3

Kruger Adventure with Grandpa, Gran, Simon and Shan – Day 5

6 January 2018

Our day started with a bit of drama.  We were late getting into the car and were just leaving camp when I realised that my binoculars were missing.  They must be in the caravan – we must go back and so we did – but they were nowhere to be seen.  Last night I’d left my handbag on the table outside the caravan.  Nothing had been taken.  How could my binoculars be gone!   I was almost in tears as we set off without them. Then just before exiting through the gate The Earl missed his wallet.  Oh no!  We raced back to the caravan and I dashed in to retrieve it – and YES – My binoculars were hiding there too!   They were under a towel that I hadn’t noticed in my first search!

It was 6:30 and we were headed toward Tshokwane.

Simon – still in the lead with his sightings scores – did not let us down.  He kept on spotting birds and animals for an hour or so and then he began to fade.  What was wrong?  A tummy ache, I fear.  We almost turned back but he insisted that he would be okay. He would just have a sleep in the car.  The only thing that cheered him up was when we came upon a clan of hyenas on a kill. They were not easy to see because of the trees but they were close enough for us to enjoy.

Soon after that we arrived at Tshokwane and Simon ate a Greek Salad and perked up considerably for the rest of the morning.

We returned to camp at about 11:30 and the kids went swimming, Gramps had a nap and I did the laundry.  After lunch and chores were done we all went back to the pool.

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Here are the highlights of our morning.

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10 Points to Grandpa for getting me this Jacobin Cuckoo

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Little Bee-eater – A 10 for Simon

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Ellies having fun

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Ten for Shan – Goliath Heron

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Beware of the Spelling Police – a misprint on our calling card

Uh Oh -What’s an eliphant?  when you order breakfast at Tshokwane they give you an animal card and call it’s name when it’s ready.

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Cries of disgust when I told the kids that Marabou Storks pee on their legs to keep cool

They also were a tad horrified at it’s habits.   They stab flamingos in their backs then drown them before dismembering and eating them – No way, Gran!

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Klipspringers mate for life – Just like Gran and Grandp

Klipspringers mark their territory with the scent gland below its eyes.   These two are clearly a pair.   They would make sure no other of their species enter their territory.

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White backed vulture drying its wings

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On a river bridge – a lovely pied kingfisher

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Shan got me my favourite bee-eater – 10 points to her!

After cooling off in the pool, tidying the caravan and sorting out the washing we set off for a short afternoon drive.

We found frolicking zebra, plenty of impala, elephants, wildebeest and lots of birds

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A happy heffalump

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A very cute baby Vervet Monkey

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Mommy will take care of me!

We were about to turn left when we noticed some stationary cars to the right so decided to check out what they were looking at.  At first we saw nothing and asked the occupants of a car what they’d seen.  They didn’t have binoculars and said there was an animal over there!  Simon spotted it immediately.

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A lazy leopard taking an afternoon nap

After waiting 10 minutes for it to wake up we gave up and headed toward Lake Panic.   Once again we saw some stationary cars.   What can you see?

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Hyena napping under a bush.

We’ve visited Lake Panic many times before and it has always been exciting. Today I said to Shan – It’s a bit quiet here today – not much happening.  At the end of an hour she said – So this is what you call quiet!  Well if you don’t know the place ….  No – Lake Panic never disappoints.

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White faced ducks and a jacana

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Walking on water – Daddy Jacana

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Green-backed heron

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Daddy Jacana takes the chicks under his wing

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Baby Jacana

Just before entering the gate at Skukuza we spotted The Three Little Pigs trotting up the road.

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Warthogs on a mission

Because we stopped for them we noticed some lapwings – well camouflaged – and we almost dismissed them for common crowned lapwings.

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Senegal Lapwing

The weather has been really hot with temperatures getting up to 38 degrees C.  Right now it is 10 pm and I am sitting outdoors without a fleece.  It is bliss.

The past five days have been lovely but by 8 the kids are exhausted and so are we!   Tomorrow we will have a rest day!

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2

Kruger National Park – Day 3

12 November 2017 – Visit to Letaba and Tropic of Capricorn Loop

Today we decided to do a trip to Letaba Rest Camp and back taking the river loops along the way.  By 6:30 we were ready to leave.

First to greet us this morning was a wildebeest. (Erich, if you’re reading this – we gave him your regards 🙂 )

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Our most exciting sighting of the morning was when we stopped at view point to get a closer view of the river.  Looking down we were delighted to find a grey heron, a hamerkop, two pied kingfishers, two fish eagles and two saddle bill storks fishing in a shallow pond.   We spent a while there enjoying the scene and taking photographs.

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Female Saddle-billed Stork

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Fish Eagle

The Bug and Mean – oh sorry The Mug and Bean have been a resounding failure in some of the camps and Letaba is one where the restaurant is closed till further notice.  However, there is temporary arrangement in the form of The Rustic Kitchen operating an open air or under canvas restaurant.  What a stunning idea – so much better than the Bug!  You sit at a simple wooden table and your food is cooked in the rustic kitchen and served on tin plates.  Coffee is also served in a tin mug.  It was fun and we enjoyed our fried eggs, venison sausage and grilled tomato!

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The highlight on our return trip was just as we approached the Tsendse bridge we noted a stationary car with his lights flashing.   He’s seen something we thought as he indicated to the car in front of us to stop. Said car ignored and overtook him.  Then I spotted them lying flat on the river bed.   There were five of them. They were so well camouflaged but then one got up and moved his position  – wild dog.   We watched them sleeping for a few minutes and when we saw they were not going to do anything for the rest of the afternoon we left them in peace.

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Back in camp we had a cup of tea and I started downloading photos and The Earl pottered about sorting out technical stuff to do with the car fridge.  A few hours later we went for another game drive.

On our afternoon drive we found the usual zebra, giraffe, buffalo, elephants, waterbuck etc.   We took the Tropic of Capricorn Loop which produced some lovely sightings.  Sometimes there are stretches of nothing and one can lose concentration as I obviously did at one point.  Omiword – The Earl slammed on breaks.  Did you see that. I looked back and saw a bird of prey on a tree but he flew off.  Darn we missed him and he was on your side – why didn’t you see him.  Maybe because he was so small?   Not that wasn’t it – I’m usually on the lookout for small raptors.  Just a lapse in concentration I’m afraid.

The Earl wanted to carry on but I persuaded him to go back to see if we could find him again – and we did.  He led us a bit of a dance flitting from one tree to another but in the end we got a nice shot of him and were thrilled to identify him as a Gabar Goshawk.

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Other sightings that we enjoyed were the following:

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Tsessebe having a rest

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The Iconic Lilac-breasted Roller

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Heaviest flying bird – the kori bustard

Sadly it was our last night in Tsendze but we really loved this camp and will certainly be back.

 

15

Share Your World 15 May 2017

Here are my answers to this week’s Share Your World

How many languages do you you speak?

I speak two languages – My first language is English.   My second language is Afrikaans which I understand perfectly.  When I obtained my Teaching Diploma my Bilingual qualification was Ea.  The capital E meant I was competent to teach in English medium school and to teach Afrikaans as a second language.  I could not get a teaching position at an Afrikaans medium school.  You needed EA  for that.  I began my career as a Speech Correction teacher and taught at both English medium and Afrikaans medium schools so I worked at upgrading my qualification, wrote another exam and did an Oral and passed!   So I am quite proud of bilingual skills.  However, my accent tends to let me down and I can’t pretend that I am as fluent as one who has Afrikaans as her Mother Tongue!   Some Afrikaans speakers are pleased when I speak to them in their language and those whose English is not great are even grateful, but others break into English to spare themselves from listening to me murder their language.

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They’re too polite to actually say this but maybe they want to? (Speak Afrikaans or shut up!)

I am trying to learn Italian using the Duolingo App.   I am enjoying it and I’ve reached a level that says:  “You are 20% fluent in Italian!”   So I just need to get the gestures right!

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What are you reading, watching, listening to, eating?

I read a lot of Blogs.  I also read Go magazine, Promerops (Cape Bird Club quarterly magazine), Fair Lady, a popular South African women’s magazine and sometimes a caravan and camping magazine.  I am reading a Deon Meyer book in Afrikaans on my Kindle.

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I am watching “House” on Netflix.   I listen to BBC Radio 4’s Women’s Hour on a podcast and Cape Talk on AM radio.   The last thing I ate was a ‘braai’ of Lamb chops and salad.   I eat a Low Carbohydrate, High Fat diet.

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What was the last photo you took with your phone?

A picture of my husband giving his brother-in-law a foot massage.

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What is your favourite time of day?

Early morning is definitely the best time of the day.  At the coast it’s before the wind gets up.  In the bush its calm and quiet and the sunrises are spectacular.   Before I retired I was always up early but now it’s a lot later!   But when we travel it’s early rising again and I love it.

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Early morning in The Kruger National Park

Optional Bonus question:  What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?

We love our Off-Road Caravan – an Imagine Comfortvan – and have enjoyed some amazing trips with it.  But the time has come to look for a slightly bigger one.   First we did some research on the internet.   We found two that we liked but wanted to see them in real life before ordering one.  The showroom of the Echo was in Cape Town – not too much of a mission to get there. The Gecko was in Johannesburg – that required a flight and an overnight stay – rather expensive – so we asked the agent if he knew of anyone close to us who had one. He gave us a name and number.   This owner was in Paarl – a doable three hour drive away.   So on Wednesday we drove to Cape Town for the day and on Friday to Paarl.  They were both very nice caravans but we have decided on the Gecko Xtreme which the owner in Paarl showed us.  I am so grateful to him for pointing out the pros and cons of this caravan as well as a number of others that he has pre-owned.

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We will be putting in our order for one of these this week

I am looking forward to spending a few days at Warmwaterberg (we arrived today) and then having friends to stay with us for a couple of days.

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View from our Bath House as the sun was setting