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Kruger Adventure with Grandpa, Gran, Simon and Shan – Day 11

12 January 2018

The weather is once again hot in The Kruger National Park with temperatures reaching the mid thirties.

This morning for our  drive we drove to Crocodile Bridge Camp.  There were lots of the usual animals about and we got four of the Big Five.   Four rhino were quite far away so we didn’t take a photo.  There were a few elephant sightings but as we have many ellie photos we didn’t take of them either.   The same goes for buffalo which we saw from camp and from the bridge.  There is no restaurant at this Gate Camp but you can get coffee from a kiosk and ready made sandwiches, pies, muffins etc from the shop.  In the past we have enjoyed their pies but today there were none available so we settled for sandwiches which were also very good.

These are the highlights from this morning’s drive.

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A Bateleur finally posed for a half decent photograph

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The veld was littered with Impala – The kids now call them litter!

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A wildebeest resting in the shade

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Donkeys in striped pajamas everywhere

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A flotilla of white-faced ducks with a female knob-billed duck in the foreground

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An emerald-spotted wood-dove

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Wild Dog about to settle down in the shade for a midday nap

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But we disturbed their peace

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Such gorgeous creatures

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Yes – It’s hot!

When we got back to camp our neighbours told us about lions just three km from the bridge so we went in search of them.

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They were asleep under a tree quite far from the road but The King got up and stared at us

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Then flopped down again

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At the bridge we got this lovely Goliath Heron

We chilled in camp for most of the afternoon and then went out again for a short drive from 4 o’clock to 6 o’clock.  The Amur falcons and  rollers were flocking together and hawking insects which was really interesting to watch.

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Rollers hawking insects

Here are the other highlights of our afternoon drive

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Southern White-crowned Shrike

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Burchell’s Coucal

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Snake-eagle with a reptile of some sort – see the tail

When we got back the kids went for a swim with the neighbour’s kids and later Simon went on another night hike and saw hyaena from the restaurant deck.

It was a beautiful evening and we had a braai.    It was after nine before we were ready for bed.

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Kruger Adventure with Grandpa, Gran, Simon and Shan – Day 4

5 January 2018

Yesterday’s scores were as follows – Simon in the lead with 70 points.  Grandpa has 64 and Shannon 55.  Grandpa was annoyed as at first we scored him the higher score but Si reminded us that we hadn’t entered the Walk points which pushed him ahead. Grandpa hadn’t done the whole walk but he did score for creatures he saw first before he went back to the caravan and none were scored after that!

Today we moved to Skukuza Rest Camp.  It was a beautiful day with temperatures into the thirties.   Packing up the caravan and tent was fast and efficient and we left Berg en Dal at 6:20 and made our way quickly along the tar road arriving at 8:30.  We did not stop much along the way.

Check in at Skukuza was quick and efficient.  We found a campsite next to the swimming pool and an attendant came to help us set up.   We were done quickly and then walked to the shop for ice cream.   It was really hot!  We decided to rest and swim and only to go out after 1 pm.  We were pretty sure the animals would be sleeping in the shade and not showing themselves in the middle of the day.

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Shan enjoying the water – Simon kept hiding from the camera

After the kids and I swam and Grandpa napped we set off to see what we could find.  Today turned out to have long stretches with absolutely no sightings – not even a bird!  Of course there were some interesting things and we were thrilled to get the following:

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Black shouldered kite

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White-headed Vulture

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The monkeys had the kids in fits of laughter

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The baboons behave like humans!

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Elephants are always fun

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The oddest duck ever – Knob-billed duck

Usually it’s okay to do the distance but today it was really hot and the ‘dry spells’ of no sightings began to work on the patience of the un-caged kids in the back seat.   Concentration was lost, giggling and high jinks took it’s place.   How much longer became the plaintive cry.   And then — up ahead a traffic jam.   A naughty tourist was sitting on the roof of her car – Her binoculars were trained on something in the distance.  We were next to a river with a rocky bank.  “There are supposed to be lions here,” she said.  “But I can’t see them.”   Well if from her vantage point she couldn’t, what chance would we have.  We asked some others and they too said they’re here but out of sight.

Grandpa tried to maneuver the car into a better position and then he said, “What’s that walking toward us!”

All attention went from the elusive lions to what suddenly appeared and we were the first to see him!

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The leopard was quite unconcerned about the interest paid to him by the tourists

We watched this magnificent creature of the wild nonchalantly walking past the cars.  He stopped to sniff and spray and mark his territory and the excitement caused was phenomenal. It was 15 minutes to gate closing time so once we’d absorbed the sighting we made our way quickly back to camp.  What a great way to end our day.

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Kruger National Park Day 8 Orpen

6 July 2014 – Orpen

We made a fairly early start today leaving at 6:45 at 15 degrees c so not too cold. The temperatures rose to the mid twenties by mid-morning.
The sightings of game were fairly frequent and we enjoyed coming across zebra, giraffe,wildebeest and kudu at regular intervals. During the spells of nothing we would stop to see the odd bird but we certainly have not seen as many birds as we normally find at other times of the year.

Yellow-bellied Eromomela

Yellow-bellied Eremomela

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Pipits are difficult to identify but I think this one is a Bushveld Pipit

White-browed Scrub Robin

White-browed Scrub Robin

Emerald-spotted wood-dove

Emerald-spotted wood-dove

Travelling long distances, slowly through the park we sometimes start to lose concentration and drift into dream mode. During such a period Earl suddenly slammed on brakes and reversed slowly backwards. I’d seen an odd looking dove sized bird fly into a bush and we soon found it well hidden amongst the foliage. Heather managed to get a reasonable photo. A tiny pearl spotted owlet. Our first owl this trip. It is a diurnal bird unlike most owls that hunt at night.

P1030485 Pearl-spotted Owlet

We also came across a traffic jam and were irritated that cars were blocking the road to state at sleeping lions. They had huge cameras pointing out of their windows. Lions lie and sleep 20 houses a day. Take the photo and move on for Goodness sake. Come back later if you are so desperate to keep company with the king of the beasts. We were stuck behind two cars on the left and unable to see anything but a flicking tail or to pass as a car on the right blocked the way. We finally managed to persuade her to move on, slipped into her spot, took a quick photo and moved on. Half an hour later the front car caught up to us. During this time we’d stopped to commune with steenbok, giraffe, elephant etc. He raced past looking for the next lion or leopard I would imagine.

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Lion deliberately ignoring his admirers

We stopped at Muzandzenzi Picnic spot where We hired a slotted for R20 and Earl cooked us a divine breakfast. We had fun watching the cheeky hornbills and starlings beg for tidbits.

Kruger Cook

Kruger Cook

Yellow-billed Hornbill by Earl

Yellow-billed Hornbill by Earl

This picnic site has no amenities other than a long drop loo which is very clean And well maintained. There are tables and chairs and it is shady and pleasant.
Here are some of the critters we saw today

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Tawny Eagle

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Ellies found some fresh drinking water

Saddle-billed Stork

Saddle-billed Stork

Rhinoceros

Rhinoceros

We bought pizzas from Debonair at Satara and took the home for supper.

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Kruger National Park Day 7 Orpen

5 July 2014 Orpen

Today was a rest day. Well for us it was restful compared to our normal hectic pace. I set the alarm for 7 but both Earl and I were awake before 6. We needed to do laundry but the washing machine was a bit odd so the maids offered to sort it out for us. Very kind of them.

We left camp just after 9 and stopped at Satara for brunch. To our horror Mug and Bean have been given franchise rights in the park. We found them at Lower Sabie first. We do realise that the masses of visitors need to be fed but the last Franchise – Tree – worked fabulously. We seldom had complaints. Admittedly our lunch at Lower Sabie was efficiently dealt with too. But at Satara we waited ages before our order came and then it wrong! Peter’s order didn’t arrive at all and when he complained there were a million excuses about being misunderstood. He said he would give them 2 minutes to fix it otherwise they could just not bother. 5 minutes later he got his order. My order came with an ingredient missing. Earl’s tomato for his Eggs Benedict was uncooked. Heather got cucumber and cheddar cheese instead of Avo and cream cheese in her chicken wrap! Really there was no excuse. I called the manager and he took his time coming. He apologized but made the excuse that the kitchen was not yet used to the very varied menu! Really? Mug ‘n Bean? Then they shouldn’t be in the Park. I told the manager that they were highly privileged to have this franchise and that I hoped things were going to improve fast. We could see from other patrons that things weren’t going well. Kruger is our a flagship and I would hate our overseas visitors to get a bad impression! Mug ‘n Bean – you have a huge responsibility to this country!
Well complaints over. The food that we got was good and the manager gave us free coffees and didn’t charge for Peter’s meal. It was the least he could do.
Now for the sightings of the day. Each day always has a special highlight and for us today it came early. We stopped to see two birds – a tawny eagle and a white faced vulture on a kill. It took a while to work out that they were devouring a python! We have never seen a python in the park dead or alive so this was very interesting.

Tawny Eagle scavenging on Python

Tawny Eagle scavenging on Python

White-headed vulture on the pyhthon kill

White-headed vulture sitting on the python – note the full crop

Tawny flew into a bush with very full crop

Tawny flew into a bush with very full crop

We saw lots of other animals and birds on our route which took us to Satara and back via a few detour loops.

Fiscal Flycatcher

Fiscal Flycatcher

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Ground Hornbill

Ground Hornbill

Male Waterbuck having a rest

Male Waterbuck having a rest

Ellie reaching for some juicy leaves

Ellie reaching for a tasty snack

As I type Heather is cooking our evening meal. The weather is amazing. Not a breath of wind and temperatures to day shot to 32. The mornings are cold but the evenings are still pleasant enough to sit outdoors. Kruger is indeed The Best Place on Earth.

Orpen Camp

Orpen Camp