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.

 

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!

European Bee-Eater

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.