Tuesday, April 29, 2014

On Safari With Karen From 27 April 2014


27 April 2014

Today the guests came with Dean from Johannesburg to Nelspruit, where we transferred in the open safari vehicle. A scenic drive through the plantations brought us to the Kruger National Park. We drove to Nkambeni Safari Camp, our home for the next few days. As soon as we entered the gate we were already on safari as we saw kudu, impala and waterbuck on the road towards the camp.

After lunch the guests, Hubert and Nelleke, had some time to unpack and relax, before going on a Sundowner Safari.

 

28 April 2014

Last night's Sundowner safari left when it was spitting a bit with rain, but it cleared up soon after they left. However it did stay cloudy, so there was no sunset. They did enjoy the view from the top, as well as the few animals they saw: thick-tailed bushbaby, buffalo and a spotted eagle owl.

This morning we had a cold start, a bit windy too, but the sun started warming up nice and quick. Upon leaving camp we saw the same impalas as we saw yesterday, a duiker and some waterbuck. We also saw some curious mongoose who kept on stopping and checking us out while we waited for them to pass in the grass on the side of the road.

On Numbi tar road we encountered some ellies, mostly bulls, but deep in the bush there might have been an entire herd. We didn't really see many elephants that occasion, just a couple of flapping ears, but we did hear lots of vegetation being broken or ripped. Just before Napi turnoff two bulls were having an uneven fight, where the little one kept on challenging a big bull. But once the big bull engaged he was no match for the smaller one and kept on pushing him back 10m each time with what looked like an easy shove.

We drove down Napi and stopped at Shithave Dam where we saw lots of waterbucks. Once again we saw a male making amok with the other males, chasing them off and fighting with one, before returning to the females. Those females were not impressed since instead of watching this male was showing off, so they just kept on grazing with their heads down.

On Napi we had multiple sightings of giraffes (once again, a pair of males fighting over a nearby female), zebras crossing, more dwarf mongoose, wattled lapwings in a rhino madden, a nice herd of elephants, vervet monkeys, a steenbok running away and a beautiful crested barbet.

We stopped for a break at Skukuza, where a bat was hanging over our table and a hippo was snoozing in the river. We continued to make a loop around the river. At Lower level bridge we had a nice sighting of a crocodile warming up in the sun and another lazily swimming by, a fish eagle, marabou storks circling above and a pied kingfisher.

On the other side of the river we drove Marula tar road and had baboons crossing in front of us as well as behind us, while some stopped to groom each other quite close to the vehicle. We also saw lots of impalas, including a massive herd crossing, two buffalos lying on the edge of the water, golden orb spiders and their massive webs, white-backed vultures drying in the sun after a bath and some bushbuck.

At High level bridge we had an awesome elephant sighting of a herd consisting of about 30 elephants that came walking from the bush to the water. First they drank and then some of them started playing with water, throwing it over their bodies. The youngsters were swimming. A baby elephant then was too tired and had a snooze in its mother's shade. Then suddenly two big bull elephants showed up. The matriarch instantly reacted, and while the older ones shielded their youngsters she led her herd away from the water and around those bulls to the safety of the bush, where one by one they disappeared from view.

Back up Elloff we saw 7 lions doing what they do best: snooze. Occasionally we saw a head come up, but no major movement. We had an elephant crossing real close to the vehicle as he was reluctant to walk in the sun and we were parked in the shade to watch him manhandle a tree. The tree, by the way, resisted and did not get pushed over.

We stopped at Skukuza again for a quick bite as we were running a bit late for lunch time. Then back on the road down Napi. This time the road was fairly quiet, seeing no animals for the first greater part of the drive. Close to the end we still saw warthogs, elephants deep in the bush, lilac breasted rollers, yellow-billed hornbills, zebras and a lone giraffe.

 

More coming soon !!

On Safari With Mark From 23 April 2014


23 April 2014

Route: Napi - Skukuza - Napi - H3 - Napi - Nkambeni

General animals seen: impala, waterbuck, zebra, warthog, kudu, common duiker, steenbok, klipspringer, giraffe, elephant and rhino

Highlights: early morning we found a large herd of buffalo still lying sleeping on the napi boulders. Great to see approximately 200 buffalo all together in the open.

On klipspringer koppies we found 3 lioness and 2 cubs right on top just sunning themselves and observing the traffic jam below created by all the cars on Napi.

After coffee we found 2 male lions approximately 15m from the road lying in the thicket eating a kudu that they must of just killed. Guests got great photos and we spent quite a while watching them protect it from the vultures that sat waiting for an opportunity to eat.  

On our return to camp, Karen gave me a call and let me know that the 2 leopard were at shitlhave dam. We found them and spent the last hour of the drive enjoying the interaction between the female and her cub.


After a long day we headed back into camp happy to see what we did today.

 

24 April 2014

Route: Albaseni - Doispan - Napi - Shabeni koppies - Nkambeni

General animals seen: Kudu, Impala, common duiker, zebra, waterbuck, chackma baboon, giraffe, hippos, Nile crocodile, warthog, rhino, elephant, buffalo and bluewildebeest.

Highlights: approximately 4kms from mestal dam on the Albaseni we came across a female leopard on the side of the road. Great to see such a beautiful cat so early in the morning. After a while she casually moved off into the bush and we lost visual of her. We waited around to see if she pop back out on the road, when all of a sudden out popes the Male leopard from our right. Guests got brilliant photos of him as he moved slowly in the same direction as the female.

On Napi just past transport dam entrance we found a massive Male Lion just lying sleeping approximately 20m from the road. Not much disturbed him as we were the only car for approximately 20min.

We returned to camp after another long day but hat a great day it was!

Friday, April 25, 2014

On Safari With Karen From 21 April 2014


21 April 2014

After picking up the guests in Nelspruit we drove through the plantations to the starting point of our safari: Nkambeni Safari Camp. Upon arrival the guests had little time to relax after checking in, as they went straight on their first game drive, the sundowner safari. They were lucky as they saw buffalos on Shabeni rock, impalas, a spotted eagle owl, a herd of elephants that was reluctant to let them pass and a white rhino close to the road. Upon return they were treated to a dinner next to the campfire in the boma with some cultural entertainment.

 

22 April 2014

After a good night sleep we set out after breakfast on our first morning drive. On camp road we spotted a herd of impalas and a little further two male impalas were fighting over those females. A young male impala watched and learned but didn't want any part of it.

On the Numbi tar road we were then surprised by a slender mongoose that instead of sprinting across the road, what they normally do when they see a car, froze on the side of the road like a statue, but out in the open so we could have a really good look.

We then drove down Voortrekker Road, which was a nice scenery, but a wrong choice for seeing animals. We saw some whitebacked vultures in a tree, the rarer white headed vulture and a herd of elephants in the distance. Two elephants were having a sparring match which included throwing sand at each other, which was fun to watch.

We took a break at Afsaal, before driving the H3 up to Skukuza. Only a few 100 meters from Afsaal we found five ground hornbills up in a marula tree. As this bird is very endangered and rare to see, it was great to watch them in full sight. A Coue was preening each other and the rest was preening themselves too.

We then stop for a bull elephant feeding close to the road and while watching this fella a white rhino mother with her young calf appeared in the background. We watched both for a while until the elephant disappeared down to the water stream and the rhino and her baby walked off behind the bushes. A little further on we saw a subadult bateleur eagle flying and then suddenly he landed on the road in front of us. Apparently he spotted a nice snack on the road and started eating, not minding our car at all. He flew off once another car arrived at the sighting.

Before we arrived at the Skukuza Golfclub we also saw a warthog come out of the grass straight at us, but then crossing the road behind us, a very old male giraffe showing us the length of his tongue and two bull buffalos doing what they do best, lie in the mud. While most of us started with lunch, Allen was having a go around the golfclub with his wife Susan as his caddy. They took about an hour to do all nine holes and we cheered them on from our table in the shade as we saw them running across. We saw warthogs grazing and impeding Allen's game. The hippos were playing in the water, popping up and submerging. There was a tiny baby hippo, we saw the male yawning, and we saw a hippo get hit on the head by a golf ball after which all the hippos suddenly popped up their heads as if they were looking for the culprit. And while eating our lunch a crocodile came floating by lazily as well.

On the way back we went down Napi where we saw the same two buffalo bulls, a small journey of giraffe with a very young baby giraffe, a herd of elephants that was crossing the road and a bateleur eagle flying. At Transport Dam we saw more hippos, waterbok, red-billed buffalo weavers, cape glossy starlings, a grey heron and an African jacana.

Another journey of giraffe surprised us just when we turned back onto the tar road, this one bigger than before and we had an amazing white rhino sighting. Spotting just one in the bush we were amazed it turned out to be five adults and a baby. The baby was making sounds that made us chuckle and then suddenly a male rhino showed up on the right side of the road. He started snorting, having heard the other rhinos, which then decided to cross. Amongst the five was a subadult male, close to adulthood, and the territorial male had some trouble accepting his presence. He was instantly aggressive to this subadult male who got a very submissive posture, but some pushing and shoving had to be done right in front of us in the middle of the road. He then decided he let him go to the other side and it calmed down a bit. When the baby then again started making noises the territorial male wanted to come close to the baby, but the mother didn't allow it. The territorial male then cooled this hostile attention of the female back onto the subadult male and we saw some more pushing (hardly any shoving this time though). After sitting with this show for quite some time the rhinos decided it was over and they left in single file. The territorial male followed, so he probably could keep an eye on them while in his territory.

The last kilometres back to camp we also had a nice sighting of a puff adder on the road, guineafowls running in front of the car, a waterbuck male hanging around with kudu females and just before Nkambeni the herd of impalas.

 

23 April 2014

This morning we set out on safari and saw the usual impala herd just outside the gate. We also saw a buffalo in the high grass just on the side of the road, but as soon as he saw us he made a break for it. Apparently morning photos are not his best shot!

We decided to go up Albassini and shortly after turning onto the road we saw two male waterbucks fighting. The moment we stopped though, we distracted the winning male, who stood fierce and watching us, so the losing male actually tried to sneak away. Once discovered the other male started the chase.

We also saw two male elephants feeding, both on Albassini as well as on Doispane, a troop of baboons coming out of a tree and crossing the road in front of us, giraffe, grey louries, magpie shrikes, an African harrier hawk and white backed vultures.

We then got a call on the radio from mark about lions down at Klipspringer Koppies. We were quite far away, but as it wasn't that hot we decided to make our way down Watergat to see if we could get lucky. On Watergat road we saw lots of impalas, but nothing else stopped us from getting to the lion sighting in time to see three females lying on the rocks. One of them actually got up, walked around and lay back down. Astonishingly, on the other side of the Koppies we saw a klipspringer that was keeping watch in the other direction. We didn't have the heart to tell him the lion were already up on the rock behind him! However, with the lions back asleep, we didn't hang around and continued our drive to Skukuza for a quick break.

After the break we drove down Doispane to meet Curtis at Phabeni Gate, on the way spotting more elephants and 2 lots of zebras. We then had to say goodbye to Allen and Susan, who were at the end of their holiday. It was a great pleasure driving with you in the KNP! Sad we continued our way back down Albassini, spotting nothing but an elephant bull in must and a couple of banded mongoose running across the road. We returned to Nkambeni for some well deserved pool time and relaxing.

In the afternoon we had a short but very good drive. We drove up to Napi Boulders and then returned, stopping on the way at Shitlhave Dam. We saw impalas, kudus, a young bull elephant up close, two separate white rhino sightings and a waterbuck. On our way to Shithave Dam we heard from a member of the public that there were two leopards, so we sped up and indeed, they were sitting on the dam wall. They kept on moving and lying down, so we got some great sightings and photos. One of them actually crawled quite close to us, even though there were many cars around us. We got some great photos there!!

 

24 April 2014

Today was our last game drive of this tour so this morning we started our game drive at daybreak. It was a cold and misty morning so we were unable to see very far around the car. Close by however we saw the impalas on camp road.

We drove around the Loop spotting more impalas, kudus and two lots of two white rhinos. We drove around (well, mostly around) a lot of fresh buffalo poo on the road and were keeping an eye out. Shortly after we turned onto Shabeni Link a buffalo was scouting us out while standing in the middle of the road. We halted and watched her. Once she decided we were ok she continued walking and out of the high grass came more and more buffalos to cross the road. Some very young calves, an injured calf that with a very protective mother, some very massive bulls. Buffalos of all ages came by and quickly we lost count. The last lot came stampeding out of the grass and wondering what would have caused that we waited a little longer then the last buffalo to pass, but nothing happened. No rustling sounds either so we continued our way.

On Shabeni Link it was very quiet afterwards. We drove down Albassini back to Numbi Gate, spotting a lot more impalas and some waterbuck, but then the drive was over. Having to catch a plane we drove down to Nelspruit for the early transfer, where I said goodbye to Jim, Mindy, Dean and Kelly. Thanks for all the laughs, you guys were awesome! Hope you do come back for the nine day safari!

 

Keep watching for more!!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Industry Collaboration Raises Nearly R3 Million For SANParks Rhino Conservation

Bavaria Breweries and South Africa’s Big 5 retailers have stepped up to the plate and delivered on their commitment to support SANParks’ rhino conservation strategy through the Adopt So Our Rhino Don’t Die fundraising campaign. A cheque for almost R3 million was handed over to South African National Parks (SANParks) a...nd will be held in a ring-fenced account for strict utilization by SANParks rhino anti-poaching programmes and interventions.

As the enabler of the Adopt So Our Rhino Don’t Die campaign, Bavaria Brewery initiated the historic fundraising collaboration between Woolworths, Spar, Massmart, Pick ‘n Pay and divisions of the Shoprite Checkers Group. As front-runners to the consumer, each retailer created the adoption ‘route’ for the public. From every purchase of any six-pack of Bavaria 0.0% regular or fruit flavoured malt drinks, both the retailers and Bavaria Brewery matched a massive margin sacrifice to fund the consumer’s adoption certificate cost and raise funds for the campaign.

SANParks Acting CEO Abe Sibiya, said, “I would like to extend our sincere gratitude to Bavaria Brewery and to each of the participating retailers for their commitment to SANParks, which marks a formidable partnership in the fight against rhino poaching. The donation received will go towards vital ground and air detection and tracking equipment, elite canine capability and specially trained ranger teams, and improved intelligence gathering and observation and surveillance systems”.

Roger ter Horst, Market Development Manager of Bavaria Brewery Netherlands, concluded, “As a historic first-time retail collaboration, we are thrilled that the campaign has been a huge success with almost R3 million raised over a short period of 4 months. The risk we took to enter a new market, deploy our product’s reach and sacrifice margin profit to raise awareness about saving the rhino has paid off. We are proud to align ourselves with industry partners who share our belief that conservation and preserving the rhino heritage is not only a global priority, but our responsibility as industry leaders”.

Issued by:
South African National Parks

South Africa And Mozambique Reach Deal To Fight Rhino Poaching

South Africa signed an anti-poaching agreement on Thursday with Mozambique, a major transit route for rhino horn trafficked to Asia.

Mozambique is a prime source of illegal hunters hired and armed by transnational crime syndicates to cross the border into South Africa to kill rhino.

The Kruger National Park shares a long border wit...
h Mozambique and has borne the brunt of rhino poaching in recent years.

So far this year a total 293 rhino have been killed in South Africa with nearly half of the attacks in the Kruger Park, despite the deployment of troops to protect them.

The agreement "entails us working together with Mozambique to eradicate rhino poaching... so that Mozambique is not used as a transit country", Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa told AFP.

The two countries agreed to share intelligence and jointly develop anti-poaching technology and education programmes.

Status symbol

Rhino horns are prized as a status symbol in Asia and mistakenly thought to possess medicinal properties to cure cancers and hangovers, even though they are composed of the same material as fingernails.

The poachers kill the rhino with semi-automatic rifles, hack off the horns for shipment to Asia and cross back into Mozambique, leaving the bodies to rot.

Mozambique early this month approved a law that will impose heavy penalties of up to 12 years on anybody convicted of rhino poaching.

"Previous laws did not penalise poaching, but we think this law will discourage Mozambicans who are involved in poaching," Mozambique's Tourism Minister Carvalho Muaria said at a ceremony to sign the agreement inside the Kruger National Park.

At least 46 Mozambicans, five of them policemen, have been arrested inside their own country this year alone for poaching.

Mozambique has also started relocating 1 250 families that were housed inside the Limpopo game park, which borders Kruger, and erected hundreds of kilometres of fence between the two areas.

South Africa is home to around 80% of the world's rhino population, estimated at more than 25 000.

Most live in the vast Kruger Park.

Legalising rhino trade

In 2007 only 13 rhino were reported poached in South Africa, but since then the numbers have increased exponentially every year.

South Africa has hinted it is now considering legalising the rhino horn trade in an attempt to limit illegal demand, allowing the sale of horns from rhino that have died of natural causes.

"Experts are working on structure to look at the stockpiles that we have and not bennefitting anybody, yet people are killing rhino for these horns that we have elsewhere," said Molewa.

It is a "proposal moving towards possible trade", she said, adding it could be one of the solutions to end the rhino slaughter.

"We do think that it could... just taking it from the lessons we have learnt from ivory. We did an ivory once-off sale" and elephant poaching has not been a problem since.

"We hope we'll be able to win this war," said Molewa.

By:
Agence France-Presse (AFP)

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

On Safari With Curtis From 17 April 2014


17 April 2014

This morning was the last of the tour and we had time for one last drive. We found Impala and Giraffe and then a White rhino, the resident male was standing in a drainage line so we had a great view of this wonderful animal. We drove around and spotted the Buffalo which are often seen up on the rocks but this time they had company in the shape of two White Rhino. We also found two Klipspringers on the rocks. I then got a message from Karen about a sighting at Cheetah pan so we made our way there. When we got there we found a Cheetah sat on atermite mount  sunning himself in the morning sun, we spent quite a while watching him before we moved on. Along Doispane we saw an African Fish eagle and a Slender mongoose before we got near to the dam. There we saw Impala, Wildebeest and Zebra. As we drove back to Phabeni we noticed a couple of Giraffe in the distance. Sadly it was now time to transfer Robert and Jill to Kmia for their flight to Port Elizabeth. Thanks to all my guests on this tour, we have had so many wonderful sightings in the last few days and I'm sure everyone has enjoyed it as much as me!

 

 

18 April 2014

 

I collected 8 new guests ready and eager for their Kruger experience. After settling in at the lodge it was straight onto their sunset drive. Everyone enjoyed the evening as they had perfect weather, a lovely sunset and got to see White Rhino, Owls, Impala and Buffalo.

 

 

19 April 2014

 

This morning we set out aiming to carry on the good work from last night. Even on camp road we spotted alone Giraffe we moved on down Napi and found plenty of Impala, Kudu and a nice group of Waterbuck. Later on we had stopped at an Elephant sighting when I heard about a Cheetah sighting not too far away. I made my way there and found him lying under an Acacia tree. We waited a while and he eventually popped up his head and sat up and had a look around. My guests had to be quick to get some photos before he lay back down in the tall grass. We also heard about some Wild dog further down the road but when we got there they were lying in the bush with no sign off them, also the traffic had built up so I decided to head for a coffee break.

After the break we headed back to the wild dogs and were in luck as two of them had moved right next to the road and in full visual, the traffic had also left so we were able to spend a good amount of time with them. Heading down to Afsaal for lunch was fairly quiet until we spotted an Elephant next to the road, after closer inspection we could see that it was a whole family and so we waited for them to come closer which they did do. They took their time but eventually crossed the road in front of us. At lunch I heard about another sighting and went straight there after lunch. We found two female Lions by the side of the road both sleeping, every now and again one of them popped her head up and then our patience was rewarded when she stood up and moved closer to her companion. As we headed back to the lodge we found more Giraffe, Zebra, Wildebeest, Buffalo and a quick glance as a large Warthog ran out in front of us. We also got to see a Common Duiker before it ran off into the bush.

A good start to this tour with, hopefully, more to come tomorrow.

 

20 April 2014

 

As soon as we left the lodge this morning we bumped straight into the territorial white rhino male who was happily dozing in a sandy donga. We also got three giraffe soon after. Onto Napi and again it was fairly quiet at times but we did see plenty of Kudu and Impala. Further along we found a couple of elephant sightings and a large herd of Buffalo, unfortunately the heavy bush stopped us having a good look. We took a detour down to transport dam and found the hippos in the water and a medium sized croc floating close by. There were also Kudu and Waterbuck at the dam as well a family of Zebra who crossed over in front of us. After the dam we came upon a couple of Hyena playing with a kudu horn but they soon disappeared into the bush. Not much down Watergat except for the odd impala, kudu and lots of yellow-billed hornbill and cape glossy starlings. We headed down to the golf club for a drink and stretch of the legs and sat and watched the hippos in the water and the warthog running across the 9th hole.

After the break we headed down Doispane where we came across a herd of elephants, most had already crossed the road but a few still had and we got some pictures when they did. We also saw Vervet monkeys sitting up in a marula tree grooming one another. As we carried on we saw plenty more Impala, kudu and zebra as well hippos and Saddle-billed stork at Nyamundwa dam. We also had a brief glimpse of a large male baboon before he disappeared into the grass, we looked around for others but no luck.

 

This afternoon we set off with down Albasini and found hippos, at mestel dam, along with terrapins resting on their back, we found the resident buffalos on the rocks at shabeni as well as klipspringers. We then drove down circle where we found a large bull elephant coming towards us. With nowhere to go we stood our ground as he walked closer to us, he wasn't very happy with us as a roadblock and made his feeling clear with a few headshakes and scraping his trunk along the road but he finally moved off. We then came to a lovely sighting of dwarf mongooses who were playing and scurrying around the road, taking no notice of us they kept on running across the road and then running past the vehicle with a few having a cheeky look up at us. Then we caught glimpse of a slender mongoose at the same place who was abruptly chased off by three of the dwarf mongooses.

 

 

21 April 2014

 

It was the final day of the tour for four of my guests and after a couple of very long exciting days they decided to have a sleep in and we said goodbye to them at Numbi gate. Myself and my remaining four guests went out for the day and it turned out to be a great day. The day was an elephant day as we had sighting after sighting of Elephants. Big solitary bulls, bachelor groups and the family herds. One particular family herd sighting stood out, we found a family of about 10 standing right next to each other under the cover of Acacia bushes. We managed to creep right up to them without disturbing or upsetting them, turned off the engine and watched their interactions. While some dozed in the midday heat others were busy giving themselves, and others, a dust bath. Every now and again the matriarch would lift her trunk to check us out but never concerned herself with us. We were able to watch this beautiful sighting for more than 15 minutes. During the rest of the day we found plenty of good sightings of Rhino, buffalo, impala, kudu, warthog, giraffe, waterbuck, zebra, wild dog and honey badger as well as birds such as the lilac-breasted roller, yellow-billed hornbill, Southern -ground hornbill and the saddle-billed storks, which seem to be following me around recently.

However the day belonged to the elephants!!!!

 

On Safari With Karen From 17 April 2014


17 April 2014

This morning we left for a full day game drive. We drove up Albassini where we spotted impalas, kudus and zebras as well as an elephant in the background before we reached Mestel Dam. At the dam the hippos were playing in the water and we saw a nice fish eagle. Continuing on Albassini a member of the public told us about a cheetah further up the road and we were in luck. At a little waterhole named Cheetah Pan, a cheetah was resting on a mount of dirt next to it. For a while we were the only car there and watched him stretch, yawn and turn over. Even when other cars showed up, he had no interest in getting up, so after watching him for about 45min we decided to leave.

Down on Doispane we spotted impala rams that were going after the ladies, a couple of wildebeest, leopard tortoises, giant plated lizard and some smaller cousins, more zebras and a lone buffalo walking down staff village road.

After a break at Skukuza we decided to follow the river to hopefully see some herds of elephants. We were not disappointed. We drove down to Lower Sabie seeing many elephants drinking from, swimming in and crossing the water of the Sabie river. We also saw some buffalo bulls, hippos, terrapins and crocodiles along the way, especially at Sunset Dam.

After a nice lunch we drove back along the river, again spotting herds of elephants, elephant bulls, giraffes, hippos. We heard about lions and leopards possibly down the S114 so we took a little detour. We didn't see either but got surprised by three cheetahs that suddenly walked in front of us onto the road. We stopped for pictures and a video and shortly they were back off the road in the high grass! We were so lucky!! Furthermore we saw a dwarf mongoose chasing a slender mongoose across the road, a steenbok, and many yellow billed hornbills, red billed hornbills and grey louries.

It was nearing the end of the day so we drove home via Napi. Luck hadn't run out yet as we passed the hyena den near Transport Dam and saw 5 young hyenas playing outside the den! Wondering where their babysitter was we continued spotting a buffalo herd in the distance, a lovely waterbuck male, and some more elephant bulls. One of those was in heavy must, so we smelled him before we even saw him.

 

18 April 2014

This morning we escaped the busy Easter Kruger traffic by leaving a little later than normal. It was a pretty quiet morning drive up Albassini, down Shabeni and then the tar road to Shithave Dam. We had stopped at Mestel Dam and saw the hippos play and a pied kingfisher fish. We had seen some impalas and waterbuck along the way. At Shithave Dam we saw a crocodile sunning themselves and lots of waterbuck. A lone strong male kept watch on the dam wall while a herd of females and two youngsters lay down in the grass and a herd of bachelor males were trying out each other's strength. We felt sorry for one of the males as one of his horns had grown downwards and by the looks of it back into his skull at the rotation point of the lower jaw. But it seemed it didn't stop him sparring with the other males.

We had a quick break at Pretoriuskop and then drove back to Nkambeni Lodge via Circle Road. We came across some dwarf mongoose, two giraffes, lots of butterflies and just before the end of the tar road we had the tail end of a herd of buffalo cross in front of us. On the way back to camp we spooked a nice water monitor that was sunning himself so much he fell from his sunning spot into the water... Oops, sorry!

In the afternoon we went out again after the heat of the day had subsided. Now joined by three new guests our first sighting was a snake on camp road. Still on camp road we also came across some more waterbuck. On the way down the Numbi tar road a lone buffalo walked in the middle of the road towards us, spotted us and dashed into the high grass out of sight. We turned onto Napi spotting our first impalas of the afternoon.  As we got word it was all quiet on Napi, we turned onto Fayi Loop. Along with stretches of quiet we saw an elephant bull, more waterbuck, pretty waterlillies and a nice sighting of 4 giraffes.

Around Shabeni and Albassini it was void of animals. However the hippos at Mestel Dam were waking up, showing us 3/4 of their bodies, and the fish eagle had returned. We then saw a herd of female impala having a moment of jumping madness, which was great fun to watch.

 

19 April 2014

Today was our last day of the five-day safari of Alex and Owen as well as the end if the quickie safari of Joe, Michael and Werner. We started off with a nice giraffe, silhouetted against the sunrise. We also saw a white rhino close to the road which hung around for a bit so we could take some nice photos.

We then drove down Napi which was fairly quiet. We did come across a large dazzle of zebras on Napi Boulders, most likely two groups that met along the way. We then encountered two other white rhino sightings on our travels.

Following the very fresh signs of elephant (dung and chewed branches left in the middle of the road) we saw a glimpse of the culprit. A klipspringer stood like a statue on Klipsrpinger Koppies, just before we turned onto a quiet H3.


Continuing on we then saw a nice family of white rhino, Mum, possibly Dad and a very young rhino. This got us some cute pictures! We heard on the radio about a cheetah and we were in luck. At Renoster Koppies Waterhole a cheetah was indeed lying in the shade. We did see her while she had her head up, but mostly she was lying down flat. Continuing up the S114 we got another tip about some wild dogs, at Stevenson Hamilton Memorial. We turned into the road and immediately knew where as it was quite a build-up of cars. We decided to follow the stream past the sighting and then turn around and join the line on the other side. Trying not to impede others and manoeuvring around the cars stationary on the best viewing points, we were in luck that just when we got close one of the wild dogs stood up in plain view! He wiggled around a bit and then dropped down again in the shade. We decided to leave the wild dog sighting to have a short break at Skukuza.

After the break it had become a boiling hot day. We made our way back to Phabeni Gate via Doispane spotting impala males misbehaving, a very pretty kudubull, buffalo bulls lounging in the water, more zebras, a bateleur and a tawny eagle, lilac breasted rollers, a display of two yellow-billed hornbills and some more giraffes. Then it was time to say goodbye to the KNP. To all my guests, it was great having you on my truck this week! Maybe we'll meet again one day!!

 

Keep watching for more!!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

On Safari With Karen From 14 April 2014

14 April 2014

This morning Jordan and Adriane had booked an additional bushwalk so they left early before breakfast. It was a good walk where they learned loads about tracks, dung and vegetation. They saw impala as well as hippos close by. After their return, we had breakfast, some rest and then set out for our safari.

We were told about a possible lion ...
sighting down the H3 so we started driving in that direction. On Napi we spotted our first animals: impalas, kudus and a lone buffalo bull. We continued to Napi Boulders to spot our first elephant for Jordan and Adriane. This magnificent bull crossed the road in front of us and then started having a mud bath in a small puddle. We watched him throw muddy water all over himself and as a prize he kneeled down and keeled over to dump himself in the little puddle. He then got up and walked off.

A little further on Napi we spotted four giraffe walking in an open area so we had a great view. And a couple of kilometres down the road we saw a nice herd of elephants with 2 young ones that were only as high as the thatching grass.

We spotted nothing more than impalas until we turned onto the H3. As it was the heat of the day by now, most animals were hiding in the shade out of sight and this actually fitted us quite well as this way we could make progress to get to the lion sighting. When we arrived on the announced spot there were some cars and we were lucky that one of the lions had his head raised. We took some pictures quickly as he was looking around and then the lion went to lie down. Being flat he almost disappeared from view, if you didn't know they were there you could drive straight by it. We hang around for a while to see if they would move again and once again they were in luck. Nearing the end of our patience (read: bladder possibilities) we were close to driving off when one of the two brothers decided to move. So much so that he got up, walked four meters and went to lie back down on a different spot. Shortly after his brother followed. Once they were lying back down that was our cue to leave.

We drove down to Afsaal for a toilet break and some lunch. After that we decided to drive back the same way we came and have another go at the lions. Another herd of elephants came across our paths just after we left Afsaal. While munching away on a fallen Marula tree, they were one happy family, as more and more elephants crossed the road to reunite with the herd.

Back at the lion sighting we didn't see much more than one of the lions propping up its head shortly, but mostly they just showed us where they were with a flick of their tail. We continued up the H3 spotting kudus, impalas, warthog, a nice bateleur in the middle of the road and a yellow billed kite.

We had our mind set on returning home, as it has been a long day. We were then surprised by two grazing rhinos right next to the road. We watched them watching us for a bit and when we drove off, a 200m further a leopard was walking in the middle of the road. He crept up to a known hyena den had a tentative sniff and decided he didn't like the smell. Looked around at us, and then walked off towards the bush. When he turned around we noticed he had a big gash on his leg so we gave him some distance to disappear before we continued our drive.

As we had been so lucky to now have seen all of the big five in one day we decided to head home and only stop for something special or new. We passed more white rhino sightings, lots of impala, warthog and waterbuck. It had been a long but awesome day!!!

15 April 2014

Today was the last day of the safari tour of Adriane and Jordan. Sadly we packed up, checked out and drove away for our last drive after breakfast.

We drove to Albassini seeing a lot of buffalo tracks and dung. Just before Mestel Dam we noticed a large herd lying in the high grass on either side of the road. As we hadn't seen a herd of buffalo yet, this was a nice sighting! There were some massive bulls as well as young calf’s to be admired. At Mestel Dam itself we saw two fish eagles and the hippos were playing in the water before their bedtime.

We continued on Albassini and got surprised by a large bull elephant suddenly appearing out of a thick bush. He got startled a bit too, but settled quickly, passing us on the road. His companion followed, but he started munching on the marula tree next to us. Branch by branch he took it down. He tried a little push for the big branch or even the whole tree but no such luck. However it was really fun to see him select the branches before grabbing it, pulling it off and then eating it, so we watched him for quite some time.

Down on Doispane towards Nyamundwa Dam it was rather quiet. We saw another bull elephant grazing, a wildebeest, a slender mongoose crossing the road and some impalas.

We then returned down Albassini and Shabeni where a grey duiker quickly crossed in front of us, but the rest of the animals were hiding away. I guess our luck had just run out on this safari.

After all the excitement yesterday it was a bit quieter, but nonetheless enjoyable. Adriane and Jordan, you were great guests, thank you for joining us and good luck with the tour around the world, and the new job! Maybe we will see you back one day!

16 April 2014

This morning we set out for what ended up a full day safari. Just reaching the tar road we sat talking about a marula tree when a call came in from Frank about some lions close by. We headed in that direction and saw two male lions lying flat on a rock. We had to use binoculars to see them, but it was out in the open. On the other side of the vehicle we spotted three klipspringers on Shabeni rock. We drove to Shabeni road to see the lions from a different angle and we were in luck as both of them raised their head for a little while. Nonetheless still too far for pictures, but still a good viewing.

We continued up Shabeni and then Albassini road encountering hardly any animals: a flock of guineafowls and impalas. We had gotten a tip that wild dogs were in the area. We saw indeed the tracks, but we were having no such luck to see the dogs. We quickly stopped at Phabeni Gate for a toilet break before continuing on River Road for our search for the wild dogs. Except for two families of dwarf mongoose and a lizard buzzard we only found tracks of elephant and rhino.

We drove down Riverlink onto Doispane where we spotted some zebras and a large herd of impala, where the male was chasing the females. While watching the male do crazy things a member of the public informed us about two leopards up ahead, so we speeded up a little. This time we did get lucky as the moment we arrived we saw two leopards in a tree. One of them jumped down before we were ready for pictures, but the second one stayed lounging in the tree for quite some time. This made us very happy.

We decided to have an early lunch at the Skukuza Golfclub, seeing waterbuck, leopard tortoises, a brown snake eagle and a chameleon on the way. We had a stop at Lake Panic, seeing a large terrapin swim by, a hippo sleeping close by, a malachite kingfisher and an African jacana.

After lunch we continued down Napi heading for the lodge as it was getting colder and windier. On the side of the road out of the golfclub we had a nice camouflaged grey duiker and we saw two elephants when we reached the tar road. The drive home brought us some nice giraffes, a large herd of buffalo, three lots of rhinos, kudus with a large kudu bull and vervet monkeys. We finished on camp road with two more giraffes just before entering the lodge.

Keep watching for more!!

On Safari With Curtis From 11 April 2014

11 April 2014

A new tour and after greeting all the guests in Nelspruit we headed down to Nkambeni Safari Lodge which is our home for the few nights. Along camp road we saw the resident Impalas before entering the camp. After checking in and locating our rooms it was time for the guests to go on their Sunset drive. (Details about that tomorrow.

12 April
2014

Last night’s Sunset drive was thoroughly enjoyed by everyone, the rain stayed away and everyone got to see a lovely African sunset with a glass of Amarula in hand. They also had a number of good sightings to get their safari off to a good start, animals seen were White Rhino, Impala, Zebra with foal, Owl, Buffalo and Klipspringer.

This morning was an early start as it was time for the bushwalk, a chance to see all the smaller aspects of the bush as well, if lucky, to see the larger animals up close. Although the larger mammals turned out to be limited, with Buffalo and Waterbuck being seen from a distance, all the guests thoroughly enjoyed the experience. There is nothing better than walking in the bush experiencing the sounds and sights at ground level learning about all the scat and spoor and the smaller life forms that make the bush what it is!!!!

In the afternoon we headed down Albasini and spotted the resident Hippos at Mestel dam as well as a Sounder of Male Warthogs. The loop around Shabeni was fairly quiet although we did see three buffalo hiding in the bush as well as a female Klipspringer on the rocks. As we left Shabeni onto the tar we got a message from Karen about a Leopard sighting. Luckily we were very close and were able to get there in time. The young male Leopard was very skittish and wouldn't allow us to get too close but we did have plenty of time following him down the road. We made our way back to camp seeing Kudu and Impala along the way.

13 April 2014

We left the lodge a little bit later than normal and set off down Napi, sightings were fairly limited for the first part until we got to the boulders and found a couple of Bull Elephants hiding away in the bush, they unfortunately had no plans on showing themselves too much and so we carried on, we then came upon a couple of White Rhino very close to the road and in the open. As we carried on we made a detour to Transport dam where the pod of Hippos were lounging at the edge of the water and a herd of Waterbuck were hanging around. There was also a Water monitor basking on a nearby rock.

We then heard about possible Leopard and Lion sightings further down the road and so made our way there however on both occasions we turned up too late missing both by just a couple of minutes. As we headed down to lunch we then heard that the Leopards had returned again and so we turned around and headed back, on our way we came across a old Male Giraffe who obliged us by stopping and posing for us and then walking across the road in front of us. After he had disappeared we continued to the Leopard sighting and we were lucky enough to find two Leopards up in a marula tree. They hung around for a while before jumping down and again disappearing into the bush. We made our way to our lunch stop at Skukuza golf club seeing Warthog, Kudu, Steenbok, another White Rhino and plenty of Impala before we saw a young Elephant by the side of the road, too young to be on his own we waited for a few minutes before the rest of the family showed and crossed over the road in front of us.

After an enjoyable lunch, where the Hippos were very vocal, we headed back to the lodge, the afternoon was warming up a fair bit and sightings were very scarce but we did get to see more Elephants, Waterbuck, Kudu, Warthog, Impala and a small family herd of Zebra. On the lodges camp road we also found the huge territorial White Rhino male.

14 April 2014

This morning three of the guests set off early on their bushwalk enjoying the magic of walking in the Kruger National park, although the larger animals were in short supply all the guests enjoyed the walk.

While they were on the walk the rest of us went for a drive. As I got through Numbi gate I happened to look down one of the dirt roads and noticed something walking along the road. A closer look, through the binoculars, saw me looking at a African Wild Dog, we quickly turned the car around but by the time we got to the place it had disappeared. We looked up and down the road but unfortunately nothing. I decided to carry on and was in luck as about a kilometre further down we came across the rest of the pack, 8 dogs in total. We followed for twenty or so minutes with them occasionally stopping and sniffing around before they disappeared into the bush. We then found Hippo and Waterbuck at the dam and Warthog close by. Further along we saw White Rhino. It then became a little bit quieter as we drove around Fay loop although we did have some fun with a family of Dwarf Mongoose who popped out of the grass to have a peek at us before scurrying back in. We drove up Napi but it was very quiet. As we turned around to head home we had time to stop and get some more photos of the Impala and Kudu which were hanging by the side of the road and a nice sighting of a Cape Buffalo which was very close to the road. We also saw both the Hinged and Leopard Tortoise as well as Chameleon. Unfortunately when we got back to Numbi it was the end of the safari for Zoya and Jason who both thoroughly enjoyed their time here in KNP.

This afternoon I decided to concentrate on going to a possible Lion sighting which had been reported earlier in the day. We headed down along Napi which was very quiet, as all we saw were Waterbuck and Impala, until just before transport dam we found a Leopard walking along the road. He walked to a known Hyena den, had a sniff and then walked across the road to smell the other side of the den. He then continued to walk along the road as we followed him. After he had disappeared into the bush we drove straight to the Lion sighting and found two males lying in the grass. Unfortunately they were in no mood for us tourists as all we got to see was the occasion flick of the tail, their bellies as they rolled over and on a couple of occasions they sat up to have a look at us. Time was running out for us and so we regrettably had to leave heading back along the same road we came. As we drove we came upon roadblock after roadblock, firstly a herd of Elephants had just crossed the road and with them 5 White Rhino, 3 of which decided to come back onto the road and stand staring at us. Once we past them we met our second roadblock in the shape of two Cheetah, with a third slightly in the bush. They again stood their ground and with time running out we had to edge our way past as they sat on the road. We drove on to find the third roadblock of 5 Giraffe with around ten more either side of the road. They were a bit more co-operative and moved off the road to allow us to pass. As we approached transport dam again our final stoppage in the shape of Hyenas. They were very chilled and we were able to pass by without to much problem.

Afterwards the road was very quiet which is just as well as we just managed to get camp by curfew time.

An incredible day, one which everyone including myself will never forget!!!

15 April 2014

Last night sunset drive for the two new arrivals was a huge success, as well as seeing the sun go down with a glass of amarula they also saw plenty of animals including White Rhino, Cape Buffalo, Hippo, Impala, Kudu and Owls. The highlight has to be when they saw the pack of Wild dog, which we had seen early morning, hunt and chase and kill an Impala. The sight of the pack ripping apart the animal was an incredible sight.

This morning we went for a short drive and saw a nice herd of Buffalo, we could see around 50 animals but from the noise around us I think there were many more. We also had 3 more Buffalo sightings during the drive as well seeing Hippo, Saddle-billed storks, African Fish Eagle, Impala, Kudu, Giraffe and Dwarf Mongoose before we had to say goodbye to six of our guests, Monika, Robin, Hannah, Louisa, Daniel and Jonas have had some incredible sightings over the last four days and I wish you plenty of more great memories on the next part of your travels.

This afternoon we set down Napi where we saw Kudu, Impala, Warthog as well as a lovely sighting of Giraffe and Zebra which crossed the road in front of us. We also had a couple of sightings of bull Elephants and a good sighting of 4 White Rhino. At transport dam we saw the resident Hippos, Waterbuck and a really nice Water Monitor which crossed the road right next to the vehicle. There were plenty of birds also including the Egyptian Geese, Blacksmith lapwings and Lilac -breasted Rollers. On the way back to the lodge we headed down Shabeni link, after a tip off, and found a Leopard hiding in the grass. We were patient enough to wait and in time he started to get up and move enabling us to watch him for some time. As time ran out we also came across the herd of Buffalo we had encountered this morning, they really hadn't moved very far in a day.

16 April 2014

After setting off today we had seen some Impala and Kudu when we got news of some Lions on Shabeni loop, when we got there we saw two male Lions sat on the top of a large rock. With a good set of binoculars we were able to see both very clearly. We then moved on and found a Giraffe which was busy having breakfast thanks to the Buffalo thorn he was munching on. It must have tasted good as he was happy to munch on it for about 30 minutes. We then moved onto Doispane which was fairly quiet although we did come across a Common Reedbuck and African Fish Eagle. We were also lucky enough to find four large bull Elephants who obligingly walked across the road in front of our vehicle, one of them giving us an unconvincing shake of the head. We then continued onto the golf club for a warm cup of coffee, just before we got there we found ourselves with a Elephant near to the road, a closer look and we found a herd of 15-20 around us. We watched until they moved further into the bush and then came a family of Banded Mongoose.

After coffee we headed to Watergat finding Kudu, Impala, Buffalo and also two Honey Badgers which ran across the road, as we approached the place they had crossed we had another brief look before they disappeared into the bush. We also saw two Chameleons and a lot of Leopard Tortoises on the road. We also saw two Saddle-billed Storks in the river bed as we went down the H3.

After lunch, at Afsals, we headed down Voortreeker, this was extremely quiet as we only came upon Impala, Kudu, both White-backed and Lappet- faced Vultures and Helmeted Guinea-fowl before we got back to the lodge.

Keep watching for more!!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Kruger National Park Gate Quotas In Forced During The Easter weekend

Day Visitors to the Kruger National Park are requested to take note of gate quotas when planning their visit, as these will strictly be enforced during this coming Easter Weekend which starts on Thursday, 17 to Monday, 21 April 2014.

Visitors are advised to either arrive at the gate very early in the morning because the service...
is on first-come-first-served basis or pre-book their entrance with central reservations office on telephone number 012 428 9111, in order to ensure that they gain access to the park in terms of their own plan and are not sent back at the gate.

“We are calling on everyone who is planning to come to the park as a day visitor to please make the necessary arrangement beforehand in order to avoid unnecessary disappointment”, said the General Manager: Communication & Marketing in the Kruger National Park, William Mabasa.

Those who pre-book their visit will be expected to pay a non-refundable deposit of R32 per adult and R16 per child entering the park, which is meant to secure their space because they would have been counted in the number that makes the daily quota. Day visitors with advanced bookings are also expected to arrive at the booked gate by not later than 13:00 on the date of the booking, after which the booking lapses. A pre-booking however does not exempt the day visitor from paying the normal conservation fees upon arrival at the gate but secures him/her entry.

All visitors are also reminded to bring along their identity documents (IDs) or some alternative form of identity to avoid problems at the gates. Wild Cards cannot be used to identify one as legitimate holder and should be accompanied by some form of identity document.

Mabasa also reminds visitors not to bring liquor with them as the alcohol ban on public areas in the Park is a permanent rule enforced during both quiet and busy periods. Law enforcement officials will be on the look-out for rule breakers. Visitors can also report any incident of rules and regulations infringement to the Emergency Call Centre at 013 735 4325. Various honorary rangers will be deployed in order to assist gate staff with managing the queues and other different services available at the gates.

Day Visitors, who may not be able to gain entry because the quota has been reached, can if they wish, make use of the park and ride a facility which is available at some gates. The park and ride will cost visitors extra money but will be better than having to be turned back at the entrance gate.

“We also request visitors to plan their trip by observing gate opening and closing times so that they do not find themselves either speeding or arriving late at the camps/gates on their way in/out of the park;” concluded Mabasa. People must please read their permits received at the gates because all the rules and regulations of the park are clearly stipulated in those documents.

KNP has ten entrance gates i.e. Pafuri, Punda Maria, Phalaborwa, Giriyondo, Orpen, Paul Kruger, Phabeni, Numbi, Malelane and Crocodile Bridge.

Issued by:
South African National Parks Kruger National Park Communications

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Hectic Week For Anti-Poaching Units In Kruger National Park

South African National Parks (SANParks) said in a statement that the past week proved to be one of the busiest weeks for anti-poaching units in the Kruger National Park (KNP) with as many as three heavily armed groups of suspected poachers detected by Rangers in the iconic park.

According to SANParks spokesperson, Reynold Thakhuli, th...
e week saw Rangers chasing and successfully apprehending a number of armed-to-the-teeth suspected poachers leading to the successful arrest of more than six suspects over the weekend.

He said these follow the arrests of two SANParks employees on Monday, 7 April 2014 on suspicion of poaching, bringing a total of arrests relating to suspected poaching to eight. The two SANParks men appeared in the White River Magistrate Court on Wednesday, 9 April, where their case was remanded to 16 April 2014 for a formal bail application.

Thakhuli said that most of the incidents of the past week were in the southern part of the park in areas such as Crocodile Bridge, Kingfisherspruit, Tshokwane and Stolsnek.

He said on Thursday, 10 April 2014, Rangers from Crocodile Bridge apprehended a group of two suspected poachers leaving the park. The two suspects, believed to be Zimbabwean nationals, were arrested on the spot. A G3 military type rifle, silencer and ammunition were recovered.

On Friday, 11 February 2014, Rangers from the Kingfisherspruit area apprehended a group of two suspected rhino poachers, leading to the arrest of one of the armed suspects. A .458 rifle, silencer, ammunition and poaching equipment were recovered. The second suspect managed to escape arrest.

Tshokwane Rangers apprehended two suspected rhino poachers on Saturday, 12 April 2014. One suspect was arrested and a .375 hunting rifle, ammunition and poaching equipment were recovered. The second suspect managed to escape back to Mozambique.

Sunday, 13 April 2014 was a very busy day for Stolsnek Rangers when they apprehended a group of five suspected rhino poachers. Two of the suspects were arrested with the help of SANParks Airwing and canine units. The hunt is still on for the remaining three suspects who managed to escape.

Thakhuli said the proactive actions of everyone involved had finally paid off and that the possibility of more arrests will not be ruled out as follow up investigations are underway. “This is a clear indication that resilience and patience pays off and we are grateful that no lives were lost during an encounter with these heavily armed suspected poachers.”

He said the Anti-poaching units are ready for this coming long weekend with many deployments routes being plotted out, particularly in hot spots. “We are not resting this coming weekend as we believe there are quite few poaching incidents being planned by poachers. We will be ready and waiting for them and we would like to request the support and cooperation of all members of society in identifying and reporting suspicious behavior that could lead to the apprehension and conviction of these criminals.”

Issued by:
South African National Parks Corporate Communications

Monday, April 14, 2014

On Safari With Karen From 10 April 2014


10 April 2014

Upon arrival in the park we instantly spotted some lone maleimpalas. As breeding season is starting soon, more and more males will be excluded from the herds by stronger ones and they will start forming bachelor groups. These males were still too young to breed, so now they are on their own. Furthermore we saw a small dung beetle rolling its ball of dung, pushing it through the wet sand and up the side of the road. It really took some effort as the dung ball kept on rolling of course with dung beetle and all.

This first day the guests went on their sundowner safari, so there was some time to relax before the drive left. The guests were very lucky on their first drive. They saw buffalos, an elephant crossing the road, kudu, a chameleon, a martial eagle and lions twice!

 

11 April 2014

We left after breakfast, just when a downpour started. Within a couple of seconds we were drenched, but the impalas didn't seem to mind. We also saw a white rhino lying in a drainage line and the rain water was pooling all around him.

We drove down Napi and luckily the rain started to lessen. We saw a waterbuck cross the road just before Shitlhave Dam and a little further on was a harem of zebra. The youngsters were quite skittish, but the adults didn't mind their picture taken.

On the way to Skukuza we also spotted kudu, black chested snake eagle, bateleur, klipspringer and more zebras.

After our coffee break we were surprised by a large herd of buffalo just past Skukuza. We hoped they would cross the road, but no such luck.

We then drove down Doispane and Albassini back to our lodge. Doispane was very good for viewing leopard tortoises as we saw many in different sizes. We also were surprised by a black mamba that suddenly crossed the road in front of the car. He sped up as soon as he felt us coming but we all got a glimpse.

Ground hornbills are the most endangered birds in the Kruger National Park and today was the first time this year we spotted them on safari. A little group of five walked through the high grass, their heads just visible. We stayed with them for a bit until they were completely engulfed in the vegetation.

Furthermore we spotted blue wildebeest, lilac breasted roller, warthog, hippos, terrapin, two kudu bulls and more waterbuck on our morning drive.

In the afternoon we started with the already pretty common impalas and then a little group of kudu females. Down Napi towards Shitlhave Dam we spotted a mother elephant with two young generations. It is not usual to see them by themselves in such a small group, but there was no herd in sight. At Shitlhave Dam two hippos were playing in the water. On the way back we took a little loop at Pretoriuskop as people had told us they just saw a leopard there, but alas it had disappeared. We did however see a couple of vervet monkeys in the trees.

 

12 April 2014

This morning we drove past the impalas on camp road and turned onto Albassini. It was pretty quiet. We spotted tracks and signs of zebra, buffalo, elephant and hyena but the only animal we actually saw were three elephants far in the bush.

Just before we reached Doispane we saw vervet monkeys in the trees next to the road playing in the morning sun. We watched for a while and then continued towards Nyamundwa Dam where the hippos were playing noisily. Upon return towards Albassini we saw a small herd of wildebeest, three giraffes, and a slender mongoose crossing the road.

Back on Albassini we had a lovely sighting of a family of dwarf mongoose. Then suddenly all the mongoose scurried away and we wondered why until a big elephant came walking around the corner. He was followed by another one and we watched those two bulls feeding for quite some time. One was quite grumpy and even had a teaser fight with the younger elephant.

After a break at Pretoriuskop we also spotted a black headed oriole, black collared barbet, African hoopoe, a large group of banded mongoose, some more dwarf mongoose and two kudu bulls.

In the afternoon we started again with the impalas on camp road. We drove around Shabeni Loop spotting a klipspringer standing guard on the rock and had a buffalo take a run at us through a drainage line and the high grass to stop in front of us and start feeding. Further on we saw two more.

On the way to Circle Road we were lucky in spotting a sable antelope. He got surprised by our stop and swiftly crossed the road behind us and disappeared into the bush. It was a short but special sighting as sables are really secretive and rare to see.

The highlight of the day however was the next sighting. On Circle road we spotted a cat walking in front of us, and with the help of binoculars it was identified as a leopard. Upon seeing us though, he jumped into the grass and disappeared from view. We parked up where we saw him last and waited... It paid off! After a longish wait we heard a rustle and then the leopard came back on to the road in front of us! He looked back a couple of times and assured of our distance and non threat he laid down in the middle of the road and had a little play with a branch and a roll. He then got up and kept on walking. We followed at a distances, keeping him in view while he sniffed around and jumped around the puddles in the road. It was a brilliant sighting and we all loved the ending of this day!!

 

13 April 2014

This morning we set out right after an early breakfast for our morning safari. When we turned into Albassini we spotted a nice flock of guineafowls lying on the road. Once they all had gotten up they kept on running in front of the car for about 500m before going into the bush on the side of the road. Eish, talk about morning gymnastics! We also saw a herd of impalas and some lone buffalo bulls, both in the middle of the road as well, but they moved off a bit quicker than the guineafowls.

At Mestel Dam we saw an island of hippos, a fish eagle in a tree and a herd of waterbuck. One of the waterbuck was leucist, so he stood out against the others.

We stopped for what initially were two rhinos in the high grass on the side of the road, until a third one joined them. Judging by their reactions it was a mother with a youngster that got checked out by the bull of the area. On Shabeni rocks we saw a large troop of baboons.

Towards Pretoriuskop a warthog played model for us, showing off all his good sides. Basically he showed every side of him though. On the little loop we encounter some dwarf mongoose, that got a little curious about us when we stopped to watch them warm up in the morning sun. And just in the end of the loop we saw a mother giraffe with a very little baby, approximately only a week old. The little one was still working on her coordination as it walked straight into a branch as it tried to follow the mother quickly when she walked off. We had a little chuckle, but mostly she was plain cute!

We then had to say goodbye to Chris and Bruce, who had joined us on a 3-day safari, as well as to the Hulsen family who spend 4 days on safari with us. Sad to see you go, but hopefully you'll be back someday!

In the afternoon we went out for a short bumble on the savannah with the remaining guests. We drove to Shitlhave Dam and back, with a loop around Shabeni just in case. Mostly we talked about the conservation and management of a vast natural area like the Kruger NP, but we also stopped for a buffalo on the side of the road, vervet monkeys displaying why it is called a blue monkey in Afrikaans and some nice kudus. At Shitlhave Dam we saw some young waterbucks, a terrapin, a crocodile on the rock on the side, and the nostrils of a hippo. The loop around Shabeni gave us no new animals this time, just the family of three klipspringers on top, more vervet monkeys and a herd of impalas.

All in all still a good day!

Friday, April 11, 2014

On Safari With Mark From 7 April 2014


7 April 2014

Route: Voortrekker - H3 - Napi - Nkambeni

General animals seen: kudu, impala, waterbuck, warthog, elephant, blue wildebeest, rhino, buffalo, giraffe, steenbok, common duiker, Chackma baboons, vervet monkeys, tortoise, terrapins and hippos

Highlights:


Today was rather quiet, with only general animals seen. We did get to see 2 spotted Hyena's on the road just past ship mountains.


Great photo opportunity for the guests as it was the first time we spotted them in the 4 days we've been going.

We see what tomorrow has in store for us. Hope we can get a male lion before some of my guests depart.

 

8 April 2014

Route: Napi - Doispan - Albaseni - Nkambeni

General animals seen: kudu, zebra, impala, common duiker, warthog, giraffe, blue wildebeest, waterbuck, rhino, elephant, buffalo and hippos

Highlight: on our way down napi we decided to stop off at transport dam and on the access rd we found a large male leopard lying snoozing, belly full from an impala he must of caught earlier. After spending time with him, he got up and casually walked away from us. Guests got great photos as he was approximately 3m away from the vehicle.

 

9 April 2014

Route: Napi - H3 - Doispan - Albaseni - Shabeni koppies - Numbi tar - Nkambeni

General animals seen: same as day before with the exception of steenbok as well.

Highlights: we were informed about 3 cheetahs on S65 approximately 1.2km from napi and responded as guests had not seen cheetah before. We found them in an open clearing enjoying the first bit of sun for the past two days. All 3 relaxed and guests could get photos although these cats lay approximately 30m from our vehicle.

While at the cheetah sighting, a college informed me of another leopard sighting and so we decided to respond as this one was lying in the tree. No sooner had we arrived and got visual of this majestic male, he dropped his kill out of the tree, right into the hungry mouths of spotted Hyena's. They ripped the leftovers up and off they went. As the coast was clear the leopard jumped out of the tree, and moved away. Guests enjoyed the interaction between leopard and Hyena's and could get good photos of this.

Still no lions for the last guests on this safari, so just before we exit the park we going on a last drive to see if we can locate them.

 

Keep watching for more!!