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OH NO! Not another Kruger Trip Report (Simon & Jane's Excellent Adventure Volume 2)

Kruger Karoo Self-drive

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#21 Towlersonsafari

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Posted 18 March 2017 - 08:20 AM

Thanks @Hads the less successful sequal to Gorillas in the mist!
And that is wonderful @Caracal about the tortoise! From now on I will rate each tortoise according to its personable nature or otherwise! Species was 6 out of 10 as it did not run away was polite and seemed quite hearty! As for the Ground Hornbill we think it was eating most of a rock monitor.another one had possibly the other piece.They are endangered they need a lot of space and they are used in traditional magic.there is a programme of ringing them to try to help
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#22 Towlersonsafari

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Posted 20 March 2017 - 10:08 PM

We set out early as usual on the S21 and slowly followed a saloon car who very kindly pulled up so we could both see some hyenas, and then by the side of the road 4 white Rhino! one rhino soon moved off but when another car pulled up behind us, we each had some fine views.Both cars and rhino were very well behaved!

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It was a splendid sighting and one of the best we have had of white rhinos!

A herd of elephants took precedence.                

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We saw a lot of elephants on this trip, including  herds of 60-70 on occasion. As I think @Dave Williams has said in his report, there is always a frisson of excitement when you are self-driving and you encounter elephants close up.You ope you do the right thinks, slow right down, look for signs, are they eating? are they nervous? and try not to suprise them or make sudden moves .We were travelling along another gravel road when a woman in an estate car coming towards us  flagged us down.She seemed rather flustered and genuinely concerned and warned that a large Bull elephant was not letting cars passed him, and in a bad mood! We decided to continue, with caution, and soon had the pleasure of his company!

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He was approaching in  what seemed to us a determined manner.His trunk was swinging and he was trumpeting smallish "trumpets" He did not seem happy to see us ! Now we were undoubtedly influenced by the helpful lady who had stopped us.But he was not eating and not relaxed.His ears were flapping but it was the trunk swinging and snorting dust that worried us as well.We quickly debated pulling over and hoepfully letting him past but it was a narrow road and so we felt it better to reverse! We don't know if that acted as a spur, but if anything he increased  his pace, sow e kept reversing well in advance and he folowed for about 100 metres (it seemed longer) We found a bit of wider road and without making too much noise did a rather nifty 3 point turn (not like Jim Rockford) and decided on a different route!

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We would be very interesed in opinions as to whether we did the right thing    but to our minds we kept out of mischief and nobody got hurt! Probably he would have just walked by but why take the risk?                                                             

                                                                                   

                                                                             

                                                                             

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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#23 Dave Williams

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Posted 20 March 2017 - 10:39 PM

Wow! One minute you were next to a can opener, the next a can crusher. Did the right thing ? That's when I would discover that adrenaline is brown I imagine.


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#24 Towlersonsafari

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Posted 21 March 2017 - 09:47 PM

We had a fine night drive at Lower Sabie-after one that was very quiet-you know the guide is struggling when he talks a lot about Water Thicknees. but to make up for it we almost immediately heard a lion roar, drove round a corner and there picked out in the headlights was a fine male, in the middle of the road. A collective awe filled  intake of breath from all on the truck just demonstarted how much enjoyment we get from seeing such magnificent creatures.Nearly as  impressive was the guide who, sensing he was nervous, picked the right time to move off.Later we saw a pride at the beginnings of a hunt and everyone was very happy indeed.

(Not a lion)

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The drive to Satara was via the impressive picnic site Tsokwane-with a shop and very fine coffee

                                                                                                                                  

All along the tar road to the picnic sight we were accomapnied by low flying Barn Swallows     and fine views of elephants-and the grass as @Hads had predicted was nearly as high as an elephants eye

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                                                                                                                                       including 2 males sparring, the one on the right being the instigator

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And for me a very fine sighting-my first ever Amur Falcons-there must have been a termite eruption as they were everywhere-save where I could get a photo half as decent as otheres recently posted by rather more talented photographers!   Please excuse the quality but it was a lifer!

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as were lesser Kestrels also en masse As an example. 9F5A2687.jpg

Finally a bird big enough for even me to photograph

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And a steppe buzzard, once apparently thought to be  a sub species of the common buzzard but now a seprate species

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#25 Towlersonsafari

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Posted 21 March 2017 - 10:01 PM

From thre last post, the monkey fascinated by the bushbuck.,

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On the kruger map there are waterholes marked with a red giraffe.These were built in the 1960's, after a sequence of drought years, but this altered the balance of wildlife to the detrement of Sable and Roan, who could not compete in the now richer environment and now there is a programme of closing them.How this contributed to the increase in elephant numbers I could not find out, the perils of unintended consequences.

A   waterhole, now defunct       P1010982.jpg

 

The drive became very quiet, we had once again misjudged the distances, and were slowly crossing a concrete bridge when something must have raised its head.

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and at higher magnifacation on Janes travel camera                  P1010991.jpg

Through binoculars we could confirm our sighting.I mention it because even though it was distant, every lion sighting is special, and it was me wot spotted it-usually Jane is the cat expert and definetly the chief spotter! Also this was the second sighting of lions in the middle of the day using wet sand by a river to cool down.The other was too tricky to try to photograph  


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#26 Dave Williams

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Posted 22 March 2017 - 10:22 AM

You have captured my interest in S.A. as a real possibility for my next trip. Keep it coming, enjoying the ride.


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#27 Towlersonsafari

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Posted 22 March 2017 - 07:23 PM

Thanks @Dave Williams SA is certainly a good value destination and we do like the San Parks accomadation. Also there are plenty of other options to combine wildlife watching with such as Cape Town, or the Spring Flowers in namaqualand

 

We really liked Satara and our worries that it would be just too big were unjustified.The staff seemed friendlier than Lower Sabie and our perimeter hut had views-through the fence-of Zebra and even Elephant.It is supposed to be a good spot for predators but we lucked out this time, until it was time for the long trek to Berg-en-Daal and our last 2 nights of the Kruger part of the trip.We chose gravel roads to the east and aimed to stop again at Tshokwane and eventually came across this gentleman sleeping by the side of the road.

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There was a female sleeping nearby under a bush.We were able to proudly show a passing safari vehicle "our" lion.

                                                                                                                   Our next interesting sighting was a mixture of white and marabou storks again feeding on termites (we think)

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As we neared the picnic sight some cars pulled up on the side of the road caught our interest.Approaching slowly we saw,        nothing! A kind lady in another car helped us out-much to our delight!

 

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We have seen leopard on all our trips save the last one and we were hoping we would get lucky .It was a sighting of 3 leopards, a mother and 2 youngsters and so what if it was through binoculars!


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#28 Towlersonsafari

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Posted 22 March 2017 - 08:29 PM

Happy with our cats, and refreshed, we made our way towards and along our favourite S21, and to one of our avourite sightings not just of this trip, but in a long time.It just made us very happy.it was over 34 degrees and  We came across a large pond, and an elephant having an enjoyable time so we stopped and then a small family of ellies rushed up from the other side for all the world like children rushing down to the sea.With a short trumpet they dived in, kicking with their back legs, dunking themsleves, and with the youngsters joining in.They just seemed so happy! It can't have lasted more than 10 minutes, then they were off, and we smiled from ear to ear.2 other cars, each at different ends of the large pond/small lake shared the sighting and we grinned foolishly at each other

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#29 Towlersonsafari

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Posted 22 March 2017 - 08:30 PM

Sorry probably too many ellie pictures there but , hey,  stop that you ellies.....

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       Thats enough, get out of the bath now!

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Edited by Towlersonsafari, 22 March 2017 - 08:41 PM.

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#30 Hads

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Posted 23 March 2017 - 12:31 PM

Great work @Towlersonsafari - Loved your report and great pics, where abouts did you see the Ele's bathing?. I better get back to mine at some stage soon


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#31 Towlersonsafari

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Posted 23 March 2017 - 01:06 PM

You are very kind @Hads the elephants were on the S21 gravel road which starts off just above lower Sabie


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#32 Towlersonsafari

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Posted 23 March 2017 - 08:57 PM

Berg-en-Dal was interesting primarily because of its location-in hills with  escarpment nearby. the accomadation seemed newer than at the other camps and as a result perhaps a bit lacking in character, also one can see the outside world! Yet the southern part of the Kruger as a large rhino popoulation and we saw a great dela of general game.The guide who took the sunset drive on our last full day also mentioned the high leopard densities.Our days spotting was certainly interesting,very interesting!

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  This leopard tortioise-we think-scored 4 on the Tortiose  @Caracal   Amiability Tortiose Index or CAT index for ease of use.He barely gave us a nod and indeed dissapeaerd quite quickly-for a tortoise

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And then we saw the Hooded Claw himself

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We then came across another very nice view of white rhinos.What particularly caught our attention was that they  both seemed to be eating dung-we could not tell if it was their own or even fresh elephant dung-it does look fresh! I understand that young rhino eat their own dung to improve their gut flora but We didn't think that is what we were seeing.I have not been able to find anything about it -any thoughts/guidance much appreciated!

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#33 Hads

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Posted 24 March 2017 - 02:16 PM

@Towlersonsafari the S21 is a very nice drive , I enjoy the northern section of this road.

The first Rhino pic in post # 32 looks like he is wearing lipstick.

Great Ele pics too - well done.


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#34 offshorebirder

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Posted 24 March 2017 - 06:16 PM

Thanks for this ongoing nice TR @Towlersonsafari.

 

@Dave Williams - if you do go to South Africa, be sure to go on a Cape Town pelagic trip.  They are arguably the best in the world.  


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'Beauty is truth, truth beauty, that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.'
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#35 Peter Connan

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Posted 25 March 2017 - 05:00 AM

Some wonderful sightings, especially the ellies in the water and the hooded claw!

 

The decision to reverse from Mr Big in post #22 was exactly what I would have done. In my limited experience, he was feeling his oats and would have loved to leave a couple of dents as a momento...


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Ek oefen skelm.

#36 Towlersonsafari

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Posted 25 March 2017 - 05:33 PM

Thank you @Hads  @Peter Connan and @offshorebirder the eles were very nice to watch and as for Mr big one never knows if it was needed but better safe than sorry! which brings us to another entertaining sighting!

 

About 15 minutes slow driving after the dung eating white rhino's we saw some distance away 2 Black rhinos! Our best ever views.-Sorry again for the bad photos-

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Then one of them slowly walked forward-we were getting better views! we had turned the engine off and had the sighting to ourselves

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It continued to move forward.And then broke into a little trot.Nothing too energetic, but determined. It seemed to us that rhinos are much better poker players than elephants.What was it thinking?

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As aprecaution I checked the car was in neutral, and turned the ignition on. It kept trotting. I think you can see the deadish looking bush it had passed so it had come quite a way.Did it want to hear some of my bad jokes? Had it taken exception to our number plate or would it stop and say HA HA fooled you?

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I stopped taking bad photos and gave the camera to Jane.We wondered about the acceleration speed of Black rhinos, nad at about 10 metres waved it a polite "Good Day"   and left smiling that nervous smile one does when one does not know what has just happened! We did ask a guide about this afterwards-he thought that the rhino was probably teasing. Probably! Still our best black rhino sighting and we were once again grinning like cheshire rhinos

                                                                                                                         

 

 

 

 

 


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#37 Towlersonsafari

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Posted 25 March 2017 - 06:11 PM

I have mentioned right at the start that we did quite a few sunset and night drives, and they were a mixed bag, but on our last day in the kruger we had decided on a sunset drive.this starts at 4.30 and lasts about 3 hours.You get to stay out a bit later than if driving yourself, and there is a little bit of night driving.Once again it was a packed truck with a United Nations of different folk, including Germans, Italians South Africans etc and the guide was very entertaining.Everyone was keen and stopped talking as soon as there was a sighting or even if the truck slowed down in anticipation. We saw some elles, the same bufflao we had seen oursleves earlier and then two more white rhino.

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Then another ball of dung being rolled across the road.We stopped to watch-a truck full of folk fascinated by its actions.But everytime it ot to the edge of the road it was too stepp and the ball rolled back. We began urging it on, quietly.Then as the ball rolled back the beetle lost its bearings and ran under the truck.It kept appearing and then going the wrong way. We were all giving it encouragement but starngely it did not atke our advice-in what ever language it was given! We looked at the guide.He ponted out he could not interfere but felt he could move the ball over the " kerb" after a few more minutes and still the beetle running around not finding his ball of dung, he broke down under our entreaties.We promised never to reveal his name, he picked the beetle up and he was re-united with his ball, and the female on top of the ball (The guide and not me, said you could tell itw as a female as the other beetle was doing all the work-obviousely I distance myself completely from that remark) The feeling or relief and camaraderie the beetle generated was palpable!

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Things were then quiet for the remainder of what had been a fine drive, and we were back on the tar road, when one of the Germans shouted out -I thought he said leopard-surely not -Jane was not sure- the guide quickly reversed and  voila!

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What a magnificent cat, and what a way to end the  fantastic Kruger part of our holiday! We even saw a female briefly in the dark on the way back.Its not the  "wilderness" experience of course, I suspect in the high season it does get very crowded, but we had seen splendid sightings, never ourselves  felt crowded or uncomfortable and especially on the gravel roads we felt we were in the wild. We will  be back, and in the green season as well I think. We were very happy bunnies indeed.


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#38 Hads

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Posted 26 March 2017 - 01:05 PM

What a splendid looking Leopard, great decision to do the afternoon drive .

Where did you spot the Black Rhino, S21?

Thanks again for a great TR @Towlersonsafari


Edited by Hads, 26 March 2017 - 01:07 PM.


#39 PeterHG

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Posted 26 March 2017 - 01:28 PM

Splendid story about the dung beetle @Towlersonsafar! And great shots of that Leopard!

#40 Towlersonsafari

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Posted 27 March 2017 - 11:49 AM

Thanks again @Hads and @PeterHG I don't have access to a map here (at work) but yes i think that's where we saw him, as you know the park drives can be hit or miss but this on was definitely a hit and it made it fun sharing it with  other folk ! and the dung beetle-everyone just got quite involved in its plight! i think they find the dung by smell so it could have been the truck fumes affecting its judgement. i also read that there is a theory that dung beetles can navigate using the milky way! and there is this article suggesting they can capture an image of the sky whilst they are on their dung balls!                         http://www.bbc.co.uk...onment-36279682

 

I have another picture of a tortoise taken at the splendid Harold Porter gardens that I need help with identifying that I will post under the reptiles thread so I am counting on you @Hads  i also have a terrible confession to make.I was snapping away all the time in the Kruger alternating between my battered 70-300 L series lens and a new 400 L series f4-well cheap anyway and looking in the viewfinder thinking well they don't look too bad-and i had forgotten to check the ISO setting-it was on Auto and would often choose a high setting that with a moments thought I could have altered-I just get too excited!  We will just have to go back and do it again  thanks for your company


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