  16. I am going on my first safari to Kruger and Kgalagadi in July/Aug. While doing research, I came across the Latest Sightings App. Does this app improve your animal sightings? Any replies are greatly appreciated!
  17. Hi ST, I'm new to the forum so apologies if this topic has already been answered - I couldn't seem to find it anywhere.. I'm going to be in RSA on my own in late April/early May with a week to spare and I am looking at doing some form of walking safari - ideally camping out as you go (ie Primitive trail in Imfolozi) for 4/5 nights. Does anyone have any recommendations of good trails to do? I dont want to use a middle man/tour operator and would rather use just the parks (KNP/SANP etc). My order of priorities for any perfect walking safari experience would be quality of game, bush experience and price. I have done a fair amount of bush camping in Tanzania, Botswana etc before so the more rural the experience the better I guess. Anyway, many thanks for your help in advance and I look forward to hearing from you all in due course. Much appreciated! Jangille
  18. Zavora, Tofo, Kruger and Sabi Sands I usually do a day by day account of my holidays but for this one it may be a little different since each day in Zavora was much like the next. We had planned this trip to focus on the following: Zavora &Tofo: We timed the trip to coincide with the peak of the humpback whale migration. We decided to spend the majority of the time at Zavora, with only 2 nights in Tofo, as Zavora is known to have a number of shallow (easier) dive sites where Manta rays congregate. Natalie, who travelled with me is not a qualified scuba diver and so had signed up for a discover scuba course to enable her to experience the shallow sites and hopefully dive with the Mantas. We included two nights at Tofo to give us a chance of doing a couple of ocean safaris with the hope of maybe seeing whale sharks, but as it was not the peak season for whale sharks we knew that this could be hit or miss. As it happened, things didn't quite go to plan. Kruger: We considered a number of options for this section of the trip but after eliminating a few possibilities that involved staying in the park, principally due to a lack of enthusiasm from the tour guide I was corresponding with, we settled on using the same agent who booked our diving trip to make the arrangements, Scuba Mozambique. The lady we dealt with, Janeen recommended we book Needles lodge in Marloth Park with us flying to Maputo and transferring in from there, it being well located for a swift transfer to Southern Kruger. We booked five full day drives in Kruger with two sunset drives run by SAN parks. Sabi Sand: I was also keen to see what Tydon Camp had to offer in Sabi Sand, and improve our chances of Leopard (Natalie had struck out with leopard in SLNP on a previous trip), so we also booked three nights there with a transfer via the panorama route back to Johannesburg on Sunday 8th September.
  19. 1) Name of property and country: (Please also include name of property and country as topic title and include as tags as well) Dulini Lodge, South Africa 2) Website address if known: http://www.dulini.com/ 3) Date of stay, including whether Green Season, Shoulder season or High season pricing (if known). August 2015, pricing is the same year-round. 4) Length of stay: 5 days 5) Why did you choose this camp or lodge to stay in? Based upon what? I chose Dulini because it's smaller and more intimate than many other properties in the Sabi Sands and has a strong reputation for guiding. 6) How did you book the property, direct or agent? Were your enquiries dealt with quickly and efficiently? I was going to book directly, but I found a discount through http://www.mtbeds.co.za/ and so ended up booking though them. Enquiries were dealt with promptly from both Dulini and MTBeds. 7) How many times have you been on Safari? This was my first (but not my last!). 8) To which countries? N/A 9) Which properties have you been to previously that you are comparing this one to? N/A 10) Was the camp/lodge fenced? I think it had one high wire going around it to keep out elephants (though apparently that didn't work all the time), but was otherwise unfenced. 11) How many rooms/tents does it have? It has six. 12) What tent or room did you stay in? Did it have a good view? Was it overlooked or private? We stayed in room two. I requested that room as it has a reputation for attracting wildlife to the patio -- sometimes even leopards! We ended up not seeing anything more than impala and nyala from the room, but that was still exciting for first-timers, and the room itself was absolutely lovely. 13) How comfortably furnished was the room/tent? Honestly, pretty over-the-top. There's a seating area, a free mini-bar, a decanter with sherry, a bathroom the size of my living room in DC, and an outside shower too. Honestly, I don't mind the luxury -- and it was certainly very comfortable -- but I can also definitely see how some people would feel uncomfortable with the chandelier-level of excess. 14) Did you like the food? If yes, please state why. If no, please state why. It was really good -- maybe sometimes a little repetitive, but that was probably our fault. Michael keeps Kosher (he eats a pescatarian diet when we're out and about), and had just started a new medication that imposes a new set of extra dietary restrictions, so we are a little hard to cook for. 15) Was there a varied menu offering multiple choice? If vegetarian was a suitable alternative offered? (Did you have to request this in advance?) Despite the restrictions mentioned above, they did a great job cooking for Michael, often preparing something just for him. We did let them know in advance of our arrival about his food restrictions. 16) What is the default dining arrangement? Single tables or communal dining? Do the guides/managers host at mealtimes? Breakfast was always with the other people in your vehicle, lunch was pretty much always with the other people in your booking group (in my case, with Michael), and dinner varied quite a bit. We had two couples dinners (one in the room, and quite romantic), two dinners in the boma hosted by the guides, and one group dinner in the dining area hosted by one of the managers. 17) How good were the packed breakfasts/lunches if staying out on game drives? N/A 18) What are the game drive vehicles? Please include photo if possible. 19) How many guests per row? Two 20) How long were the game drives and were they varied in the routes taken? They were generally about 3.5 to 4 hours each, but could go longer depending on what we saw. The routes varied quite a bit. 21) What are the standard game drive times? Are game drive times flexible: i.e., if agreed in advance, can you go out earlier than suggested and stay out later, i.e., not returning for lunch but taking supplies with you? Game drives started at 6 am and came back around 10 am; afternoon game drives started at 3:30 pm and came back around 7 or 7:30 pm. I don't think we could have stayed out all day without getting a private vehicle. 22) Is this a private conservancy/concession, and what is the vehicle/lodge density like? It is a private concession, with a pretty high lodge density. We frequently saw vehicles from other lodges on the tracks. On the bright side, that did mean that there were a lot of people out looking for the wildlife. 23) If in a National Park, what is the vehicle density in the immediate vicinity? N/A 24) Are you able to off-road? Yes 25) Are there rotation policies for sightings i.e., You face the risk of queuing or being bumped from a sighting. Yes, there was a limit of three vehicles at a sighting, sometimes two vehicles if the animal seemed skittish. We did sometimes wait to see something or move to let another vehicle in, but I didn't find myself bothered by this; it was well managed, and there was always something else to see, and I always felt I got plenty of time with the "big ticket" sighting. I'm generally a pretty laid-back person, though, so you might want to take that with a grain of salt if you're not. 26) What wildlife is this property known for? Did you get good sightings? Leopards is what it's known for, and leopards is what we got. A leopard with a cub, a leopard drinking, leopards mating, more leopard cub time ... it was a leopard bonanza, especially considering leopards can be such a reclusive animal. 27) How was the standard of guiding? Excellent. We really appreciated our guide and ranger's motto of quality over quantity. They were both experienced trackers, and often if everyone in the concession was looking for X, it was our guide and ranger who found them. If you go to Dulini, I recommend requesting them: Fred and Martin are their names. 28) If you had a bad experience with a guide, why? Did you report the issue to management, and if so, how did they deal with the issue? N/A 29) If you had a very good experience with your guide, please give reasons why: See above. 30) Were staff attentive to your requests/needs? Very much so. Michael needed a medic to come check out his toe while we were there (he had broken it in Cape Town), and they not only arranged for that but had another staff member sit in so that she could do the re-bandaging if necessary if the medic was unavailable later on. In general, they were very solicitous of Michael and his injury. 31) Does the property support a local community conservation initiative. If so, please provide brief details and website address if known. I don't believe it does, but I'm not sure. 32) Safaritalk trip report link: http://safaritalk.net/topic/15115-first-safari-south-africa/ 33) Any other pertinent details you wish to add: I know it's my first safari, and so I would probably gush about anywhere, but really, I had a wonderful time here. I'm planning on returning (as well as visiting some other places) in 2016. 34) Please add your photographs of the property below, with headings. The grounds, with nyala. A seating area overlooking the grounds. The seating area in the room, overlooking the seating area on the patio. The room, with the writing desk, bed, and the bathroom beyond. The bathroom.
  20. Reports www.oxpeckers.org To read the full article, click here. If these figures are correct, then rhino are in seriously peril indeed.
  21. Reports www.sanparks.org in a press release dated 2015-07-03 To read the full press release click here.
  22. Please visit Jackie's blog to see her experiences with us at Elephants Alive in the Greater Kruger region of South Africa: https://jackieandtheelephants.wordpress.com/ For more information, please see: http://elephantsalive.org/
  23. My first attempt at a trip report, so feel free to ask any questions on anything I do not cover, or alternatively feel free to point out if I am too detailed. This took place in November 2012, but I have only just got around to writing it up. My girlfriend wanted to go to Mozambique to swim with whale sharks (which we sucesfully did) and so I saw an opportunity to spend three and half days first in the Kruger, for what would be our third visit. We had spent two full weeks in the Kruger in November 2011 (which I might write up at some point) and a month back in June 2009 doing a guiding course. Given the briefness of this trip we were not expecting to see too much, but I couldn’t wait nonetheless. However, the reality far exceeded our expectations – seeing the big five and others. So, back to the beginning. We left work Friday afternoon and took an overnight flight from Europe to Johannesburg, landing mid-morning, picked up a hire car and drove straight to Phalaborwa, arriving there six hours later. I barely slept on the 14 hour overnight flight from the UK via Germany but the excitement of being back in Africa and on the way to my beloved Kruger was more than enough to keep me alert on the 6hr drive. We got here just as the sun was setting and stayed the night in a nice, friendly, inexpensive lodge in Phalaborwa, just five minutes from the gate; stocking up with supplies at the nearby big supermarket. Up at 5am to the sound of the Red-eyed Dove singing his own name over and over (I am the red, eye dove; I am the red, eye dove – which incidentally means that someone who has a pretty poor ear for sounds and rubbish memory like myself can easily remember its song). We then drove the five mins into the park at 6am through a light drizzle. On entering it was clear that the heavy early season rain of the previous few weeks had really got the Kruger turning green (compared to the trip I had made through a far more arid Kruger the previous year at the same time). Onto the H-9 (a road I have never driven before) and then a small detour to Sable Dam for a look. The drizzle had stopped but it remained cool and very overcast. We watched for about an hour as a small group of impala had their breakfast a few metres from the hide, a lone elephant at the far end of the dam came down for a drink, and a marabou stork stood near the waters edge looking slightly depressed. We continued along the S51 and just before rejoining the H-9 we saw our first ever Kruger rock dassies. Stopped at the Masorini archaeology site for breakfast (the sun was trying to make an appearance by now and it was warming up nicely) before continuing – seeing a nice leopard tortoise by the side of the road and then a great spotted cuckoo flew into a nearby tree. Almost no other cars around, one of the reasons I like the northern half of the Kruger. Took a left onto the S132 where we soon saw a few big male elephants very close to the road and walking our way. A quick scan to see if any were in musth and then turned the car off and let them walk towards us. We then spent a lovely 15 minutes or so as they slowly came closer and then crossed the road only a few metres away and then one came around the back of a bush to sniff us, his trunk barely three metres away (see photo below). It is experiences like this, on our own with no other cars nearby, that make the Kruger for me in many ways. We then followed them up the dirt track (including an impressive five legged adult) for 50 metres to a waterhole where we continued watching them as they washed. We then continued through the mopaneveld along the S131, seeing very little and into Letaba for lunch – which was where we were staying the night in a safari tent. Letaba is one of my favourite Kruger camps, with its lovely river views and abundant birdlife. We booked an afternoon walk and then killed some time in the lovely pool (it being hot and sunny by now). As luck would have it, it was just the two of us plus two armed guides on the walk. Didn’t see a huge amount, but very nice to be on foot in the Kruger, some of it along a nice sandy dry riverbed – a booted eagle, white backed and hooded vultures, some skittish impala, a grey duiker and some even more skittish giraffes. We then got back in time for a quick 30 min sunset drive north on the H1-6 alongside the Letaba river before the gates closed. Saw a spotted hyena, hippos, lots of vultures (must have been a kill around), waterbucks, and distant eles. One of the things I love about sleeping in a tent is that it is much easier to hear the wildlife at night and sure enough I heard a hyena whooping in the night. Day 1 had been better than I expected even though we had driven through the relatively empty mopaneveld, yet day 2 proved better still. To follow.
  24. Reports www.sanparks.org To read the full press release click here.
  25. We had an amazing trip last year self driving in Kruger NP and the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park with a couple of days at Augrabies Falls before we flew home. I have finished my book of the trip which I will put here in case anyone is interested. It is rather large as I included most of the photographs from the incredible cheetah sighting we had and also quite a few of the most beautiful black maned Kalahari lion. Some of the night sky photographs are side on which will look strange viewed on a screen but OK when we have the actual book. I have posted a few photographs for anyone who can not look at the book but might like to see a snapshot of our trip. I am not trying to sell the book its just that to make it available to view blurb have you put it in the for sale section on their web site. http://blur.by/1Ga5ik6

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