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Kruger National Park – Day 27

6 December 2017 – Last full day in Kruger

It rained in the night and it was still overcast and cool when we woke up and temperatures only reached the mid twenties today. As it was our last day in the park we decided to make the most of it and took a long drive stopping first at Crocodile Bridge camp for brunch and Afsaal for afternoon coffee.  We left at 6:00 am and only got back to Berg en Dal at 4:00 pm

It was an amazing last day and our sightings were really special.

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First to greet us early this morning was Mr Waterbuck

 

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The first of the many rhino we came across today

Giraffe are the most elegant of creatures and even when they’re having a confrontation it looks more like a ballet than a boxing match.  It’s called necking when they fight but it all looks so gentelmanly

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They don’t look aggressive at all

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Getting ready to knock each other’s necks

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Elephant spectators look on in amusement

We took a loop to be closer to the river and suddenly The Earl noticed this fellow fly into a tree.  It took a while for me to see him and when I did I was delighted as it’s the first for this trip and one of the less common kingfishers.

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Grey-headed Kingfisher

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He gave The Earl a fright

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A rhino road block

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Mom and baby giraffe

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The wind got into this Martial Eagle’s feathers

After breakfast at Crocodile Bridge we spotted some impala, wildebeest and warthogs just outside the camp.  The warthogs had piglets.

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Too much cuteness here!

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Sweeeet!

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Adorable

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Pretty Piggies

The Earl started moving on – “Wait,” I said, “I’m enjoying the piglets – don’t go yet!”  “We have to find the lions and leopards.” he said.  “No!” I complained. “Let’s enjoy what we’ve got!” But he wouldn’t listen and I was miffed!

But not for long – had we stayed as I’d have liked we would have missed this!

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Lioness on the move

We spotted her coming across an open field.   The Earl reversed and turned into another road where she came right toward us and then passed our vehicle.

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She was heading somewhere with purpose

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She paused when she saw some wildebeest

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She dropped down in the long glass – unseen by the wildebeest – Spot the ears

 

No way could she hunt those wildies on her own.   We stayed with her for a while but then it was time to move on.  What a great sighting.

while later on our drive we came across some more royalty  – this time there were four – one blocking the road and the others lying asleep in the veld.

 

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The King blocking his Highway

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Then flopping down to sleep regardless of the two cars wanting to pass by

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But in the end he got up and moved and joined his friends.

We thought we might get all five of the Biggies today but we dipped on leopard.  Not that we can complain as we have had so many lovely experiences with leopard on other days and who can sniff at two lovely lion sightings in one day!

Other interesting sightings before we finally gave up for the day.

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White-crested Helmet-shrike

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Don’t wander off too far, young one.

 

Toward the end of our drive the skies started to darken and it was raining when we arrived at camp.  We debated about what to do about dinner but it cleared sufficiently to enable us to go with Plan A and braai.  I stir fried some veggies to go with it.   It is still raining now so it will be a wet pack-up tomorrow!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Kruger National Park – Day 26

5 December 2017 – Berg en Dal

We are nicely settled here at Berg en Dal at the south end of The Kruger National Park.  Our campsite is right next to the fence and when we arrived yesterday we saw a herd of elephant close by.   Also in front of our site is a tall tree where two yellow-billed kites have built a nest.  It is well hidden but we have seen Mom and Dad in the open a few times – but in poor light.  Hopefully better photos will be possible soon.

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The whole of Berg en Dal rest camp is in pristine condition.  The paths are swept and there facilities are kept sparkling clean. In all the other camps we have found there are issues with maintenance. If Berg en Dal can get it right – then so can the others!

The one problem we are having here is with the monkeys.  Oh my – they are so cheeky!  The problem probably began because tourists insisted on feeding them and now thy take the easy way out and try to steal from the campers.   Our neighbours had a whole loaf of bread taken from under their noses and our butter very nearly went Awol but The Earl managed to frighten the culprit and she dropped it.  A bit of dusting off later and it’s now safely secured in a plastic container in the locked fridge.

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This baby was right outside our caravan  – I yelled at him and he ran to Mom

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“That nasty old lady yelled at me, Mom”  he said.                                                                                                                                         “How could you?!” she looked at me in disgust.

We were out by six this morning and were back for breakfast by ten.   At first we did not see much but then things improved.  Once again today there were more of the biggies and unusual smallies.

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Lovely to see a red-breasted swallow

Gardenia Hide is usually stunning but there was very little there today.  We were also disappointed to find that the path to the hide had been neglected, there were poles missing from the fence and there was an overflowing bin at the gate as well as litter on the path.  Not good enough Sanparks!

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African Wattled Lapwing

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Tree-frog nest built over water so that when the eggs hatch the tadpoles will fall in.  They fend for themselves from birth.

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A well camouflaged Water Thick-knee

Kudu, tortoise and buffalo were next on our list.  We also saw a few herds of elephant but they were hiding in the trees.  Four rhino were also some distance off.IMG_8705IMG_8710P1120459

And finally a leopard turned up this morning – not the best sighting ever but good to see him on a rock. He was fast asleep and didn’t stir for anyone!

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After the leopard we continued to see some lovely sightings – elephants, kudu, tortoise and buffalo until we returned to camp.  We rested until 3 o’clock and then went out for our afternoon drive.

First we encountered a herd of elephants. The babies were adorable

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A ground hornbill crossed our path

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A wainterhole we visited proved to be absolutely stunning.  We found a rhino having a wonderful, wallowing time and when the elephants came down they gave him a wide berth.  I wonder what it was that made them nervous of a rhino – his lovely long horn perhaps?

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Blissfully wallowing in the cool water

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Elephant giving a wide berth

Eventually the elephants left with a great deal of trumpeting.  They chased the poor impala from the scene.   We stayed to watch the rhinoceros complete his beauty treatment. He had a few itches to scratch  and amused us with the solution to his problems!

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Emerging after a lovely muddy bath

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Oooh what a lovely scratch

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Well, nobody’s going to do it for me, you know!

Finally he trundled off to his midden quite a way off but which we could still see.  He sprayed liberally into the midden and then wandered off.

We continued on our way too and enjoyed these other creatures along the way

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A common duiker peeked at us

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A hyena on a mission

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A red-breasted swallow

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And another rhino having a mud bath somewhere else!

It was another perfect evening and we braaied chicken kebabs for dinner.

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Only one more full day left in Kruger – how time flies.

 

 

 

 

2

Taking the Kids to Kruger – Pretoriouskop to Berg en Dal

FRIDAY 2 APRIL 2012

Pretoriouskop is a lovely camp and we sat outdoors and braaied our supper last night.  It was lovely to see the row of fires as our neighbours all did the same thing.  A group of loud American tourists were next door and their guide came over to apologize for the noise.  He promised it wouldn’t last long as they were all tired and would be going to bed early!  We quite enjoyed hearing them joyfully recount the events of the day – they’d clearly had a good time.

Today was our last full day in the park.   It has not been the most productive holiday game wise that we have had but we each day has had its special sightings. Earl and I are delighted that we have been able to find the Big 5 for the children and that many special creatures have been seen.  The only thing left on our wish list was Wild Dog. We really wanted to show them these beautiful animals also know as Painted Wolves and Cape Hunting Dog.  They are vulnerable and through conservation efforts have been brought back from the brink of extinction.

We took a long route via Lower Sabie to get to our final camp, Berg en Dal.  Check in time is 2 p.m. so there is not point rushing straight there.   The roads we travelled were rewarding.

Miraculously we had everyone dressed, fed and packed by 6 a.m. and Jay couldn’t resist taking a picture of the sunrise.

The periods between sightings can be long and boring for young children specially if they’re ADHD.  Jay is fine once his medication kicks in but he is a natural clown and entertained his cousins by taking their stuffed toys and pretending they were ‘out to get them’.  Poor Grandpa was very patient when Monkey appeared at his window while the kids collapsed in mirth.

But at a sighting the excitement was transferred to the real animals and they all competed for window space to get their photographs.   Jay being the oldest and at the top of the pecking order managed to get the best ones as he shoved the younger ones out of his way!

Early on in the day we found a heap of buffalo.  There were mothers with babies and young bulls fighting and the kids enjoyed watching it all happen.

Elephants also made a friendly appearance and Shannon shot this lovely shot of a young one.

And this one from Jay.

Giraffe were elegant as they browsed from the tops of trees.  Today they were in the mood for a photo shoot.

Shannon was amused to see that not only does a giraffe have a very long neck – he has a tongue to match!

It was not even half past eight when we saw a bit of a traffic jam ahead and there on a rock lay a lazy leopard – our third for this trip!  Its not often we seem more leopard than lion!

So then we had three of the big five for the day.  All we needed were lion and rhinoceros – usually this is not difficult – but today was to be different.

We stopped at Lower Sabie for toasted sandwiches and continued our drive.  We stopped when we saw interesting birds and the bee-eaters were really having a good time today.

We also found purple rollers and managed to take some good shots.

And Lilac breasted rollers are probably the most photogenic of all. Here is one with a gogga in his beak.

It was just before midday when we finally got the one animal we were hoping to see.  Grandpa was felt that his mission was successful – he’d shown his grandchildren the best that Kruger could offer.

After this excitement we stopped at one of the picnic sites for a loo break and to get some ‘slushies’, ice cream and crisps.

A fourth member of the Big Five was spotted next.  At first he refused to lift his head but finally we managed to get a good shot of him.

Other creatures we saw today brought us great joy.  We are so proud our grandchildren enjoy the smaller stuff as much or even more than the Big 5 and mega stars of the bush.   Josh is  more aware of the creatures around him and asks questions about how they survive. Simon at only seven remembers the names of all the birds he has seen.   Shannon is becoming quite a little expert and Jay is completely converted to conservation and gets mad when he sees bad behavour of other tourists in the park.

They have all enjoyed getting their pictures and here is a selection of what they captured today.

Magpie Shrike

European Bee Eater in flight

Brown Snake Eagle

Turtle in a mud puddle we nearly ran over!

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Lilac-breasted roller

We arrived at Berg en Dal at half past three.  The kids went for to the pool and returned a little later saying that Simon had vomited in the pool – I think he swallowed some pool water because he was quite fine when they brought him back.  “Jay saved me,” he declared.

We had a delicious chicken casserole that Lauren had made and frozen for us and after our ‘prize-giving’ it was early to bed.  They were all winners – Jay for the most enthusiastic spotter. Shannon for naming the most birds. Simon for patience and quick learning of bird names and Josh for spotting birds that Gran really wanted to see.  They were thrilled with the little puzzles, key rings, ‘canned lion’ and bath toys they won.   Hopefully this is a holiday they will never forget.  Grandpa and I certainly won’t.