2

Kruger National Park – Day 24

3 December 2017

We bade farewell to Pat and Tony this morning and they made their way through the park for a few hours before leaving for Witbank where they are spending the night.

The Earl and I decided to have a rest day and do a few things in camp.   Isn’t it great that each rest camp has a laundry with coin operated washing machines and dryers?   Just two five rand coins;  and half an hour later my bed linen was washed and ready for the dryer.  In went the next two coins. I pressed the start button – nothing!  Oh no!  Had it been clothes I could have made a plan to hang it out but Kingsize bed linen – Noooooo.  So I rang the duty manager and within minutes two charming young technicians arrived to sort out my problem.   “It took my money but it won’t work,”  I said sadly.

‘We’re here to help,” they said scratching their heads.  Then one unlocked the machine with a key, did something miraculous and hey presto the dryer started!  “What did you do?” I asked.  “‘Magic,” he replied.

I then put a load of clothing on while the linen dried and when that was done the clothes were ready for the dryer.  By 9:30 I’d done the laundry, cleaned the caravan, watched some birds and had a swim.

IMG_8376

Green-winged pytilia – otherwise known as a melba finch

The Earl and I then went to the restaurant for breakfast.  By this time the temperature was rising but it was cool relaxing on the deck under the trees.  The birding was good too,

IMG_8392

The white-fronted bee-eaters were very active

IMG_8394

The marsh sandpiper was as busy as ever

After sorting out banking and email on his laptop The Earl had a nap and then we did a two hour drive next to the river to Nkulu Picnic Site and back.  The trip there was very quiet with little to see except impala.   On the way back though, the animals seemed to have woken from their naps,

IMG_8400

I rather like this scene of elephant, fish eagle and water buck sharing the facilities

IMG_8409

He’s not called a water buffalo for nothing

IMG_8412

This is the way to travel

IMG_8425

Why are these people staring, Mum?

IMG_8436

I really need a manacure – no time with all this childcare

IMG_8439

Two beautiful male Nyala greeted us

IMG_8459

This elephant was right next to my window

IMG_8462

Aren’t I a handsome chap!

It was too hot to cook tonight so we went to the Cattle Baron Take-Away and got chicken wraps and I made a Greek salad.  A perfect ending to a very hot day!

 

1

Kruger National Park – Day 10

19 November 2017 – Shingwedzi to Letaba

By 6:30 we were packed and ready to leave.  Letaba is 108km from Shingwedzi so we planned to take a break at Mopani and have breakfast at the restaurant.

Once again with caravan in tow we stuck to the tar road and only stopped a few times to take photos of interesting creatures.

The much maligned hyena is considered to be a cowardly and nasty character and features as the ‘baddy’ in many folklore and children’s stories.  In fact these creatures are  not just scavengers but efficient and powerful predators.   Spotted hyenas live in structured groups.  A group of hyenas is called a clan of hyenas.   Did you know that the females rank higher than the males and an alpha female leads the clan. They whole clan helps to raise the young.   When you get to know them you just can’t help loving them and that’s why we were thrilled to find three lying on the side of the road this morning.

IMG_5496

It was a tough night, please let me sleep

IMG_5499

Oooh I’m so comfortable here

IMG_5503

What’s going on – why did you wake me!

IMG_5504

Alright I’ll smile for the photo

IMG_5508

Now I’m going to find a quieter, shadier spot to sleep!

IMG_5512

What do you mean, I must come with you?

IMG_5517

Oh, alright then, I’m coming!

We left the sleepy things in peace and moved on toward Mopani but not before stopping for to get a photograph of the most magnificent eagle in The Park.

IMG_5526

The proud Martial Eagle

We’ve become accustomed to road blocks too and patiently waited for these wild cows cross over.

IMG_5527

This is our road and we’ll take our time if we want to.

The view of the river below the restaurant was as stunning as always but today we saw an osprey in a tree – too distant for a photo but nevertheless great to see.  These are some of the other birds we managed to photograph

IMG_5537

White-faced ducks

IMG_5541

African Jacana

These gorgeous girls stared at us before we arrived at Letaba.

P1110318

Female Waterbuck

It was really hot when we arrived in Letaba.  We drove around the shady camp looking for a good spot to set up, met another Gecko owner from Somerset West, chatted to them and then while we were filling our water tanks,  someone whom I recognised walked by and made a jokey comment about caravanning.  He and his wife were tenting nearby.  After chatting a while we discovered that we’d stayed a their B&B a few years ago.  Hugh had organised a bird guide for us. It was an awesome trip.   Today he showed us where to find the Scops Owls.

We found a suitable campsite and unhitched but we did not set up until a little later when it was cooler.  And do you know what?   The Earl put up the canopy almost single handedly.  All I had to do was help with one pole and the ground sheet.  He now has a system that really works for him.  And I managed to push up the roof all by myself!

IMG_5554

Entrance to Letaba Rest Camp

IMG_5561

Scops Owl

As we are staying here for four nights we decided not to go on a game drive this afternoon.   Instead we took some down time to just chill in camp.

Later in the afternoon I saw a fellow camper pointing his camera into a tree so I asked what he was photographing.  This is what he pointed out to me.

IMG_5563

A Bushbaby!

 

The temperature got up to over 35 today and the evening was still hot.  We kept the lights off as much as possible so that the insects didn’t bother us and The Earl cooked us a delicious chicken curry and thus ended another perfect day in Africa.

2

The Kruger National Park – Day 6

15 November 2017 – Punda Maria

Today we took our leave of Shingwedzi and set off to Punda Maria.   It’s a distance of 70 km.  The packing up process went off with hardly a hitch – it gets easier every time – and we were off by 7:30.

 

It was a clear, hot morning and soon the temperature hit 32 degrees C.  Our first creature today was a buffalo.  He had a yellow-billed oxpecker grooming him.

IMG_4614

We also found some ground hornbills – this time walking on the grounds.  There were two adults and a juvenile.

IMG_4628

It’s always fun to see zebra and today they were in a frolicking mood.

IMG_4630

What a delight to come across a huge herd of buffalo under the trees.

IMG_4651

Don’t you just love the waterbuck?  We have seen so many on this trip in Kruger.   Their bottoms sport a white circle that resembles a target!   This serves as a following signal so that when they run through the bush those behind can see the white ahead and  prevent them from becoming separated.

IMG_4655

We arrived at Punda Maria before 10 am and went straight to the campsite.

IMG_4684-001

We found a suitable site and unhitched the caravan.  We have a perfect view of the waterhole on the  other side of the fence.  There is also a hide where one can sit and watch whatever comes to drink.

IMG_4705-001

The Earl enjoying a cup of coffee while he watches elephants from the comfort of his camp chair

I went to reception to check in and when I returned The Earl had started setting up.  With just a tiny bit of help from me the rest of the canopy was up within 20 minutes.   We’d forgotten to fill the tanks with water but I located a staff member and asked is we could borrow the camp hose.  Not a problem.  The Earl joined it to his and the tanks were soon filled.

Now all we had to do was relax and wait for our friends Tony and Pat to join us later in the morning.  Earl had a nap and I sorted photos in cool of the caravan aircon!

Pat and Tony arrived at lunch time just as thunder and lightning warned that it would soon rain.  Some young neighbouring campers did not hesitate to step in and help to get the job done quickly before the heavens opened.  Then we sat under our canopy to have a drink and a snack.  The rain didn’t last too long but the thunder and lightning continued. At 3:30 we set off on an afternoon drive and although there was some rain we had a very productive afternoon.  The rain caused the temperature to drop to 22 degrees C which was a welcome relief.

P1110103

Young Male Kudu pulling faces – was he enjoying his grooming?

P1110104

Red-billed oxpecker doing the grooming.

P1110113-001

There were plenty of elephants about

IMG_4727

Elephants can hide – this one scared us with his sudden appearance

IMG_4720

Yellow-billed Hornbill

IMG_4742

The rain prevented good photography

In the evening we had a braai and were in bed by 9.

P1110116

Fortunately the rain held off

P1110123

What a scrumptious meal of steak, chops, boerewors, spinach, sweet potato and salad.

 

2

Wild Adventure Chapter 10 Last day at Rooiputs

101

12 March

“What will today, hold in store for us, I  wonder?” said Lady Grum-Peigh as they climbed into the Land Rover for their morning drive.  “It’s our last day at Rooiputs and boy, I’m going to miss it!”
They headed straight to Kij Kij arriving around 7 ish.  “Oh look there!” called the Earl. “Two male lions!”  That was a wonderful surprise. They were lying a little way off from the waterhole, one on each side of the road.

IMG_6859

One of the big boys

Suddenly Mr Frend-Leigh started his Pathfinder and raced toward them.  “It’s a brown hyena,” said the Earl excitedly. And they weaved through the parked cars to get a better view.  But the poor creature was spooked by seeing the lions and instead of going for his morning drink he headed away and up a dune.

IMG_6864

Oh no! What are those two doing here.  I’m off!

Then the lions were up and making their way to the waterhole as if to say – hey – nobody drinks from here but us!

IMG_6882IMG_6885IMG_6886

After the lions had had a good long drink they moved off into the shade and settled down for a long morning nap. The G-Ps and Leighs went on towards Melkvlei.

“What’s moving over there – oh great – Bat-eared fox!”

IMG_6912

Posing for his portrait at last

One of the foxes stopped and stared straight at them. “At last you’re posing for me, you elusive creature,” said Lady G-P who had seen a few but not managed to get any decent photographs.

There was a lot of game about and they saw many kori bustards and jackals.   “That eagle looks different,” called the Earl

“It’s a tawny,” said Lady Peigh “The blond version!”

IMG_6907

At Melkvlei Lord Peigh cooked a delicious Banting Breakfast but the Leighs continued on a bit further preferring to have muesli in the car a little later. They also had a lot of packing up to do so would return to the lions and then head home.

After breakfast the Grum-Peighs took a slow drive and enjoyed all the usual game and birds.   Then about 1 km from Rooiputs the Earl said, “Look at those gemsbok.  They’re standing stock still – there must be a predator somewhere close.”  They scanned the dunes with their binoculars – Nada.  Then her ladyship dropped her eye to a lower level and nearly fell out of the window – “They’re right there,” she whispered “under the tree.”

“What? where?” whined his Lordship.

“They’re so well camouflaged – three cheetahs – in the shade just where the gemsbok are standing.”

IMG_6972

A very wary gemsbok keeps a close eye on the cheetahs

IMG_6973

One lifts her head to see what all the fuss is about

His lordship finally finds them and is amazed at how well they could hide.

At about 5 that afternoon they returned to the spot with the Frend-Leighs.  They were on the move and then they flopped down under a tree.  They stayed with them hoping they would get up to go to the waterhole but they had to leave at quarter to 7 to get in before dark.

IMG_7081

Thinking about getting up

IMG_7074

I could do with a drink

IMG_7013

I love you dear cheetah

P1080963

They returned to camp and Mrs Frend-Leigh took out the leftover chili con cairn and they shared the meal with Jan.  Everything was packed up as far as possible for departure to Mata Mata the next morning and then they turned in for the night.

2

Wild Adventure Chapter 5 After the Storm

After experiencing a fairly wild and stormy night with thunder and lightening interrupting their dreams and the caravan rocking like a row-boat on a rough sea the Grum-Peighs woke up and went out to assess the damage. Neither they nor the Frend-Leighs needed any major repairs. The rain had gone and the weather was calm so after a slightly later than usual start they set off on their morning drive.

First up was a beautiful Martial Eagle

IMG_5764

Their breakfast stop was at Melkvlei.  Lord Grum-Peigh loves to cook eggs and bacon on his special camping stove. Lady G-P makes sure he has the right pans and ingredients and is ready to follow his demanding instructions.  The results are always delicious.

IMG_5799

The animals were scarce as is often the case after a storm.  They seem to move deeper into the bush and find water in puddles rather than trekking to the waterholes.  So all they saw was the following.

IMG_5832

This meerkat found a wonderful platform right outside the camp – a good vantage point to spot potential danger.

 

IMG_5833

IMG_5845

A tiny tortoise

P1080579

And a giant one

P1080583

Bokkies of course

P1080588

Having a confrontation

P1080597

Lanner Falcon

P1080615

Camp Rooiputs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

0

#NaBloPoMo 19 Garden Route to Addo

NaBloPoMo

Last night’s dinner was great.  We went to Royal Siam a wonderful Thai Restaurant in the Milkwood Village Shopping Centre, Wilderness.   Milkwood Village is centred under the beautiful protected milkwood trees and has a variety of shops and restaurants with indoor and outdoor seating. As it was a tad chilly we decided to sit indoors but the ambience was still great.  The service was wonderful and we enjoyed the food – a prawn and avo salad and zebra rainbow rolls for me and sweet and sour pork for Earl.

IMG_0488

Good cuisine in a beautiful setting

We were packed and ready to leave at a minute to six this morning. It is a beautiful part of the country to travel through and if ever you do it don’t rush past as we did today but rather stop and explore as many of the wonderful spots that you can. Knysna with its stunning lagoons and lakes is a particularly lovely place to stay.

Our friends Jim and Maureen had been at Addo for 6 days and were due to leave today so they waited for us to arrive and we had breakfast together at the restaurant.  They had also saved a good caravan site for us.

IMG_0492

All set up and ready for a 4 day sojourn

The climate in the Eastern Cape is very different to where we live.  Summer has truly arrived here while back home it is a tad warmer than last month but we still need our jackets in the evenings and early mornings!   Addo is hot!  We are in Africa!  We immediately shed our jeans and long sleeved t-shirts for short and cool tops!

Addo is an elephant park – so yes on our first drive this afternoon we saw them aplenty.  But we also saw other creatures.

You’d be forgiven for thinking it was a warthog park because there are thousands of them about.  Still, I just love the ugly creatures.   They stick skinny, little, aerial tails straight up in the air when they run from danger, so that their kin can follow them through the bush and not get lost.

I was thrilled to get piccies of this mother and her piglets.

IMG_0546

Leave my babies alone!

IMG_0540

Aren’t we adorable

Only the males of the kudu antelope have horns.  They begin to grow when he is between 6 and 12 months old and he usually has 2 and a half twists by the time he is six years old.   Sometimes a male may get up to three twists in his horns.

IMG_0526

A male kudu gives us a meaningful stare – he is about 2 years old

IMG_0510

Two twists and growing!

Eland are not as commonly found in the game parks as kudu, but Addo has a fair number of them.

P1070496

Both male and females have horns

Although it’s great to see the big animals, I just love the smaller ones too.  This cute little yellow mongoose gave us great pleasure

IMG_0531

He is an inquisitive creature

The yellow mongoose, is sometimes called the red meerkat. He weighs about 500g and is about 50 cm in length.

We also saw tortoises both big and small. This chap is a leopard tortoise

The leopard tortoise is the fourth largest species of tortoise in the world. The adults reach 56cm in length and weigh up to 18 kg.

P1070559

I think he likes us

We found this handsome heron atop a dead tree. The black-headed heron is a large bird, standing 85 cm tall, and it has a 150 cm wingspan.  It usually fishes for fish and frogs but will also hunt away from water and wait silently and still before capturing an unsuspecting small mammal or bird. He also eats large insects.

IMG_0626

Seeking non-aquatic prey, I think.

IMG_0507

This pretty little Karoo Scrub-robin posed nicely for us

We found these tiny goslings while watching elephants at a waterhole and I couldn’t resist snapping them.  They were quite unafraid of the enormous pachyderms

IMG_0562

Mom and Dad were close by.

We saw scores of elephants but I will just post a few here as there will be plenty more in the next few days.

P1070545

The driver of this car was a tad nervous when Jumbo came right up and stared at him through the windscreen

Both the male and female African Elephant have tusks – except in Addo Elephant Park.  This was due to years of interbreeding but new stock has been introduced and some of the new generation females are beginning to sport tusks again.

P1070552

Note the lack of tusks in this female elephant

Stay tuned for more Addo reports over the next few days.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2

Namibia – Saffies and Aussies on Safari – Day 10

Thursday 11 June 2015 Namutoni to Halali

We are packed and ready to leave after our usual excellent restaurant breakfast.

It is a zebra day today.  We see them in huge herds and wonder if they are having a convention!

IMG_4802 IMG_4847 IMG_4893

Mom and baby zebra

Mom and baby zebra

Lots of wildebeest too

Lots of wildebeest too

At one waterhole we see a hyena

IMG_4781

and at Kalkheuwel we find a young elephant that has met his end.

Poor thing

Poor thing

We wonder what could have caused it – we cannot see his head but the rest of the body doesn’t seem to be injured.   As we are on our way to the next camp there is no chance that we can return to see what will take advantage of this freely available carcass.

At 9 o’clock just before Batia Water Hole we find 3 cheetahs lighting in the grass – well camouflaged making photography difficult.

IMG_6220

We continue on our way and find rhino, impala, kudu and a vulture on a nest.

IMG_4927

We arrive at Halala at midday after visiting Goas which gives us a good show of elephants bathing and other species drinking.

IMG_4930

IMG_5014 IMG_5013 IMG_5012

After unpacking and settling in Erich and Wendy have a snooze while Earl and I go to the camp water hole.  We see a few impala come down and there is some bird activity.

Golden-breasted bunting and violet-eated waxbill

Golden-breasted bunting and violet-eated waxbill

At 3:30 we go back to Goas. There is very little happening at first but then Wendy calls– here come the elephants.  It is fascinating watching them come down all in a line.  They come extremely close to the car parked in front of us and I think the occupants are quite nervous.   A male comes to join the females but they ignore him and when they leave he does not follow.  We feel sorry for the poor lonely guy – but this is the way it works with elephants!

IMG_4996

005 Elephants 004 Elephants at waterhole

There are interesting birds to watch too.

Red-billed francolin

Red-billed francolin

Double-banded Sandgrouse

Double-banded Sandgrouse

Yellow-billed hornbill

Yellow-billed hornbill

We get back to camp with 8 minutes to spare before gate closing time.   We go t straight to the water hole and are delighted to find two black rhino drinking.    We are there just in time as after 10 minutes they leave.  Some zebra start to come down but change their minds – it might be because a tawny eagle is in their way or the coming and going of the sandgrouse might make them nervous.

At quarter past six we leave to get ready for dinner at the restaurant.   Our neighbours come to ask if we have a torch as they’ve spotted a honey badger raiding the bins.  This delays us a bit but we manage to get photos of the cheeky creature.

Naughty Honey Badger

Naughty Honey Badger

One is on our stoop when we got back from dinner, giving me quite a scare!

We find that we can self-cater at this cabin and will make a plan to do so tomorrow.  It is very basically equipped but we have our own utensils. Unfortunately the camp shop is poorly stocked but we should be able to get meat and canned vegetables.