Monday, December 1, 2014

On Safari With Curtis From 23 November 2014

23 November 2014

Today was the start of a new tour and after picking up my new guests, in Nelspruit, we made our way to Numbi gate and KNP. Luckily we missed the worst of the rain and by the time we got to Numbi it was hot and humid. Straight away we found some animals, firstly waterbuck and then impala just behind them. Next up we came across a buffalo Carcass lying just on the road. No sign of the predator which was responsible for it but they hadn't left much for the other scavengers. We then took a drive down circle road and faye loop where we found two 'dagga boy's minding their own business before coming upon two adult male lions lying in the shade of a tree. They were in no mood for pictures really and while one didn't move an inch the other was kind enough to pop his head up on a couple of occasions to allow some good photos. After twenty minutes we admitted defeat and moved on. Faye loop was quiet with a few impala, buffalo and kudu and a leopard tortoise and red - crested korhaan. As we left the loop we found the first of three small elephant herds. This one by far the best as the matriarch led her family across the road in front of us. We then completed the circle road loop by going in from the other side where we saw the other elephants,  kudu and common duiker before getting back to the lion sighting. They had now moved more out into the open and we got a better look at both their impressive manes. Unfortunately the rain started to fall again which actually turned into a positive as one of the males didn't appreciate his bath and moved back under the tree giving us a short but nice look at the full size of a male lion. We headed down to Nkambeni tented safari lodge our accommodation for this tour and settled in without getting to wet. A good start to this tour regardless of the weather conditions.

24 November 2014

This morning we had bright blue skies for a change and we hoped this would signal a good day. We left the lodge and immediately found a family of dwarf mongoose scurrying around in the undergrowth and on top of a nearby termite mound. We drove up Numbi and found a couple of cape buffalo and the impalas before turning onto Napi. The start was very busy as we found Waterbuck, kudu. We also had two very nice sightings of brown snake eagles perched up high in marula trees. We then found the first of two lion sightings. The first one was very difficult to view as they were quite far away hidden by lots of grass. In fact apart from the occasional head popping up not much was seen. The second sighting was a lot nicer, although again the lions were in the grass they were much closer so that we could get a good look at them. Two females and two cubs approximately a year old. With the exception of one of them they all got up at one stage and moved about allowing for some great photos.

By now it was time to head back to the lodge but not before we stopped at mathekanyane view point and enjoyed watching the kudus at the bottom. Or were they watching us?!!!! The guests also enjoyed the calls of the grey go-away bird!!
Back on the road we found a little herd of giraffe before heading down to Transport dam, the dam was buzzing with activity as we found kudu, Waterbuck, impala and the resident hippos. We also had a African fish eagle perched in a tree overlooking the water as well lots more water birds. Then just as we were ready to leave a family of elephants appeared behind the car and moved past us down to the water for a drink and a play. We watched them until they moved off back into the trees. Carrying on we had a couple of rhino sighting including two who were having great fun having a mud bath. So much so they didn't even notice us as we pulled up.

In the afternoon the clouds were darkening but that never stops us going out for a drive and we headed back down Napi finding elephants,zebra, kudu and impala before we got to Shithave dam where the lonely old hippo was in the water. Not much happening today until a large herd of buffalo turned up. We then got informed off a nearby leopard by the public and headed straight down there but unfortunately it had gone, maybe my recent run of leopard luck has finally run out!! We carried on and came to the rhinos we had seen earlier, by now they were completely submerged in the mud from head to toe and seemed to be really enjoying the bath I am not sure they had any plans to leave.

As we drove back to camp the clouds darkened further, the wind picked up the thunder roared and the lightening lit up the sky. Then the worst, the rain, lots of it and lots more. We then came across a large herd of buffalo crossing over the road and we had to sit and wait while we got soaked. By the time we got back to the lodge we were drenched through but that didn't matter as the guests loved all the sightings they had had.

25 November 2014

This morning the storms had passed over and the sky was much clearer. We set off up Numbi tar where we saw buffalo and elephant from afar before turning into Shabeni. It was fairly quiet around the loop this morning with only impala. The link was also quiet but we saw a lone elephant, giraffe and a little family of warthog,  mum and three piglets having morning breakfast. Further along a couple more giraffe and then we turned onto doispane and headed down to the dam. Here we found hippos and lots of birds. As we headed down to Phabeni gate we found a troupe of baboons and a small herd of elephants.

Unfortunately it was the end of this tour for some and we said goodbye to Owen, Kerri, Matt, Dan and john. Thanks guys for your company and travel safe. Hope you enjoyed your time with us.

This afternoon we had a short drive around Faye loop where we found common reedbuck, dwarf mongoose and a lovely bull kudu. On voortrekker link we found a family of elephants in the distance and a lone bull who crossed over in front of us before having a drink in the rock pool and then moving off. We also found buffalo and klipspringers around Shabeni before finding the warthog family in exactly the same spot as six hours ago before we got to mestal dam.

Here the hippos were getting quiet active with shows of their teeth and lots of vocalisation. Also there were Waterbuck and impala. We then made our way to the gate where we picked up four new guests who are joining us.

26 November 2014

The drive this morning got off to a great start as we found our path blocked by a huge herd of buffalo crossing the road in front. It took a full five minutes for us too find a gap in which we could move on as approximately 200+ buffalo crossed over. As we moved onto Napi we found a herd of elephants wandering deeper into the bush as well as kudu and impala on a frequent basis. We then noticed a bull elephant walking along.

We then found a hyena lying by her den at flatrocks but no sign of the cubs we have seen so often. As we moved further on we came upon wild dog lying by the side and of the road, just past transport dam. They had probably had a busy night as they didn't seem to be that energetic this morning. Further along we found a troop of baboons, steenbok, common duiker, giraffe and Warthog before we got to Skukuza for coffee.

After our break we set off down elloff along the river where, of course, we found plenty of hippo, a few crocs, lots of vervets and baboons as well as the impalas. We also found a couple of water monitor trying to get as much of the little bit of the sun there was today. We also spotted a dark chanting goshawk sat upon a termite mound probably snacking on the alates and a brown snake eagle and off course always hearing more and more of the call of the woodlands kingfisher. As we got closer to lower sabie we found more and more buffalo and elephant and lots of birds around sunset dam before stopping at the rest camp for lunch.

In the afternoon the drive back was extremely quiet, in fact one of the quietest afternoons I have had for a long time but we still had a few good sightings. They included another look at the African wild dog pack who had become much more active by now. In fact they were all up and about when we saw them again. I counted fifteen in total with half a dozen of them running along the road before being joined by the rest where they yelped and squealed as they re-affirmed their pack bonds.

We then found the hyenas outside their den but this time the adult had multiplied into two adults and six cubs. Much more activity as the cubs played around and tried to get some milk from one of the adults much to her annoyance and discomfort. We then again found the rhino from this morning, no elephant this time but it hadn't moved far and was still busy grazing. We also had time for on new more rhino, another male this time crossing the road and spraying his territory.

Just before camp a nice group of giraffe close to the road to finish off the day.

27 November 2014

This morning was the last day of the tour for two guests and although we had had so many wonderful and memorable sightings we still hadn't been lucky with the cats.

So this morning we went out on a cat search!!! We drove past many species, on our cat search, only stopping if they were close to the road or off course on the road such as the adult hyena we found.

Then the break through we were wanting, thanks to one of our colleagues Frank, lions had been spotted on biyamiti weir but we were still some distance away so we crossed fingers and made haste. Luck was with us as we found three adult males sleeping in the river. They were quite a distance but with binoculars we got a good look at them. We then decided to move around further along the river hoping to find an opening to peer through. We found an opening indeed and what started as an average sighting became a great sighting. We now had prime viewing of all three and the three obliged us by sitting showing us their heads and mane and then spoilt us by standing up giving a great view and giving the opportunity for some amazing photos.

Our morning cat search had been a success and it got better!!! While watching the second rhino sighting, in quick succession, of mum and young calf our colleague Frank, Yes him again, had found leopard. Again we made haste just hoping we would have another dose of luck and we did.

A beautiful leopard just ten meters from the road in the open taking a rest in the shade of a tree. Now while this leopard wasn't exactly active it did pop its head up for a couple of quick photo opportunities. While it didn't stand up to give a full body look any leopard at that distance is always loved by guests and guides alike.

Unfortunately time had run out and we made our way down to numbi where our guests were getting their transfer. Max and Felix, it has been great having you on tour with us. I know you enjoyed all the sightings we had from the little dwarf mongoose to the slightly bigger African elephant. Safe travels down to Cape Town and hope to see you again one day on safari.

This afternoon we went out on a short drive around the area. Starting down Albasini and stopping at mestal dam we came across hippo, kudu and impala before turning down Shabeni link. Here we found a nice herd of buffalo and a troop of baboons who were busy having a mass grooming session with everyone involved. The common duiker wasn't too interested in this and soon ran off. Around Shabeni rock we found vervets, the heads of two klipspringers sitting high up on the rocks before finding a few buffalo.

We then popped into PK to refuel but even there you can't get away from the wildlife. Dark-capped bulbuls,  cape-glossy starling both hopped into the truck to try and find a few crumbs while brown-hooded parrots flew overhead and the call of the purple-crested turaco could be heard. Not to be outdone the mammals were represented by a family of dwarf mongoose and a tree squirrel.

Back on the road and we drove around Faye loop which was quiet with just a few impala and three buffalo. As we headed to munung koppies via circle road the beautiful silence of the bush was broken as, and I quote, one of my guests shouted "it's a jaguar". It wasn't but we could forgive him as he had in fact spotted a leopard. In the commotion the leopard had moved back into the bush but we turned the engine off and waited and she gradually reappeared. Just five meters from the car she was slightly nervous but seemed very interested in something across the road.

She took her time but after a couple of minutes she plucked up the courage to cross right in front of us to the other side of the road. A couple of minutes later she had vanished from sight, her beauty blending in perfectly with the bush. On a high we drove around the koppies to find a family of elephants, we had a nice encounter as a mum and calf walked within a couple of meters of the side of the vehicle before moving to the front and crossing over to the rest of the herd.

A great end to another great day here in Kruger!!!

28 November 2014

So, unfortunately, today was the last day of this tour and after having a good breakfast and checking out we left early for our last game drive. We headed straight up to circle road to see if we could find the leopard we found yesterday. No luck on that score and the road itself was quiet as we just found impala, common duiker and a couple of buffaloes. We then took a turn around pk koppies finding some kudu bulls and enjoying the stunning scenery from the koppies. Then round to Shabeni with buffalo standing up on the rock and kudu, impala, klipspringer and vervets all around the loop. We turned down onto Shabeni link when we found a few cars at the same area. As we moved closer we found ourselves looking at zebra. But that wasn't what all the cars were looking at because on the other side of the road up in a marula tree was a cheetah. Yep you read correct a cheetah in a tree!!! Now while it's unusual for cheetahs to be seen in a tree it is not impossible and this particular cheetah is well known for his climbing. We stayed watching until he jumped out and moved off into the nearby grass area.

An amazing sighting to finish off this tour. Jenna, Stef, Chad and Dan it has been great having you on tour. I know you have enjoyed all the sightings and enjoy going through all your photos. You certainly took some good ones.

29 November 2014

The start of a new tour today and after greetings all round we headed down to Kruger and Nkambeni tented safari lodge for check in.

Tonight was the turn of the sundowner drive where guests get the chance to experience the park a little later than the public and try to locate the more nocturnal animals. Well locate the animals they did and with great success. As well as the usual suspects including impala, kudu and Waterbuck they had hippo, well part of a hippo, elephants, rhino and leopard.

A fantastic start to this tour.

30 November 2014

This morning it was bushwalk time, a chance to, maybe, experience a few animals while on foot giving a much different perspective than being in the vehicle.

Also a chance to learn more about the scat and spoor of the animals along with the much overlooked trees and grasses and insects which help create the Knp.

This afternoon we went out for a short drive and immediately found the impalas just outside the lodge gate and then a lone bull elephant not to far from the road. We headed down to Napi boulders finding several more male elephants, kudu and impala. We drove to shithave dam which was quiet with the exception of the resident hippo and a small herd of waterbuck and then down around Shabeni where we found a family herd of elephants grazing. We also found a steenbok and dwarf mongoose on the link road before finding a herd of buffalo in the distance and then a much closer sighting of five dagga boys. Then as we were driving back to numbi gate we had three wildebeest running across the road in front before seeing waterbuck and zebra further along the road.

More coming soon!!

1 comment:

  1. What great sightings, you are definitely very lucky!