Sunday, January 31, 2010

Kruger National Park Day Safari with Mr Collopy 23rd January 2010


As we drove through the Numbi gate at 05h40, I found my self thinking “What’s the line up for today”. One good thing is holidays are over and everything is back to “normal” in the park. This can be seen by the amount of cars on the road. No queue this morning, it couldn’t have taken me more than 10min to get our gate pass and prep the Open Safari Vehicle. After a client briefing of the do’s and don’ts we were on our way.

Weather was awesome, we had 100% cloud base in our African sky and temperatures must have been approximately 15deg.

Time and time again our first animal sighting is the common Impala antelope, however not today.

Approximately 700m from the Shebeni Link junction, walking towards us was a Majestic black manned male Lion. As he approached us, we turned off the Open Vehicle engine and enjoyed the sighting. He approached the vehicle with eyes fixed on us as though to say Good morning.
Obviously he was a “male on a mission” as our presence didn’t bother him in anyway. He got to our vehicle; sniffed at the grill and walked to the side of the road where he politely sent marked the small Silver cluster leaf tree. My guests were overjoyed as this was literally the first animal sighting for the day.   

We moved off and decided to drive down Napi road as we planned to have breakfast at Skakuza rest camp. I turned onto Napi boulders gravel road and traveled approximately 1.6Kms were we came across a female White rhino and her calf lying sleeping approximately 6m off the road. Pictures were taken and we left them while you could still hear her snoring. Just goes to show how irrelevant we are out in the bush. Onto Skakuza for breakfast. While on my way, Jaun (college) gave me a call and informed me of a cheetah sighting near the Transport dam entrance, no luck though.

After breakfast we headed in the direction of Tshokwane. While crossing over the low level bridge I stopped for a Nile croc approximately 4 meters in length, just drifting in the water to the right of us. As I was about to move off, I glanced across to the left of the bridge and saw laying on top of a rock my favorite cat…. Leopard.  A beautiful Tom cat. Words can’t describe the satisfaction you get when seen your favorite cat.   Till next time my best friend…..

We cut across to the high level bridge which would take us back over the Sabie river onto Nkuklu. At this stage the cloud base was disappearing rapidly. On crossing over the high level bridge we found a herd of Cape buffalo lying in the water. No wonder people mistakenly call them “Water buffalo”. 

Once we turned onto Eloff street heading in a Easterly direction, a herd of African elephant crossed over the road, providing us with brilliant side views of the largest land mammal. There must have been 30 or so crossing over, making their way down to the river, for a much needed drink. As the last female disappeared into the bush, I heard a voice on my vehicle say “ That’s the BIG 5 in less than 5 hours”. 

With my clients extremely satisfied and the fact that they could wear the “Big 5” T-shirt we decided to spend the rest of our day observing the general game and bird life the park has to offer. By the time we got back to Numbi gate to leave the park, we had long lists of animal / bird sightings.

All credit given to the animals as they were in the right place at the right time.
Thanks once again my friends, till we meet again…….

Goodnight, GodBless and Goodbye

Mark
 Senior Guide Nhongo Safaris

Kruger National Park Safari with Rolf Everhardus 18th - 21nd January 2010

After an early morning pickup from Emerald Guesthouse in Kempton park, we made our way in the direction of Nelspruit and the Kruger National Park. Upon arrival in Nelspruit, we changed our vehicle from the nice air-conditioned microbus and into one of our open safari vehicles for our short journey to the the Kruger National Park. After arriving at the Numbi gate, we checked in and made our way to the camp of Pretoriuskop were we checked into the accommodation and gave the guess time to enjoy some lunch, prior to them leaving on their first game drive. We took a drive down the Napi road, getting good sightings of Rhino, Elephant and the general plains Game.


After some good tea and Coffee, it was off and out of camp to see what we could find. We took a drive down the Napi road on route to Skukuza and then on to Tshokwane for breakfast. While on route we had good sightings of rhino, buffalo, elephant Zebra, Kudu and impala. After breakfast we decided to take the H10 down to Lower Sabie, a road that had proved to be very good on the last safari. As we turned right onto the H10, we were met by a lioness leading her three small cubs over the road. While standing there, one of the cubs became tired, and the female then proceeded to pick it up in her mouth and carry it over the road. This was really good to see. We carried on with the H10 picking up some really large Elephant bulls and some good Rhino and Buffalo. We stopped at lower Sabie for a well deserved break,l before making our way up Eloff Street running parallel with the Sabie River back to the camp of Skukuza. On route back, we stopped of at Sunset Dam, having a chance to see the Hippos, and Crocodiles together with the prolific bird life found around this dam. After arriving back at Skukuza, it was time to have a lunch break, after which it was time to start making our way back to camp. After a good day of game viewing and some good dinner, it was off to bed for a good rest before we started again the next day.

I woke up the clients at 04h30, had tea and coffee at 05h00 and then we were out on our merry way. Something said to me to take the same road as the day before and then take a different route late closer to the camp of Skukuza. The morning started off slowly, until at about 7,1 Km's from the Napi Boulders exit on the Napi road it's self, we came upon quite a nice sighting of Wldebeest with there calves, Zebra, Impala and Giraffe. While watching these guys to our left hand side, my head turned to the right from something moving in my field of vision, and to our surprise it was a cheetah standing right next to my vehicle using it as cover from the potential prey. We watched this for around5 -10 minutes, we also called it in over the radio, and heard that there were other vehicles on the way to us. After a while the cheetah moved passed the front pf the vehicle keeping very low and went to lie down on the ground 6 to 7 meters from the vehicle right behind a termite mound. By this time other vehicles had arrived and many of the Wildebeest, Zebra, Impala and Giraffe knew that something was up. it was at this time sensing that time was not on it's side, the cheetah broke cover and started it's charge bringing down a wildebeest calf around 80 - 100 meters in front of us. Visuals were lost at this point due to the long grass being encountered at this time of year due to the large amount of rain that has been experienced over the last 2 - 3 months.
After this wonderful sighting and with the guests on a high, we made our way down to the Nkulu picnic spot for breakfast. After a well deserved breakfast, we found out that there were some lions lying on the road that we had taken the previous day to breakfast, so we decided to take a drive in this direction and we could maybe get lucky in seeing them. We made our way to the N'walindlopfu River bridge, where we found the two large male lions lying out to the right hand side right in the middle of the dry river bed. As if the lions were waiting for us, one of them got up and started coming closer to the bridge in order for us to get some better photos of him. He was making his way closer to the water in order to take a drink. This proved to be a wonderful sighting and as we took our leave, it was good to finally see some of the larder males in the lion species doing so well.
The day seemed to speed past with many other sightings, and soon it was time to make our way back to the Pretoriuskop camp, as the clients were going out on there night drive.
The clients left at 17h00 on their night drive and returned at around 20h30, having seen some good animals and also seeing more lion walking on the road.

on the morning of the 21st January, we left camp early again for our final game drive before coming back to the camp for breakfast and time to packup, before climbing back onto the road in the direction of Nelspruit were we changed our vehicles and then took to the road in the direction of Johannesburg.
Guests feedback was that they had the time of their life, and certainly want to come back and enjoy another safari to the Kruger National Park. The highlight of the trip was seeing the cheetah hunting and using our vehicle as cover to stick away from the plains game it was trying to hunt. 

Kruger National Park Safari with the Pavan Family from Italy 26th - 30th December 2009

We had the pleasure of hosting the Pavan family during the holidays in December from the 26th through to the 30th of the month. We arrived at the Numbi gate, checked in and took a ride down to the camp of Pretoriuskop which would be our camp for the night. After checking in, the guests had a chance for some lunch and then at 15h30 it was time to get out and see some animals. The afternoon started off quietly, but soon  came across some elephant and Rhino, together with quite a lot of plains game.

The next morning it was time to packup the luggage, have some tea and coffee, and start making our way towards Skukuza, our next camp for the following two nights. After leaving camp at 05h30, we came across elephant, rhino, and a number of plains game en route to breakfast. We made our way down to breakfast at the Nkulu Picnic spot, where the guests enjoyed an english breakfast before continuing on to view other animals. Soon after breakfast, we got a call on the radio that there were lions lying right next to the Doispane road that leads into the park from the Phabeni Gate. We decided to make our way in that direction. En route to the lions, some rhino and elephant were encountered. We eventually came onto the sighting of two male lions lying 4 meters off the road, and as it was an overcast day, they were quite happy lying there and were not going to look for cover in the long grass soon. After a good sighting of the lions, and some good photos got while at the scene, we decided to make our way back to the Sabie river to see if we could get some sightings of crocodile and hippo.
As the group had been going from early morning, they decided to go into camp for a midday siesta, before going out again late afternoon.
The drive that we took in the afternoon did not yield anything new, but were able to find more hippos and quite a few plains game.

The following day turned out to be a quite day with few animals encountered as it was getting closer to the New Year Festivities, and the animals needed  to prepare for a new years party!!! After a reasonably quite day, clients enjoyed dinner at the Selati Restaurant in the camp of Skukuza.

On the 29th December, we decided to take a drive northwards in the direction of the Tshokwane Picnic spot, where we were going to have breakfast. En route as we crossed over the Sand River Bridge, we came across some wild dogs walking in the road looking very hungry. We followed them for a while until they must have got a scent of someting and ran into the bush looking for it. We made our way to breakfast at Tshokwane, after which we made our way down the H10 towards Lower Sabie. About one Kilometer from turning onto the H10 we came across a large male and female lion lying around fifty metered off the road. When we stopped to view them, they suddenly got up and moved closer. It became evident that this was a breading pair, who had separated themselves from the rest of the pride. After a good viewing, we made our way down the H10 finding quite a number of Elephant, Rhino, and Plains Game. Around 25 Km's down the H10, we came across 5 Lion Cubs that had been hidden under a Magic Gwarri Tree, there were no adults present, although i think they were not far away, but we had a wonderful sighting of one of the cubs trying it's best to climb the branch of the tree. Soon it was back on the road for a welcome stop at Lower Sabie Camp. After a welcome stop, we made a turn at Sunset Dam were we all enjoyed some good sightings of Hippo, Crocodile, Impala and a large number of different birds.
it was then off back to the camp of Pretoriuskop, as the clients were going on theur night drive.
The night drive was enjoyed by all with numerous sightings being enjoyed.

The following morning was time for the groups last game drive before leaving the park, and making their way back to Johannesburg in order for them to catch their early flight to Cape Town to enjoy the rest of their holiday while in South Africa. The group thoroughly enjoyed themselves, and some have booked to come back and enjoy a nine day safari with us in July which starts in the far Northern Section of the park, and makes it's way down to the Southern Side of the park.

We look forward to hosting you guys again upon your return to South Africa. 

                                                                     Above Photos were taken by Reena Pavan Gervasi

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Kruger National Park Safari with Michael and Regina Wolf, Torben Andersson, Jane and Phillip Cooper and susan and Carlton Stroiber


Christmas camp 20 – 26 December 2009 in the Kruger National Park

20th December 2009


As we approached the Numbi gate in a shinning Lion hunting machine (Open safari vehicle), I had a strange feeling as though I was going to a rugby match. There was a massive long queue of local visitors waiting to obtain the entrance permits and unfortunately I just had to fall in and wait my turn.
Once I was helped with the relevant documents and after my client briefing we were on our way and as we were staying at Skakuza for 2 nights I decided to get off the main roads and travel on the gravel road towards our camp. This proved to be a good decision as most of the cars entering chose to stay on the tar road and very soon we found that we where all alone. Approximately 1.3 Kms from the gate, We drove into a heard of 100 buffaloes and there was our big 5 count starting already. 500 meters on we found 3 White Rino standing in the middle of the road – how majestic.

The general game (zebra, antelope, giraffe and Blue wildebeest) was plentiful on our drive into camp. After booking in at Skakuza we all had some free time to just enjoy being in the bush.
Our afternoon drive gave us 5 Elephant (1 Bull in musth). We were traveling south on Napi  and 300m before the H3 junction we came across 3 wild dog playing in the road. This was an awesome way to end our day.

21st December 2009


Early morning rise, out the camp and onto Tshokwane for breakfast. I decided to take marula loop, for a change and 1.4Kms down the road lay a pride of Lions consisting of 1 Male, 2 females and 6 Cubs. All of them still wet from the rain we had during the night. After breakfast we traveled along the H10 towards Lower Sabie and came upon a Fresh water crab on the road – unusual animal sighting I thought as the closest water was approximately 3 Kms from us.

After stopping off at Lower Sabie we drove along Eloff street, hoping to have some animals come across the road towards the water – I was wrong as Eloff proved to be very disappointing. Back into Skakuza just before the gates of the camp closed.

22nd December 2009


After an early morning game drive we cam back to Skakuza for breakfast. Once we were done with a brilliant traditional breakfast we packed our bags and moved on to our following camp Pretoriuskop. In the sothern part of the park, you can tell we have had good rain fall this summer as the vegetation growth is something phenomenal. One thing’s for sure the guides have to work hard for your money as animal sightings especially the cats are hard to find (well hidden in the Yellow thatch grass).
On the main road towards Pretoriuskop from Skukuza (Napi) general sightings were good. Something I decided to do was stop of at Mathekenyane look out point. In the distance we found the Black Rhino enjoying the shade of a common sweet thorn acacia tree. As we drove into Pretoriuskop my guests and I decided that we would leave camp at 4pm as it was incredibly hot. Temperature must have been well over 39 deg Cel.At 4pm I was happy to be informed by Dean that he had picked up two Cheetah’s on the Napi road between Transport dam entrance and Napi Boulders entrance. We all decided that we would move towards Dean and he continuously updated us regarding these two beautiful cats. Just as luck would have it as we got to the sighting, both brothers lay down bringing our visibility to 0/5. Fortunately all the holiday makers decided to leave and soon we were the only car there. As if prompted, both cheetah’s stood up and started walking parallel with the car. What a brilliant sighting, both of them allowed my guests enough time to take photos that would fill a photo album. Thanks for calling us in Dean.

23rd December 2009


We had some late sleepers this morning but those that got up with me moved out of camp and onto Voortrekker Road towards Afsaal picnic spot for Breakfast. I as guide prefer these spots in the park to that of a restaurant. Breakfasts are wholesome and always enjoyable especially with a cup of coffee.

After breakfast we continued south along the H3 towards berg-n-dal and 1.7kms past Mlambane loop entrance we came across 3 Nomadic male Lions lying 5m off the road. After spending some time with them, watching them roar (intimidating). We moved on. What stuck in my mind was the 1 “Older” male +-11 – 13years reminded me of “Scar” in the movie “THE LION KING” as his face was full of scars but a predominant one that stretched right across his right eye. Wonder if “Mafasa” was lying in the grass somewhere watching us.

The morning proved to be good with “Up close and personal” sightings of white rhinos, but back to camp as some of my clients were leaving the Kruger. Once we said our goodbyes we decided to head out in search of the “Illusive Cat with spots” the Leopard.

This proved rather difficult and most of the day was spent driving and searching for this prize. Just before my guests got “square bums” from all the sitting we drove towards Shebeni koppies and I’m sure you know what happened next………. There she lay on top of a granite outcrop just minding her own business. I still say it’s my favorite cat. We spent about 10 – 15 min with her before she moved off into the thicket. Well back onto camp but at lest with precious memories and photo’s of the “cat that didn’t get away”.

24th December 2009


Just goes to show No animal in our Kruger Park has read any manuals on animal behavior, as I could tell today was going to be very quite. Few animal sightings of the big 5 animals and this could have been due to the extreme heat we were experiencing. The “general game” was out but also not in full force. My guests mentioned that they might have been invited to a “Christmas party” and if so it must have been an open invitation as very little was seen for the rest of the day.

25th December 2009


Christmas day in the bush was no different to any other day, apart from the occasional “Ho Ho Ho” on the radio and some Field Guides with father Christmas hats, no luck on any reindeers.  My clients also enjoyed the bird life Kruger has to offer and most of our time on the drive was spent Birding. Some of the typical birds seen where lesser striped swallow, palm swift, red collared widowbird, long tailed whydah, black collared barbet, European roller, Lilac Breasted roller, burchell’s coucal, ground hornbill, woodland kingfisher, pied kingfisher, red Crested korhaan, kori Bustard and Common ostrich.
We decided to end the day early and move back to camp to spend a lazy afternoon just relaxing. The restaurant treated us to a traditional South African Braai or barbeque as some of you might know it and with full stomachs and heavy eyelids we retired back to our rooms.

26th December 2009


D-Day arrived and so after an early morning drive we had breakfast at Pretoriuskop and then bid farewell to the Kruger park. I could see my clients were sad to leave and on this, I said to them when they back in their high-rise offices with central heating or air-conditioning and the weather looks gloomy out there and they have a 150 emails to attend to, just sit back and think of Mark, driving looking for the next best animal to appreciate. 
With this they climbed into the microbus and off they went to catch their airplane back to the concrete jungle.

After that it was my turn and I greeted the bush with some sadness, but new I will be back with some more Lion Hunters on my Open Safari Vehicle sometime soon.

Goodnight God Bless Goodbye.

Mark
Senior Guide Nhongo Safaris